The Red Right Hand

A Little Wrong

“To do a great right, do a little wrong,

And curb this cruel devil of his will.” —Williams Shakespeare Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1

Dick woke up around 5 am, his thoughts heavy from the events of the passing days. It had been a few days since his conversation with Raven, her adamancy outweighing his better judgment. (Though it seemed a lot of things had been outweighing his better judgment as of late.) But still, even in his unwillingness to accept Raven’s help, Dick felt better knowing that he had her on his side.

He could now confide in her the secrets that he’d been keeping and all the details that kept him awake at night. He told her of his meeting with Red X and how he’d hired him to collect information. Raven, of course, held skeptical feelings toward this decision, but kept her complaints to a minimum.

He also told her that he’d asked X to contact the Red Hood. This she found a little more concerning, but more because of Dick’s history with Jason. The two had not spoken in years, and even before Jason’s run-in with the Joker, the two didn’t exactly get along.

“Dick are you sure contacting Jason is a good idea?” Raven questioned shortly after their previous conversation.

Dick shrugged, knowing that it was a risky call, “I don’t know we’ll have to see. Jason might not even respond.”

“How come you didn’t reach out to him yourself?”

“I don’t exactly have Jason on speed dial, now do I?” Dick said cynically, “Plus if Red Hood thinks Nightwing is coming after him, then he’ll probably be less forthcoming.”

“That’s a good point,” Raven replied looking down at the stack of information, “you haven’t spoken to him since… well you know.”

“Yeah, he was pretty screwed up by the whole thing, I think he felt kind of forgotten to be honest.”

Dick snapped back to the present as he heard a strange vibrating noise erupt form his desk. He quickly got up, recalling the burner phone Red X left him. He scrambled to his feet and began frantically looking for the device as it lay hidden beneath layers of papers. He finally found it and took it in his hands with great urgency. He flipped it open in haste and placed it to his ear.

“Hello,” Dick muttered in a tired voice.

“Meet me at Wayne Enterprises tonight at 11, come alone—”

The line abruptly went dead and nothing but silence followed.

Dick closed the phone and immediately wrote down the time and location just to solidify the details. He knew in hindsight he didn’t have to, that he was more than capable of recalling such details when needed. However, ever since his run-in with Jonny Rancid (and its lethal outcome) he found himself letting his nerves get the better of him.

It was only little things, like second guessing his decisions during training sessions (which he was still attending with the team). He also found that his hands didn’t quite feel like his own. They were not as steady as they once were, and trembled slightly as they went through their motions. Sleep was another thing that continued to allude him. Leaving him awake at night to ponder his unsteady hands and the decisions they were stained with.

On one particular night as he lay alone in his bed, he stared up at the ceiling, recalling a past conversation he’d shared with Bruce. The exchange had taken place the day of Jason’s funeral. Bruce, of course, was very broken up over what happened to Jason and Dick could see his guilt slowly eating away at him. Dick, however, tried to convince Bruce that the incident was not his fault (as Jason had run off the path and into the woods). Still, this brought Bruce little comfort and would for as long as he lived.

Somehow the two began to talk more in depth about guilt and irony, and Bruce mentioned a past conversation he’d had with the Joker.

“So you asked Joker if he was ever haunted by the people he killed.”

“Yes,” Bruce replied in a plummeting tone.

“What’d he say?”

“Only when I’m awake…”

It was a bitter thing to swallow, yet its truth is what made it so potent. However, to think of the Joker feeling anything even close to remorse for his horrid deeds, seemed completely out of character.

‘But now that I recall, Bruce never said that he did.’

Dick entered the common area and headed straight for the kitchen. As usual, he found Raven, who was already pouring him a cup of coffee.

“Well you look like you’ve had a rough night?” she greeted, placing the cup in his hand.

“So it’s starting to show?” He was being sarcastic and took a sip of the fresh coffee.

Raven cracked a half smile and picked up her tea as she leaned on the counter. “News flash Bird Boy, it’s been showing for days. I’ve only had the heart to tell you now.”

“Yeah that’s what happens when you don’t sleep much,” Dick replied. “Is the team worried?”

