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.”


Room: Chapter 4

The first few days were the worst. The confusion, fear, and contempt were enough to make Bruce go crazy.

He knew the first 24 hours were the most important in any kidnapping. There were very few cases where people were found afterwards and Bruce would do everything in his power to make sure his sons were one of those people. It was what he owed them. It was what they deserved.

The London police were competent, a welcome change when compared to the GCPD, but unable to help or give any input Bruce didn’t already have. Every time he had a meeting with the police chief and learned that there had been no progress there was glass broken and dents in the wall once Bruce had to realize just how much time he had wasted in getting there and listening to people tell him they didn’t have any way to get his sons back.

The League tried too hard to be sensitive. This was one case where they were emotionally invested in the victims, both Bruce and the boys, and it made them want to work all the more harder. It also made every dead end feel all the more painful.

Clark was probably the most hurt. He spent hours trying to pick up any faint sound of their heartbeat or screams, but nothing came up.

Bruce had called in a few favors, set up a temporary base in London, and began working as the world’s greatest detective.

There hadn’t been any cameras capturing the action outside of the hotel window, but some fabric did get caught in the broken window. It was silk, high quality meaning whoever took the boys had to be well equipped and capable of spending excess money on a minute improvement to protection. Bruce wasn’t really sure if silk would be effective in any form of armor, so it might have been a decorational piece, something for aesthetics and easily replaceable. He wouldn’t rule anything out.

Bruce immediately brought the fabric to his lab and examined it under the microscope. If he could figure out the specifics of the material, the residue embedded in the fine threads, and the maker, then he could figure out who had bought it and get one step closer to finding his boys.

Absentmindedly, Bruce brought the material up to his nose and let out a gasp. Bruce would recognize the scent anywhere, it was Dick’s shampoo and looking at it again he could recognize it as the collar of the shirt he had decided to wear to bed the day he went missing.

After a few days Bruce had to go back to Gotham. He tried to convince himself this wasn’t a sign of him giving up, that he was going to lose faith in his boys, but this was him going back home to work much more efficiently in his own workspace. It felt like betrayal and no matter how much he tried to think otherwise Bruce was leaving the last place he had seen his boys.

In his cave he went into autopilot and began going through evidence another time.

He missed when Alfred left for a few days to get Ace back from the Kent farm. The Great Dane returned excited and promptly made an exploratory patrol around the Manor to make sure nothing had changed and that everything was in place. The first thing he did was go into the boys bedrooms to see if they were ready to greet him, but he was disappointed to find that they were empty.

After convincing Alfred to let him into the cave, Ace looked around to see if his youngest masters were inside helping Bruce with some of his work. He found Bruce alone in his chair smelling particularly bad and the cave without any other occupants. After a few hours Ace got tired of watching Bruce do absolutely nothing on the computer except watch the same tapes over and over again so he made his way back into the Manor to wait until the two boys decided to come back.

Later that night Bruce found Ace looking through Tim’s toys while he tried to find something that smelled like the both of them. Maybe if he got a strong hint of their smell he could find them himself.

Looking at him messing up the room, Bruce immediately saw red and yelled out, “What are you doing?”

Ace dropped the bear and looked over to him confused. Bruce wasn’t finished and he pulled the dog out while screaming, “Get the hell out of his room. You can’t go in there, understand? I don’t want you messing with any of Tim’s things.”

Once Ace was circling around the hall confused, Bruce closed the door and looked into the Great Dane’s innocent eyes. As soon as he let go of the handle, Bruce dropped to his knees and pulled Ace towards him and admitted, “I don’t know what to do Ace. I don’t know where they are or if they’re okay and I don’t know what to do.”

Three weeks…three weeks was a long time.

He hadn’t showered in three weeks. Bruce considered it a betrayal to his sons to not focus his every thought on getting them back and he could shower after he got a chance to hold them in his arms again.

