Outside Looking In

He knows they're doing it. Doing It, and he can capitalise the word in his head where it isn't in any danger of being said aloud. Not that
anyone who doesn't already suspect would believe him, and those who suspect wouldn't need to hear him say it.

Dick finds himself poking at the mental tangent, making a list of those who probably know. Who knew when it was him in the Robin suit?

But that isn't what he's come up here to think about, staring down at his city and indulging in self-pity. He's come up here to think about Batman and Robin -- Bruce and Tim.

He knows they're doing it. Not from anything either has ever said, or done. They don't try to hide it from him -- they hide it from everyone.

But he's been there, and he knows what goes on, and he can tell by the lack of certain things, that they must be.

He doesn't know if Bruce waited until Tim was 16. He doesn't imagine it matters.

He just knows it isn't him, hasn't been since he stormed out and joined the Teen Titans and buried himself in a quick succession of friends, until he yanked himself up by the collar and grew up.

He changed his name. Picked out a place to call his own and set about becoming whatever it was he had left to be. Nightwing doesn't strike anyone's heart the way the word 'Batman' does. but 'Robin' never struck anyone, either. He doesn't mind that part of it. He isn't trying to be Batman. Time enough for that again, later.

Leaving gave him everything he wanted. He grew up, became his own man. Got out of the shadow that was going to swallow him and he has never been truly afraid of becoming more insane than Bruce is.

But as much as he fits into his new place, his new suit, his new name, he sees a space he could have occupied. At his left side, with Robin on his right.

He gave that space away, and now whenever he sees either of them, he knows that the worst mistake he ever made was walking away.

Dick knows he has become himself. But to do it, he had to give away the one who mattered most. And now he's outside, too far away, and he isn't entirely sure that Batman and Robin even know there's an empty place there.