Chapter 1: Chapter 1
They should have brought Batman. In hindsight, they probably have told him they were going after him in the first place. NIghtwing had received an anonymous tip about a hostage situation in the abandoned warehouse on the outermost edge of Gotham's factory district, and invited Red Robin along. He voluntarily agreed to tag along, believing that they could handle it, calling the cops when they finished. He also considered it a nice gesture since they hadn't gone on patrol together in a while. It was meant to be a pleasant enough patrol between two brothers.
A residual suspicion sprouted in Red Robin given the lack of information, to which Nightwing could agree having as well. However, Nightwing also noted how it could be real and didn't want to take any chances. So he recommended that they tread with as much caution as possible.
Unfortunately, they were not prepared for what would happen next. When they entered the warehouse, they didn't expect to find Ra's al Ghul with several assassins and no hostages. The scene was a puzzling one, but it didn't take long for them to realize that they had fallen into a trap.
They wouldn't have any time to react, however, as they were instantly ambushed by a group of Ra's' assassins. Nightwing and Red Robin would try to fend them off, wanting to get to Ra's. They were soon render useless as the assassins were able to contain the duo. Their hands were immediately bound and two of the assassins held knives to their throats.
"That was easier than I expected." Ra's stated, approaching the duo. "I thought you'd put up more of a fight."
"What do you want Ra's?" Nightwing growled. "If you're trying to use us as bait, it won't work. Batman doesn't even know we're here, and we will get out of here before you can use us."
An entertained chuckle vibrated through Ra's. The sound was unsettling to say the least as a disturbed expression emitted from Nightwing and Red Robin.
"Oh, I'm not interested in the detective. Not today."
"Then what are you after?" Red Robin barked, the knife on his neck applying pressure soon after.
Ra's raised his hand, letting his subordinate know to put her weapon down. Ra's approached Red Robin, getting uncomfortably close to the teen. It was made worse when Ra's gave the assassin a gesture to back away from Tim, which she followed.
"Get away from him."
Ra's paid no mind to Nightwing's demands.
"To answer your question Timothy, I'm here for settlement."
A hand wrapped around Tim's neck as Ra's lifted him to his feet. An uncomfortable grunt escaped Tim as he let Ra's do what he was doing, not wanting to fight back just yet. Nightwing, on the other hand, tried to strike Ra's, only to be forcefully held back by several assassins. The assassin holding the knife to him reinforced his threat level, piercing Nightwing's neck hard enough to stop him without drawing blood.
"Red Robin!" Nightwing gasped.
"I've been monitoring your progress over the last two years Timothy. I must say that you've turned out better than I expected. You're intelligent, tactically proficient, a proficient detective, and an admirable fighter."
Red Robin didn't respond, not knowing whether to be flattered by the analytical compliment or disturbed by the fact that Ra's had been watching him.
"I also admire you're determination. I wish to take such qualities for myself, by integrating you into the League."
A disheartened gasped left Red Robin. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. The revelation was a twisted one, and neither he, nor Nightwing were accepting of it.
"You're crazy." Red Robin growled. "I am not joining you."
"You don't have a choice. I am taking you, and there is no escaping it. You are mine Detective."
"Not if I have anything to say about it." Nightwing roared, continuing to try escaping the assassins.
For the first time since their arrival, Ra's gave Nightwing his attention. The assassins still managed to keep a hold of him as he squirmed around.
"Don't worry Richard," Ra's smugly included, "you'll be joining a company all your own. An old friend wants to you a morally grey job."
He snapped his figures, signaling an unseen companion. Stepping into the light, Ra's guest made himself known. Deathstroke proudly stood in front of them, focusing on Nightwing.
"As promised," Ra's greeted, releasing Tim so he could breath, "one adaptably mysterious protégé alive and well. He's a little roughed up, but boys will be boys."
"Better roughed up than dead." Deathstroke admitted, approaching his prize.
Ra's glared at his subordinates, who immediately released Nightwing. Panic rose as Nightwing attempted to back away.
Nightwing went to attack Deathstroke, only to get kneed in the stomach. A pained gasped escaped Nightwing as he hunched over.
"Nightwing!" Tim gasped, attempting to approach his elder.
Hands firmly gripped Red Robin's upper arms. He looked up at Ra's, who was disturbingly observing the scene. Unable to escape, Red Robin watched on.
Nightwing managed to stand straight up, eyeing the assassin. He was unable to react as a fist slammed him square in the face. He stumbled back a few step, regaining his footing only fir Deathstroke to get hit by one last punch to the face. The strength put into it was enough to knock him out. Deathstroke grabbed him by the front of his uniform before Nightwing could hit the ground and tossed him over his shoulder.
"Thank you for your patronage." Deathstroke applauded, leaving the warehouse. "Enjoy your prize."
Red Robin couldn't stand watching Deathstroke walking away with Nightwing. He wanted to stop him and save the unconscious hero. His squirming more violently in Ra's' grasp, which only seemed to increasingly tighten. This only increased Red Robin's tension, adding to his already high panic level. It didn't stop his, albeit futile, escape attempt.
"Nightwing!" Red Robin screamed. "Wake up! Wake up! Nightwing!"
Nightwing still wasn't responding and Deathstroke was not looking back.
One last panicked and traumatic yell got away from Red Robin as Deathstroke disappeared. His legs buckled enough for most of his weight to shift onto Ra's arms. Red Robin seemed to shut down. Any response was negated as he fell into a state of numbness.
Nightwing was gone, and he was trapped with one of Batman's greatest advisories. He wasn't sure if he should feel scared or guilty, or both. The guilt for being unable to save Nightwing was a realistic one, but the fear of what Ra's could do to him was also begging for attention. He was at a loss, and there was no telling what was going to happen next.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Ra's brings Tim to an undisclosed location and the beginning of the situation isn't exactly an enjoyable one.
Tim wasn't enjoying his unwilling journey, and rightfully so. Being dragged to an unfamiliar location outside of Gotham and forced in to the catacombs of Ra's' residence, surrounded by trained assassins, wasn't something that he desired in his life time. Not to mention he had been blindfolded for the entire journey, so any hope of knowing where he was had been blocked. All he knew was that, wherever they were, it was hot, and it had taken them at least a day or so to get there.
He had given up on making an early escape after Ra's nearly dislocated his shoulder an hour ago. He wanted to try and escape, hopefully getting a location along the way. Unfortunately, as his still strained arm reminded him, Ra's wasn't having any of it, and he wasn't going to have Tim forget it. It was a stupid move on his part, but it did give Tim the incentive to figure something out later.
Upon reaching the main corridor, Ra's' subordinates dispersed, leaving the two alone. They were greeted by Talia, who was on the other side of the room. She approached them, glad to see that her father had returned.
"Was your venture a…?" Talia began. "What's he doing here?"
She shifted into an offensive stance. A flinch surged through Tim, unconsciously twitching in a defensive manor.
"Stand down Talia." Ra's ordered, stopping any notion of an attack.
Talia retracted her stance, staring at her father puzzled. Ra's was standing behind Tim, keeping a firm grip on the teen. Tim didn't move, even if a surge of discomfort coursed through him due to the now closer proximity between him and his captor. It wasn't worth it in that moment.
"But that's Tim Drake."
"And he's our newest asset."
Talia was stunned by the statement. She willingly went along with Ra's, given her father's plan for a successor involved the man she loved. However, having not even heard anything in regards to Tim, she was confused.
"Is that not the duty of Bruce Wayne and my son?"
Ra's let out a chuckle. Her inquiry was a justified one given everything they had planned.
"Let's just say I'm taking a different approach. Damian has made his choice, and a very disgraceful one at that."
"Do you really think he'll cooperate?"
"When I'm done with him, he'll have no choice but to accept it."
"That's not going to happen." Tim bluntly sighed.
A hiss got away from Tim as nails dug into his still sore shoulder. The gesture didn't escape Talia, not that she cared much about it.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a child to detain."
Talia excused herself, leaving the two alone. Ra's shoved Tim forward, hoping to get him moving. Tim decided to take another chance to escape. Squirming around he managed to snake around Ra's before he could get a grip of him. Eyeing the exit, he started to make a run for it.
The victory would be short lived as a choking sensation encased his throat as Ra's grabbed his neck and threw him to the ground. The stony ground did nothing to cushion his fall, sending a surge of pain through his body. It only got worse as a foot would stomp on his diaphragm causing the wind to get knocked out of him for a moment.
"Now Timothy, I expect better from you." Ra's admitted. "I've freed you from your restraints and this is how you thank me?"
"You trick me, kidnap me, and sold Dick to an assassin and you expect me to be grateful for it?" Tim snidely rebutted.
A gasp got away from Tim as pressure was added to his chest.
"I expect you to stop acting like a child and more like the adversary I respect."
Ra's removed his foot from Tim, allowing him a moment to breathe. Rolling over, Tim pushed himself up on his hands and knees and took a few breaths. He didn't get long as Ra's grabbed Tim's collar and quickly pulled Tim to his feet.
Ra's made sure Tim didn't try to pull a fast escape as he forced Tim down the hallways he wanted. He stopped Tim in front of a door, opening it, and showing Tim in.
The room was decently furnished and the lighting seemed adequate. A bed was placed on the other side of the room and a desk sat on the wall to the left. To the right was a bathroom. On the wall next to it was a dresser. Three small windows spread across the room. Ra's seemed pretty prepared that much was clear.
"This is where you'll be staying." Ra's declared.
"You really think I'll stay?" Tim sarcastically commented.
"Of course not, which is why I'm installing a little welcoming gift until I can trust you."
Lifting Tim's chin, Ra's pulled something out of his pocket and wrapped it around Tim's neck. Tim traced his fingers over it. Pinching it, he looked at Ra's puzzled.
"I'm not fond of using such barbaric means, but for now it will work." Ra's stated. "If you try to walk out of this room unsupervised, you will be shocked. It's incased in a waterproof seal so you can bathe without it unintentionally shorting out."
"I can get this off." Tim nonchalantly admitted.
"Even if you do, there will be patrols every hour on the hour. You aren't getting out of here."
Tim gazed back down.
"Why are you doing this to me?"
"I already told you."
"I'm not going to be your successor, nor am I joining your cult."
"That's not for you to decide."
Grabbing a wad of hair at the top of Tim's head, Ra's forced Tim to look up at him. Tim didn't bother fighting back, not wanting to toy with Ra's' patience any more than he already has.
"There are so few people in the world that I respect, even fewer that I find truly worthy in life. You are one of those few."
"I'm flattered," Tim sarcastically responded, "but I don't see what that has to do with the current situation."
"You not like the others, who I have some respect for. You had to squirm your way into the fold while the others had the convenience of relations or murder, knowing what the little bird meant to Gotham. Only to be cast aside when the legacy took over."
"Considering what you did to him, I can see why. He needed guidance, even though I was too spiteful to admit it."
An unsatisfied glare shot at Tim. There wasn't any sign of offense
"Are you really going to stick with that story?"
"What does it matter?"
"You hate it. Whether or not you agree with it you hate it. You were cast aside, replace with someone unworthy, and it's killing you. I know you're worthy, and that's what brought you to me. A worthy successor who will betray the man he has come to see as a father."
"No. I won't."
"We will see."
Ra's released Tim, allowing his head to bounce down. Ra's headed for the exit, keeping a keen eye on his guest.
"You'd better get comfortable Timothy, because your life is in my hands now, and I won't make the same mistakes I did with Damian."
The door would close behind Ra's leaving Tim locked away from the world. Tim was able to process what was really going on. He was trapped, Ra's was planning his future, and he didn't even know how Dick was doing or if he was even alive. Then there was Bruce, who probably had no idea as to what had transpired. Was he worried that they didn't return? Did he even notice? Sure, patrol could get long, but they usually returned before daybreak.
Tim felt at a loss as he flopped on the bed, gazing at the ceiling. His mind focused on it with indifference. He wouldn't move for several moments only to be interrupted by a mental spark.
Rolling onto his side, he tapped the roof of his glove, popping up a holoscreen that he had implanted in it. How he forgot about it, he wasn't sure, but he felt stupid about it. His mind focused on the only person that he could think of. Dick. If he could just get through, maybe he could confirm that he was alive. He tapped a few keys, hoping it would work. The screen would try to find a connection, only to be shut down before it could make a proper connection. He tried again, managing to get a signal, only for static to instantly occupy the screen.
The holoscreen shut down and Tim threw his arms out. He was alone without a connection to the outside world. He knew he could try to adjust his equipment, but that won't guarantee that Dick was alive and well. Regardless, he was trapped and Dick could be compromised, and as far as Tim was concerned it was his fault.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Ra's walks Tim through his plan for him.
The creaking sound of a door opening didn't faze Tim. His arms were folded over his chest as he gazed at the ceiling. Having barely gotten any sleep, too anxious to fall asleep. Slightly dark circles traced along the bottom of his eyes, but it wasn't bad enough to bother him.
"Do you always look like death?" Ra's greeted. "Or are you finally starting coming to grips with this?"
He wasn't in a good enough mood for anything. Ra's' company especially. His smug posture against the doorframe was a little unamusing to say the least.
"Go away." Tim groaned.
An entertained chuckle erupted from Ra's as he entered the room. He stopped in front of the bed, providing a little room between them. He stared down at Tim, who appeared to keep his sight on the ceiling.
"You know that I can't do that."
"You could, but you won't."
Ra's could agree with that, but chose not to vocally confirm it. Leaving Tim alone was the last thing on his mind. However, that wasn't what brought him to the room.
Tim sat up. Hurling his feet over the side of the bed, he tightly grabbed the sheets. Eyes sharply glared in Ra's' direction. Tim's full attention was on the man, and he wasn't happy.
"You may be keeping me hostage, but that doesn't mean I'm doing as you say."
Not amused by the outburst, Ra's grabbed Tim's collar and yanked him off of the bed. Tim didn't have time to process the move as he found himself being held just barely above ground.
"You're attitude was charming yesterday, but its warm welcome has faded."
Ra's dropped Tim, letting him stand. His disdained eyes didn't remove themselves from Ra's. Several thoughts processed through his mind. As much as he wanted to fight back, he knew that wasn't going to have to bid his time for a bit.
Tim did as he was told, making his way towards the door. A yanking sensation stopped him as Ra's removed the instrument latched around his neck. With it gone, he continued to move. Ra's guided Tim around the compound. Tim observed his surroundings, making a note of where they've been. If he wanted to make an escape, he wanted to make sure he didn't get lost.
Neither one said a word as Ra's continued to guide Tim along. They reached a room and Ra's opened it. The room was dark and empty. Several candles scattered throughout the room lighting it up the room.
"I have a puzzle for you Timothy." Ra's admitted. "How do you break someone who's mentally secure and so emotionally repressed that they can be hard to read?"
Tim didn't respond.
"You could beat them to a pulp, but that would only break them physically. Breaking their other barriers are a more challenging matter, but an effective one, wouldn't you agree?"
"You're crazy if you think I'd give you tips on how to break and, for that matter, control me." Tim bluntly noted.
Ra's chuckled. He didn't expect him to answer the question, but the fact that Tim was keeping up was good.
"I wouldn't want you to. That would ruin the fun. I want to dissect your ticks myself. To do that, I want you to study this room. Study every detail. Because when I'm not physically training you, you will be in here, alone, as I try a few psychological tests."
Tim was shoved into the room by one of the guards. The precautionary collar was strapped around his neck. When the door shut, he let out a hiss of pain. After a psychological test run that provided little to no results, he was dragged into sword practice, or as he liked to put it, sword maiming. Having not a lot of experience with using such a weapon, it was expected that he wasn't all too good with it. Ra's admitted that he showed signs of picking it up quick.
Several cuts sawed through his uniform and into his skin. The worst was a gash that dug deep into his right upper arm. The wound had cut pretty deep, deeper than Tim believed Ra's knew. Tim dragged himself into the bathroom with his left hand firmly covering the wound, hoping to find something to treat it. Pulling open the mirrored medical cabinet he found several different medical tools; a bandage kit, peroxide, and cotton balls to name a few.