The only food he had eaten had been forced into him by Alfred. He told Bruce that he would be able to think more clearly with a full stomach, but it was the promise of coffee and supplements that made him give in.

But this was his limit.

While rewatching the tapes from the hotel room for the thousandth time, Bruce rose to look at the forensic report to make sure he had memorized everything correctly. As soon as he stood up, Bruce began to feel light a rush of pain in his head and reached out to the arm of the chair to prevent himself from collapsing on the ground.

Falling back into his seat, Bruce pulled the scrap of Dick’s shirt out of his pocket and pulled it up to his nose to feel some comfort before he fell unconscious.

Room: Chapter 3

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?”

“Within reason.”

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.

Room: Chapter 2

Loosening his tie, Bruce got into the elevator and complained to Alfred, “Remind me again why I’m friends with Brost. This is the fifth time he’s told he that story about his swimming in the Caribbean during a storm. At this point I know the events of that night better than he does.”

Pressing the button for the penthouse, Alfred said, “It might have to do with the fact Mr. Brost is one of the few people at the event who have no connections to any of the various mobs in the city or because he always offers you courtside tickets to the young masters’ favorite basketball games.”

Bruce considered the memory for a moment before they stepped into the penthouse and stopped caring about anything other than his family. As soon as he walked in, Bruce took off his loafers, spread his coat over the closest chair, and called out to the quiet room, “Boys. I’m back.”

The two adults listened for a moment before going around to investigate why no one was calling out back to them. Alfred knew that Dick had been awake when he left but going into the room he shared with his little brother they found it completely abandoned. The room was much messier than it had been a few minutes ago and Bruce immediately recognized the broken ceramics, doors swung open, and cloths resting on the floor were a cause of worry.

Bruce rushed to his own room to see if the two had decided to wait for him in his bed instead, but he found the door completely broken and off it’s hinges. He looked around calling out their names frantically and went into a state of shock when he found the door to the bathroom in a similar state.

Running in, he could see the door to the cabinet swung open and the obvious signs of a struggle. Things were thrown everywhere, the blanket Tim always slept in was lying on the floor, and the shower curtain laid abandoned on the tub.

Bruce immediately made his way to his laptop to look over the security footage, but he found the critical moments missing. It wasn’t everything, just the few minutes after Alfred left and before they returned, but Bruce knew better than to trust something that had obviously been broken into. Looking around the hotel room again more thoroughly, Bruce realized there was absolutely no record of who the unwanted visitors were, but he could tell there had been more than one when he considered just how much ground they would’ve had to cover in the few minutes Alfred was out. The trackers he had in the boys’ shoes were placed on his nightstand, a sign of just how much the kidnappers had in their work. Whoever had taken his boys definitely knew what they were doing.

Unsure of what to do, Bruce dug out his phone and he called for backup from the Justice League while immediately getting into his uniform. He didn’t care how long it took or how much ground he would need to cover in London, it would never be too much.

He didn’t know what kind of threat they were under, how scared they were to be away from him, or whether or not they were still alive, but he knew he would get back his boys as soon as possible.

Dick woke up to the feeling of pain shooting up his back. While he had been asleep someone had kicked him hard enough for him to fall out of the mattress and start groaning on the floor. He immediately tried to fight back against whoever it was and see what was going on, but he soon realized someone much stronger was standing over him.

Dick tried to go back to Tim and hide him underneath the blanket in a futile attempt to keep him away from whoever had attacked him, but a hand reached down to hold him to the floor.

Groaning as his side hit the concrete, Dick opened his eyes ready to attack anyone who touched his brother. Before he could even prepare a proper stance, a shoe held him to the ground on the same place where a bruise was now growing and he could do nothing but watch as a woman reached into the sheets to pick up his little brother.

Tim was still asleep, too tired from staying up last night to wake up to everything happening around him, so he blindly curled into the person holding. He unconsciously thought the body could have been Bruce’s and he imagined himself back in Gotham in the safety of the Manor’s master bedroom.

