Agony's Best Friend


Several pain-filled weeks later, Dick found himself able to move again. He still had to wear braces for all limbs (a real pain), but most of his swelling went down, his bruises were all mostly yellowed or gone, most of his stitches were out, and he was able to begin doing minor functions again on his own. For the most part, he pushed the idea of there being kryptonite inside him as far back as possible.

It was strange at first getting used to the Titans knowing his identity and getting used to talking to Bats and Babs again. They were still fairly distant with everything that happened, but things started to feel as though they were falling into place. He wasn't going to be leaving the manor any time soon either considering his injuries.

And, although he knew that Jump needed protecting, he couldn't send his team back without him with the kicked puppy looks he got (especially from Beast Boy-that kid literally was a kicked puppy!). Every once and a while, they would disappear, though, and they'd come back a bit more peaceful and closer. Later, he'd watch the news to see what good deed they'd done (and a feeling of pride would swell in his chest because that was his team).

Yet, there was a nagging feeling deep in his chest that something was wrong. Something was just wrong.

Are you quite done worrying over nothing, Grayson? Damian questioned, tone as superior as ever and devoid of the worry that Dick could just feel leaking through lately. He couldn't help it as his lips twitched upward just slightly.

Shut up, demon. Jason snapped, cutting off any reply that Dick may have given. It's his thoughts. Why do you care if he lets himself think over everything?

I don't care. Snapped Damian in rebellion. I was simply trying to stop such a useless train of thought from continuing. You'd understand if you had intelligence above that of a mouse.

I am smart! Exclaimed Jason in anger. Dick sighed slightly, seeing that the personalities did indeed have severe similarities to themselves in reality. Jason was just as angry and impulsive as Dick remembered.

Keep telling yourself that. Damian drawled, pulling back from the argument. He must've grown bored.

Alright, that's enough, boys. Dick called, his voice softer in his head than he expected. Let's be good for a change.

They grumbled in reply, and Dick could hear the resounding snickering coming from Timmy and Stephanie. Normally, the immediate reaction would be for Jason and Damian to attack them (or at least Jason-sometimes Damian would let it go and take revenge later), but they were being oddly . . . good, as though they wanted to make things pleasant.

Nothing could have set Dick more on edge.

Guys, Dick began hesitantly, is something-

"Dick." Dick blinked, bringing himself back to the sitting room in front of the fire. It was odd, coming out of such a deep reverie so drained, but instead of allowing himself to feel his discomfort for being brought back to the living world before he could set his thoughts straight, he found himself focusing on his annoyance at being interrupted.

However, he smiled at Bruce when he and John Jones (otherwise known as Martian Manhunter or J'onn J'onzz) made their way toward him. They both stood in front of him, and he quickly deduced that Bruce wasn't staying by the way he didn't sit.

"Hey." He greeted as lightly as possible. "What's up?"

Bruce smiled a bit tightly, but replied in a light tone anyways. "I have some business to do, but Martian Manhunter asked if he could find out more about the Robins." The stare he was leveled with almost made him loose his breath.

It was easy to figure out what was going on. John found out about his mental personalities and wanted to know more, but Bruce (by the way his smile was so tight) didn't approve. Despite that, someone must've convinced him to let Dick decide what he wanted to do.

Immediately, all of his personalities were agitated.

He thinks you're crazy! Exclaimed Stephanie with an unprecedented amount of anger.

Don't agree to this. I don't like this. Timmy whispered, sounding more than upset. He sounded oddly wounded and a bit angry as well. There's something he's not telling us.

Damian's growl, though, sounded the most furious. He almost sounded murderous. If he thinks he can waltz in here and prove that you're crazy, he can go fu-

Damian! Snapped Dick, cutting him off. He paused, thinking it through for a moment. He's part of the League. He's our friend. Let's give him a chance, okay, guys?

Fine. Jason was the one to speak, and Dick found his hand twitch lightly in response of the less than friendly tone he used. But if he does anything-

You're allowed to kick him out. Stated Dick easily. After a number of grudging agreements, Dick smiled and looked up to see both John and Bruce staring at him in surprise. John looked severely caught off guard (so much so that Dick wished he had a camera) and Bruce . . . well, Bruce looked like Bruce. He was half-way between surprise and bored (how he managed that look was a mystery to Dick, though).

