Dick remembers Dick. All those memories of his life that he had refused to accept, then danced around, they’re all back in full force. He remembers his siblings, his family, his role in that family. It’s a lot to take in.
They defeat the Joker. Dick defeats the Joker, saving the rest of his family. And there are some pats on the back, some “Good to have you back” phrases from everyone. Dick gets a huge hug from Damian, which is an amazing thing, to be sure.
He gets all of his assets back. He has a penthouse. And a fuckton of money stored away, from being Bruce Wayne’s son, as well as his own investments. Why no one bothered to tell him about any of that when they knew he was living in a freaking cab is beyond him. Be Dick Grayson or suffer penniless, apparently.
Later on, Dick lets everyone know what he’s doing, so they don’t panic. He calls Damian, and tells the kid that he’ll let him know where he’s staying, and that he can come over anytime he wants.
Then he packs his bags and gets the hell out of Gotham.
Bea is over often, which is surprising since he did sort of drag her into the whole Joker mess, even if it was on accident. He thought she’d be madder.
“I’m not mad,” she tells him bluntly, a nice cup of coffee in both of their hands. “What’s there to be mad about? It was traumatic, sure, but it wasn’t like you wanted the Joker to come attack us or anything. I stuck with you through the Court of Owls mess, and I dated you knowing what you about your family drama. I’m not gonna leave you high and dry now.”
They’re not dating anymore. It’s not Bea’s fault, of course. It’s just that remembering everything means that Dick’s had to relive Mirage and Tarantula in vivid detail, and he’s pieced together enough in the mess he calls his brain to know he’s not in a place where he can have a relationship right now. Not when all his past relationships have just come back to him at once.
Not when he finds himself having nightmares about that night on the rooftop after the Blockbuster incident again. Not when the Blockbuster incident itself is fresh in his mind again.
But Bea understands, has been empathetic rather than upset, and that sets her apart from probably every relationship Dick can remember besides Wally, and he loves her even more for it.
A part of him wants to push her away, even. People he’s friends with always seem to get hurt, in the end. He can’t think of a single non-hero friend who hasn’t been hurt because of him. But he needs a friendship like hers, and so he’s too selfish to do it.
“And I appreciate it,” he tells her honestly. “Just, if you are mad at me for something, just let me know so I can…” Can what, apologize? Like he always does to his family, even when they don’t deserve his apologies? Even when he’s the one being hurt by them? When he came to Babs after his circus burned down and she told him she couldn’t deal with him, and he apologized, stayed one night, and left, sleeping under newspapers when his apartment was bombed? When Jason punched him and Tim lectured him after he revealed he’d survived and joined Spiral, not happy he was alive or realizing the hypocrisy of their actions, not caring that Bruce had pummeled him until he agreed to that scheme?
Bruce has punched him before, multiple times. Has stood by while Lex Luthor shoved that pill down his throat to make his heart stop, has beat him and mocked him and belittled him and hardly ever apologized. Dick has so many good memories of the two of them, but the bad ones are more visceral and emotional and inexcusable.
“Of course I will.” She smiles at him. “Communication is how relationships stay healthy, romantic or platonic. You do the same if I ever make you mad, okay?”
“Deal.” He smiles at her, genuinely. She smiles back.
“Has your little brother called, by the way? You said he might.” Dick has told her about Damien, of course. The little brat and little brother was up at the top of his favorite family members list, right next to maybe Cass, who never bothered him and continues to give him his space.
“Yeah, a few times.” Damian will usually call him late at night, obviously after a patrol, sometimes to rant, sometimes just to talk. At first, Dick tried to pretend to be the cheerful older brother Damian was used to, but Damian had seen right through that pretty quick, and so mostly he just listened. It was awkward, at first, but it’s been getting better.
Others have tried to call him too. Tim, Barbara, Bruce. Dick would answer, leave a short message about needing space, and hang up. The only one he stayed on the phone for was Alfred.
Jason hasn’t reached out to him at all.
