Forewarning, sorry if this is rather badly edited. I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow and probably won't have time to write or anything while I'm there and I really wanted to get this up. This is the final chapter, and I kind of suck at endings (mostly because I don't want it to end, even though it has to) but I tried to tie things up.
He was back in room 222. Harvey Dent was pressing a gun to Barbara's head, ready to pull the trigger. Robin couldn't move, his feet were glued to the floor. He reached for his utility belt but found it gone. He couldn't do anything to save her. On the ground at Dent's feet was Wally, but he wasn't moving and a pool of blood was spreading around his head like a halo. Dent was laughing, but then it wasn't his laugh, it was the Joker's. His head transformed into the mad clown's and suddenly Robin was locked in a golden cage. Barbara's bloody body had joined Wally's at his feet. The Joker was still laughing, saying, "Couldn't save them, could you bird boy? And you call yourself a hero!" Robin found himself laughing, unable to stop. His lungs burned but he kept on laughing. The Joker was approaching him with a knife, saying he was going to give him a permanent smile-
"Dick! Dick, wake up!"
Someone was shaking him roughly, yelling in his ear. Dick's eyes snapped open and he was back in his bed. He gasped for air and tried to sit up, but found himself wrapped in his Robin cape. This only made him panic more until he started to struggle violently to get free from the fabric. Strong hands grabbed his arms and pinned them to his side until he calmed down. It took nearly ten minutes for him to stop thrashing and lay still.
Bruce slowly removed his hands and unclipped the cape from his shoulders before gently untangling it from the boy. Dick was still breathing heavily, but had calmed down enough to simply sit in bed and stare ahead of him. He could still see the unmoving bodies of Wally and Barbara in front of him. They had burned like brands in his skull.
"It was just a nightmare," Bruce said calmingly, "How do you feel?"
The question should have been easy to answer. After any of his usual nightmares, Dick would have said that he was scared, but would be fine. After his more recent Joker nightmares, he would have answered with a signed 'I'll live.' But now...he wasn't so sure.
He didn't want to test his throat, so after a few minutes of thinking Dick lifted his hands to sign, 'I'm not dead yet,' which was the most positive thing he could truthfully say, but his hands shook so badly not even Bruce was able to make out the words.
"How about some hot chocolate?" Bruce asked, "Alfred wasn't able to sleep, so he's already up." Dick nodded gratefully. Bruce must have expected him to stay in bed, but Dick followed him downstairs anyway, not wanting to be alone in his room, where his imagination had projected his best friends' bodies onto the floor next to his bed. Bruce didn't say anything about it, though, so the two made it down to the kitchen, where Alfred was bustling around organizing the cabinets, even though they were already practically arranged in the Dewy-Decimal system for spices.
At the sight of his charges, Alfred put down the jars he was holding and started making hot chocolate without a word. It was practically a routine now whenever Dick had really bad nightmare. In truth, they were all pretty bad, but usually Bruce could calm him down enough to go back to sleep. The last two nights after the Joker were both hot chocolate nights. The drink calmed him down almost instantly, so Alfred always had a couple bags of mix on hand in preparation.
Dick sat down at the kitchen bar without a word. His hands were still shaking and he had barely made it down the stairs because his legs were so weak. Bruce sat down next to him, but didn't say anything. In this way, about five minutes passed where the only sounds were Alfred making hot chocolate for Dick and coffee for Bruce. When he was finished he placed the steaming mug of hot chocolate in front of Dick and a cup of equally hot coffee in front of Bruce. Dick wrapped his hands around the cup, not caring that it burned his skin, and took a sip, although he did care that it burned his already raw throat. Bruce also sipped his drink, although he didn't even seem to notice it's temperature. He carefully kept his gaze directed around the kitchen at appliances or Alfred, who had resumed his organizing, but was always watching Dick in his peripheral vision.
Dick of course knew that Bruce was watching him, but he still couldn't find words to express his jumbled emotions, and he was afraid of letting go of the cup, in case his hands still shook.
At some point, Dick glanced at the clock on the oven, which read in luminescent green letters: 1:05 am. He was surprised it was so early. The mission had to have ended sometime past 8, and then with the flight back and the briefing afterward, he wouldn't have gotten to sleep until well after 11. His nightmares hadn't waited for very long to wake him up, then.
At 1:25, Dick finished his hot chocolate, having taken very small and slow sips. It wasn't even hot anymore when he finished, but he had made sure to drain the last drops of liquid from the cup even so. Bruce had already downed two and half cups of coffee, and Alfred had moved on to cleaning out the refrigerator, having finished with the cabinets.
