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I See You (when you cry, when you're shy, when you want to die)

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None of you see, do you?

Broken little birds, blind as bats.

You don’t see the twitching smile, lies that are pretty enough to be bought.

You don’t see the tears mixed in rain, the ink running down his arms like blood.

Detectives in all but the heart, it would seem.

You never did see what he didn’t want you to.

 

Cassandra Cain sees what others don’t. She’s fluent in intentions, in people in a way the others aren’t. Tim reads details, facts, dissecting people like puzzles, and limiting them to pictures on a case board. They aren’t people to him, they’re riddles. Bruce reads motives, what people do, and why they do it, playing chess master over an array of loyal pawns. People aren’t puzzles, they’re pieces on his playing board, and to read them is to read their actions and to plan for them.  Jason reads sins, the bad and evil in every soul he comes across, playing executioner over a vast field of sick and twisted and deranged. People aren’t chess pieces or puzzles, they’re victims and abusers, the guilty and those hurt by the guilty with Red Hood as the guillotine to deliver their sentence.

Dick comes the closest to her sight. He sees people, but he sees puzzles too. He sees the lies and the pain, and the sins and the facts. He sees more than others because he’s a performer. A showman. He hides, so he can see others as they hide.

It’s why Cassandra hadn’t trusted him at first, with his twitching smiles and bubbling laughter. With his dazzling smiles and put-on persona of weakness. She saw his lies, and he saw hers, and that’s always a dangerous game to play.

 

You’re blind, aren’t you?

Lonely Street Rat in Gotham’s gutter, Damned Prince with a kingdom of blood.

You don’t see his pain, not when your own burns and burns.

How can you when you hate him and love him in turn?

When the sight of him fills your mouth with bile, bitter and acidic, and the absence of him cuts your heart like a dagger?

Red, red, your love burns.

But hatred is a similar sting.

 

She sees his lies, which means his pain is a book open for her perusal. She sees his denials, honeyed and perfect for the person they go to. She sees his excuses, thought out and elaborate. She sees the things he doesn’t let himself see, the scars carved deeper than skin, deeper than pain.

She knows pain well, Cain had taught her all she’d ever needed to know on it.

Cass sees his friends too, sees the way he melts into hugs and touch, slumped and despondent for the moment they can’t see his face as they pull away. She sees how he forces himself to the front to distract, to dazzle and amaze, she knows the tricks of a magician from Steph and Tim. Hold their attention in one place, so they don’t see what you don’t want them too. She sees the loneliness in that, an invisible weight on Dick’s hunched shoulders.

It gets worse after Spyral.

She’d noticed the drifting friends, how slowly, surely, Dick stood alone more often than not. His friends stopped coming. Tim stopped calling him. He stopped visiting with Alfred in Gotham. The only person he truly talked to had been Damian. Damian, who looked at him with hearts in his eyes and saw Dick at his core. Damian, who Cass knew thought of Dick like a father. She saw pain in Dick’s eyes though, pain every time Damian went back to Bruce and Dick went back to his apartment.

“He’s lonely,” she tells Steph one day, legs swinging high above Gotham as they eat their ice cream. “Why do the others avoid him?”

“They’re hurt,” Steph intones with a shrug. “His death, or not death I guess, hurt them.”

“He’s hurt too.”

“They’re not ready to forgive him. Besides, he has all his friends, he’ll be alright.”

 

You’re blind, aren’t you?

Lonely Detective in ivory towers, Genius Robin with a Grayson-sized blind spot.

You don’t see his pain, not when you’re bitter and cold from being thrown away.

How can you when you can’t see his love through your grief?

When you can’t see how he tried, desperately and hopelessly while you searched for ghosts?

Blue, blue, your love sits.

Cold, unused, and useless in your quiet heart.

 

But Dick sits alone in his apartment. Alone at meals. Cass watches, Cass follows. She sees him check his phone to find no texts or calls, smiling sadly. She sees him try not to cry, smile quivering and eyes shut tight like he’s laughing. She sees him cry, alone on the anniversary of Damian’s death, forcing a smile even as he curls into a ball alone in the darkness. She sends Damian to him, and makes plans for lunch the next day, but it’s not enough. None of it’s enough.

Looking at him hurts. Seeing his pain is like feeling his pain, and all he is is pain and lies. Lies he doesn’t want to tell, smiles he doesn’t want to give.

Damian stays with him, wrapped in his arms and pretending he’s the one that needs comforting, and Cass sees the way Dick clutches Damian. Like an anchor. Like a lifeline. He has no support, she realizes. Not here. Not with everyone mad, and everyone thinking someone else will shoulder the burden of looking out for him (like it’s such a burden).

She sees Tim hide from Dick, dodge his calls and texts, cold and angry and everything she’s never known from him.

She sees Jason lash out at Dick, built up anger and hurt he can’t express in any other way. He’d never learned, she supposes.

She sees Bruce do nothing, watching Dick’s smile dip lower and lower and lower and looking at him like he’s dead. Like he sometimes looks at Jason’s memorial, the few times she’s noticed. Like he looks at Jason, on the better nights.

