It was a mistake.
It was a damn mistake.
Damian drops the katana on the cold, grimy concrete of Gotham's rotten streets, the scene in front of him barely allows him to register the muffled sound of the gun crashing unevenly on the ground, nor can he focus on the alarmed screams his brothers emit through his communicator. The only thing his mind is capable of registering is the presence of his father on his back, well aware of his disappointed gaze staring at him.
I didn't want to kill him.
He was fighting as usual, he learned the correct direction of his attacks not to kill and better ways to fight to avoid mistakes like this, but it happened. He still killed someone. Because right now? He's no longer a murderer, he runs proud wearing Robin's cloak and what it represents, he learned from Grayson, from his other brothers... why does he always fail at something? Why does nothing ever go right for him? Why does the world keep yelling in his face: MURDERER?
"When everyone's done, we'll see you in the cave."
Damian turns to his father, but he's already gone. He bites his lip in frustration and doubt, stays in the middle of the night turning his back on the body of the criminal he killed... and looks at the empty space where Batman once stood, now only showing a direct path to the street. The loneliness and darkness of the night leave the invisible moon as his only company, forcing him to submit to the ups and downs of the life that was imposed on him and the life he chose for himself, which continue to diverge from each other, colliding, searching to destroy each other, even when he swore to himself that he would always be careful, that he would be better.
He was proud of his progress, proud that his father trusted him more.
He was proud of the person he was becoming, he was sure that his growth would put him on the same level as his brothers.
He was wrong.
A presence behind him makes him turn and his reflections force him to take his sword, which is still on the ground, so he only has the posture to face the stranger.
Nightwing watches him with a sad expression and reaches out to place a hand on his shoulder, Damian hunches at the friendly and understanding touch, doesn't help with the guilt, but makes him feel lighter, stronger to face the inevitable gaze of disappointment from his father.
"You don't have to explain anything to me, I know."
Damian no longer has to look up to face his older brother's gaze, but he would like him to remain that way, he would like to still be a child to be pampered by Grayson's excessive affection, but he cannot hide in that way. .
He made a mistake and must face the consequences.
"I'll be backing you." Grayson whispers in his ear before bending down to take the katana and return it to him, a small smile dedicated only to him.
It was only a moment, but it meant everything.
With a new confidence, a little hope, he makes his way back home. Take one last look at the person who murdered and follow Grayson.
It's almost nostalgic like a year ago it was just the two of them against the world, jumping the same way through the rooftops, but now Richard doesn't wear a cape or a somber expression, yet the feeling is the same: freedom.
If I were Grayson's son in some distant universe, would I be happier? Would the feeling of failure disappear? Would I stop falling down the deep pit I was thrown into?
I would like to dream a little more, why did they give me the world and take it from me as if I wasn't worthy of looking at it?
Will I never be enough?
Even if I never were, I don't want to give up, even if only pieces remain of me...
He's the last to reach the cave, his thoughts submerged him in the comfort of routine and his steps slowed down as if deep in his being he knew that it would be the last time he would run through those worn roofs, even the drizzle nocturnal caressed him like a silent farewell.
Something within himself screamed at him: it's the last time you fly through these skies.
When he stands in front of Batman, everyone else remains distant, but attentive. Drake drops his hood and meets his gaze, soft and, perhaps, a bit of concern reflected in his eyes.
It was a mistake. His father can't get too angry because he made a mistake, can he? Only it wasn't a simple mistake, you killed it.
Every second the silence stretches, Damian feels the air grow heavier. The most terrible thing about Batman is not his reprimands, it's his silences and looks that say more than any language is capable of expressing. No matter what he says, nothing is worse than being in front of his father while silently judging him.
"You'll be on the bench indefinitely."
"Bruce!" Richard shouts from one end, the tone of reprimand in the older man's voice doesn't escape him, although he knows it will have no effect on his father. "You can't treat it like it was done on purpose."
"A death is a death, Nightwing."
"And he knows it, but..."
"If I knew, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I'll not change my mind, we are finished."
He just watches the exchange, Richard even came over in the middle of the conversation to be by his side. Damian just raises his head with dignity, accepting the facts, but isn't it even worth a scolding anymore? Did he just treat him as a lost case?
It doesn't hurt.
Damian frowns and walks off to the locker room, not saying a word to anyone despite feeling all eyes on him, despite noticing that Grayson intends to speak to him.
It doesn't hurt.
He stops in front of his locker, looks at his clothes and disconnects from his surroundings. He takes off his costume automatically, he can't allow himself to feel anything in those moments, he just has to act with the dignity that Damian Wayne has to maintain, he just...
"Damian, I'm proud of you."
Grayson's hug is both a relief and a weight that threatens to break it. A cry from the depths of his soul claims for the betrayal, disappointment and despair that a simple accident brought to the surface. The gentle waters of the crystalline lake hid in its depths the shadows of the beast that resided in them, taking him with it at the slightest disturbance, devouring him completely.
What if he just gave up? What if his destiny is to be devoured by the beast?
Still, I don't want to give up.
"I’m aware, G-Richard..."
Grayson lets out a muffled gasp upon hearing it, Damian can't blame him, it's the first time he's called him by his name, but he deserves it, right? Richard was always for him, he accepted him even with everyone against him, he understood him where no one else did him and he love him as no one else seems to do it.
Why couldn't I be another normal boy? Why was I born as Damian Al Ghul? Why did I become Damian Wayne? Why am I required to choose only one?
"I'm going to change and go to bed... Can I... sleep with you?"
The words almost caught in his throat, locked by the lump that had formed. These feelings want to compel him to bow, hug himself, and scream. He will explode, unable to contain himself and there will be no force capable of stopping him from collapsing.
"Sure… and Damian, you're still learning, Bruce is too strict with you."
Damian can feel Richard's smile in his words, a curvature that always forms with the same ease of the smooth flow of a river, without disturbances or rocks that interrupt its flow. He was always surprised by the ease with which he smiles at him, through every mistake, through every difficulty. Richard Grayson always tries to face the world with a smile.
It comforts him to know that he exists, that he's real and not another cruel joke to make life laugh in his face.
Holding Robin's mask for the last time, he really feels like he won't be wearing it again.
Maybe it's for the best. Robin is a symbol and he could not represent it.
He hasn't wings to fly the skies that Robin must fly.
Still, I could not help stretch my hand and try to reach the vast sky above me...
It was a good dream, but now I'm awake.
I'm not Robin, nor a Wayne, and I'll never be an Al Ghul again.
I don't want to give up, I'll just go back and find my way.
This is not my last battle.