Author's Note: This ended up a lot darker than I had first intended it to be, however nothing is explained in graphic detail. I had this rated M to be safe, but after reading a lot of other fics much, much darker than this that were still rated T, I have decided to lower it. If anyone is offended or really wants me to change it I will not hesitate to do so! Thank you so much for reading!
(Disclaimer: Don't Own DC)
It wasn't Joker. It wasn't Scarecrow. It wasn't Professor Pyg. It wasn't a main villian at all that made the ten year old's stomach twist in agony.
Damian was still thinking about it as he sat in his bed. He tossed and turned and tried to get that horrible feeling in his gut to go away. He tried to shake away the cold chills that kept coming. He saw something that night that would likely disturb him for the rest of his life. It was something his mind could barely get a grasp on. It was something that was not suppose to happen. Not to anyone. And these kids were only his age...
He did not understand at first when he had helped Batman break into the building what he was getting into. He did not understand why Dick had stopped him in the middle of the hallway, lined with rooms with curtains. He did not understand the noises he heard, or why he saw crying children sitting in the rooms that did not have closed doors. He was even more confused when Dick had turned to him and growled.
"Robin, go home."
So he had protested. He hadn't done anything wrong... had he?
"Robin, go home now." This was a tone of voice he had never heard from Dick before. No matter how long he had been Batman, Dick never had been as stern or cold as the original. Damian was so confused and frightened by the sudden shift in personality in his partner, that he obeyed.
It was when Dick got home much later that night that he finally got answers. He was almost afraid of what Dick was going to tell him after he was sat down at the kitchen table and told to wait for answers. Dick had left the room and come back with Alfred. The butler was wearing an expression that Damian had never seen on the Englishman's face before. It was a mixture of discomfort and worry.
They both sat down and Dick had started explaining, and that is when Damian's stomach had started to ache, and his head had started to spin. Dick's words replayed in his head.
Child Prostitution Ring.
After a long and serious talk with Damian, where the boy understandibly had a few questions, he excused himself to bed. He had made it to his room before he let the tears fall. This wasn't something that was supposed to happen. Not to kids. Not to anybody.
After literally making himself sick from sobbing, he curled up in his bed and tried to fall asleep. So now he layed there, trying to get his mind to stop.
Oh God, those kids were my age. Some of them were younger than me. Those noises I heard... oh God, oh God, oh God...
The sobs started coming again and he buried his face into his pillow to muffle the sound. He felt terrible. He felt useless. He felt... unsafe.
They were my age. It could've been me in one of those rooms. It could've been me.
After a minute more of sobbing into his pillow he started to hyperventilate. He used the techniques that had been taught to him for his Robin training to steady his breathing, then layed there for a while, breathing deeply, but the feeling in his stomach of insecurity didn't go away. He started to panic, and almost started to hyperventilate again, until he thought of Dick.
Just as soon as Dick's name appeared in his thoughts, Damian threw off his covers and jumped out of the bed. As soon as his feet hit the floor, he was running.
He could hear his feet hit the floor and his breathing became ragged. All the stealth and grace that he usually possessed was gone in this moment. He was scared. He nearly ran into Dick's bedroom door, but at the last moment he caught himself. He tried to steady himself as he leaned against it, breathing deeply.
He closed his eyes and let the tears streak down his face, and after a moment of silent agony, he cracked the door open and peeked inside. He saw Dick sitting on his bed with his knees pulled up to his chin. Dick's eyes were closed and he was rubbing his temples, as if he had a headache.
Damian's eyes widened as he realised how young Dick looked in that moment. Sometimes he forgot. After a moment of staring, Dick noticed his silent observer. When their eyes met, Damian instantly began to run for the bed. He collapsed in Dick's arms and let himself sob again. Dick pulled him into his lap and leaned against the headboard.
"Shhh. Shhh. Dami, it's alright. It's okay," Dick murmured in Damian's ear.
"Na-No it's na-not," Damian choked out, "Those kids... they were..."
Dick pressed Damian closer and started to rock back and forth.
"Hush, hush Dami. Everything's okay. Everythings going to be alright."
After a few more moments of rocking back and forth, Dick adjusted Damian and his own position until they were lying underneath the covers. Damian pressed his cheek as close to Dick's heart as he could. Dick wrapped his arms around the ten year old.
"Why? Why would people do that?" Damian whispered.
"I don't know Dami. I really, really don't, but that's the reason we work on the good side. We have to help these people." Dick stroked the back of the boy's hair when he heard a sniffle.
"Look Damian, I... I understand if you don't want to do this anymore. Okay? No one is going to think any less of you, I was faced with the same choice when I first saw... this kind of thing..." Damian pulled back from Dick's embrace just enough to look at his face.
Dick took a deep breath before he gave his next words.
Damian's eyes widened, and he put his cheek slowly back to Dick's chest so he could hear his heartbeat.
"Oh," was all he could manage to whisper. He shut his eyes tight. Did he want to quit? A part of him was afraid, a large part. He never wanted to see anything like this again. But he knew he would if he continued playing the role of a hero. But a larger part wanted to make sure that nothing like what he saw ever happend to anyone else ever again.
"No. I... I want to keep being Robin. I just... don't want to work these cases for a while..." Not until I'm much, much older...
"Of course, Dami. Of course." Dick squeezed him tighter.
"They... they were my age," Damian whispered after a moment of silence.
I know. I know Damian, that's what scares me the most. Dick did not voice his silent fears.
"You're safe with me Dami. You're safe in my arms, I promise," Dick murmured the words as he squeezed his eyes as tight as they would go. He heard more muffled sobs from the boy in his arms and his heart broke.
He loosened his grip on the ten year old for a moment while he grabbed the blanket around them and brought it up and over both of their heads, like a protective tent.
"Wha-" Damian started to question the sudden move, but Dick pulled him gently back into his arms and he stopped.
"Now we're the only two people in the universe," Dick explained as he closed his eyes,"Underneath our blanket, we're the only ones. And we're safe."
"Tt. No we aren't," Damian whispered back sleepily, but Dick could hear the smile in the boy's voice. He rubbed little circles on Damian's back.
"You're safe here little brother, I promise," Dick said, more to remind himself of his little sibling's safety than anything. Damian snuggled closer to reply his gratitude.
This was new to Damian. This closeness of another person. His mother always warned him about closeness. But this felt so safe. By the time Dick gently pulled the covers down far enough to where they could breath fresh air, Damian had decided. He liked being close. He felt safe.
In fact there was no place he had ever felt safer than in his big brother's arms at that moment. And after a long night of tossing and turning and stomach aches and crying, he let himself drift to sleep.