Dick raised an eyebrow as another masked villain stumbled into the room. They were panting, slightly hunched over, and took exactly 13 seconds to calm themselves enough to speak. He would have chuckled in a better circumstance.
There was a war raging around Gotham, Bruce was out of action, and Damian had traded his own freedom –his life – so that the Court of Owls couldn’t get their murderous hands on their true Gray Son.
This was not a better circumstance.
Dick’s heart was screaming and swelling at the same time with a mixture of pain from Damian’s sacrifice and the full realization of Damian’s love for him. It was just another painful reminder of how much he had taken the loveable brat for granted.
And he’d failed him again.
He would change it. He would make a new deal – save his little brother.
He had to.
After all, that was exactly what Robin was about: Family. And he protected his family.
Now, Damian was trumping him.
The Owl’s voice caught his attention again, and he saw March raise an eyebrow also. “Yes?”
“The boy,” the man huffed in response, leaning against the wall. “He’s gone off-book.”
“Get me eyes on him.” March snapped, scowl deepening as he turned back to stare at Dick. His eyes narrowed. “Although, I have no doubt that he will have stayed true to our original plan. He wouldn’t risk your life, after all.”
Dick wanted to break his nose.
The giant screen in front of them buzzed to life and suddenly the picture came to life. Dick could see Duke Thomas, red jacket and all, toe to toe with his smallest brother. Damian’s white mask was so different from the green one that Dick was so accustomed too, and it looked ugly on him, because he knew what that 12-year-old was supposed to be wearing. He knew what he was supposed to be doing, what he should have done.
Damian rammed his elbow into Duke’s back, but the dark-skinned teen somehow still managed to bark out, “You want to ignore your responsibilities. The people who follow you. Who were inspired by you. Just like your dad did.”
“Shut up!” Damian shouted, and his voice was strained, and it hurt. He kicked Duke to the ground, and his hands turned into fists.
“I understand man, I do. Honestly.” Duke spat, and Dick suddenly wanted to punch him too. “It’s the right thing to do. Be like him. Be alone. Suffer alone.”
Dick watched as the former Robin cracked his fist against his enemy’s jaw. “SHUT UP!”
Duke wiped his busted lip and the blood that was running down his chin. “I see it. It’s what anyone would do. Hell, it’s what I’d do. Make that same sacrifice. Give up on my family. But here’s the-,”
Dick wanted to stuff a sock down this kid’s throat. Damian was not some self-obsessed, arrogant child who was doomed to follow in Bruce’s footsteps for the rest of his-
“You think that’s what this is?” the younger boy breathed, anger radiating from his shaking voice. “That I’m giving up on my family? You complete idiot! I’m saving my family!”
Duke seemed finally at a loss for words, and so was Dick.
Damian took a half step forwards, and when he spoke, he could hear the tears in his tone. “I’m saving him.” the 12-year-old snarled. “I’m saving Grayson!”
Dick’s breath hitched, and he felt his heart crack.
“You think I wanted this? That I want my brothers to think that I’ve finally become what they always thought I was? You’re more stupid than I thought.” Damian scoffed and shook his head, straightening. Dick winced, because that familiar scoff, that angry little huff that he had come to adore, was so out of reach. So far gone.
“I’m doing this because if I didn’t, then they would have taken him! They would have taken Grayson, and they would have changed him.”
Damian stopped, and his head lowered, and his next words were cracked, flooded with emotions he no doubt hated. “They-they would have twisted him, turned him, broken him until he was no longer him. So yes, I gave up, but not on my family.”
Of course he hadn’t. Damian would never. Not after everything that he’d done to save them, not just now, but every time before. Every time he’d put his life on the line for the others, for Bruce and Jay and Tim and him.
“I gave myself up, because the thought of Dick Grayson – the over-caring idiot – would hurt someone, kill someone, intentionally, that hurt too much. The man that saved me more time and time again, who stuck with me through everything, who-,”
His voice stopped, and he turned away from Duke. “I did this because I would rather have the Owls make me break all my morals, my ideals, than have the man who loved me more than anyone else break his.”
And Dick’s heart shattered.
No. No, no, no! This wasn’t how it was supposed to be!
Damian never should have had to make that decision. He never should have had to feel like he had to make that decision. He never should have been able to even think about making that decision!
That wasn’t his job!
Damian was the youngest of them, the smallest, the one that all of them should have been protecting. He had broken away from his entire upbringing, challenged everything he knew, and turned away from all his mother had taught him, and now he was willing to break everything that Bruce had taught him – that Dick had taught him – so that he could save Dick.
He was a child, one who had fought countless times to prove himself, to keep the love that was supposed to be free, to prove that he was good enough to be Robin, good enough to be the son of Batman, good enough to be Damian Wayne.
The child who fought countless times to prove he was worth loving.
He had been fighting, when all the while, they were supposed to be fighting for him.
