The clock has been ticking for an uncomfortably long amount of time for the past hour.
Damian’s been counting the sound the second-hand makes every time he hears it, losing count sometime in the 2000s. The silence that filled his head when he wasn’t counting was too loud for him to bear, leaving him little choice but to continue to list off things absently to keep himself from being left alone to his thoughts.
The world had seemed slower the past couple of months, Damian noted absently. Time seemed to stretch out days longer, and words took longer to register in his mind. The energy he needed to speak up with the usual amount of snark he had hand-made for each of his siblings was beginning to slip away from him out of his own control.
His work on the field seemed fine, though, so he didn’t bother telling anyone. Nevermind the homework piling up that he could do nothing but stare at for hours, he was fine. Everything was fine.
He was just tired, is all. As anyone would be after spending most of their lives fighting for their right to live.
Damian sat up with a huff, hands uncurling from where they had laid on his stomach. He shook off his thoughts, frustrated with himself. His eyes were sore, even after he rubbed at them restlessly for five minutes. He stared at his hands for a moment before looking around the library he had laid in, eyes following around nothing before he finally stood up.
He could hear the sound of shuffling just away from earshot in the distance and it took almost everything he had in him to get up and walk slowly towards the sound, starting to settle as he walked closer. Damian noted that it was nearby the fireplace that had been surrounded by two large plush chairs to read or sleep in. He could certainly attest for the sleep part, a good chunk of his random naps completed in the library.
When he turned the corner, he came to see Tim sitting in one of those chairs, flipping through a leatherbound book with a mug of coffee on the small table in front of him. Damian watched him for a moment before walking up to the chair and taking a seat by his feet, resting his head back against the front of the couch-chair. Tim didn’t mind the action, simply moving one of his hands to rest on top of his hair gently.
“What’ve you been reading?” He questioned, not moving as he asked. He heard pages rustling for a moment before Tim answered.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” Tim stated. “About a kid who goes back to school and has to cope with his friend killing himself earlier in the year, and his aunt dying a couple of years before that.” Damian nodded once before he spoke again.
“Would you read it to me?” Tim didn’t answer, instead scratching his nails against the younger’s scalp gently. Damian didn’t move as he did, simply shutting his eyes with a soft sigh as Tim began reading aloud, voice quiet as he did. As he read, Damian could feel his body slumping against the couch, paired with a growing sense of apathy at how he could compare his own feelings to the character in the story. If it was any other day, he would be unsettled, but today he was just… tired. Blank.
He didn’t think about mental health that much, as most of the Bats hadn’t. It was expected that you would come out messed up if you had been shoved in a costume and put on the streets to fight crime. It was less likely to come out healthy than it was not to. The costumes felt more like uniforms each passing day and what they had done with joy was slowly fading into a part of a routine that seemed inescapable.
Damian knew that Dick had tried to teach him to value his health more than he had been at the moment, though the efforts were fruitless. Once Bruce had come back, he immediately left for Bludhaven again. Not that Damian blamed him for that, but the lessons were much harder to learn from a distance with a few overlapping patrols.
He let himself slip, he supposed. His eating habits were shaky at best, and without Dick’s constant badgering, he had let himself go days without eating simply out of habit. Damian was conditioned to the League’s way of living after ten years with them, that couldn’t be erased in a couple of months and love (As much as he wanted it to be.)
Hurt was to be expected, most of his life had proved that. He just didn’t think it could go beyond physical in this case. It didn’t make sense, not to him. That was the type of stuff he would expect from Jason or Tim, not him. Anyone but him, really. He didn’t have a reason to be hurting, so he wasn’t.
To Damian it was this way, at least. He didn’t think he was depressed or hurting. Just… tired.
He let himself sink back into Tim’s legs, closing his eyes.
A knife was set on the desk in front of Damian, the younger sat there for what had to be half an hour by now.
