Just Like You: part 4/?
Summary: Tim-as-Robin nearly kills a man on patrol. This is a story about repercussions.
Characters: Tim, Bruce, Dick, Alfred. Later appearance of Kon and maybe Bart.
Bruce doesn’t take him on patrol the next night, or the one after that.
Tim spends his days hunched in the Cave, doing research and typing up case reports and generally trying to make himself helpful. (–and it isn’t until Alfred brings him another cup of tea that Tim realises he’s been down here for more than 12 hours and his eyes are blurring so badly he can barely read the screen– but he’ll do anything so Bruce can stand to look at him again–)
Tonight, optimistically, Tim has put on his costume when he goes to meet Bruce in the Cave. He’s barely been home since it happened, but Tim isn’t sure if his mentor is actively avoiding him, or if he really has just been busy.
He swallows at the door, feels the prickle of sweat under his gloves. He smooths back his hair in a (–weak–) nervous gesture and squares his shoulders. Then he descends the stairs.
“Not tonight, Tim,” says Bruce, without turning around. Tim drops his gaze to the floor and leans against the banister, a muscle working in his jaw. “Fine,” he says, as tonelessly as he can manage.
Bruce glances back at him. “Maybe tomorrow,” he says.
“You don’t mean that,” says Tim, surprising himself.
Bruce straightens from the console, turning around very slowly. “Excuse me?”
“If you don’t intend on letting me patrol anymore, at least have the decency to say so.” Bruce is staring at him and Tim’s face is hot and his heart is beating painfully (–oh my God he is saying this to Bruce, why can’t he just stop–) but now he’s on a roll; “You know, if it takes just one stupid slip-up, one mistake for our so-called partnership to fall apart, then I guess you’ve never really trusted me.”
Bruce’s expression doesn’t change. “I’m not going to have this conversation with you, Tim.”
Tim laughs and it’s sharp, bitter. “There’s a surprise. Bruce Wayne choosing ‘passive-aggressive’ over actual conflict resolution.”
Bruce goes to speak, warning in his eyes– and Tim interrupts. His heart is hammering so fast he worries he might pass out. But he raises his voice over the thundering of his own heartbeat.
“It was a mistake, you know. I didn’t want to hurt that guy, I swear to God I didn’t,” Tim continues, his throat tightening. “But I also didn’t want to be the second Robin you had to lose. I didn’t want that on my conscience.” Tim works enough saliva into his mouth to swallow. “That’s what it came down to, Bruce. It was him or me. And I made the right call.”
Bruce’s expression changes. Minute shifts, until it’s something unrecognisable. Before Tim can even guess at deciphering it, Bruce turns back to the monitor. “Just… not tonight, Tim.”
When Tim doesn’t move, stands stock still at the foot of the stairs, Bruce speaks again. “You can go now.”
Tim lets out a slow, rattling breath. “Screw you, Bruce.” Calm. Sincere.
And he turns and walks out.
He ignores the overwhelming silence that should be Bruce calling him back.
If he were anyone else, he would have stuffed some of his belongings in a bag and left.
As he’s Tim Drake, however, he empties his schoolbag neatly onto his desk, then sets it on the bed. Dialling Dick with one hand, he slides off his gloves, then boots. Barefoot, he moves over to the wardrobe, where he selects a few nondescript items of clothing (deliberately avoiding the ones he knows Bruce has bugged, because okay yeah he’s the World’s Greatest Detective but that’s no reason to make it easy for him), and tosses them onto the bed.
“Hello admirer,” Dick’s voice, warm and amused. “I’m not in just now, but–”
Tim hits redial.
He folds the clothes carefully, but they’re not right so he unfolds them and folds them again (much better). He packs them into the empty schoolbag, along with two carefully chosen books and some overdue homework.
“Hello admirer, I–” Tim hangs up and drops the phone onto the bed. He runs a han– he catches himself before he can run a hand through his hair, because goodness knows he’s followed enough of his weak stupid human instincts tonight already and oh god what did he just do?
He’s shaking with rage and something else as he strips off the (–his–) Robin suit, substituting it for his warmest civilian clothes. Gotham is cold at night. He adds a cap and some trainers, slinging the bag over his shoulder and turning off the lights.
He leaves the suit folded at the end of the bed.