Room: Chapter 5

After a few weeks, Dick felt the tests become more tolerable and even began to look forward to the break from the suffocating atmosphere of the room. He had been repeating the same exercises every day for hours on end to prove to Ra’s that his performance the first day wasn’t a fluke. The first few days were the hardest, but as soon as he got into the routine of working out the feeling of exhaustion was replaced by the excitement of leaping from one platform to another. Even the challenge of working his body to its limits was replaced by a feeling of pride at the surprised looks on the lower level servants’ faces. It felt like the primal acrobat in Dick, the one who had been learning to move his body in ways regular humans would marvel at since he could walk, finally had enough room to move around again.

Even more than exercising and showing off to Ra’s subjects, Dick wanted to take the opportunities out from the room to learn more about where exactly they were. He thought that if he could catch some glimpse of the world outside the walls, recognize any of the plants, animals, or climate, he figure out what part of the globe the compound was located in. At this point any information would be better than none and get him one step closer to finding a way out. Dick tried to see something through the bag over his face any time he was being moved and he tried to convince some of the servants that worked around the compound to let him outside for a few minutes but it was all to no avail.

That was the routine for a few weeks, Dick going through the exercises and trying to find a way out, until Ra’s decided he had all the information he needed. It was obvious to him that Dick was a promising recruit and deserving of both a promotion to the next stage of the training and direct mentoring from Ra’s. In all previous cases, the responsibility of of mentoring had fallen on some of Ra’s higher ranking subordinates, but he could see that they wouldn’t be able to push the boy to his full potential. There wasn’t anyone outside of himself and the Detective he could see showing the boy just what he was capable of. In what must have been fate, Dick’s training with Bruce had all but guaranteed that he would someday reach the rank of Ra’s second in command.

Ra’s instructed for Dick to be brought to an empty and currently unused room closer to his personal quarters. It was a dark room and the only furnishings were two cabinets on opposing sides of a painted circle on the floor. As soon as he walked in, Dick knew he had graduated to the next level and that it wouldn’t be something he could enjoy.

One of the minions that usually stood to the side and watched stepped into the circle and took a fighting stance while he waited for Dick to come up and challenge him.

The ninja was dressed in a dark black and stood still as he waited for a signal from Ra’s to begin. Dick had not been expecting this, but he could work out that Ra’s wanted him to fight the ninja and see just how well he was able to utilize the physical capability he had already shown. He needed to prove he wasn’t all show.

Dick took a moment to study just what he was taking on and if he was being honest, he didn’t find the ninja to be very intimidating. He and Bruce had sparred many times in the cave and there was very little chance one of Ra’s minions could level up to the Batman.

As soon as they took a stance, his bravado stopped meaning anything. With a few strong sweeps to the back of his legs, Dick was on his back and grasping for his breath as he felt a knee weigh down on his neck. Nevertheless, Dick tried to fight his way out of the press to no avail as relief only came when Ra’s called out for it.

When he felt that the boy had been roughed around enough, he signaled for the fight to end and watched as Dick began heaving on the floor until he could calm himself down. Dick reminded himself that he had always lost when he went against Bruce. It was never even close.

Looking down at him in disappointment, Ra’s mildly stated, “You are going to have to improve if you ever think you are going to be good enough to fight in my army.”

Dick knew that he didn’t want to join any army, especially not one that served Ra’s, but he couldn’t ignore the smug dissatisfaction in Ra’s voice. They both knew that all of Dick’s failings reflected poorly on Bruce and even though it shouldn’t matter in that situation it just did. Getting back up, Dick demanded, “Let me try again.”

Ra’s shook his head; he didn’t have time for this and the boy needed to learn he wouldn’t always get a second chance. “I don’t think so.” He knew that Dick would need some motivation to ensure that he stayed interested so Ra’s gave him both positive and negative reinforcement. “If you don’t improve soon I will have to find another use for you and your brother. Otherwise, I’ll answer one of your questions every time you can defeat one of my soldiers.”

