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Every Action has an Equal and Opposite Reaction

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"Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

 

“Timothy, you are a Drake; act like it .”

When Tim was just a child his mother would hiss this to him right before a gala, her sharp eyes staring daggers at him and even sharper nails digging into his shoulders, causing him to bite back a whimper and squeeze his eyes just to hold in the tears.

And so, just for the night, Tim would become Timothy Jackson Drake, darling heir of the Drake family who has a bright future ahead of him. Timothy Jackson Drake, who knew his “please” and “thank-yous” better than politicians. Who knew everyone at a gala and even that person’s mother who just went on a trip to Paris and, oh how is their Aunt Lorice doing now that she’s out from the hospital? Who knew how to talk with adults about economics and how he believed the market was doing, but still had that boyish charm that left older ladies cooing.

And Tim poured his heart into each gala, because he knew if he did well at the galas, if he could get a compliment from someone , an,“Oh I wish our boy was like your Timothy!” Then that meant mother and father would come back home for the next one, and maybe, just maybe , he might get a pat on his head from his father and a small smile from his mother with something like pride in their eyes (it never lasted long though).

And each time Tim went to one and poured his heart into it, he came back a little colder and a bit more empty each time.


 

 

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

 

For a while, Tim was Robin. After Jason had died (Tim’s first real friend, the only one who saw him as Tim ), Tim saw what had happened to Batman, to Bruce , and knew that someone needed to stop him.

And so, Tim became Robin, except Tim knew he was never supposed to be Robin, and he didn’t really want to be Robin, but Batman had become too ruthless and reckless and so Tim had to save him before the light in Gotham would burn out.

And so, Tim learned how to be Robin. He learned the laugh, the quips, the agility, the way Robin would fly, and most importantly, how to keep Batman on track.

He knew he would never be a true Robin , a wanted Robin, but he poured himself into it, into each mission until Robin was known not as Batman’s sidekick, but as its own hero . He swore he would do his best to make the Robin name proud (to make Dick proud, Jason proud) and that’s what he did. He ignored the anxiety he got every time he put on the suit, the fear that swam in his stomach each time he jumped off roofs, the disgust and bile he felt each time he saw another dead body, and the deep ache that set into his bones after just a couple of months of training. Slowly, he got used to it all.

And everytime Bruce would look straight through him as if he wasn’t really there, or almost call Tim Jason before stopping himself, the numbness in his chest grew to slowly drown his anguish and ache.


 

 

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

 

Then, Damian came along and Tim didn’t need to be Robin. But, Tim had messed up. He got attached. He went in knowing it was just a job and he was just a stand-in, but somewhere along the lines (probably when Bruce started looking at Tim like he wasn’t a mistake and actually as a partner , when Alfred always had a pair of his Flash slippers for him on hand, and when Dick finally took him train-surfing for the first time in the ‘haven) , he got selfish and began to treat it not as a job, but as his “something”, as his home.

And because of that, he forgot his mother’s number one rule.

“Timothy,” his mother would say, hands a heavy weight on his shoulders, fooling anyone into believing she was just smoothing out wrinkles in his suit, but he knew better;  her sharp fingernails pressed down, almost pricking through the suit in order to make him bleed. Her eyes were sharp staring down at him with a look that he could never discern and her bright red lips were pulled into an almost smile. “The world is cruel, and the only way to survive is to be crueler. Getting attached to anything will only cause pain and suffering for you.” A quick glance at his father left that same look in her eyes as she continued on. “You’re smarter than that. Treat everything as what it is: a job in order to further you in life. You are a Drake, Timothy, but more importantly, you are my heir. Make me proud.”

His six-year old self hadn’t truly understood the meaning of that conversation at the time, only knowing that following it would make her proud, and so he tried to follow instructions his heart nor mind could understand.

Oh how he wished he truly understood it then so he would remember it when he needed to. Because now, staring at the back of the batchair where Dick sat wearing the bat-suit, Tim had never felt such pain and suffering. Damian stood to the side, wearing a Robin suit (what Tim used to wear, what he had left of Bruce ) that was modified and looking severely smug about it.

Tim opened his mouth, a need to explain his side of the story swelling inside, how Dick was wrong and that Tim still needed Robin, still needed to have his home , before Dick interrupted.

“You understand don’t you Tim? You’re my equal, you can’t be my Robin. I’m sorry.”

Usually, if Dick had to have a serious conversation with Tim, he would always make sure that he was looking directly into Tim’s eyes and was eye-level with him. Except this time, Dick’s back was still turned, and he continued typing on the batcomputer. The sorry was almost just an afterthought, something that Tim felt he was slowly turning into as well.  

