The sound of a wire snapping is lost among Gotham's constant grumble.
The sound of a wire snapping is lost among the Circus' cacophony.
It doesn't carry over the hum of traffic, or the sudden blare of a horn.
It doesn't carry over the murmur of the crowd, or the sudden terrified screams.
Dick sees the line snap. He watches, horrified, as his Robin's eyes widen as he starts to fall.
Dick sees the line snap. He watches, horrified, as his parents eyes widen and they start to fall.
Robin's eyes find his, hands scrambling at his utility belt for another grapple. Already used.
His mother's eyes find his, her hands clenched tight in his fathers strong hands. There is no net.
Dick launches himself off the roof, racing gravity to catch his falling Robin. There must be something he can do.
Dick reaches out in a futile attempt to catch his falling world. There is nothing he can do.
Dick, Batman's cape flaring out behind him, dives to intersect the arc of his Robin's fall. Not again. He won't watch this happen again.
Dick, his mother's little robin, fell to his knees on the high platform. His wings were broken, lying in shattered pools of spreading blood far below.
Tearing agony rips through his shoulder as he impacts with the falling boy; the change in momentum and trajectory wrenching the joint from it's socket as he releases his own grapple.
He kneels there, numb, as his mind tries to process the sudden wrenching separation between all he has known and all that is to come.
New momentum sends the intertwined bodies, red and yellow almost completely encompassed by black, shattering through an office window. On the second floor.
Sanity, or maybe insanity, grips him, and sends him scrambling down the tower. He has to reach them, has to see for himself.
Dick curls himself into a defensive ball around the tiny form of his Robin as they go tumbling through the office, bleeding off momentum. He cries out once, when the edge of a desk snaps his ribs.
Dick breaks into a stumbling run as soon as he hits the ground, world already disappearing under a fog of tears. He cries out when he sees the already life-less sheen in his parents eyes.
Batman and Robin finally come to a stop against a partitioning wall, cracking the plaster. Dick's head slams against it, but Damian's own impact is cushioned against his chest. Safe. They are safe.
His next stumbling step forward his halted by a firm hand on his shoulder. He fights as he is spun away from the sight of his parents lifeless bodies; the strong bodies that have always meant freedom and safety and flight. He will never fly again.
He curls, shaken, around his Robin, holding him tight despite the agony stabbing through him. He is unaware of the quiet, desperate litany of 'notagainnotagainnotagain' that holds the normally caustic boy still in his embrace.
Strong arms reach around him and pull him against a broad chest, blocking out the world. Tears and quiet sobbing 'nonononono' are lost in firm muscles and the scent of expensive cologne and Gotham rain.
The world is dim around him for a time. Into that eventually pierces the awkward patting of a green gauntleted hand against his own, as if the hand's owner was unsure how to go about comforting anyone. Damian. His Robin. Safe. Not broken and splattered across the uncaring Gotham pavement like the discarded toy of a spoiled child.
His world is in shambles around him for a long time. Lost in this too-large house he finds himself in, and the uncomfortable distance of his new guardian who, despite his empathy that night, seems unable to connect. Always distant.
Dick comes back to himself enough to feel the fine tremor that is running through his Robin's body as adrenalin races through his system. Worried hands - well, the one hand that is actually working - run over the small form, checking for injuries, holding him close as may-have-beens cloud the air around them.
Mr. Wayne - Bruce - finds him crying one night, curled around his parents' practice clothes. Not the gaudy performance attire, but the simple work clothes. They still smell like them. He is gathered into powerful arms and allowed to cry himself to sleep nested in a huge bed and a tight embrace while he accepts that they are never coming back.
A discontented grumble halts his inspection and heralds the start of Damian's. The fine tremble of fingers as they check pulse and pupil response belie the harsh words that accompany the inspection. Concern and fear hidden below anger and bluster.
The dark passage seems to swallow all the light in the room. A shadowed cavern revealed below the bright mansion holds many secrets. A burning desire for justice and peace shrouded behind terror and violence.
They call for assistance, despite Damian's insistence that he was all the help required. They are wounded, vulnerable, but it is only temporary. They will be strong again, and fight another night to bring justice and safety to the people of Gotham.
The bat who lives in the cave does not want to accept his help. Dick though…Dick sees all the places in him that are wounded, vulnerable. The places that ache from this unremitting fight in the darkness. He will learn to be strong, to fight at Bruce's side. He will make a place for himself here. To help bring light into the darkness.
Dick closes his eyes for a moment, overtaken with relief and joy. This night could have ended in disaster, so like that night years ago. The bright of the big-top lights shining in pools of blood. But Robin is a small shadow beside him, waiting. There will be further training, inspection of equipment, new safety measures employed. But everything would be alright.
Dick pauses for a moment, on the verge of his first jump. There is no adoring crowd below him, no hands waiting to catch him. A dark shadow is to his left, waiting. It is different, but it is right.
Robin will live to fly once more.
Robin will learn to fly once more.