Patrol was rough for him today, seemingly messing up more than he had beforehand. His mind was wandering and his body went on autopilot for much longer than he had wanted it to, leading to sloppy mistakes when it came to proper detective work. He had even been caught watching a drug deal go down, letting the criminals they had been tracking the past couple of weeks to immediately disappear again, leading to what would be another month’s worth of work to be done. The scowl that Bruce had worn behind his cowl was evidence enough of the man’s disapproval, though the lecture in the Cave hadn’t helped.
( “You are making this much more difficult than it needs to be,” Bruce’s stern voice floated through the cave, bouncing around the rock and bounding back to hit Damian where it hurt. “I cannot be watching you every moment we are on patrol. You have a job to do and when I accepted you into this role, it was with the knowledge that you had learned enough with Dick and were ready to be out in the field. Your actions today are making me severely question his judgement.”
Damian had nodded numbly, waiting for him to finish before he had gotten changed and moved to go upstairs, walking past the kitchen without pausing for dinner or listening to Alfred asking him to join them. He didn’t want to face anyone after feeling so humiliated and useless.)
Usually, his go-to after a rough day had been to accompany Tim with what he had been doing. He would sit with him in silence if he was working on cases or robotics, and when he had been in the library, the teen would read out to him until he had left or dozed off.
Today, however, Damian did neither. He had locked himself in his room and sat at his desk with a knife he had kept from the League of Assassins, and was staring it down in a battle of will.
Old habits would force him to wait for punishment that wouldn’t come. If he had messed up this badly with the League, he would have been lashed and left in his room for the night to nurse himself into better health by the morning for a sparring session with the other soldiers. There was nothing like that here, and that made Damian uneasy.
It seemed stupid to him, honestly. Wanting to have punishment and feeling uncomfortable because there wasn’t any. It’s not like he was a masochist, he was just…
It didn’t make sense , Damian surmised desperately. He was waiting for something, anything to happen so he could get it over with and relax after knowing the worst of it was over.
He picked up the knife on the desk, looking at himself in its shiny metal. The weapon was clean, unrusted and gleaming.
If he did it himself, Damian thought, he wouldn’t have to drive himself insane through paranoia.
With this in mind, he rolled his shirt up, lining up the knife on his hip where he could see an old scar from his back stretch out to, and bloodied himself until the prickly feeling of dread had dissipated. With a clatter, he dropped the knife to the ground and reached into the same drawer in the desk for a cloth and bandages, cleaning off the blood welling from the cuts multiple times until they had stopped sprouting up immediately after he wiped them clean before bandaging them.
A knock at his door startled him into alertness, throwing the knife into the drawer and shutting it quickly and quietly as he could. Damian yanked his shirt down and opened the door to Tim’s smiling face, letting an apathetic air settle into the atmosphere around him.
“Yes?” He asked dryly, heart pounding in his chest.
“D’you wanna read with me today? We haven’t in a couple days and I miss my favourite leg warmer.” Damian scowled at the nickname before rolling his eyes.
“As long as we don’t read those juvenile books you insisted I hear.” Tim’s grin grew wider, stepping back and letting Damian exit the room before beginning the walk to the library.
“The Geronimo Stilton books are a wonderful example of civilians such as ourselves fighting crimes and going on adventures, you just need to learn to appreciate the fact that they’re all mice and you’ll like them much better.”
Tim laughed. “We’ll try Harry Potter today, how’s that sound?”
About an hour later, curled up near the fireplace as Tim read to him softly, Damian slowly came to realize something.
This was the most relaxed he had felt since he came to the Manor, and with the outlier of his… incident from earlier, it couldn’t be a coincidence that when he had punished himself he had felt better as a result.
He wouldn’t tell anyone, he concluded.
“What’s up with those?”
Damian’s blood ran cold at Jason’s voice, freezing in his movements to change before continuing as though he hadn’t said anything, stripping himself of the top half of the suit and replacing it with a sweater afterwards.
