Tim Drake did two things at once: woke up entirely disoriented and began collecting data points. There were too many times of waking up not knowing where he was for it to sideline him for long. Metal walls, a sensation of movement he could not quite place, a cold room, but a soft bed. Whatever situation he was in, they wanted him comfortable. He raised his arm slowly. Movement not impaired. His heart jolted. He was not wearing the Red Robin uniform, but the long sleeve tee he wore to sleep. Whoever this was, knew his identity. Whoever this was, got to him in his own room.
The sound of the door sliding open. Tim flipped off the bed, feeling himself stumble slightly. Some sort of drug aftereffect he would catalog later. His bare feet hit the floor. He registered cold and the slight constraint of pajama pants as he shifted into a fighting stance. He roundhouse-kicked right as the door was at the max it could be open while still allowing him the element of surprise.
“Whoa!” an incredibly familiar voice said. Jason Todd jumped backwards, fumbling to keep a tray of food and coffee upright.
Tim’s arms lowered, “Jason?”
“Hey, little brother,” Jason said, navigating the tray that now had spilled coffee sloshing on it.
“Are we…captured by unknown assailants and somehow you have been conscripted to keep me alive?”
Jason raised an eyebrow. “Um. No.”
It took a moment for the next possibility to occur. “Did you…drug and kidnap me?”
Jason laughed out loud, walking into the room and sitting the tray on the bed. “Wow. Wow.” He crossed his arms. “I can’t decide if I should be deeply offended that you think I would drug you or just deeply happy that you admitted I could sneak in passed the amazing Red Robin and somehow secretly drug him. So you have acknowledged my superior skills at long last, huh?”
“Jason,” Tim said, “This is not funny.” Tim’s tone wavered, for half a second, but it was enough for Jason’s expression to go serious.
“No, I didn’t. I would never.”
Tim sat on the bed, rubbing his forehead. “Then where the hell am I and what’s going on?” He hated it, the not knowing, and worse, the not being able to piece the clues together. His head felt so foggy and painful. He felt weak and vulnerable, and he realized in surprise he felt tears in his eyes. Frustrated tears, like he was a child. He did not cry like this, this easily. Showing emotions never came so easy, and now here he was crying because he was confused?
“Hey, hey,” Jason said. Tim felt the bed shift as Jason sat beside him, put an arm around him. “Man, kiddo. I really should have heard you when you said you shouldn’t drink.” Tim looked up at him, his matted hair falling into his eyes.
Jason gave him a soft smile. “Last night you came to see me after a fight with Bruce and Dick…”
It was there, the memory, like a faded and crumpled piece of paper he was trying to read in his lab. Unclear, but if he could just focus he could make it out. The fight. They just wrapped a case, one where they pushed on for weeks. They all arrived back at the Batcave exhausted. Tempers got heated. The waves of criticism and years of repressed emotions bubbled over.
“I’m sorry you were unsuccessful when you tried to make three carbon copies of Dick.”
Tim remembered yelling it, hurling it toward Bruce like a Batarang. He remembered Dick looking horrified. He remembered Alfred immediately stepping forward to intervene. He remembered that for once, Damian was silent. The youngest Robin had not disagreed.
Tim left before Bruce could formulate a reply.
Red Robin did not remember deciding to seek out Jason. It was never a moment where the thought occurred to him and he acted on it. He moved toward his older brother like instinct, like a sailor feeling the direction in his bones long after his instruments failed him. Jason was his port in a storm. Tim came to him, and with one look Jason knew, if not the details, the deep need in him.
Tim rubbed his forehead. “I’m hungover…”
He blinked at Jason, tugging at the collar of his shirt. “These are my clothes.”
“Yes?” Jason said, slowly, the word tilting up in confusion.
A memory sparked, and Tim looked to the corner where a duffle bag sat. “That is my stuff…” He turned back to his brother. “This is your spaceship.”
Jason smiled, “Well, it really is more Starfire’s spaceship but…”
Tim groaned, another memory. Jason helping him stagger back to his apartment. Tim struggling into pajamas as Jason sat across the room throwing stuff in a bag. Tim throwing the stuff back out of the bag even as his brother kept going unphased. Jason saying…
“You asked me to come to space with you.” Tim’s eyes widened. “Did I say yes?” Jason rubbed the back of his neck.