Raven sighed, cradling her cup, “A little. You’ve been through a lot so it’s hard not to be. I for one know you’re not really taking it well.”

Dick looked Raven in the eye as he replied to her comment, “I’ve lost my leadership, my relationship with Kory, the League has me on bench duty, and I killed a man. Every part of the reality I knew, is gone… and I’m never getting it back. I don’t know who I am anymore. I can’t be Nightwing, I haven’t been Robin for a long time; who am I supposed to be now?”

There was an emptiness to his voice, a hollowness that echoed of those lost things. It was a mournful sound, like a song bound by its sad story and its sorrowful verse. Like there was nothing left.

Raven placed down her cup and took his face in her hands as she looked at him, “You’re a good man. You’re a loyal friend, that’s still a part of your reality. Maybe you outgrew Robin, and maybe you’ve lost faith in Nightwing, but you’re still Dick Grayson, and that’s the part of you that matters. That’s the part that’s important.”

She smiled and withdrew from him. She knew her words couldn’t change his conscience or relieve his guilt, but she knew it helped him cope, and that was really all she could do.

Dick stared down at his coffee and noticed his hands again. They were physically clean and no longer bore the product of his misdeed. However, he knew from the pit of his heart that they’d never truly be clean. He’d always have Jonny Rancid’s blood on his hands.

Raven noticed the troubled look on his face, but didn’t quite know what to say. So, she did the only thing she could do. She tried to change the subject, “Have you heard from Red X?”

Dick placed down this coffee and nodded wearily.

“What did he say?” the young sorceress asked.

“He said to meet him tonight at Wayne Enterprises,” Dick replied still staring down blankly.

“What time?”

“11.”

“Okay, I’ll be ready.”

Dick finally looked up at her, clearly stirred by the declaration, “He told me to come alone.”

“Well you’re not,” she reasoned taking another sip of her tea as though any further discussion were mundane.

“Raven, he hardly trusts me—hell—he doesn’t trust me. If I show up with you, he’s gonna run and we’ll have nothing.”

Raven sighted and shook her head, “Listen, if you were at your best I’d say go, but you’re not.”

“Raven I’m fi—”

“No, you’re not,” Raven said cutting him off. “You haven’t slept in days, you’re shaky, and—to top it all off—you can hardly concentrate.”

Dick tried to interject, but she would not allow it. She wasn’t about to trust someone as dubious as Red X with the well-being of her wounded friend.

“I will handle X, trust me. Okay?”

“…Okay,” Dick replied.

He rolled his eyes, too tired to argue with her. Sometimes Raven reminded him of his mother, a fiery woman who never took no for an answer. It was like he finally knew how his father felt when he was overpowered by the small, but sturdy stature of a strong woman. He could recall times where his father would try to make decisions that she insisted on being a part of. Her head would turn stiffly as she puffed out her chest. And her voice, her voice would become something low and husky, losing its softness and replacing it with an orotund sound. He remembered how tall she seemed when she stood like that. How she seemed to tower over her husband even though she was hardly even over five feet. But as poignant as she could be, she was also capable of great compassion and unbreakable loyalty.

It left an impression on him even as a young boy, and for that, he had a great respect for women. He always looked at them as his equals, and on many occasions, his betters. Strength and loyalty was something he looked for in his women, those qualities present in both Barbara and Kory. He actually thought that he’d found the right balance in the alien princess, until she left for Tamaran.

It was odd, but deep down, he knew the thing that broke him the most was that his mother would have never done that to his father—she loved him too much. This thought left him with a sadness that ached in his heart as he lay awake in their empty bed that night thinking, ‘I guess she didn’t love me enough.’

Dick heard Raven turn on the sink as the sound of rushing water pulled him away from his thoughts. She took his empty cup and placed it in the sink to wash it. As she ran the porcelain piece under the water she looked over at him a little stoically.

“Everything will work out, we won’t fail.”

888

The day had gone by with little interaction. Dick mostly just kept to himself and spent little time with his present teammates, even rejecting an offer to participate in a training session. He was just too anxious to be around them, especially with all he was keeping from them. He didn’t know how Raven could be so calm, how she could just act like nothing was the least bit out of place.