What really caught his eye was a red emergency kit. Opening it up with what strength his right hand had, he found what he was looking for, a small stitching kit. He took the kit, cotton balls, and peroxide out and got himself ready. Taking a seat on the toilet, Tim cleaned the wound with the peroxide. Once cleaned, Tim washed the blood from his gloved hand as best as he could before weaving the medical thread through the open wound. Tim held back his hisses of pain as best as he could as the wound closed.
When closed, he cleaned the instruments off. He then put everything back into the medicine cabinet, stealing a bandage for a cut on his cheek. As he entered the bedroom, the door opened. Ra's' main guard, Ubu entered the room. The looming man stared Tim down.
"My master demands that you join him for dinner." He delivered.
"I'm not going." Tim denied, turning his back to Ubu.
"He said you might say that and that I am allowed to use force if you do."
Ubu wasn't gentle as he grabbed Tim's collar and threw him out of the room, stepping out of it soon after. Tim barely got the chance to realize the error that Ubu had made before an electrical current surged through his body. A loud scream emerged from Tim. He planted himself on the ground for a few moments before he squirmed his way back into the room. The shocking sensation ceased as Tim attempted to catch his breath.
"Ubu!" A voice boomed.
Looking down the hallway, the man saw who called him. Ra's stood a few feet away.
"Master." Ubu greeted before briefly bouncing his attention between the two. "You told me he could be difficult."
"Did you forget to remove the collar?" Ra's curtly reminded, walking towards the room.
Looking back at Tim, who was taking several deep breaths, he noticed what Ra's was talking about. He was dumbfounded by the scene, realizing what he did wrong.
Ra's entered the room, fixating on the collar and any unintentional damage.
Intently listening to him, Ubu dismissed himself.
"You'll have to forgive him Timothy." Ra's stated, removing the collar. "He's obedient, but he didn't mean to hurt you."
Tim let out one last deep breath.
"We're not going to do that anytime soon are, are we?"
"No." Tim sighed.
"Good. Now, let's go."
Helping Tim to his feet, Ra's guided him to the dining hall.
Sitting at opposite ends of the table, Ra's and Tim silently ate. Tim still didn't want to be there, but he knew he shouldn't complain. He was just thankful that he was allowed to eat. He kept his sight on his plate, not noticing that he was being observed. Ra's was studying the damage from their training session.
"I applaud your skills with medical equipment Timothy," Ra's complimented, "but you didn't have to. I was going to test how the Lazarus Pit would affect you after this."
"Well I was bleeding," Tim admitted, "and the last thing I need is for it to get infected. Lazarus Pits effects or not."
"Either way, I will be testing it."
Tim let out a sigh, returning to his silent dinner.
After an uneventful evening, Tim was returned to his room. Tim kept himself quiet, having mentally decided to go along with the situation for the time being. Ra's made it clear that training would resume in the morning before sealing Tim off for the night.
Once alone, Tim sat at the desk. He was exhausted, but he wasn't about to go to sleep. Just like the previous night, he opened up the holoscreen hoping to get through to Dick. Come on, go through. Tim pleaded, watching the screen. Unfortunately, his pleas went unanswered, as static filled the screen. An annoyed groan escaped the teen as he dropped his head on the desk, using his arms as a pillow. The fact that he still couldn't find out if Dick was alive was distressing. It wouldn't stop him from trying. No matter how long it would take, he wasn't going to stop until he found out.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
More training is implicated, focusing more on the chamber Ra's showed Tim. Talia also has a small inquiry.
Another restless night was readily set for Tim as he rubbed his eyes. He had since moved from the desk to the bathroom, lounging on the floor. Having cleaned himself up, he wanted to lazily enjoy what little alone time he had left. The luminescent light bouncing off the white tiled walls mixed with the cooler air of the ground helped keep him awake.
A light creaking sound caught his attention, signifying the end to his solitude. Tim emerged from his miniature shelter, turning the lights of in the process. He wasn't surprised to find Ra's waiting, who didn't question what was going on.
Ra's gave him a nudge, knowing that he didn't have to say anything for him to get the point. Tim approached him, letting him remove his precaution. With that dealt with they made their way out of the room.
The morning stared off simple. Tim was provided for, given breakfast to get him moving, and they moved onto training. He was brought to his newest test. The door shut behind them. Tim was ready for his interrogation, with the high hope that it wouldn't be successful.
"Where shall we begin?" Ra's brainstormed. "How about the fact that Damian replaced you? I can't use your predecessors, since you've come to term with them, but the thorn in your side works."
"I already told you, I've accepted it." Tim reminded, agitated.
"So you've said, but it has to sting."
Ra's walked towards Tim, forcing the teen to take steps back to keep some distance.
"Replaced by an unbefitting successor. Not only that, but he stole the guidance and attention of the Detective and a brother."
"He disrespected you, didn't he? He doesn't see you like the others do. Holding you to an undeservingly low bar and barely changing his views towards you like he has with Richard. If at all. He forced you away."
A light thud jolted Tim, as he realized he had hit the wall on the other side of the room. With little to no room to worm around Ra's, he was uncomfortably trapped by his deduction.
"Tell me, isn't it lonely being on your own? Where every relationship you have is in some way damaged? You wouldn't have to prove yourself if one controversial specimen hadn't stolen everything you hold dear."
Tim's demeanor seemed to falter ever so slightly, unsuccessfully trying to push Ra's back. The response was interesting. Whether his response out of annoyance or unconscious admission, it mattered not. Ra's pinched a nerve, and that was enough. Giving Tim an intrigued stare, he let him continue.
"I know you're trying to get in my head Ra's," Tim observed, "but using him and any residual distain I have for him won't work."
"Considering your outburst, I'd have to disagree."
"You've got me cornered with little to no room. Of course I'm going to be a little agitated."
"True, but you could have easily evaded this earlier. You didn't have to say anything either, but here we are."
"Well, it doesn't mean anything."
Pushing Ra's back just enough, Tim weaseled his way around him. Ra's allowed it, letting Tim have his space. Tim made his way towards the other side of the room.
"I'm not a child. And no matter the amount of residual bitterness I hold for your grandson, I've matured. I'm not clouded by the past. Not anymore."
Knowing that Tim wasn't going to let him get farther, so Ra's called the session to a close. Though small, the progress was notable, not to mention, insightful. The fact that Tim displayed signs of anxiety when in close proximity gave him an idea as to how he could get under Tim's skin.
Bringing Tim back to their started swordsmanship training session, Ra's decided to change it up a bit. He decided to go a little easier on Tim. He still used most of his skill, but it was easy enough for Tim not to get as cut up as he did previously.
They trained for several hours before calling it quits. Admittedly, Tim showed immediate progress. Not that it was much of a surprise given his training with Bruce. The right amount of time effort proved that Tim could pick things up efficiently.
After making sure Tim was accommodated for, Ra's returned Tim to his chamber. He left Tim for the night, walking down the corridors of the anonymous structure. He soon encountered Talia, who seemed a little puzzled. She walked alongside her father, a thought on her mind.
"I still do not understand father." Talia admitted. "Why Tim Drake?"
"All in due time Talia." Ra's replied. "I know you have your concerns for the Detective and Damian, but I have to do this."
"But why? He's doesn't have the same history that my beloved and Damian have with you. Nor does he have their physical strengths. He just managed to be worthy enough of your respect, which I understand, but I find it odd."
Ra's sighed. He wasn't bothered by her confusion, understanding it since it had only been a few days since he took Tim in, but her inquiries were a little tiresome.
"Correct. However, what you may not notice is just how similar he is to the Detective. Only more intriguing."
She gave him a puzzled look.
"What do you mean?"
"I may respect the Detectives protégés, but I've never taken an interest in any of them. Not including Damian, who was quite the study under the wing of both his father and Richard. That was until Tim went out on his own. His skills and determination to find the detective were intriguing. He's shown potential in a similar fashion to the Detective. All he needs is a little push."
"What makes you think you'll be successful this time."
"He's not a Wayne."
The statement was a curious one. Talia didn't have to say anything for Ra's to elaborate.
"Both the Detective and Damian share a come trait. Their stubbornness. Bruce Wayne never falters from his goals and morality. Damian is headstrong, following regrettably following in his father's footsteps. Thus proving that it's a relative trait at any age. A trait that I wish wasn't so strong in them. Jason may walk on the line, but he has his limits. And Richard is a purer form of the Detective. Timothy is the most impressionable. He's at that age where he can easily persuaded. Once I peel back the layers of his psyche that is."
Talia took the explanation, satisfied with it. It may not have been the answer she expected, but it was enough to satisfy her inquiry. She left her father's side, retiring for the night.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Ra's gives Tim a test that poses quite the dilemma.
For the first time since his capture, Tim was allowed to see the light of day. For reason unknown, Ra's decided to let him outside for some kind of training. Tim was finally able to get a visual of where he was, building a mental note of his surroundings for later. The shining sun was reassuring, but the heat was unbearable and the wind was minimal at best. The dry, rocky desert like area wasn't the most scenic visual, but Tim could not bring himself to complain. The freedom was well appreciated.
"Focus Timothy." Ra's noted, snapping the teen out of his observation. "We're out here for a little test. Not to shoot the breeze."
An eye roll directed Tim to look at Ra's.
"You brought me out of that dungeon in who knows how long." Tim argued. "Pardon me for wanting to enjoy it."
Tim's arms folded, hating that he couldn't enjoy the change in scenery. Even if it was restricted.
"Why did you bring me out here? To torment me with the seclusion? The freedom that I don't have?"
Ra's kept his eye on the horizon line.
"There's a young couple out there, camping. Get to them before my assassins kill them and you might have a chance at freedom."
Shock sparked as Tim glanced in the direction Ra's was looking. There wasn't anyone in sight and that was disheartening with a surge of anxiety. Finding the duo was going to be difficult.
"If you fail, they will die and you will be punished."
That threat felt like a given. At the same time, a sense of skepticism hit Tim. With Ra's not keeping an eye on him, it sounded a little unusual that he was going to let this play out.
"How do you know I won't run off either way?"
"I'll have eyes everywhere. Regardless of the outcome, if you try to escape, you will be subdued."
Tim's anxiety level rose. He was going to need a miracle to find this couple.
"You better hurry. They don't have much time."
Tim didn't hesitate. Not knowing how long it would take, he bolted towards the horizon.
The sun became less likable with each step. Sweat drenched his forehead and his jet black hair was burning. He wasn't sure how long it had been since he started, but from what he could deduce it was probably getting close to the evening hours.
His focus was starting to falter, but he pressed on. He had to find them, if it was the last thing he did. Tim couldn't let them die because of Ra's' twisted game.
After some more time, two figures appeared in front of Tim. A sigh of relief escaped Tim as they showed signs of life. Gathered around the campfire, they appeared to be talking. The scene was enough to put a smile on Tim's face.
The calm, unfortunately, was short lived. A motion caught Tim's eye, causing his head to jerk. One of Ra's' assassins was stealthily lurking around a rocky structure, well equipped with several different kinds of weapons.
Tim bounced back between the two parties. His mind frantically scrambled between them, trying to decide who to go for. Taking down the assassin seemed logical, but there was a chance that the assassin could kill them before he could stop him.
With little to no thought he Tim bolted towards the couple. The urge to do something surged through him. If he could just get them to move, that was something. He didn't even care that he wasn't wearing his cowl.
"Get out of here!" Tim yelled.
The couple didn't appear to hear him, too caught up in their conversation. Tim yelled again, this time getting a response. The girl looked over in his direction, startled by his presence.
"Het Billy." The girl noticed, tapping her boyfriend. "Isn't that Red Robin?"
Billy looked over. Tim was still a ways away, and Billy was surprised to say the least.
"It is." Billy confirmed. "I wonder what he's doing out here. Hey! What's up?!"
"Get out of here!" Tim loudly repeated.
"It sounds like he's saying…"
The girl wasn't able to finish her statement as a sharp object pierced her throat. An arrow stabbed through the bone itself, fatally injuring her. She fell back, eyes widen in shock. Her gaze was frozen with shock being her last act.
"Maria!" Billy gasped immediately going by her lifeless side.
Tim was crushed, stumbling in his tracks. Blood poured out of her wound, as he approached them. He stood by Billy in silence, lamenting the loss of life. Billy was devastated, not wanting to touch her as he struggled to keep his composure. Tim couldn't dwell on it longer, knowing that the man was still in danger. If he could get Billy out alive, there could still be hope for them.
"You have to get out of here." Tim anxiously demanded. "You're not safe."
"But…" Billy began.
Tim pulled Billy to his feet, not wasting any time to emphasize the danger of the situation.
"It's too dangerous out here. What killed her is still out there, and if you don't go now, you'll be next."
Billy was baffled by the information. Grief and fear jumbled through his mind.
"What am I supposed to do?"
"Get help. Get the authorities, Batman, anyone. Tell them that Red Robin sent you and is alive and that the League of Assassin is here."
Billy took a moment to process what he had been told. His composure relaxed enough for him to understand Tim's statement.
He started to run, stopping for a brief moment.
"What about you?"
"I'll be fine. Just go!"
No sooner than his request left his lips, an arrow flew at Billy, piercing his heart. A gasp was all Tim could muster as Billy stared at him before falling over. Blood puddled beneath Billy and fear was unable to leave his face. Tim was too disturbed to move, not even trying to escape.
The sound of a vehicle coming to a stop erupted behind Tim. Ra's was in the passenger seat as Ubu drove. Ra's didn't appear surprised, almost as though he expected it.
As Ra's emerged from the car several assassins, including the killer, approached the deceased duo. They placed the bodies and the camping items in a pile, preparing the dispose of the evidence.
"You lost." Ra's stated, approaching Tim.
"I got here before they were killed." Tim noted. "Why did you do this?"
"You failed to get them before the arrow struck the girl."
"But I got to him."
"You had to save both."
A lit match fell on the pile, igniting it. Tim was horrified by the sight, traumatized by the slow eradication of two innocent bystanders. The smell of the burning corpses mixed with their camping equipment reeked. Ra's got closer to Tim. His hands gripped Tim's shoulders, watching the flames with him.
"It's time to go. They'll finish this up."
Tim squirmed around, pulling himself out of Ra's hold. He wasn't about to go down easy.
"No!" Tim growled, taking a few steps back. "I'm not going back."
Ra's chuckled at his argument. He wasn't surprised by the rebellion, actually predicting that it would happen.
"You forget that was part of this little exercise."
"I don't care. I'm not going back."
Tim turned his back on Ra's and started to walk away. Ra's was slightly disapproving of Tim's decision, but still wasn't surprised by it. Ubu was about to implement force, when Ra's raised a hand, stopping him. Ra's grabbed Tim's wrist, stopping him.
"Let me go." Tim roughly ordered.
Ra's ignored his demands, tightening his grip. A hiss got away from Tim, trying to worm his arm out of the grip.
"Let go!" Tim repeated.
Without a word, Ra's slowly released the body part in question. Tim instantly yanked his wrist away. He didn't get much time to relish it before Ra's' foot knocked him off balance. Grabbing Tim's forearm, Ra's yanked Tim back.
Pulling out a dagger, Ra's rammed it into Tim's back, ignoring Tim's pained scream. It dug into Tim deep, but not enough to emerge from the other side. In one swift motion, he ripped it out and put it away.
A disturbed gasped got away from Tim. He was distressed by the wound, blood dripping from it. Ra's guided him towards their transportation, not being gentle in the slightest.
"Have you forgotten your punishment for failing?" Ra's reminded, pushing Tim into the back seat. "I would have preferred we took care of this back at our base, but you had to be difficult."
Tim didn't respond keeping a hand on his shoulder.
Ra's pushed Tim deep into the caverns of the building. Tim was barely holding on, the blood loss and the desert heat hindered his state of consciousness. His sight was hazy and his will to get away was crippled.
A green tinted aura lit the room up, revealing the Lazarus Pit within. Ra's brought them both to the edge of the Pit. Tim observed the pool in front of them, not commenting on why they were there.
"I told you we would be testing this." Ra's reminded. "Since I had to discipline you, now is the perfect time."
"I don't want to." Tim sighed.
"You don't have a choice."