Dick wanted nothing more than to take him out of her arms, but any movement from his part meant the person on his back used even more force to keep him down.

He could only watch as the lady pushed her hand through Tim’s hair and stroked his cheeks. “Aww, look at this one here. We got an extra and he’s very cute.”

Dick couldn’t see her face through the mask she was wearing, but he took a mental note to never forget that voice for when he got back at her for laying her hand his little brother.

“We only needed this one,” the man on Dick’s back said while he reached down and lifted his head by pulling on his hair. Dick tried his hardest not to groan at the pain shooting throughout his body and it only made the man push his head back down against the concrete to hear the whimper he couldn’t hold in any longer.

The lady didn’t seem interested in the display happening a few feet away from her, but she looked down at the two year old to say, “So what should we do with the squirt?”

“I could take him to the boss. Maybe he’d find something useful for him to do.”

At the thought of them taking his little brother away, Dick struggled against the hold and growled out, “Don’t touch him. Don’t you dare touch him.”

The lady kneeled down before him and held his brother just far enough for him to make out the little rise and fall of his chest as he slept on without a care in the world. Reaching into her boot, she pulled out a little knife and goaded on, “He means a lot to you, doesn’t’ he?”

Dick watched as she put the knife to his cheek and began dragging it along. She didn’t use enough force to penetrate the skin, but her point was made. She controlled everything in the room and he couldn’t do anything but hope that she didn’t hurt his little brother.

The man behind him said, “Don’t. If you leave a mark, the boss won’t like it.”

He didn’t sound worried about Tim at all, just uninterested at the thought of getting into trouble for taking things too far.

Feigning contemplation, she dragged the knife along Tim’s lips before saying, “We could always tell him it was already there. Then we could do whatever we wanted.”

He couldn’t see the look on her face, but Dick knew she had a shiteating grin and crazed look in her eyes that would remind him so much of the Joker. Even though he knew it was useless, Dick still tried to fight against the hold on his back and defend Tim from everyone in the world if he needed to.

Laughing at the display, the lady finally pushed down deep enough for Dick to see beads of blood trailing the blade of the knife. Tim whimpered at the feeling, he tried to move back away from whatever was causing him the pain and in turn closer to the person he didn’t know was hurting him, but Dick couldn’t help but feel glad he still hadn’t woken up. He had absolutely no idea how he would explain the situation to him without causing him too much worry.

Dick didn’t know how long he stared at the worst right in the world, but he had to look away when he heard the door to the room swing open and someone else walked in.

As soon as the older man saw her with a knife to a three year old, he kicked her in the side and reached down to pick up Tim before he hit the ground. She was left in the same state Dick had been in when he woke up, but she knew better than to try and fight Ra’s al Ghul.

Happy to be away from the pain, Tim nodded off into his chest and tried to fall back into his sleep while the blood on his cheek was cleaned off with a handkerchief.

Dick was even more confused about what was going on, why they were here and why Bruce hadn’t been able to find them yet, but he settled for having his brother free from the crazy lady.

Ra’s motioned for the other two to leave the room and without the massive weight on his back, Dick could sit up and see him clearer. He was a large man, almost as big as his dad, but he looked much older. The hair around his head were graying and his face was more defined, but the didn’t look as docile as some of the older people Dick had seen. The cloak he was wearing was long and green and Dick wanted to make some jokes about him, but he didn’t want to risk him hurting Tim too.

Once they were alone, the man turned to look Tim in the eye and used his finger the clean off the remaining blood still leaking out from his face. The mark wasn’t deep or large, but Ra’s could understand why the older boy would be afraid.

Trying to make himself look larger and more intimidating, Dick stood up and asked, “Who are you and what do you want?”

The man looked back at him uninterested but answered, “You are nowhere near important enough to know that.”

Dick tried again, “Do you want money, because my dad will give you as much as you ask for.”

He knew it was true, there was no limit to how much Bruce would give up to get them back, but again he was ignored.