His ritual of punishing himself for minor transgressions had only grown more frequent over the past few months. As a result, his movements were usually pain-filled and harder to execute than usual, but it was simply a consequence of his own behaviour that had led to that struggle for himself.
Damian had slowly grown withdrawn as a result, finding it easier to not mess up should he not speak. This had led to a chain of events that had toppled like a line of dominos, starting from fewer meals as a result of not telling people when he was hungry to his reading sessions with Tim going from infrequent to non-existent.
Maybe the worst part about everything was that no one had really bothered to ask about him. Damian’s mind had been warring with the argument that the group of them not noticing meant that they couldn’t stop him versus the insinuation that they hadn’t cared enough to bother asking if he was alright. The latter hurt much more to think about than the former and that simply led to punishing himself further.
That night, Bruce and Damian had to wander into Jason’s territory to follow an investigation with a mob boss that had ended with bullets riddling down upon them, and nicking Jason in the waist. He had been brought back to the cave as a result, and Damian hadn’t expected him to stay, or even knew he did until he was interrupted by him while changing long after Bruce had left the cave.
When he noticed Jason hadn’t moved from the doorway of the changing room where he stood, he took a small breath before answering.
“The League,” He said simply, moving to walk by him before a hand on his shoulder pushed him back.
“Ah, ah, ah, kid. I’m notta fucking idiot. Those’re fresh. Now what’s the deal?” Damian pursed his lips, staying silent at his question as he struggled to think of an answer. If he told him it was just something from patrol, he wouldn’t believe it, considering they had been attacked with guns and not knives. The neat rows hardly seemed anywhere near accidental, so nicking himself on accident wasn’t an excuse either.
“Lift your shirt, kid, I gotta see what you’ve been-”
His mind worked itself into a panic at the words and before he could process what he was doing, he shoved his uniform into Jason’s hip and swerved around him quickly, ignoring the startled yelp and practically sprinting upstairs and slamming his room door shut as soon as he was inside.
The fear that was pulsing through Damian only grew as he staggered away from the door, hearing faint yelling from the other side, hands shaking slightly in anticipation. He couldn’t shake the feeling and threw open his drawer, grasping at the weapon he had hidden at the bottom desperately. He ignored the minute slices that littered his hands as he grabbed at the blade before wrapping his hand around the handle.
Fuck, he was so stupid for thinking he could simply solve his problems by running away from them and hiding, hoping that Jason wouldn’t follow up on him. He was so fucking stupid.
Damian cursed himself, thoughts growing louder until all he could hear were jeers made of his own voice. They drowned out the knocking at the door and any rational attempt to dispose of the evidence, instead going for the habit he had developed over the past month.
His shaking hands pulled up his shirt, but it led to the cuts going deeper than he intended for them to go in the process, jagged cuts replacing the neat ones that had lined his hips.
This one was much, much deeper and on his thigh rather than his waist, leading blood to pool out under him where he lay under his desk, the dark corners leaving him feeling claustrophobic but stayed where he was anyway. He couldn’t face them, couldn’t face his mistakes. It was terrifying, he couldn’t face Jason or Bruce or Dick, or Tim, especially not Tim.
The sudden slamming on his door startled him and his panic ran deeper, eyes dilating as he threw the knife away from him just as the door broke down and both Tim and Jason had entered, the angered expressions quickly replaced with horror.
Damian only pushed his feet out to get away from Tim’s reaching hands, crying out when a hand circled around his ankle. The touch felt like fire on his cold skin, too-cold skin. He pushed weakly at Tim, not even noticing the tears working their way down his cheeks as he choked on air, barely able to breathe as he struggled away from Tim’s arms.
How the fuck did everything go wrong this fast? Was Damian’s last coherent thought as his vision went black, high-pitched whining filling his ears as Tim and Jason’s panicked shouts faded away.
Tim and Jason have been sitting in silence for the last hour or so, the air between them tense and quiet. The hard feelings that Tim held for Jason had been pushed back for Damian, who had been lying in a medical cot in the Batcave after Alfred had seen the state the younger was in. Bruce had been out on a trip as Bruce Wayne that day, shortly after his and Damian’s patrol had finished. The trip was a little later than usual, but it wasn’t anything new.