His team however, had begun to walk on egg shells around him, treating him more like a piece of glass than a man. This bothered him more than anything, because it made him feel weak and only reminded him of his failures. Like he wasn’t strong enough to handle them. Dick may not have been proud of his actions or his questionable decisions, but he felt he was man enough to own them. He didn’t want to pretend that what he did was right, and he didn’t want to be treated like a child just because others felt his ego was too frail. He just wanted to be treated like a man.

Then there was the matter of Kory, who hadn’t spoken to him in days (which he couldn’t blame her for). But he couldn’t stand the bitter feeling she held close to her heart, the place used to hold him. Its warmth extinguished, and its space vacant and cold. He may not have been in love with her anymore, but he still loved her and always would. She would always have a part of him that no one else could, but he sometimes questioned what that part was.

There was also the issue of assets that he knew would have to be dealt with sooner or later. Like who got the condo or do they sell it and split the difference, those things. The things that only solidify the end of a life together and the uncertainty of a future without each other. Dick contemplated cutting his losses and just letting her keep everything, but he thought that he may grow to regret that decision. He also wasn’t sure if she’d be able to afford the mortgage payment on her own since he’d been paying his half for the last few months. Not to mention, Kory had a bad habit of spending money she didn’t have.

Dick could recall many times that he’d come home and find a new something or other that cost more than an arm and a leg. One incident being the time Kory bought a $2,000—white—designer rug that she just had to have. Dick could recall having to suppress the urge to scream at her for doing such an irresponsible thing, but didn’t. Only because (despite his best efforts) he knew Kory didn’t quite grasp the concept of a credit card. In the end, he let her keep it, but only because she spilled red wine on it not even an hour after rolling it out. Ironically, leaving the two footing the bill for a stained throw rug.

However, Dick couldn’t help but smile at the memory, recalling how upset she was over the incident.

“Well, it’s not that bad,” he remembered saying, “we can just hide the wine stain under the coffee table… I mean if we’re gonna pay for it, we might as well use it.”

They had a lot of moments like that, where Kory would get emotional over something that to many, would have seemed trivial, but to her, it was like the end of the world. Roy had asked him once if that sort thing became exhausting or even a little annoying over time. Dick could honestly say that it had its moments where it was those things, but in all, he found her perception of the world endearing and even a little romantic to an extent. She was very passionate, and making her happy didn’t take much. So fixing what was broken took little effort, but maybe that was part of the problem?

Kory was always good for Dick’s ego, but he couldn’t help but wondered if she was ever really good for his heart?

“Got here early, Chuckles?” he heard the young thief call as he appeared out of nowhere.

A crass look fell over his face as he withdrew from his thoughts, “Actually, you’re late, X,” Nightwing quipped dryly.

“Well I had to case the area to make sure you came alone.”

“Yeah… about that…”

“What the hell is she doing here?” the thief said in a hostile voice.

Raven let out a small laugh, glancing up from under her hood and stepped out of the shadows where she’d lay hidden for some time.

X shook his head arrogantly, “No, this wasn’t part of the deal, I’m done.”

“X wait!” Nightwing called with urgency.

The young thief however, refused to listen and was getting ready to bolt. Raven let her eyes roll, looking back at Nightwing and fazed through the concrete of the roof. Within moments she reappeared in front of Red X, catching him off guard.

“And where do you think you’re going?” Raven asked in a dry tone, cutting him off.

“Move, Sunshine. I don’t deal with liars.”

“Seriously? Have you met half the people you work for?” Raven quipped, trying to level with him.

“You’d be surprised how many of them have more integrity than you two,” the thief replied trying to find a way passed her.

“Listen, I know you think we’re here to bust you, but it’s not like that. Now could you just hear us out?”

“You have 10 seconds,” X replied, fighting his urge to run.

Nightwing slowly approached them, taking his steps carefully as to not spook the young thief. “I know you told me to come alone and I was going to, but well…”

“I forced him to bring me,” Raven interrupted with an unfazed shrug.

X furrowed his brow and looked over at Nightwing questionably.

“She knows everything,” the hero drawled wearily.

“Why the fuck did you tell her?!”

“She figured it out!”