The next time wasn’t much better, but Dick did manage to last past five minutes and avoid falling on his back. Into the third day he lasted eight minutes and landed his own hits. On the fourth day it was ten minutes and Dick nearly pushed the ninja out of the circle when he made him stumble back. One week into the matches, Dick stayed on his feet for twenty minutes and only lost when his opponent landed a dirty move with his hair; the point was obvious, it was an all or nothing game.

After two weeks of constant fighting, the improvements were noticeable and Ra’s was willing to admit so. Not out loud, but it was obvious enough with everything Bruce had taught him about reading people. After three weeks he was getting strong enough to make it a real fight, and in one month it was Dick who was holding the ninja down.

As soon as he realized what had happened, Dick stumbled back and tried to compose himself. He stepped back from the match and hated the feeling of accomplishment that overtook him. He didn’t want to feel proud for doing everything Ra’s wanted him to do, but Ra’s knew how to make it hard enough for it to feel enticing for Dick. As he panted for relief, Dick sat on the mat and tried to think of what he was doing and why he was willing to let himself feel happy when he was in a room full of people who had kidnapped him.

Behind him, Ra’s was as stoic as ever and spoke up first. “I promised you I’d answer one of your questions if you won a match and here we are. Is there anything in particular you would like to know?”

Dick had thought it over for a while, ever since Ra’s first gave him the offer, and there was one thing he had been wondering ever since they had been moved here. Of course there was always the chance he could say something cheeky and reminiscent of the Robin he wanted to be, but he didn’t want to waste the opportunity.’ He looked directly at Ra’s and asked, “Who are you?”

Ra’s easily answered, “My name is Ra’s al Ghul and I am the Demon and the head of the League of Assassins.”

“Is that what you’re training me for, to be a soldier for you in this League of Assassins?”

Although he enjoyed seeing the stress on the boy’s face, Ra’s reiterated, “I said I’d answer one question, Richard. Win tomorrow as well and then we’ll see.”

Tomorrow ended up being a match with Dick going against two of Ra’s subordinates. He held his own for a few minutes, but one unseen attack to his heel brought him on his back. The next time he tried to focus on one at a time, but he ended up on the ground even faster than last time. It took him another week to see everything that was happening around him and attack accordingly.

When he did win, he asked Ra’s, “Why are you training me and what for? There must hundreds of people who work for you and are better fighters than me.” Dick had worked over the wording for the past few days and decided this forced Ra’s to give him something other than a yes or no answer.

Ra’s had had even more time to come up with an answer and he smoothly responded, “I am training you to be one of my subordinates, one that will serve directly under me and follow my every command.” He ignored Dick’s amused huff and continued, “I chose you because while I might have some, many, people who are more qualified to do the work than you, you have potential very few can match.”

Creasing his eyebrows, Dick asked, “Did you just compliment me?”

This time Ra’s let out an amused huff and reminded him, “One answer per victory, Richard.”

Dick spent hours looking around for the cameras; they had to be somewhere in the room. He knew Ra’s and his people were looking in on them every now and then, but if he could find them he could stay out of their range and come up with a plan out. Dick wanted nothing to do with the League of Assassins. If the name was anything to go by he wouldn’t like it.

He moved around the little that was in the room to no avail and fell back on the mattress frustrated.

It was even worse to watch Tim grow complaisant with everything that had happened to them, not even addressing the fact they had had a life outside of these four walls. While he had spent the first few days begging Dick to take them back to Bruce, fighting with Dick as if he was the reason they couldn’t go back home, Tim had settled for passing the time with games and homemade toys. It had come to the point where he woke up and took the trays after they were finished eating and tore out pieces of the styrofoam until it somewhat resembled his model cities from Gotham.

