Dick shifted in his seat as he kept himself focused on the room he had been left in: the lack of decor, the simple metal table and chairs, and the stains on the floor that looked far too similar to blood for his taste. Still, it was something and it distracted him from just how anxious he was to finally see Tim again.
He didn’t have to wait long before he heard footsteps coming his way and saw figures moving on the other side of the glass wall. He watched as a nurse pull out a keycard and scanned it on a panel beside the door while a guard lead his little brother into the room. The back of his mind managed to catch how the guard escorting them was being rougher than necessary, shoving Tim when simply motioning would be enough, but Dick was focused on the fact that Tim was in his sights once again. Dick was caught off guard when Tim held his handcuffed wrists on the table. It seemed unnecessary to him, he didn’t see why Tim needed to be pushed around in cuffs, but he could tell from Tim’s expression that it wasn’t something he wanted to address. They all watched silently as the guard uncuffed one wrist to instead latch it on one of the arms of the chair before leaving the room. Much to Dick’s disappointment the air in the room didn’t change once the brothers were left alone.
Dick found his mouth dry up and he couldn’t find his usual grace as he rose from his seat and walked over to embrace his little brother, almost tripping along the way. He was hoping for more of a reaction from Tim, some indication that he was happy to see Dick again, but he still enveloped him in a hug from behind as he whispered, “I’ve missed you so much, Timmy. It’s so good to see you again.”
“Hmm,” Tim said simply to acknowledge that he’d heard.
Taking a step back and looking him over, Dick could tell Tim wasn’t comfortable with him standing so close. To appease his little brother he retook his seat across from him on the table and asked, “I know it’s not the best situation, but how’ve you been doing little brother?”
“Fine,” Tim mumbled as he kept his gaze on the table. “It’s fine.”
“I know this is strange place, Timmy, that you didn’t want to be here, but I’m glad that you have someone to take care of you.” Dick wanted to say that Tim looked better than the last time he’d seen him, that Tim looked healthier and happier, but that obviously wasn’t true. It only made Dick more concerned with what Tim’s condition could have been if Dick had never gotten him in Arkham, if he’d never gotten the help he so obviously needed.
“Timmy, after Bruce died-” Dick paused at Tim’s flinch, it hurt to know Tim was still unwilling to come to terms with the truth, but he continued, “after he died you weren’t in the best place mentally. You kept going on and on about how you were sure he was still alive and we could find him. You didn’t understand that he was gone and I didn’t know how to help. I wanted you to get better, I still want you to get better, but I couldn’t give you the help you needed. Timmy, you needed a doctor and this was the best option. The people here now how to deal with situations like your’s.”
All Dick got in response was a rise in Tim’s nose as he sneered, but he still refused to say anything. Hoping to have an honest conversation, Dick asked, “How’ve you been feeling, Timmy?”
“I know you hate me, Dick,” Tim said far too calmly for Dick’s comfort. He added with a tone of finality, “I know you didn’t want me around, that Bruce being gone was an excuse to get rid of me.”
“What?” Dick as shocked for the turn in their conversation. He immediately tried to express, “Tim that’s not-”
“You never wanted me to be Robin. You thought I wasn’t good enough so you got rid of me the first chance you got.”
Mind thinking quickly as he tried to recover, Dick remembered, “We had a great time being Batman and Robin after Azrael remember? We were a great duo and I loved having you as Robin. Bruce was even a little jealous to see us get along so well.”
“You were only pretending,” Tim rationalized. “You were only pretending because Bruce wanted you to. He was the one who liked me.”
“I love you, Timmy,” Dick insisted. “I’ve always loved you. I loved having you around as a little brother and being Batman and Robin together. The only reason I sent you here was because you needed help, Timmy, you needed professional help. You weren’t,” Dick’s lips thinned as he tried to chose the right words and he finally explained, “You weren’t you anymore, Timmy. You weren’t acting like yourself anymore and I wanted you to get some help.”
“That’s not true,” Tim mumbled before something dawned on him. He softly added, “I hate you, Dick.”
Dick felt like he was talking to a brick wall, but he insisted, “Timmy, you don’t mean that. I love you, Babybird. You’re my little brother and I only want what’s best for you.”
Tim paid no attention to what Dick said and instead glared at Dick and repeated, “I hate you, Dick. I hate you more than anyone.”
“Please, Timmy, don’t say that.”