The young thief looked over at the dark sorceress with a little contempt, as though shocked at her audacity.

“What,” Raven questioned, “I’m very resourceful. Plus Bird Boy’s a horrible liar… at least when it comes to me.”

Red X shook his head, clearly fuming beneath his mask, “So who else you gonna tell, Chuckles? Grass Stain, Gear Head, your cute little girlfriend?” Red X whined throwing his hands in the air sarcastically.

“No one,” Nightwing exclaimed, “My team can’t know what I’m doing.”

“What are you doing?” the thief questioned. “And reality check, Sunshine—is a member of your fucking team, genius!”

“Well technically, he’s not on the team anymore, so that makes us former teammates,” Raven corrected, Nightwing staring back at her with a little contempt.

“So it’s true,” Red X mused, “Nightwing is no longer a Titan?”

The hero rolled his eyes to cover his injured pride and replied, “Yes, it’s official… I’m no longer a Titan.”

“Well shut the fuck up,” X laughed with a cynical shock, “what about you, Sunshine? You still a member of the Goodie Brigade?”

Raven looked over at Nightwing with a little uncertainty basking in her eyes, “At the moment I am, but I’m not sure for how much longer.”

Nightwing looked at her again, but said nothing, a little taken off guard by the proclamation.

“So I guess the mighty have fallen, now haven’t they?” Red X said in a cocky tone.

“Okay X, we get it. You don’t have to get all giddy about it.”

Red X looked over at the sorceress, as though he were smiling with irony, “Well Titans or not, that still doesn’t mean I can hold up my end of the bargain.”

“Why the hell not?” Nightwing snapped.

“Because I told you to come alone and you didn’t. You clearly don’t know how this game works, Kid.”

“First of all, X,” Nightwing growled, “I’m not a fucking kid, so don’t treat me like one. And second; I paid you to do a job for me.”

“Which I did.”

“So what the fuck did you find?” the hero demanded.

“I can’t tell you.”

“Why the hell not?!”

“Because I agreed to do a job for you, not you and Raven.”

“You fucking—”

“Whoa—wait,” Raven said placing herself between Red X and Nightwing as she could tell the young hero’d had enough. “I get it. You don’t trust us and you have every right not to,” she said looking at the thief. “So what will it take for you to trust us?”

Red X looked down a moment in thought before peering back up through his mask, “Take your mask off,” the thief replied, “I wanna see who the infamous Nightwing actually is.”

“No!” Nightwing spat in detest, his eye shrinking in protest.

“Then no deal.”

And with that, the thief turned and began to walk away.

“Wait,” Raven called with an urgency.

He turned back to her and crossed his arms, “What, haven’t you two wasted enough of my time?”

Raven walked forward a few steps as she pleaded with him, “If you take off your mask, Nightwing will take off his.”

Both the young men looked at her with shock as they gasped at her suggestion.

X however, quickly recovered and chuckled sinisterly, “And why the hell would I do that?”

“Because then we’ll all have leverage on each other, I’ll even do it too.”

His head tilted to the side inquisitively as though the thief may actually have been intrigued. “Hmm, do I have to tell you my name, Sunshine?”

“Raven, what are you doing?” Nightwing whispered nervously.

“I’m getting the job the done, just trust me,” she growled back at him then replied to X’s question. “No, you can keep your name. You can lie about a name, but not a face.”

“Okay, let’s do it,” X said freely, shrugging the idea off as if it were nothing.

“Wait hold on! Raven, can I talk to you?” Nightwing said, taking her by the arm and pulling her around. “What the fuck?”

“Just show him your face and we get what we came for.”

“No, my identity is non-negotiable, Rae”

“Is it?” She snapped. “Because last I checked you’re hanging up Nightwing?”

“I am, but not like this.”

“Okay Dick, but then who are you without your mask.” Her tone was ferocious and deep, hitting him at his core.

He watched as she turned, whipping off her hood with a hint of irony as though mocking him.

“So that’s what you keep hidden under that hood,” Red X said smoothly. “Who would’a thought Sunshine had a face like that? You’ve been holding out on me, Chuckles.”

“Shut up X,” Nightwing replied with smoldering annoyance.

“Whatever, it’s your turn, Kid”

“You first.”

