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Jason and Tim sat facing each other in silence. Poisonous green eyes held the gaze of sky blue ones, the weight of a thousand unsaid words like hands around their throats, making verbal communication a ridiculous notion.

The second Robin and the third were never really supposed to get along, Tim thought to himself, and at first they hadn’t. The sheer weight of the fact made their situation ironic—almost painfully so.

But neither of them said anything. What was there to say? What could be said? Tim had never prepared for something like this; someone doing what Jason just had wasn’t something Tim had even remotely fathomed…

No, that was a lie. He’d known. He’d known that there were people who would do everything Jason just had and more for him (maybe not more, but it was the thought that counted)—he just hadn’t really believed or grasped just what that meant until now.

Brothers by blood they were naught, but all the same they were brothers by law, and brothers in arms, failing the first practicability.

Silence laughed in Tim’s minutely ringing ears and taunted him as it, with the weight and strength it had, suffocated him.

“We’re wasting time,” Jason rasped, voice nearly cracking. The dark bruises that wound around his neck might’ve looked painted on if Tim hadn’t witnessed the hands choking him that’d been the cause of the dark purple collar.

Tim just kept staring. He knew the words he wanted to say, but in his mouth his tongue felt like it was the heaviest thing in the world, refusing to move.

Jason was unimpressed and shifted, the drag of the chains on his arms on the floor making them rattle as he did.

“Tim,” he said, and his voice actually did crack then, but whether it was from the strain of talking on his throat or emotion Tim couldn’t tell. “Say something.”

He couldn’t. He wanted to tell Jason that he was trying, but his mouth wouldn’t move.

Sighing, Jason moved forward, reaching as far as the chains would let him, and he put his hand on the back of Tim’s head, pulling their foreheads together.

Tim only realized he was crying when a tear dripped off his chin.

“Jason,” he whispered in a trembling voice. “Jason.”

“Yeah, kid,” Jason croaked. “It’s Jason.”

Like Jason moving him had broken a spell Tim jerked forward and flung himself at Jason’s chest, throwing his arms around him, and he started crying silent tears.

With a long sigh, Jason hugged him back and pressed his mouth and nose to Tim’s hair.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” Tim finally managed to say. “You really shouldn’t have done that.” Wow, was he a broken record or what?

“I had to, Tim.”

Tim shook his head viciously in a nonverbal response, face pressed into the crook of Jason’s neck, and tightened his hands in Jason’s shirt.

“I did.”

“No,” Tim insisted. “No, no, no you didn’t.”

He both felt and heard Jason’s long sigh.

Jason’s shirt was damp with Tim’s tears, but he didn’t seem to mind when they pulled apart, just gazing at Tim with sadness swimming in the acidic green of his eyes.

Tim felt weak in comparison to Jason. He felt weak, and he hated it, but he did. Tim was crying but Jason wasn’t, and Jason was going to—

Jason’s voice interrupted his self-loathing.

“I’m sorry, kid,” he whispered. “Really.”

Quiet once again descended upon them like a thick blanket, and Tim scooted closer to Jason, resting his head on his brother’s chest with Jason’s arm over his shoulders. If he closed his eyes Tim could pretend it was Bruce hugging him in the Batcave as he worked on some files, instead of Jason, who was dying; he could pretend it was just another night post-patrol.

In his ear Tim could hear Jason’s heart beating. Each time it did, Tim thought he could hear it stutter and weaken, so he forced the thought out of his head. He killed it as quick as it was, vanquishing it because Jason was dying.

The sound of the door to their little dungeon-like holdings opening had Tim opening his eyes and gazing at the door despondently.

Ra’s al Ghul stepped into the room flanked by his guard, Talia nowhere to be seen though Tim wasn’t sure he cared.

Frowning, the Demon’s Head inspected Jason, then Tim, only with his gaze.

Neither of the brothers spoke as Jason’s arm tightened around Tim.

Ra’s clicked his tongue.

“Jason,” he greeted. “Timothy.”

“Ra’s,” Jason spat back hoarsely.

Ignoring him, Ra’s spoke again.

“You know, Jason Todd, I do find it curious that you would trade your life for Timothy Drake’s. After all, he was your replacement. Not to mention you tried to kill him, if I am not mistaken?” His green eyes shone with intrigue as he tilted his head, hands neatly interlocked before him. “Why did you do it?”

The answer to his question was one Tim wanted to know too. While they had been making progress in getting along, Tim hadn’t thought they were “I’d die for you” level yet.

He’d been so wrong.

Jason took his time answering, picking his words carefully, and when he knew just what he wanted to say, he rasped, “You wouldn’t get it.”

Ra’s seemed amused.

“Try me,” he said.

Sighing, Jason answered him.

“He’s my little brother.”

His response didn’t seem to be what Ra’s al Ghul wanted to hear, and that was made clear when the Demon’s Head said, “I would hardly say you are of such importance to each other just yet. You did try to kill him, on no less than two separate occasions.”

Tim couldn’t see Jason’s face, but he could hear the sly grin in his voice.

“Told’ya you wouldn’t get it.”

Humming lowly, Ra’s waved a hand at his guard and turned to leave as he called back, “Timothy will be sent back as we agreed. You, however, Jason Todd, face a much worse future. Though I suppose you already know that.”

As Ra’s left, the two assassins he’d left behind forced Tim away from Jason, ignoring any protests as they did.

Tim shouted and struggled as best he could, but his efforts might as well haven’t existed. He was too sore and tired to put up much of a fight, but he couldn’t just leave Jason. Not after he’d called Tim his little brother. No. Dick should have been there to witness it, not Ra’s.

“No, no, no, no, no, no, stop.” Tim squirmed and bucked, trying to free himself even if he knew it was pointless, because he had to. “Let go!”

Jason was silent as he watched them take Tim, his eyes hard in acceptance but full of grief at the same time.

“I’m sorry, Baby Bird,” he said.

A nickname. A nickname. Jason had just—

“No!”

“Goodbyes are shit, kid,” Tim managed to hear. “So I’ll meet you where the stars meet the sea.”

Then he was finally yanked out of the room and the door was shut.

Tim grit his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut, the roaring in his head and frantic emotions rolling in his chest making him want to scream.

So he did.

He yelled.

He yelled, because it wasn’t supposed to have gone the way it had. He yelled, because it hurt not to. He yelled, because it wasn’t—

It wasn’t fair.

It wasn’t fair, and the sheer agony and injustice of it hurt like a flaming sword to the chest, and it just wasn’t fair.

What must have been a needle was jabbed into his neck, and before Tim knew it his world had gone dark.

But even as he slept he cried.