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Come Along Little Bird (Only a Little Further)

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Jason wasn't really sure how to feel about any of this. Not the fact that he was humming, nor the fact that the replacement was curled up into a ball, head on his lap. And certainly not the fact that he himself was carding his hands through the hair of the same boy he'd tried to murder on countless occasions.

He sighed, wondering for the infinite time, what he'd done to fall into his current predicament.

It wasn't that he minded singing. And if he was being honest, he didn't mind Tim anymore either. In retrospect, Jason actually liked this, though he would probably die again before admitting that to anyone. Even himself.

He looked at Tim's equipment scattered across the floor. Gauntlets, boots, cape, domino. He'd long since stopped fighting Bruce about whether it was right to keep picking up mere children of the streets. It didn't stop him from feeling sick anytime anything bad happened to Damian or Tim.

Then again, Robin was probably the best few moments of his life, and he wasn't sure he would have traded it, despite the aftermath. From all he knew about Tim, it was the same case for him. Jason looked down on his lap, and after a moment's hesitation, brushed of the lingering wetness on Tim's face.

Tonight had been a long night.

~~~~

Red Hood didn't need help.

He most certainly didn't need help.

So frick you for even suggesting that.

That wasn't to say he was upset when he saw Tim drop into the warehouse, taking down two mercenaries on his way to the floor. His landing was one of grace. The same couldn't be said for the now dazed thugs that watched stars from the concrete floor.

Scarecrow wasn't anything they couldn't handle, but that didn't make it anymore pleasant.

The sound of flesh on flesh echoed in the warehouse, the little remarks that the two Reds shared dwindling the further the fight went on.

They were outnumbered, and while they weren't going to need any immediate backup, it was certainly getting a little more tiring than repetitive at this point.

Throw a punch here, dodge one there, a few gunshots, and repeat. Jason was glad they were getting to the end of it. Or at least he'd assumed. They had been at this for a long time, and he could hear Red Robin's harsher breathing, a copy of his own.

A cracked nose, a few shattered kneecaps, and a dislocated shoulder later, Jason deemed it a job well done. At least, until he realized that Scarecrow had ditched the scene.

He stretched backwards, letting out a string of words colourful enough to put the rainbow to shame.

"You up for round two, Replacement."

No reply.

"Replacement?"

Jason turned around, scanning the area. His eyes fell over the red and black on the floor. Tim was on the floor. He quickly made his way over, kneeling beside him to check for any injuries. Tim didn't move. No response at all.

Jason made to carry Tim, when the latter lightly grabbed Jason's wrist. "Jason," he said breathlessly, "F-fear t-toxin." The lax grip on it's on was bad enough. But Fear Toxin?

Jason let out a long string of words that surely would have cost him hundreds of dollars if Alfred were to hear.

The manor was too far away, there was no doubt about that. And Jason didn't have the necessary equipment or knowledge or time to make an antidote at any of his safehouses.

"How long?" Jason asked, the words tumbling out his lips like they couldn't leave fast enough.

Tim shuddered, "10 minutes."

Jason swore again. 10 minutes. That's all the time they had until the toxin took full effect. And it wasn't enough to go even halfway to the manor.

Jason bit at his thumb, considering between waiting out the storm here, or going to his closest safehouse. It would be dangerous to be on a bike, trying to hold a hysterical Tim. But it would be even stupider to stay. It was impossible to say that none of the thugs from behind were still lurking in the area. And if Tim ended up saying something he shouldn't, well the least Jason could provide was some privacy.

Looking over at Tim, he knew every second he wasted was one he didn't have. He hopped onto his bike, holding onto Tim with one hand. This, again, was stupid, but the lesser of two evils.

He could feel Tim tremble against him. And he was on the road in an instant. Every passing moment left Tim worse and worse. Jason was surprised to not hear a peep out of him even halfway through the ride. He revved his engine, going faster than probably appropriate.

Tim shook like an earthquake in his arms. Jason was pretty sure he was vibrating too at this point. He had always teased Tim for his smaller size and build. But now, he was thankful. God knew the kid needed to eat.

By the time they had arrived at the foot of his safehouse, Tim was blanched, to the point where he looked almost translucent. Jason bit his lip. The stairs would be far more effort than worth at this point, and there was no elevator. And his balcony was technically right there.

Oh for the love of anything. He shot his grappling hook up to the third balcony of the fifth floor, hooking his arm around Tim. He would admit, his landing was less graceful than he was capable of and probably didn't do Tim any good either. Speaking of which, the boy had apparently passed out. Which would make sense of the dead weight he now was.

He fiddled with the lock, and the green light clicked off with a reassuring red one. Jason hauled Tim in, placing him gently onto the bed. He took care of the boots, the domino, the cape and the utility belt.