“No. You.”

“Dear God,” Raven said pinching the bridge of her nose, “just go at same time.”

The two looked at each other smugly, but nodded with disdain for the other.

“Ok then,” the young witch replied, “on 3. 1, 2, 3!”

Each boy began to pull of their mask, but stopped hoping to fake out the other.

“What the fuck, X?”

“Me? You’re the one who stopped!”

“Shut up, the both of you!” Raven finally yelled. “The point of this is to learn to trust each other, which, you two suck at by the way. Now take off your fucking masks before I remove them for you.”

“I see now why you brought her,” X said looking over at Nightwing.

Nightwing rolled his eyes ruefully, “Yeah, she can break down an iron will.”

“I’m about to break more than just your will, now masks off!”

Once again the two adversaries began to remove their masks, but this time actually doing so (with a little fear for motivation). Nightwing could feel his hands tremble as he’d broken one of Bruce’s most important cardinal rules of vigilantism. Never show your face to anyone. Once the cover was free from his eyes, he immediately felt vulnerable and anxious, as though he were more than exposed

He looked over at Red X, his boyish face framed in shaggy blond hair, “That’s not what I expected at all.”

Red X looked over at Dick with a smug look, “You’re just pissed cause I’m better looking.”

Dick crudely raised a brow and shook his head with annoyance, “Yeah, if you like blond pretty boys that can’t even grow facial hair?”

“Are you two really having this conversation? Cause if so, I’ve lost respect for both of you,” Raven drawled with an eye roll.

Dick looked at Raven tiredly, but more than agreed with her.

“So what did you find, X?”

“Not much.”

“For real?” Dick replied ready to ring the boy’s neck.

“Christ Chuckles, chill. I did find something.”

“What?”

“You’re not gonna get anything out of me with that tone,” X said smugly.

“X, stop fucking with him.” Raven demanded, clearly tired of his bullshit.

The thief looked over at her with his blue eyes, filled with a devilish charm, “You got some bite now, don’t cha, Sunshine? And I thought Cutie was a catch.”

“I hope you don’t think your chauvinistic tone is charming? Because if anything, it’s only showing me what area you’re lacking in.” Raven said patronizingly as she sized the young thief up.

He let out a slight laugh, taken aback by the comment, “Smart, pretty, and derogatory, I can’t think of a better combination,” X replied in a flirtatious manner.

Dick looked on at the exchange with disgust, though he couldn’t really place where the feeling was coming from. ‘She better not fall for that line,’ he thought tightly balling his fist.

“Oh, because if I wasn’t pretty then my intelligence would hold less weight, right?”

‘Good girl.’

The thief’s eyes flew open as he was caught off guard by the fact that a woman could actually resist his charm.

“Now, if you could remove your mind from the gutter in which it’s been steeping in, that would be great?” Raven added, the words practically chewing him up and spitting him out.

X glanced over at Dick, the two sharing a brief look, Dick knowing full well what it was like on the receiving end of Raven’s wrath.

“Okay, so I confirmed that the sample you gave me was indeed lab-grade,” the young thief said finally answering the question, “But this probably wasn’t made in a lab, at least not in the U.S.”

Dick furrowed his brow and a grave look took over his features as Red X continued.

“The U.S. has higher pharmaceutical regulations than most countries and has standard inspections and protocols. And as of part those protocols, pharmaceutical companies also have to track their inventories. Now there are ways around this, it’s been done before, but if Slade actually had someone make this stuff, he wouldn’t be stupid enough to make it in one of his own labs. Odds are, he most likely put more than a few thousand miles between him and this product.”

“Is that seriously all you found?” Dick said bitterly as the boy concluded.

“No.”

“Well what else?”

“Word on the street is, Jump’s free territory and it’s up for grabs,” Red X added a hint of fear in his voice. “See, Snowflame may have not made a lot of noise, but he was a big player in this city’s drug trade and he had a lot of pull with someone who had a lot more power than him, which is why his grip was so strong.”

Dick frowned uncomfortably, “Are you saying Snowflame was working with Slade?”

“Yeah,” Red X replied, “I mean it’s not a definite, but it would explain how someone as unstable as that coke-head could run this territory and not get clipped for so long.”