“That’s good.” Bea sips her coffee. “This is good too, by the way. Anyways, just because they’re your family doesn’t mean you have to support them all the time, especially when it comes to your dad. Don’t let them make you do anything uncomfortable, alright? And if they push, just know that I did try and hit Joker with a baseball bat. I’m not afraid of chewing out some relatives.” Something in Dick’s chest warms at her words.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” As Ric, he was lucky to have her as a partner. As Dick, he’s even luckier to have her as a friend.
Dick moves around a bit, seeing the sights, trying to give himself some normal experiences that most people have, like being a tourist. He’s not interested in being in Gotham, or Metropolis, or even Jump City in California. Eventually, he settles near Boston for a while. And yet, he still finds himself donning the Nightwing costume and fighting crime most nights.
It makes sense. Even as Ric he went out and fought crime, because he couldn’t stand by while others were in danger. Even amnesia couldn’t take that away from him. Now that he’s Dick Grayson again, it’s natural that he pick Nightwing back up.
And yet, the suit sometimes feels uncomfortable, like it was meant to be worn by someone else. Like he doesn’t quite fit into it.
He isn’t Ric anymore, but he often finds he doesn’t really feel like Nightwing. Sometimes, all he knows is that he’s Dick Grayson. But that doesn’t mean he has any clue who Dick Grayson is, or should be. Memories don’t always make the man, it seems. Especially when those memories are so convoluted and jumbled together, like a worn jigsaw. All the puzzle pieces in place, but the pieces are still bent and frayed and torn, and so the picture will never truly be complete.
Or maybe he’s basing all this around the unrealistic expectations his family has set for him. They seem to think Dick Grayson was the perfect son and older brother (even though they criticized him constantly), and yet he remembers nothing of the sort. Just a broken boy trying his best to keep his horribly dysfunctional family together.
Damian calls him, but Cass is the one to visit him first. She rings the doorbell, and Dick lets her in, no questions asked. He remembers the unspoken rule that Cass is left out of any family drama, because she’s never had anything to do with it. Being mad at Cass is impossible, and so he isn’t.
“I like your place,” she says. “It’s cozy.” It really is. Dick could’ve bought something bigger, but this is what he felt he needed. Something cozy, unlike the manor. Something he could completely call his.
“Thanks,” he responds. “I can make coffee?” It comes out as more of a question than he meant it to be. Cass accepts. She makes herself comfortable while he gets their coffees ready, and while it’s silent, it’s not a bad silence. Cass always makes silence comforting, somehow. That’s something he definitely remembers.
He finishes pouring the drinks and hands one to her. “You are angry at us,” she says, after she takes a sip. “At the family.”
“Not you and Damian,” he corrects. “Damian is twelve, I can’t be angry at him for his reactions to this whole mess. And you’ve never given me a reason to be angry with you. Maybe not Stephanie either.” Relief passes across her face at the reassurance. He looks down at his coffee, swirling it around, watching it swish in a spiral pattern. “And not Alfred really. He’s Alfred.”
“But the others,” she presses gently.
“Yeah. Years and years worth of memories containing arguments and grief and being the rock for everyone else while they acted as though I never had any bad feelings of my own all coming in at once can do that.”
He remembers his frustration with Damian when they first started working together, of course. That’s still there as well. But there’s less of it, more of the good memories, and the burning pride when it comes to Damian’s improvement manages to cancel out the frustration. Not to mention the fact that Damian isn’t even a teenager yet. He can’t say the same for the others.
He remembers giving Robin to Damian, trying to explain himself to Tim, who wouldn’t hear of it. As if Robin wasn’t his to give away. He remembers this in tandem with remembering learning that Bruce had replaced him, given his mother’s name to some random kid while Dick was in California with the Titans and couldn’t veto his decision.
At the time he decided to make Damian Robin, he had felt horrible, caught between a rock and a hard place, and giving Damian a chance to break away from his murderous training while giving Tim a chance to fly on his own had seemed the best option. He had hurt at Tim’s anger, looked for ways to make it up to him, all while trying to keep Damian in line, take care of Gotham as Batman, and grieving for Bruce.
Now, with those two separate memories taking up the same space in his not-quite-assembled timeline, he only feels righteous indignation. Robin is his mother’s name for him. He should be able to give it to whoever he damn well pleases.
