In retrospect, Tim knew he was on the brink of a breakdown. It was slowly building under his calm and unbothered demeanour, and despite popular belief within the family, everyone had their breaking points. It was just a matter of finding them and exploiting them until they were wrung dry and whatever emotional stability that person had was quickly broken down.
For some reason, Jason had made it his personal goal to find exactly where that breaking point was, with little to no regard for Tim’s personal property or his time.
Of course, he’d avoid anything that looked to help Batman in his crusade on Gotham, but everything else was fair game for the older man. It was clear that he wasn’t fond of Tim, the murder attempts clarified that easily. However, he had cooled off a little, and now put his focus on finding a way to tear the boy down rather than kill him.
Tim, naturally, did not let it show that it bothered him, despite how teeth-grindingly frustrating the behaviour from the older man was. He knew better than to comment on it, knowing that the bitter feelings from being “replaced” were still running rampant in Jason.
He supposed that turning a blind eye to it would be a small mercy in comparison to blowing up on him over something small and unimportant.
Self-control was something he prided himself on, after all. It was his self-control that kept him from spilling the complete truth about his childhood to the bats, and what kept him from breaking down several times over his career as a vigilante. It was his saving grace, really, along with what kept him going in stressful situations.
Today, however, Tim was not having a good day.
The day had been slowly but surely going from bad to worse with every passing event turning into some way to spawn hell for the teenage vigilante.
It had, naturally, started with the coffee pot in the Manor that morning, breaking down by some cusp of luck the moment before he could make his own. After a quick sweep of the cabinets, the instant coffee that he had stored was all gone. With a sudden realization, he cursed himself for stocking up every one of his safe houses with it instead of buying new ones.
The commute to Wayne Industries was long and frustrating, roads riddled with traffic he couldn’t physically make his way through unless he wanted to speed through the streets on his skateboard. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t exactly make a good look for a CEO. God knows he already had enough trouble trying to convince the board members he had adequate control over the company. Acting like a child in public would do little to help that out.
Once in the office, he had been subjected to a terrible day of errands not being completed, and just stroke-of-luck situations that had built up frustration until he was at the cusp of leaving and never coming back. (Maybe a bit of an over-exaggeration, but nothing he hadn’t earned over the course of a terrible day.)
He sighed as he flipped off the lights in his office, locking the door with his suit jacket slung over his shoulder. Tim made his way down to the garage, entering the car and mechanically driving home. At least the licence he had came in handy. He wouldn’t want to waste more of Alfred’s time than he already had over the past couple of years.
Little mercies, Tim repeated in his head.
As he reached the manor and parked in the garage, he noticed with sinking hope that Jason’s motorcycle had been parked in the space next to his. Whether on purpose or not, the thought of having to deal with Jason’s irritating behaviour after a long and tedious day of frustration was something he found no joy in.
Maybe he just came for Alfred’s cooking, Tim thought in vain, making his way upstairs to the kitchen. Maybe he picked up some food and he’s already on his way back to the garage and I don’t have to worry about him bothering me because he’ll be gone in a couple of minutes.
He was silently praying that he hadn’t thought to team up with Damian to make Tim’s night a living hell. The two of them were bad enough separately, he couldn’t imagine how he would fare with the pair tag-teaming him.
Tim passed by the sunroom, pausing to note the small head of hair that poked up from the couch, Titus slumbering next to him. The head rose and fell slightly at slow intervals, and Tim felt a smile curl upon his lips in triumph. No Jason and Damian team-up.
Small mercies, he thought victoriously.
The smile staying on his face as he made his way to the kitchen, though he stopped at the stairs and thought for a moment.
Everything tastes better when you’re comfortable, he reasoned, and with that in mind, Tim made his way up the ridiculously large stairway.
As he neared his room, he could feel a sense of dread fill him for some reason. It wasn’t as though anything dangerous could have made its way into the home with the security systems they had, and the various family members that had wandered into the home now and then generally seemed to know that his room was off-limits. Alfred was an exception, along with Cass and sometimes Bruce, should he need to see some of Tim’s work that he couldn’t move, but his room was his.
It was his safe haven, his place to unwind and where he remembered old friends fondly. The photos scattered around the walls and posters and trinkets all had their memories tied into them, and he held them near and dear to his heart. Some of them were the last things he had left from certain friends, others were just… irreplaceable. Special.