Ra's pushed Tim, causing him to lose his footing. Tim was unable to stop himself as he lost balance, falling forward, and sinking into the Lazarus Pit. He didn't emerge for several moments. When he did, Tim instantly exited the Lazarus Pit, trying to suppress his trauma and confusion. He was several steps away from Ra's, curled up in a ball with his hands weaving through his hair. Tim was trying to process what happened while trying to keep his composure and control in line.
Ra's approached Tim, a pleased smirk on his face. Tim was shaking in discomfort and anxiety. He's responding better than I thought, Ra's observed, or at least as well as he can for his first time. Ra's knelt beside Tim, a less than pleasant plan in mind. Tim violently jerked as he felt the presence of Ra's' hand hovered over his back.
"You failed them Timothy." Ra's whispered. "Just like you failed to protect Richard."
A disturbed glare shot at the man, hating the accusation.
"That's not true." Tim growled.
Ra's stood up.
"They're dead and it's all because of you."
"You could have saved them just like you could have put your foot down to help him investigate the situation."
Tim refused to listen to Ra's' taunts. Allowing his emotional wall to briefly go down he lunged at Ra's in a rage. His fist was blocked by Ra's, then grabbed. Tim was whirled around and thrown against the cavern wall.
The wind was knocked out of Tim. A hand tightly gripped around his throat and forced him against the wall.
"You were weak Timothy." Ra's stated. "You could have prevented so much chaos, but you couldn't muster the strength to succeed. I expected more from you, and to be frank, you deserve to suffer the emotional consequences of your failures." Ra's closed the gap more, just enough to whisper the rest of his observation. "At the end of the day, you needed this Timothy. You needed a nudge in the right direction. My direction."
Tim didn't utter a word. With the effects of the Lazarus Pit waning and the undesired guilt sinking in, he lost the will to speak.
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Ra's and Tim have a "calmer" interaction, and a little insight into where Tim is at mentally.
A deep gasp emerged as Tim rose from the depths of the Lazarus Pit. It had been a rather harsh training session causing several wounds to surface all over Tim's body. It didn't help that, since the death of the couple, he had to deal with the repercussions of his attempt to walk off. Several marks and bruises were all that remained of Ra's' punishment. He had started to act out against Ra's a little more often since then, unfortunately, the response to each instant wasn't without harm.
Crawling out, Tim roughly coughed a few times releasing drops of the green fluid in the process. Several deep wounds from the harsh training season had instantly healed along with his punishment injuries.
"I really thought we were getting off to the right foot Timothy." Ra's noted. "I had hoped you would have abandoned these little outbursts by now."
Tim was carefully studying the bookshelf of the study. He wasn't so much looking for anything in particular, rather he was curious to see what Ra's had. He didn't note Ra's statement causing Ra's to sneak up behind him. The move was a little discomforting, but he chose to ignore it.
"You're not going to learn anything by staring at them."
Grabbing a small book, the Tell Tale Heart, Tim wormed around Ra's to get to a chair. He didn't necessarily want to grab anything, but Tim figured he might as well with the man looking over his shoulder. Ra's turned around to keep an eye on the Tim.
"You seem to forget that I was the one who spent years studying Batman and Robin before becoming Robin." Tim noted, sitting down and starting to read. "I'm not as compliant as you've seemed to assume."
"True, you are pretty determined, but you have to realize at some point that it's hopeless."
"Any more hopeless than it was for Damian? Who you've helped raise since birth."
Ra's slowly circled around Tim, observing him from behind the chair. His presence was both annoying and uncomfortable, but Tim tried to ignore his hovering as he read on.
"Even more so. Because unlike Damian, you won't want to go once I'm done dismantling the puzzle that is Timothy Drake."
"I've already told you, that won't happen."
Ra's moved, occupying a chair not too far from Tim's. Tim didn't care about his move, keeping his eyes on the book. He was actually a little relieved that Ra's finally left his bubble.
"Say that all you want, but that's not going to stop me. I can be quite persuasive."
"That's what troubles me." Tim blandly admitted, turning the page.
Ra's was amused by the admission. It was subtle, but honest.
"It shouldn't. The sooner you conform to my will, the easier it will be for you in the long run."
Tim was cast aside for the night, trapped inside his furnished cell. Ra's had tormented him for a good hour in the chamber before being allowed to eat. Ra's tried to use the death of the couple again to unravel a response from him, but he refused to let it move him. Even when Ra's forced his way in to his personal space, Tim refused to let it bother him much. After Ra's first occupied his space, causing his outburst about Damian, Tim, over time, learned to suppress the urge to react a lot better.
It was a display that seemed to intrigue Ra's, but at the same time it frustrated him. The stubbornness meant that he would have to find other ways to unravel Tim's psyche. Tim knew this, but he didn't care enough to change his attitude towards the older man. This was his way of dealing with the situation.
Tim slid against the wall, sitting down, soaking in the solitude. He could finally let everything sink in. Even though he had denied any emotion for the deceased couple in front of Ra's, deep down Tim couldn't deny that he was distraught by it. The last few nights he had nightmares about them. It was only slightly altered, his hands tainted his hands. However, it always ended the same, with them dying and him being powerless to stop it. Unfortunately, that wasn't the worst of it.
Every time he thought about it, it always brought him back to how powerless he was to stop his and Dick's capture. He never let Ra's have the pleasure of knowing that, but his taunts about it weren't entirely false. Tim wasn't sure how often he thought about Dick and worried about his safety. The fact that he hadn't been able to get through to him didn't help either. Not that that was stopping Tim from trying. He hated not knowing what was going on with him, fearing for the safety and mortality of his brother figure.
These thoughts then lead to concerns for Bruce and his own family. Having no contact with the outside world, Tim could only imagine the distress Bruce was going through with them being gone. Bruce had to be driving himself crazy over it. Not to mention his parents. Tim could only imagine how well they were handling it. Their only son, who they willingly and reliably entrusted to Bruce, was missing and they must have been heart broken.
All of this was carefully concealed so that Ra's couldn't use it. Or at least that was Tim's plan, hoping that Ra's wouldn't catch on. Going along with Ra's' observation, with enough will to fight back, was enough. The last thing Tim wanted was for Ra's to find out about any of these anxieties and use them against him. Once that happened, if it did, Tim knew Ra's wouldn't hold back.
Tim let out a deflated sigh. Several ideas floated around his mind. There was the desire to leave, but he didn't have a concrete plan as far as how to yet. Then there was the underlying exhaustion of dealing with the situation. Tim was trying to handle it in a manner that Bruce would, just without the physical strength to fight back, but it was starting to get a little tiring to say the least.
Tim wasn't going to give up. He wasn't hopeless and he wouldn't get there. All Tim wanted was to get out and he didn't plan on giving up.
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Tim recalls the days event and finally makes some progress with contacting Dick.
A bruise had formed over Tim's check as he sat in his prison bathroom petrified. The sound of continuous dripping of the running shower echoed through the room in an attempt to soothe the balled up teen. He was shaking ever so slightly, anxiety being the root cause.
Tim had just been returned to his room, and after a startling incident with Ra's, he was shaken up to say the least.
Tim had gotten sidetracked, somehow managing to stray from Ra's' side. One moment Ra's was behind him and the next he was gone. How and why he did it, Tim didn't know, but he didn't care much. He decided to tour the halls alone, escaping if he was lucky. A sense of joy flooded Tim, hoping that there wasn't a false sense of hope. He observed the walls, recalling which ones Ra's had brought him down previously.
His hope was short lived as he soon found himself face to face with Talia. She seemed a little surprised to see him out without her father's supervision. The sentiment was shared by Tim, as he didn't expect to run into her.
"What are you doing here?" Talia questioned.
"Please don't tell Ra's." Tim quietly panicked. "I just want to get out of here."
"Why would I do that? I may dislike his decision to take you in, but I respect it."
Tim was disheartened by the statement.
"Please. I think we can both agree that I shouldn't be here. I don't want to and I know you'd rather have either Bruce or Damian, if not both here instead. All I'm asking is that you let me go without saying anything. With me gone, you'd have another chance to sway them."
Talia didn't respond, disgruntled agreement in her eyes. It was true that she didn't like Tim being brought in, even though she did respect her father. And no matter how many times he explained that Tim's potential was akin to Bruce's if not better intellectually, Talia refused to accept any other person to take place of what should be her beloved's. Talia was at a bit of a stalemate, mentally battling between her love for Bruce and Damian and the desire to respect her father's wishes. Tim's anxiously pleading eyes didn't mind. She stepped aside, allowing enough room for Tim to get through.
"Go." Talia coldly demanded. "Before I change my mind."
"Thank you." Tim replied, walking passed her.
He continued down several hallways. He hadn't been caught yet which he was thankful for, but he knew he wasn't out of the woods yet. He soon found the narrowing exit and was relieved. He was about to make his way towards the door when something grabbed a chunk of his cape and yanked him back, causing him to trip backwards. Tim felt an arm catch him.
Tim was horrified. Standing beside him was Ra's. Tim quickly got away from him, taking a few steps away. He was alert and slightly defensive.
"Did you really think Talia wouldn't tell me about this?" Ra's stated. "Using the Detective and Damian was a smart move, but it wasn't tempting enough. Her loyalty to me was more acceptable than your meek suggestion."
Tim was a little disheartened by his deduction. Ra's' statement sunk in, making Tim come to a troubling conclusion.
"So what, you were toying with me? Trying to trick me into thinking I was free. Again."
"Toying? I prefer testing. I wanted to see what you'd do if I weren't around, and you've done what I've expected. However, I can say that I was a little surprised that you used the Detective to persuade Talia."
"Yeah. She cares for them and she still wants a family."
"Of course. She does have quite the infatuation with him even after all these years. After all the rejection."
"Dedication at its finest."
"You're pretty attracted to them too."
Ra's was a little curious about Tim's observation. There had to be a reason for Tim to make that assumption.
"What makes you say that?"
"If you really didn't care about them, as you like to profess you would have killed them by now and started anew."
"I can and will use you to get a new heir, and deal with them later."
"You say that, but I know you can't kill them. Damian is your blood and Bruce your original heir apparent. You wouldn't just throw all of that away. Not to mention Talia wouldn't let you pawn her off to anyone but Bruce. Not that I'd be willing to give you an heir in the first place."
Tim scoffed as a dramatic flinch vibrated through his body.
"You need them, because Damian is your legacy. If your plan falls through, you won't be forgotten. You have a genetic heir out in the world. I'm not them and I never will be. I may be like Bruce, but I will never be him. I do not want to be Bruce's convenient replacement for someone with a control complex and a corrupt sense of empathy."
Ra's' expression was uncomfortably neutral. He slowly started to walk towards Tim, who shuffled back in response. Tim wanted to turn around and run, but turning his back to Ra's was an unsettling notion that he didn't want to face.
The narrowing hallway and an unconscious desire to stop caused Tim to come to a halt. He could sense the door not too far behind him. Eerie silence emitted between them as Tim agonized over what Ra's could do to him next.
A sharp clapping sound echoed through the halls. Tim was wide eyed, shockingly looking to the left. A stinging surged through the now red left cheek before a brief numbness pulsed through it, as Tim's expression froze in place. Internally, Tim had several circulating thoughts. The strike was shocking and out of nowhere. Tim expected a punch if anything, but not a smack. Due to the unusual nature of the gesture it was also a confusing one.
A hand wrapped around the bottom of his face and forced him to look at Ra's. Ra's wasn't enthused, a dark and stern expression plastered on his face.
"Don't think that just because you've made quite the deduction that I'd let you go." Ra's lectured. "Just because you're not Bruce Wayne or Damian doesn't mean I don't have a use for you. I don't care if you choose to rebel against me. You will do as you are requested even if I have to force you to do it myself. Unless you want more people to die, including your securely hidden parents, you'd better hold your tongue and forget this desperate attempt for freedom."
The release of Tim's anxiety and the expelling of his previously suppressed emotions occurred moments after being returned to his room. Shock, stress, and fear all finally came to the surface. After crawling his way into the bathroom and setting up the rhythmic ambiance, Tim took the time to collect himself. The closed in walls, seclusion, and sounds of the running shower did help alleviate a good amount of his problems.
However, the remnants of Ra's conversation still plagued his mind. The threat to murder of his parents was the biggest issue. The fact that Ra's alluded to knowing where his parents were located was frightening. While he knew Ra's wouldn't expose the location of his family, the fact that anyone other than Bruce, Ra's especially, knew their location was disturbing. Tim wasn't sure if Ra's would carry that threat out, but knowing Ra's, Tim had a feeling he wasn't entirely kidding either.
After several slow minutes, Tim uncurled himself and dragged himself out of the bathroom. Having calmed himself down enough, he wanted to get back to his nightly routine. He got himself over to the desk. Like clockwork, Tim tampered with his communication device. Though waning, Tim still had hope that he would reach Dick. Hope diminished, as he was once again greeted by static. Tim let out a troubled groan, dropping his head on the desk. Dread embraced him, causing him to question if it was worth trying again.
"H… he… Hello?" A voice greeted through the static. "I… Is anyone th… there?"
Tim's head shot up as his attention immediately went to the holo-communicator on his wrist. A visual was trying to break through the static, confused greetings trying to come through. Connect. Tim prayed. Please connect. His wish seemed to be heard as the screen cleared up. The image of Dick, face bruised and cut, made itself clear.
"Dick!" Tim gasped.
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Dick and Tim go over what's going on and what should be done moving forward.
I should mention this (I forgot to in the previous chapter) that this chapter and by extent chapter 7 does have a bit of a sime skip compared to the other chapters.
"Tim!" Dick greeted before letting out a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness you're alive."
"Right back at you." Tim replied, his expression eerily calm. "You look terrible."
Dick briefly scanned his frame. He let out a defeated chuckle at Tim's observation. There wasn't getting around his roughed up appearance.
"So I do." Dick chuckled, running a hand through his already messy hair. "I suppose that'll happen when you're dealing with a destructive ex-military soldier."
Dick awkwardly snorted. He briefly scanned Tim. Outside of a barely noticeable bruise, Dick couldn't help but note just how physically unharmed Tim appeared.
"Ra's looks like he's treating you surprisingly well."
"Well when you have a Lazarus Pit at your disposal that tends to happen." Tim whispered. "Apparently I'm responding well."
There was a moment of silence between them. They both were trying to find something to say. So many questions ran through their minds. Tim withheld the guilt that was beginning to fester.
"Where are you?" Dick inquired.
"I don't know." Tim blatantly replied. "I was blindfolded for most of the trek here outside of the occasional pit stop and the one time we stopped for the night. All I know it's hot, dry, and desolate."
"Have you gotten through to Bruce?"
"No. My connection is poor and I've been trying to contact you since I got here. I don't even know how long that's been at this point since I've pretty much given up at this point."
"He's really keeping you in the dark, isn't he?"
"Yeah. How long has it been anyways?"
"Tim, it's been almost three weeks now."
Tim was visibly stunned by Dick's statement.
"I only know that since, apparently, Slade is a keen on keeping me notified, in an attempt to prolong my hopelessness for the situation."
Tim continued to study Dick's appearance, getting a better idea of the damage. Not only were there cuts and bruises, but he could see tears in the uniform and jagged stitched lining around two ribs. Part of Dick's domino mask was nonexistent, leaving his tired sapphire eyes bare. All the damage he could see didn't help Tim's guilt.
"What did he do to you?" Tim quietly inquired.
"I'm fine." Dick admitted, instantly picking up on Tim's concerns. "A little roughed up because of Slade's aggressive personality, but I'm doing okay."
"Have you tried to escape?"
"Yeah. I almost made it to the Bat signal when I got caught. I hoped to alert Bruce and start a search for you once Slade was dealt with, but he caught me right as I got there. He even broke a few ribs as punishment. It wasn't the first time, but it certainly isn't the last."
Tim flinched, not going unnoticed by Dick.
"I'm sorry." Tim mused, shaking.
His hands weaved through his hair. A startled exclamation escaped Dick as he was thrown through the air. Even with his sights forcefully placed at an angle, Dick could tell that
"Timbo, put me down." Dick pleaded. "I can't see you."
Slowly, Tim put his arms back down. Tim's trembling disdain didn't stop.
"Why are you apologizing?"
"You're trying to get out and all I'm doing is sitting here, biding my time like a coward."
Tim was on the verge of tears.
"You're not a coward."