This time, however, Bruce hadn’t been picking up. They weren’t sure why, exactly, but there would be something for Tim to say when he had returned home. Maybe something about emergency contacts.
Of course, it managed to have the worst timing possible in their case. Alfred had tended to Damian and now the two brothers were left with little buffer between them.
“We’re gonna have to tell Dick,” Tim spoke up after a while. Jason scoffed from across the room, arms crossed over his chest as his leg bounced.
“That’s what you have to say after all this? Talk about Dick?” Tim’s frown grew at his words, eyebrows furrowing.
“I would like to think that he would want to know about what happened to his little brother,” Tim said stiffly. The stress from the night had been building up and with the incident of Jason tearing apart his room a couple months ago going unaddressed, he found himself the perfect target for his frustration.
“Yeah, sure you’d like to think that. How about thinking how the demon passed out in the cave is doing?” Jason snarked, though there was little of the familial humour held in them.
“You think I haven’t been?” Tim snapped, patience wearing thin. “He’s my brother. ” Jason barked a humourless laugh at his words, eyes narrowing.
“You really think that label means anything around here anymore? God, Replacement, you’re in worse shape than I thought.” He mocked as Tim took a phew deep breaths to keep his temper at bay.
“Does it matter what you think of it? Not like anyone here particularly considers you family.” Tim said coldly, staring across the room into Jason’s eyes from where he sat stubbornly, not letting his gaze waver.
“Yeah, big fat deal. Like I’d care what Mista Batman and Replacement Robin thought of me, huh? The farther you keep yourself from me, the better. I’m only here for Alf and the kid, dumbass. Don’t get your hopes up, thinking I care.”
“Didn’t seem that way when you did fuck-all to get Bruce’s attention three months ago,” Tim shot back, watching Jason’s expression stone up. He didn’t let it stop in his tracks, continuing on his tirade. “Really sold it on the not-caring part when you ripped everything of my friend’s I had to shreds to get my attention. Have you considered acting? You’d be great at it, with the bullshit you managed to spew and hide all your daddy issues in.”
“One to talk, Replacement,” Jason practically snarled. “Remind me where your parents are?”
Tim stood up from where he sat with a clatter, striding up to Jason. “You fucking asshole. ”
“Can’t take what you’re dishing?” Jason mocked, standing as well, though he stayed where he was. Tim had his bo staff in one hand and Jason’s hand ghosted over the holster he had on his hip. The other paused as he saw what Jason was reaching for, laughing bitterly.
“Oh, you’re gonna shoot me now?” He asked with a mock-gleefulness. “Go for it, I’d like to see you try. ” Tim stepped back lazily, arms wide open. “Unless Bruce’s praise is still something you want. He gonna snap his fingers and you’re gonna come running like a dog? Is that it?”
Jason’s expression darkened, and in one move his gun was out, pointing to Tim. “Shut the fuck up, Replacement.”
“What? Can’t take what you’re dishing? ”
“What are the two of you doing ?”
The two of them turned away from their stand-off to see Alfred standing, looking rightfully livid. Their own anger was fading a little at his words, Tim stepping away from Jason and collapsing his bo staff as Jason put his gun away.
“I thought I had taught you both better than this,” Came Alfred’s voice, holding anger and disappointment. Tim wasn’t sure which was worse at this point. “Your younger brother is passed out from injuries done by his own hand, and you’re arguing over… what? Master Bruce’s parenting? At a time like this?”
Alfred’s gaze cut into the two of them before he straightened up and cleared his throat, suddenly looking wary. “I am not happy with either of you right now. I’m going to go tend to your brother. I want this feud of yours to be put away, for his sake. Just one night.”
Tim looked over to Jason after a moment, who had his stony expression placed back on his face. “Fine,” The older man spoke stiffly.