Damian sneered at him and spat, “You have no place here, Drake . You’re of no need anymore. Your time is up .”

“Damian please.” Dick admonished him, but it was half-hearted at best and he hadn’t even turned from the computer, or stopped typing.

A heavy atmosphere filled the room, and it seemed Tim was the only one who could feel it.

He cast one more look at Dick’s back (the man he used to call his brother ), looked at Damian’s too smug grin, and turned around to walk away, hands clenched at his side and head straight forward, refusing to give the Demon Brat the satisfaction of his tears.

And if every step away was like a stab to the back, well. Tim can get along just fine with always wearing a shirt. He smiled ruefully; he finally understood his mother’s advice after all.



 

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

 

Bruce was trapped in time and needed Tim. Well, technically he just needed anyone but Tim was the only one who knew about it. However, he needed someone that could do more than Robin. That wasn’t a symbol for light and all things good, but someone who could get the job done and could do what needed to be done. And so, Tim became Red Robin.

He would have preferred to be able to create his own persona ( for once) but time was of the essence and Tim had a job to do. He could’ve gone without the meeting with the Red Hood though.

“Oh this is rich . Really replacement, this is what you’re new outfit is?” The Red Hood cackled as he took a swing at Red Robin, his own former persona.

“Found it in the $5 dollar bin at Party City, sorry Hood but you know how it is.” And even if Red Hood couldn’t see the quirk of the eyebrows or the narrowing of the eyes from behind the cowl, he could hear the heavy sarcasm between gasps of breath.

B.S , Replacement. You just don’t know how to do your own thing, do you? I mean, all your life you’ve just been following in people's’ shadows so it’s understandable if you don’t know how to step into the “light” and be your own person, I mean, really Replacement I won’t judge.”

The only response to Red Hood’s taunts was a tightening around Red Robin’s bo staff and a couple of roundhouse kicks to the face. But, Red Hood was patient, and he knew how to make the birdy sing. He countered easily, knocking Red Robin off balance and sweeping him to the floor.

“But I hope you realize kid what footsteps you’re following now. Red Robin isn’t a hero, will never be a hero, and you just signed yourself up for it.” With that Red Hood pressed forward, looming over Red Robin until all he could see was the red hood’s blank stare. “So tell me, Red Robin , are you truly willing to throw away everything just for a ghost?” And with that, Red Robin punched his face, giving off an anguished scream.

But, Red Hood was right in a way. Red Robin was not known for being a hero, and right now Tim needed to become something that didn’t have to follow the Bat-code to a T.

He needed something that was darker, something that wasn’t a little kid’s costume or a symbol of new beginnings.

And so, Tim chose Red Robin, something that could do what needed to be done. But because of that, it meant that Tim wasn’t Robin anymore, and therefore was not the same person. He lost his friends, family, and made deals and did things he never thought he could do before. And he hated it. It felt disgusting and wrong in a way he never felt before. But it was all for Bruce. Every action he did, every plan he committed, was all to bring back the man that started it all.

And every time Tim put on the black cowl and too big uniform, he forgot a little bit more about the bright-eyed kid who became Robin for a mission, and felt a little more darker and tainted each time ( as time went on, he began to grow used to the feeling, something that he would never admit to anyone ).


 

 

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

 

When Bruce came back, it was odd to say the least. It was of course, disorienting to come back from the time mess and even more disorienting to hear who was who. He was proud of everyone for continuing on and for preserving the legacy and even prouder of how Dick had helped Damian. It seemed that the saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder” even had some truth to it since Jason seemed to have mellowed out some as well. It was disorienting, but not in a negative way.

Until he saw Tim. Once Tim had saved him, Bruce had been swept up by the Justice League and then swept off to the Watchtower and by the time he looked back for Tim, he was gone. He had tried to ask about him, about why he was wearing that outfit (something he never wanted to see one of his sons wear again ), but all he got was glances away and lip-biting. Before he could truly stop to assess, he was ushered into a medical room and taken for tests. Then he was taken to Gotham, to home , and he saw Dick and Damian and Alfred and even Jason and-

And well, Bruce hates to admit it, but he lost track of time. He was swept up in his sons and what they accomplished and when he finally asked about Tim (his other son ), he got cryptic answers and guilty expressions. For once, he had wanted to ignore it because life was finally seeming to give him a break and he was tired, but the Detective and Father in him wouldn’t put this case down.

