"Where is it?"
Slowly Tim turned his desk chair to face the door to his room, his face impassive, his mind going over a dozen different answers.
Face tight with tension, Dick closed the door behind him and walked across the room to perch on the corner of Tim's desk. "Where is it, Tim? Where's the gun?"
He didn't try to deny it--he didn't even wonder how Dick had found out because superheroes, even the Titans, really were the biggest gossips in the world--he simply opened the second drawer and took out the gun, handing it to Dick. Their eyes met and Tim hoped his remained cool. Dick's were burning.
"Why did you keep it?" the older man bit out, checking the chamber, and cursing at finding it loaded. He emptied it, pocketing the bullets, then jammed the gun into the inside pocket of his jacket. "Why the fuck is it loaded?" he exploded.
"We don't have any young children in the house. There was no danger."
"Bullshit! There's a danger to you. You put this fucking thing to your head, Tim. You were going to pull the trigger."
There was no reason to deny that, either. "Yes."
"Have you finally lost it?" Jumping up, Dick started to pace, and Tim turned again to watch him, resisting the desire to cross his arms over his chest in a defensive posture.
"No. It was a logical action to prevent that future. It couldn't be if I died now. No cloning my dead friends. No becoming a twisted version of Batman."
Dick stopped and shot him a furious, frightened look. "You think you were sacrificing yourself for the greater good?"
"It's what we were raised to do," Tim explained calmly but inside he was beginning to grow just a tiny bit nervous and sweat was forming at the nape of his neck. "I was in control. There was a very high probability he would back down, and he did."
"And if he hadn't?"
Silence fell for a moment, and Tim couldn't keep his eyes locked on Dick's frantic ones. "I would have done what was necessary. As you said, sacrificed myself."
"That's not sacrifice. It's the easy way out. Why did you keep the gun, Tim."
Unconsciously Tim licked his lips, his nerves now on edge. "It's a useful tool."
"It's a loaded gun in a teenage boy's room. You know what that means. You know..." Dick's voice choked off and he grabbed Tim, dragging him out of the chair, his fingers tight and bruising on his upper arms. "I thought we were past this. I thought you were doing better."
Tim didn't struggle. He also didn't look up, focusing instead on Dick's throat, watching him swallow convulsively. "I am."
"Bullshit! You're one step closer to killing yourself. You have the means. Now all you need is the opportunity."
"I had the means. You just took it away from me. That doesn't mean I'd do it."
Dick shook him, hard, trying to drive some emotion from the younger man. "Dammit! I've been where you are, so lost and confused. It may be too hard to pull the trigger but how easy is it to miss a jump line or duck a second too late? I won't let you kill yourself!"
"I'm not going to kill myself." Tim tried to give Dick a reassuring smile, tried to lighten the tone of his voice, but knew he failed when Dick shook him again.
"I don't believe you."
That sounded so hurt it made his own heart thump painfully. "Dick..."
Dick released him and stepped back, breathing hard, misery tightening every muscle in his body. "How do I help you?"
Anger flared in Tim, but he kept it from his face, only his voice going hard. "Jesus, Dick, you have me fitted out for a body bag! I'm not planning suicide. If I die in the line of duty, well I certainly won't be the first Robin. We all know the risks. I'm careful, I swear I'm careful."
"I'm getting Bruce to ground you."
Panic made the younger man reach out and stop the older from leaving. "No, Dick, no. I need to be out there. I'll be careful, you have to believe me. I won't do something stupid."
Dick placed one hand atop the one on his arm and squeezed gently. "You're too good a liar, Timmy."
Tim jerked away. "You used to believe me anyway."
"You used to smile," Dick said sadly and this time when he turned away, Tim let him go.
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