Staring at the sight of his little brother entertaining himself with his make-shift figurines, Dick admonished himself for just how far he had let this mess go. Even though he would never surrender himself to feeling at home in the compound, Dick knew he would have to try to make Tim’s time in the room easier on him. It wouldn’t do either of them any good to scare Tim with the reality of their situation.

The next time he came face to face with Ra’s, Dick made sure to move even quicker than he knew possible and had three of Ra’s ninjas on the ground in record time. Even though they tried to hide it, he could see a look of amazement from the more menial workers and knew he had done something very few of them had seen before.

On the other hand, Ra’s didn’t let any of his interest show in his voice when he noted, “There’s been a surprising improvement in your performance, Richard. I’m assuming you want something other than an answer to one of your questions.”

Looking down so he wouldn’t have to see the amusement on Ra’s face when he practically begged him for something, Dick answered, “I want books and toys for Tim. Instead of an answer of my question, I’ll take that.” He could tell from the slight rise of Ra’s eyebrows that he wanted an explanation, but Dick didn’t feel like he deserved it and kept a blank look on his face as he waited for a response.

After Ra’s nodded a signal to one of his servants in the room, Dick could feel the old man pacing around him. Curious enough to look, Dick found Ra’s with an inquisitive look on his face and waited for him to say something. He reminded Dick of a snake circling his prey and Dick didn’t like thinking about the damage the old man could do if he did ever attack him.

Ra’s came up with a mutually beneficial plan and informed Dick, “I’ll have someone drop age appropriate books and toys in your room as well as material I want you to look over before our next meeting.”

Dick knew better than to question anything Ra’s told him and looked to one of the ninjas and waited for a rag to come over his head. Before anyone moved forward, Ra’s put a hand on his shoulder. “This time you’re going to walk back without the intrusion.” Dick didn’t need to look up to hear the smirk on his face when he said, “You’ve deserved as much.”

Realizing that Ra’s wanted to see how he would react to the rest of the prison, Dick stiffened up and waited for the others to lead the way out. As soon as he got out of the doorway, he squinted his eyes at the light until he could look around without being blinded.

It had been a long time since he had seen this much light at once, but he did enjoy the feeling of the warm rays from the sun on his skin. There was very little to warm him him through the cold nights in the damp room and the glass opening at the top did very little beside give them a view of the bleak sky.

Once his eyes adjusted, Dick took in the new scenery. The view to the outside didn’t show anything he had seen before and there was very little decor around the hall for him to discern where they might be. Dick had never considered the possibility that he would find someplace more gloomy and depressing than Gotham, but here it was. Even the bright light from the sun only made the air around the room feel dry and dreary.

They were definitely no where near Gotham.

The walk was long enough for Dick to see that there were guards in every hallway and workers always moving from one room to the next. The meaning was clear, if Dick did ever manage to break out of the room he’d have to go through hell if he wanted to break out of the compound.

Even though he was being lead by Ra’s back to his room, Dick knew Ra’s was paying deep attention to everything he did. He had seen Dick searching around his room for cameras and knew that escaping was still very much at the forefront of his mind and he wanted to make sure he knew that was never going to happen.

Soon enough they were at a door Dick assumed lead to his room and he was glad to be done with the awkward walk. Ra’s stood still for a moment before explaining to him, “You have completed the first part of training far quicker than most of my other recruits and a reward is in order.”

Justifiably nervous, Dick asked quizzically, “What is it?”

“You will be given a week long break before I will have to retrieve you again. In that time you are meant to study over the information I have left for you in your room.” Dick scoffed inwardly. This wasn’t a break, it was time for Dick to study whatever Ra’s needed him to before he pulled him out again. It was time for him to do his homework.

Just to be contrary, Dick asked, “And if I’m not interested?”

“Then I’ll have to find another use for you and your brother.” It was the same threat Ra’s had had used before, but there was a reason for it. It worked and Ra’s could tell from the flinch through the boy as he imagined being away from Timothy in a place as hostile as the one they were trapped in.

Dick sighed and stood aside as Ra’s put in a passcode to open the door. He just wanted to be away from Ra’s as soon as he could.

