Shutting out the outside world seemed to finally lift the fog that had clouded his mind.
The minute Richard closed the door behind him and looked around his apartment, a sigh escaped his lips that almost sounded like a breathless "Shit". The empty room somehow made him realize how wrong the last hours of this long, long day had been. It was mocking him with its unchanged state, just the way he had left it this morning- only he had come back as a different person.
The apartment he had grown so accustomed to was wrong now, all wrong.
He shook his head. What a waste of time to philosophise about that now. There were better things to do. He glanced at the telephone on the small table beside his wardrobe, wondering if he should start the calls now... yes, he probably should.
Richard kicked his shoes into one corner and made his way towards the phone doubtingly, not taking his eyes off it. But what to tell the person on the other line? "Roy, it's me, how have you been? Oh, quite well, thanks. Just got a cancer diagnosis today", "Alfred, did you get the news? Guess what!"
… well, no. Come to think of it, something like that shouldn't be said over the phone at all.
"Do it in person," he said out loud, while ignoring the little voice in the back of his mind that lamented how telling actually made it real.
Dick grabbed the phone anyway and made his way towards his kitchen table, sliding down on a chair. Images flashed through his mind, voices that told him to stay still, that the worst would be over.
He sneered. What a joke, it was just beginning.
The bone marrow examination had hurt pretty badly, and he had been completely unprepared. The call he had gotten this morning – he glared down at the phone in his hand disdainfully- should have worried him, but it didn't. He had arrived at the hospital with the certainty of knowing that such things would never happen to him.
But it did, he had a document in his pocket that stated it in print: Richard John Grayson had been diagnosed with leukemia.
Dick tried the word out loud, curious if it became more real when he heard it in his own voice. It didn't. He took the sheet out of his pocket and unfolded it, reading what was written. Actually, he knew the content by heart; his doctor's words were probably forever engraved in his temporal lobes.
"...sorry to tell you... acute myeloid leukemia... treatment should start as soon as possible..." and the rest was a blur of medical termini, erythrocytes, leukocytes, and, of course, the ever appalling chemotherapy. He would make sense out of it later.
When he rested his head on his folded arms, he closed his eyes and listened to the increasing rhythm of his heart. There it came- the panic he had known would arrive at some point.
He had fucking cancer.
He was 23 years old and had cancer.
How the hell did that happen?
His breath shuddered, and he gripped the sleeves of his jacket closer, remembering the big bruises on his torso that just wouldn't heal, and the everlasting tiredness he had been fighting over the last weeks. He had taken it for prolonged effects of his last, pretty persistent flu; but now of course he learned that the flu had only been the result of his weakening immune system.
Bruce had told him to finally go see a doctor, after Richard had almost killed himself with firing a grapeling hook in midair and sneezing simultaneously. Obviously he had ignored him. Damnit.
The prospect of telling his surrogate father... Alfred... Tim.. Damian... made him wince.
How do you tell your family you have been diagnosed with a possible lethal illness? That the next months of your life will be living hell?
Richard realized that he was shaking for some time now... Well, why not.
He tried to imagine his family's reactions.
Bruce? Probably stoic, unemotional, until he would descend into his cave and find a way to blame himself.
What about Jason? Would he even care? Dick hadn't seen him for weeks now; he didn't even know whether he was still in Gotham or not.
Tim would cry and cling to him, he was sure of that. At least one of his brothers was able to show emotions, and Dick was glad for that.
Which brought him to the last addition of his makeshift family, to Damian. Damian was a complete enigma. Would he cry? Probably not, although they had grown close. But if he had to bet, Richard guessed that Damian would react almost like Bruce would: shut himself out and eat it all up inside.
He could see them all so vividly, it almost scared him.
Who would be there for his younger siblings? Certainly not Bruce. Usually it was himself who coaxed the head of the family out of his broodings, who cheered up Tim and broke through to Damian. And Jason... they weren't exactly friends, but considering the rest of the family, they were probably the closest. Maybe. Or not.
Dick sighed again, this time deeper and with a bit more desperation. He should be thinking about his own situation, not worrying about his family!
...But thinking about them was actually a lot less scary than thinking about his own future, filled with chemotherapy and loss of hair. So he just kept on.
His dying would leave his family in a devastated state. They didn't know how to comfort each other, Richard had observed this when Bruce was declared dead. They simply fell apart, although the little damage control he had managed to accomplish in spite of his own grieving had kept them at least on speaking terms. There wasn't much more to achieve with Damian and Jason, but Tim's leaving had hit him hard. The first phone call was a blessing of the heavens, and thank God they had kept regular contact until Tim finally decided to forgive him.
Ahh, jolly times.
There was no way he would be leaving them in that desolate state they were in.
He needed a plan.
Sitting in his kitchen, heart pounding a lot faster than he would have liked, Dick made a mental promise to himself to finally reconcile his family. Or at least, to make them realize how much they needed each other. Jason and Bruce. Damian and Tim. Jason and Tim. There had to be a way, and he was damned if he didn't find it before the goddamn leukemia got him.
The small voice in his head from earlier piped up again, scolding him for distracting himself from his predicament, but he pushed it aside. He was becoming quite good at that.
Hello everyone, thank you for reading!
I kindly ask you to drop me a line. I don't like this fishing for reviews, but the thing is.. English is not my first language. And I have absolutely no idea if this was readable or not. So please tell me, and feel free to point out any mistakes or typos you find.