“Slade would never work with someone like Snowflame, there’s too much risk,” the former Titan replied, feeling Slade would have higher standards.

“You don’t know that,” X said darkly, “Slade plays people like pawns, and the smarter a person is, the harder they are to play.”

Dick raised an eyebrow, “Before Rancid killed Snowflame, he mentioned that he was just collateral damage. Jonny had orders to kill him,” the hero said in revulsion.

“Slade probably gave him Snowflame his power and helped him maintain it until he didn’t need him anymore. Then he—”

“Took it away,” Dick concluded, letting loathing reflect in his eyes.

The two shared a dark look as they both came to the same conclusion. Dick immediately recalled his exchange with Gizmo, his words now holding a more prevalent reality than they already had. ‘The one eyed man really is king….’

Dick ran his fingers through his hair, one final question resting on his tongue, “What about the Red Hood?”

X pulled out a white envelope and held it in his hand, looking down at it for a moment, “Well to my greatest surprise he told me to give you this. I guess he really is your bother.”

Dick shrugged and began to approach X, but was interrupted as the thief spoke again.

“Yeah, hold on there, Chuckles. You haven’t paid the full amount yet.”

Dick glared at the anti-hero who looked back at him maskless. As far as Dick knew he’d already done his job. He’d gotten him some confirmation that Slade was indeed pulling some deadly strings and he had even produced a possible letter from Jason. Dick took a deep breath and nodded to Raven, who replied by throwing him a bag filled with cash.

He caught it and then moved toward X, apprehension heavy on his soles. X, himself, seemed to have his guard up, as though he were waiting for some other hero to come crashing in at any moment.

Dick reached out his hand to the thief’s, surprised as he looked down for a moment pondering whether to shake it or not, but did.

“Thanks X,” Dick said slowly, “I guess I can trust you after all. I’ll let you know if I need your help in the future.”

Red X nodded as he took the money and handed him the letter, “Good luck, you’re going to need it.”

The ex-Titan felt the grave words hit him harder than he let on, Red X clearly knowing more about Slade than he previously thought. The young thief looked over at Raven and smiled mischievously, then took off into the night. Dick could feel her footsteps drawing close to him, her presence starting to loom.

“You didn’t tell me you were leaving the team,” Dick said, his tone grave and dripping with disappointment.

Raven immediately stopped as the words left his lips, unsure of what to really say, “I was gonna tell you when we had a better plan,” she replied feeling the tension grow between them. “I mean… I thought you already knew—”

“Well I didn’t, Rae,” Dick said turning to face her.

She could see in his eyes that he was angry, but he wasn’t overcome with it. She crossed her arms and straightened her back, signaling that she was ready to defend her decision.

“What did you think I was going to do?”

“I don’t know? I guess I thought you wouldn’t officially leave,” Dick replied dumfounded, “I mean… I don’t know Rae, I really don’t?”

Raven looked at him and let her stance fall, becoming less threatening, “I can’t do what we’re doing and be a Titan, Dick. You know I can’t.”

He took a deep breath, he knew she was right. He couldn’t be a Titan either, he’d broken the code, but Raven hadn’t.

“It’s not too late for you to turn back, maybe it would be better if you did?”

“I can’t do that either, not after tonight,” Raven replied looking back at him as he stood at odds with her decision.

He turned from her for a minute. As much as he wanted her to come with him, he couldn’t stand the idea of taking her away from her life. She was about to graduate and make something bigger for herself, he couldn’t take her away from that. He had to let her go.

“Raven I—”

“I know what you’re going to say and no, I’m not changing my mind,” She replied cutting him off. “This is what I want.”

“You can’t want this Rae, there nothing here for you to gain.”

“There’s nothing for you to gain either, but you’re going after it anyway, Richard.” She remained small, her tone soft as she continued, “Like you, I don’t know who I am outside the team, and if I stay , I’ll never find out who I am without it. I’m not just coming with you because of you, I coming because I need to.”

Dick had never thought of it that way, he always thought he was the only one with an identity crisis, but alas, he was wrong. He could see that she meant every word, that she’d become trapped in her world and wanted to be free of it, like he wanted.