(He also remembers how when Bruce seemed to be dead, all the evidence pointing that way, Tim had refused point-blank to give up looking. When Dick had appeared dead, with plenty of hints that it wasn’t so, Tim hadn’t looked. Not that Dick remembered, at least.)
Dick pulls himself out of his mess of memories because Cass is still here, and watching him, looking concerned. “Sorry. It’s still a bit overwhelming sometimes.”
“The memories?” She guesses. There’s no pity or judgement, just understanding. Dick loves his sister.
“Yeah. There’s a lot to sort out. Put in place.” He tries for a laugh, like he used to, and it feels far too hollow. Funny, he remembers being a better actor than this. “It all came back at once, so it’s kinda disjointed in here.” He points to his brain. “I guess I’m still working on snapping the pieces together.”
“And the emotions?”
“And the emotions for them,” he agrees. “A lot of what are obviously old hurts feel really raw, and they’re all together. So yeah, I guess I’m angry at our family. I’m pissed, actually.” He laughs again, and it sounds bitter. More like Ric. “Sorry, didn’t mean to unload.”
Cass’ eyes are sad. “You need to unload to someone.”
“I have someone,” he protests.
“Damian doesn’t count. We both know you refuse to put your troubles onto him. It’s a good thing, but it means he doesn’t count.” She’s right, of course. Even as messed up as he is, Dick won’t ever force his problems onto Damian if he can help it. Not like Bruce did with him.
“I didn’t mean him. I have Bea, a friend I met when I was Ric. We’re still good friends. She knows about all this, and she’s a good listener.” Plus, Cass is still part of the family. He doesn’t want to unload onto her, and then have her think about it when she goes back to them. He knows she can handle it, but he doesn’t want her to have to handle it. Not because of him.
Cass smiles. “I’m happy for you. It’s good to know some good came out of this.”
No one has implied anything good came out of Ric before. Dick doesn’t know how to respond without breaking down. Cass hugs him, and he hugs back, and the affectionate gesture finally feels at least a little genuine again.
“You have a nice sister,” Bea comments one day. They’re sitting outside at a café in Boston, talking about everything and nothing, when she brings this up. Dick looks at her, surprised. “She contacted me last night. Thanked me for being your friend and listening. I thought you’d want to know.”
“Yeah.” He really isn’t too surprised. His family’s never really cared about the concept of privacy, after all. “Thanks for telling me. And yeah, Cass is really cool.”
She quirks an eyebrow. “Cass?”
“Short for Cassandra.” He shrugs lightly. “Everyone calls her Cass though. You know, I think you two would get along.” Bea has a sort of calming presence while also taking no bullshit, and he’s pretty sure Cass would like her a lot.
“Maybe I’ll text her back and invite her to lunch.” Her tone is joking, but her expression shows there’s at least something serious in her words.
“You should,” he encourages. He’s pretty sure his smile is real as he says this. “You could both come over and steal my food together, instead of doing it separately.” Cass hasn’t stolen anything at his new place yet, but it’s really only a matter of time. Bea laughs.
“I’m glad you have at least some people in your family who are good to you.” Which is something, really. She must see his face fall, because she continues. “Not that you need to look for the good in everyone, of course. It’s okay to be pissed. You can even hate them if you want. Or you can forgive them, but it’s your choice.”
Hate, huh? “I don’t hate them,” he admits. “Or if I do, I love them just as much. I think when everything falls into place more, I’ll figure out what to do.”
A large part of him feels guilty, for staying away. He should be at home, helping everyone with their problems that they’re undoubtedly having, reassuring them that he’ll always be there for them as their older brother and friend and son.
But he’s been told repeatedly that his help isn’t appreciated. He’s been brushed off and snapped at and hurt and punched when he’s tried. Dick Grayson always tries to help his family. Dick Grayson is tired of trying.
For once in his life, he’s going to try and put himself and his own health first.
Wally comes to visit one day.
Dick knows that many in the Justice League have been off world on an important mission during much of the months he spent as Ric. Wally probably hasn’t even heard that he got shot in the head before now.