Inside, Tim was still sleeping on the mattress but he looked like he was ready to wake up some time soon. Dick stepped in and as soon as the door was closed behind him he turned to look at the table and chairs some of Ra’s’ minions must have added in the few minutes from when he’d made the request. It was obvious that this was already something Ra’s had anticipated before Dick needed to tell him. It just reiterated the fact that everything he and Tim were doing was in the full view of the compound.

Sitting down in the chair, Dick noticed that all of the toys were simple, balls, drawing pencils, and figurines, and nothing like the treasure trove they both had back in Gotham. At least they were something and he knew Tim would be over the moon to find.

Dick didn’t have the focus to actually open anything, but he could tell the books ranged from the simple ones a child reads to more complex ones that must have been for Dick. There was one in particular that caught his eye, a parenting book about how to raise a child and how to make sure he or she was growing up healthy, both mentally and physically. As soon as he had it in his hands he wanted to throw it across the room and flush it down the toilet because he knew what it was supposed to mean. Ra’s was trying to tell him that there was no way he could avoid the fact that he would be the one raising the room and everything would have to be done in this room. Tim would never see anything else and he should give up any hope of freedom.

After quickly looking over the titles, Dick put the books back and crawled up behind his brother. They had grown accustomed to a sleeping position where Dick’s back was against the wall and his arms curled around Timothy so that the three year old could step off without disturbing Dick’s sleep.

It only took a few more minutes for Tim to begin rutting around in his sleep and pretty soon he was wide awake. There was a look of panic as he jumped up and scanned the room. He let out a whimper Dick hadn’t heard in months before he feeling the warm body behind him and calming down immediately.

Dick sat up and forced Tim to look him in the eye while he asked, “What’s the matter Timmy?”

Still breathing heavily, Tim flinched back and turned his gaze down to the mattress and muttered, “It’s stupid and not important.”

“It scared you, Tim. That means it’s important to me.” This was the only thing that mattered now. More than Ra’s, more than the League, more than whatever Ra’s was planning for him, Tim was the most important thing to Dick even if the three year old didn’t fully understand it.

In the same weak voice, Tim said, “I had a bad dream.”

Already knowing the most probable answer, Dick asked, “What was it about?”

Tim reached out for Dick’s hand for some comfort and choked out, “I had a dream that you weren’t here and I was alone.”

Dick knew what his meant; Tim had woken up while he was away with Ra’s. He had woken up and found himself alone in a room that felt strange and cruel to him for a reason he didn’t understand. Tim had woken up afraid and without anyone to comfort him.

In the four months they had been here, the younger of the two had grown especially attached to Dick. His older brother was his only refuge as he began to forget about their lives with Bruce or the fact they had been kidnapped.

It concerned Dick even more when he considered how much more Tim might forget if they didn’t get out soon. In the time they had been in the room Tim had already turned three and Dick’s ninth birthday had been drawing closer but Dick couldn’t bring himself to explain that to his little brother.

Not knowing what else to do, Dick reached out to comfort Tim and tried to think of any kind of explanation that might make sense to the young boy. There was no way he could tell Tim about everything that happened whenever he went to sleep, the people who would sometimes come into their room or the fact that Dick was off training for something he still didn’t fully understand, and Dick knew that he would lie if it meant that Tim would feel a little more comfortable.

Making sure Tim was looking down at his hands and not at his face where he might have been able to recognize the strain on his face, Dick promised, “I’ve always been in the room, Babybird. I would never leave you by yourself. It was just a bad dream and it will never come true. I would never do that to you.”

Dick’s assurance seemed to be all Tim needed because after a few minutes he was more interested in the table and chairs and lit up at the sight of the books. He picked out the one with the most interesting cover and brought it out to Dick who had the job of reading it out to him.

It warmed him up a little to finally see some light in his little brother, some excitement as he found something to take up his time other than the scraps of styrofoam held together with loose strings from their blanket that they had put together to have something to pass the time.

