heart and hook
When Batman fires her, Steph sits. And breathes. And her heart pumps blood. And she thinks that she must be thinking something, feeling something, but she can't really tell. And her eyes blink, and her gaze rests on the glass case.
And for a second, she thinks she can see a strange reflection in that glass, clammy skin and knotted hair and a gnawing rat.
But the glass is thin, and after that second all she can see are the bright colors of the costume inside.
And she wants.
She'll show him. She'll show them all.
Tim's seen war. Tim's seen people die. Tim's trying not to wonder what he was doing when Steph let go.
Whether he was punching someone, like he is now. Or dodging a blow, or striking out with his staff.
He kicks another of the dealers to the ground and grinds his boot in a little harder than he needs to against the creep's shoulder.
There's the sound of a gunshot from somewhere, and Tim smiles. Bruce once called it the sound of permission.
He chases it.
For a minute, he won't have to wonder what he was doing when she gave up.
Bruce has had many dreams about death, and about funerals, but rarely has he dreamed of wakes. There are crowds here, wherever here might be, and somehow the knowledge is water-clear in his mind that everyone is present.
Everyone who has ever been, or will be, or has been dreamt of.
His eyes scan the crowd, anxious and forlorn as a child on a train platform. An old man in an airport lounge. Searching for a recognised face.
For a moment, he thinks he sees someone it would only be possible to see here, now. Off in the distance, a familiar profile in a sea of faces. But the boy cries 'Natalia!', and runs to a woman pale as a fairytale, and disappears from sight.
Bruce keeps looking. And then, he wakes up.
color-blur and ankh
"I would like," Del says. "To play an old game, and make up new rules for it."
"A game of wild cards and birds." She blinks her mismatched eyes, and points to a boy. He is dressed in red, bright against the gray of the city. He hears a scream. "Hero time," he mutters, and leaps.
"What are the new rules, then?" Del's sister asks.
"You got to take the broken bird home with you last time, and I had mister scary green-hair funnybones. I want to trade. I will make my boy laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh."
"Do you think Superman's really from a far-away planet?" Dick asks, sorting his mother's paste jewels by color and by size.
"I don't know, honey. If he says he is, I guess so," his mother answers, and ruffles his hair. "It's past your bedtime."
"Do you think everyone there is a hero? If everyone was a hero, then you wouldn't really need any, would you? Do you think there's a guy like Batman on Superman's planet? What would he be called? Super-Bat-man sounds dumb."
"Maybe he's called Dick," Mary teases. Dick rolls his eyes.
"Mom, don't be dumb. Heroes can't have names like Dick. They have to make up other ones."
"There's nothing dumb about your name, little Robin. Now, to bed."