Disclaimer: I don't own the Titans. They belong to DC and Warner Bros.
Broken record moment: I'm Australian, spelling, slang, word usage is all different. I've done my best to limit the amount of Australianisms in speech (practice makes perfect).
If you watch my tumblr, and I know a lot of you don't, you would have seen the prompt i-could-be-your-superhero threw into my asks the second I reopened them. Which I absolutely fell in love with, knocked something together, sat back, looked at what I'd done, and thought "You know what? I could do so much more with this."
So, here's the so much more, starting with the original prompt.
Big fat warning: Angst. Actually… I recommend a lot of you don't read this (KATER, AIRDRIE, THIS MEANS YOU) until it's done in a week or two, if you know what I mean. As always, I write for me, I share with you. Sometimes what I write for me doesn't match what you might like.
Kater, close this right now. I mean it! I WILL EMAIL YOU ALL YOU NEED, TRUST ME.
You have been warned.
An impossible choice. And only one choice could be made. No second chances, no revision. No possibility of cheating. This trap had been well crafted and Nightwing would lose.
Two keys. Two locks. Two lives. Only one key could be used at one time. The cage belonging to the other lock would be destroyed once a key was used.
One would live. The other would die.
A figure prowled behind him, the click of a cane, the soft shuffle of an uneven gait. "Choices, choices."
Nightwing swallowed heavily as he stared at the contents of the cages. His eyes trailed upward as he examined his surroundings. Surely there was a way to save both. Surely if he was quick enough. Smart enough. Worth enough. He'd paid his dues. He'd saved so many lives, given so much of himself to others, surely the universe couldn't be this hard on him. Wouldn't ask for this much.
Can't breach the glass, that would set off the gas in both cages. He didn't think he could get above the cages fast enough to dismantle the delivery mechanism without it being manually set off. Couldn't count on the occupants being able to help themselves. No hope.
"I love this. What to do, what to do? Oh, the agony you go through, which shall it be?"
Not like the movies. Not like the books. There's no right answer, no way out. A choice had to be made. He had to make it and live with the choice.
He grit his teeth, clenched his fists. "I'll kill you for this."
A metallic sound filled the air, followed by a slap of a hand. "Oooh, my luck is with me today. I'll give you one free shot, but that's all you'll get."
Nightwing rolled his shoulders and grimaced at the flash of pain along his spine. It had cost him dearly to get this far. Batman was out, still battling and trying to make his way in. Nightwing couldn't count on his father making it here in time, especially since neither of them had known about this. It was supposed to be a routine capture. Not… this…
He wished he'd had a chance to alert the Titans, he could have used their help. There'd just been no time. He couldn't call now, any move he made without selecting a key would force the gas release. He was being watched so closely.
"Tick, tock. Make your choice or they both go."
His hands shook and he forced them steady. He had to do this. He had to. There was no one else who could. It was his responsibility to differentiate between the two cages.
In one… Starfire, his beloved, his breath and heart, lay battered, bleeding, dying. The pool of blood at the bottom of her transparent cage was indicative of the short lifespan she had left if she didn't get help. She worked for every breath, her eyes glassy and barely seeing. The chances of her full recovery, well, with one look at her leg and Nightwing knew even Raven couldn't save it.
The other… his six-week-old daughter. Unharmed, thankfully. She gurgled and waved her arms in the air in the general direction of the baby mobile clipped above her head.
A leer from the shadows. "Do you want to try the coin toss? Heads, I win. Tails, you lose."
The keys gave an unforgiving clang as they bounced off each other and dangled before him.
Starfire's gaze drifted from Mar'i to his. Despite the agony, despite the choice he knew she knew he was forced to make, she smiled.
Nightwing steeled his heart and reached.