Instead, the man walked back to the old mattress they had been sleeping on and laid Tim down so he could go back to sleep.

Turning back to Dick, he gave him a wicked looking grin and said, “It’s not money I want, but something a little more versatile.”

Very uncomfortable, Dick put the feeling aside to say, “Okay fine. Just stay away from Tim.”

Ignoring him Ra’s look down at the sleeping boy and moved some of his hair out his eyes before whispering, “Timothy John Grayson.”


“No?” For the first time the man turned around and let himself look confused. It was emboldened for Dick to see him look even slightly bewildered; it made him feel as if he had more control of the situation.

“Our last name isn’t Grayson anymore, it’s Wayne.”

The grin was back on Ra’s’ face when he said, “After Bruce Wayne?”

Trying to frighten the man, Dick said, “Yes. He’s our dad and he’s going to kick your ass when he founds out you took us away from him.”

The old man slowly got up and made his way to Dick before his arm snaked out and held him against the wall. He smiled as Dick grasped for breath as the hand constricted and Ra’s said, “There is absolutely nothing that waste you call your father could do to me and there’s no way he’s going to find out where you are.”

He held Dick against the wall until he could see the pupils of his eyes begin to dilate at which point he threw him against the adjoining wall and watched him fall to the ground limp.

Circling around the room, the man said, “You aren’t here to get me money, you wouldn’t be worth that much anyway. I will admit the initial intent had been to retrieve you from London, but the two who were here before me weren’t even capable enough to do that properly. Now, I’m in the difficult situation of not knowing what to do with Timothy when he’s far too young to do me any good. There might be some people willing to take him off of my hands, and I could ask for a high price, but then I risk altering your father and the rest of his friends. I guess I’ll have to keep him around and find some use for him.”

Against the strain in his throat, Dick said, “Don’t touch him again.”

The man laughed at the idea that the nine year old could do anything to him, but not before he bent down next to Dick to say, “You, my boy, are much more important. I am going to train you and soon you are going to join my army.”

Slitting his eyes, Dick said, “Why would I do that?”

Taking Dick’s chin into his hand, Ra’s turned his face to look over at Tim who was still blissfully unaware of the situation around him. Holding him in his place, Ra’s said, “Because if you don’t, it’ll be your brother who has to pay for it.”

With a ruffle of his hair, he left the room and Dick immediately ran over to Tim.

As soon as he was sure Tim was safe, he curled up around him and tried to think of what Bruce would want him to do. He definitely wouldn’t want him to cry so Dick made sure none of his tears spilled out as he tried to think of a way out. There was no way he would be able to take on the people keeping them in here and Superman hadn’t responded to the sound of his voice so the room must have been lined with lead. Dick chastised himself for not thinking about calling for him in the hotel room, but it would do him no good now. His time was much better spent trying to find a way out.

Looking around the room, he didn’t find anything that could help. There were no windows in the room, only a small skylight with thick glass he couldn’t reach. Dick could tell that it was almost morning, but he wasn’t sure how long he was asleep. It couldn’t have been for too long, Bruce would’ve found them by then. Dick didn’t want to think about what the bucket was for, but he knew had no leverage in this situation to make things better for them. He didn’t try to think about it too much, hopefully they would never actually have to use it.

Pretty soon, the lady came back in and dropped a tray of food on the ground and broke him out of his deep thoughts. She didn’t saw anything but he could see she didn’t have any of the same pride she’d used to hurt Tim.

As soon as she left, he decided to wake up Tim so he could get some food in his stomach, especially when he didn’t know when they would get their next meal.

Softly shaking him, Dick whispered, “It’s time to wake up, Timmy. I’m going to bet you’re hungry, right?”

Tim tried to kick his older brother away from him, but pretty soon he had to open his eyes to the light in the room and face the day. He loudly groaned so Dick could know he wanted to keep on sleeping, but he stopped when he realized his older brother wasn’t in the mood to play around. Tim decided to follow his instructions and he sat up to find out if everything had been a dream or not.

