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forever young

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They're losing. They're losing badly, and Jon knows it. They're only kids up against people their dads fight, only kids being beat and beat and beat.

Damian roars when Jon's thrown into a wall, and the enemy has Kryptonite, has the one thing anyone can hold that can hurt him, and attacks, blood running down his leg and staining the gold of his cape. Jon sees this in the fraction of a second before he slams into concrete, and he feels his nose break.

He can't see out of one eye. It's black and puffy, and it hurts. He can't stop his cry of pain, and Damian whirls around, grace gone as he rushes towards him and the villain laughs and let's him.

"Jon!" Damian slides to a stop in front of him, eyes wide behind his mask as he looks him over.

Jon gives him a grin that hurts. "I'm okay," he says in answer to the question Damian doesn't dare say, and pulls his tattered cape closer around his shoulders, rubbing at the blood coming from his nose. "I'm just not used to this."

Damian's face darkens and he pulls him into a hug. "You shouldn't be. Who is this, anyway?"

Jon coughs, chest aching as he shrugs. It hurts to breathe. "I don't know. He's never fought Dad before, and he looks like he's prepared for him. Why did he come after us?"

They were just doing patrol when he showed up and starting wrecking everything. He came for them specifically, aiming for the rooftop that they were sitting on.

"I don't know," Damian says, a sort of helpless fury in his voice, and the villain laughs his dark slimy laugh behind Jon.

"Because I want to - " Jon hears the click of a grenade and grabs his best friend, leaping into the air in a desperate attempt to get away. The boom doesn't block out the next words. " - get rid of the most precious things in the world to them. Their children."

Another click, and Jon jumps again, his ankles crumpling beneath him when he lands too close to the glowing Kryptonite stabbed into the street.

They're not going to make it, Jon realizes in a terrified rush, and by the way Damian grips at his arm, eyes clenched shut, he knows it too.

Jon laughs, hopeless and without humor, wrapping his hand around the back of Damian's head and the other reaching up as tears begin to fall. "Sorry," he says quietly, voice cracking, and Damian doesn't open his eyes. "I didn't mean to get us killed."

Bruises litter Damian's skin, and his cape brushes up against Jon's leg. "I don't want to die," Damian admits. "Not again."

Jon stares at him, heart breaking as he rests his forehead against his best friend's. "I don't want to die either," he says. "Sorry that we are."

"It's not your fault."

The villain cackles behind Jon's back, high pitched and mad, and Jon curls around Damian the best he can when he hears the sound of a gun being loaded. He's human, right now. He won't be able to protect his best friend, but he can damn sure try.

"I'm sorry," he says again, and can only register pain, before everything goes dark.

--

They were just kids.

Everyone knew that. Nobody knew it better than their parents, and when Superman came in a streak of blue and red, face pale and green and arms shaking from Kryptonite, he brought a bloody Batman with him.

They were just kids, and the world saw that when Superman and Batman saw their son's corpses, when they each lifted their tiny body and their legs dangled five feet off the ground.

They were just kids. Their kids.

The villain never stood a chance.