You’re going to die in a week, you know this, just as you known that your son is Robin, and that you were going to marry Jack since you met him. You’ve known the way the world is going to move since you were a child and you guessed snow days a week early, and the names of future best friends. You can’t stop it, and more than that, you’ve known since you were thirteen that this was going to happen, your life hasn’t been your own in decades.
You’re thirteen when you visit a graveyard for the first time. Your grandfather had died, and you’re standing with your parents as they lower his coffin into the ground. (He knew what it was like, he was like you. He was the one who taught you.) He told you once that you rarely witness your own future, but rather the one of the person you love most. It’s in the moment when the casket hits the ground that you see your own death. There a cup of water, and a plane ticket to Haiti. This, you think, is how I die.
When you first met Bruce Wayne the world splintered apart for several seconds and you saw the future. You marry Jack Drake and become the head of a company and one day, your child will become Bruce Wayne- the Batman’s-son. You smile and introduce yourself to Wayne, and you never let him know what you learned about him. This man is more than he appears, and he will be the one to take care of your son. He’s far more than he appears, this vapid socialite hides more than anymore realizes, and you find you can respect that, understands it even.
You meet Jack Drake when you’re twenty three. He’s nice- boring, but nice, and heir to the moderately sized Drake Industries. He asks you to dinner and you don’t refuse. (You see how it happens. You know how this plays out, and you do it because you love your son who hasn’t been born yet. He's the only thing you love.) You date, and then he proposes. The marriage is a publicized affair, the Drake heir marrying. It’s predictable, you’ve read this book, and know that you don’t get a happily ever after. (You remember your Grandfather telling you that the colour scheme would be red and blue, “like Robins”, he’d said. Robins had always been your favourite).
Timothy is born, and you see his future sprawling in front of you. It all comes in snapshots, like a row of polaroid photos on a string. An empty house, Batman and Robin, Gotham from the view of a gargoyle, until the moments are flashing by quicker than you can fully register them. You manage to catch a few of them; crashing through a window, an abandoned theatre halfway through renovations, and a group friends, but not the ones he’d had in the earlier future. (None of these have the primary coloured costumes of the heroes, no, none of them look like superheroes, but then, your son seems sadder in those moments.)
(When he asks for a camera, you want to laugh, because you’ve known since he was minutes old that this was what was going to happen).
Timothy is five when he comes to you, and asks why he sees the future. You sit him down and explain. (“You mustn’t let anyone learn of it, Timothy. The world is cruel, and they will not understand.”). He has your eyes after all, cursed and blessed. You smile at this child, who looks so much like you, and brush his hair away from his eyes, and kiss his forehead. It’s a simple gesture of affection, but the closest thing you’ll eve get to true maternal love. He’s brilliant, a genius even, but you hate to think about what he will see.
He’s six when he asks you if there’s any others. (“No, no, there aren’t. It’s why you must be careful. There are those who will try to use it against you.”). There had been once, your grandfather had taught you after all, but when you had asked he had simply smiled and said “You, my dear,”.
Timothy is ten when you see the photos, and the polaroid images of his future begin to line up. You don’t tell him you know what he does, and he doesn’t tell you. (He’ll never tell you, and you’ll never tell him. But you’ll buy him a better camera sometimes, and put him in martial arts training, because if he’s going to scale the building of Gotham at night to chase the elusive Bat, you’d rather he be safe.) You’re never sure how much he knows- if he ever guessed that you know what he does.
You’re in Peru when you see the news article, “Jason Todd dead under mysterious circumstances”, and in Greenland, two months later, when the news comes again saying “Batman finds a new Robin?”. You know what happened. Your son is moving towards the future you knew he was destined for. The polaroid frames are beginning to get dates. You’ve known who Batman is for years, and you expect that Timothy knows exactly what happened to Jason Todd. (You’ve already lost him already, he’s no longer your child anymore. He’s a hero, and somewhere between a Drake and a Wayne, for now, but soon, you know, your time's coming and the last tether will vanish.)
He’s older when you kiss him on his forehead for the last time. You and Jack are leaving in 36 hours, first for Italy, followed by Morocco and then Haiti, theoretically to return after, a seven month excursion. (It won’t be seven months, it will be five and a half, and you won’t return home, you know). It’s luck that Timothy is home, and asleep. It’s the only goodbye you can give him. You aren’t a good mother, if you were you never would have left in the first place, or you wouldn’t leave now, or you’d tell him you were sorry, but you’re not, and you’ve never pretended you to be. Instead you sneak into his room when he’s asleep, and kiss him on his forehead, the only apology you can give.
You’re boarding the plane to Haiti, and you know that you’ll never see Timothy again. You know that you’ll die soon. You’ve known that this was going to happen for years. You board the plane, and part of you wants to laugh. It’s okay though, you think, you’ve taught Timothy what he must know.
You’re going to die, you know this, just as you known that your son is Robin, and that he’s the one you love most in the world.