His Little Brother

by Lara Wilson

It was a phone call from Rose that made him realize Tim needed him far more than New York needed Nightwing. He commandeered a jet from Wayne Enterprises and was in San Francisco in the early hours of the morning. A quick hello to Vic, the only Titan apparently awake, and he went straight to Tim's room.

The lock was bypassed with ease and the door slid silently open, revealing shades pulled against the dawn and a figure sitting on the end of the bed.

Tim lifted his head from his hands and blinked blearily into the light from the hallway. "Under five hours since she called you. Impressive."

Frowning, Dick flipped the light switch and closed the door, then peeled off his mask and tossed it on the floor. "How'd you know?"

"I'm a control freak, remember?" Tim gave him a look, then sighed heavily. "I'm fine, Dick. She shouldn't have called you."

"If anyone knows self-destructive behavior, it's Rose."

"It was a bluff."

"Was it?" Dick felt his heart thud heavily in his chest as Rose's clipped, yet concerned comments replayed in his head. 'Tim threatened to kill himself to keep from turning into a Batman worse than daddy. He held a loaded gun to his head.

Come fix him.'

"I knew I wouldn't allow myself to die. That version of me, twisted, no moral center, wanted to live."

"I don't care about him. What about you, Timmy?"

Tim looked up, his expression unreadable behind the damn mask. "I want to live. Sorry if that's not said as melodramatically as you'd like."

Dick frowned at the sarcasm and pulled up the desk chair, sitting across from Tim. "Take off the mask. Why do you wear it in here?"

"I'm Robin in here. I'm always Robin."

"I wasn't, not at the Tower. It was our haven, our home."

"Your Titans were different than mine."

"Titans are always family, and you shouldn't hide your identity from family."

Tim snorted. "You know how good at that I am."

"Take off the mask," he repeated.

Tim did, blinking into the light of the room, his eyes a pale, tired blue rimmed with red. "If you were really concerned you could come home once in a while, say 'hi'."

"I...yeah, I should. After so many months together on the road with Bruce, I just wanted some time to rebuild my life, but seeing you only in the middle of battle isn't enough."

Tim shrugged. "I saw you more when I was living with dad and keeping the secret from everyone, but I'm not a kid. I know your busy. We're all busy."

"We should never be too busy for each other." Dick sighed and rubbed a tired hand over his face. "We were so close when we were overseas. I shouldn't have let that slip away."

"I didn't make an effort either. I think it's a Bat thing."

Dick nearly smiled at that. "Probably."

"Plus you were being incredibly stupid with the Outsiders."

"There was that, too. Majorly fucked that up."

Another shrug. "I don't know. It's a good idea, but more my style than yours." Leaning forward with his elbows on his knee, Tim added a bit sadly, "I always said I wouldn't do this forever and wouldn't become Batman. I think it's inevitable now. I'm too like him and I can't give this up."

"I'm Batman's heir."

"Come on, Dick. You hate wearing the cowl. It's not you. You don't skulk or brood--well, not when you're in your right mind. You're all laughter and light. You've made Nightwing your own."

"And you haven't made Robin yours?"

And still another shrug. "I guess."

"Definitely, kiddo. I never even dared to change the short pants." Dick shot his brother a grin and was pleased to see it faintly returned. "How about I start coming home every couple weeks for a weekend or a nightly patrol? I don't have a team anymore and my job is only part time."

"You have a job?"

"We really have been out of touch. You haven't gotten married, have you?" He smiled when Tim chuckled and shook his head.

"I think Bruce would frown on that. He did let me join the tennis team, though."

"Wow. He's mellowing in his old age."

"The trip really did the most for him. I don't...I don't think I would have let the old Bruce adopt me. Um...we haven't actually talked about that. Are you okay with it?"

"Huh?" Dick was actually surprised, then flushed as he remembered his really poor reaction to Jason's adoption. "Hell, yes. I've thought of you as my little brother for years. Now it's just official. I was kind of surprised you agreed, but glad you did."

"Good."

"You know, you're still really good at distracting me, kiddo. We're not done talking about the gun."

Tim rolled his eyes and sighed again. "Can it wait until after some sleep and breakfast?"

"Why are you awake?"

"I was waiting for you."

"Oh, right. You're a control freak." A sight smile creased his face. "Okay, sleep and food, and then how about I fly you home and we have a really good talk."

"I'd...like that." Tim rose and stretched. "But I'm not suicidal."

"Good. It's not a happy place to be." Dick rose as well, shaking off his own dark thoughts then hugged Tim tightly. "Another Bat trait we both should try to buck."

Tim sank against his older brother and closed his eyes against the sudden influx of comfort and relief.

Maybe Rose hadn't been wrong after all.

End

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