Her voice weak, eyes barely open.
"Shh, you shouldn't try to speak, Stephanie. Save your strength."
Even in this state she wasn't going to listen to him. She had things to say.
"But I screwed up so bad… it was all me. I started this war…"
The shifting of a chair, soft rippling of a cape. She can't move to look, but she's sure he's sitting by her bedside.
"I know. But there's no need to worry about that now, we took care of-"
"You were so right to fire me. I'm such an idiot…"
Stephanie interrupts. Before Batman can respond, she continues babbling. Even like this, or perhaps more so because of it, Stephanie Brown's train of thought is all over the place.
"Does Tim hate me?"
A stark reminder that after everything, she is still just a sixteen year old girl, worried about boys. Replying quicker than he could have thought possible, almost harshly, as if it were a stupid question.
"No, of course not. He adores you. Always has."
A brief pause falls over the room, the sound of the seat shifting again, a weight next to her hand. Was he going to hold her hand? Batman doesn't hold hands. Her fingers twitch lightly in response and she speaks again, as if to cut off a serious gesture. Maybe if she did, it meant it wasn't as bad in here.
"Everything doesn't have to be about fear. There's room in our line of work for hope, too." "I have a baby. Did you know that? She not mine anymore but-"
"Don't worry, Stephanie. She'll never want for anything. I promise."
Did Batman just promise her he'd look after her daughter? Oh. It is bad. Maybe she should have let him hold her hand.
After another long stretch of silence, she spoke softly.
"I'm still here. I'm not going anywhere…"
Oh. It was so bad. He didn't Batman on her. Forcing her eyes open, she grit her teeth, and decided to ask a question that had been eating at her.
"When you let me be Robin, it wasn't just some kind of trick was it? A way to get Tim to come back? Or a way to show me I wasn't cut out for the job?"
He paused. She shifted her gaze from his to the ceiling, eyes welling with tears, knowing full well what that pause meant. He was trying to find a way to justify within himself to lie to a dying girl.
"Was any of it real? Was I ever really Robin?"
This time there was no pause. Another snap response, like it was a stupid question.
"Of course you were."
Letting her eyelids slide closed again, and letting out the breath she didn't know she had been holding, she sighed softly.
"Good. Then I really was part of it, part of the legend, even if only for a little while. No-one can take that away from me."
"No matter what."
Batman murmurs softly, almost to himself, after she finishes.
"I think I need to rest now…"
Stephanie Brown finishes, the held back tears easily sliding down her cheeks, as the slow beeping of the ECG ceases, droning to a flatline.
Another of the casualties of the war she started.
One more casualty to his crusade.
A second Dead Robin.