“Don’t call me ‘Timmy’ you asshole,” Tim said getting angrier as he pulled against the cuff keeping him in the chair. “You can’t call me that after everything you’ve done to me.”
“You’re my little brother, Babybird,” Dick tried hoping the familiar nickname would calm him down. “No matter what’s happened between us you’re still my little brother and I love you more than anything.”
“I never want to see you again, Dick,” Tim spat out. “I’d be happy if you just dropped dead and leave me alone.”
Standing up and walking over to hoping that he’d be able to sway Tim away from his rage, Dick maintained, “You don’t mean that, Tim. Even though we’re not in the best place I’m still your big brother and that’s not going to change.”
“You left me in here,” Tim sneered. “You decided I deserved to be here and then you went on pretending like I didn’t even exist. You hate me, Dick., Yyou don’t want me around and just so you know I feel the same way. I don’t want to see you ever again.”
“Tim, that’s not true,” Dick sighed hoping the point would eventually get across to Tim. He enveloped Tim’s free hand in his own as he explained, “You have to understand I didn’t have any-.”
Tim shook off Dick’s hand and immediately ran to the other side of the room to put as much distance between him and Dick as possible. He kept his glare focused on Dick as he wept, “I hate you, Dick. More than Joker or Boomerang or Bane or anyone that’s tried to kill me I hate you. I wish you were just dead.”
“You don’t mean that,” Dick pleaded as he ignored the fact that Tim had broken out of his cuffs without him noticing. He inched closer and tried, “I know this is a hard time for you, but you have to know that I was only trying to do what was best for you. I was trying my best.”
“I wish you were dead, Dick,” Tim screamed ignoring him, “This is all your fault.”
“I’m sorry, Tim,” Dick hoping to calm him down. “I guess I shouldn’t have sent you-”
“That’s not what I mean,” Tim screamed cutting him off. “If I’d never met you, never seen you at the circus, everything would be so much better. You’re the one who ruined everything. If you’d never hugged me I wouldn’t have risked my life every night and my parents would still be alive. They might still be here, alive and well, but I had to lose them because I met you and you wanted me to be Robin. This is all your fault, Dick. Everything. Without you everything would be so much better, Bruce wouldn’t be lost somewhere, but you wanted me to be Robin and everything went to shit.”
“What?” Dick asked caught off guard. Now more confused than ever he recalled, “You’re the one who was following us around and said that Batman needed a Robin.”
“I was talking about you, Dick,” Tim reminded him. “I wanted you to be Robin. You’re the one who shot that down and said I should be Robin. It was you and Alfred. After that…” Tim took a pause before mumbling, “after that you ruined my life.”
Unsure of what else he could possibly say to that, Dick tried, “That…that was years ago, Timmy. What does that have to do with us now?”
“You just keep ruining my life,” Tim repeated. “You just keep ruining everything in the life, Dick. Everything wrong in my life is because of you you.”
Hesitant to challenge Tim, Dick took a step back to lean against the table and give Tim some space before asking, “What brought this on, Timmy? There has to be a reason you’re only saying this now.”
Hands twitching from their place at his sides, Tim choked out, “When I saw you I realize how much I want you gone.”
Scared although unsure who for, Dick edged closer to the door and said, “I think I should get your nurse, Timmy. You don’t look so well.”
Tim’s face immediately returned to a sharp glare. Dick stepped back at the weight of his gaze while Tim stepped closer and said, “Every time there’s something wrong you want to push me off to someone else.”
Dick didn’t know if Tim was training in Arkham, but he was definitely faster than he remembered. Before he could even register what was happening Tim’s hands were on his throat and he couldn’t move. Tim used all of his power to force Dick down against the wall until he was collapsed on the ground. Not wanting to hurt his brother, Dick looked out into the hallway hoping to get someone’s attention and help, but he found the hallway pitch black with no sign that anything had ever been there. Lungs burning as he started to lose his breath, Dick turned back to Tim and found his brain go blank with no idea of what he should do.
“You ruin everything, Dick,” He said too calm as he tightened his grip and watched the color start to drain from Dick’s face. He chuckled, “I’m not even going to miss you, you know? I’m going to find B, get him back, and he’s not going to miss you either. We’re going to be a family without you, Dick.”