"Okay. Sure. What could go wrong?" He smiled reassuringly at them, and they snapped out of whatever trance they'd been caught in. Bruce nodded at him before quickly exiting, and John smiled weakly.

"May I take this seat?" Asked the Martian politely, waiting until Dick gave him the go ahead. "Barbara told me a bit about your connection with the other Robins, but I'd like to hear it directly from you. What is it like?"

Barbara told? Jason asked, sounding surprised and a bit hurt. After all, this was one of the secrets that only the Bats were supposed to know about. It was an unspoken rule not to speak of it, especially not with other heroes.

Dick quickly jumped to the rescue. Hey. It's okay. She's just worried about us-

You. Interrupted Damian.

Dick ignored him. She probably thought he could help us since he's a Martian, so let's trust her judgment. After all, he does have those awesome mind-reading powers. Instead of helping them relax, they all seemed to jump at the idea of mind-reading. Dick sighed, deciding to talk to John before the Martian man realized that he'd been in another conversation (though the man looked like he already knew).

"It's . . . odd." Dick found himself saying, struggling with the words. Normally, Damian or Jason or even Stephanie would tease him for his lack of good wording, but for once his mind was dead silent. It put him on edge. "It's like they're all really there, just in my head. They're just like they were when they were alive. When they speak, my eyes change color to their eye color." A part of him wondered how that worked. If his imaginary personalities were truly imaginary, what kind of chemical imbalance could possibly cause his eyes to change color? Dick cleared his throat. "If they try hard enough, they can take control of my body. It's like having no control over myself, seeing things happen but being unable to do a thing, but I don't really have to watch anything. They kinda don't have to watch anything if they don't want. Occasionally, I get lost in memories that I know aren't mine. Sometimes . . . ." He licked his lips, uncomfortable with sharing the next bit of information.

"Sometimes?" Martian Manhunter urged gently.

Dick swallowed. "Sometimes I wonder whether or not they're real because they match with reality, but I don't know how I could see them."

"Dick." Whispered the empathetic Martian softly, but Dick continued on before he lost his nerve.

"When being Robin, and only Robin, after I have trouble remembering who I really am because Robin is a mix of all our personalities. After taking off the mask, it's a battle. If I only wear it for a few hours, it's just a little dizzying, but after a few days or months, it's terrible. My body practically rebells against me, and it's painful." Dick cleared his throat, moving on. "But it was different when we were alive."

"How so?" Asked John, leaning forward. He didn't seem to notice the the use of 'we' instead of 'they'.

"Well, I know we had a connection. The first time Jason took off the mask, it was strange. We had a connection. Just after we'd take off the masks, our thoughts seemed like they were . . . mixed. Sometimes during patrol, I could hear his thoughts. Because of that, we really grew on each other. We understood each other." His voice shook slightly, but he quickly schooled his features. "I've never felt anything more physically painful than when he died." His voice was quiet, and it surprised both men in the room.

Dick . . . . Jason trailed off, unable to speak.

Dick smiled softly, noting how the Martian's gaze was caught on his eyes. "After that, I donned the Robin costume again, and afterward, I had trouble with understanding who I was. It was when I really started feeling ill after taking off the mask. It happened with all the Robins, but it always felt worst for me, but leaving the Robin suit unoccupied wasn't something I could do." He took a deep breath, forcing himself to continue. "Tim, Steph, Dami-" He cut himself off. "Their deaths were easier to handle physically."

The Martian couldn't help but notice that he didn't mention emotionally.

Dick swallowed. "If they died in uniform, it was harder on my body. Stephanie still hurt, though, because she was in my head when she died. After Dami . . . ." Dick shook his head. "I stopped taking off the suit. After the mask was taken off, they really felt there. Before, it was less, but now they're constantly here."

After spilling all of that, Dick felt both violated and . . . relieved. It felt wrong.

Martian Manhunter frowned. "I've never heard of such a thing happening before with humans, especially after . . . ." He trailed off, not wanting to mention their deaths. Dick nodded in understanding. "Do you mind if I have a look in your mind?"

