All He Could Do Was Break

by Lara Wilson

He stood, still and silent, eyes behind opaque lenses unblinking as he stared through the small plexiglass window embedded with a criss-cross of wire. The door itself was riveted steel--bolted with three bolts and a keypad lock to prevent easy ingress and no egress.

The doors in this place routinely failed to constrain the inhabitants of each small room.

In this instance, though...

There was no movement from the person on the other side of the door. The floors and walls were padded, the padding a dingy gray from time and use, but the man crouched against the far wall had made no move to harm himself or try to escape. The padding was unnecessary but he had requested it.

Just in case.

The straightjacket was unnecessary, too, but he knew if anyone could get out of this locked room, it would be the broken man on the other side of the plexiglass.

If he thought to do so.

He felt a familiar presence come up on his right but didn't turn, didn't look away from the still, crouched figure.

"I came as soon as..." The stammering broke off, returning with a tinge of surprise. "They left on the mask?"

"Yes."

"Why?'

"Professional courtesy." Still, he didn't look away, even though he could hear the confusion in his companion's voice.

"So, he's in here as..."

"Yes."

A soft exhale of sorrowed breath, and he could acknowledge the pain in the younger man while ignoring it in himself.

"What happened?"

"He broke."

He could almost hear the roll of eyes but didn't draw his own from the interior of the room.

"And this is the best help you could get him?"

That was anger. Anger felt good but he couldn't give into it.

"Yes. He's catatonic. They can help him here."

"Here is a place for criminals." Voice raised, biting with that anger, and hearing that felt good. It was good that one of them could show the emotions they both felt.

"He'll be safe, cared for. I...couldn't help him any other way." The admission hurt for a moment, but he pushed the pain aside, his focus never wavering.

Movement and the younger man brushed against the cape to look closer through the small window. "He's not moving. He's no danger to himself. You could have cared for him at...home."

Silence for a moment and then the hard truth. "I couldn't allow myself that distraction."

"He's your son." The anger became fury, the voice still biting yet so much colder.

Finally, he looked away from one son to another, and lied because he couldn't do otherwise. "Robin is no one's son."

Batman moved, starting past Nightwing, but then stopped and placed one, hesitant hand on his slumped shoulder. "But, he does have a brother who loves him. I'm as broken as he is, but you...you can help him."

And then he was gone, and Dick moved into his place, his eyes locked through the window on Tim. "Little Brother, don't do this," he whispered, tears slipping from beneath his mask.

End

A/N: Lisa made a comment somewhere that if Tim kept losing people, he'd end up in Arkham. It just had to be written.

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