He brushed his fingers over Tim's forhead, pushing back the hair that got in his face. Jason always thought it was a nice gesture. He didn't have many people to do it for him, but he liked to imagine what it was like, back when he watched movies before Robin.

Tim unconsciously leaned into the touch, despite his scrunched features.

Jason felt a pang of sympathy for the boy, not sure whether or not to be glad he couldn't see what went through Tim's head. From what he knew, there was a lot that had happened. And he wasn't sure it would be great for Tim to wake up to his ex-assassinator under the affects of the toxin.

Tim Drake Wayne.

A fellow tossed away Robin. A person who'd lost more than he'd ever gained. A person who's heart was too big and always in the right place. A person who'd never gotten what he'd deserved.

And Jason hated that he'd been part of the reason.

He was snapped out of his thoughts when he felt Tim shift beside him. He tossed his head, eyebrows scrunched. He murmured incoherently, distressed. Jason sat frozen, not sure what to do.

And then came the broken cry, "Mom...Please.." followed by quiet sobs. And Jason felt his heart break. He took Tim's hand in his, needing a way to keep Tim grounded to any level.

Tim shot up, reaching for something only he could see, followed by more frantic screaming, "Dad! " And he crumpled onto the bed, a set of heavy sobs flowing out his lips like the tears that flowed down his face.

Jason watched the scene that had unfolded much to quick for him to do anything. And he couldn't stop himself from grabbing Tim's hand and pulling him into his chest.

This wasn't even the worst of it, as far as Jason knew. This wasn't even close. His parent's death was perhaps the least of the night's problem, insensitive as it may be to say.

Tim trembled and shook in Jason's arms, and he couldn't care less that his jacket was slowly growing more and more wet.

Tim Drake Wayne.

A part of a world that gave nothing to the one that gave it the most.

He couldn't really tell much of what happened next, between Tim's cries and shouts. He'd suspected it was more deaths. Bruce's, the Superboy's, Impulse's, Damian's and Dick's fake one.

He watched Tim mourn and weep every death, his words too slurred to be intelligible.

Tim pushed away from Jason's chest, gripping the side of the bed as the contents, little though they were, of his stomach spread onto Jason's floor, before slumping back, groaning. The latter's nose wrinkled at the smell, he he couldn't bring himself to be mad at the replacement. It's really not his fault all this had happened.

In fact, it was everyone else's for never bringing this up, for never helping Tim confront these demons that Jason was sure he shoved away into the corners of his mind. For moving on before Tim had the chance to fully mourn. And how could he, when people kept dying and coming back as it was like opening and closing doors, leaving him on one side.

And then, the screaming began. Jason knew it wasn't wise to hold him down. In fact, the worst thing he could probably do was hold him down. But he didn't have a choice. Tim was going to hurt himself.

Jason cursed at himself for not having any sedatives on him, but it was probably for the best. He didn't know how the sedative might react with the toxin, and frankly, he wasn't up to find out.

He really wished he picked to go back to the Wayne manor. It was a stupid decision to wait this out. Jason wished he had a phone on him. At least that way, he could have called Dickie-bird or the Bats.

Eventually, the screaming faded, and Jason couldn't stop his shoulders from sagging with relief. A knock sounded at the door, and Jason ditched his holsters and leather jacket in favor of a loose hoodie, and answered.

An old lady stood on the other side, looking severely concerned. Jason recognized her. She was some lady he'd help carry the groceries for.

"Is everything all right?" She asked in her creaky old woman voice.

Jason rubbed the back of his neck. "I got a brother who came to visit. He has really bad nightmares sometimes. I'm sorry if it's bothering you, but he really needed a place to stay tonight."

The woman's eyes softened, and she patted Jason's cheek. "You're a good young man and a good brother." And she turned and left.

Jason watched, and then he chuckled. Anyone who knew the real him would disagree. His own fath-

No.

Jason shook his head.

Bruce might have been his dad once upon a time, but not anymore.

He headed back to the bedroom, feet cold against the bare wood flooring. He stood at the doorway for a moment, watching Tim who appeared to finally be okay.

He was a quiet boy, but Jason knew he hadn't always been that way. He had seen Tim back before. When he used to laugh with Dick, and smile with Cass, and tease Stephanie.

But after Damian, Jason saw how Dick barely talked to Tim aside from their night life. How Tim pulled back from the family. And how Damian would continuously insult Tim, and while Tim would reply just as scathingly, his words weren't as painful as Damian's. Even when Tim could rip Damian to shreds, Jason saw how he didn't. How he just walked away.

Jason was tired of watching people walk away from his own life. At this point, he didn't care. He had all the allies he needed.

But Tim? Tim was 19. Just a new adult. How did he just leave? And why didn't anyone stop him?

Jason stepped into his room, taking tentative steps to the bed.

He sat at the edge, not sure what to do. Oh to hell with it. He placed Tim's head on his lap. He reached for his reading glasses and book, flicking the button to the bed side lamp. He read, petting his hand through Tim's hair, humming a little as he did.

He decided this wasn't that bad at all.