“There are other ways to figure that out,” Dick finally said.

“Maybe, but this is the way I wanna go.”

“Why? Why would want that?” Dick asked in a disgruntled manner.

“Want what?”

“This,” he replied moving toward her justly, “I asked you to look away and you won’t? How can you see me like this?”

Raven tilted her head, perplexed as she looked up at him, seeing the trouble in his eyes, “Because I know why you feel what you feel. I know that you think what you’re doing is right.”

He left his jaw fall slack, nearly at a loss for words, “But is it, Rae? Do you really think this is right?

“What is right, Dick?” Raven replied looking up at his troubled expression. “There’s a lot in this world that’s considered wrong, but is it truly wrong? Or is it just the way we think of it? I’m not saying every misdeed is warranted, but sometimes, to do a great right… you have to do a little wrong.

For a moment neither one spoke. Raven glanced away unsure of how Dick would handle her comment, though in a sense she was right. There were plenty of things that people considered wrong and plenty of things they’d consider right. But could anyone truly make that judgment, and could he really put his actions in either category?

“Just because the ends justify the means, doesn’t make it right, Rae,” Dick finally said, pulling forth his old values.

She glanced up at him and ever so gently said, “I never said that it was, Richard. I just said that everything isn’t as black and white as you want it to be.”

He turned from her, and walked to the edge of the roof and he looked over the ledge. Everything looked so small, so fragile from up there, just so—distant. It was like he couldn’t see things the same anymore, like this world no longer belong to him, or he no longer belonged in it. It just felt like there wasn’t anything left now, so what was there?

“Raven, can I tell you something?” Dick called from the ledge, the wind blowing passed him as he spoke.

“Of course,” she replied taking a few steps forward, “what is it?”

He bit his lip, but didn’t bother looking back at her. He just stared over the outlying world beyond him.

“I just feel like my entire life is just one very long free fall,” Dick said looking up to the moon. “Like ever since my parents died, I’ve been plummeting and I can’t seem to make that feeling stop.”

He could hear her steps cease, but he still couldn’t look back at her for fear she may turn to stone if he did.

“I know part of me died with them, and I know I can never get that back, but I feel like that’s what I’ve been chasing. That piece of what’s gone—that lost reality. And now, I don’t know if I’ll ever be whole again?”

Silence fell over them as Raven sat beside him on the ledge, looking up at his stoic form. His words wreaked of pain, steeped in years of unspoken suffering and untold endurance. She knew those things rested within him, but to hear them take on breath and form words to live, was nearly too much to handle.

“The hardest part about it,” Dick continued and looked down at her, “is that I built a new reality and I moved on. But now, I’ve lost that too. I’m back where I was a whole lifetime ago… and I can never get those things back.”

“I know you can’t,” Raven replied, “I know there is nothing I can say or do to bring you back to that place, but if you let me, maybe I can catch you?”

Dick smiled at her weakly, though he knew even her grip wasn’t enough, but she brought him a little comfort.

“I just don’t want you to fall along with me, Raven.”

“You and I both know falling is what I do best,” Raven said as Dick sank down to meet her eyes. “But, I was taught by a strong, yet stubborn, and slightly annoying, man that it’s not how we fall, it’s how he get back up that matters.”

“Has it ever occurred to you that guy might be an idiot?” Dick asked, realizing she was indeed quoting him.

Raven laughed as a cynical looked took over her face, “Oh he’s an idiot alright, but he has his moments. I mean even a dim bulb can be bright in a dark room.”

“Oh thanks Rae, that’s really encouraging.”

“Relax Dick, I’m only kidding,” Raven drawled. “But I meant what I said about getting up.”

“What if can’t though?”

“Sometimes we need to let ourselves break, if we break we can put ourselves back together again—start over.”

“I guess you’re right?”

Dick looked off at the city again, but it still felt too far away. He knew Raven had a point, that sometimes breaking was the only way to move on or find our limits. But he wondered how hard he’d have to hit the ground, how deep he’d have to break before it was enough? And if he did, would people still be able to see them, those fractures spidering across his face? Or better yet, would he be able to see the cracks when he looked in the mirror?


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