"I watched a couple die and was unable to stop it. Do you want to know how I was punished? I was stabbed in the back."
Dick was a little surprised by the exclamation, but at the same time sympathetic. Tim didn't deserve to have someone die in front of him. Nor did Tim deserve to be stabbed.
"That doesn't make you a coward. If anything that just proves how sinister he is. You laying low is a smart move given who you're dealing with."
"Slade can be just as unpredictable, but you're trying to escape."
"Yeah, but there's no telling what Ra's will do. Neither Ra's nor Slade plan on killing us. That much is certain. However, I have no idea what he could do to you. Slade's been trying to use physical persuasion with some mental sprinkled in. It will probably get changed up eventually, but I'm expecting it. Ra's is cold, calculated, someone who willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants. No one knows much about him outside of Damian, Talia, and Bruce to an extent."
Tim didn't respond. He wanted to believe Dick, but he knew he'd be lying if he said that it wasn't bothering him. The fact that Dick was being more productive with an escape was frustrating. While he knew Dick had a point about the differences between their captors, but it didn't help much.
"Dick, he said he knows where my parents are."
Dick was stunned by Tim's declaration, eyes widening. No one knew where Tim's parents were outside of Bruce and the officials who relocated them. The fact that Ra's was claiming to know was jarring.
"I don't know if he meant it or if he was trying to get a reaction out of me," Tim admitted, distress in his voice, "but I'm scared. He could kill them just because I'm refusing to bend to his will. I don't know what to do."
Tim's trembling only increased as he continued to withhold his emotions. It broke Dick's heart to see him so scared and confused. He wanted to reach through the screen and comfort him.
"I'm so sorry." Dick apologized. "I should never have brought you on patrol that night."
Tim didn't like hearing Dick apologizing. Even if going on patrol with Dick, without properly investigating the situation, lead them to being captured, he enjoyed it.
"Don't apologize." Tim weakly demanded. "I wanted to go on patrol with you. I should have said something to properly investigate it."
"It's my fault Tim. I wasn't thinking. I should have gotten…" Dick looked away for a moment. "I've got to go. Slade's coming."
Tim's eyes widened in horror.
"Don't go!" Tim gasped.
"I'm sorry Tim. I have to."
"What am I supposed to do?"
"Stay calm. Don't let him get under your skin Tim. I know you're strong and won't let Ra's take you down easy. I'll try to contact Bruce and make sure he gets someone keeps an eye on your parents."
"What about contacting you again?"
"I'll try to contact you next time. Stay strong Tim. We will get out of this."
The screen went to static, cutting off Tim's only tie to the world outside.
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
It's been about a day or so since Tim talked with Dick. Now he's dealing with another one of Ra's' tests.
Tim was chained to the ceiling. His feet dangled above the ground while his hands were bound by metallic cuffs and propped above his head with a chain. Ra's had decided to try a new method of torture. Tim hadn't been physically damaged, but he was certain that something was going to come. They were in the torture chamber, the glowing of the lit candles painted around the both of them.
"It would appear the Detective is looking for you." Ra's stated, holding several clippings in his hands, sorting through them. "Ward of Bruce Wayne Mysteriously Vanishes. Dick Grayson Hiding in Wayne Manor, Grief Stricken. Nightwing and Red Robin Buried Deep in Investigation. Batman on the Hunt for Clues. Where is Tim Drake?"
Tim wasn't sure if he should be pleased that Bruce was looking for them or if he should be offended by Ra's' lecture. He knew there had to be a reason that Ra's was telling him this. Be it a cruel taunt or a means of driving home the feeling of solitude, it mattered not.
"So what?" Tim spat. "All that proves is that he's going to find us."
Ra's approached Tim, throwing the clippings aside. A small blade emerged from Ra's' sleeve. He brought it up to the side of Tim's face, pressing it lightly against his cheek. It wasn't hurting him, but Tim didn't like the implication.
"True, but it also proves to be the perfect opportunity to taunt our mutual associate."
The small blade slowly dug into the side of Tim's face. Tim's eyes tightly shut. It hurt, but Tim tried to hide it as best as he could. Keeping Dick's recommendation in mind and his own will, Tim refused to give Ra's the tortured response he wanted.
"He could very well receive an anonymous gift on your status. A picture, a lock of hair, a reasonably sized blood sample and a note. Something that would hurt you both."
"And you think he wouldn't be able to trace it back to you?" Tim huffed, before concocting a hypothesis. "But let me guess, you've thought about that. You probably have a line of unsuspecting messengers that could deliver such a message with little to no trail leading to you."
"How observant of you." Ra's praised. "You are correct. I have a chain of associates that are nearly impossible to trace back to me. Even if the Detective links it here, it would be too late, but that doesn't matter right now. We've got business to attend to."
Tim laid on the ground beaten, bruised, and embarrassed. The pictures had already been taken and were on their way. Tim was lying face down, hair blocking part of his sideways leaning face. His right arm was crushed beneath his chest while his left arm awkwardly cushioned his head. Legs were spread out, twitching. Tim could barely move since his legs sported several deep cuts. Slowly, his arms pushed his upper body off the ground, positioning himself on his butt. Looking at Ra's, Tim hated the look of malicious content. He tried to slowly drag himself away from Ra's. He knew he wasn't going to get far, but it was at least worth a shot.
A hand grabbed Tim, lifted him up, and hurled him over the man's shoulder. Embarrassment sky rocketed in Tim's mind as an awkward, light red tint formed. Ra's didn't seem to care, exiting the room like Tim's weight was nothing. He didn't even seem to notice the blood staining his clothes.
"We should probably get you to the Lazarus Pit." Ra's deduced. "I don't have the patience to wait for your injuries to recover at the moment."
Tim coughed up more Lazarus fluid as he crawled out of the pit. Suppressing the urge to lash out, Tim curled up to allow the rejuvenating properties to take effect. Crouching beside him, Ra's placed a hand on Tim's head, causing the teen to flinch. Tightening his grip on a chunk of Tim's hair, Ra's yanked his head up. The strained glare on Tim's face amused him.
"You want to fight me, don't you?" Ra's noted. "Want to fight your way out of here."
"I will get out of here." Tim hissed.
"I disagree. If you really wanted to get out of here, you would have done so by now. You're smart, but you demand structure. You seem stationary as of late. Outside of your recent attempt, it's almost like you have little to no desire to escape as of late. Even if you're expecting for a rescue, you haven't done anything to raise the alarm."
"You've threatened my parents."
"Your point? You seem rather unfazed by my threat. I don't know what you're thinking, but I honestly expected more from you."
Tim didn't like Ra's degrading deduction. Even if there was a pinch of truth to his observation, in regards to the lack of any consistent escape attempts, Tim hated that Ra's was belittling him.
"I haven't given up yet."
Tim lunged forward, shoving Ra's off balance. The grip on his head didn't seemed to budge much as the pulled Tim down with him. Tim yanked against Ra's' restraint only to meet resistance. Shaking his head violently, Tim was able to detach himself from Ra's' grip.
Tim jumped to his feet and started to run. Ra's grabbed his ankle, keeping a firm grip long enough for Tim to trip. With Tim on the ground, Ra's took the opportunity to pin Tim's hand uncomfortably behind his back.
"That was stupid of you." Ra's lectured. "I know you want to try and prove me wrong, but that wasn't a smart move."
Ra's got off of Tim, giving him enough space to breathe. Tim stood up, staring at him. He wasn't pleased with the situation. Even less so when he considered he partially went against Dick's advice.
"You're a good fighter. Just not a very strong one. You're restraint is suppressing you, and because of it, you'll never be free."
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
The fate of Tim's parents and Ra's' threat is confirmed.
It had been about a week since Tim had made contact with Dick and he still hadn't heard back from him. While it was a little disheartening, he remained hopeful. He made sure to keep his promise and played along with the situation. As much as he wanted to argue Ra's' submission comment, Tim didn't want to make another attempt for a while. He wanted an ample opportunity before he tried again.
Ra's decided to test his endurance under physical and mental distress. Not feeding Tim was the beginning. That didn't seem to faze Tim much. He was slowed down as Ra's put him through a few potentially fatal physical trials, but Tim managed to hold on. If anything, he was starting to feel the effects of light headedness and nausea.
Ra's tested some mental punishments as well. Uninterested in using Damian as a stimulant, he decided to find other means to drag Tim's confidence down. It started with Dick, who was considered to be Bruce's saving grace and the "superior" Robin model. When that didn't work, Tim's argument being that Dick was part of the reason that he even considered the field, Ra's decided to use another, more painful source. Jason. Using his death and the following chain of events, Ra's thought he might get something. Especially since he added that Tim forced his way in during a violent state of grief, good intentions or not.
Ra's found that Tim was as resilient as ever, proud of it in fact. The fact that Tim hadn't quite lost his spark yet was impressive. He might have wanted to break the boy, but the longer he fought made it even more entertaining.
"I want to show you something." Ra's admitted, dragging Tim along.
Tim didn't know what the man was planning, but he was suspicious.
"Tell me. If you could see your parents, how do you think they would respond? Relieved that you're alive? Happy you're out of harms? Upset that Bruce let this happen to you? All of the above?"
The mere mention of his parents was enough to raise concern in the back of Tim's mind. Since Ra's' threat, he was unable to shake his anxiety for them. The way Ra's was referring to them so casually was uncomfortable. Tim could assume that the only reason he bothered to bring them up was to reiterate his threat.
Surprisingly enough, Ra's had brought Tim to a new room. It housed a sizable screen that was on. The image it captured was that of a two story house. An all too familiar two story house. It was the house that Tim's parents were relocated to.
"I'm monitoring them." Ra's stated. "I wanted you to know how they are. That they're still alive. For now at least."
It may have proved his theory, but Tim knew there was more to Ra's showing him this than just confirming his threat. Why Ra's was doing this was still suspect.
"Would you like to see how they're doing?"
Not giving Tim the chance to answer, Ra's pressed a button. The screen flashed with static for a moment before bringing up the image of the kitchen. In the kitchen was Tim's mother and father. His mother was at the table mournfully gazing over her coffee as his dad trudged around the kitchen. The news was telling how the search for Tim was still unsuccessful, which only dampened the scene. Tim watched as his mother left the room.
There was silence waiting for something to happen. After a few moment, he saw his mother return with the mail. Sifting through it, she opened a blank envelope. She carefully opened it, studying its contents thoroughly. A scream of terror immediately left her as she threw the contents on the table. Tim's father was by her side in an instant, noting how she was in tears.
"What's wrong?" He asked.
She didn't reply, shaking as she pointed at the items in question. He looked down at them, photos from what Tim could deduce. He could hear the horror in his father's gasp as his father wrapped his arms around his mother. He was forcing himself to be strong, but Tim knew he was troubled.
"What have they done to you?"
Tim tried to back away, but Ra's' arm prevented him from doing so. He didn't even bother fighting it. Tim was hurt by their grief, hating that they were suffering because of his abduction. His mother's agonizing cries echoed through the kitchen only to be heard by a selected few. It was heartbreaking.
"Why did you do this?" Tim asked.
"To remind you what's at stake." Ra's answered. "Remember, I can kill them at any given time. They're under unseen observation at all times."
"Why the pictures?"
Ra's sighed, his grip tightening ever so slightly.
"What's better than seeing your parents one last time, knowing that they've seen you beaten?"
Tim started to squirm a little. It was enough to get him out from Ra's' grasp, but not enough to get out of the grasp of Ra's' hand, which captured Tim's forearm. Anxiety was the only thing present as Tim looked back at Ra's. It was subtle, but evident enough for it to be noticed.
"They don't deserve this."
"Oh, but they do. After all, they are your parents and a good source of exploit. For every time you disobey me, they get one step closer to death."
Tim was infuriated with his statement, attempting to remove himself from Ra's' grip. The anger in his eye was aggressive, but unusually refined and nearly suppressed. Ra's found it intriguing. It displayed his response well, but it wasn't as strained as most. It was smooth and almost expressionless, and quite frankly, Ra's appreciated it. Compared to everyone he's ever encountered, his own grandson included, Tim was showed signs that he could suppress his emotions at any moment. Not that he was going to let it all go at the moment.
"You wouldn't dare." Tim growled.
"I would. In fact, I already am."
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Things start to take an interesting turn when Tim collapses from a fever.
Tim was aching and fatigued. His body was barely able to keep itself up. This particular morning wasn't like the three days between it and the day he saw his parents. Tim was used to the physical trials Ra's put him through, but something felt different. He barely slept, barely ate, and barely put up a fight. Tim's body was on fire, but he was too proud to admit that anything was wrong upon being questioned about it. How he managed to pull through the strenuous activity, he didn't know nor did he care. Feeling like he'd been through worse, Tim pressed on.
Ra's seemed to stop his teaching, as if noting something wrong. Tim waited, expecting Ra's to do something. He was suspicious of this pause. Tim even stumbled slightly, but kept himself in a defensive state.
Tim spontaneously collapsed, his body limply collapsing on himself. His arms cushioned his head as his legs curled. His cape messily spread out behind him. He was unconscious, but breathing.
Ra's approached the teen curiously concerned, sheathing his blade. Kneeling beside Tim, he did a brief scan of the teen. Flipping Tim on his back, Ra's gently placed a hand on his forehead. Of course. Ra's complained, noting the fever state that Tim was in. You're stubborn, but not even you can escape the stress that you've put on your body.
Ra's was a little annoyed with Tim getting sick, but at the same time, it felt inevitable at some point. He was just surprised that it took this long given the stress that he put on Tim. If anything, he was disappointed in himself for not noticing it sooner.
"I'll take him back to his chambers master." Ubu offered.
"No." Ra's denied, placing an arm around Tim's shoulders and legs, lifting him up with ease. "I'm going to take care of him."
Ra's started to leave the training hall, ignoring the puzzled look from Ubu.
Ra's stopped at the door, annoyed with the man's overzealous concern. An irked glare hit Ubu, who was troubled by his master's refusal to heed his simple concerns.
"I don't care if he's sick. He needs to be treated, and I don't trust any of you with him."
"What about the Lazarus Pit?"
"This isn't worth the Lazarus Pit's powers. Besides, he needs the sleep."
Ra's forced the door open and escaped the room.
Ra's received several curious glances as he dragged Tim down the halls. No one bothered to ask, afraid that they would unintentionally invoke their leader's wrath, but that didn't stop them from wondering. Their eyes were set on the unconscious frame draped in Ra's' arms, who appeared almost dead to the world.
The only one brave enough to investigate was Talia. Ubu relayed the turn of events to her. While she understood the reasoning behind her father's decision, the direction her father was going was puzzling. She approached Ra's, walking beside him. Tim was still in a coma like state, sweat dotting his forehead and his breathing was still labored.
"Wouldn't it be better to take him to his chambers?" Talia inquired. "Where you can confine him without worry."
"Not entirely." Ra's responded, not giving her eye contact. "I will be giving him my full attention while he recovers."
"But what if he wakes up and tries to escape? He may be sick and incapacitated now, but who's to say he won't wake up when you least expect it and escape?"
"He may try, but he will be in a state of confusion for a few moment. Even if I do fall asleep, which I find unlikely at this moment, I'm sure Ubu won't be too far from my quarters and can grab him."
"And you believe that'll work?"
"We shall see. For now, as you've mentioned, he's incapacitated. I'm not worried about him trying to sneak out."
Stopping at his room, Ra's parted ways with his daughter. He slowly entered the room, quietly closing the door behind him. Ra's knew there was going to be an unpredictable recovery period, since there was no telling just how well Tim handled sicknesses, but it was going to be quite the learning experience nonetheless. What Ra's did know was that he had to get the boy comfortable.
Setting Tim on the bed, Ra's knew he had to get the teen out of his current attire in favor of something more comfortable. Thankfully, Ra's knew he had a few outfits saved, in the hopes to pass them down to Damian one day. Ra's brought out a white shirt and a pair of pants. They were not an ideal size, but it was workable.
It didn't take long for the transition, partially due to the lack of resistance on Tim's side. Tim's cape and cowl was on the ground, abandoned, while the rest was taken away for proper repairs. It was the most intact of his uniform, which was why Ra's had it left behind. It only needed work where Tim's previously healed stab wound resided, which could be held off until the rest was patched up.
