Being away from the Pit burned. Being close to it only made his mind crack and bend in all the wrong ways. He was lucky enough to be close to someone who had more control than a Greek statue. Some days were better than others. This was not one of those days.
“Jason, it’s not that big of a deal. It happens,” Dick sighed, striding to the showers. He could see Tim already starting to change.
“No big deal?” Jason hissed, throwing his hood to the side. His anger only increased as he listened to the plastic and metal smash against the cave’s floor. “It’s a massive deal!”
Dick sighed, stopping, just feet from the shower. “It happens.”
“What happens?” Tim asked, stepping up next to Dick.
He kept a careful distance from Jason. Whatever Bruce said, it didn’t negate what Jason had /done/. Tim learned from experience, he was going to keep his distance from Jason.
“We lost a girl,” Dick explained, earning a wince from Tim.
“She had a name,” Jason interjected. “It was Samantha.”
Tim lifted his hands, placating. Clearly, Dick was done fighting with Jason. Now it was his turn, whether he liked it or not. “Did you fight?”
Jason snarled, “of course I fought!”
Tim bowed his head, conceding. “All right. But you couldn’t save her.”
Jason’s eyes narrowed. If it was being implied that /he/ was the one in the wrong, then little Timmy Drake had another thing coming. “It wasn’t just me, none of us could.”
Pressure was building between his temples. Normally he would have brushed it off as a headache brought by tension. But he knew exactly what this was. His body was taught, ready to break into action. It was the Pit, calling into all levels of insanity. The Pit was fighting tooth and nail to break his oh so careful control.
“Okay. So, then it was just an unfortunate ending.”
The pressure popped uncomfortably behind Jason’s eyes. “Unfortunate ending?” He repeated, hands tightening into fists. “It’s not an unfortunate ending!”
Tim lifted his eyebrows. “A mistake then. An uncalculated misstep.”
Beside him, Dick pulled in a quick breath. And that was the only second Tim was allowed before Jason launched at him.
Tim’s back slammed to the floor, tile knocking hard against his spine. But it was nothing compared to the mass of muscle crushing against his chest. Jason’s hands wrapped tight around Tim’s throat, squeezing until Tim was very sure he could hear tendons breaking.
“Jason!” Dick shouted.
“It was not a mistake, you shit!” Jason shrieked. He couldn’t see straight anymore. All he knew was this blinding rage and the warmth between his hands.
Tim choked, trying to speak, pull in air, anything. His nails scratched at Jason’s hands, attempting to fight for freedom. He wasn’t granted any such thing.
“You take it back! Samantha was /not/ a mistake!”
Whatever answer Jason wanted, he wasn’t getting it. Not with how tight his hold was.
“Take it back!”
Dick’s knee collided with the side of Jason’s head. He reeled, instantly letting go and falling back.
There was no way Dick would put up with that. He kicked out again, catching Jason’s chin. The middle bird snapped back, landing awkwardly.
“Tim, Jesus, Tim! Are you okay?” Dick asked, hauling Tim up.
If Jason’s head was spinning, Tim’s was a carnival ride. He coughed, sucking in much needed air.
“…fine,” he managed to gasp out, voice hoarse and broken. “Get… Bruce.”
“What? No, I’m staying here.”
Their conversation was interrupted when Jason’s fist shattered the glass casing over, what used to be, the memorial. He was shouting nonsense, lashing out at anything close.
Dick hesitated, torn between protecting and fleeing. He lifted Tim up into his arms, despite protests. “Don’t complain. I’m getting you out of here and then I’m getting Bruce.”
He took off, as fast as he’d ever gone. The sounds of equipment and technology being shattered ringing in his ears.
It seemed like an eternity before Bruce came down to the cave. Not that Jason noticed. His madness had taken a hold and wasn’t letting go. The many limbed creature was wrapped tight, spindled fingers digging into his thoughts, his memories.
“Jason,” Bruce called, tone composed.
The name did little to reel Jason back. If anything it made it worse. He spun, attacking the computer, fists slamming into the keys.
He was fighting unseen things to get his control back. A battle so many before him had lost, he was attempting victory. He screamed until his throat defied him. Hit until his skin broke and bled.
Even then it wasn’t enough.
He had to win.
To prove that he was more than the amount of his insanity, his cruelty… His failure.
Something dropped down onto his shoulder. He couldn’t tell if it was more of the monster. More insanity demanding the last shreds of his humanity. Reacting instantly, he spun, beating his fists against the solid form.
“Jason,” Bruce said, quietly and much more soothingly than he ever had before.
The shadow knight born of murder and mayhem easily took the hits. He could understand the pressure and bone-snapping hold old horrors could have on even the most practiced mind. He stood still, taking the hard knocks. He lifted his hands to grip Jason’s shoulders.
“I’m right here,” he stated.
And that, more than the name, than the touch and the hold got through to Jason.
He’d never heard that before. Never had the assurance that someone would stay through the lapses. His thoughts slowed and stilled. The monster slid away, pulling back and releasing him.
“Bruce…?” He echoed, his voice strange even to himself.
“I’m still here,” he said.
Jason blinked, the cave and, more importantly, Bruce swimming back into focus. “You are?”
Bruce nodded slowly, face calm.
Jason’s body slumped, breaking in an entirely different way. He leaned forward, dropping his forehead against Bruce’s shoulder. “I know,” he whispered.
Bruce lifted his arms around Jason’s back. A very rare and very silent sign of comfort.
Sometimes it was worth letting go when there is someone there make sure he came back up.