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it was supposed to be a normal night

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“So much for a normal night.”

Literally everything possible had gone wrong. It was supposed to be a normal night of patrol, but then Scarecrow had gotten out and shit just went downhill. Everyone was spread out over the city, trying to help infected civilians and stop the spread of the fear gas. Jason seriously hates nights like this. The screaming...gets to him. Sometimes. It’s getting better.

“At least everyone is safe now.”

That was true. Dick walked away with only a split eyebrow that was easily stitched up. God bless Alfred. Damian doesn’t even have a little scratch on his little demon body. Just a scowl for the missing members of their ragtag family. 

“If Drake wouldn’t have gotten stuck wherever he is, this night would have been far more successful. Of course he’s the only one of us who needed backup from Father.”

That was half true. Tim had called for backup in a monotone voice that made something stir in Jason’s gut. He hadn’t said why he needed backup. However…

“Shut up, brat. Tim probably just had more work than we did, and is finally realizing that he can lean on us.”

A flash of guilt in both Dick and Damian’s eyes. As they fucking deserve. At least Jason had the guts to actually apologize to Tim instead of ignoring the whole trauma-inducing situation that he was forced into. Even Bruce, emotionally-stunted extraordinaire, had spent an entire day with Tim to apologize. Jason remembered that day. He doesn’t think he’d ever seen Bruce look so guilty before. He had been silently crying into Tim’s hair when the boy fell asleep in his arms. Jason doesn’t think Bruce saw him, and he’d like to keep it that way.

And speaking of the devil. The batmobile raced into the cave at speeds that Jason is pretty sure isn’t allowed. And god, that parking job. Is a goddamn squirrel driving the car? Jason glances over at Dick, who looks equally confused about the way the car was being driven. Usually Bruce was so careful. They approached the stopped car, hands gripping weapons as the silence continued to spread throughout the cave. Even the bats seemed to be holding their breath.

Then the passenger door opened. And out stepped Tim, in a speed that was unrecognizable. Jason had never seen Tim move so fast. So desperately. He jumped out of the car, and didn’t even seem to focus on the cave surrounding them. He made eye contact for a split second with Jason before launching himself at the man. 

 

“Fuck!”

Jason wasn’t nearly fast enough to block the staff colliding with the side of his abdomen. Or the knee crashing into his chest when he fell to his knees. Or the small body that pushed him to his back and held him down with a strength that Jason had never seen before. He was finally snapped back into reality when he felt hands around his neck. They pressed down, and hard. Jason couldn’t breathe, could only stare up at the crazed look in Tim’s eyes. He was crying, tears slipping down his face in quick streams. But he was so, so angry . Jason had never seen his younger brother so mad. Sure, he’d try to get the kid mad, but he’s always responded with a calm that made Jason a tiny bit concerned. His cowl was ripped from his head, hanging around his neck in shreds. Blood poured down from a cut on the side of Tim’s head, and damn, could someone please get this kid off of him? He can’t fucking breathe, and he can’t fight back. He’s caught in the wide, terrified eyes of Tim.

Finally, Tim’s body is hefted off of him. Jason sits up and coughs, breathing in deeply to get air back into his lungs. He can’t take his eyes off of Tim. Dick scooped up the boy, and he’s screaming at the top of his lungs now as he dragged away from Jason, clawing at Dick’s arms wrapped around his chest. It’s not until Jason can finally breathe normally that he notices Damian next to him, clutching his arm, and that it’s not him that Tim is looking at. It’s Damian. Tim looks like he’d do anything to get his hands on the demon brat, and Damian looks...scared. Jason decides that maybe it’s time to tune back into the one-sided conversation that Tim is having as he screams.

“You ruined everything for me! If you hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t have gone to Ra’s! If you hadn’t come here, I’d still be living here and I’d be loved and I’d be happy and Ra’s wouldn’t know me and he wouldn’t want me and he wouldn’t love me…” 

Dick must feel as shocked as Jason and Damian do, because his grip loosens. And as Tim slips out, he smacks him in the face. Dick goes down, clutching at his head where blood is pouring from his newly opened wound. Tim turns slowly to Jason and Damian, still crying and heaving as he approaches them slowly. Jason staggers to his feet, and shoves Damian behind him.

 

“Tim, babybird, it’s just us. You’re safe here.”

 

“Safe? I’m safe? I’m supposed to feel safe around you?” The way Tim spits out his words with hate makes Jason’s chest tighten with hurt. He really thought he and Tim had cleared things up. He thought Tim could finally be around him without fearing that he'd turn around and kill him. Tim takes a small step forward, extending his staff to his full length. 

“I don’t think I’ll kill you.” Tim whispers. His words are wobbly. He’s still crying. “I don’t want to do that. It’ll make me the way Ra’s wanted me to be. But I will hurt you. I will tear you apart and no one will ever come to save you because this is what you deserve!” Tim is yelling. He’s screaming and crying, and Jason can’t fight him like this. He can’t. Not again. 

Finally, like he took his sweet damn time, Bruce appears. He must’ve snuck around the fight to the medic center, because he had a syringe of clear liquid in his hands. An antidote. He’s standing behind Tim, carefully creeping forward as Tim continues crying and ranting. He tries the same maneuver that Dick did earlier. Large arms wrap around Tim’s midsection, trapping his arms to his chest, and hoists him into the air before falling to his knees to keep Tim tucked into his chest. Easier to hold down.

Jason had never heard anyone sound so terrified. And he had experienced death for christ’s sake. But the way Tim was screaming and sobbing in Bruce’s arms kept him frozen in his spot. Dick and Damian seemed to be stuck, too, staring at the boy. Tim was clawing at Bruce’s arms, spitting insults and threats in between heaving sobs. Bruce grunts as a head smacks him in the chin, but he keeps his grip steady. Tim is fighting with everything he’s got, but he has no chance against Bruce. The prick of the syringe in his neck makes him scream out more, kicking at anything he can reach. 

The antidote finally begins it’s job. The screaming stops, but the heavy sobbing doesn’t. Tim isn’t fighting anymore. He’s just whimpering small pleas in between deep breaths that don’t seem to stop his tears. His face is red and blotchy. It’s the most pitiful thing Jason had ever seen on Tim’s face. Bruce begins to rearrange the boy in his grip, with one arm underneath Tim’s legs, and the other supporting Tim’s back. He pushes to his feet, and walks them over to the medic center. The increasing volume in pleas for Bruce to just stop, to let him free, is what finally makes Jason break his eye contact with Tim’s shaking body.

 

Jason doesn’t want to see Tim like this ever again. He walks towards the medic center anyway, Damian and Dick in tow.

 

Plastic chairs are pulled up to surround the gurney that holds both Bruce and Tim. Jason still has Damian’s hand in his. A quick glance towards the boy shows that his other hand is clutched in Dick’s. It’d almost be sweet if it wasn’t caused by this.

Jason finally looks up again at Tim when he hears Bruce shushing the boy. He’s still crying, still pleading quietly  for things that Jason can’t hear. But whatever it is, it’s making Bruce’s eyes water and his grip tighten around the child on his chest. He starts whispering apologies to Tim. Jason closes his eyes and knocks his head against the wall softly. The crying slowly stops, and is replaced with the deep breaths of a sleeping child. Bruce’s apologies continue on even as Tim sleeps through them.

“So much for a normal night.” Jason whispers.