“For Damian,” Tim echoed, a rush of guilt flooding him at the way he had let go of his anger and let it overpower his worry for Damian. Alfred had nodded to the two of them once he heard the words, satisfied, before making his way back to the closed-off area of the cave.
“I’ll call Dick,” Tim said quietly after a couple of minutes in silence. Jason’s jaw clenched before he nodded shortly, striding off to where he had been sitting before. He pointedly ignored Tim as he pulled out a different gun from before and grabbed a rag off a table nearby and began polishing it off.
Tim sighed quietly, opening up his phone and dialling one of his most recent numbers.
“Dick? Yeah, can you come over? It’s… It’s Damian.”
By the time Dick had made his way to the Manor, Tim and Jason were still on very much opposite sides of the room. They hadn’t been given clearance to see Damian yet, which Tim assumed had to do with their spat from a while ago.
“Is he okay? What happened? Was it from patrol?” Dick immediately questioned as he strode in, making his way to his two younger brothers first. Tim frowned slightly, and once look at Jason proved he wasn’t going to step in to deliver the news to Dick.
“We,” Tim started, sighing a little. “We walked in on him after cleaning up from patrol. He had… injured himself. Intentionally. He passed out when we managed to get to him. I don’t…” Tim cleared his throat. “I don’t know if he’s been up yet.”
“Why wouldn’t you know?” Dick asked, frown growing on his face as he looked between Jason and Tim.
“Because Replacement here couldn’t keep his mouth shut and Alfred told us to get over ourselves before seeing him,” Jason interrupted, eyes fixed on the knife he was rubbing clean.
“Rich coming from you,” Tim couldn’t help but snapping.
“ What is wrong with the two of you ,” Dick hissed, voice holding more anger than either of them could have intended. “You just- He hurt himself! On purpose! And you can’t get over your egos and just-”
Dick cut himself off, running a hand through his hair before sighing. “I’m going to talk to Alf. Get over whatever argument you started this time.”
“‘I couldn’t keep my mouth shut?’” Tim mocked Jason when Dick was out of earshot, the other glaring at him.
“I wasn’t wrong, was I?” Jason shot back. Tim rolled his eyes, frown set on his face.
“Forgive me for not being the happiest with someone who’s made it their job to make my life a living hell,” Tim hissed. “Might as well have just shot me in the head instead of breaking all my shit.”
“ Why are you so hung up on that? Just buy some new stuff.”
“I can’t! Do you think I wouldn’t if I fucking could? Half of that was stuff from my dead friends. Shit that I can’t replace with money. You fucking asshole. ”
Jason pursed his lips and looked away. Tim scoffed at the response, continuing.
“‘Course you don’t have anything to say now. Too ashamed? Or you wishing you could’ve broken more, maybe stolen something of Steph’s-”
“Would you shut up .” Jason practically growled out, tilting his head back. He pinched the bridge of his nose, letting out a small sigh.
“I can admit,” He started quietly, a steely note still in his voice. “That what I did was an asshole move. I’m… sorry.”
“And that’s supposed to replace everything?” Tim snapped.
“No! Fucking- I know you can’t replace shit like that. I’m fucking sorry I tore all of it up, but we really have other things to focus on, so either you shut the fuck up and suck it up, or-”
“Are you two nearly done?” Came Dick’s voice, dull and holding a hint of frustration and worry. “Because Damian’s coming to.”
i feel like this chapter was a little out of place in this story, but i needed something to show the linear part of the series, starting from how jason and tims relationship changes because of the first part. as well as to establish that both tim and jason can be assholes if they want to.
i kind of notice that in some fics, the writers infantalize tim a lot? its nothing i hold against them, they're open to their interpretations, but i just cant get behind it. so i think reminding myself that tim isn't just a soft uwu baby sometimes is integral in stories that are emotionally charged like this.
no worries, we'll be returning to damians pov in the next chapter. it'll be posted soon, just don't hold me to anytime in the very near future, im a little slow with these types of fics T-T
as for bruce not answering the phone... plot hole ex machina..? haha
in the meantime, i hope u enjoyed <3 feel free to comment, and have a good day. (any tips on how to write alfreds character would be great)
The first thing Damian wanted to do as his eyes fluttered open was to go back to sleep.
