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i didn't want to be (here)

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Chapter One – you get me high (love) 

 

            Tim was punch drunk.

 

            He was riding a 60 hour sleep dep, what was probably a concussion from that explosion back on Sixth and Hanover, and he was bleeding in a bad way from some shrapnel that had clearly cut him deeper than the distant, floaty twinges of pain he felt had initially indicated…

            So yeah, he’d known this was a bad idea when he’d had it – known it was stupid and dangerous and knew he was delirious and understood perfectly well that his judgement was beyond utterly screwed, and yet…

            Here he is, limping his way across the Gotham skyline, way on the wrong side of the invisible territorial line that cuts Crime Alley and the Bowery off from the rest of the city – the part of the city more or less kept successfully under Bat control… he’s heading away from that part, away from what the rest of his Family would consider ‘safety’.

            Tim’s not so far gone that he doesn’t know where his feet are taking him, that he doesn’t realize he needs help here soon or it’s a pretty damn safe bet that he’s not gonna make it to seeing the spectacle of colors in the chemical haze of Gotham’s next sunrise.

            Some people think the pollution is what nails down the coffin lid on Gotham as being utterly unredeemable in its overwhelming filth, but Tim has always liked what the smoggy haze does to Gotham’s sunrises.

            He could be biased, though.

            He’s been watching the sun come up for over a decade now, after all, and that kind of familiarity and consistency is the sort of thing that inevitably leads to unwarranted affection.

            Still, Tim wants to see his city’s next sunrise.

            He does.

            He’s not heading deeper into Crime Alley because he’s suicidal.

            Or because he’s too messed up to realize what he’s even doing.

 

            Tim might be punch drunk, but he’s not stupid.

 

            He has a plan.

            He always has a plan.

            This plan is just as perfectly well thought out as any of Tim’s other schemes. It just isn’t one that’s officially endorsed as reasonable by the majority of the Bat Clan he belongs to…

            Tim’s com is blown, so he can’t call for the help he knows he needs.

            The rest of the Family is all the way across town.

            Well, most of them. Steph is close, but she has no resources on hand to immediately provide the kind legitimate medical aid he needs right now and he is not keen on a bumpy ride across town in a frickin’ glorified golf cart to get all the way back to the Cave.

            Tim could never make it close to the rest of them, not at the speed he’s moving or at the rate he’s bleeding… he’d never even to a Bat approved safehouse where they could come to him.

            The only place Tim can go for help is a place where help isn’t readily available.

 

            The only person Tim can go to is Jason…

 

            He knows Jason’s dangerous, knows the Red Hood is a killer – knows the former Robin has no reason in the world to help his replacement keep breathing for another day.

            Tim knows that the odds are about even on whether Jason’s in a mood to just fuck it and help him or whether his mindset is leaned more towards murder and might just finish the job he’d initiated twice now and choose to just kill Tim outright.

            Or, you know, he could just wait another ten minutes or so until Tim just bleeds out on his own damn dime. Tim’s probably got about four minutes of consciousness left, so he probably won’t even notice if Jason rejects the olive branch he’s trying to hand out.

            Not one between him and Jason – no, Tim’s not that stupid.

            Jason has no reason to ever want to accept Tim as anything less than the usurper he is.

            Maybe there could’ve been hope for something between them, once upon a time. But any real chance at that died when Tim forced his was into Jason’s still warm pixie boots.

            Tim’s fully resigned to the fact that there’s nothing left to salvage.

            Jason will never have any kind of truly resonate kinship with Tim.

 

            But to the rest of the Family?

 

            That relationship is something that can be saved, that can be carefully repaired and knit back together in a way that makes it stronger for its scars. That makes it more beautiful.

            Like Kintsugi ceramics, the fissures will never disappear or be forgotten, but with the right kind of nudge, they can be filled in and smoothed over.

            Tim can help with that.

            The other Bats have mostly given up on Jason – resigned themselves to taking the easy way out of thinking that the Pit ruined him, that he’s now nothing more than a murderer and that he belongs in Arkham with the other poor souls who can’t be saved.

