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What Comes After

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When Damian woke up, he was all alone.

The room was unfamiliar, and he was curled up in a corner, his body lodged between a table and a sofa. His mind was a whirlwind of confusion, and as hard as he tried, he couldn't seem to figure out where he was, or how he gotten here.

He felt tired, and it felt like there's something lodged in his throat. He swallowed, but it didn't seem to go away, and in the end Damian just curled up tighter, and closed his eyes.

He tried to remember what had happened — had he been patrolling with his father? He felt a jolt of unease, and a sudden, panicked rush of thoughts — if that was the case, where WAS his father, and how had he ended up here — and then he remembered.

(The heretic, bones snapping, pain, mother, mother call him off, a sword going through him, I'm going to die, I'm going to die, father where are you — )

Damian let out a small noise, half way between a sob and a whimper, and squeezed his eyes shut. No, no, he didn't want to remember anymore. His hands went to his torso, and he almost expected to find it torn open, blood gushing from his body — and yet there was nothing. His body felt whole; there was no blood, no broken bones. He felt fine, he felt alive, and yet…he remembered dying.

(…mother…call off your monster…)

He felt sick. He felt so sick, and it was ridiculous, because he was dead. He had died, he was sure of it — he'd felt himself dying. And yet…he was here. Alive.

And alone.

Where was his father? Where was — Grayson. His brother had been there, hadn't he?

(We were the best Richard. No matter what anyone thinks)

Yes, Grayson — Dick — had been there. And he'd…Damian screwed up his face, struggling to think, and then felt a rush of panic. He remembered his brother lying on the floor, still, lifeless, and once again felt bile rising in his throat.

Was Grayson dead? Was that why he was here, all alone? Had the Heretic killed his brother — had he killed his father? Because surely Bruce would have come for them, because he was Batman, and Batman would never simply leave them — and even if Damian was a failure, Father would never leave Grayson, because Grayson was the best of them all, everything Damian wasn't —

Damian's eyes opened, and they felt heavy. He sat up, his head throbbing, and glanced around. Yes, the room was completely unfamiliar. He sat, his back against the wall, and tried to ignore his screaming thoughts — Grayson is dead, Father is dead, you are all alone, you died, MOTHER killed you, she hates you, your own mother hates you — and tried to focus on his surroundings. It was hard; every ounce of Damian wanted to sit back down, and go to sleep. He just wanted to stop thinking.

He stood up shakily, and briefly glanced down. He almost expected to see a gaping wound in his torso, even though he'd already checked before. But there was nothing there. He wasn't wearing his suit either — he'd been wearing it before, when he'd…died. He was certain of that.

Damian took a few tentative steps forward, and glanced warily around the room. Not a room he recognised from his childhood in the League of Assassins, he noted with slight relief. Right now, he didn't know what he'd do if he came face to face with his mother. All he could think of was the Heretic — she'd cloned him. And that clone had killed him. Had she ordered it? Had she been watching, as he'd pleaded with her? As he'd died?

(Yes. Yes, she hated him, she'd put a bounty on his head, she'd wanted him dead. His mother hated him, his father probably thought he was a failure, if he was even alive anymore — Grayson, Grayson didn't think he was a failure, but he would now, if he was alive, if the Heretic hadn't killed him — )

If Damian had been in a better frame of mind, he would have heard the footsteps approaching. And he definitely would have berated himself for failing to do so. As it was, he was struggling to understand exactly what had happened to him, and could only think of his father, his family, of dying — and didn't realise there was anyone else there until:

"Alright — no idea who you are, but you DEFINITELY shouldn't be here."

His head snapped up, eyes wide, and felt his stomach drop at the sight of a familiar costume. There were differences; the hood was gone, the colours were slightly different. But it was undoubtedly a Robin costume.

Which meant that was a Robin standing in front of him.