The darkness he had been entrapped in had been heavenly, it felt like he had fallen asleep for the first time in a very long time. The exhaustion that had been hanging over his shoulders had been lifted slightly, and the pressure on his chest wasn’t nearly as hard as he floated in his mind.
His responsibilities had disappeared and for a while, he could just… pretend. Pretend that nothing around him was real and that he hadn’t been raised by assassins or fought to the death and killed innocents before he lost all his baby teeth. All he wanted was a little bit of freedom from the shackles of his upbringing, and when he had a taste of it, he was reluctant to let it go easily.
When he opened his eyes, he was greeted with stalactites far above him, and the sinking feeling of dread filled him once more, this time much stronger.
“Dami? Are you up?”
Grayson? Damian thought with a hint of panic. What was the older man doing there? As far as he knew, he had been in Bludhaven working on a case for a drug ring. What reason could there have been for him to-
And with a rush, almost all the events from before he passed out had come back with a vengeance. The knife, his panic, Jason’s questions, Tim and him bursting into his room, his sobbing …
“Dami?” Damian ignored his voice, taking a shuddering breath as subtly as he could manage before sitting up in the bed, ignoring Dick’s protests as he did so.
“I’m fine,” He managed to force out, shaking his head. “You may return to Bludhaven. To your responsibilities.”
The horrified look on Dick’s face proved his words had the opposite effect than what he intended.
“Dami, you can’t just- this isn’t something you can ignore, it’s-”
“I said ,” Damian interrupted, teeth-gritting a little. “I’m fine. There’s no need to waste any more of your time past what little you already have.”
“You wouldn’t be wasting my time , Damian, what? You’re my brother, I care about you.”
“But is it really because you want to? Or because you have to?”
The question had slipped from Damian’s lips unbidden, and he bit down on his bottom one nearly hard enough to draw blood as Dick flinched.
“Damian, I…” Dick sighed, running a hand through his hair as he took a seat on the edge of the medical bed he had been laid on. “Of course I care about you of my own free will. I don’t feel obligated to be worried about you, I’m worried because I love you and I just found out you’ve been hurting yourself , and thinking about you hurting so bad that you have to turn to that makes me feel so, so bad.”
Damian frowned a little, eyes flitting away from Dick to his hands. “I’m sorry for upsetting you. I didn’t mean to.”
“Dami, no, that’s not-” Dick was starting to look a little desperate and Damian looked up as Dick moved to sit in front of him, holding both of Damian’s hands in his larger ones. They were a comfort for him, as Dick rubbed his thumbs over his hand gently.
“I’m only upset because I’m scared for you,” He said softly. Damian’s heart jolted as he frowned, eyes blurring up a little as the words registered in his mind.
Dick was scared for him. Not of him, like almost everyone else was. He wasn’t holding Damian an arms-length away out of fear that he’d snap and murder everyone around him. He was… He cared. About him. Enough to admit his fears in front of him.
Damian sniffled slightly, pulling his hands from Dick’s to press the heels of his palms to his eyes, taking a quiet gasping breath in. His older brother almost immediately took him into his arms, wrapping them around him gently as Damian left his hands pressed to his eyes, sucking in breaths through his teeth to keep himself from collapsing more.
“It’s okay, I’m here, I’ve got you. You don’t need to feel alone, I’m here, It’s okay.” Dick had been murmuring the words on repeat until Damian couldn’t take it and he let himself sob into Dick’s shoulder, pressing his face into his shirt and wrapping his arms around Dick tightly.
The older boy simply rocked him gently, continuing in his quiet promises as he let Damian cry himself out.