He probably only bothers to knock because Dick hasn’t given him a key to his new place. He’s a bit surprised Wally didn’t just knock down the door. He doesn’t want to worry about having to replace it though, so he’s glad his friend didn’t try that.
Wally’s bouncing on tips of his toes, worry wafting off of him. Dick opens the door and immediately gets wrapped in a huge hug.
“I just heard.” Wally’s voice is muffled by his arms and chest. “About you getting shot, and losing your memories, and the Court of Owls, and everything else. God Dick, I’m so sorry. If I’d known, I swear-”
“Yeah.” Dick doesn’t let his old friend wallow in pity, because that’s Dick’s job, from what he remembers. He reluctantly breaks away from the hug. “Come on in. Bea and Cass just raided my food stores and I haven’t been to the grocery store in a couple weeks, but I have cereal, if you’re interested.”
“Course you do,” Wally laughs, and something inside Dick twists painfully. He lets Wally in and after stopping to grab some cereal, they head to the living room.
Wally flops down onto the couch, and Dick sits in his comfiest chair, waiting for Wally to say something. His friend seems to study him, and as he does, the lighthearted expression falls from his face, and he looks seriously concerned.
“How are you holding up? Are you feeling okay?” Wally shakes his head. “Scratch that, of course you’re not. But right now, are you doing alright?”
Wally doesn’t make it about him. So many people make Dick’s problems about them, how they’re hurt by him not being as perfect as he is in their minds, and Wally doesn’t do that.
“I don’t know,” he admits. “It’s nice talking to Bea and Cass and Damian, and now you too. But I’m not…”
The thing about Wally is that he and Roy and Donna are Dick’s oldest friends. And even when he had a falling out with Roy, even though he and Donna haven’t talked in a while, Wally has always been there unless he physically can’t. Dick can tell those three anything, and right now, Wally is here, asking.
“I’m not okay,” he finally admits, unable to raise his voice from a whisper. “I want to be happy, and cheerful, and the person that everyone seems to love. I want to be a part of the family again, to be the family member everyone can count on. But I can’t. I can’t get over this, I can’t get over Ric, I can’t get over anything. I’ve bounced back from so much, I know that. I remember that. Why can’t I bounce back from this?”
“I think it’s pretty obvious.” Dick looks up at him. “You’ve dealt with a lot of trauma, and let’s be real, you’ve dealt with most of it by just tucking it away and pretending it doesn’t exist. But now all those traumatic things have come to you at once, and so you can’t tuck it away, and it’s overwhelming. You’ve been through some messed up shit, Dick. We all have. Having to relieve every single bit of it all over again is fucking you up.”
Dick blinks at him. “It sounds so obvious when you put it that way.”
“That’s what I’m here for, isn’t it?” Wally puffs out his chest playfully. “To point out the obvious that your super smart mind runs right past. It’s why we make such a good team.”
“Yeah.” It doesn’t make things automatically better, but having his issues spelled out for him does give Dick the sense that he’s going in the right direction. “Also, was that a pun? It was terrible.”
“You have absolutely no room to talk!”
“Father misses you, you know,” Damian says one night, as the two of them are talking. Dick has just gotten back from his own patrol. He’s taken a part time job at a flower shop during the day, not because he needs the money, but for something to do, to keep himself busy. Damian’s been calling more often recently, and Dick wonders if Bruce is just becoming more and more unbearable.
“Sorry you have to deal with that, Dami.” He remembers hearing from the others that Bruce is a lot worse when he’s not around. Before Ric, that would be his cue to go back to Gotham for a bit and head off the brewing drama. “If you want, you can stay here for a bit.”
Dick refuses to be Bruce’s punching bag again. He may be a disaster, but he’s been trying to build up a bit more self-respect, and he doesn’t doubt that Bruce will tear it down without even realizing.
“I’m fine for now, but I might take you up on that offer soon.” Dick smiles at the phone. It’s such a stark contrast to his memories of Damian as closed off, angry, and infuriating. Hearing him express himself has helped Dick to start putting those more frustrating memories back in their rightful place. “It’s not just that though. I think he misses you in the regular way, not just the Father way. Drake misses you too, of course. He’s always moping, and it’s obvious why.”