The clink of his cup on the counter seemed to signal a change in the two older men. Alfred slowly began reloading the refrigerator, and Bruce set down his third cup of coffee and turned to face Dick for the first time since they came down.
He repeated the question from earlier, though not really expecting a different answer. "How do you feel?"
Dick didn't lift his gaze from his empty mug for a minute, thinking over his answer. Finally, he took his hands from the now-cool ceramic surface and, grateful that they had stopped shaking, signed, 'I've been better. But I've only felt worse once.'
Immediately, the air in the room turned cold. Even Alfred had looked over to see his response, and the old man's eyes saddened measurably as a tub of ice cream slowly melted in his hands. Bruce seemed at a loss for words. He had been horrible with children when Dick had first come to live at the manner, but even now he wasn't too good with comforting.
Finally, Bruce managed one small assurance that was all Dick really needed to hear at that moment. "I'll alway be here, remember that. Always."
***Later that day***
Dick heard the doorbell from the living room, where he was watching reruns of Mythbusters on the TV. He hadn't been able to sleep at all last night, so he eventually started watching TV just for something to do that didn't require effort on his part. He fully expected to spend the day doing absolutely nothing, which Bruce and Alfred seemed to think he needed and which Dick didn't bother arguing on.
Despite his desire to not be included in anything, Dick muted the TV when Alfred opened the door. He could just hear what was going on in the hall, and strained to make out the conversation.
"Good morning, Miss Gordon. What brings you here?" Alfred asked. Dick's breath caught in his throat.
"Can I see Dick, please?" Barbara's voice sounded steady and firm, but there was hint of a plea in it that she tried to hide.
"I'm not sure if Master Dick should be seeing anyone at the moment-" Alfred began, but Barbara cut him off, "I don't care if he's sick, I really need to see him! Please, Alfred?"
Alfred paused, but Dick had made up his mind. He jumped over the back of the couch and hurried out into the hall. Alfred was standing with his back to Dick at the end of the hall, and in the doorway he could just make out a hint of Barbara's red hair. He ran the length of the hall and skidded to a halt just behind Alfred. Pushing his luck, he said in a hoarse voice, "She can come in."
Alfred didn't object. Instead he simply bowed his head and left. Dick turned to Barbara, taking in the simple fact that she was standing there, alive. She looked completely fine, save for a slight exhaustion in her eyes. For a moment they both stood there in the open doorway, staring at each other. When Barbara opened her mouth to say something, Dick moved forward and wrapped her in a hug, cutting her off before she even started talking. After a moment's hesitation, she relaxed and returned the hug, completely unaware of what the physical assurance that she was alive meant to him.
When Dick finally stepped back, Barbara gave him a questioning look, to which he answered quietly, "I-I heard about Dallas. I was worried..."
Barbara's expression darkened slightly, but she her voice was steady when she said, "I'm fine. Two-Face was caught and...and I'm fine." A moment passed, where Barbara seemed to be remembering her eventful night before she shook her head and asked lightly, "So, um, what happened to your voice? Are you sick?"
Dick smirked in an 'if only' sort of way, but nodded all the same. Barbara looked briefly confused, but quickly started apologizing, "I'm sorry, I wouldn't have come if I had known you're sick. I'll should just-"
"No!" Dick interrupted. He winced at the pain in his throat. Talking quietly didn't bother it, but just a little louder and it brought back all the soreness. To be safe, he gestured for her to come inside rather than ask out loud. After a moment of doubt, she complied and finally stepped through the doorway. Dick closed the door behind her and they both walked back to the living room, which was always their favorite place to plan pranks or just hang out.
Barbara laughed when she saw what was playing on the TV. "Mythbusters? Really, Dick, you like that show way to much." He shrugged helplessly and they both grinned, sitting down to watch it anyway. For a moment, everything seemed normal and Dick forgot about everything that had happened in the past couple days. It was just another day hanging out with Barbara. For a while he could simply live and forget. No lasting harm was done...at least not physically, and his voice would be fine in a few days. The only bump would be avoiding telling the team exactly what happened in the hotel, but that was a problem for another day.
I'm not 100% happy with the ending, but again I was kind of rushing through this chapter to get it p before I left. So please tell me what you think. Last reviews are always nice and I'd love to hear what you thought of the fic as a whole. Thanks one last time for reading and a special thanks to anyone who has reviewed this at some point.