whumptober day 13: burns (AO3)
Dick isn’t a stranger to running into burning buildings. He’d prefer to do it with his fire-resistant Nightwing suit on, but when duty calls, Dick doesn’t care what he’s wearing. If he sees someone who needs help, he doesn’t stop to think about whether or not he should do something—he just moves.
And that’s what happens now.
A building is on fire and people are screaming for help. He drops the pizza he just picked up for a late dinner and runs inside, pulling out as many people as he can before immediately running back in for another load. The sirens are fast approaching, but that doesn’t mean anything to the people who could die in the meantime.
Dick sets a couple of kids down on the grass and runs back inside on shaky legs. He has a few burns, and something fell from the ceiling and caught his arm on the last run. He ignores it, tells himself it’s not important as he uses what little air he has to ask if anyone is still inside. He walks deeper into the building, calling out between coughs as smoke chokes him and fills his vision. The roof caves in further, and flames jump at his arms.
He’s completely surrounded by flames now; all of his exits are compromised.
Tears run down his face from the smoke, and he hurts where the flames have licked his skin and where pieces of the crumbling building have struck him. He keeps calling and looking around, but no one is answering and he can’t see anyone. There’s nothing more he can do, and he needs to get out before the fire takes him as a victim.
He looks around wildly, breathing heavily through his hoodie. He realizes that while things look grim, he’s not completely trapped; he can still jump through the fire.
He tries to cover as much of his skin with his clothes as possible before he throws his arms over his head and charges toward what used to be a doorway. He screams as he enters the flames, and absolutely loses it when the last bit of the doorway falls onto his legs.
Someone pulls him out from under it as he writhes and screams. Training kicks in, though, and as soon as he’s free, he rolls over the ground in a desperate attempt to put out the fire.
His breath hitches as he tries to breathe through the pain, but it’s too much. Someone is talking to him; they put something over his face, flash something in his eyes.
It’s the last thing he sees.
Everything hurts. Not as much as jumping through fire did, but it’s still pretty bad. And the worst part is that someone’s talking, and each word is like a hammer to his head.
“Shh,” Dick finds himself saying, lolling his head to the side.
“Shh,” he repeats, opening his eyes to find Bruce. “M’ head hurts.”
“He’s awake,” Bruce says, and Dick realizes he’s holding a phone. “I’ll call you back.” He lowers his phone from his ear and sets it on the table. “How are you feeling?”
Dick looks around the hospital room. In addition to the typical medical equipment, there are balloons and cards scattered across the room. “What’s all of this for?” Dick murmurs. His voice sounds kind of weak, probably related to all the smoke.
“You saved a lot of people in that fire,” Bruce explains. His eyes pass over the gifts with a blank expression. “Most of this was sent by their families.”
Dick’s face twitches slightly as pain spikes along his left shoulder and back. He breathes through it. Pain more controlled, he says, “That was nice.”
“Yes.” Bruce shifts in his seat. “Some people sent flowers, too, but we can’t have them in the room because of the bacteria they might be carrying.”
“Hmm.” That doesn’t really make sense—everything’s covered in bacteria, including him and Bruce—but Dick figures that’s just a sign of how heavily he’s medicated. He lets it go. “How bad are the burns?”
Bruce shifts in his seat again. “Most of them are second-degree burns, but you have third-degree burns on your legs. They required skin grafts.”
“Suppose the suit usually prevents that, huh?”
Bruce grunts, tightens his eyes into a glare.
Dick rolls his eyes. “I wasn’t just going to walk away. Not when I was fully capable of doing something.”
“I know. That’s not—I’m not asking you to stop saving people—”
“Good, because I wouldn’t listen to you, and that would be insanely hypocritical.”
“Let me finish,” Bruce reprimands. “I’m proud of you, and I admire the lengths you go to help people, both in and out of costume. But seeing you hurt, seeing you in pain, is one of the hardest things I have to live with.”
Dick knows the feeling; he feels the same way when Bruce gets hurt, when any of them get hurt.
“And when I saw you on the news, on fire—” Bruce cuts himself off and raises a hand to cover his eyes.
“You saw that?” Dick asks quietly, stomach sinking. He hadn’t even noticed cameras.
“I thought I was watching you die. And when the hospital called—” Bruce lowers his hand, revealing shiny eyes which he turns toward the ceiling. “I thought they were going to ask me to claim your body.”
Dick reaches out and squeezes Bruce’s hand.
“I’m so proud of you,” Bruce says, squeezing Dick’s hand in return. “But there’s a cost to what we do. We’ve both decided it’s worth it, but that doesn’t make it easy when things like this happen. And I can’t help but feel angry, because if the building had caught fire just a few hours later, you would have been wearing a suit that would have saved you from so much pain.”
Dick would do it again in a heartbeat, but he can’t deny that he’s a little angry about that too.