What can Dick say to that? What would he have said before?
Go back and apologize and have everything go back to the way it was, probably?
What would Bea advise him to do?
She’d probably tell him that his family being sad doesn’t make what they did better. She’s probably right.
Dick should go back and try and make things better. Dick isn’t going to. He’s going to stay out here and live his life and not get back into old bad habits.
But he doesn’t want to tell Damian that. So instead he says: “I’ll think about coming to see them. No promises. But again, my door’s always open for you.”
It’s something he would’ve said before he got shot in the head. Dick hopes that means he’s improving.
Tim shows up at his door, wanting to talk. Dick lets him in, to hear him out.
“We need you back,” Tim says, with barely a hello, and Dick can feel the walls around his heart shutting down, the anger rising. “Bruce needs you back. I know you’re recovering, but-”
“I don’t care if Bruce needs me or not,” Dick says flatly, and Tim shuts up, eyes wide. “I’m not going back. Not for a very long time. Not after everything. Sorry Tim.”
“How can you say that?” Tim looks honestly floored. Dick can’t really blame him much, because he might’ve said something like that half a dozen times before, but they both knew he never really meant it. Not like he does now. “You were gone for months! We needed you, and you weren’t there, and now you’re finally back, but you won’t even try to help?” There’s some of that old anger in Tim’s eyes, old wounds that didn’t really close. “What the hell, Dick?”
“I wasn’t really gone,” Dick reminds him. “You all knew where I was. You could’ve come to see me at any time.”
Tim flinches. “It wasn’t the same. You weren’t yourself. You weren’t Dick.”
“No, but I was still your brother, wasn’t I?” The bitterness is leaking into his voice now, and Dick almost feels a bit like Ric again. “So you had a reason to come see me, or even help me figure things out. But I wasn’t Dick Grayson, so none of you did. Can’t be bothered when it’s me who’s in trouble, right?”
“That’s not true!” Now Tim looks a little mad. “We did try and help! We wanted you to be yourself again! You refused! Do you even remember what you were like? You were a massive dick who denied that Dick Grayson existed anymore and pushed everyone away. You can’t just come back and say things like that now that it’s all over. You weren’t the one who had to deal with all that.”
“Remind me, who was the one with the memory loss here? I had to deal with it more than all of you. And let’s not pretend Bruce isn’t a huge dick who pushes everyone away. Matter of fact, let’s not pretend Jason doesn’t do the same as well.” There’s an awful rush of satisfaction, letting the words fall out. He feels sick to his stomach and elated at the same time. “I’m tired of having my feelings pushed away for the greater good.”
His younger brother goes cold. “Funny. You don’t seem to mind pushing other people’s feelings away for the greater good.”
And there it is. “Is this about Robin? Because maybe I’m remembering it wrong, but I can give my family’s colors and my mother’s nickname for me to whomever I want.”
Tim looks horrified, and Dick thinks he might’ve gone too far. But letting people know that Robin is his is such a large weight off his shoulders.
“I’m not perfect. I can’t solve everyone’s problems. I can’t always be your cheerful older brother who tries to make everyone get along and fix all of this family’s problems,” he finishes flatly. “I was Ric Grayson, and just because you want to pretend that didn’t exist doesn’t make it go away, and won’t make me go back to before. We can pretend he was someone else all we want, but at the end of the day, a part of that was still me. If you can’t accept that, leave and come back when you can.”
Dick calls Cass at 1 o’clock that night. “Cass, I fucked up.”
“Oh?” Such a simple word for such a bad situation. Dick tells her what happened, making sure he doesn’t sugarcoat his own actions.
“I heard a bit about it already,” she admits. “Tim was in tears.” Dick feels like he wants to throw up.
Had he really said those things? (Yes, he did.) Had he meant them? (Pretty much every word.) “I feel like shit for doing that. He’s my younger brother, and I shouldn’t - shouldn’t take everything out on him. But I think that maybe it’s worse that I meant what I said.”
