Standard Disclaimer - I do not own Young Justice, Batman, Kingdom Come or any of the characters therein. I do not do this for profit, but rather for fun and skills building.
NB: originally posted on the YJ Anon Meme, de-anoning because I've already admitted it was me.
Warnings: AU, mentioned character deaths, spoilers for Battle For The Cowl, Batman And Son, Batman and Robin Reborn!
Gotham is built on legends. There are stories of witchcraft and murder, of doomsday cults and devil pacts, and of secret societies that rule the city from within the very walls of its inhabitants. There are rumors the land is cursed, of vile poison that beats from the black heart of Arkham, and that the spirit of the city walks the night, a grotesque gargoyle that drains its prey dry of all there is to offer. But the best known and most universal tales of Gotham center around its greatest heroes, the original superhero and sidekick teamup: Batman and Robin.
To the native Gotham villains, Batman has always been the substance of shadows and fear, a nebulous entity of who may let the bagman go, only to bring down the entire crime ring when the time is right. His presence is felt everywhere, in every shadow, and clings to every aspect of the city. Nothing seems to happen in Gotham without him knowing about it – and he always does find out, eventually. There are still now rumors that he is a demon or even the very spirit of Gotham's desire for justice personified, if not Gotham itself. If anything, he has made it clear that Gotham is his city, now and forever.
But if Batman is the spirit of justice, then Robin is the spirit of compassion and humanity that tempers the Batman's implacable hunger to punish criminals. Robin is the hand that offers aid to those civilians who are otherwise too terrified to follow the great shadowy Bat to safety, charming them with a youthful face and antics. Robin is the cackling trickster, the never-stilling dervish that dances through the Bat's enemies like they are nothing, and the nimble saboteur. And Robin comes in many forms: he is a gangly boy-child to some, he is a handsome teen boy to others, and some are very definitely sure that Robin is a girl, sometimes blonde and sometimes not. However, Robin has always been constant in one thing: Robin is Batman's partner, his most trusted ally in his never-ending war on crime.
They have faced countless evils together, became the driving inspiration behind superheroes the world over. From all across the world to the very gutters of Gotham, tales of Batman and Robin's exploits are told, from the ridiculous to the terrifying.
From the very moment of his birth, Damian had been spoon-fed these stories, like every other child in the world. But, unlike them, he'd known for a fact that Batman was no demon or living shadow. Batman was a man: a brilliant criminologist and detective, the master of countless martial arts, and something of an inventor.
Batman was also his father.
And Robin was his child, not always of flesh and blood, but always one of his children nonetheless.
Batman and Robin's a family act. It's been that way since the beginning, first with his father and Dick, the first Robin and then all of his successors, until their father died and left it up to Dick to fill the empty cowl, with Damian as his first Robin.
Damian supposes it's something of a tradition, really.
The cowl is empty again and it won't be long before news reaches the others, even as scattered as they are these days, and then they'll come winging home. The others are going to ask a lot of questions, questions he and Dick never really had concrete answers for, and it's going to get ugly fast, especially now that Dick's not here. He should know: he'd been through this song and dance before. It hasn't been so long that he's forgotten.
He lets out a soft 'tt' as he stares at the headstone and jams his hands in his pockets as he turns around and heads back inside. He makes his way to the cave practically on autopilot, the way now etched so deeply inside him that he could trace its path in his sleep, and comes to stand before the memorial cases.
She is already there, dressed in the old familiar colors of a Robin, black domino mask hiding the most obvious and telling sign of her Tameranean heritage, and watches him as he continues on into the lockers to change, her wariness concealed beneath the jarring echo of false bravado and bristling anger.
She is ten years old, the spoiled brat child of royalty, trained to be the perfect warrior heiress to the kingdoms of her parents and thinks she knows everything. She only just met Dick a little while ago, but all her life she's heard the stories and dreamed about how perfect it would be when she met her father, never knowing that he already was a father of sorts to another, orphaned boy. And then, before she really gets the chance to know him, her father dies and she's left in the care of people she barely knows.
Damian is completely aware of the irony.
When he finally emerges from the locker room, it is in his new uniform. It feels different: too big, and the cape is a strange heaviness that now sits on his shoulders like a burial shroud. He supposes he will grow into it and get used to the cape all over again; Dick did too, after all. And Damian is young yet.
Too young, maybe.
Damian opens the memorial case and hangs up the Nightwing costume he's been using these last few months. He then closes it, shuts his eyes as he turns around, and pulls up the Batman cowl. When he opens his eyes, he is Batman and he is facing the newest Robin.
"You're not my father," she says stubbornly.
"I know," he says.
They're still mourning, the both of them.
"But Batman and Robin can never die, not really," he adds, holding out his hand. "Partners?"
She chews her lip a little, trying so hard to be brave, and clasps his hand. "Partners."
"Come on then," he says, shooing her towards the Batmobile. "We've got a cranky commissioner to introduce ourselves to."
She groans and he can practically sense her rolling her eyes. "What was it my father used to say? I'm so not feeling…"
"…the aster," Damian finishes, smiling a little. He's definitely not feeling the aster either. She's a bratty hothead with superpowers she's barely got controlled and enough mommy and daddy issues to rival his own. And he's really got no idea what he's doing – hell, he's a reformed ninja assassin that's only now just barely old enough to get his driver's license; what does he know about raising rebellious ten-year-old, half-alien meta girls? But he'd made Dick a promise and he's not about to let him down, not with this.
She's the daughter of his mentor, his adoptive brother, the one who practically raised him by himself these last few years. She needs someone to keep her safe.
He owes Dick that much.
"Stop dragging your feet, clown!" she calls over her shoulder, impatiently climbing into the car.
Damian sighs. It's going to be a long night.
AN: Damian, this is called karma.