Ra's studied the unconscious teen as he feverishly slept. His sleep appeared turbulent and he showed signs of being in a cold sweat. Even so, Ra's could see the dark circles under his eyes. It was the calmest Ra's had seen the boy since his arrival, and even then it wasn't peaceful.
It puzzled Ra's. He was used to his own ailments, given his longevity thanks to the Lazarus Pit, but he wasn't used to others getting sick in his presence. He never even saw Damian sick. He could hypothesis the frequency of Tim's sick days, which he assumed wasn't often, but that's all they were. He could tell that Tim hadn't sleep in about three days, which was another reason he wanted to seclude him. Tim was probably going to be out for a day or two, but rather than have to run back and forth between his room and tending to Tim in another, it was convenient. Especially since he knew Tim wasn't going to be up for a while.
It was going to be a learning experience for Ra's, but he had a feeling that he could come up with some kind of plan in the meantime.
Tim is still comatose from his fever and Ra's contemplates what to do next.
A damp rag was gently placed on Tim's head. It had been a day since he had collapsed and his fever wasn't showing signs of diminishing. Tim was breathing relatively normal, which was appreciated, but he still didn't show signs that he wanted to wake. Ra's was taking it one step at a time, not as irritated or impatient with it as he was at first. He had only left the room to send a few of his assassins on mission and to get some form of sustenance. When he was out of his chambers, no one bothered to question him or Tim's status.
While Ra's did wish that this didn't happen, he appreciated the silence, not objecting to the lack of stubbornness coming from Tim. In fact, Ra's was kind of starting to enjoy the silence that the ailment brought along. Outside of checking on Tim periodically, Ra's was able to meditate and collect a few ideas to potentially implement later. He hadn't exactly decided what he'd do next, but that didn't stop him from scheming.
There were a few instances of murmuring. A side effect of the fever no doubt. The boy probably was encountering a fever dream or two, if Ra's had to guess, and wasn't completely vocalizing at this point. Tim was also still in a sweat, but thankfully not as profusely as before. Ra's accompanied him, sitting on the edge of the bed.
It was kind of pitiful, but at the same time concerning. The frailty of the teen was unusual to Ra's. He wasn't even conscious, which Ra's partially wished wasn't the case. Considering the enthusiastic and, at times, overzealous determination was a prevalent trait. And while not the strongest, he usually knew how to hold his ground. He was usually a resilient fighter whenever Ra's encountered him and he wasn't known for succumbing to illnesses. So seeing Tim like this wasn't as enjoyable as he at one time thought.
"Di… Dick." Tim unconsciously called out, gripping the blanket slightly tighter.
It was a little unexpected, as Ra's didn't expect his murmuring to take this volume, but it was interesting. Out of curiosity, Ra's continued to observe where the outburst was going to head. Tim's face was contorting in distress as his eye lids, eyebrows, nose, and mouth twitched. It had to be the fever talking. That or some sort of mental repression that decided to surface.
"Don't leave." Tim weakly pleaded. "I didn't mean for this to happen. Come back."
A hand slowly reached up, as if trying to grab something.
"Why… Why would you say that? I don't belong here. I want you and Bruce and my parents' safety. Please don't go."
His distress only seemed to intensify, as though he had heard something terrifying. Tim unconsciously bit his lower lip in fear. Thankfully, he wasn't biting hard enough to cause himself to bleed.
Tim shot up into a sitting position, eyes shooting open as the damp cloth fell from his forehead. His arms dropped to his side, clenching the sheets. His expression was one of dull, unresponsive terror. Upon closer inspection, Ra's found that the boy wasn't even conscious, rather, he was in a trance like state. Not even waving a few fingers passed his face seemed to faze the boy. Ra's wasn't entirely sure if it was a good or bad thing, but since Tim wasn't causing too much of a scene, Ra's wasn't that concerned.
"I'm not evil. I'm not." Tim weakly whispered. "I just want to go home."
Tim seemed to calm down pretty quickly soon after making the statement, his eyes closing. He hunched forward, back in a deep sleep. His breathing was back to a normal state. The nightmare seemed to pass, but upon inspection, the fever still remained. It appeared to have lessened some, but Tim's forehead was still burning.
Not wanting Tim to do any more spontaneous outburst, Ra's gently laid Tim back down. Tim's body didn't fight it, allowing him to go down with ease. Tim didn't restart his mumbling, going into a more peaceful state of slumber as Ra's repositioned the cloth on the teen's forehead. It was a relief.
That was insightful. Ra's intriguingly noted, covering Tim back up. That was rather deprecating. He really has an issue with abandonment and disappointment. Tim shuffled slightly, getting into a more comfortable position. He doesn't want the change he's destined for. Not that it really matters. Ra's got off the edge of the bed and cruised over to the window, wanting to stretch his legs for a moment.
The sun was starting to set with the rocky terrain blocking off what it could. Reds and oranges blended in the sky as shadows ran away from the horizon. With the day coming to a close, Ra's could tell that it was going to be another stalemate of a day. He was still hopeful, however, knowing that this wasn't going to last forever. It could even only last for another day or two if they were lucky.
Ra's turned his attention back to the still comatose Tim. Maybe we should try something new. Ra's deduced. Clearly you're not responding by a more forceful and cruel technique. He closed the drapes, heading back towards the bed. Maybe changing things up will help. You may not like it at first, but let's see if you'll warm up to it. He stood beside the bed watching Tim breathe. However, it's not without its subtle punishments. A devious smirk emerged at the thought, already forming a few suggestions.
Ra's turned away from the bed, making his way for the door. With the confidence that Tim wasn't going to leave any time soon, he wanted to make an appearance to his subordinates. There were a few missions that he wanted to send them on and wanted to prove to them that he was still alive and healthy.
He was determined to make Tim submit. Even if this change didn't work, Ra's was willing to adjust a new plan.
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
Tim finally wakes up, and Ra's lays down his new approach.
Darkness lifted as Tim's eyes slowly began to open. His eyes were still slightly tired, but his body had the urge to wake up. It took a moment for Tim to process his surroundings. Once he realized he wasn't in his cell, Tim shot up, sitting in an instant. He slowly scanned the room before studying himself. It was a nicely furnished and properly lit room that he did not recognize. Confused, his attention soon shifted to himself, wondered why he was no longer in his Red Robin attire.
"So you've finally joined the world of the living." A voice noticed.
Tim instantly looked over, startled by the voice. Ra's was leaning on the windowsill, arms crossed, intently observing the teen. It was then that Tim realized where he was.
"I was starting to worry." Ra's admitted, standing up and taking a step towards Tim. "You've been out for three days."
Tim's hand feverishly gripped the cloth around his chest anxiously. Sudden suspicions plagued his mind. Malicious intent being the first. It was actually quite amusing to Ra's that he was having such a fit.
"Don't worry, you haven't been defiled. I'm not that twisted."
A stiff sigh of relief escaped Tim, knowing that Ra's was being truthful. He was thankful for that.
"Even if I wanted to. I'd prefer it if you were conscious. That way, I could see you squirm."
That was a little disheartening, souring Tim's short lived relief. Tim figured Ra's was having a twisted spout of humor, but that didn't make the scene any less uncomfortable. A chuckle from Ra's didn't help either.
As Ra's approached the bed, Tim curled up, hugging his knees. Ra's took up residence on the edge of the bed. With one leg over the other, Ra's decided to get down to business. The first thing Ra's did was place a hand on Tim's forehead, causing the boy to flinch in surprise ever so slightly. Tim was better, his forehead now at a more reasonable temperature.
"What do you last remember?" Ra's inquired, curios as to where Tim's memory was at.
Tim took a moment to gather up what he knew.
"You dragging me to the training hall." Tim recalled. "Then I remember everything going black."
"That's about the gist of it."
"Now that I'm presumably better, what are you going to do?"
A hand laid itself on top of Tim's head. It startled him, but it wasn't malicious. It was surprisingly gentle.
"I think we'll spend some quality time together. No training. No torture room. Just us interacting."
Tim gave Ra's a suspicious and troubled glare. Ra's statement didn't sound right. This sudden change was suspicious and spontaneous. Something about it felt like there was an underlining, malicious reason for it.
"Why the sudden change of pace?" "Tim sternly inquired.
"I have my reasons." Ra's admitted. "Besides, you've just recovered. I'd hate to stress your body out this early."
Ra's could sense the teen's suspicions rise, removing his hand.
"You deserve to be comfortable hear, which it would appear that I've been neglecting lately. Now, I bet you're hungry considering you haven't had anything to eat in three days."
Tim didn't reply allowing his empty stomach to do the talking. Ra's nudged his head, motioning for Tim to get up. Not resisting the offer, Tim slowly swung his feet over the side of the bed. He took a deep breath and carefully got up. Ra's mimicked the movement soon after. He placed a hand on the teen's back and gently guided Tim out of the room.
Tim picked around at his food. He managed to get through most of it, but his stomach wasn't feeling too pleased with him. Unlike earlier when it was craving sustenance. It was clearly the remaining effects of his fever not wanting him to overdo it. With his appetite at a stalemated, Tim set the silverware down and pushed the plate forward. His arms folded on the table in defeat.
It was a little disappointing, but Ra's had figured that this to happen. His body was still building up strength after being unconscious and bedridden for a few days, so Ra's expectations weren't going to be met instantly. Even if he did want them to.
The training hall for Ra's assassins provided quite the insight. Each individual was clad in the same uniform, fully equipped with weapons. The victor was the one who was able to take down their opponent efficiently. Injury wasn't disabled, so any physical injury, be it from a weapon or a fist, was applauded. They were like well driven machines.
Ra's brought Tim to the study, but rather than letting him do some reading, Ra's invited the boy over to play a game of chess. Tim's technique was impressive. Ra's was glad to have someone to challenge him. Tim was impressed with Ra's' skills as well. Other than Bruce and occasionally Alfred, he never had anyone else to challenge.
"Impressive," Ra's complemented, moving a piece, "but I believe that's checkmate."
Tim groaned in defeat.
"You did good." Ra's stated, resetting the board. "Though if you were betting your life on this game, it would have been devastating."
"Like you'd do that." Tim huffed. "You'd hate to lose."
"True, but it's a fun thought. Again?"
Ra's brought Tim back to his quarters, his Red Robin uniform patched up on the bed. Tim started to head for the bed when he felt something wrap around his neck. With disgruntled acceptance, Tim knew what it was.
"You're still going to use this?" Tim inquired.
"I may be changing this up, but trust still needs to be earned." Ra's admitted. "Feel free to change and rest up."
With that said, Ra's left Tim alone, closing the door behind him. Tim changed back into the comfort of his own clothing, keeping his cowl down. As he sat on the bed, he checked everything. He still had all his gadgets and he appreciated the patch job. His only concern lied on his communicator.
Tim toyed with it, flickering the screen on. Thankfully, it appeared to be working, but there was no sign that Nightwing had tried to contact him. Even if he had, any remnant of it wasn't available. It was a little depressing, but there was still a chance that he could reach out. Maybe he hadn't had much alone time, like he did previously, and was waiting. Maybe he did and got caught. Or maybe, NIghtwing was unable to get through, just like Tim.
Whatever the case, Tim was willing to wait. That's all he could do. That and stay hopeful.
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Three instances of Ra's new approach
Tim hated being brought before the entire League of Assassins. They were all standing in the courtyard, eyeing both himself and Ra's, who were conveniently placed in a balcony over them. All Tim wanted to do was squirm away and hide, hating the fact that he was being watched. Unfortunately, the only thing preventing him from making a smooth getaway was an arm draped around his shoulders.
Ra's stated that he wanted to get comfortable with the hoard of assassins that he could one day lead, but this was far from comfortable. Tim never really liked being around people much, avoiding it as much as possible at Wayne Foundation gatherings. His now expanded family was the only exception. So being in front of a lot of trained killers, who were staring at them, was unnerving to say the least.
"I know all of you are questioning the existence of young Timothy Drake in our midst," Ra's loudly stated, "especially given his background and the fact that I've been hiding him over these last few weeks. I wanted to, and still want to, keep him secure during this transition. However, know that I chose him with the knowledge that he will be a successful heir that you will one day come to accept. He is intelligent and diligent. He's an excellent fighter and tactically proficient. Several fine qualities in a leader. I expect you all to treat him with respect as I begin integrating him into our society."
A round of applause sounded off. Even if they weren't entirely all for this declaration, everyone seemed to respect their leader's demands. Ra's knew he had to fill them in, knowing that they deserved it at this point. Plus, it was an opportunity to flaunt his captivated successor to everyone.
Tim finally managed to worm his way out of Ra's' grip, backing up towards the door. Ra's noticed this immediately, noting the slightly panicked demeanor of the boy. Clearly, he hated having that much of a spotlight on him. However, Ra's had believed that it could be a confidence boost. He knelt in front of Tim, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"That was terrifying." Tim complained.
"You should be honored." Ra's calmly stated. "I don't often praise people."
"You just paraded me to hundreds of assassins. How else am I supposed to react?"
"I can understand your discomfort, but you'll get over it in time."
Tim followed Ra's down the halls of the compound. The newest environment was that of a shrine. Several trinkets, weapons, and photos scattered through the room. It was a curious sight, filled with a bit of a look into Ra's' character.
"I would like to give you something like this someday." Ra's stated. "Obviously with every location there would have to be a recreated shrine. This one is a far cry from the original, the most precious pieces saved for the original sighting of the Lazarus Pit. However, this is suffice."
Tim rescanned the room. While he wasn't one for narcissism, only finding things like shrines useful for memorials or remembrance, it wasn't that bad of a thought. It was an interesting and symbolic gesture.
The last few days had steadily gotten less and less unusual as Tim started getting used to Ra's' change in tactic. Ra's' calmer demeanor was actually enjoyable. He even kept a somewhat reasonable distance from the boy. Not enough to give Tim complete solitude, but enough to not crowd him. He didn't want to admit it, but Tim was starting to get comfortable. He still wanted to get out, but it was a lot more bearable now.
He didn't have much time to process his thoughts further. A masked assassin came running at him. Tim didn't have time to react before he was punched, grabbed and thrown against the wall. In the assassin's free hand was a dagger and he was waiting to use it. Clearly the assassin wasn't happy with Tim, but he wasn't sure why.
"I refuse to accept you as our leader." The assassin growled. "You do not deserve the title of Demon Head, nor do you deserve our respect."
A hand grabbed his wrist and dragged him back. Ra's was standing behind him, and he was not happy. The assassin was horrified, afraid of what Ra's might do.
"Master!" The assassin shockingly gasped.
"I'll deal with you later." Ra's coldly stated. "Now go."
Ra's released the assassin and he ran off in a panic. He was going to punish him, be it maiming or death, Ra's had yet to decide. With the assassin out if sight, Ra's turned his attention towards Tim. Tim didn't have much of a response, as he stood there expressionless. A hand rested on Tim's shoulder, as Ra's observed him.
Tim wasn't sure how to react. The assassin came at him quick, so he didn't have much time to think. On the one hand, he was a little shaken up, but on the other, it almost felt expected. He wanted to freak out about almost being killed in this environment, but he remained strong. Ra's started to pick up on it a little bit.
"I'm sorry Timothy." Ra's apologized, pulling Tim into an embrace. "That wasn't supposed to happen."
Tim only got more confused as Ra's cape almost covered him. The sudden embrace only seemed to make his head spin a little more. He didn't feel comfortable with the gesture, but something deep down didn't want him to move away. It was an odd sense of comfort that he wasn't sure he wanted. At least from Ra's of all people.
Ra's released Tim, hoping that it was enough to comfort the boy. He decided to take Tim back to his room, wanting to keep him in a safer environment for the moment. Ra's had Ubu station outside of Tim's room until Ra's dealt with the issue.
Ra's found the assassin from earlier, ready to deal punishment. He decided to sneak up on him, a plan at hand. Ra's found the assassin hiding near a corner in the training hall, and it appeared that he didn't notice Ra's come in.
The assassin didn't have time to react as Ra's rammed his blade through his chest. The other assassins in the training hall stopped everything and looked to them, physically unfazed by the murder. Ra's pulled the blade out of him, letting the limp body fall.