He hears someone else talking from Cass’ end of the phone. “Bea, and Stephanie are here,” she explains. “It’s nice to have a friend who isn’t a cape but understands. She says it was your delivery that was wrong. I agree.”
Dick winces. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
“You can’t take it back.” Cass says bluntly. “You can just move forward.” There’s talking on the other end. “Stephanie wants to talk. Can I press speaker?”
Dick thinks for a moment. “Sure.”
Sure enough, Stephanie’s voice rings out from the other end. “I’ll talk with Tim, don’t worry about it. He’ll need time to stew, he always does, but he’ll think it through and come back, and you can apologize then, and talk it over like civilized people.”
“Just don’t apologize for everything,” Bea adds. “If you meant your words, make sure he knows that. Otherwise it might just go back to before, and I think you don’t want that.”
She’s right. They’re both right. And maybe part of the reason things never totally got resolved between them is because Dick came running to Tim while the other boy was still stewing, and apologized for everything, even the words he said.
“Also, mind if I come over and say hi sometimes? It would be fun to hang out again.”
Dick considers Stephanie’s words for only a moment. “It would be fun. Thank you for doing this. And all of you for listening.”
“Of course.” Dick still feels awful, but a little better than before.
“I was assaulted, you know. Sexually, I mean. Twice.”
Dicks resting on the couch next to him, and the two of them have finished watching some dumb movie. It’s hard to say those words, and he can’t even bring himself to call it rape, but he’s been having trouble sleeping at night or reacting well to contact since remembering, and maybe - maybe he can trust Wally with this.
“Who? When?” Wally’s voice is low and angry. Dick swallows.
“Well. I mean. First there was Mirage. You weren’t there, but it was with the Titans, and it was really complicated, but she, ah, made herself look like Kori. I thought I was sleeping with Kori.” He can see Wally wince.
“She took advantage of you, essentially,” Wally summarizes.
“A lot of people do.” He thinks of all the lewd and uncomfortable comments he’s gotten over the years, since he was around sixteen, all the people invading his personal space. “She just went even further.”
“That’s horrible. I can’t believe someone did that to you.” A harsh breath finally leaves Dick’s body, because oh, Wally’s mad for him, not at him. “But you had the Titans who were there to help?”
Dick shrugs uncomfortably. “Not really. I got called a slut. Kori was pissed and broke up with me. Everyone said I should’ve known the difference. Maybe they’re right.”
“They’re not,” Wally snaps. “They’re not, that’s awful. God, no wonder you’ve been hanging around the Titans less lately. Were we even eighteen back then?”
Dick doesn’t want to think about it. Sometimes he still mixes up the ages of memories in his brain, so he can’t really confirm anyways. “The second time was a lot more recent. Right after Blockbuster died. That night I mean.”
Wally knows. He knows about Blockbuster, and he knows a little bit about Catalina Flores.
“It’s not as though I fought her, or anything. I just told her to get off-”
“You don’t need to tell me anything you’re uncomfortable with.” Wally’s face is pained. “Barbara was pissed at you then, wasn’t she? Did she know-?”
“No. I never told anyone. Not after I was blamed for it the first time.” He sighs. “I can’t hold it against them. I never told them.”
“Yeah,” Wally agrees. He sounds hollow. “Dick, why didn’t you tell me though? Did you think I wouldn’t stand by you?”
Dick slumps down further on the couch. “Kori never looked at me the same. Barbara thought I was basically cheating on her with a villain, and she didn’t look at me the same either. I didn’t want you to look at me differently too.”
Because he’s had lots of romantic partners, including Bea, but Barbara, Kori, and Wally are the ones he’s always felt the most drawn to, the most in love with, even if the first two didn’t end up working out and he and Wally never got farther than small kisses when they were young. He couldn’t bear to let down Wally the way he did the other two.
“I would never,” Wally promises. “It wasn’t your fault, Dick. Neither time was your fault. You were the victim, and it was wrong, and everyone should’ve stood by you. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you then, but I promise if you ever need to talk now, I’ll listen.”
Dick, to his utter embarrassment, breaks down. Wally holds him as he cries.
It doesn’t hurt as much afterwards.
Jason is in his house.