By now Dick didn’t have the energy to fight back. All he could do was lean against the wall and close his eyes as his vision became too blurry to make out much more than Tim’s easy smile. He used the little energy he had left gasping as he tried to force some air into his lungs but found that the effort made things worse.
When he didn’t think he could last much longer, Dick opened his eyes to find himself drenched in sweat and Tim’s smile replaced by the ceiling of his bedroom. He looked around quickly trying to take in everything that had happened before realizing it had all just been a nightmare. Instead of a room in Arkham with his murderous little brother, Dick was in his bed alone with the morning sun keeping him from getting any more sleep.
Digging out his phone from under his pillow, Dick knew he didn’t have a lot of time before he’d be expected to make an appearance at breakfast. He debated staying in bed for a few more minutes, probably hours, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to come up with a convincing lie that wouldn’t draw too much unwanted attention. This was definitely a situation he didn’t want to discuss with anyone, particularly Tim.
Instead, he rushed through a shower to hopefully wake him up and clean himself of the sweat he’d woken up in. By the time he finally willed himself downstairs, everyone else had already finished with breakfast and the kitchen was empty. Immediately calmed, Dick was happy to see that no one was around as he found jam for the toast that had already been prepared. A note on the fridge told him that the coffee machine was ready for him to start whenever he finally woke up. He moved slowly as he started the pot and sat down with his breakfast. He was able to get halfway through before he could hear someone barreling down the stairs.
“Hey, Dick,” Tim said happily as he poked into the kitchen and immediately turned his attention to his older brother glad to see he had found the breakfast. “We didn’t want to wake you, so we left everything out for you for when you got up. Bruce and Alfred left not too long ago and I’m about to head out too to meet Ives for some tennis,” he added motioning to the duffle bag he’d left to rest on the floor while he collected his water bottle.
Dick was still in shock, mind shooting back to the Timmy of half an hour ago as he made an awkward noise as he almost choked on his coffee thinking back to the hands on his throat.
Tim gave him a confused look and walked closer to look him over as he asked, “Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
Tim didn’t believe and knew to take the initiative. He walked back to his bag as if he hadn’t noticed Dick’s tension and asked, “Do you want to drive me out? We’re meeting up at school to use their courts and you can join us or go into the city if you want.”
“Are you sure?” Dick asked cautiously. “You two probably haven’t had a lot of time to meet up recently all things considered.”
“Well it’s not just going to be the two of us,” Tim said hoping to ease Dick’s worries. “It’s going to be a bunch of people so it won’t be weird if you tag along. It’s pretty lowkey, but only if you want to come. I’m not gonna force you.”
“I think I’d rather stay home,” Dick admitted focussing on his plate. “There are some things I need to catch up on.”
“Alright,” Tim said easily but obviously disappointed. “I don’t know when B and Alfred are going to be back, but I’m going to be out for most of the day. I’ll catch you later.”
“I’ll see you later, Tim,” Dick called back to Tim as he found the keys to his car and gave him a final smile before disappearing behind the garage door.
Alone again in the mansion, Dick sat back long enough to see Tim pull out of the driveway and realized he’d lost his appetite. He finished up, leaving the scraps for Ace in his bowl as a snack before returning to his room and collapsing on his bed. Dick knew he’d be spending most of the day mulling things over.
“You know that I can do this by myself, right?” Tim asked cheekily before handing the plate over to Dick to dry. “I’ve been helping Alfred with chores since I was 13. I know just high his standards are.”
“I know, Timmy,” Dick said mind obviously elsewhere. “I just wanted to help.”
Dick looked up to find Tim studying him with a raised eyebrow. He would give anything to know just what his baby brother was thinking, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to get the information out of him. Instead, he only got a small smile before Tim turned back to the dishes and focused on the last of the grime.
“You know I love you, right?” Dick asked cautiously. His mind went back and forth between both possible answers and he needed Tim’s answer either way to quell his fears.
“I never doubted it,” Tim answered after being caught off guard for a moment. “You’re my brother, Dick, and I love you too.”
On the verge of tears, Dick went back and forth between keeping his head low and crushing Tim in an embrace and as soon as the last plate was put away Dick’s emotional side won out as he caught Tim off guard.
Tim melted into Dick’s embrace, and mumbled, “Do you want to talk about it?”
“No,” Dick admitted. “Not really.”
“Okay,” Tim said easily. “We can talk about something else. Anything you want, Dick.”