"Does anyone else want to attempt to assassinate Timothy?" Ra's threateningly inquired.
No one vocally replied, only shaking their heads in refusal.
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
Ra's continues with his "kinder" method.
Italic = Tim's Dream
Darkness encased Tim as he stood in a realm of nothingness. It felt as though he was floating in a shadowy abyss. Tim scanned his surroundings, hoping to find something. With nothing to be seen or heard, it was a little lonely. However, the silence wasn't going to last long. Glowing silhouettes of Dick, Bruce, Jason, and Damian sporadically came into light. Each one sported a disappointed expression as they faded in and out of existence. They started to speak a slew of negative feedback.
'I never wanted you to be Robin.' Nightwing admitted.
'All you're good for is being a replacement.' Jason insinuated.
'I hope grandfather disposes of you as terribly as possible.' Damian denounced.
All of their comments hurt, but Bruce's would be the worse.
'You've disappointed me Tim.' Bruce coldly stated. 'I thought you were smarter than this. You know better. You should never had let this happen. You should have stopped them. You should have stopped Deathstroke from taking my son. If you get out of this, don't even bother coming home.'
It hurt Tim. Hearing everyone talk him down like that crushed him mentally. Even if he knew they didn't mean it and this was all a dream, it still affected him and he couldn't even argue it. His voice refused to surface no matter how hard he tried. All he wanted was for them to stop, to tell them that it wasn't true, but nothing escaped his mouth.
The statements continued to repeat themselves and they slowly started to overlap over each other. Tim tried to block it out by covering his ears, but the overlapping jumble only grew louder. No matter how hard he tried, Tim could not get rid of their taunts or their faces. Tim tried to reiterate that it wasn't true, that it was all a dream. Unfortunately, his mind wasn't going to let him believe it. He curled up, drowning in the darkness and vocal torment.
Tim shot up in distress, a slight sweat dotting his forehead. He realized that he was out of his dream and was back in his nightmarish reality. He sat there for a moment, letting himself wake up. Rubbing his eyes, Tim glanced to the side, to briefly shift his focus.
Tim jumped back, startled to find a figure standing beside the bed. It was Ra's, unsurprisingly, but his presence was still unexpected. Ra's was carrying his usual stoic expression. The two stared at each other in silence for several moments, making the scene even more uncomfortable.
"Is everything alright?" Ra's curiously inquired.
"Yeah." Tim admittedly sighed, pulling his feet over the side of the bed. "Just a dream."
"Nothing I'm not used to."
Tim's hands rested on his lap, curling slightly. He stared at Ra's for a moment before proceeding.
"What do you have planned today?"
"I think we're going to enjoy some time together in the observatory. I wish to review some of the sky charts I crafted and considering the natural lighting, you could use the sunlight."
"Do you really believe that I won't make a run for it?" Tim asked, standing up.
"You might try, but I have my doubts that you'll actually go through with it."
Tim was amazed by the view. The observatory was spacious and well stocked. The ceiling was lined with glass windows with a huge telescope looking out the middle. Even though the sky was blue, Tim figured the sight had to be amazing on a clear night.
Tim was so distracted by the sight that he didn't notice Ra's leave his side. Ra's positioned himself in front of a table with several charts on it. Once Tim realized this, he curiously walked over to him.
He took a look for himself, noting how some appeared older than others. It was fascinating how each map progressed. Details became more vivid, more constellations were added, even differing positions depending on the location.
"I've spent years studying constellations and astronomy." Ra's admitted. "While they aren't as impressive as they were centuries ago, they are quite educational and I'm quite attached to them."
"Impressive." Tim complemented. "Defiantly details everything. You've even pointed out some of the planets."
Ra's gave a smirk, pleased that Tim was giving an interest. He was glad that Tim was finding something to enjoy.
After two hours, Ra's and Tim could be seen walking down the halls. Ra's promised that he would allow Tim to visit the observatory whenever he wanted. Even later that day if Tim wanted. However, it was time for dinner, and Ra's wanted the boy to be sustained.
Movement in front of them caught their attention. An assassin emerged from the shadows and was focused squarely on Tim. This time, however, Tim was prepared, deflecting the jab directed at him. The assassin tried again, not even noticing that his superior was standing right there.
Tim continued to defend himself, blocking each punch. He dodged several other swipes and got in a few of his own.
A miniature blade slid out of the assassin's sleeve, causing Ra's to intervene. Ra's yanked the assassin back. With his sword in one hand, he was ready to defend Tim. The assassin was intimidated, finally realizing that Ra's was there. The realization didn't last long as Ra's started beating the assassin. Not even his pleas for forgiveness could stop Ra's.
The assassin fell to the ground, in too much pain to stand any longer. Ra's stood over the assassin stone cold. The assassin pleaded one last time, only for it to fall on deaf ears as Ra's raised his blade.
After dealing the final blow and putting his blade away, Ra's turned his attention to Tim. Tim was still in a defensive stance, his expression was one of disbelief. The fact that this happened a second time was unbelievable, but maybe not as much as Ra's' violent act of protection. Ra's slowly approached the teen, concerned.
"It's okay." Ra's calmly reassured, placing his hands on Tim's shoulders before pulling him in for a hug. "You're safe."
Something about the predicament was oddly comforting. So much was going through Tim's head. The aforementioned assassination attempt still plagued his mind, but Ra's' shift in demeanor was strange. Ra's just murdered one of his own men with no remorse, but now he was acting like he was concerned for Tim. Tim was a little uncomfortable with Ra's now in his personal space, but he couldn't bring himself to push him away. Be it the residual effects of Ra's' change or the stress of the attempt on his life, he wasn't sure what was causing him to allow this.
"I'm so proud of you." Ra's complemented.
Chapter 16: Chapter 16
Tim comes to a realization about Ra's' different approach.
Tim was observing the sky above, peacefully lying on his back in the observatory. The sun had recently set and stars were gathering in the sky. It was a pleasant sight, dark blues and glittering dust swam together. It had been two days since he had been in this room, but he was enjoying it.
Tim was a little surprised that Ra's agreed to take him there. He didn't even have to say much, having requested to see the sky for a change. He was tired of the enclosed space of the compound, so the exposed night sky was a breath of fresh air. Though still bound behind glass and walls, longing for his freedom, Tim didn't feel as trapped as before.
Ra's was quite entertained with the display. He was leaning against the wall closest to Tim, observing him. He had never seen Tim lying around like this, so it was a curious moment. What could be going through Tim's mind was a mystery to him.
He and Tim were progressively getting along. Ra's continued to praise Tim, hoping to peel back some of Tim's emotional layers. While Tim seemed to open up to him a little more each day. They hadn't gotten into the depth of Tim's psyche and personal life, but they were interacting in a way that was encouraged. They found common grounds and Tim was starting to show signs that he was accepting the situation.
Tim even started wanting to train, both on his own and with Ra's, showing just how well he was improving. He even showed interest in learning different forms of combat.
Tim eventually rolled over, slowly standing up. He brushed off the nonexistent dust from his uniform and looked at Ra's.
"Done already?" Ra's inquired.
"Yeah." Tim sighed, stretching his limbs out. "I've spotted the constellations I wanted, and I think I've located Venus."
"What would you like to do now?"
"Go to the study?"
Tim heartily studied the array of books for another time. He wasn't looking for a particular book, just one that that might catch his eye. He grabbed the Hobbit. It looked like an older copy of the book, but it was in good condition.
He sat on an arm chair, legs bent with his heels on the edge of the seat, carefully studying the book. He didn't want to rush through it, even if he did enjoy it. While not something he read regularly, he heartily enjoyed it from time to time.
"Timothy." Ra's called, catching the teen's attention. "Come here."
Tim approached the small table, taking a seat across from Ra's. The first thing Tim noticed was something in the Demon Head's hands. It was Tim's nightly collar. It was a little curious to say the least.
"I must admit that I enjoy your company." Ra's stated. "You are a fast learner, a smart individual, and an overall reliable individual."
Tim was a little flattered by the complement, but was still not entirely used to it. Even if Ra's had been doing it for a good week or so now. His focus bounced from Ra's face back down to the collar, wondering what it had to do with the conversation.
"I'm no longer going to be restraining you at night." Ra's decided, pointing the collar at Tim with his pointer finger and thumb. "You're free to roam wherever you'd like in this sanctuary."
With that said, Ra's destroyed the collar, snapping it in half with his hands. It surprised Tim, but at the same time, he was glad that he no longer had to worry about it anymore. He no longer had to deal with the discomfort of a metallic instrument digging into his neck. No more suspicions that it could potentially short circuit and electrocute him in the shower.
The sense of appreciation was short lived as another emotion entered his head. Suspicion began to swirl around. The reason for doing this had to be something underlining reason. An underling trust that Ra's was trying to present.
That's when it hit Tim. Trust. His demeanor subtly shifted from reluctant acceptance to unnerved anxiety. Tim had been so content with the change that he didn't even realize that he was subtly connecting with his captor.
A sense of panic started to take over as Tim scooted away. Ra's' smug expression didn't help either. It was terrifying, like he knew and he knows Tim realized it.
"You wanted this to happen, didn't you?" Tim assumed, standing up. "You wanted me to warm up to you. Like you."
Ra's nodded, keeping his divisive expression.
"Indeed." Ra's confirmed, folding his arms. "Though I would have preferred that we connected more."
Tim ran both hands through his hair in anxiety. His mind was steadily getting a grip on just how far the situation had gotten.
"So you were willing to let Stockholm Syndrome to sink in?"
"Of course. It easier to manipulate someone who's subconsciously attached to you. While you were bound to take your time, I'm a pretty patient man."
Ra's got up from his seat and worked his way around the table. Tim started to back up, noticing that Ra's was approaching him. He wanted to run, but Tim knew it could potentially push back the progress that had been made. Tim didn't get further with the thought as a wall stopped him. Hands trapped him, landing on the wall behind him.
"You enjoyed it." Ra's deduced. "Having someone defend you. Compliment you. Someone treating you like an equal. It's been so long since you've been praised, hasn't it?"
Tim didn't reply.
"You should appreciate what I've done. Quite frankly, I think you already do to a degree." Ra's closest in on Tim's ear. "Why don't we forget this before I have to punish you? I'd hate to have to inflict something drastic on you."
The proximity was getting uncomfortable and Ra's' implication was unnerving. Tim squirmed out of the confinement, running for the door. He didn't plan on leaving, knowing it wouldn't be wise, but he had to get away from Ra's.
Chapter 17: Chapter 17
Tim gets a call from Dick, but this conversation doesn't go as they expect.
Tim burst into his chambers distressed. Slamming the metal door behind him, Tim leaned against it in anxiety. As he took a few breaths, he tried to make sense of it all. Ra's was trying to manipulate him. Use his bottled up desire for praise to make a connection. Ra's was reading him and devising a plan based on those observations.
What was worse was the fact that Tim actually enjoyed it. Ra's was being so calm and collected about it that he couldn't help but slowly embrace it. The reliance he held for Tim was impressive. Ra's didn't even chase after him once he picked up on Ra's' scheme. Like he knew Tim wouldn't leave.
How could I be so stupid? Tim insulted, placing his hands on his head. He slowly slumped down, landing softly on his behind. Tim studied his communicator. Disappointment and grief plastered on his face. He felt abandoned, alone, but he couldn't help but worry about his captive companion. Concerns of Dick getting caught and potentially compromised wasn't a pleasant thought. Tim's head tapped the door as he gazed to the darkened ceiling, unsure of what was going to happen.
Lit up static caught his attention instantly. Tim prayed that the image would clear as he moved away from the door. As he sat at the table, Tim anxiously awaited for the static to clear.
A hand shot over Tim's mouth in horror. A black eye and blood coated Dick's face. Dick also sported several scars, one which cut deep in the shape of the assassin's trademark on his check. He was clad in a uniform similar to Deathstroke's, but without the face mask. Dick noticed Tim's concerns immediately, ready to comfort him.
"You look worse than last time." Tim grimly chocked.
"It's okay." Dick tried to alleviate. "Considering the success I had, it was worth it."
"What could be so great to cost you your health?"
"I got through to Bruce."
Tim was speechless. Relief and joy were the first things for him to internalize. Though not entirely expressed in his face, Tim was glad to hear it. At the same time, he was troubled by a conundrum.
"He knows what happened and that we're alive." Nightwing filled in. "You should have seen how relieved he was when he heard that."
Tim could imagine it. The unchanging grimace on Bruce's face easing up at the sight of one of his missing kids was the first thing he thought of. Said expression would blend with his usual demeanor as he encountered one of them abducted and injured.
"Since he knows where to look, he'll get me first."
Tim was a little disappointed that he wouldn't be retrieved first. However, given the fact Dick's situation was more physically volatile than his, it had to be done that way.
"He knows that Ra's has you, so it's only a matter of locating him, and by extent, you."
"We're coming for you Tim. Luck is finally on our side."
"Unfortunately, your luck ends here." A voice remarked.
Both individuals jolted in shock by the voice. Tim slowly turned his head in fear, knowing who was present. Ra's stood in the doorway, disappointment on his face. He closed the door behind him and approached Tim. Ra's firmly placed his hands on Tim's shoulders as the boy's attention shifted back to Dick.
"I, on the other hand, am quite lucky." Ra's admitted. "Thanks to our little mouse here, I know that the Detective is on to us."
"Leave him alone Ra's." Dick ordered. "You've lost."
"I disagree Richard. You see, I've been meaning to change scenery. I just didn't know when since I wanted Timothy to get comfortable. Now, I have enough of a reason to."
"You can't keep him forever Ra's. We will rescue him."
"Why don't you worry about your new master Richard? I doubt he's too thrilled about your little dialogue. Wouldn't you agree Slade?"
Dick instantly darted his attention away from them, gasping in unpleasant surprise. Slade was behind him, aggravated.
"I agree." Slade replied. "Unfortunately, that means I have to punish him more this time. Break a few bones by my estimate."
Tim gasped in horror. He couldn't believe that Slade had been watching them too. The realization that they both knew this call was going to happen was terrifying.
"Indeed." Ra's agreed with a curious tone in his voice. "Keep the call going. I wish for my heir to witness everything."
Tim's attention bolted towards Ra's in horror. Ra's was maliciously attentive as he grabbed Tim's head and turned it back to the screen, keeping his hand in the boy's hair.
"You have to see this." Ra's demanded. "This is all because of you."
The screen started to shake as Dick tried to back away from Slade. It only stopped briefly before the screen showed a motion resembling being thrown. Shuffling followed by Nightwing's arm being lifted in an uncomfortable position caused Dick to hiss in pain. That, however, wasn't the only thing bothering him.
"Get out of there Tim!" Dick ordered. "Go!"
Tim attempted to break free of Ra's' grip, but the man refused to release him. If anything, it only made Ra's' resolve harder as he tightened his grip on the teen's shoulder and hair. An uncomfortable moan got out of Tim as he was forced to watch on.
The sound of Dick begging for Slade to stop rang threw the call before the sounds of bone's breaking changed it to a pained scream. Tim tried to look away in disgust, but Ra's forced him to keep his attention on the scene.
"You're to blame for this Timothy." Ra's coldly stated. "You will watch it."
The sound of another bone breaking casued Tim to flinch. Dick pained scream didn't help. That didn't stop Dick from trying to speak to Tim. Dick still was telling Tim to get away. The line went silent, after several punches collided with Dick's weakened frame. The line soon went to static and powered off.
Tim began to shake. He hated having to watch Dick get beaten. What was worse was the fact that he couldn't stop it. Dick was suffering, broken, and who knew how many kinds of pain. Tim could only hope that Dick would live after what Slade did to him.
He wanted to scream. Cry if his stubborn mind would let him. But nothing wanted to surface. Tim was too choked up to know what to emote.
That didn't stop Ra's from pulling Tim back, hands firmly on his collar. Tim smacked the ground, using his hands and legs as a cushion. Ra's' shadow towered over Tim, discouraging Tim even more. The dark, malicious glare sent chills down Tim's spine. What Ra's could possibly have in mind for him was frightening.
Chapter 18: Chapter 20
Ra's decides to punish Tim for his insubordination.
