There are times Tim feels like he can’t breathe. He gasps for air, but nothing comes to him, nothing inside him breaks and gives in to the fact that his body is starving for oxygen. Life was always going to be complicated for Tim Drake, but he never really grasped how complicated it would be. When he begged to be Robin, he never thought of the ache in his muscles nearly every day, never thought of the toll it would take on his family. A life of donning a mask is just asking for a life full of pain, of heartache and adrenaline and blood pumping through veins so fast it feels like dying sometimes. There are some nights he wants it all to stop, wants to drown in his darkness and never come back up again, but it never happens, the sun rises every morning and so does he. He wonders when he became so much like Bruce, mild mannered boy genius by day, ass kicking crime fighter by night.
The ache never stops. He can smile and put on a brave face, but the pain never goes away. His joints creak, his bones pop, and he thinks, but I’m only seventeen. His heart is heavy and it hurts all the time. His conscious is like a lead weight wrapped around him, and when he closes his eyes at night, all he sees are the people he’s let down, the ones he didn’t save, the ones who got away. He sees his mother and his father and imagines what they would be like today if he hadn’t let them down, imagines that it was his parents getting to see him graduate instead of Bruce. He imagines what his life would be like if he was only ever Tim Drake, not Timothy Jackson Drake Wayne, not Robin or Red Robin or Alvin Draper. He wonders if he would have ever met a girl like Steph who could turn his world so upside down and inside out, or a guy like Connor who could do the same.
Sometimes, Tim thinks, sometimes Connor is the only thing he wouldn’t change. Connor doesn’t make things hurt, Connor is everything good in the world. It’s fitting, of course, that the clone of Superman would be the bright spot in Tim’s dark life, that they belong to two of the world’s greatest heroes and they fit together like they do. He remembers back when he thought Connor was a dick, but that was before, before he got to know him, before he loved him so much. Sometimes, Tim thinks, sometimes he wonders if he loves Connor a little too much.
Connor’s got Cassie though and it makes sense. Superboy and Wonder Girl, it all makes sense. More than Superboy and Red Robin, because he’s not even Robin anymore, he’s got to fight for his place in the family now. Replaced by Bruce’s son, replaced in the Titans by Damien too, not like he even had much of a chance to prove his worth, with Cassie always taking charge like the natural born leader she was. This is a different kind of ache, the one that makes his heart hurt in new ways, when he hears it beating like a drum, repeating the single word. Replaced. Replaced. Replaced.
It hurts to be Tim Drake.