Tim opened the door to his room and immediately paused.
It was completely trashed.
With the exception of his computer on the desk in the corner, everything was shredded to pieces and flipped over. Debris covered the carpeted floor and Tim registered faintly that the shelf of keepsakes from his friends had been thrown onto the floor. There was a chip in the mug he had kept from when he was in the Desert with Pru, Owens, and Z. The jersey he had kept from Steph’s days of middle school soccer he had stolen from her was ripped to pieces. His eyes took in the sight of torn photos, breath catching in his chest as he saw the box he had under the bed upended and empty. The painted walls he spent time with Cass redecorating were splattered in black paint, marring the colours and patterns they had made in their comfortable silence, paired only with soft music. The necklace Kon had given him on one of their last missions together wasn’t even visible in the absolute mess of his room. His room. His safe place.
His camera. The ones he’s had since he was nine, that was his only friend for four years of his life. Lying on its side with the lens and flash shattered, the film only half-pulled out and just… destroyed. Gone.
A sticky note with the words you’re welcome :) signed off with a small J was one of the only salvageable things in the chaos. Tim stared at it blankly from where he picked it up and he breathed in.
He left the room automatically, letting his suit jacket flop onto the ground in front of the closed door.
His room. Safe place. Broken, invaded, trashed-
Tim let autopilot take over, making his way to Dick’s room to take his clothes. He picked up a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie and slipped both on. With a high-pitched whine ringing in his ears and a disconnect that was starting to frighten him, he made his way to the kitchen.
His room, his safe place, his friends’ things, torn to shreds, unfixable- He was unfixable, didn’t deserve anyth -
Jason was sitting at the table, a newspaper in front of him.
Tim immediately knew he was waiting for his reaction to the mess made of his room. He never read the newspaper, anyway. Only when waiting on the others to pay attention or to go to one of the coveted galas they were forced to gather for.
Alfred was cooking dinner at the stove, hands busy with a panhandle and spoon mixing together broth. He was turned away from the two but Tim didn’t doubt that Alfred had known he joined them.
His room was destroyed, everything was destroyed, his photos and his things and his friends’ things, that was all he had-
Tim felt his heart jerk painfully as he poured himself a cup of coffee mechanically. He faintly registered Damian enter the kitchen with Dick in tow out of the corner of his eyes as he took a seat at the table, mug held in his shaking hands as droplets spilled over his fingers.
Pru’s mug, shattered in pieces against the carpeted floor, the glass hidden within wool and it was unfixable -
Tim took a shuddering breath, gazing into his coffee. He didn’t bother to react to the gleeful eyes Jason had on him from across the table, noise filtering out of his eyes.
-Broke Steph’s things, ruined his and Cass’ walls and all his photos, Owens and Z and Pru and Steph and Kon, all his memories were going to fade with his things and he couldn’t fix them, he couldn’t , he couldn’t fix anything, good-for-nothing and stupid and he couldn’t save his friends, couldn’t save lives, should’ve died instead of the others and-
“Are you alright, Master Timothy?”
Tim’s next inhale was a strangled sob, escaping him without his control and once he started he couldn’t stop, vision blurring dramatically as the voices flooded back in, and he was sobbing so hard he couldn’t breathe , he couldn’t fix anything.
He could feel hands on his shoulders and arms wrapping around him but he couldn’t summon the energy to push them away, letting out four deaths worth of tears. The sobs grew so heavy that at one point they collapsed into barely held back wails, growing in volume and frequency as flashes of memories crossed his mind.
Kon with both arms around him, smiling down at him with the kindest eyes he’d ever seen, slow dancing with Steph in his room without any music and her weight against his chest, laughing with Owens and Z and Pru in the desert as they fought the obstacles they came across under stars with whiskey. Cass and him before she left for Hong Kong and the whispered I love you she said just for him , and he treasured it and hugged her and he could feel her slipping away from him, felt Kon and Owens and Z and Steph slipping away from him, from between his fingers and he couldn’t fucking get them back , he couldn’t and they were fading and leaving and he barely remembered Kon’s smile -
He cried and screamed and sobbed and wailed until he had no energy left, tears slipping out of his eyes soundlessly as Tim sagged against Dick’s chest. He vaguely registered that he was in the living room now, in front of the couch with Dick in front of him, practically in the older man’s lap after his breakdown. He rubbed at his eyes with his heels after pulling back, eventually just giving up and letting the tears make their way down his cheeks listlessly.