 

            Tim knows better.

 

            He knows that the Jason he knew from before, that the boy who took up the Robin mantle because he just had to help – the boy who took a stupid yellow cape and made it something magic, made it something more than a mere symbol – is still in there somewhere, deep down and drowning in a swirl of acidic green and anger and fear and pain.

 

            Tim trusts Jason.

 

            Trusts his Robin, trusts the sweetness and kindness of the boy who died because he’d been chasing down a dream of Family

            And frankly, if Tim IS going to die tonight… which he is not planning on, really, he’s not… but… if he is… he’d rather do it after seeing Jason one more time.

            Tim would rather see Jason than see the sunrise, but the two have always been linked for him – he’d spent his nights out chasing Robin, after all, and it was only on the good nights that he stayed out late enough to spy the sun coming up while making his way home…

 

            Jason’s physically closer to him at the moment than any other Gotham vigilante.

            And Jason’s about 48% likely to help him.

            And if Jason does help him… it’ll be a way for him to start reaching back out to the Family, to start proving that he’s not quite the irredeemable bad guy they currently believe he is.

            Because Tim is hell bent on getting them to reconcile.

            He’s decided that it’s necessary, for all of their sakes, to get Jason back into the fold.

            He’s determined to do it even if the effort kills him.

 

            Which, with how his night is currently going, it very well might.

 

            And sooner, rather than later.

 

            But it might not.

            Tim’s almost to the spot where he needs to be.

 

            He knows exactly where Jason hangs out, knows his routes through the beat he’s staked out as his own, and knows exactly when the Red Hood will be taking a short break with his feet kicked over the side of an elegant old cornice with a gold brushed frieze depicting some meaningful Greek tragedy to which Jason’s drawn a painfully unironic personal connection.

            Tim knows that if he lands on this corner, even if his landing is rough enough to be heard across the building, that Jason won’t bolt immediately.

            Tim knows that Jason will have his helmet off, knows that he’ll be as relaxed as he ever gets these days – with a quiet street in the dark beneath his feet, steady hands checking over the ammo reserves in all his weapons’ magazines, and a lit cigarette tucked between his lips.

            He knows that if he limps his way over, Jason will turn to face him – slow and cautious but not terribly concerned by his replacement’s display of woeful stupidity in the reckless act of wandering so far out of bounds.

            Tim knows that if Jason doesn’t shoot him in the next fifteen seconds, he’ll probably live to see that god damn sunrise he’s been thinking about.

            His heartbeat is too fast to be an accurate measure of time, and his breathing is too slow, so it’s safe to assume that he won’t be able to tell exactly when he crosses that important threshold and lets go of the desire he has to be directly aware of it.

            Tim’s brain is too busy keeping his feet under him to mourn the fact that he would never accept such sloppiness from himself in other circumstances.

 

            Maybe he really is dying.

 

            Maybe he’s okay with that.

 

            Because Jason turns around and smirks at him – but it’s not the harsh, cold smirk Tim’s come to know as the Red Hood going on a bad bender… it’s the warm taunt of the Robin that Tim once knew, the smirk he used when he was playing with fire and possessed the implicit understanding that he could handle whatever twist or wild spark might come.

            “Thought you were supposed to be the smart one, Replacement,” Jason drawls out, his tone sharp and spiteful as he lifts the barrel of his favorite revolver to aim between Tim’s eyes – it’s a Smith & Wesson from the late 1800’s, more antique than military machine, a gift from someone Jay respects and a weapon usually reserved for the Red Hood’s more ceremonial kills…

            Tim would say some sarcastic quip about being honored to warrant such a special weapon for the one to finally kill him – since Jason’s last two almost murder incidents with him involved no weapon more refined that a refurbished batarang and some piano wire… he would spin something snippy like that, but right now shuffling forward and breathing in concert is enough a feat to warrant every drip of his attention.

 

            Jason notices immediately that something’s off.

 

            Notices, perhaps a second afterwards, that Tim is badly hurt.