The ground was not kind as Tim was tossed into the torture room. The candle lit room exposed his distress. He wasn't physically harmed, but that didn't mean he wasn't shaken up. He was dragged along so quickly he barely had time to let himself calm down. The shock of Dick's punishment still plagued his mind. Dick's screams rang in his ears. His overall condition was still a traumatic sight.
Ra's closed the door behind him, sealing out the external light on the other side. His body language may have said calm and collected, but his eyes said aggravated punishment. Tim slowly scooted away from Ra's, not wanting him too close. However, that didn't stop Ra's frame from towering over him.
"I thought we were getting along so well." Ra's admitted. "I thought this little escape escapade had been burned from your mind. You're mine."
"I'll never give up." Tim rebuked.
"And look what's that's caused. Richard could be dead thanks to you."
Tim was offended by the statement. He wasn't about to believe that Dick could die.
"Slade wouldn't kill him. He's too valuable."
"He might, and all because you both wanted to make contact with each other."
Tim wasn't amused by the statement. His offence turned into an agitated glare.
"I'm going to have to punish you. Unfortunately, I can no longer use your parents."
Confusion over took Tim, curious by the statement. Ra's picked up on this shift as a devious smirk graced his face.
"What are you talking about?"
"It would appear, they died quite recently. You're mother by suicide and your father was murdered."
Tim couldn't believe it. He refused to believe what Ra's said, feeling like the man was trying to pull his leg. A cruel joke to try and get a reaction.
"I don't believe you."
Ra's reached into his pocket and brought out several photos. He tossed them to Tim, who promptly studied the items. They were disturbing. His mother appeared to have hung herself while his father was a bloody mess on the kitchen floor. His disbelief seemed to falter slightly, but he refused to accept it.
"Photos can be altered."
Ra's chuckled. He reached in another pocket for something.
"I thought you'd say that. True as that can be in this day and age, I would never alter anything. You ought to know that. I applaud your skepticism, but if that won't affect you, maybe this well."
A recorder was removed from Ra's possession, held within the man's grasp. His thumb traced over the power button, pressing it. The sound of brief static surged before shuffling could be heard. Tim heard the muffled voice of his father speaking from, what appeared to be, the other side of a door. His father was calling out for Tim's mother, who wasn't responding.
Clicking the door handle, Tim heard his father letting his presence known as he entered the room. It was soon followed up by a gasp and his father screamed his mother's name. It was immediately followed by sounds of his father climbing on the bed, pleading that she was alive.
There was no denying the denial and fear in the voice of Tim's father. No matter how much Tim wanted to deny it. It was disheartening and painful for him to hear. Especially when Tim hear the sorrowful acceptance from his father as he realized it was too late.
Ra's was proud of it. However, this wasn't the end of his scheme. He skipped forwards a ways to another soundbite. This time to just Tim's father. This bit wasn't any less morbid as the last as Tim's father was begging for his life.
"Please, I have a son who's a hostage out there." Tim's father begged. "He's trapped, alone, and scared. Please don't kill me. I'm all the family he has left."
A malicious chuckle disrupted his plea. One of which Tim could identify.
"I don't care about your kid." Captain Boomerang admitted. "It's because of this family that I ended up incarceration."
"Please. I've already lost my wife. My son, his mother. I can't condemn my child to suffer any more than he already has."
The room went silent. The eerie tone in the air was stressful. Several moments passed before the sound of something being taken out shuffled.
"No!" Tim's father gasped.
He didn't get far before a thudding sound collided with something. Or in this case someone. A final gasp from Tim's father emerged and was followed by a thump as, what could only be assumed as a body, hit the ground. Shuffling feet sped away, the dull slamming of a door following.
The recorder went silent as Ra's put it away. Tim was horrifically speechless. He didn't want to believe it. It just had to be altered. However, the sheer despair in his father's voice was something that couldn't be fabricated. His pleas for mercy falling on deaf ears, begging for a chance to see his son.
It was in that moment that the weight of what occurred started to sink in. Tim's parents were dead. Choking clogged Tim's throat as grief started to surface.
"Tragic." Ra's sarcastically sympathized. "He died never to see his beloved son again."
Tim was too troubled to be aggravated by the false sense of sympathy.
"It doesn't end there. Your punishment has yet to conclude." Ra's stated, grabbing Tim by his collar and lifting him off his feet. "You have to realize that I own you Timothy. And if I have to use force, so be it."
With hands bound behind his bare back, Tim painfully lied on the ground. Freshly dug scars scattered everywhere over his upper body. The last three hours were filled with nothing but physical and psychological torment. Each inflicted wound was followed up with a vocal disturbance.
Tim could barely grieve as Ra's continuously cast blame on him. All Tim could hear was Ra's telling him how he failed his family. How his parents died never to see him again and that their dying moments were tainted by the grief of such a travesty.
Ra's approached the teen, kneeling beside him. Harshly grabbing Tim's face, Ra's pulled Tim up, forcing Tim to look at him. The tense distress failed to pierce Ra's' conscience.
"Who do you serve?" Ra's coldly inquired.
Tim didn't answer. In response, Ra's' hand slowly wrapped around his neck, tightening to the point that Tim let out a troubled gasp.
"Who do you belong to?"
Tim didn't answer, hating the situation.
"You." Tim hissed.
Chapter 19: Chapter 19
Tim's in for a little more turmoil following the discovery of Tim's communications.
Tim's arms were held above him as chains cuffed his wrists. His feet barely hovered over the ground. He had been tied up in the bowels of the building all night. He sported several new scars, some running deeper and longer than others. He was in pain, but he tried to keep his mind off of it.
Footsteps echoed as Tim realized he had company. Tim slowly rose his head to greet his guest. Ra's was smugly welcoming as he approached the teen. His hand gently grabbed Tim's face and made the teen look at him. The first thing he noted was the exhausted daze in Tim's eyes. Sleep seemed to be out of the question, giving the dark circles that were starting to form. It wasn't too concerning, but Ra's knew he deserved a break and he didn't want to take the risk of damaging Tim beyond repair.
"I think you've been punished enough." Ra's admitted. "For now at least."
He unlatched Tim's wrists, letting Tim drop to his feet. Tim stumbled slightly, losing his balance for a moment. Ra's helped him until Tim got his footing back. Keeping a hand on Tim's back, Ra's provided a little support.
"I think you deserve to get some rest." Ra's calmly stated, guiding Tim along.
Ra's guided Tim down the halls, not wanting him to fall over. The worst wounds were properly treated and Ra's wasn't complaining about the boy's silence. Tim was being surprisingly willing, but given the night he had, Ra's was glad that Tim wasn't being so rebellious. Everyone glanced at them as they passed, but no one dared to question it. Not wanting to upset their leader or risk getting killed for that matter.
Ra's walked Tim into the room, placing the once banished collar back on Tim's neck. Tim didn't seem to notice, still in a bit of a daze. That or he was just too tired to care. Either way, Ra's didn't care so long as the teen was cooperating. Without a whole lot of trust in the boy, Ra's was a little suspicious of the boy, which was quite the disappointment in Ra's' mind.
He slowly led Tim to the bed, helping Tim getting situated. Subconsciously curling up, Tim started twitching in exhaustion and residual pain. It would have been pitiful had Ra's not known what Tim went through. He covered Tim, reducing the shaking a bit.
With Tim on the edge of losing consciousness, Ra's excused himself. Stopping at the door, Ra's looked back at Tim with false sympathy.
"I'll check on you later." Ra's stated. "Hopefully you'll be able to rest peacefully before our next venture."
As the door closed, Tim lost the remnants of consciousness. His breathing calmed and his twitching finally ceased as he allowed himself to sleep.
It had been a few hours and Tim's twitching had started to return. It wasn't pain nor was he cold. Rather a nightmare surfaced in the bowels of Tim's subconscious. The sights and sounds of his parents' deaths plaguing him. Words that they've never uttered bullied him as they told him it was his fault. That he was their greatest disappointment.
His body finally let loose, causing him to jump up in fear. A cold sweat greeted him as he processed the nightmare and his surroundings. He knew the nightmares weren't true, but the guilt and grief for his parents finally started to settle in. He knew he shouldn't scream or cry, knowing it wouldn't help the situation, but those emotions wanted to make themselves known.
He then surveyed his surroundings. The dark solitude usually was usually something Tim enjoyed, but now, it wasn't so nice. It was actually quite lonely. As much as he hated to admit it, Tim kind of missed Ra's' company. He may have harbored some resentment for the man, but his presence was pleasant to have around. Not that it mattered at that point. That option was chaotically thrown in the air.
Tim's knees slowly approached his chest as he wrapped his arms around them. He was at a loss. He was concerned for Dick, distraught about his parents, and uncertain about the future. Not to mention Bruce. Tim wondered if Bruce would ever find them, and if he did how bad of a condition either, Dick especially, would be when he did. It was concerning and Tim didn't like it.
A light caught Tim's attention, causing him to look towards it. In the doorway was none other Ra's. He seemed pleased by the fact that Tim was awake.
"Good. You're awake." Ra's greeted. "There's one thing we need to take care of."
Tim was back in the depth of the lair, once again chained to a wall. His back was to Ra's, who had been pretty silent along the way. Tim could hear things shuffling behind him, but all Tim could see when turning his head was a fire and Ra's holding something.
"What are you doing?" Tim anxiously questioned.
"Something I should have done a long time ago." Ra's replied, approaching him. "It'll only hurt for a little."
Tim could feel something emitting heat and flinched. He tried to move away, but the restraints didn't let him.
"What ARE you going to do?" Tim repeated with anxiety.
"I already told you. Something I should have done already."
"And what, pray tell, might that be?"
"Registering you as my heir."
Tim felt the item touch his back and yelped in distress. Heated metal was something he didn't want anywhere near him. He made another attempt to move away from the object, only to fail. Ra's didn't seem to care, or at least he didn't appear to, as he poked the teen again.
Tim wanted to run. Get away from Ra's' violent initiation. Unfortunately, he was well aware that escape was out of the question.
An aggravated scream emerged from Tim's mouth as Ra's drew along Tim's frame. Toes curled in a futile attempt to block the pain out as his knees bent slightly. Regardless, Ra's continued, allowing Tim's screams of pain to echo throughout the chamber.
Chapter 20: Chapter 20
Ra's knows there's not much time left before Bruce comes, but that doesn't stop him from giving Tim a couple days to contemplate.
Tim was tossed into his cell, bandages properly wrapped around his upper body. His body still writhing in pain as he slowly squirmed farther into the room. His back was to the door as he used the bed to support his weight as he sat up. A forearm was standing up right as his hand appeared to cover part of his face.
Ra's was standing in the doorway, silently watching the teen. He didn't want to speak until Tim was comfortable. When Tim appeared settled, he decided to speak.
"Because our sanctuary is in jeopardy, we will be moving out in two days." Ra's declared. "Destroy it as we leave so we don't leave behind any tracks."
Tim didn't respond, not that Ra's was surprised. He approached Tim, standing over him. His face showed no sympathy, or any emotion for that matter. If anything, it was pitiful.
"I know you're a little disturbed about the situation, but I think we can start anew once we're adjusted."
Tim still didn't reply, shaking slightly in pain. Ra's wasn't offended, well aware that Tim wasn't going to be in a very good mood for a while. He was half tempted to pat the teen on the head, in an attempt to give Tim some sort of comfort, but he voted against it. It wouldn't help the situation, only making the teen more distressed.
Instead, Ra's turned his back to Tim, walking towards the door. He stopped for a moment to look back at Tim.
"It will get better Timothy." Ra's softly admitted. "You'll see."
The light was taken away as the door closed. Tim was finally alone with his pain. With Ra's gone, Tim wasn't ashamed that tears were taking up residence in his eyes. He was hurt. Embarrassed. Afraid. He didn't want to be relocated. He didn't want to be secluded even more. Tim just wanted to go home.
Unfortunately, Tim knew Ra's' mind was already set. There was no chance of changing that, which only made Tim feel worse. Tears tainted his hand, slipping through and dripped onto the bed. Not only was his grief finally surfacing, but a sense of hopelessness started to sink in. The thought of not being able to escape and Ra's appearing to be one step ahead was terrible.
Two days. That was all he had left before everything he knew was gone.
The next morning, Tim was locked in the torture room alone. There was no light in the room and Tim stayed in the middle of it. Ra's threw him in there in the dark to contemplate his situation. Not that Tim planned on it. The lingering emotions from the previous day persisted and the dark confines of this kind of solitary confinement was draining.
When Ra's came to check on Tim after several hours, he was a little surprised by what he saw. Tim was curled up in the center of the room, almost as though he was dead with his back to the door. His cape draped over his body, excluding his feet, as well as some of the floor. He didn't even flinch at the sound of the door opening or the light skating over him. Upon further inspection, Tim appeared calmly defeated, his eyes barely open but undeniably broken.
Ra's was pleased with the development. Tim was finally succumbing to his fate and it was wonderful. While Tim wasn't currently taking notice of Ra's presence, it did open a possibility for persuasion.
Tim robotically followed Ra's around. He barely talked, barely ate, and barely responded. He was done fighting and wanted as much peace he could possibly get. Tim did everything he could not to piss Ra's off.
Some had already left and planned to regroup and Talia had not been around for a few days. Those who stayed behind helped set up the explosives all over the compound. They wouldn't go off until tomorrow, and if all went well, they would be gone before Batman got the chance to find it and by extent them. How blowing it up wouldn't cause much of a commotion, Tim didn't know. It probably had to do with how secluded it was, but he doubted it would stay that way.
With the two day timeline finally over, Ra's was ready to leave. Even with the hope that Batman wouldn't find out about them, Ra's knew not to doubt the detective's skills. He grabbed Tim while he was barely conscious, bringing him outside of the compound.
Dragging him along, Ra's brought Tim to the helicopter that was stationed a mile away. Tim could hear an explosion, but didn't look back. As they approached the active helicopter they were greeted by two assassins and Ubu who were patiently waiting for them.
Tim paused with Ra's just a few steps ahead. Part of Tim still didn't want to leave, but his overwhelming sense of acceptance told him had to. There wasn't another option that Tim could see.
Something instantly caught Tim's attention, and he wasn't the only one. The sound of something moving through the air. Tim turned around, staring off.
Something in him changed. Hope resurfaced as a relieved grin formed around his face. In the distance, he could see a black aircraft flying in their direction.
"He's here." Tim gratefully sighed. "He's coming for me."
Ra's wasn't about to let that happen. He latched an arm around Tim and started carrying towards the helicopter. Tim didn't like it, kicking and screaming. It annoyed Ra's, but it didn't stop him.
"Let me go!" Tim loudly demanded.
Ra's ignored his order, throwing Tim inside. Ra's climbed in soon after, slamming the door behind him. Tim was on the floor as a foot held him in place.
"Go." Ra's sternly demanded. "Use the landscape to keep cover for as long as possible."
The assassins followed the order, taking the aircraft of the ground. Once it got going and the helicopter took cover, Ra's gave Tim his attention. Tim stared at Ra's with panic and unsettlement. It was chaotically terrifying. Knowing that Bruce was on his way should have been a wonderful occurrence, but he was still trapped with Ra's, and that was what worried him.
Ra's sat down, removing his foot from Tim's body. He crossed his legs and sternly watched the teen.
"He will find me." Tim argued. "You've lost.
"Don't get cocky just because the Detective found our housing sooner than we expected." Ra's coldly lectured. "He still hasn't found you."
"That doesn't mean he won't find me."
"Why don't you worry about where we're going, rather than the desperate remnants of hope that you are holding onto?"
Chapter 21: Chapter 21
Ra's manages to escape Batman, but not for long. How will the situation play out once Batman catches Ra's and Tim?
How Ra's managed to allude Batman was an enigma to Tim. They managed to elude him long enough to make it over an ocean. That's what was frightening, even if his body forced himself to pass out from the inevitable change in time zone.
From what he could guess, they had left the country, but what one they were in currently was a little unfamiliar. The setting wasn't as dry and sandy as their previous location, opting to sport grass and clear skies. The seclusion and the elaborate building was the same, but that was about it. While Tim could admit he enjoyed the change in scenery, it came with the dark reminder that Tim was still Ra's' unwilling prisoner.