Tim caught sight of Damian near him, hovering and looking as though he was conflicted on something, eyes flickering from the doorway to the scene in front of him. He couldn’t bring himself to care, chest squeezing painfully when his gaze flit over Jason, who looked… guilty?
A flash of anger tried to fill him before being overwhelmed by an inescapable sense of grief.
“What happened, Timmy?” Dick’s soft voice brought him back to reality, focusing on the man in front of him. He had a grasp on the front of the shirt Dick was wearing as if it was a safety blanket. Maybe if he had his camera instead, he would feel more-
Oh. Oh, yeah.
Another lump filled his throat as Tim opened his mouth to speak, voice shaking slightly as he did.
“My room,” He choked out, a whimper leaving him after the words as he scrubbed at his eyes, struggling to keep talking. “Jason-”
He broke off after that, gasping for breath that wouldn’t come while Dick rubbed his back gently.
“What did you do?” Dick turned his attention to Jason as Tim struggled to get his emotions in check, the other man standing with his arms crossed against his chest.
Jason shrugged, face slightly stony. “He was being stupid. All weird and shit, wouldn’t complain about anything and it was annoying how fucking calm he was-”
“Jason.” Dick’s voice was steely. “What. Did. You. Do. ”
“I trashed all his shit,” Jason snapped before the angry look was replaced by a weary one. He rubbed at his face with one hand before gesturing to the doorway again. “I trashed all his shit ‘cause I wanted to see if he would get mad , not…” He looked at Tim, who was simply resting his head against Dick’s shoulder, utterly exhausted.
“Why the fuck would you-”
“Please, just,” Tim cut in, voice tired. “Stop. It doesn’t matter. It’s fine. Stop.” Dick looked at him incredulously.
“Timmy, none of that looked anything close to fine.” Tim winced before shaking his head.
“I can- I can get new stuff. Just- Was just stuff from friends.”
“My camera, can replace that, and- and Kon’s-” His voice caught in his throat. “Kon’s n-necklace and some stuff from Steph- ”
“ Timmy- ”
“Doesn’t matter, I can- Can-” Tim struggled to breathe in against Dick’s arms, the limbs feeling claustrophobic all of a sudden.
“I’m fine,” He choked out, struggling to push Dick away, who just tightened his arms.
“Tim, please, just-”
“I’m FINE !” He wailed, pushing away from Dick and curling into himself, heels of his hand pushing at his eyes fruitlessly. “I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine, I can’t be not fine, I’m fine fine fine, please, I don’t want- I can’t- I don’t want to think about them, I can’t-”
Tim’s words trailed off, squeezing his eyes shut.
“I can’t think about how they all left me.”
The silence in the living room was stifling, and Tim listened and breathed through his mouth until he couldn’t stand it.
“Please go away.” He heard Dick start to protest before Tim cut him off. “ Please. ”
A few minutes passed where he didn’t move before a shuffle of clothes and he felt the warmth next to him leave. He could’ve sworn he heard a quiet I’m sorry if he hadn’t known that Jason was the one saying it, leaving him to know he was just hearing things.
When he opened his eyes again, the living room was empty, save for Damian, who was still standing in the same spot he was before. Tim’s eyes followed him as the younger made his way to sit next to Tim, leaning back on the couch stiffly.
“I understand,” Damian said softly after a few minutes, hand resting on Tim’s shoulder. “And I’m sorry.”
Tim leaned onto Damian’s shoulder with a small sniffle, arms wrapped around his knees as the rest of the world faded away behind his eyelids. He focused on Damian, and the feeling that he was still there, with him.
He wasn’t completely alone, but he couldn’t tell if that was a good thing anymore.
“Get up, Drake.”
Damian’s voice was firm as he spoke to Tim, the teenager sitting on a couch in the library in a near-catatonic state, eyes glazed as he looked at an open book propped up in his lap. The younger boy could admit that it was slightly unnerving to see someone who’s skill he held in high regard reduced to such a state, but he didn’t let it sway his outer persona.
Almost a week after Todd’s imminent destruction of Tim’s personal property, he had barely seen the older man around at all. The only evidence of what had happened besides the room and the state Tim was in was the faint echoing of Pennyworth’s yelling fading into the walls of the Manor.