He has all his friends,” Stephanie had told her, but in all the time Cass watches Dick, she never sees a friend reach out to ask if he’s okay. “He’ll be okay.”

But how can he when no one’s there to help him?

 

You’re blind, aren’t you?

Shining Knight cloaked in shadows, World’s Greatest for all but your children.

You don’t see his pain, not when you’ve caused so much of it.

How can you when you can’t even tell when his smiles are fake?

When you can’t see his broken little heart, crying out for your approval, every little plea and disappointed sigh stuck in his raw, bleeding throat?

Black, black, your love hides.

You’re so good at hiding your feelings, even you wonder if you have a heart.

 

Patrol with the family is difficult. Dick is rarely invited, Damian is always prickly, and conversation often turns to topics Cass disagrees with her family on. Like Dick.

“I can’t believe it,” Jason says with a derisive snort. “Golden Boy always has to go it solo. He didn’t bother asking for back-up in my territory.”

Would you give it?’ Cass wants to ask him. ‘Would you watch his back and care about him if he asked, or would you refuse like you have every time he’s asked in the past?

“Figures,” Tim says, rolling his eyes. “B and I were working a case, and I was slated to go on an undercover op, but he somehow convinced B he should do it instead.”

He’s protecting you!’ she wants to scream. ‘He wants to protect you! He loves you!’

But the words sit in her throat as she fumes, tongue leaden as her temper spikes.

Damian normally corrects them. Damian normally defends Dick to them. But Damian isn’t here, and Dick isn’t either. Cass hates the words they spit, hates the anger she sees in them when Dick is the one hurt, but she’s not good at confrontation. She doesn’t always know the right words.

“You alright Cass?” Tim asks her, waving a hand in front of her face. She blinks, and thinks of the way Dick would hug her back into focus when she goes too far into her own head, when she doesn’t quite respond to the conversation around her.

Non-verbal days, he’ll call them, wrapping her in affection and doing the talking for her. He makes it something exciting, something more than trauma. He’ll get her ice cream and take her for cheesy movies they can laugh at and do a horrendous version of her voice until everything is a little less overwhelming, until she can feel her mouth curl around words normally.

That’s the Dick Grayson they won’t see.

She has no word, and her mouth is dry, but she knows the sign.

She sticks out her pinky and thumb, palm pointed at her face, and rests her three curled fingers on her chin.

Tim and Jason both frown.

“Wrong? Cassie, what’s wrong?”

You,’ she signs.

“Cass,” Tim says softly. “Dick lied to us all. He lied to you.”

She glares at him, singing ‘hurt’ and putting her hands on her hips.

He’s hurt. Dick is hurt, like a raw, gaping wound, never healing, never scabbing over. Ever bleeding, ever leaking. Fresh. Pained. She doesn’t know how they can’t see it.

“Cass—” Jason tries, but Cass decides to crash Damian and Dick’s movie night instead of listening. She doesn’t feel like being around them right now, not when they don’t understand her and she doesn’t understand them.

 

You’re blind, aren’t you?

Ex-assassin in a palace of riches, a child never allowed to be a child

You don’t see his pain, not when he won’t let you.

How can you when he loves you like the son he’d dreamed of having, in time past?

When you’re his anchor through all the darkness, the only person he knows will always love him?

Green, green, your love screams.

Green like your pit, a love beyond the grave.

 

“Cass?” Dick questions when he opens the door, Damian at his side. “I thought you had patrol with the others?”

She wonders if she’s the only one to hear the inflection in his tone, the small amount of hurt coloring his carefully neutral tone.

Cass hugs him instead of signing, content in conveying her love through touch the way Dick loves. His arms come up to wrap around her hesitantly, and she can feel him relax in her embrace.

“I love you too,” he says, because he understands her perfectly, “Want to come watch bad horror movies with me and Dami?”

She nods, smiling wide enough for it to split her cheeks as he takes her by the hand and leads her inside.

She loves him more than most. He’s her kindred spirit, so similar it hurts. It doesn’t matter that she’s the only one to see his pain, because she will help him. She’ll be there for him when no one else will, and she’ll return that love he’s always given so freely.

Dick Grayson exists to be loved, and her broken heart will offer all she has to heal her brother. Her and Damian will both be his anchors, they will watch his back and care for him when the others won’t.

“Ice cream sundae?” he asks, wrapping her in another tight hug.

She nods, tugging Damian with one arm despite his for-appearances protests, sandwiching Dick between them, and breathing out a shaky sigh.

Dick smiles down at her, a small, fond smile that’s so real it makes Cass smile back.

…And everything is perfect.

 

You’re blind, aren’t you?

Golden Son in a city of grey, an acrobat with the world in your heart.

You don’t see your pain, not when others are hurt and you’re alone.

How can you when you hide the hurt out of sight as an imperfection to be guarded closely?

When you have no one to confide in, no one to catch you as your safety net?

Gold, gold, your love consumes.

Too bad you love everyone but yourself.