A piercing scream jolted Batman out of a deep sleep. A boy's scream. Robin.
Batman leaped out of bed and ran to Robin's room. The door was shut. He knocked. "Robin?"
"Don't come in Batman!" Robin's voice sounded choked, as if he were crying.
Batman went in anyway. Robin sat upright in bed, tears streaming down his face. When he saw Batman, his eyes widened in surprise, and he yanked a sheet up over himself, despite the fact that the room was hot and stuffy.
"I'm fine, Batman," Robin said. "Go back to bed." He pulled the sheet closer around him.
Batman stepped into the room, flicking on the light. He made his way to Robin's bed, lifting a hand a placing it gently on his friend's forehead.
"Are you sick?" he asked, worried about his sidekick's strange behavior.
Robin pushed his hand away. "No, I'm fine, really." He forced himself to smile.
Batman wasn't convinced. "Robin, you screamed, and now you're crying and hiding under the covers. Something's wrong, and I'm not going back to sleep until you tell me."
"I had a nightmare," Robin said, his voice weak and pitiful.
Batman was relieved. "A nightmare?" He went to sit on the bed.
"No!" Robin shrieked. "Don't sit on my bed!"
Batman looked at him, searching for a reason why he should not sit on the bed. Robin didn't look at him. Batman sighed and pulled up a chair.
"Why don't you tell me about your nightmare?" he suggested. "That helped me when I had nightmares."
"You had nightmares, too?" asked Robin.
Batman nodded. "All the time, especially after my parents were killed. I'd relive that night every time I went to sleep, each time more graphic and horrible than the last. Alfred would sit by my bed and listen as I told him, then he'd list happy things to me until I fell asleep, and I wouldn't have a nightmare the rest of the night. Pretty soon, they went away altogether."
Robin wiped his hand across his eyes. "I dreamt that I was performing with my parents," he began quietly. "And you were in the audience. I was trying to get your attention, but you wouldn't look at me. You were ignoring me. The next thing I knew, a robin, not like the one that killed my parents, but a huge one, the size of a car, flew in and grabbed them. I yelled for you to help me save them, but you were gone. The robin swooped past me, and I saw that it had you in its beak. Then it flew away with you and my parents."
Robin looked down at his hands and clutched the sheet tighter. "I was all alone."
Batman put a hand on Robin's shoulder. "But you're not alone. I'm here. I'll always be here. We'll always be together. So there's no need to worry."
"I know," sniffed Robin. "It's just that you're the first person who's ever loved me, besides my parents. After they died and I was passed around to different families, I felt that no one would ever love me again."
"I love you," said Batman. "You know that. And I promise that I will always be here for you."
"Thanks, Batman." Robin shifted uncomfortably. "You can go now," he said. "I'm alright."
Batman stood up, his eyes drifting to the sheet. "Robin, what are you hiding under there?"
"Nothing!" Robin protested. "Honest, Batman!"
"Why don't I believe you?" asked Batman, reaching for the sheet.
"No!" Robin wailed. "Please don't." But it was too late. Batman threw back the sheet, revealing the damp yellow stain on the bed.
Robin started to cry again, loud hiccupping sobs. "You wet the bed?" Batman asked softly.
Robin nodded. "I'm sorry, Batman. I didn't mean to. I'm sorry!"
"It's okay," Batman said soothingly. "Really."
"No, it isn't," whimpered Robin. "I'm too old for bed wetting. Only babies wet the bed."
"You have no idea, Batman," whispered Robin. "No idea how it feels." He met Batman's gaze and took a deep, shuddery breath.
"Part of the reason all those families gave me up was because I wet the bed. They were high-class people, and they didn't want word to get around that the little orphan boy they adopted was a bed wetter. I was an embarrassment to them."
"Robin, I..." Batman was at a loss for words.
"That's not even the worst of it," Robin continued. "The last family I was with was appalled by my 'lack of control,' as they called it. So they made me wear diapers to bed. Every night, the woman would make me lie on the floor, and her husband would pin me down. She'd strip me down and put on the diaper. I dreaded the nights because of it. It was humiliating, mortifying. And they didn't even trust me to keep the diaper on. They put a special sensor on it to make sure I didn't try to take it off. If I did, an alarm would go off. One night when I was sleeping, my hand must have brushed the sensor. They came running to my room, and the man hauled me out of bed and spanked me. He said how dare I!?, and I tried to protest, and he hit me harder for talking back. Then he dragged me to the bathroom, ripped off the diaper, and threw me onto the toilet. He said that I'd sleep there the rest of the night as my punishment. And I was crying and screaming, and he didn't care. He set up a camera and said that if I moved from my seat, he'd know, and I'd spend all night the next night on the toilet too."
"That's child abuse!" exclaimed Batman. "Why didn't you tell someone?"
"I was too scared. If I told anyone, my family would give me up, and my secret would be out. No one would want me. It didn't do me much good anyway. The next night, even though I was wearing the diaper, it must have leaked, and when they saw, they drove me to the orphanage and dropped me off and left."
"That must have been awful," said Batman, unable to fully comprehend the traumatic past his friend had kept inside.
"It was," agreed Robin. "And soon at the orphanage, everyone found out, and they laughed at me. Little kids who hadn't wet the bed their entire lives teased me, older kids who found my plight hilarious, and the kids my age who called me names and whispered about me behind my back. It was at that moment that I realized that no one would ever love me again. But now I know that that's not true. You love me, and you don't care if I have nightmares or that I wet the bed."
"Of course not," said Batman. "We all have imperfections. We just have to learn to accept them, and to accept others' as well. I'm so sorry, Robin, for all that you've been through. I had no idea."
Robin sniffed. "I know. But without all that, we might not have found each other."
Batman smiled. "Yeah. Now, how about we get you into some clean pajamas and put some fresh sheets on the bed?"
Robin smiled back. "Thank you, Batman. For everything."
Batman nodded. "You're welcome, Robin."