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Little Known Fact Number Ninteen

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19.

“Rghaah!” A whip-like roundhouse, spinning into a mule kick that would’ve hit his opponent’s crotch. Dinah breathed a slow sigh. “Mngh!” He flipped, the cape swinging up to distract from the vicious claw-finger thrust aimed for the eyes. “Hah!” Landed, sprang up into a violent kick that would’ve taken off someone’s head.

Dinah hit the stop on the controls and the holographic markers froze their counting. He pivoted to face her, hand at his belt.

“Robin.”

His mouth opened slightly and his throat worked. Probably swallowing back his first comment. Dinah smiled, rewarding his thoughtfulness. He relaxed out of his fighting stance and surreptitiously tried to wipe the wide streaks of sweat off his forehead.

“Hey Canary. What’s up?” He asked.

She stepped onto the glowing floor and reset the program. “Not much. You?” Deliberate casualness always worked better than kid-gloves with him.

“Not much either.” He grinned, all devil-may-care with a glass-sharp edge. Dinah didn’t bat an eye. He led with a probing left. She blocked and nearly had him in a hold before he used his size to squirm away. She’d been meaning to break him of that habit. If Nightwing was anything to go by, this Robin would probably sprout up quite a bit too.

He faked to her left, then went low for her right knee. She brought it up to meet his face, but he was suddenly in the air, arms and legs akimbo and distracting from that claw-fingered strike going after her eyes. Dinah grabbed him by the front of his cape and tossed him. Robin landed awkwardly, half-rolling and half-flailing to a stop.

She gave a small chuckle as she stepped over to help him up. He groaned dramatically and threw himself down on his back. “A new move?” She teased gently.

She caught his glare a split second before he rolled backwards onto his feet. He put his hands on his hips and turned partly away. “Sure. Whatever.”

“Hey. Robin.” Maybe a little bit of kids-gloves. “You know I’m here to help. If something’s wrong, I hope you’d feel comfortable enough to tell me.”

His throat works some more, but his jaw stays clenched. Dinah steps clearly into his range of vision and lets her hand travel slowly toward him. She stops, hovering next to his shoulder. His throat works a little more, but he leans just a little toward her. Her fingers brush his cape. She smiles at him, like her mother smiled at her; Dear girl, you make me so proud. She puts her hand on his shoulder, stands a little closer to him. Waits.

“Diplomatic immunity is so stupid.” Robin grunts. She keeps her face gentle but lets her eyes harden. He isn’t looking at her, but he sees, Dinah’s sure of it. He sees more than people realize.

“Abusing diplomatic immunity is-” He cuts her off by pulling away slightly. She stops and lets him go. She can practically see the words trying to pry their way out of his throat.

“Canary, if I ever stopped being Batman’s sidekick, who do you think would take me?”

His head is tilted; one hip is popped with a hand firmly planted on it. His glass-edge is back, barely hiding under a lazy grin.

“I can’t think of any reason, any scenario where Batman would ever make you stop being Robin.”

The glass cracks a little. She can see I don’t believe you on his lips, but he licks them away. “But if I left him? Do you think Aquaman would take me? I can hold my breath for a long time.”

All Dinah’s smiles are gone now. “Robin.”

He shrugs, looking away. “Or you could take me. You put up with me pretty well.”

“Jason.”

He stops, and the words pile up in a heap at the back of his throat.

She stands in front of him, an arm’s length away. “Whatever fight you’ve had over what happened, no matter what you might be afraid of; Bruce loves you. He does.” She insists over the denials tripping on his tongue and behind his teeth. “You’ll get through this. You have to talk to him about it, but I know that’s hard right now.”

Dinah lets her hand rest on his shoulder again, and this time she rubs gently with her thumb. “If you want, you can practice with me first. I do a pretty good Batman impression.”

He swallows and with a flick of his hand shuts down the training session. Agreement catches on fear and uncertainty, so he just gives a small nod. Lets the devil-may-care hide the glass edges behind his smile.

“There’s no way your impression is better than mine.”