Stretching the sleep out of his bones, he asked, “Dick, why are we hewe?”

Trying to distract him from their situation, Dick said, “I don’t really know, Babybird, but you should probably eat something.”

Looking at the sad looking tray, Tim immediately thought that there was no way this could compare to Alfred’s cooking. “How does it taste?”

“It doesn’t taste like anything Alfred made, but it’s something,” Dick offered.

“Did you already eat?”

Dick smiled down at his little brother. Even when he didn’t know how to, Tim wanted to look out for him. He couldn’t feel bring himself to feel bad when he said, “I ate before you woke up, don’t worry.”

Helping Tim sit up, Dick put the tray in front of them and started putting the food in his mouth. At first Tim didn’t like it, but he realized just how hungry he was and ate most of it. It helped to look up at Dick and see that him eating was making him feel a little better, but Tim wanted to try some more. He offered Dick the stale bun, he actually forced him to eat it, and when the tray was cleared Tim asked, “What are we going to do now?”

Dick knew Tim wanted something to distract him, some of his toys and family here to keep him busy, but wrapping him up in his arms, Dick couldn’t help but think about the old man’s words and say, “I don’t know, Timmy. I really don’t know.”

Room: Chapter 1

The room wasn’t exactly filthy, but it was a definite downgrade and one that Dick wanted to be in for an extended period of time. He wasn’t entirely sure where he was, but that was the first thing that his cloudy mind could think of when he held his brother to his chest and tried to make sense of the situation. He had never thought he would feel so powerless ever again and as he lulled his brother to sleep he tried to think about something happier.

He thought about the excitement running through his body and making him jump around the small kitchen of his parent’s trailer when he learned that he was going to be a big brother. It had been one of the greatest days in his life, sitting down for breakfast and having his parents explain that their little family was going to be just a little bigger. Even then he knew that that little addition was going to mean the world to him.

He had been in shock. Dick knew that he’d made it clear that he wanted a little sibling since he learned what those were, but he never thought it would actually happen. A few weeks later, when he could see his mom’s stomach growing a little every week, he learned that it was a boy. That just made everything so much better. There was so much he imagined them doing together, playing video games, running around their circus, getting into snowball fights, and most importantly getting the opportunity to teach him everything he knew about acrobatics. Dick planned out the rest of their lives together. Dick even kept a private list he hid from his parents detailing what he was going to do when his little brother was born, everything that would make him a perfect older brother.

He thought of everything he felt when he saw his little brother for the first time. It seemed like so long ago he had been in the hospital looking up at Jonathan and begging him to tell him what his little brother’s name would be. Apparently it had been a surprise, something they didn’t want anyone to know before they met him. They explained something about people never liking the name parents pick out and it being hard to fight a name when you actually see the baby but all Dick could hear was that they were hiding an important part of his brother’s life from him. On top of that, he hadn’t appreciated how little they cared about his own input into the naming process, Charmander would have been a great name.

The dissatisfaction hadn’t lasted long because soon they were following the doctor to his mom’s room and seeing her look as tired as she had ever been.

He had stopped in his tracks when he saw the small pink baby hiding in his blue blanket in Mary’s arms. John left his side to kiss the top of her hair and tell her just how amazing she was and how much he loved her. The baby had been sleeping, much to Dick’s chagrin, but their dad didn’t seem to care as he rubbed his cheek softly and told him how much he was going to love being a part of their family.

Pretty soon the two had noticed that Dick was still standing at the foot of the bed and motioned him to come over. He had been too far away to see his little brother and that needed to be fixed as soon as possible.

Mary had given him a tired smile and moved the small bundle enough for Dick to see the top of his head and the beginnings of his dark black hair. “Come on, Dick. Don’t you want to see your brother?”

Dick had tried to voice just how happy he was to have his little brother in the same room as him, but all that came out was a choked squeak as he saw his brother wrinkle up his nose and give them a weak yawn.