When Bruce called Tim and asked if he was coming home anytime soon, Tim had gave a cryptic answer that was too suspicious for one of his sons, and so Bruce took action.

It wasn’t until he fully saw Tim or Red Robin that he understood the cryptic looks and subject changes. The boy-or man in front of Batman was not his Tim. This man was gaunt and held himself completely differently than the Tim Bruce knew. This one was serious and almost, somber in a way. He was cold and darker, as if somewhere along the way the little kid that demanded to be Robin was lost and forgotten. His face was void of any emotion, his top part of his face covered by a cowl. His entire uniform was odd and wrong, it was as if it wasn’t even made for him, as it hung loosely on him in a way that Alfred would never allow.

“Red Robin.” The name felt odd and foreign on Batman’s tongue, but he knew codenames were important on the field, but right now, he really wished that that wasn’t the case. Red Robin stood in front of Batman on a roof of some apartment complex, looking far too different and unknown for Batman to understand. He had tracked Red Robin’s patrol route to Chinatown and followed him there, after he had refused any consistent communication with anyone in the family.

(“Hey Timmy! It’s been awhile, how about we go train surfing later and catch up?” “Can’t Dick, I have work to do. Sorry.” “Hey Replacement, I’m working on a case that I need your certain nerd expertise on.” “Send me an email regarding the case and I’ll get back to you in an hour and a half.” “Nah, Timbo, why don’t you just come over to the manor and work on the case here along with your other nerd stuff? It’ll be faster and we can just go on patrol afterwards together then. You know, bust some heads together.” “No need. I’ll send you an email in an hour and a half.” “but-” “No.Need.” “-tt-, Drake, although I hate to admit, I require your training in my detective skills; it seems you are favored in that area.” “Damian, you literally have the World’s Greatest Detective as your father. Goodbye.”  “Ah, Master Drake, it has been a while since you have visited home. I fear you have seem to forgotten the directions. Would you like me to come pick you up?” “I’m sorry Alfred, but please don’t, that is not my home anymore. It never really was.”)

“Batman.” Red Robin nodded in acknowledgement, bow staff held deceptively in a loose grip. “You usually don’t patrol here. What do you need?” His voice was monotone, as if he was speaking to a coworker, one he wasn’t particularly fond of, and not to his father.

“You have not been to the manor in a while. Your physicals are not up to date, and it would be wise to update any new information regarding uniform and other necessary parts.”

“Unneeded. My medical info is known by Agent A and I have already updated debriefs on myself.” Red Robin showed no remorse, no emotion aside from cool indifference.

Batman frowned lightly, confusion swirling inside. The old Tim would already have been at the manor, he would be smiling and laughing with his brothers and staying up late to play video-games. Who was this man in front of him?

Something like realization flickered across Red Robin’s face before he breathed out an exhausted sigh and scoped the area, pushing back his cowl and revealing his face to Bruce. Long hair ( when was the last time his son got a haircut? )  framed Tim’s paler-than-usual face, giving more definition to the almost hollow-like of his features and adding emphasis to the dark eye-bags under his eyes. He looked bruised and deathly in a way Bruce would never want for any of his sons. Sharp, yet tired, icy blue eyes pierced Bruce.

“Look, Bruce, while you were away, things changed. No one was in a really good headspace which led to high tension, causing things to be said and done. Everything is fine now, but everything is also changed. None of us are who we were before, including me. I’m not your Tim. I’ll still come when you need and I’ll still be in Gotham however long you need me, but I’m not family. Honestly, I don’t think I ever was. And I understand and completely respect it. But whatever this is?” He gestured between himself and Bruce, and also to the vigilantes hiding on the other roofs, “isn’t necessary. So please, do whatever you want, but don’t get in the way of my mission. I’m sorry I can’t be your Tim,” an icy gaze was directed to where Nightwing was hiding on another roof and raised his voice slightly, “your Timmy,” a glance at Red Hood who jumped on top of the building where Bruce and Tim were, “your Replacement,” and finally a glance at Robin who emerged from the shadows, “or your Drake.”

“I am none of those anymore. I am Timothy Jackson Drake, alias Red Robin. I will still be there on the front line and willing to help with the cases, but I am not part of your group. I know that now.” And with that final blow to Bruce ( when had Tim removed Wayne from his last name?) , Red Robin turned his back on the group of vigilantes (his family ) and jumped from the roof, shooting a grapple into the night sky. And Bruce Wayne was left to wonder, just how could his son change from a boy full of hope and love for his family, to a bitter and hurt young, but exhausted, man.

 

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”