Note: Inspired by a headcanon post on tumblr where Damian takes a bullet for Tim on patrol.
This proves it, Damian thinks with a scowl and tries not to panic. Drake is an imbecile.
He relives the past ten minutes in his head, mind flitting from detail to detail to try and figure out why Drake had taken that bullet for him. But all he can focus on is the crack of the gun, turning his head and suddenly seeing only red and black in front of him, the small groan Drake let out as he fell to his knees. Damian had leapt over him to take out the shooter, indignant at how Drake apparently thought he couldn't take a bullet for himself, as usual underestimating his skill. But Drake never returned to the fight, just laid there in the alley surrounded by a gang of unconscious henchmen of an up-and-coming drug dealer as Damian took down the few that remained. Then Damian had turned to scoff at him but stopped short at the sight of the pool of blood. And there shouldn't have been any blood, their suits were bulletproof, but then he noticed the large, long rip in the fabric across Drake's chest where one of the thugs' knives had gotten him earlier in the fight. Where there was now a bullet wound. And Damian couldn't breathe.
Damian still can't breathe as he lies next to Drake in the alley made even more disgusting with his cooling blood. He had called Grayson immediately, told him Drake was shot, and now he pulls Drake's head up, turns it to face him as he hisses, "You idiot! Why would you take bullet for me if you knew your armor was compromised? We're both wearing kevlar!"
Drake smiles weakly up at him and coughs out a laugh. "You're way too short, Robin. There's no kevlar on your head," he says and Damian's eyes widen. Mentally, he lines them both up, and it clicks. The bullet in Drake's chest would have ended up in his head. Drake had realized that when the shooter aimed, then managed to move and sacrifice himself for him. Damian exhales slowly in shock before Drake speaks again. "Besides, you're my brother, annoying brat or not," he mumbles and Damian notices Drake's eyes are slipping closed behind the lenses, their white film translucent enough to see through at this distance. He shakes his head mercilessly.
"Don't fall asleep, you fool! Batman is on his way," he says fiercely. Grayson had been patrolling with Brown that night as she needed help with some problem she couldn't handle herself, so Damian had been paired up with Drake. Of course, Grayson had ignored his protests and said it would be good to work with someone he's not used to. Damian resists the urge to scoff at the memory. Look where that had gotten him! Kneeling in a dirty alleyway with Drake's blood on his hands. The older boy's head lolls, almost falls out of his grip, so Damian shuffles closer and drags Drake's torso up against his and supports him. "Do not fall asleep," he repeats in a growl, the words squeezing out between his clenched teeth and Drake laughs again.
"I'm not dying, Robin." Drake tries to brush off his concern and Damian fists his hands in his cape.
"No," he says. "You are not."
Drake falls into unconsciousness less than a minute later and in his solitude, Damian allows himself to consider what he has been avoiding thinking. If Drake dies - because of him - the thought terrifies him, makes his breathing quick and his pulse quicker. Surely it's because Grayson would kill him if he allowed his little brother to die, his father would be so disappointed in him, another Robin would be dead because he failed them all, his brother would be dead because Drake was a self-sacrificing idiot-
Drake is being pulled away from him, off of his lap, and Damian holds fast to his cape before he even looks up. He hadn't noticed the Batmobile pulling up, its lights blinding in the mouth of the alley. Drake's cape goes taught in his fist, making Grayson stop moving, and Damian notices only now that his hand is shaking. The fabric seems to flutter with his trembling. He doesn't know how to make it stop but he doesn't let go, just stands on treacherous wobbling legs and follows Grayson through the blood and bodies to the car, holding onto Drake's cape like a boy clinging to his mother's skirt in a crowd.
"Are you okay, Damian?" Grayson asks him when they're in the car, Drake strapped in next to him.
"I am unharmed," he answers, facing straight ahead, eyes angled to the side and down behind his mask at Drake's chest. He's still breathing. Damian's hand twitches slightly where it hangs between the seats, wrapped in bloodied nomex.
"That's not what I'm asking," Grayson persists and he ignores the implication.
"I'm fine. Now shut up and drive," he says.
Damian can't remember breathing again until Pennyworth finishes the surgery, pulls off the latex gloves and declares Drake's condition stable. Grayson heaves out a sigh that dwarves his own and ruffles his hair before going to sit by Drake's side. After a glance at Drake's face, pale from blood loss but not covered by the white sheet that stops at his stomach, Damian turns and heads upstairs.
He showers, too wound up from adrenaline for a bath, and scrubs Drake's blood off of his hands and knees. His uniform had covered his skin, prevented it from being dirtied, but Pennyworth will have to work at the stains in the morning. And he will try to forget the warmth of it through his gauntlets and leggings, the warmth of Drake's body collapsed against his, the warmth of his shallow breaths on his face as he leaned in close to make sure he could feel them.
He drops the soap, picks it up and shoves it back into its holder, and turns off the water.
He's back in the alley, back on his knees with Drake in his arms and they're alone, all the knocked out thugs gone. The blood on his hands is wet and warm again and he's been waiting for what seems like hours. Drake hasn't moved in an eternity and Damian doesn't know if he should shake him again, if he should let him rest, if he should put pressure on the wound and push the bullet into his body further. Grayson isn't here and Damian doesn't know what to do. His lifetime of training has failed him.
He sits and watches as Drake bleeds out, the thick red running down his body like poured paint, pooling at their feet. It grows cold beneath him, defying the warmth of their bodies, but then Drake follows suit. What little skin he can see pales further, his bloody chest stills, and he cools in Damian's arms.
When Batman finally arrives, hours later, Drake is a corpse and Damian is a failure without a brother.
He wakes without movement, just a quick intake of breath and opening of eyelids. He lies there, dry-eyed and heart pounding heavy but slow.
As he sits on the edge of his bed, he can't help but think how foolish this is. He has seen countless people injured, many who did not survive, but Drake did, so why would he care? About Drake of all people? He is a nuisance of a brother and he is only that because his father has a bad habit of collecting orphans. It doesn't matter than he took a bullet for him. He survived so Damian shouldn't care.
Still, he can't help but pad silently to Drake's room and look in, just to make sure that the pathetic fool hadn't dropped dead while he was sleeping. Pennyworth is inside, keeping watch in a stiff chair at Drake's bedside, and his eyes shine in the dim light with a knowing look when he sees him in the doorway. Damian hides his flush behind a closed door and goes back to his room.
'You're my brother, annoying brat or not.' Drake's words repeat in his mind as he lies in bed. With a huff, Damian turns onto his side and tugs his thick comforter up further around him. That idiot will survive.