Agony's Best Friend

The End: Bring Me Back to Life

"When are you coming back? We miss you." Beast Boy's voice buzzed over Nightwing's communicator as he swung through the darkened streets of Bludhaven. Nightwing felt a small, sad though a bit amused smile tug at his lips.

Already? Stephanie asked in surprise. It's only been a few days!

Ridiculous. Damian muttered, sounding annoyed (as usual).

You can't blame them for missing him. Tim argued, voice young in Dick's mind.

"I was there three days ago." He pointed out, flipping onto a nearby homeless shelter. He crouched, absentmindedly tapping the communicator on his ear. "And I'll be back in eleven days, just like I agreed."

Faintly, Nightwing noticed a young, redheaded woman walking alone, pulling a dark coat around herself. He scowled. Was she trying to get herself killed? He began trailing her slowly, eyes scanning the surrounding area for any threats.

Idiot. Damian hissed. Nightwing rolled his eyes.

She's a civilian. Nightwing pointed out.

That's not a good excuse for being stupid. Jason replied. Nightwing decided it was best not to point out that he'd just agreed with Damian.

"I know, but we miss you. I miss you." Beast Boy murmured. He sounded a bit downtrodden, and Nightwing sighed, realizing it was his fault. "Cy seems more stressed since he became leader. He doesn't spend much time with us or even his car. I haven't even seen him touch pie once. He loves pie!" Nightwing winced. "He spends all his time obsessing over Slade."

Nightwing grimaced. The name left a bitter taste in his mouth despite not being the one to say it. He understood only too well what obsessing over Slade was like, and he felt the promise bubble up on his lips a bit too willingly before he considered his words. "I'll see if I can get away sooner. I still have to keep going with school, you know."

Two men (slimy and with knives) stumbled out of an alleyway, eyeing the girl. Nightwing found himself standing and flinging himself down quickly. With a flip, he was only a short run away. However, he found his eyebrows furrow as, instead of screaming, the woman punched one of the men out.

"Okay." Beast Boy agreed over the phone immediately, sounding slightly too happy. Nighwing slowed, watching as she put the other man on the ground. There was a pause before Beast Boy whispered. "Star misses you, too."

"Yeah." Nightwing breathed as she turned around, pushing red hair out of her face. "I can see that. I have to let you go, B. Talk to you tomorrow?"

"Yeah." The youngest Titan replied. "Bye, Wing."

There was a long moment wherein both of them stared at one another.

"Hey, Star." Nightwing finally said. Neither of them smiled.

"Nightwing." She whispered. Clearing her throat, Starfire gave him a soft, pained look. "Robin. Please, come back."

"Star, I can't." He whispered.

Thankfully, the other Robins went silent.

"Why not?" She asked, and Dick (not Nightwing or Robin, Dick) flinched at the childlike tone. He swallowed. He knew she didn't understand, that a part of her didn't want to. While he saw himself letting go and trying to heal, she saw him abandoning their family (her). And if Starfire wanted anything, it was to keep together her friends, her family (Rekmas, right. The word for when friends began to drift apart.) "I don't understand."

"I know you don't, Star." He stated.

"Explain it to me!" She begged, eyes shining. "Do you want to get away from us? Do you not want to be a Titan anymore?"

"No, of course not-" He started.

"Me? Is it us?" She asked. "You could be Nightwing with the Titans. We don't need Robin. We just need you."

"Starfire, I know." He touched her hands, and faintly noticed they were shaking. He glanced up, wary. He prayed she wasn't about to have a panic attack. He'd only seen her have one once, but the damages were enough that he never wanted to see one again.

"So it's them?" She whispered. " The voices? Are you trying to get the voices to stop? We-we can help." She breathed. Then her words began blurring into other languages, ones he knew and ones he definitely didn't.

Nightwing stiffened, gritting his teeth. Slowly, he pushed the breath out from between his teeth. Then he pulled her into a hug.

At first, she was silent, but then, she started shaking. Nightwing tried not to wince as sobs-big, ugly ones, not the soft ones always on the big screens-began choking their way up. He didn't say a word, just patted her hair and touched her back. After a minute, the tension bled out of her, and he felt his heart lurch as she pulled away, wiping away tears.

"I'm sorry." She finally whispered.

"Me, too." Nightwing replied.

For a moment, neither said anything. Then she let out a breath. "I'm not giving up, you know."

"I know." Nightwing replied.

And then the redheaded beauty was gone, leaving Nightwing alone. He found himself quiet, contemplative without her or any of the voices in his head speaking (and sometimes, he really did feel a bit crazy when thoughts like that bubbled up). His eyes roamed a bit softly over Bludhaven, digging for crime and infestation as he settled down into the highest perch he could find.

Dick? Tim's voice sounded small.

Yes? The older boy immediately responded.

Do . . . Do you really . . . . Tim's voice faded weakly.

What? Dick encouraged, trying to call up softer emotions for the link. However, feelings of safety and comfort were pushed down nearly immediately by trepidation and anxiety, and it was quite the shock when Dick realized that they were coming from all of them, not just Timmy.

Do you really want the voices gone? Stephanie finally managed.

Dick jolted in surprise, nearly throwing himself from his perch high in the misty night sky. "No." He said aloud before shaking his head. No. I just . . . . Dick sighed. You guys, you're not real. He whispered softly. And I need to start letting you go, let you rest. I've been . . . I've practically been torturing myself with the idea that you could be alive when I watched a number of you die myself. I love you, but I need to let you go. The first step was letting go of Robin.

So you do want us gone. Damian's voice sounded unaffected, but it held such a strong undercurrent of hurt that immediately Dick felt his chest ache.

No. But I can't keep trying to hold on to you and protect you when I've already failed once. Dick's voice was soft.

Dick. Jason murmured in surprise.

I don't want you guys to stop talking to me, not ever. Dick managed to whisper inside his head. But if I keep you guys as a part of me the way I do when I wear the Robin suit, then I'll drive myself crazy. He sighed.

What . . . What would you do if we were alive? Stephanie whispered.

A flash of a blood-stained blade flashed through Dick's mind before he cleared it, swallowing. I'd go to the ends of the universe, known and unknown, to find you.

There was a pause.

Dick shifted uncomfortably, the Nightwing suit reminding him only too well that they were talking theory. Guys, what's this abou-

We're alive. Jason stated.

Dick's world fell apart.

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