“Hey there, Dickiebird. Nice place you got here.” He’s leaning on the counter like an asshole, of course. “Heard you made Tim cry. Didn’t think you had it in you.”
Dick sighs. Unlike with Tim, Jason is an adult, and dishes out far more than he takes. He’s not even as angry now that he’s gotten everything out of him, even if he’s still kicking himself for how it happened. Now he’s just tired. “Jason, what do you want? Why are you here?”
“I can’t say hi after you finally unfucked yourself? Rude.” At least he’s not smoking right now. Dick would’ve kicked him out. “You’re always inviting yourself where you’re not wanted, after all.”
“Does it look like I’ve been doing anything like that recently?” Dick snaps back. “Either you’re here to drag me back to Gotham for something, or you need my help with something. You hardly ever come see me otherwise, and if it was about my memories, you would’ve come already. So out with it.”
“Wow.” Jason stands up straighter, hurtful humor mostly gone. He’s a lot taller than Dick. “You know, with everything that happened, I thought I might be losing my reason to be pissed at you. You were the opposite of your usual annoying golden boy self, after all. But then you come back, and you snap at everyone and make the replacement cry.”
“You never needed a reason to be angry at me, Jason.” Dick says coolly. “You’d use any and every excuse to do so. Where did this start? Bruce making me fake my death? Being too “perfect” of a son and brother? Not being a good enough brother? Was it Robin?”
That makes Jason pause. “I heard what the Robin name means from the rest of the family. Your family name, huh?”
“Yeah. I wasn’t too pleased that Bruce would take my name and colors, knowing what they meant to me, and give it to someone else without my permission.” Dick leans against his counter as well. There’s a long silence between them.
Jason lets out an exasperated sigh. “Once you really get back to being your usual golden boy self, you’re gonna be kicking yourself for getting pissy like this. We both know that. Everyone knows that.”
“The problem with that logic is you assume everything will go back to normal,” Dick points out. “And that I was ever any sort of golden boy. Do you know how many times Bruce smacked me around? I might not have all my memories sorted out, but I was already fucked up back then. I was just better at hiding it.”
“I’m not going to apologize anymore, Jason. Not unless I’ve actually messed up. And I’m not making excuses for your actions anymore. I’m tired of making excuses for everyone’s actions. I’m tired of trying and trying when you make me feel like shit so often. I’m sick of being shot at when you have an off day.” He turns away. “So this is an ultimatum: shape up or we’re done. If you don’t want to be brothers, that’s fine. If you do, you’re going to need to meet me halfway.”
Jason gapes at him. “You’re serious.”
“I am.” He refuses to back down.
Jason looks away first. “Guess being Ric really did have some lasting effects. Whatever. We’ll see how long that stance really lasts.”
“If you don’t mind, if I ever call you saying I feel really bad about pushing Jason away, remind me that he’s pushed himself away, and if I keep running back to him, nothing will change.”
One time, when he and Cass have agreed to patrol together, he waits until the end of the night to ask the question that’s been on his mind for a while. “Do you really not mind? That I’m not as good at being a brother as I used to be. That I’m still different than before, even though my memories are back?”
They watch the traffic below. “I am not the same as I was when I came to the manor,” Cass eventually says. “Tim is not the same as he was. Jason is not the same. Damian is very different. I still love all of them. You love me even though I’ve changed.”
Something must be caught in his throat, because he can’t find the words to respond. Cass looks at him with a soft smile.
“People change. I still love you. You are still Dick Grayson, even if you’re not exactly as you were before.”
And that, Dick thinks, is exactly what he needed to hear.
The suit doesn't feel as wrong on him as it did before.
Dick opens the door and looks down at Tim. The expression on his younger brother’s face reminds him uncomfortably of his own, when he’s gone to apologize to his siblings before. He doesn’t want to make that expression again, but he wants to see it on others even less, especially because of him.
But maybe that can end here. Maybe they can finally break the cycle and start moving forwards in the right direction.
“Hey, Dick.” Tim sounds nervous. “Can we talk?”
Dick finds himself smiling, and it strikes him suddenly, how much he feels like himself in this moment. “Of course. Come on in.”