Tim wanted to distract himself from just how hungry he was, but there was nothing else to think about. All he could think to do was to sit sat down and groan until Dick convinced him to take a nap to forget about it as long as he could. Dick promised that he’d wake Tim up in a few minutes, but Tim didn’t even bother thinking about how he had no idea to tell time and fell asleep on his lap. Over the last few days Dick had convinced Tim that he needed to be sleeping for their treats to come in, but it also meant he would wake up many times very disappointed to find that nothing had changed.
Dick knew that Tim would be out for much longer than a few minutes, but he wanted him to spend as little time hungry as he could.
As soon as Tim was out, the door opened and Ra’s walked in to admire how far along they were in his treatment. He had breed strong soldiers before, but the test here was to see if having a strong attachment, the boy, would mean he turned out any different than the others.
Hearing the creak of the door, Dick didn’t even bother looking up when he asked, “What do you want?”
Ra’s stood right in front of him until he couldn’t see anything else and answered, “I wanted to see if you had thought over about the offer I made in our last meeting.”
Even then, Dick refused to look at him and only patted down Tim’s hair as he spat out, “Do I really have much of a choice?”
“No not really. Not if you don’t want your brother to die,” Ra’s said flatly. He even leaned down to pat feel his hair and soon as Dick’s hand came out to stop him he held his wrist against the wall just as he had his throat a few days ago. Looking into those harsh green eyes Dick knew Ra’s didn’t really care whether or not Tim lived. They were only alive because he thought he could he could do something useful with him and as soon as that changed neither of them could control what happened to them.
Against his hold Dick clenched his fists at the idea of something happening to his brother and choked out again, “What do you want?”
“The issue here is what you want.”
Ra’s knew he sounded patronizing and it was on purpose. He liked the way Dick’s face squeezed up when he joked around with him, but there was nothing better to how he glared when he said something at the expense of his little brother.
Knowing it was in vain, Dick bluntly said, “I want to go back home.”
Arrogantly shaking his head with a smug frown on his face, Ra’s said, “I can’t do that Richard and you know I can’t, but there must be something else. Something you need.”
Thinking deeply and knowing his decision made a world of difference, Dick said, “Food. Food and water. Someone comes in once a day with food that could barely feed one person and we need more.”
Creasing his eyebrows, Ra’s said, “It’s enough for you to survive on. I made sure of it.”
Dick glared and informed him, “I don’t eat until I know Tim is full. He comes first and he will always come first”
Ra’s considered that for a moment before saying, “Fine. I’ll make sure someone brings enough food for the both of you. Two full meals three times a day.”
Surprised that he’d give in so easily, Dick asked exasperatedly with squinted eyes, “Really? It’s that easy?”
Ra’s reached out to caress his chin and say, “Of course. I know better than to treat my soldiers badly. If you can’t stand, you won’t do me any good.”
Dick asked with bated breath, “So what do you want now?”
Ra’s turned around and said, “Nothing while you don’t have any energy.”
Dick didn’t know what to think about situation, but he knew better than to trust anyone he come across here. He still didn’t know anything about the man who controlled their lives, he didn’t even know his name, but Dick knew that he had to do everything he could to survive long enough to get out. Everyone in the compound knew that they were starving, that they couldn’t live off of what they were given, but it was all just a test for them and he made a promise to never give up on trying to get out. His baby brother was sitting on his lap hungrier than he had ever been and Dick could never forgive anyone for that.
Being able to eat properly put Tim a much happier mood but he couldn’t help but feel trapped in the room. It wasn’t small, but there was no where near enough room or contents to distract him from the long hours they couldn’t do anything besides eat. The only thing in the room beside the mattress they slept on and them was the bucket Dick couldn’t convince Tim to use.
He tried to tell him he’d get sick otherwise, that it was very important, necessary, and not at all embarrassing, but Tim still refused. He adamantly denied having anything to do with the subject, especially after Dick tried to show him how okay it was through a demonstration.
Knowing just how serious the matter was, Dick made Tim go to sleep and knew Ra’s would come in. That seems to the general pattern, every time Dick had trouble with Tim he told him to sleep and Ra’s showed up with help.
As Dick had expected, Ra’s came back in to check on the two as soon as Tim was out.
Stalking in, Ra’s asked, “Have you thought more about the offer I’ve made?”
Dick sneered, “Is that how it works, we do what you want and you give us what we need to survive?”
“Sure. I can imagine that you’ve been pampered ever since you’ve been Mr. Wayne’s care, but I need a soldier who can handle some of the harshest parts of the world.”
“I’ll do what you want, but don’t bring Tim into it.” Dick didn’t mind having to beg.
“Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to come with me for a few minutes and if you pass my test I’ll give you what you want.”
“Anything I want?”
