Dick put on the most reassuring smile that he could, but even he could tell it must have looked half-hearted. If he wasn’t buying it himself, there was no way that the 10 year old boy draped in red green and yellow was any closer to believing in it.
“It’s not fair.”
“I know, Damian”
He crouched down to the young boy’s level, and with his gauntlets removed he could feel the rough texture of armor beneath the Robin suit’s fabric. It was nostalgic, and the feeling just made the situation all the more worse.
“Tell them you don’t want this. Tell them you want to still be Batman.” Damian ordered, his familiar blue eyes reminding Dick of the reason why he couldn’t.
“Damian, you know it’s not as easy as that..”
“But I want to be your Robin!”
Dick bit the inside of his cheek, the large eyes glaring at him were very determined, and belied the boys young age. Dick touched his hand to his former side-kick’s cheek, hoping his smile didn’t come off quite as miserable as he felt for what he was doing. What he had no choice in.
“I’m sorry buddy…”
And then Dick could see it. The tell-tale twitch of the pre-teen’s chin, his lips quivering just slightly.
‘No, come on Damian, don’t do this to me...’
“But, you promised…” the sound of that arrogant, self-assured little boy cracking and becoming rough with the lump in his throat and the tears streaming down his face made the skin around Dick’s eyes tighten.
With just three words, Damian became just a little boy begging his closest family not to abandon him. Not to leave him in the dust. Not to leave him alone like a kitten abandoned in a cardboard box in an allyway. A little boy who just wanted his big brother to fight for him, to fight against the changes that were coming to consume their world that until this point had felt so small. The world that was just the two of them, Batman and Robin. Their world, that had been so perfect.
Dick’s heart hurt, as if it were held in a vice. His eyes stung so he closed them tigher. Damian was crying, and probably didn’t realize it.
And there was nothing Dick could do. Everything had already been decided for him.
“Damian… I love you, little brother. But please, you have to understand. I’m just…” here Dick pulled his brother’s small body against his chest, eyes closing tight as he felt the boy’s wet tears against his neck.
“I’m so sorry, buddy. It’s never been up to me…”