Don't mind me, just publishing more stuff I've done on the YJ Anon Meme. The only reason I'm actually posting this one in the YJ section is because I may expand it to all of the team and their cities, but for the moment, that's only an idea. I'm marking this as complete for now...and honestly, it's probably safer to assume that this is all there's going to be. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy!
Oh, one more thing. The opening quote of this story is in fact a line by James Gordon, spoken in a flashback from the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum. It's not the same universe, but hell, I think it's something that can be said about Gotham no matter what version of her you're looking at.
"It's this city. There's something wrong with it."
It was a constant in his mind where information was pulled and exchanged and rearranged - the words of experience from a cop to a mentor to a pupil. The city would always be sick, and with the hand of someone too powerful and curious reaching into the hot guts of the multiverse and ripping and sewing and patching until dimensions hung on one another with broken seams and strings made of stars, all Robin had known to do since it started was clutch Batman's arm and allow his mind to scream constants - dick grayson john mary grasyon bruce wayne this city something is wrong with it- because if he lost himself then there would be nothing else left for him to hold on to.
Batman's cape lifts from around his shoulders, which means the shifting has stopped for now. They rise to find themselves in an alley. It looks like a Gotham alley but Robin doesn't know what Gotham is anymore except for its sickness; it smells like drugs and poverty and so maybe that's all it ever takes, but Batman's breathing hitches at the copper-colored stains on the ground and an old movie theater's rickety frame groans on the far side and suddenly Robin knows exactly where they are.
A woman is sitting in the alley with her knees drawn up. Batman, still shaken, pushes Robin behind himself as she rises to her feet. Her dark hair is primped and combed - it might have been a pretty color once - but the way it falls around her bare face and frames the pearl necklace slumping over her collarbones tells a story of an appearance half-kept and then lost to a civil war. A gray fur coat hangs over her shoulders, sweeping down to her knees, and it almost manages to hide the stained tube-top and ratty short jeans covering her pale skin. Her eyes are a soft, foggy brown when they turn onto the duo, but all too quickly they sharpen and turn wild, her lipstick-caked mouth turning up at the corners and showing too many teeth in her smile.
She's a hundred things at once, Robin thinks distantly, beautiful and frightening and sick and tearing herself apart to be just a little more of each.
"Batman," she gasps, her voice full of gravel, taking a shaky step forward. "Batman."
Robin half-expects him to retaliate, but the arm weighing him back goes limp, and he finds himself reaching forward when the Dark Knight's knees hit the pavement. The woman gets to him first.
She towers over him, a snarl of satisfaction ripping through the air as her hand whips back and strikes Batman across the face. He stumbles to the side, catching his weight on his hand before righting himself and looking back up at her, the ice in his cowl lenses shattered, eyes so warm and bright that Robin can barely remember what they look like covered in darkness.
She winds up again, but before her palm comes down Batman is on his feet and gripping her wrist with a gentleness Robin hasn't seen for anyone else other than him on the night two screams and a coat of blood painted his memories.
The woman struggles. Batman pulls forward. Then she collapses into the crook of his neck and one hand holds him so tightly he can never leave her while the other beats limply against his chest - like she can't live without him but she has to hurt him for it to count. Her fingers grip the kevlar hard enough to go white, her eyes burning with a happiness Robin's seen on the face of winos as they reach for one last bottle before breaking it on the wall and slitting their own throats.
"Gotham," Bruce rumbles quietly, and Dick feels the bottom drop from his stomach because Bruce knew the moment he saw her.
"I knew you'd come," she whispers, her voice quivering. "I knew you wouldn't leave me." Her mouth pulled wide into a strangely white grin and eyes glazed, she reminds him a little bit of the Joker. "I knew you couldn't leave me."
"It's this city." Batman's arms only tighten around Gotham, but his voice echoes in Robin's head, strong and unbending and weighted by something heavy that Dick finds thrust into his arms to carry, as though he's never even shouldered it before now. "There's something wrong with it."