Turning the cover, Dick recognized the book as one that Bruce had picked out for them a while ago and read to him the first few nights he lived in the Manor. It had been a little tradition between the two of them, Bruce picking out the book from the pile on Dick’s desk and Dick acting out the voices he imagined the characters having. Tim had been too small back then, but those nights were special to Dick. Through little gestures like that, Dick had opened up to Bruce and began to consider him his father. Looking at the book now he had to remind himself to breath and not show any negativity that might confuse his brother.

In one quick swoop Ra’s had sullied those memories all together and it chilled him to realize that someone had been watching and studying those nights with Bruce. Ra’s had been planning his kidnapping through the first days since their parents had been murdered. He swallowed the feeling turned the cover to the first page to introduce Tim to Christopher Robin and all of his friends.

Dick knew his week long vacation was drawing to a close. By now Tim was sleeping much less, for a few hours during the night and a few naps throughout the day while someone to bring them lunch and dinner.

Every time his brother passed out on his pillow, Dick had a sudden feeling of fear at the thought that Tim might wake up and catch sight of the people setting out the food for them.

Even though the three year old didn’t quite know it, the transition from the Manor to the room had been hard on him. Dick wasn’t really sure how much Tim knew, but he couldn’t help but think that Tim was aware of the fact that something was wrong and that their lives used to be so much better.

With every day that passed, a part of Tim seemed to disappear as he forgot about any life he had outside of those four walls. At the same time, Tim grew very particular about everything and had to know he had some control. Even if it was just the smallest amount, he needed to know that he could control something. The table had to be kept in a certain place, there was a particular pattern to the books Dick would be reading to him, they would take baths every day, and the dashes that Dick was making on the wall to keep track of the passing days had to be in a proper line and not crooked.

Dick only needed to make a mistake once when he tried to put off cleaning their clothes until the next day. The hard look on Tim’s face even hours after the initial argument was enough for him to promise to stick to the schedule Tim had grown accustomed to. No argument was worth seeing Tim hunched over in a corner of the room as he screamed and cried and refused to acknowledge that Dick was even there. The worst was listening to him silently cry into their pillow once he thought Dick was sleeping and his flinch away when Dick tried to pull him into a comforting hold. Dick hoped that they had reached some kind of understanding when Tim eventually fell back into the hold and let Dick see just how poorly he was actually doing.

It had never occurred to Dick that while he had diverted all of his anger into Ra’s minions, Tim was growing frustrated without any way to relieve himself of all that negative energy.

With Tim’s permission, Dick moved the table closer to the bath tub so that it took up much less room and started to teach him some simple exercises, ones he had been learning in the circus. Tim was reluctant at first, the cement floor was not something he wanted to catch him every time he fell or messed up, but he liked having something physical to do. After the first few demonstrations from Dick, Tim was the one pushing Dick for them to exercise more and Dick didn’t fight him on it. He felt like it was a great way for them to make up for the fact that they couldn’t walk around as much as other children did.

One other upside for Tim was that their clothes now had to be cleaned even more regularly as the sweat was unbearable for any longer than necessary. He enjoyed sitting beside his older brother and watching him wash their clothing and waiting for it to dry off. Dick was beginning to learn that Tim was only keen on changes to their routine if they were moving ahead of schedule or making things cleaner.

Tim also didn’t mind when it was something outside of their room that brought about a change, the perfect example being when they woke up to see new clothes set out for them.

Just like with the children’s books, Dick was disturbed when he realized that the clothes were the same as some of the ones they had in Gotham. Ra’s hadn’t gone out and stolen their old shirts, Bruce would almost definitely had caught him and figured out the fact he was keep Dick and Tim, but they were they were perfect copies.

Dick knew Ra’s didn’t go to such measures to make the room feel more homely, but to confuse Tim even more as he felt like he had seen the shirts and pants before but couldn’t quite place where. This was just another one of Ra’s mind games as now Tim could no longer connect the prints back to their time in the Manor and lost one more part of their home.

