She was indestructible. The monsters that hunted in the night shattered against her like glass on iron. When she walked the streets during the day, people stole glances at her and traded awed whispers (they always imagined more than they knew, knew more than they said). Robin saw the very houses bow down to her - sometimes, out of the corner of his eye. He didn't tell anyone. But he took note of everything. How she didn't flaunt her power, but she didn't hide it either. How she always knew where the trouble was. How she'd go right to the heart of it like there was nothing in the world that could stop her. That was her power.
On the nights when she left him behind, Robin would imagine, half-dream, half-fantasy, that she was a queen from a faraway country. (He was the prince, of course.) Her long coat was her regal gown, transfigured to hide her true identity. But no kind of magic could take the queen out of her - everyone saw it. The people and the houses and the trees and the alley cats and every last one of them paid their respects. He'd fall asleep and dream about her stalking the hallways of an endless palace like she stalked the city streets. Servants and politicians would run after her, asking her for help with their troubles, and she'd go right to the heart of them and stake 'em dead.
He always woke before the sun. He'd climb out onto the fire escape and watch for her. Her shadow would appear first, coat swinging, back and forth, back and forth, easy and comforting. She'd turn into their street at the very first light of dawn, without fail, and the sun would follow behind her. He saw it happen so many times, he almost believed the sun wouldn't rise if she didn't come.
One night he followed her. He wasn't scared; he knew she was untouchable. It never occurred to him that the monsters would care about him. In the rain and the dark, he saw and heard nothing. Even if it had been light, Robin had eyes only for his mother.
She was another matter. He lost sight of her for a second around a street corner, and suddenly she was behind him and so was something else - something fast, with eyes that glittered. It growled like an animal and cut through the curtain of rain. Everything reeled and something struck Robin's head. Then he was lying on the ground, pressed awkwardly against wet concrete. He tasted blood on his lip.
Two shadows fought in the street in front of him. They were faster than his stunned eyes could follow. But he knew that one of them was her - he knew because the creature shrieked in frustration because no matter what it did, no matter how fast or how hard it clawed or bit or punched, it couldn't bloody her. It couldn't lay a finger on her. She took her time with it, not being quick or merciful. It lost horns first and then an arm and then Robin closed his eyes and breathed heavily through his mouth. When he opened them, she was kneeling before him with the wrath of God in her eyes. The monster was gone.
"Robin, what are you doing? Go home!"
He couldn't move. Her disfavor paralyzed him like nothing else could've. He bit his bleeding lip, but before he could cry, she softened instantly. She looked away from his struggle with tears and busied herself checking over his bruises, still brusque even when she was being gentle.
"Comin' on patrol with me - great idea you had there, Robin. Well, we're alive, aren't we? We beat 'im."
"You did," Robin said, swallowing down the lump in his throat.
She smiled. "That I did."
"Are you mad at me?"
She shook her head. "Life's too short to be mad at you. I'll save my mad for the vamps. Only this once, you hear me?"
And that was all. She didn't make him leave and that night he was untouchable too in her shadow. Afterwards, they walked back together, she slowing her footsteps to accommodate him. When they turned the corner to their street, Robin saw their faint morning shadows appear, faint but visible, side by side. They'd brought the sunrise home with them, he thought.