As always, John had read everything on his face and got up to lift him on the bed so he could see him clearly. Dick clearly remembered thinking his brother was the most amazing thing in the world, definitely the cutest. Behind him his father reminded him about something that had been bothering him for the last few days. “You know you’re going to be the third person to know him name.”

His voice had been almost breathless as he asked, “What is it?”

A large hand had run into his hair while his mother returned her gaze to the sleeping bundle and say, “His first name is Timothy, but we were hoping that you could help us with his middle name.”

Looking at him now, Dick realized just why his parents didn’t let him name Tim ‘Charmander.’

He couldn’t help but repeat the name over and over again, “Timothy, Timothy, Timothy, Timmy, Timbo, Tim,” until it felt like to most natural thing in the world. He didn’t think about the second part for a while before running every possibility through his brain. “Can I give him the same middle name as me?”

His dad couldn’t help but ask, “Do you know your middle name?”

“No, what is it?”


Dick tested it out. “Timothy John Grayson. Timothy John Grayson. Timmy John Grayson. Tim John Grayson.” Satisfied, he nodded to his parents and claimed, “It’s perfect.” Just like his Timmy.

Dick couldn’t help but think about watching his parents fall and knowing that it was his responsibility to look after his Timmy.

It had only been a few months since he had been born and one of the first times since his mom had performed but none of those criminals seemed to care. No matter how much Dick had wanted to imagine otherwise, everything changed from then on. Dick had spent the night holding Timmy to his chest and rocking him in his bed. He had comforted him when he started to fuss and cried with him when he couldn’t hold it in anymore.

He thought about Bruce and how he had offered them a home when he had no reason to. He had been in the crowd that night and searched Dick out as soon as he could. It would be no exaggeration to say that Bruce was their saving grace.

He remembered those two years he spent growing up in Gotham, two years that were some of the best he had ever had.

He remembered being amazed the first time he got to taste Alfred’s cooking and his excitement when he learned he would be making all of their meals.

He remembered helping Bruce set up Tim’s crib in his room.

Earlier that morning, Alfred had taken him shopping for everything they could possibly need living with them and while they were away Bruce had cleared out a room for Tim. Before then he would curl up with Dick in his bed but apparently this wasn’t the best option.

So Bruce had cleared out the room next to Dick’s and set up a crib and dresser and a changing station all to surprise them when they came home.

Dick had been pleasantly surprised, but a little deflated to know that he wouldn’t be able to sleep with his little brother near by. Over the last few days he had grown to like staying up to watch him sleep while talking to him about how much he loved him and how he would take care of him always.

Bruce seemed to understand even though Dick didn’t say anything so he floated the possibility of moving the crib to Dick’s room if it would mean Tim would have his older brother to check up on him. Even when he had tried to play cool, Dick couldn’t hide just how happy the change would make him and he set Tim down near them so he could watch them take the crib apart, move it into the neighboring room, and put it back together.

Tim hadn’t cared that he was now sleeping in the crib, but every now and then he would be fussing and Dick would take him out to play on his bed until he felt tired enough to fall asleep again. To Dick it had felt like the most natural thing in the world, something any good brother would do.

He remembered the excitement that blanketed the house when Tim first started forming words.

He hadn’t said anything yet, Dick didn’t really think he knew why everyone was making such a big deal either, but everyone could tell that it was only a matter of time.

The most fun came when everyone was trying to get him to say their name first.

Alfred was probably the first one out, Tim couldn’t make it past ‘Alf’ before he gave up because it was too hard. Bruce’s friends joined in too, making it so much harder because ‘Hal’ wasn’t that hard of a name to say and he knew exactly how to get Tim’s attention long enough to make a lot of progress.

In the end it was Bruce who won when Tim worked out ‘Boose’ after hearing half of the JL call for him while they come through the cave looking for him. If anything made up for it, it was the fact that it became a sort of inside joke to mispronounce Bruce’s name anytime he annoyed someone enough.