Tim was just pleased to have something so clean to wear and somewhat curious as to where all of these things had come from. Previously he had asked Dick but all he got in return was a curt response and not enough of an explanation to make much sense.

A few hours later, the two were cleaning up from their exercise and Dick continued to fail at getting his full attention. The three year old would just continue to stare at the pile of clothes and try to find an explanation for where they had come in from. Some part of him knew that this was not how things usually worked, but it only made his head hurt more to think about it.

With enough prodding, Tim looked up to see his older brother staring down at him with concern. These past few days he had been harsher than usual with Dick, but for the life of him Tim didn’t know why. If he truly ever woke up to see that his older brother was nowhere in sight he didn’t know what he could possibly do. Even if nothing in the room ever made sense to him, Dick would always be the one thing he needed above all else.

Knowing it was his silence that was concerning his older brother, Tim decided to voice his concern and asked, “Dick, where do all of these things come from?”

Even though his face darkened at the question, Tim knew it was something that Dick needed to tell him. He sat in silence waiting for an answer until suddenly Dick lifted him up into a tight embrace and carried him to the mattress for them to dry off.

The past few days they had been colder to each than necessary and when he felt just how warm it was to be in Dick’s arms Tim began to regret ever pushing him away. There was no way his older brother could be anything other than safe.

Dick knew he would have to start giving Tim answers soon. It wasn’t like the earlier days when their desperation overpowered any need for answers and he couldn’t run from the topic forever.

He sat Tim down and considered his options. For weeks he had been trying to come up with some kind of lie that would make Tim feel safe, even for a moment considering to tell him the truth but immediately realizing it could cause Tim to panic, and nothing seemed to be good enough. He decided to use what Bruce had taught him, lie with sprinkles of truth mixed in so it comes out as more believable

Thinking heavily about the words as they came out of his mouth, Dick began, “You know how we’re in this room? Well, there is a green magic man outside of these walls and if we’re good he’ll give us present when we’re sleeping. We aren’t allowed to look at him as he comes in, so that’s why we have to sleep through it.”

It pained him to talk about Ra’s as if he were someone helpful to them, someone Tim should praise or appreciate, but if he told him the truth about their captivity it would only cause the three year old more stress. Tim needed to think that there was no one outside of these walls that could ever hurt them, no one who would ever even think of them as tools in a war neither could understand, and Dick was more than willing to indulge him.

Tim considered Dick’s explanation and decided it made sense enough for him. He couldn’t think of any reason a green magic man wouldn’t want to give them gifts if he felt like they deserved it, but there was one thing that didn’t make sense to him.

“If we’re not allowed to see him, how do you know he’s green man?”

Dick should have known better than to think that his brother would miss something like that and he tried to think of an answer that would satisfy his curiosity. “I meet him one time, just once, and he explained it to me.”

That seemed to be the right answer because now Tim wanted to know everything Dick knew about the green man. “What was he like? Does he really like us? Can I learn magic too?”

At the very least Tim believed him.

Dick was able to avoid some of the questions as they were scheduled for a reading of a book of Tim’s choice after the bath. This time it was going to be ‘The Little Prince.’ Tim brought the book to Dick and sat beside him as the last of the light from the day shined in through the skylight. While Tim was satisfied by the sound of Dick’s voice as he read aloud, Dick couldn’t help but find the irony in them reading to book suffocating.

By now he knew that anything Ra’s gave him was for a reason. This book was to bring home the fact that while the kid could explore the world, meeting geographers and kings and pilots, they couldn’t move out of a room the same size as his bedroom in the Manor.

Knowing this was the final day in the week that Ra’s had given him, Dick decided to stay awake for the entirety of the night. He wanted to see as much of Tim as he could before he left for however long Ra’s needed him.

