Superheroes never stay gone, that’s what the people around here say, and while they don’t know the whole of the fill-ins and costume swaps that go on behind the scenes they’re still right. No one stays gone for long, not in this place, and even the ones that do come back eventually.

A young, dark-haired prostitute whistles low as he steps into Wayne Manor. “You weren’t kidding,” he says. “You his kid or something?”

“Take off your clothes,” Damian says. The young man shrugs his shoulders and obeys. He is far too young, really, and his body too slender and pale, but Damian doesn’t care about that. The young man stands naked in the middle of the hall and stares at him. It has taken Damian weeks to find that shade of blue.

It had been a night like most nights, until it wasn’t. Nightwing had joined them, bored, when there was a panic in the heart of the slums. Some psychotic with a sniper rifle and shockingly good aim, that was what their scanners picked up. Ex-military, they would later find out, too late. It happened fast. When you’re a superhero, when you work in hyper-reality every day, you never think it’s going to end on a night like this. It’s inelegant, pedestrian. You forget that a domino mask can’t stop a bullet.

When they’ve finished, the young man puts a hand to Damian’s cheek. The intimacy is surprising, and familiar. “This was fun,” he says, “but you shouldn’t look for me again.”

“I know,” Damian says. “I won’t.”

The young man smiles.

They made him disappear, as they had with Bruce before him. They waited, and they waited, and they hoped. After a time, Dick Grayson died, mysteriously, leaving no body. And still, Damian waited. Still, Damian waits, drowning himself in blue eyes, and hoping.

Superheroes don’t stay gone long, until they do.

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