He remembered when Tim started taking his first steps and the afternoons they spent helping him learn how to maintain some balance.

Tim had been between Dick and Bruce and taking tentative steps to either side when they won over his attention. Both of them had to stop themselves from jumping in every time he started shaking and caught himself on the side of the bed.

In almost a week Tim had been following Dick around the Manor, always on his heel and wanting to grow up much too fast for everyone else in the house.

He even remembered his own shock and confusion when he heard Tim call Bruce ‘Daddy.’

Up until this point it had almost exclusively been ‘Boose’ but Tim had been ready for a change. Dick was sure it hadn’t been the first time he’d said it, but it was the first time he noticed.

Even Bruce hadn’t thought too much of it until he saw Dick’s shock and played back their conversation in his head.

That night had been a moment of contemplation for both, time to think about everything that had changed over the last few months, and Dick had come out of it sure of what he would have to do. He was sure that Bruce had been experiencing the exact same internal contemplation and he knew that in the morning they would be having the awkward discussion they were putting off as long as they could.

Dick had come up with his own plan, something he knew would put the whole issue to bed. The next morning when he went downstairs to join everyone else for breakfast he ran through the conversation in his mind a few times before he made his round through the kitchen with, “Morning Alfred,” and a put on his back, “Morning Timmy,” and a ruffling of his hair he pretended to be annoyed with, and “Morning Dad,” with a hand on his shoulder that lasted a little longer than it usually did so Bruce would know that he meant it.

He remembered getting his uniform for Gotham Academy and feeling uncomfortable.

It hadn’t been what he’d imagined a uniform would be, but he also couldn’t say too much when he considered that he’d never gone to a real school before.

Over the summer he’d had to take a few tests to see which grade he belonged in, because he’d been home schooled they didn’t really know where to place him, and it hadn’t been too bad. Being nine and born in November he was supposed to be in the fourth grade but to his surprise he was smart enough to start in the sixth.

The option had been up to him, but he did have a very long and serious discussion with Bruce. They had talked about being the youngest person in his grade and what that would feel like, how it would make socializing harder especially in the later grades. They had talked about how going to the fourth grade would mean less stress and more time to focus on other things. They had talked about how, if he wanted, he could continue to be homeschooled and whatever he chose was completely up to him.

In the end he went with the fourth grade because maybe being the smartest person in his grade would make the transition a little easier, but looking in the mirror he had been was losing faith in his decision. The uniform was the right size and he didn’t look to bad, but it was a little too stuffy for his taste. Despite all his worrying, his first day of school had been great, many people did seem to be more interested in knowing what it was like to live with a Wayne than actually getting to know him but that changed when the surprise wore off.

He remembered a few weeks ago when he had walked into Bruce’s office to see the large pile of papers on his desk. Dick hadn’t been too sure what they were for, but Bruce seemed happy about it so he knew not to be worried. Bruce had lifted him into his chair and showed him just what made the papers so important, they were the finalized adoption forms.

After going into detail about everything they meant, Bruce had finished with, “There is only one thing left, your names.”

Confused, Dick remembered looking up at him and asking, “What about them?”

Bruce had cleared his throat, not knowing if he was being insensitive or overstepping his bounds, but he choked out, “Do you want to take on my last name?”

Dick leaned back. Having gone through naming Tim, he had known it would be incredibly important and something he should not take lightly. . “Our last name would be Wayne?”

“Only if you wanted it to be.”

Once again, Dick ran through all the possibilities. “Richard John Wayne. Dick John Wayne…Timothy John Wayne. Timmy John Wayne. I like it.”

Bruce hadn’t wanted to show just how happy he was to know that they were going to be taking on his name so made stressed, “Are you sure? This is going to be a big change.”

“Yeah. I think it would make things easier for Tim. You’re our dad anyway. Of course we should have your last name.”