"Hopefully the Detective doesn't catch on long enough for use to regain our strength." Ra's processed, dragging Tim along. "We'll move on once we've gotten over the expected jet lag. Let's go Timothy."
Tim didn't bother arguing, not having the energy to. Not that he'd get far if he did. He reminded himself there wasn't a point to it either.
The room Tim was shoved in was a lot nicer than the previous one. It was brighter, felt more welcoming, and it didn't present itself like a prison. Even if it was providing a similar use. It wasn't going to be a permanent settlement, but he could live with that.
That was an odd notion. Tim slowly sat on the edge of the bed, as it started to sink in. He hated that he was being used as a prize that Ra's wanted to keep to himself. To be broken, manipulated and enslaved. At the same time, there was a small lingering desire to be in contact with Ra's. It felt so perplexing to Tim.
"Rest up Timothy." Ra's demanded. "You'll need your strength so we can continue to allude the Detective."
His confusion dropped as something came over Tim at that statement. Be it the fact that Ra's said it, Batman was coming to save him, or both, Tim wasn't sure. Regardless, it did bother him.
"I don't want to allude him." Tim admitted. "I want to be with him."
Ra's leaned over Tim, sternly observing him. A hand made sure that Tim kept his gaze on him.
"I don't care. What you want doesn't matter. Your old life doesn't matter anymore. You belong to me now and you know that. I thought you finally grasped this after I've reiterated it so often."
Ra's pushed Tim back. Tim bounced slightly as he landed. Keeping his attention on the man, Tim was intimidated by the fact Ra's was still looming over him.
"Now sleep. I won't have you getting ill or exhausted on me."
Tim didn't get a completely restful sleep before he was removed from the room. Ra's simply stated that they had to move. Ra's didn't say anything, but Tim could tell that he wasn't pleased as he practically dragged through the building.
The moment Ra's got Tim outside, he realized that they weren't alone. Several feet away was Batman. There wasn't going to be a smooth escape, if any, at that point, forcing Ra's to give Batman his attention. Not that Tim cared. He was just glad to see Batman, hopeful that this could end in his favor.
"Let him go Ra's." Batman demanded, approaching them.
Ra's' grip only tightened on the teen's arm, causing Tim to painfully hiss.
"No." Ra's refused. Tugging Tim along to keep some distance. "He's mine."
Batman's stone cold determination remained unchanged. He was not in the mood for Ra's refusal. The anxiety in Tim's eyes didn't help either.
"You've kidnapped my child, bartered another, and you have the gall to even consider claiming him."
"No." Ra's disagreed. "I have every right with Timothy."
"Bruce, help me." Tim begged, attempting to run in the man's direction.
"Silence!" Ra's demanded, throwing Tim back.
Tim tripped over his feet, causing him to fall down. Everyone stopped moving. Tim slowly sat up, keeping an eye on Ra's.
"You seem to have forgotten your place Timothy." Ra's reminded. "Now go to the transport while I deal with the Detective."
Something in Tim refused the command. He didn't want to listen to Ra's anymore. He was tired of the control. Tim slowly stood back up.
A whipping sound cracked in response to Tim's refusal. Both him and Batman appeared equally shocked by Ra's' choice of action. The red mark on Tim's face didn't help him either. A hand roughly grabbed the base of his head, gripping a wad of hair with it. With that much control, Ra's forced Tim's attention on to him.
"You will do as your told young man," Ra's stated, "unless you want a grander punishment later."
Tim's silence coupled with Ra's' authoritarian status was uncomfortable to Batman. The fact that Tim was letting this happen, and by extent how much power Ra's appeared to have over him, was even worse. He knew Tim wanted to fight, but something was stopping him. Tim was uncomfortable, but he was remaining calm.
"I don't care. I'm not going anywhere."
Ra's wasn't pleased with the response. The insubordination was bothersome, and he was willing to address it as cruelly as possible. Batman could see it.
Instead of vocally responding, Batman stormed over to them. He grabbed Ra's' shoulder and pried him away from Tim. He defensively stood in front Tim as Ra's regained his footing, enraged.
Ra's drew his blade, ready to fight. Batman shifted his stance to combat Ra's'. He remained protectively in front Tim for a moment.
"Stay here." Batman ordered. "I've got this."
"But…" Tim began.
"No. I'm not letting you get hurt."
"Don't make promises you can't keep Detective." Ra's interrupted. "He's going to hurt, and given his rebellion, a stern punishment."
"You're going to do anything." Batman denied. "He's coming home."
Batman lunged at Ra's. He was ready to unleash his anger towards the man out. The fight immediately took a physical route, using their preferred martial arts method. Ra's' sword was used in an attempt to either injure or distract Batman.
"He's a wonderful child Detective." Ra's complimented. "He's got so much potential, so much life, but it's squandered on your crusade."
"He's perfect the way he is." Batman argued. "He doesn't need what you maliciously have to offer."
"I disagree given your mentorship over my grandson. He needs someone who cares."
"That's not you."
The fight continued as Batman's anger grew.
They came to a stalemate after several minutes of combat, but neither one was ready to give up. Not with Tim's life in the balance. Batman hated the thought of leaving Tim behind. He already went through two months of captivity. Two months of torment. That wasn't fair, nor was it right.
Ra's' mindset was towards the opposite notion. He wanted to keep Tim to himself. To have an heir that heir that his previous two choices denied. He would need a little more breaking, but maybe after dealing with the Detective, it would be easier to mold him.
Tim couldn't stand to watch any longer. He was tired of waiting around for something good to happen. He was tired of not doing anything. Tim wanted to fight. He knew Batman didn't want him to, but he didn't care. He bolted at Ra's, but not without catching Batman's attention in the process.
"Tim! No!" Batman yelled.
Ra's took note of the command, turning his attention towards the teen. He didn't have the chance to react as Tim punched him square in the face. Ra's was able to pick up on his attack quick, defending himself from Tim's fight.
Tim tackled Ra's, stealing a small dagger from him. He held it above Ra's' heart. Ra's wasn't fazed by the predicament. He was actually curiously amused. He could easily gain the upper hand, but he didn't want to. The troubled and determined glow in his eyes was amazing, and Ra's wanted to see how it would play out.
"Go ahead." Ra's encouraged. "Stab me. You know you want to."
Batman was concerned. He wanted to say something to stop Tim from what he could possibly do. However, saying something could only push him over the edge. Whichever, Batman knew he couldn't do nothing.
"Tim." Batman sighed. "Don't."
"Don't listen to him Timothy." Ra's debated. "This is your choice. Your moment."
Tim didn't respond. He continued to hold the blade. He was at war with himself. He wanted to kill Ra's, he really did, but something was holding him back. After all Ra's put him through, Tim knew he deserved it. But no matter much he mentally ordered himself to kill him, a lingering theory plaguing the back of his mind. Tim started to shake.
Several minutes passed and there wasn't any response. Ra's and Batman were on opposite ends of suspense. Ra's was curiously impatient, wanting Tim to make a move, while Batman was anxiously praying that Tim would make the right decision.
"I… I can't." Tim realized, throwing the blade aside. "You'll just come back. I could kill you. I want to, but you would be revived. I could leave you alive and you'd still come back. I could destroy you're hideouts, but you would still find a way to regroup. No matter what I do, I won't be able to stop you."
Batman sighed with relief. He was glad that Tim hadn't been completely over taken by the urge to kill Ra's. However, the fact that Tim was still able to hold on to his sense of reason was amazing.
Ra's, on the other hand, was intrigued. He had half expected Tim to stab him without remorse, but the fact that he weighed his options was a good thing. He listed off several accurate deductions.
"True." Ra's agreed. "Any of those options could come to pass, and I applaud your observation. No matter what you do, I'll always come back. Since you've come to accept that, I think I'll let you go. For now."
Tim was startled by the declaration. After all Ra's put him through, he was just going to release him. It was unheard of. Even Batman was surprised by it.
A hand placed itself on the back of Tim's head, bringing him closer to Ra's. It was as though Ra's had a secret that he wanted only Tim to hear.
"My kindness doesn't come without a price." Ra's whispered.
A sharp pain pierced Tim's chest as the blade he tossed aside entered it. Tim groaned in pain as his hand moved to the wound. Ra's took the opportunity to gain the upper hand. Using Tim's imbalance, he knocked the teen off of him, pinning the Tim down.
"I'll see you soon Detective." Ra's promised.
Standing up, Ra's ran towards his transport. Batman ran to Tim's side. As much as he wanted to chase after Ra's, Tim had to be his first priority. The blade was still embedded in Tim's chest, and he had to get it out.
"This might hurt." Batman warned as he grabbed the blade's hilt. "I'll try to be as quick as possible."
Tim weakly nodded. Batman kept a firm grip on the hilt. Taking a deep breath Batman quickly pulled blade out. Tim only gasped in distress. Blood began to spill out of the open wound. Thinking fast, Batman slowly sat Tim up and ripped a good sized chunk of Tim's cape off and tightly wrapped it around the wound. Tim was trying to hold onto consciousness, but the loss of blood was affecting him.
Batman carefully picked Tim up, one arm wrapped around his shoulders and the other around Tim's legs, and ran towards his jet. He didn't let Tim go as he punched in the coordinates and turned the autopilot on. Once the jet got off the ground, Batman sat down, positioning Tim on his lap. Batman took his cowl off, carefully watching Tim. Tim's breathing had slowed down and he was limp and unconscious.
"Hold on Tim." Bruce begged. "You're going to be okay. You hear me? Everything will be okay."
Chapter 22: Chapter 22
Tim wakes up in a hospital and Bruce wants to help him. The conclusion.
Tim woke up in to the white glow of a hospital room. He was groggy, but he slowly managed to sit himself up. He was hooked up to an IV line and he was in hospital attire rather than his Red Robin uniform. Tim slowly scanned the room, his view catching the sight Dick, who was similarly dressed, sleeping in the bed not too far from his. Panic surged through him, not knowing if he was okay.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa." Bruce comforted, approaching the side of Tim's bed and placing his hands on the boy's shoulders. "It's okay. Dick's fine."
Tim took a moment to observe his surroundings as Bruce slid onto the side of the bed. He soon realized that Damian was also in the room, positioned close to Dick's bed. He was clearly watching over Dick, wanting to protect him. Tim's breathing calmed as he realized he wasn't in any immediate harm.
"There you go." Bruce calmly sighed, releasing Tim's shoulders.
Tim looked at Bruce confused. The last thing he remembered was getting stabbed by Ra's, so waking up in the hospital was a little confusing.
"We had to ask Leslie to sneak you in here to avoid suspicion. Ra's missed major arteries, or at least knew where to avoid them. You've been out for two days recovering."
Tim's attention shifted towards Dick.
"He's okay. Both his arms are broken and he has a few cracked ribs, but he's recovering well. He just needs his rest."
Tim sighed in relief, knowing that Dick was okay, but he felt like he shouldn't have. The guilt of what Dick went through because of him came back to the surface. Bruce noticed instantly.
"Do you want to know what he told me?" Tim nodded. "He doesn't blame you for what happened. If anything, he was worried for you. Your life was more concerning than his pain."
Tim suppressed his emotions, forcing himself to accept Bruce's statement. There was one thing troubling Bruce. He was concerned about Tim's lack of communication. He
"I'm more concerned about you." Bruce admitted. "I can't begin to speculate what Ra's put you through."
Tim didn't respond, not entirely comfortable with answering. He wanted to tell Bruce everything, but part of him was afraid to.
"I know about your parents." Bruce stated, hoping it would get Tim to open up.
Tim shot Bruce a troubled look. Unfortunately, he still refused to talk, though his eyes spoke for him.
"I know you do too. I went to see your father shortly after your mother died. When the investigation concluded and the note checked for authenticity, they found no foul play. Apparently, after they received the photos of you battered and bruised, she went into a deep depression and it only got worse as the case went on. And your father, the victim of Captain Boomerang's vendetta."
Tim was silent, and it haunting. Bruce didn't know what was wrong or why he wasn't talking, but it was terrible.
"Tim, speak to me."
Tim squeezed the bed sheet. He knew he should say something, but the settling emotional distress stopped him. Guilt and terror embraced him.
The lack of a vocal response caused Bruce to try something. He slowly brought Tim in for a hug. Maybe the contact would
Tim didn't resist, which was a good thing. However, Tim didn't seem to entirely respond. Bruce wasn't expecting Tim to emote. It would help, but Bruce didn't care that he wasn't. Taking it in small steps, that's all that mattered.
"It's okay. I'm here to help you."
There was, unfortunately, one thing Bruce wanted to address. Something Leslie mentioned to him while Tim was unconscious. It sounded urgent, but she didn't go into detail, only mentioning that she noticed something. Bruce hated asking Tim about the experience when he wasn't completely ready, but he had to. The fact that Tim didn't say anything at the mention of the demise of his parents was
"I want to ask you something." Bruce declared, releasing Tim. "Leslie vaguely brought this to my attention, demanding that I ask you when you're conscious."
Tim looked up at Bruce, curious.
"What's on your back?"
Tim jumped back, horrified. His hand clenched his shirt. Bruce's inclination was frightening, even if it was well intended.
Bruce didn't expect Tim to react like that. Clearly Ra's did something to Tim to warrant this response, but he wasn't sure what.
"Tim!" Bruce called. "What happened?"
Tim's discomfort only seemed to increase. He was embarrassed. Afraid.
"Please. I just want to help you."
As ashamed as he was, Tim couldn't resist Bruce's pleas any longer. Bruce's desire to help hurt him. Slowly, Tim pulled his top off. He choked up as he turned his back to Bruce, his hand curling around his nose and mouth.
He heard gasps as Bruce, and Damian, got a glimpse of the markings. Etched into his back was the symbol of the League of Assassins. Burn scars highlighting its intensity. Bruce's finger lightly traced along it, shocked by the image. What was worse was the fact that this mark, which reached from one shoulder blade to the other, was only the beginning. Down Tim's spine was an inscription. An inscription in a language Bruce was all too familiar with. Al Ghul was written down Tim's back.
Bruce was horrified and enraged by the scars. He could only imagine the pain Tim went through as Ra's carved this onto him. Had he known sooner, Bruce knew he wouldn't have gone as easy on the man.
"Traitor!" Damian growled.
This caused Tim to jump and Bruce to glare at his son, who had otherwise been preoccupied with his eldest.
"How dare you." Bruce lectured. "He was held hostage by your grandfather and
"He's a traitor father." Damian argued. "He let grandfather engrave his symbol onto him. Soiled your good name. He should be disowned for such dishonor."
"Do you really think he wanted this? To be enrolled into Ra's' cult?"
"He's right." Tim grimly agreed.
Bruce and Damian turned their attention to Tim, shocked. Not just because he was finally talking, but the fact that he was agreeing with Damian's harsh words. Tim had shifted back to a different position, his attentions falling on the wall across from him. He was on the verge of a breakdown.
"I wanted to stop him. I really did. But I was so numb from my parents' deaths and Dick being beaten that I didn't have the strength to resist it for long. Not only that, but I had unraveled a ploy to induce Stockholm Syndrome. Right as I was starting to get comfortable with it." Tim tightly gripped the sheets. "Me. Comfortable being with Ra's al Ghul. I don't deserve your support. Your love. I'm his property and deserve to be treated as such."
Bruce didn't want to hear it any more. He hated the loathing Tim was subjecting himself to. Bruce grabbed Tim and slowly brought him in for another embrace.
"That's not true." Bruce calmly stated. "What he did was brand you. Force you to live with a threat. What he did was give you a punishment. A prison sentence. He wants you to feel hopeless so that whenever you see him, you'll feel like he owns you." Bruce tightened his grip on the teen. "That's not going to happen Tim. Not while I still draw breath."
Tears fell as Tim finally let himself release his pain. He wasn't sure if he should feel happy or sad about what Bruce said, but he did feel safer. He didn't want to go back with Ra's. He didn't want to go back to that place. How the situation could unfold was a mystery, but Tim knew he was going to fight.
Bruce didn't care that Tim was getting his shirt wet. He was glad that Tim was home and finally starting to open up. Bruce knew it was going to take time to help Tim recover from everything, but it was worth it so long as Tim was home.