After he had cried himself dry and Dick left with the promise of getting him hot chocolate that Alfred had been making, Damian had been left alone with Tim, who was one of the last people that he had wanted to stay with at the moment.
Not out of hatred, but, it felt wrong for someone other than Dick to see him so vulnerable. Tim was someone he never wanted to seem weak in front of, because he was slowly starting to get fond of the older boy and he didn’t want him to be driven away by how pathetic Damian himself was. It was shameful in his eyes, and he couldn’t bring himself to look at Tim.
“Hey,” Tim called out softly as he made his way across the room to sit next to his chair. Damian kept his mouth shut, looking away from Tim.
“You kinda worried all of us, kid,” He said softly. Damian drew in a quiet breath, hands fisting the bedsheets into a scrunched up ball.
“Did we- Was it something we did? To make you…” Tim’s voice was uncharacteristically quiet, and Damian’s head snapped up at the insinuation that he had wanted to punish himself simply because of his family.
“No, not. Not all of you. I was…” Damian trailed off, drawing his legs up to his chest to wrap his arms around them and tuck his chin on top of them. He ignored the soreness of his thigh and stared straight ahead, ignoring Tim in his peripheral vision.
“Wasn’t anything you did,” He said simply. “In the Leauge, they had… Punishment was necessary. Used to address that we had made mistakes and not to make them again. Here it was. Different, I suppose.”
Explaining this was harder than he thought.
“I had grown accustomed to punishment for my mistakes. It was natural. So, when I had been sent off without anything like. What they had. I couldn’t- It wasn’t right, ” Damian explained frustratedly, trying to fix his words for his point of view to make sense, and so he sounded less like a sociopath.
“I couldn’t handle the dread. Or anticipation. Waiting for someone to come and reprimand me. After I had… done it myself,” Damian paused for a moment, taking a deep breath to settle himself down. “It was easier. Less time spent waiting. Not as… frightening .”
Tim was silent for a long time after Damian had finished, the younger slumping back into his cot, suddenly incredibly tired. The day had been exhausting, all he wanted to do was sleep.
“The way you were raised wasn’t healthy at all, you know that, right?”
“Yes, I know. My mind just. Tt.” Damian’s voice was slightly frustrated as he rubbed at his eyes roughly. One of Tim’s hands came to gently pull them away as Damian turned a little to face him.
“It’s hard,” Tim admitted, “I know how just… expecting the worse and never getting it feels. It sucks, and it’s hard to get over. I know. It might… you might feel like it’ll never work out. That you won’t be able to get away from it. And that it’s just inevitable, but I just want you to promise me that next time you feel like that, you find one of us. I’ll read to you, or watch a movie with you, or talk or distract you, anything you need. Just please,” Tim said firmly, eyes shiny. “Please come find someone. Me or Alfred or Dick or- or Jason. Just. Get someone.”
Damian closed his eyes and nodded once, slumping forward slightly to let his head drop low.
“I’m scared,” He admitted quietly, voice much weaker than he had wanted. “That I’ll get worse.”
“And that’s okay,” Tim replied patiently, voice soft. “We’ll be with you every step of the way, whether you want us there or not. You couldn’t get rid of me if you tried, and we both know you already have.”
A weak smile flit across Damian’s face at the light teasing, leaning back to wipe at his face again.
“I... Thank you.” He hesitated before looking up at Tim with a slight sense of apprehension. “Could you read to me?”
A smile softened Tim’s face. “Of course.”
Dick had Damian’s hot chocolate ready ages before Tim and Damian had finished speaking, standing just outside the area to listen in on the conversation. Maybe Tim wasn’t as bad at prioritizing as he thought, Dick conceded reluctantly.
Jason was long gone, phone number scribbled inside the front cover of Damian’s most recent sketchbook. Just in case.
andd that's that! this feels a little incomplete to me, but there will be follow-ups posted to this series if you'd like to keep an eye out for them. thanks for reading if you made it this far <3 feel free to comment, i love seeing your thoughts and i almost always reply :-)