 

            Tim doesn’t stop inching closer even as Jason scrambles to his feet, draws the curved blade of a kukri from his pocket, and snarls viciously, “I told you to stay the fuck outta my way, Replacement, so don’t you dare believe I’m not gonna take advantage of your shit for brains decision to come here in shape like that.”

            Jason crosses the last few feet between them, wraps his hand up in the collar of Tim’s still unwashed new uniform. Distantly, Tim realizes that this one might never be washed, that if it weren’t for that stupid explosion, it would still be nice and shiny in whatever new memorial case Bruce might erect for him inside the Cave.

            If Bruce would even do that for him.

            He might.

            Tim wasn’t Robin long, but it didn’t fuck it up too terribly.

 

            The thought makes Tim want to smile. Almost openly.

 

            He’s not quite able to manage the feat in full, but without having to concentrate on standing up on his own anymore, he’s able to make his lips twitch a bit that way.

            And he’s able to focus on the small things about the man standing right in front of him at the moment – like the way he’s breathing, actually breathing, when Tim had bowed before the remaining rubble of his gravestone not more than four hours ago.

            Like the way his face is so expressive, even from beneath the domino – he’s schooled his features well, and his masks are damn impenetrable, but below the façade is a flurry of emotive movement that’s unreadable primarily because Jason is all heart and just feels… feels everything about everything just so damn strongly.

            Like the way Jason’s radiating warmth on the icy rooftop, radiating warmth and comfort and peace, and a hope that makes Tim giddy bubbles up his throat in a laugh that is wildly inappropriate considering the circumstances.

            “The fuck you laughin’ at, runt,” Jason demands, giving Tim a rough shake and displaying his teeth in a rancid, vicious snarl. “What you think’s so funny?”

            “You didn’t shoot me,” Tim answers, utterly honest.

            He’s too tired to lie right now, too tired to pretend – to snipe and snark.

            Too tired to feel sober about Jason’s criminal record when he’s just so damn happy and relieved and overwhelmingly grateful that the man is even alive here to be a dangerous problem.

 

            Tim’s definitely high.

 

            Well passed punch drunk and at the end of his rope.

 

            He’s got another three minutes or so to keep breathing if Jason doesn’t decide to help, and only about twenty more seconds with his eyes open.

            His odds are good though.

            Jason didn’t shoot him, and it has to have been more than fifteen seconds since he first leveled his revolver with the barrel pointed at blowing out the giddy goop of Tim’s sleep and oxygen deprived brain.

 

            Jason doesn’t have an answer ready.

 

            He waits a beat and asks, off kilter, “Shouldn’t you be limping home to daddy? You’re looking pretty dead here, Replacement, and I’m pretty sure only one dead bird gets to pull the zombie card with those stupid, stingy assassin assholes.”

            “You were closer,” Tim explains with free admission.

            Jason snorts, snarl jerking uneasily at Tim’s clear honesty and the implied trust that must be there in him behind it.

            “In case you forgot, genius,” he spits with as much venom as he can muster, “I’m one of the bad guys these days. Who’s to say I’m not just gonna let you die? You seem like you’re bleeding out quick enough on your own that I won’t even have to help you on your way.”

 

            Tim’s chest lets loose another giddy bubble of drunken glee.

 

            “But you were Robin,” he counters.

            “That don’t mean shit to anyone, dumbass,” Jason hisses, giving Tim another shake and digging his finger into Tim’s shoulders hard enough to bruise.

            Tim’s not entirely sure when he put his kri away, or when he got both warm hands on Tim’s rapidly numbing body, but it makes him glad belatedly.

 

            “It does to me.”

 

            The fact that Jason was Robin means everything to Tim. It’s the only reason he’s done anything useful with his pathetic little life. And if this helps Jason reconnect with the Family he needs, the Family that needs him, well, that might just be something well worth dying for – and by the distant feel of arms around him, scooping him up via strong grips around his knees and his battered ribcage… Tim thinks it just might.

 

            He’s high as hell and well more than halfway dead, but he can still hear Jason’s voice – feels it rumble through his very being…

 

 

            “Don’t you dare go dyin’ on me now, baby bird.”

 

 

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you get me high (love)