Dick’s head dropped, unable to shield the tears any longer. Oh, Damian.
But at his brother’s voice, his gaze rose again, and though his vision was cloudy, he stared at Damian. Dick swallowed the painful lump in this throat.
“So the next time that you accuse me of abandoning my family, of wanting to suffer alone, use your brain and think.” Damian snapped hoarsely. “I do this because I love my family, and I don’t want them to suffer.”
Then the 12-year-old turned and took 2 steps forward, towards the exit, and halted. His hands slowly pulled out his green domino mask, the one that Dick had seen him wear so many times. The one that Dick had watched him put on before patrol. The one that he died in. The one that he wore every time he went out to save lives.
The one that he protected him in.
Damian let it slip from his fingers. It fell to the ground, barely making a thud, and then his chin lifted, and Dick heard him sniffle.
And his heart fractured.
“If-if you see the others, tell them I’m sorry.” Damian managed, and Dick knew he was trying. Trying to be confident, trying to be strong, trying to be brave. Trying to save everyone he could. Just like always. “But Robin never gives up on his own.”
“All about suffering, huh?” Duke whispered, but the white masked boy did not reply. His only visible reaction was a small stiffening of his back, before he sprinted off into the darkness and out of sight. Duke watched him go, forlorn expression only worsening as he stood and muttered, “Poor kid.”
And Dick’s heart broke.
He turned away, unable to look at the screen anymore. Anger and agony coursed through him like 2 rivers fighting for dominance over his choices. He wanted to rip Lincoln March apart limb from limb, dismantle everything he had ever built and destroy the Parliament of Owls once and for all; he wanted to run, to fly, to scour the earth until he found Damian, and then he wanted to hug him, hold him, love him, and tell him just how much, and never let him go.
Dick wanted to burn the Court to the ground.
But he wanted to save his little brother more.
Damian was worth more than any deal, any amount of money, any prize that could be won, and it only took Dick 3 years, Damian’s death, and now another one of his brother’s sacrifices to realize that. He wasn’t evil, he wasn’t selfish, he wasn’t some bratty, arrogant monster. He was a brilliant, kind kid, and underneath that rough exterior beat the heart of a true hero.
Damian deserved more than anything Dick could ever give him, but Dick was sure as hell going to give him this.
“Well, well, well.” Lincoln murmured with a smirk. “This is turning out to be more interesting than I had anticipated. The choice is yours, Richard.”
Fine, he’d choose.
He chose Damian.
He chose Nightwing.
He chose family.
That’s what Robin was all about.
Dick smirked. Don’t worry, Lil’ D. Your Big Brother’s coming for you, and he won’t let you down this time.
On this day in history 1963 America witnessed one of its most spiteful moments of discrimination. A story of two clever Negroes from Alabama and a staunch conservative determined to keep his promise.
The story begins 11 years earlier when in 1954, Alabama was ordered to desegregate its education system by the supreme court. Hundreds applied in the following years but the university worked with the police to find even the slightest disqualifying quantities but when this failed, the university resorted to intimidating applicants. All black applicants were denied with the exception of Katherine Lucy in 1956. Who was later kicked out of the school due to violent attacks and riots on campus.
Nearly a decade later, two black students successfully enrolled. Vivian Malone Jones and James hood. A court order from a district judge ordered they be admitted.
Previously that year in January. Alabama elected George Wallace as its 45th governor of Alabama. This conservative democrat would pledge at his inaugural address
The two students pre registered at Birmingham courthouse were they selected their courses. The students then arrived at the university to pay their fees. Only to find Governor Wallace stood in the doorway of foster auditorium. Refusing to move. Deputy attorney general Nicholas katzenbach told him to step aside. But was interrupted by Wallace, who gave a speech on states rights. In which he described the enrollment of the two students as“Unwelcome and unwarranted” and the “oppression of the rights, privileges and sovereignty of this state by officers of the federal government.
Katzenbach called president John F Kennedy who had issued executive order 1111. Authorizing the federalization of the Alabama national guard. 4 hours later Guard general Henry graham arrived with 100 Alabama guard and demanded Wallace to step aside saying
“Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under the orders of the President of the United States.” Wallace stepped aside. Hood and Malone were escorted into the auditorium were they completed their registration to the cheers of pro integration whites.
Malone would receive her bachelor of arts in business management with a B+ average becoming the first black person to graduate from the University of Alabama. She died of a stroke aged 63 in 2005.
George Wallace would propel to national fame and would run for president in 1968 carrying five states with 9 million votes. He survived an assassination attempt in 1972 and remained wheelchair bound for the rest of his life. He renounced his racist views and apologized to African Americans. He died in 1998.
James hood left the university after only two months but returned 30 years later in 1995 were he completed his doctorate in interdisciplinary studies. He attended Wallace’s funeral in 1998 imploring others to forgive Wallace as he had. James died in 2013.
They have died but the racial divide in America lives on today.