In that cold room, Dick remembered how safe he felt when Bruce had leaned into him, how it felt to have a massive bear wrapping his arms around him and breathing into his hair. Bruce had kissed the top of his head and whispered, “Have I told you just how much I love?”

Dick had been a little cheeky and tried to play dumb when he said, “This morning you said very much.”

Bruce had turned around to give him another kiss on the cheek and say, “And I meant it more than anything.”

The last thing he thought about was earlier that week when Bruce had announced that they would be going to London for an event. There had been some big party that Bruce needed to go to for a friend of his and they would be spending a full week in the city.

Between spending ten hours in a private plan and getting to see the queen, Dick had been incredibly excited. Their hotel room was one of the largest in the city and out of the giant windows they could see everything.

Although he hadn’t liked the journey over, the scene was enough for Tim to change his mind about the trip. With everyone watching, Tim stumbled over to the giant windows and squished his face against its cold surface to get a clear picture. At first he was entranced with the sight, but he started to lower his gaze and frightened himself with just how high they were and he ran back to his dad for safety. No one could hide how funny they found it, but soon Bruce was putting the boys to bed and telling them goodnight.

The plan for the next day had been for Bruce to leave for the gala as soon as he changed into his tuxedo and grab a ride back. He had been able to cut away early when he informed everyone he would need to put his boys to bed, but he was denied entry because he’d forgotten to grab the key to his room. Because he’d asked for a strengthened security with no outside access, Alfred had to come down and let him up.

Alfred had warned Dick that he would be back in the few minutes. Dick didn’t think too much of it, this wasn’t the first time he’d been left alone, but that all changed when he heard a crash coming from outside the room he and Timmy were sharing.

Ever since he’d learned that Bruce was Batman, Dick had been learning from him and knew better than to go investigate when he didn’t know where the invader was. Instead, he’d picked up his sleeping brother and quietly made his way over to Bruce’s room and locked the door. He had felt the safest there.

A few seconds later he’d heard a frustrated voice call out, “Hello? Is anyone here?”

That lady must have been dumber than Bruce imagined, but Dick knew better than to answer when Alfred and Bruce would be up soon.

Soon enough the robbers had tried to get into the master bedroom. Finding the door locked, one of them had shot out to the others, “Hey, I think he’s hiding out in here.”

The noise from the door shaking had woken Tim up, but Dick had been able to calm him down before he started crying. He clearly remembered thinking ‘How much longer could Bruce possibly take?’

When Dick had started to lose faith in the door, he ran into bathroom to find a proper place to hide. He had made Tim promise to not make any noise and put him in a cabinet before he crawled in with him closed the door. They had heard the door splintering and the footsteps getting louder until the door to the bathroom was slammed open and the person get closer.

“Find them anywhere?”

“No, check under the bed and in the closet.”

“They have to be here somewhere.”

Dick hadn’t dared to feel proud of himself, especially when Tim had been frightened out of his mind, but a major weight was lifted off when he heard the heavy footsteps leave the bathroom. The relief had been short lived until Tim let out a quiet murmur and the door of the cabinet was thrown open. A hand had reached out and grabbed onto him, but in his frantic he tried to reach back for his little. He had screamed as he tried to fight the man, hoping the front door to the suit would slam open when Bruce came in to save them, but it had all been in vain.

Sitting in the cold room with nothing except a lumpy mattress on the floor and a bucket in the corner, Dick tried to calm down his little brother. Hardly past two and a half year old, Tim had no idea why he felt so scared. What he did know was that he didn’t like the room and wanted to be back with his daddy.

Lulling him to sleep, Dick couldn’t help but imagine what Bruce must be thinking to find them missing.

He would open the door and find a mess. To be honest, he would probably be thinking that they had been running around while he was at the party for a few second before he noticed that no one was running out to greet him.

The broken door would be a dead give away.

Bruce would run into the room and look around for them, screaming their names at the top of his lungs, and calling everyone he could think off. He’d run through all the security footage and call Uncle Clark and they’d bring him and Timmy home in a few hours.

They had to.