The surveillance agents in Gotham have conveyed that the young Robin has become even more aggressive. There had been a period of time when he had seemed to calm slightly; he was still harsh on criminals and brusque with everyone else, but over time, had grown less reckless and needlessly destructive.
All of that seems to have been reversed again, though, with the disappearance of Red Robin.
He left without a word. He didn’t tell them where he was going, or even that he was leaving at all, because they would have tried to stop him, not understanding why he had to do it. They would have insisted that they could have done something else, that it didn’t have to happen this way.
They would have been wrong.
Not telling his family wasn’t part of the deal; it was Tim’s own choice, and Ra’s would not stop him. After all, it would only benefit both of them.
Tim is fairly sure that his family can work it out. They are some of the world’s greatest detectives.
They all, of course, have an idea of who took Tim. And of course, they are right. But there is not enough cause to go to war with Ra’s al Ghul – under any other circumstances, of course they would fight for Tim, but both Bruce and Dick realize what Damian refuses to understand.
That Tim did this for them.
But when the others stop looking, Damian does not. He persists despite their assurances that it is best left alone, but he cannot accept that Timothy is best left alone with his grandfather. His grandfather, who had been so determined to take Damian’s body as his own, and who has so recently turned his attentions to Timothy.
Damian grows more desperate than he ever has. So he calls his mother.
Talia is reluctant to help – but at the moment, her loyalty lies closer with her son than her father. She loves her son, and she can see that he loves the detective boy, and she directs her son to the next time and place that Drake will be alone for a few hours.
It will be good for Damian to learn what heartbreak feels like.
Still, Talia watches him go with some regret. She can see the hope in his eyes, his determination to bring Timothy home. She knows that this desire, he will not be able to gain, and his hope will be crushed.
Tim has been expecting this for some time. Still, Damian is not somebody he wished to face again. The others, he knows understands. But Damian is too stubborn.
His fierce, insistent – man, now; he remembers the day he woke up and realized how Damian had grown.
In the past six months, Tim has grown to recognize the similarities between Damian and Ra’s. Their sly and obstinate ways; how they both pursued Tim relentlessly – although Ra’s is often more subtle than Damian ever was. And contrasting with this, their somewhat traditional way of courting Tim.
“Has he harmed you?” Damian checks Tim’s skin, his arms, his face, for any marks – Tim is paler than usual, but other than that, he appears uninjured.
“I’m fine, Damian.” Tim turns away from the younger man’s touch, pressing his lips together. “How are the others? Are Dick and Bruce and Alfred well?”
“They are,” Damian says bitterly.
“I will not be well until you come home.”
Damian still does not understand, Tim realizes sadly. “I’m not going back with you, Damian.”
“Why not?” Damian demands. “You need to come home. To me, beloved.”
Tim shakes his head. “I can’t.”
“What is he holding over you?” Shaking his head furiously, Damian spits, “It does not matter, Timothy. We can keep you safe.”
“I can keep myself safe. But this is the only way that I can keep you safe.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Ra’s and I made a deal, Damian. Your safety in exchange for...me.”
Damian looks horrified, and Tim could almost smile at his complete obliviousness to how much Tim would give for him.
“Why would you do that?”
“Because I love you,” Tim says simply. “Because Ra’s was not going to give up, and this was the only way I could save you.”
“I don’t need saving, Timothy!” Damian hisses. “I don’t need you to protect me!”
“I don’t need that from you either, Damian.” Tim smiles sadly. “And I cannot leave, otherwise Ra’s will kill you.”
Tim’s seeming indifference only makes Damian angrier. His refusal to fight. Damian had spent so long tearing down Tim’s cold walls, but being with Ra’s has rebuilt them, and Damian can’t see a trace of Tim’s passion.
“If you cannot leave with me now, then I will make my grandfather let you go,” Damian swears, and he is gone before Tim can stop him.
Ra’s, too, has been expecting his grandson, and he is completely prepared for the young man’s fury and hate, directed all at him. But he can only take the screaming and the disrespect for so long before his spite emerges.
“Timothy may have left you to protect you,” Ra’s spits, “but he stays for me.”
“You’re lying,” Damian says instantly. “You let him go, and you can have my life. I do not care.”
Ra’s just laughs. “He told you that I would kill you if he left me? And you believed it. How...simple.”
Damian just narrows his eyes and waits for Ra’s to continue.
“I would not kill you, grandson. I might still need you for something. True, I did promise Timothy that if he stayed with me, I would not harm you, and I will keep by my word. But Timothy does not stay for fear of your life. He stays because he loves me.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Damian snarls.
“He does not love you,” Ra’s goes on, ruthless. “Perhaps once, but no more. He waits every night for me to return, not you. He looks me in the eye and with that look on his face, devoted but almost defiant, and tells me he loves me, not you.”
Ra’s list is long, and with everything he says, Damian grows sicker and more dejected. Tim had loved him, and he knows that he would only let someone he loved close enough to know these things about him. Ra’s is still speaking when Damian turns and leaves, and the words ring in his head.
When Ra’s returns to Tim, the younger man is sitting calmly cross-legged on his bed, hands folded in his lap, but he looks sadder than he has in months.
He rises gracefully when Ra’s enters the room, going to his lover and putting his arms around his neck.
“He still loves me,” Tim says, his words muffled in Ra’s chest. “And I can’t stop loving him.”
“You didn’t tell him that, though. Did you?”
“I did not.”
“It’s better that he doesn’t know.”
“Even if it is true.”
“I’m sorry,” Tim says.
“Do not apologize.”
“I still love you more.”