Dick Grayson lay on the cold, hard, concrete beneath him and watched as the world swirled in front of his eyes. He felt something warm behind his throbbing head, and, in a weird way, it was comforting. It was liquid and warm and comforting.
Which could not have been a good sign.
But Dick Grayson just smiled up at the twinkling, mocking stars high, high above him and watched as they slowly faded in and out of his vision. 'Ah, so this is what it's like to die...' His smile grew sad, and tears pooled in his eyes and started to roll slowly down his cheeks. 'Jason...I wonder if he felt like this, when he died?' And suddenly all of the regrets, all of the missed chances, all of the opportunities he had never taken because he had always thought he would have time...All of them came rushing forward, crowding around the front of his mind, causing the tears to pour faster and harder. He knew he would never get a second chance; he knew he would never get to tell Jason that even after all this time, even after the brutal way they had broken up all those years ago, he still loved him. Loved him deeply and truly, with all of his heart. That no matter what he had said or done or even implied, he still loved him.
And he would never get to tell Damian that he was sorry; sorry that he had left, sorry that he hadn't paid attention enough to notice how much damage him leaving and giving up the cowl would cause. He couldn't tell him he loved him and that no matter how much they squabbled, Damian was the perfect little brother and he loved him, even when he did make attempts on his life.
And Tim....Ohhh Tim. Sweet Timothy, who Dick loved more than life itself, Tim who had walked into his life and given him the magic of being able to love fully again, love in a way he hadn't been able to love since he and Kori had called it quits years before. Tim, who meant so so much, and probably didn't even fully understand what he meant to Dick. Dick wished...Dick wished he could just tell him, just once. He had to say the words, had to say them with more emphasis, had to make sure Tim understood...
Dick nodded internally and took as deep of a breath as his wounded lung would allow. He was pretty sure that it had to be punctured, and he grimaced at that. But he dismissed that as irrelevant at this point, and focused all his energy on his right arm. He forced it to bend at the elbow, and then raise slowly toward his ear. He had to bite his lip to smother the initial scream, but the endorphins kicked in after that, separating his mind from the pain his body was clearly suffering.
As his hand brushed the communicator in his ear, he did a quick visual scan of the area, then sighed. Two-Face was gone, probably long gone, off to either torture someone else or boast of his victory over a Child of the Bat. But Dick quickly dismissed that thought. He was running out of time; he could tell by the darkness closing in from all angles, the way his breath hitched in his lungs, and also by the odd lack of pain. 'Must be shock...' Which meant he would have to make this quick and precise.
"Dick!" Barbara answered immediately, her voice high and obviously bordering hysterical-panic. "Where are you, what happened, your vitals are dropping, are you alright--"
"Barbara." His use of her real name and not her code name while he was on the field caught her attention sharply, and it was enough to stun her into silence briefly. "I need you to patch me into Tim."
"But Dick! What-"
"Please! It's...It's important."
She was quiet for a moment, a long moment, and then- "Fine. But I swear to god Dick Grayson, if you leave me, I'll kill you." The line went dead except for a faint hum of static and Dick smiled at that remark. 'If she only knew how ironic that is...' He coughed, and he felt his blood bubble up in his lungs, his throat and mouth. He leaned his head to the side a bit and coughed some of it out, all too aware that time was running short. 'Soon. Soon. I just hope it's enough time...' He closed his eyes and let his mind slowly drift while waiting for Tim to come on the line.
"Dick! Dick, what the hell?! Oracle is panicked, she says she thinks you’re dying, are you ok--"
"Tim. Timothy. Shshs." He smiled as Tim went abruptly quiet. Dick smiled at how easy it was to quiet these two. It was Bat Law that once you left the Cave you never used real names. Not ever.
Which might have been what worried them more.
"Tim. I...I needed to talk to you. I...I had to tell you something." He sighed softly, his breathing getting worse and more labored. 'Soon.'
"Now? Can't it wait until we get home? And why are you-"
"Timmy, it can't. It can't wait. I'm..." He coughed and leaned to the side again, letting it splatter the concrete in his blood. "There's not enough time."
Tim was absolutely silent for nearly a minute then he whispered quietly, "Come on baby. Don't say that. Don't say that. You'll be fine. We'll get you back to the cave, fix you up..." His voice was soft, but it was clear that he was biting back some deep emotion.
Dick shook his head softly, even though he knew Tim couldn't see it. "Not long enough. Just...Just listen, okay?" When Tim didn't say anything Dick took that as an affirmative and just let his heart do the talking. "I'm dying, and I couldn't die not knowing if you ever truly understood what you mean to me. Tim, you saved me from myself. When I was wallowing in my own despair after my last wedding attempt, you came and pulled me out. You convinced me that there was more to life than working myself to bone to fight off the despair. You showed me life is more than just work and lost love; it's joy and the laughter of family, and all the great things that we have. Tim I..." His voice trailed off and he coughed for a few moments, the blood gathering and his breathing getting worse.
"Tim, I love you." He smiled and knew that he was almost out of time and knew that whatever he said now, it would be the last thing Tim ever heard him say.
"I love you more than life itself. I love you so much, it hurts sometimes. But you're worth everything, all the little pains and jealousies, because..." a deep breath and then in a much smaller, breathier voice that Tim had to strain to hear, "...Because I haven't been this happy since my parents died. Tim you're..............."
"I love you."
Richard Grayson, the last of the Flying Graysons, smiled as he finally delivered his message, with all of the love and emotion he could pour into it. He looked up at those twinkling stars that were swimming in his vision and just smiled, a deep smile full of contentment and peace, and as he did, he took in one last breath and then let it slowly out, his eyes slowly drifting close.
And still those stars twinkled on, mocking in their way, as the original Boy Wonder drew his last breath and his body went still, that beautiful smile that only he could manage warming his beautiful features.