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proving one's worth

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Robin loses Batman in the middle of a fight.

He’s pretty sure he didn’t just leave Dick behind, but there’s always that little bit of niggling doubt. It’s his fault. He wasn’t thinking. He wasn’t paying attention properly.

Things have been better since Bruce let him be Robin, but it’s hard to let him out of his sight, especially when they’re out in the streets. There’s always that feeling that when Bruce disappears, Dick won’t be able to find him again.

Dick knows it’s a stupid thing to think but it’s easier, isn’t it, to just make sure he knows where Bruce is for the forseeable future? In Dick’s experience, the anxiety goes away eventually. As long as things don’t go horribly wrong, the anxiety goes away eventually.

Except now, he’s lost Bruce and his communicator isn’t working. Not to mention the fact that he is surrounded by a couple of very angry, very mean-looking henchmen who really did not appreciate their plans being foiled.

Dick’s exhausted, entire body trembling. He’s too tired. He lets his guard down for one moment too long. One of them grabs his arm and snaps his arm.

Dick bites his lips to keep from screaming. He blacks out for a few seconds. It’s enough for him to pin him down.

Dick kicks upwards. It’s the first break he’s had all night. It hits the guy in the chin, pushing him over. He falls over and Dick makes his escape. He catches sight of the tunnel and thinks, what the hell. It’s not like it can get worse.

He jumps.

--

Dick falls through the tunnel and lands on his broken arm. The henchmen are shouting but none of them are big enough to fit through it. He’s not sure he was entirely imagining the way he could hear the bones grinding against each other. The thought makes him want to throw up.

He blacks out for a second and has to bite his lips to stop himself from screaming. Screaming would give away his position. He doesn’t know how many criminals are left. They’re still looking for him and Batman Dick’s not in any position to fight several grown men off. He’s probably not in any position to fight off a civilian his age.

Part of him wants to just lie there and pass out. The floor is cold but Dick doesn’t mind. He’s not even sure he can still manage to stand. He’s been on his feet for what feels like days. Even with the circus, Dick never felt as exhausted as he did now.

But, no. He can’t just give up. He promised Batman he’d help out. He promised he wouldn’t be deadweight. It’s only been a few months and Dick’s in more pain than he’s been in his entire life, but he can’t give up. He can’t.

Dick’s never given up before. He’s not about to start now.

He pushes himself to his feet and tries not to collapse all over again. He actually has no idea where he is and his communicator isn’t working, but well. Dick can hear fighting in the corridors. If he wants to find Batman, that’s probably a good place to start.

Sure enough, Batman is there. He doesn’t need Robin’s help anymore, apparently. All the guys he was fighting off is currently unconscious on the ground. It’s a welcome relief. Dick’s not gonna be any use in a fight at all.

Batman sees him, eyes narrowing. Dick is swaying on his feet but he puts on his best grin for him.

“Robin,” Batman says.

“Batman.” His voice comes out thin and shaky. It doesn’t sound good at all. “Should have left some for me.”

“You’re hurt.” It’s not a question.

“Just a scratch.” It’s getting harder to keep grinning. Honestly, it’s getting harder to stay conscious, too. Now that the adrenaline’s wearing off, he’s pretty sure he has several cracked ribs, too. “It’s nothing.”

“Your arm is broken.”

“It’s happened before.” He was seven, he thinks. His hand slipped on the trapeze. He fell wrong. Broken in two places. His dad said he should be more careful with that arm because it’ll get hurt more easily. Dick did what he said, for the most part.

It’s harder to be careful when you’re in a fight. Other people just aren’t careful when they’re trying to kill you.

“We’re going back to the cave.” Batman doesn’t wait for him to answer, just gently presses Dick against his side and wraps his cape around him. It’s actually a really sweet gesture but it doesn’t stop Dick from feeling like a failure. He shouldn’t have gotten hurt. Shouldn’t have lost Batman in the first place. He should have been smarter, shouldn’t have let that man overpower him.

He would apologize but it’ll feel hollow. He won’t get to see Bruce’s eyes under the mask, but he’ll sense the disappointment. The regret. He always looks at Robin like he’s not sure he’s supposed to be there. It’s been months and Dick still has so much to prove.

He should have been better. He will be better, good enough that all that doubt will disappear from Bruce Wayne’s eyes.

He’s not going to let Bruce leave him behind.