Damian noted absently that it had been one of the first and only times he had ever heard Pennyworth raise his voice against one of the many Robins that had graced the halls before. It was certainly a testament that what had happened was serious, if not already shown through the way Drake held himself the following week.
He avoided his room altogether, save for snapping at Dick when he tried to enter and clear it up with Pennyworth alongside him. Tim had immediately taken the words back, guilt evident as he apologized to Pennyworth, but he hadn’t let anyone into the room, either. It was just a memorial of destruction, something he couldn’t bear to look at but that he also wanted to protect with his last dying breath.
It was unsettling.
Tim looked up from the book he had in his lap, eyes fixating on Damian with a clarity he hadn’t seen in a while. It was relieving, to say the least.
“What?” He murmured, voice hoarse from disuse over the past couple of days. Damian rolled his eyes, though there was little malice behind the actions.
“I said, get up, Drake. We have places to be.” Damian reached out to put a hand around his wrist with a gentleness he wasn’t sure was possible and tugged on it, urging the older teen to stand up and follow after Damian. The confusion was clear on Tim’s face, but he ignored it at the moment, on a one-track mission.
Damian stopped in front of Dick’s room, going in to grab Tim a fresh set of clothes and handing them to him. At the look he got, paired with the planted feet that Tim didn’t look like he was going to move in a while, Damian sighed. He pinched the bridge of his nose before looking up at him.
“We are going to go out to as many stores as you and I please,” He stated, arms crossed, “And we are going to fix up your room by the end of the weekend.”
The blank look that Tim had on his face was a near twin to the one he had before his breakdown, making Damian wary before anger twisted his face instead. Ah, good. He could deal with rage much easier than tears.
“You can’t just- You can’t replace anything there, it’s special. It’s all stuff from my friends, you can’t just-”
“I can and I will if it means you will stop acting like you’ve risen from the dead,” Damian said plainly, watching as Tim narrowed his eyes. It was the most expression he had seen from the teen since he had blown up in the kitchen.
“How could you possibly say that, you don’t even know how it feels to- to just have all of your stuff destroyed, how would you know? You have no right to say that, you little- you Demon-spawn. ”
Damian waited for him to finish his spiel before he spoke again, making diligent eye contact with Tim.
“Grandfather and Mother were not fond of me getting attached to most things. Anything I had shown interest in that hadn’t helped my studies was either taken from me or destroyed,” He recounted simply, watching the anger fade and be replaced with a contrite look. “Sometimes personally belongings. Sometimes… animals. That I had come across on missions. One of our servants, once. I was forced to-”
Damian cut himself off, taking a deep breath after closing his eyes before opening them to look at Tim once more.
“I said I understood that day for a reason. I have no reason to lie for you. Now come, I can’t be seen driving and I don’t wish to bother Pennyworth.” Without another word, he turned away from Tim and made his way down to the garage with vehicles they could take out during the day, Tim following with hurried steps after pulling on the sweater that Damian handed him.
The silence between them as they climbed into the car and made their way out into the city was comfortable, if not tinged with awkwardness. Damian could see Tim’s eyes flicker to him once or twice as he drove, eventually winding him up till he sighed.
“Drake, there’s no reason to feel guilty. I can understand that I may not be… the most delicate with my words. No need to feel guilty. It’s been a strange week. I simply wish to return things to the way they were. Starting with you.”
This was probably the most open Damian had been to someone that wasn’t Dick. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust the others, but it was just a different type of trust. He could trust them all to be there for him should he need back-up on the field, but he didn’t know if he could trust Tim with memories that could be used against him, or Bruce with the knowledge of what he had done as an assassin-in-training.
He supposed that if Tim had trusted him at his most vulnerable, he could slowly but surely return the thought.
Damian watched Tim nod out of the corner of his eye and let a smirk quark up his lips.
“Now, we have quite a few places to be, so let’s make this quick, shall we?”
After what might have been four hours of roundabout shopping, paired with the two of them doing their best to fit their purchases into the car, Tim and Damian had brought their shopping bags up to the hallway of their personal rooms. Tim paused in front of his door, letting his bags slide from his hands.
Damian simply waited, knowing he needed a little bit of time. His goal was to get Tim to move around a bit and clean himself up, so waiting a few minutes for something like this was nothing for him.
After a minute, Tim took a deep breath before opening the door to his room, flinching at the mess and letting a pained expression fall upon his face. Damian did his best to ignore it, stepping into the room and placing the bags on the computer desk in the corner.
