A/N Sometimes I find little stories in the black hole that is my hard drive. Enjoy.

"And who could do without you?" Birds of a Feather, The Civil Wars

I don't think it ever matters how you get there.

Not for the important things, at least.

All you can remember is the dust spreading, exploding in your face, shielding the burning world with a new one, a stranger one, where time couldn't touch you and all that existed between you and the sky was mist and ashes. Sucking you dry, clinging to your throat, your clothes, your skin. This, you think, was the last of the good times, though it didn't feel that way at the time; these were the very last moments of ignorance you were allotted by whoever decided these things. This was when the last drops of sand from the hourglass met the pile beneath them. This was it. It was over.

You stumbled from the cloud, not sure how it began. As I've said, that doesn't matter. The beginning is irrelevant to what's happening to you, what has happened to all of you in this gray mist, by these burning buildings reaching towards the swollen moon. Nothing matters except now and whatever lies after it.

The stinging in your throat lessens and you stop coughing, the world a haze, and you thank God for the colors of their costumes, or they might have been gone forever in the poisonous air. You go to them, relief like hot water on your tense muscles. They're here, and you can go home.

But there's something wrong.

Really wrong.

Because Superman sees you first, turning from where he crouched to see you, make sure your not dead, amputated, sunken into a puddle of radiation. Your alive. Not he can crush you.

Through the haze, you see his eyes. You look past him at the other eyes, most obscured by colorful masks, bent into mournful, damp parodies of human expression. Though you've seen these things for years, your frightened of them, of whatever makes them look at you like that and for a brief moment they are the enemy.

Superman gets up, approaches you, slowly, with his hands up, telling you to stand back, Robin. Don't look.

"What?" you ask, still wary, still so completely puzzled as to how you left the fog to being with. "What…"

"Please," Superman begs. "Just stay where you are."

"Is everyone okay?" you ask quietly, glancing at the numbers behind Superman's thick torso. You count, slowly at first, and then frantic as his words sink in because your sure they think your too delicate to understand, to see the mess left by the flaming walls and dusty air. You count your team, their team. For a moment the relief is back. And then you think again.


"Where's Batman?" you croak, logic at once a hindrance and a comfort; the look in Superman's eyes, in all their eyes…but Batman was invincible…but they, them, all looking at you, creating a wall around what?

It's like he had been slapped, for the way Superman flinched.

"You don't need to see this."

That gets you going.

"Where's Batman?" you demand. "Where is he?"

You march, limp rather, forward, shove the Man of Steel with a force he could have easily deterred. You stomp past Wonder Woman and Green Lantern and Flash and then your team, your best friend Wally imploring you to listen to Superman, don't look, don't look, and Aqualad grabbing you by the shoulders and begging, begging, for you to just please wait, please don't look but you look, because he's the only thing that's left between him and Batman.

Batman, on the floor.

A bar of metal is fastened to his chest, right on through to the other side. A surprisingly little amount of blood already crusts around the wound.

You make a noise, like all the air has escaped from your body. You shift the weight from one foot to the other and you hear them all suck in a breath, waiting for your reaction but you can't, you can't keep it together for them.

"Batman," you say.

You get no response.

"Robin…" Superman whispers and you hear his gentle footsteps approaching you as if you were an irritable snake, ready to strangle the next breathing thing to break your reverie.

A scream suddenly rips from your throat, tearing it to shreds, tearing you to shreds and you can no longer stand, you can no longer breathe this toxic air. You fall beside this man, this lump of black, this cowl, this rod of iron, this empty shell of a man that was never a man, even behind the mask. He was superhuman and now he's nothing. "Batman."

You throw your fists to his chest, finding your fingers curling like dry paint around the metal bar, first gently and then with force, pulling sideways, then upward, pulling until it gives, though only an inch, screaming like a madman, screaming for help and for mercy, to your Pagan gypsy gods to please save your soul, save his soul, save all of them, screaming for someone to please help him.

And then hands are here, around you. At first you think it's the whole lot of them trying to pull you away, but it's only Superman whispering in your ear, pleading with you to please let go, it's too late, you can't help him and you argue that you can, you can, if only you could get this thing out of him you can help him. Let go, you beg. Let go.

"Dick," he says, using your real name, like spitting acid in your face. "Please."

"No," you choke, looking down at the chalky patch of skin around Batman's mouth, now slightly opened in what was once a cry of surprise, agony even. Red streaks your vision and you can't even move anymore, can only hold on to the metal and lean in closer to this man that is yours, that feeds you and shelters you and protects you from bullets and knives and bombs. You can't fathom anything before this or anything after this because all that exists is you and him.

Eventually, your throat gives out and Superman uses his full strength to pull you away. You see your team, Megan and Wally and Artemis and Aqualad and Superboy looking at you with such sorrow you finally let out the overwhelming urge to cry as your carried off back into the cloud, away from this man, this shell and the rain drop that broke the dam.

A/N My, that was rather pointless.