TDKR left me with feelings so I basically started writing a ficlet in my head before the movie was even over. I’m, uh, just gonna leave this here.
Title: Phoenix in the Fire
Summary: Everyone is cheering, emptying their lungs with shouts of happiness and gratitude and disbelief. Blake doesn’t cheer.
Word count: 431
Warnings: None. Except copious angst.
And obviously there are spoilers because. I mean. Yeah.
The people are cheering. The clouds left from the bomb are rising into the sky and fading, leaving a city that is ruined but still alive. All the citizens weep or yell or applaud, heaving sighs of relief, laughing like they’d almost forgotten how. But not Blake. Not for even a moment does a smile grace his features; he stares at the horizon, lost in his confusion.
His badge is in his hand before he even registers taking hold of it. His mouth is still hanging open, breathing white mist into the air. It’s cold, but not as cold as the feeling of the hard edges of his badge, which has turned to lead in his fingers. He hardly spares it a glance before tossing it off the bridge like a penny in a fountain.
He makes no wishes. There are none the world could hope to fulfill.
When the officers destroyed their one escape, he wasn’t sure who to be more disappointed in: them for blindly following orders and ignoring reason, or himself for daring to think anything could be so simple, for bothering to believe in the rest of the world. This time, though, he knows exactly who to blame, and he can say for sure that it isn’t him and it isn’t that body sinking in the harbor.
Nearly a month passes before Blake enters the waterfall cavern. He’s already had plenty of time to turn back or reconsider, but he remembers what a man told him about masks. If he’s to don one, there will be few people left to remember John Blake ever existed—few, but enough to make him care with every fiber of his heart what fate might befall them. And that’s enough to make him realize the man was right.
Bruce Wayne had billions of dollars to hide his identity and sustain his work. Blake doesn’t have that, but by now he has connections enough to make that problem go away. And he has a name, one that no one’s called him since he was just a little boy with a dead mother. A fitting one, too; he thinks maybe heroes are meant to be winged creatures, because the average man is too meek and fearful to fly.
With time, Robin thinks that maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to forgive Bruce for making him a hero. Years from now when he’s set his creaky old bones down by the fireside to retire, he’ll think back and be grateful for the legacy Batman left.
Or maybe, just maybe, he doesn’t ever want to.