hello! So I have returned after a few months of nonexistence in the fanfic world. It started out because it was the beginning of spring and my life gets hectic then (as in writing a play and performing it with the drama club for an audience that actually paid to see it! That's a first, btw) I intended to get back in and write this oneshot for my birthday, but alas, my father broke my computer and now finally we get new one! Yay! Anyway, consider this my peace offering while I scrape together some updates for my other stories. As always thanks for the support. On with it then...


In a city like Gotham, it didn't matter who the man was, what mattered was the fact that he had stupidly decided to take a shortcut (through a dark alley, of course) and the fact that he had money and didn't look like a street thug capable of defending himself. So, the mugger took his chances and jumped out of the shadows , startling the man and knocking him over. Before he could blink the attacker pressed a gun to his forehead and leaned forewarned, hissing into the victim's ear, "Wallet, watch, keys. Now."

The man shook with fear, reaching timidly for his pocket. The mugger was getting impatient. "I said now!" The terrified civilian squeaked and yanked his wallet and keys out of the pocket, almost dropping them while his hands shook. "Okay, okay, here, here, take it... Please, I don't want any trouble! Just take it and go please-" His begging was cut off by a solid punch to the face that sent stars exploding across his vision and set his ears ringing. "Give me the watch!" The mugger growled, pulling back the hammer on his gun and getting ready to blow his victim's brains all over the pavement. The man shrieked in fear.

"Hey!" Came a yell from the opposite rooftop. It sounded like a child. The criminal looked up in annoyance and only managed to see a bright flash of red before he was tackled to the ground. He wrestled with the newcomer, rolling around in the dirt before getting pinned on his back by a surprisingly firm grip. The boy leaned down and whispered in his ear a hiss that sent shivers down the mugger's spine, "Stay away from him or you're gonna regret it." The anxious criminal scrambled for his fallen gun, and finally grasping it, pulled the trigger, getting off one shot before a hand grabbed his head and smacked it into the pavement, knocking him out swiftly.

Robin stood up and ran over to the trembling, sobbing victim, who sat slumped against a garbage can with a hand on his midsection. The Boy Wonder's heart leapt to his throat. The man had been shot. The victim squeezed his eyes shut, biting his lip in pain to keep from gasping and hurting his stomach in doing so. Robin approached cautiously and knelt down next to the bleeding man. "Hello," he said softly, reaching out and pulling the man's hand away from the wound. He swallowed his uncertainty as the victim whimpered, and decided to introduce himself. "I'm Robin. What's your name?" "Steven..." He wheezed out. "Steven Jones."

The Boy Wonder smiled and grasped the man's limp hand. "It's nice to meet you, Steven. Why don't we make you a little more comfortable, huh?" Still being as optimistically friendly as possible, Robin pulled Steven out of his slumped position and laid him down flat on the ground. The man groaned as his head touched the pavement. Robin quickly unclipped his cape and laid it over him like a blanket, then slipped off his own shirt and bunched it up underneath Steven's head. He pulled up Steven's shirt to look at the bullet wound. Blood was flowing from it, and a lot had already seeped out.

Robin frowned and started applying pressure. There was still a chance he could save this man. He decided to get him to talk, to keep him awake. "So, Steven," he asked, pressing firmly on the man's stomach despite moans of pain. "Got a wife or girlfriend or something?" Steven opened his tear-filled, terrified eyes and smiled fondly in a moment of relief as his happy memories masked the pain. "Yeah, my beautiful Angela. Wish I could have been able to get home quicker... It's her b-birthday... I wanted to s-surprise her..." Robin fought back his own tears and pressed harder, refusing to give up. He pulled off his bloody gloves and put a hand to his ear, radioing Batman.

"Robin to Batman. Just took care of a mugger, but the civilian's been shot. Requesting backup." There was no reply. He looked back down at Steven, whose eyes were drifting shut from the exhaustion of staying alive. He shook him awake as gently as possible. The man groaned and looked up at the hero. "You're so young..." he mumbled. "How do you do all this?"