Dick could tell that this was going to be different, that he would be away longer and doing something harder than he ever had before, but the thing that bother him the most was the idea that Tim was going to wake up sometime while he was away. He didn’t think his little brother could last another fright like that, especially when they were still working through the stress the three year old was going through.

When the time finally came and Ra’s opened the door to their room, Dick pretended to be sleeping just to see how Ra’s would react.

The Demon only stared at the bulge in the blanket until Dick could feel his gaze getting heavier and lifted his head to see what was expected of him.

Without saying anything, Ra’s was ready to turn around and walk out expecting Dick to follow. Before he could do anything, the eight year old called out, “Wait!” Dick flinched back as Tim twitched in his sleep but when he didn’t wake up Dick looked back to the man in the door.

Not expecting the outburst, Ra’s turned back to the boy with a raised eyebrow. He could tell this was going to amuse him.

Dick stared at the floor as he explained, “Last time I left Tim woke up while I was gone and it freaked him out a little. It freaked him out a lot. I don’t want it to happen again.”

Ra’s had been expecting this and already worked out a few solutions. The easiest thing would just be to remove the younger boy from the situation completely. He was, above all else, a distraction for Dick and if he was no longer in the picture it would mean he could focus much more on things that actually mattered. The only thing that was stopping Ra’s was his understanding that he was also the only thing that was keeping Dick here. If something were to happen to the boy, Dick would lose all control he had. As a compromise, Ra’s decided to keep the plan stored away until it didn’t have as much of a risk. The alternative solution had already prepared and Ra’s signaled for a servant to bring something into the room.

Seeing someone else in the room, Dick stood up ready to do anything that was necessary. Not wanting to make a scene, Ra’s called for a second person to come in, this time with a weapon in hand. Dick stepped back slightly, still blocking them from Tim as he tried to think of what this could mean. There was no way he could take on all three of them, especially when he hadn’t seen how Ra’s fights, and he knew that there was a very high chance that Tim could end up as collateral and that was the last thing he needed.

Knowing that Dick would strongly argue the decision if he offered him any warning, Ra’s simply ordered, “Step aside, Richard. You’re the one who complained and this has to be done if we don’t want to waste more time.”

There was a second that Dick imagined tackling Ra’s to the ground, but as he was indulging himself with the image the second intruder came in and held him back.

The first servant kneeled down closer to Tim’s level and repositioned him until he was laying flat on his back before she pulled out something from her pocket. It was a syringe and small bottle with some kind of liquid in it. She filled the syringe to half of its capacity before trying to find a vein in Tim’s arm.

As soon as Dick understood what was happening, he tried to lunge forward until strong arms held him back. He still fought, trying to break the hold and get her as far away from his brother as he could but he could do nothing as he saw the liquid drain out of the needle and into Tim.

Dick knew he must have looked crazed as his eyes bulged out and and the color drained from his face, but he needed to see some indication that Tim was still alive. He needed to know that this wasn’t Ra’s way of removing what he assumed to be a distraction for him, something that was holding him back from being as efficient a minion as Ra’s needed him to be.

When nothing happened and Tim’s chest continued to rise and fall as it always had while slept, Dick sharply looked back at Ra’s and demanded answers.

Aloof as ever, Ra’s explained, “That was a solution that will keep your brother in a chemically induced sleep until the partnering solution brings him out of it.”

No longer as feral as he had been a minute ago, Dick forced himself to calm down before he asked, “Is that…is this what happens from now on? Tim sleeps until I come back?”

Not interested in the domestic problems of the two boys, Ra’s sighed and answered, “Yes. He’ll have someone looking over him to make sure that nothing goes wrong but he won’t wake up until he is given the opposing medicine when you return.” He just wanted to be over the boring parts of the day and get to something that was surely much more interesting than the sleeping patterns of a three year old.

Dick nodded and looked back at his little brother before stepping out beside Ra’s. “Let’s go. The sooner I get this over with the sooner I can come back.”


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