Tim’s eyes narrowed. It was a look that was so eerily like Bruce, Jason often found himself wondering if somehow they were biologically related. “Jason. Did I agree to this?”
“Well, Tim you see…I was also very, very drunk. And at the time it seemed like you were being very stubborn about the whole coming to space with me thing and I thought, drunkenly, a surprise vacation would be nice!”
Tim ran a hand through his hair, standing somewhat unsteadily. “You got mad at the drugging and kidnapping accusation but you only disagreed with the drugging part…”
“Babybird, can you really kidnap your own brother?”
“Yes,” Tim said, “Legally and ethically, literally yes.”
Jason cringed, “Okay…fair.”
“Take me back, right now.”
Jason stood, hands out, requesting to speak in a quiet gesture. When Tim only crossed his arms, the older Robin continued. “Tim, there is always going to be a crisis in Gotham. The city is literally always under attack. There is always going to be tension and drama with Bruce and Dick. That’s just who they are, that’s how they function in the world. There is never going to be a time to rest unless you seize it.” He placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder.
“Or someone else forces rest upon you,” Tim replied.
Jason conceded this with a shrug, but looked his brother in the eyes. “You are bone tired, on edge. You’re not sharp like this, and you need to be sharp in this life. If Starfire has taught me anything, it is that rest is part of the job. You need it, I need it. And Gotham knows, Bruce is no model to follow on this.”
“It’s my life, Jason. My choices.”
“Yes…and I should have respected that.”
“So take me back.”
“This isn’t just about you!” Jason said. It came out fast and surprised them both. He sighed. “I miss my little brother.” Tim felt his stance soften almost against his will. Jason ran a hand through his mop of hair, “I…look. Tim, there is always going to be tension with me and Bruce and Dick. And Damian, who even knows what to do with Damian. But then there’s you. No matter what happened with me and the others, hell, no matter what happens between you and me even, you’ve stood by me. You believed in me, reached out to me, when you had no reason to. We had no history, nothing but betrayal and pain. I tried to hurt you, to kill you. You gave me a second chance anyway. You chose to see me anyway. You’re my family, Tim. My brother.” He waved his hand across the wall, and a panel shifted back, revealing a window and beyond it, the stars streaming by. “When I’m out here, it’s so easy to go adrift. Even with the man I love and my best friend. There’s still so much space to get lost in. Things are murky out here on the fringes, and truthfully, that’s what I love about it. But even chronically roaming outlaws need an anchor. For me, that’s you. So, sometimes, Babybird, I need my brilliant, stunningly mature, nerdy, self-righteous little brother. You’re unwavering. My only constant.”
Tim found himself with no resistance left in his body. Even his crossed arms felt slack. “You know, this feels like manipulation.”
“Is it manipulation if it’s how I really feel?” Jason said, putting on his best shit-eating grin. Tim looked at him pointedly, then rolled his eyes.
“Like, if I say yes I’m enabling you.”
“You way overstepped this time. You get that?”
“You’re insufferable. Impossible. Amoral.”
“All true.” Jason tilted his head, “That sounds like a yes.”
Tim gave the deepest, longest sigh. “Yes.” Jason’s face broke out into a grin.
“We’re going to have so much fun.”
“I’m not doing anything illegal.”
“Don’t you illegally spy on your friends on a daily basis?”
“And you have to let the others know where I am,” Tim replied, ignoring him. He paused, studying Jason’s face. “What?”
“Well…Alfred helped me pack your bag.”
“He says you haven’t been sleeping or eating. He said specifically, ‘Please, young master Todd, do not bring him back until he’s gained at least 10 pounds and has slept at least 10 hours in a row.”
“He did not say that.”
“I think you know he did.” Jason slung his arm around his brother’s neck. “Hey. Thanks.”
“Are we ready for adventure?” the voice of Roy came from the hall.
“He means, there are enemies off our starboard,” Starfire called to them next.
Jason looked at Tim, eyes lit with pure joy. “Come on, Babybird. Let’s be space pirates.”