Dick gritted his teeth at the idea, but he oddly felt . . . obligated.

You don't owe him anything. Snapped Jason. You don't have to let him in your mind.

Why are you all so against the idea? Dick finally asked. It'd been bothering him how they were all less than forthcoming. He didn't expect them to like it, but he didn't expect such an angry, unwelcoming response.

They were silent.

I'm going to let him in. Dick whispered into his mind. Not because I feel obligated, but because I feel like I'm going crazy. I love you all, and I miss you, but you're all . . . you're all dead. I need help.

Help. The very word made Dick cringe, but for once, he knew it was true. He couldn't help the feeling of weakness that ran through him. The feeling had been pounded into him by Bats at the necessity of help. It didn't matter who from. Weakness was weakness.

Once again, they were silent, but this time, something was different. He could feel all of their concern. He could feel their support. Mentally, he sighed a gentle breath, letting his thankfulness fill his mind for them.

He nodded to J'onn.

The Martian smiled reassuringly toward him, but Dick wasn't reassured. He closed his eyes and relaxed, allowing the Martian's kind instructions to flow over him. He pushed aside his mental barriers for the alien and waited.

John's eyes glowed green.

Then he screamed.

. . .

Dick found he couldn't push aside the memory even after he only had to use braces for exercise weeks later. In a full splits, he pushed his torso to the ground with a wince. It was obvious (at least to him) that he had to rebuild up his flexibility.

He closed his eyes, seeing the Martian screaming on the ground with his hands slowly melting back into his natural form. He winced, immediately opening his eyes again.

The Martian had attracted Alfred and the Titan's attention, and they helped get him up to the Watchtower. It was three days later that the alien had woken up, bound and screaming, about the dark and the fire, pain, and abandonment.

Dick didn't know what happened, but he refused to let the Martian try again, whether or not he was prepared the second time. He didn't want to have that happen again.

With a sigh, Dick changed position, leaning back in his splits so his back touched the ground, still in a full split. He frowned when he could barely touch his upper back to the ground and slowly pushed himself until all but the small of his back touched. He smiled softly, but he couldn't help but wince at the spikes of pain the motion brought to his legs and arms.

Darn braces. He complained in his mind. I wouldn't even feel it if not for the braces.

Idiot Grayson. Damian's scowl was clear in his voice. If not for the braces, you would feel it only afterward, and then it would really hurt. The braces are there to help you. Stop being so stupid.

Dick's not an idiot! Exclaimed Tim. Stop being such a jerk!

Only when he stops being an idiot and you stop being an annoying prick. Damian responded immediately.

Dick sighed. "Boys, calm down." Before he could continue to tell Damian to be nice and Tim that it was okay, another voice joined the conversation.

"Talking to Jason and Damian?" Asked Raven, coming to stand in front of him. The Robins seemed so surprised that they all became quiet.

Dick smiled as he sat up and looked at her. "Actually, Damian and Tim."

She smiled back, sitting down and crossing her legs in the lotus position. Dick smiled. After he'd returned, she was the only one that seemed to not tip-toe around him as if he were made of glass and would shatter with the lightest touch. As an empath, he knew that she felt his nightmares, his emotions, and maybe even the rest of their emotions. She seemed to be the most understanding, and she was also comfortable to talk to.

It was nice.

"You aren't returning to the Titans, are you?" She finally asked after a long, comfortable silence.

To be honest, Dick had thought about this more than he should have. It was one of the biggest things that occupied his mind. He wanted to return to the Titans so badly. He wanted to play video games with Beast Boy and Cyborg, listen to Starfire, rest with Raven . . . but . . . .

But he wasn't Robin anymore.

"No, I'm not." He agreed, tone sad.

She smiled softly at him. It was odd, seeing that sad smile on her face. "I understand, and, eventually, so will they."

There was another long pause, but it was fine. The silence was a comfort.

"You realize that they're dead, right?" She nearly whispered, dark eyes resting on him, no pity surfacing anywhere in her face.

His breath caught for a moment before he sighed softly. "Yes."

They shared the silence for hours afterward.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.