Dick moved Tim off of his lap and stood up to say, “Fine, but we have to be back before Tim wakes up. He’s going to be scared otherwise.”
Ra’s gave him a cruel smile before the door opened from the other side and a bag was put over his head. His initial instinct had been to fight against the material around his neck but he gave into it to make things as easy as they could be.
As Dick was lead to another section of the compound he couldn’t help but think this would be the perfect opportunity to call out for Clark but he knew better when he would have no way of getting to Tim before some of Ra’s subordinates did. He hated feeling so close to freedom and knowing there was no way he could go through with it.
Pretty soon he was in a large room with professional level gymnastics equipment. Dick had seen most of it before when Bruce had him test out the kinds of things they would have installed into the Manor and he knew how expensive it could cost. One thing was sure, Ra’s had put them in that room on purpose and he had enough resources to give them much more, he could give them everything but he wanted to see how long they could last on almost nothing.
Dick turned to him and asked, “What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to show me just how athletic you are, how much you can do.” He pointed out the balance beam in the center of the room and said, “We can start out with that.”
Dick nodded and immediately took his place on the platform and did an expert level routine. If he was being honest with himself he felt much better than he had in a few weeks as soon as he got the chance to test out his feet but he made sure no one would be able to tell looking at him. At the end of the performance he turned around to look at Ra’s and all he got was a quirk of an eyebrow. Retaking his place he went with a routine he had seen win a gold medal and still all he got was another raised eyebrow. Dick thought it over and decided to show them something Bruce had trained him to know as well as the back of his hand. It had taken months to work out perfectly and Dick knew it was enough to impress them.
Ra’s didn’t show any change in expression, but he told him, “That’s all well and good, but I want to test your endurance.”
Not really caring about the specifics Dick asked, “What do you want me to do next?”
“Run around the perimeter of the room.”
“How many laps?”
“As many as you can stand up for.”
Dick got into position and immediately took up a running pace. He lasted four laps until he went down to a heavy jog and then a regular jog. He wanted to stop and take a breather, but he didn’t want to see any satisfaction on Ra’s face when he realized he’d pushed Dick to his brink.
Seeing him losing some of his motivation in the exercise Ra’s called out, “The longer you last, the more effort I put into giving you what you want.”
Dick shot him a glare before increasing his pace. He tried to think about something other than the pairs of eyes on him, mostly about how Tim needed him to do everything he could, and that was enough to push him past everything he had ever done.
He lasted an hour before the pain got to be too much and he collapsed on the mats on the floor. Dick gasped for some relief in his burning lungs but all the air was knocked out of him when he was lifted onto someone’s back and the bag was returned to his head and he was carried back to the room. He tried to stop his fits of coughing but he ended up heaving into the bag until he thought he could suffocate.
He found Tim still sleeping on the mattress and instead of looking at the new additions to the room he crawled in and wrapped himself around him. He ignored the pain in his muscles and lungs to move Tim into his favorite position and rest for as long as he could. Dick felt proud of himself knowing he could take care of his brother, but it was enough to make him appreciate just how much Bruce did for them and that just made him want to be back home more. Snuggling up to the feeling of Tim’s soft hair he imagined he was in his bad at the Manor and safe from anyone who could do anything to hurt them.
Dick woke up to the feeling of Tim pushing on his chest and he tried to ignore the way his body felt like lead when he smiled up at him. “What’s up Timbo?”
“It’s like magic, Dick. Look.” Tim pointed out to the sink, toilet, and bath tub that had been installed. Dick knew that Ra’s had someone work on them while Dick was away, but he couldn’t get over the idea of someone else being in the room with Tim while he wasn’t there to look out for him.
He pushed the feeling aside to sit up and say, “You need to go to the bathroom now, Tim.”
Tim walked up to the toilet before running back to Dick to whisper to him, “It looks dirty.”
Dick groaned but said, “I know it does, Babybird, but you need to.”
Pulling on Dick’s sleeve he asked, “Can you come with me?”
Not feeling up to moving the same limbs he had worked out to his limit, Dick begging him, “Please, Timmy, for me. Just do it. It’s not healthy to not do it for a long time and it’s only going to get worse. I know you can.”
Tim could tell that Dick was tired, he smelled like he needed to be left alone, so he did as he was told and crawled back into the bed immediately after.
Lying down on top of Dick, he asked, “Why are we here, Dick? I want to go home.”
Dick had no idea how to explain the situation to him, he didn’t know much about it himself, but he tried to come up with something believable. “It’s a test, Timmy, a very hard test.”
Tim didn’t know whether or not he should believe him, but he trusted his brother enough and decided this shouldn’t be any exception. He settled into Dick’s shoulder and decided to tell him about a dream he’d had during one of his naps.