Robin snorted out a chuckle-like sound. "Well, I've been training my whole life, and... I'm motivated, I guess. I don't know what I'd do with myself, if I wasn't Robin, I mean..." The man sighed. "But how can you be so brave? You must have people s-shooting at you every night! You look l-like a freaking twelve year old and somehow... You're still alive..." For a moment he paused to stare at Robin. The boy couldn't meet his gaze and instead looked intently at his own bloody hands resting on the man. Steven's next words echoed in his head. "Can something really m-motivate you... that much?" Robin didn't answer, his unfocused eyes still caught on the man's wound. Through his mind raced memories of the reason for the existence of Robin.

"Hey, kid?" Steven asked, his voice suddenly weak again after his earlier questions. The boy snapped out of his thoughts and answered hesitantly, "...Yeah?"

"I want you to do something for me..."

Robin was immediately shaking his head wildly. "No no no no no, don't say that, you don't need to, you can do whatever it is yourself! I promise! You're gonna be fine! I-" "Stop!" Steven snapped. "Shut up and let me talk. I'm not stupid, I know what's happening and you can't do anything about it, kid." He pointed at his pocket and explained, "There's a ring for my wife, for her birthday. My address is in my wallet...Please. Just...Just give it to her. And tell her I..." Both of them didn't bother to hide the tears that flowed freely as Steven choked out, "I love her..."

As many sappy love tragedies as Dick had seen, he didn't think that it would actually be accurate when it came to an innocent civilian's last words. In another two minutes, Steven was dead and all Robin could do was sob silently and wait for help. Five years he had been doing this job, and although every unprevented death of an innocent was a new, fresh wound that deepened when a victim couldn't be saved, he had never witnessed it alone before, and tonight the blame for Steven's death fell on him and him alone.

It was thirteen minutes until Batman arrived. In the alleyway lay a dead body in a pool of blood, a crumpled shirt under his head, a cape covering his body. Robin himself lay shivering in a ball next to him, shaking with silent tears. The gloved hand on his bare shoulder was enough to pull him back to reality. He wiped his eyes and rose to his feet. Batman frowned down at him in concern before collecting the cape, shirt, and gloves. He silently offered them to his ward, but the boy took one look at the blood soaked garments and fervently shook his head.

Despite the cold, there was no way he was wearing those now. Batman sensed this and slightly opened his cape, allowing Robin to run to him and be completely covered in it, just like he had been when he was younger. Not a word was said between them as Batman lifted his boy into his arms and strode to the Batmobile. Not a word was said as Robin left a jewelry box on the doorstep of a widow. Not a word was said at the funeral, arranged by Bruce Wayne. Dick kept silent until Bruce decided he needed to talk about it.

Father and son sat together silently until Bruce finally explained, "I know you're blaming yourself. But before you say anything, I want you to know I am blaming myself just as much as you are. I failed to arrive in time. Granted, there was an Arkham breakout I was tied up in, but I should have at least responded to your distress call. I left you alone and didn't repeatedly check in with you like we had agreed, and that means you did not fail alone. Above all, the one to blame is the man who shot Steven Jones."

Dick nodded. He wasn't sure what to say. "Casualties come with the job," he sighed. "I know that. But why did this one feel so different?" "Because you tried so hard, Dick. You put all you had into saving that man and you were alone. It was just you and him and your efforts were the only thing keeping him alive. If it had been with me you wouldn't have had to save him. I would be the one restarting his heart and stopping the blood flow. I would be the one feeling guilty. We would get through it though, because we wouldn't be alone. And you're not alone anymore, Dickie. You have me now. We can get through this together. Okay?"

Dick wrapped his arms around his guardian and whispered, "Okay."

I hope that ending was suitable. I had a rough draft that I didn't like as much so I think this was the best route. As I said I will be updating my other stories now that it is finally summer break, probably in the order of most popular to least. Please review! Have a nice day :)

BW10