“We can leave those there for now,” He stated, exiting the room to get some of Pennyworth’s things for cleaning. The butler didn’t stop him as he went, but he could see the small smile on his face as he gathered the broom, dustpan, and waste bags. Damian paused for a moment before opting to take a cloth bag for things that Tim could salvage from the mess.
When he returned, the teenager was slowly looking around the room, hopelessness practically infecting the air around him. Damian, once again, paid it no mind, handing the cloth bag to Tim. At the look he got, he rolled his eyes again.
“I will sweep up and attempt to clean the ground. Anything you can salvage, place in that bag as I go along.” For the first time that day, Tim smiled a little.
“Aw, you do care.” Damian snorted, brushing him off as he began to broom up the shreds of paper littering the ground.
“Shut up, Drake.”
The two continued their work in relative silence, peaceful in their attempts to clean up, Every now and then, Damian poked Tim to get his attention and hold up an object, to which he would nod or shake his head to indicate whether to keep it or not. By the time they finished, the sun had long since set, as seen through the window in Tim’s room. They had three bags worth of trash and the cloth bag was completely full.
Tim was delighted to see his mug had still been intact, though it was a tacky thing. Completely clear and rubbed off words on the side, looking as though he had gotten it off the set of a beer commercial. The fond look in his eyes as he picked it up to see it simply chipped was enough for Damian not to tease.
“So… now what?” Tim asked, breaking their peaceful silence. Damian rolled his shoulders back a little before standing up straight.
“We redecorate,” He said, pushing his shirt up his forearms. Much rearranging of furniture later, Tim’s room looked completely different, if not bare.
His bed was pushed sideways against the window in the corner, so if he laid on his left he could easily look out of it. His computer desk was across his bed, at the foot of it with the chair turned away from the door. On the right of the bed, his dresser had been pushed to the corner and made space for the closet door to open. It looked much smaller as a result, but it felt cozy at the same time.
Tim looked at Damian questioningly as he rooted around in their bags before pulling out jars of paint, paintbrushes, and a couple of candles and jars. Damian cleared his throat a little at the look he got, slightly embarrassed before he spoke again.
“I learned that you follow the Wicca religion through Grayson, and through research, I surmised that you would appreciate jars and candles for your practice. I wasn’t sure of what strand you were following, but-” Damian was cut off with an oof as Tim wrapped his arms around the younger, head on his shoulder as he moved to his knees to get to Damian’s level.
He froze for a moment, blinking once before hesitantly returning the hug with a small tut. Tim pulled back, eyes slightly watery but a smile on his face.
“ Thank you, Damian. Really. You can’t imagine how much this means to me.” Damian shuffled a little, slightly uncomfortable before Tim’s attention was brought to the paint and brushes he had pulled out as well. “What’re those for?”
“Grayson suggested glow-in-the-dark stars for your ceiling. I figured paint would last longer. It seemed juvenile enough that you would consider it.”
Tim’s smile grew wider, setting his jars and candles down on the window sill carefully. After lighting one and propping it up so it wouldn’t fall, he moved to his dresser and pulled out a small speaker, scrolling through his phone and settling on a playlist he deemed fit. The start of Exploration by Amy Turk had filled the room, thunder booming softly from outside the window.
It was intimate. Warm. Safe.
Damian felt something twist in his chest as Tim handed him a brush, eyes shining in the candle-lit room.
It was love, he surmised while stretching up to paint the ceilings with Tim. And safety.
“Thank you,” Tim repeated into the room softly, a tinge of bittersweet sorrow in his voice nearly drowned out by the pattering of raindrops against the closed window.
Damian hummed in response and continued painting.
i really wasn't sure where to go with the second chapter of this, but i figured that damian and tim bonding would be a safe place to go. i think the characters may be a bit ooc, but my main motivator for portraying damian the way i did was the sympathy i knew he had from the first chapter, where he comforted tim by saying he understood. i figured he would act as the one person he wished he had after his grandfather and mother had taken from him.
as for the mention of wicca, it may seem a little out of place, but i was thinking more of continuing this work in a verse where tim was more religiously open in that sense and left space for spin-offs to this. should i write more centring that, it will be done after a copious amount of research, no worries.
it was, admittedly, more damian-centric than i set out for it to be, but i think it tied the story together nicely.
i hope this helped make up for the first part