Secret History.

While I wait for my sister to finish her illustration for "Fissure", I thought I might as well get started on this oneshot series. These will be a "what if Teen Titans was DCAU compliant?" idea. I hold no delusions that TT as it stands can ever be DCAU compliant, so I have made appropriate changes. And I don't want to hear anyone bitch about how Robin is supposed to be Dick Grayson. I know already.

--

On the stroke of ten, Tim left his room.

He chose that hour because he knew Bruce would have left for his patrol, and Alfred would be preparing himself a small meal for the next half an hour. Dick was back in Bludhaven, and Barbara wasn't on duty tonight. It was now or never.

He crept through the dark hallways, stern paintings glaring down upon him. He caught a glimpse of a portrait of a woman in a plush purple velvet dress, and expertly quashed a shudder, although he couldn't stop his memory going down a well-worn road.

He slowly made his way to the grandfather clock,and stole his way inside. As he made his way down the long staircase, he couldn't hold in a tide of bitterness at his surroundings, and the man they reflected.

He had been hurt. The mind was an organ like any other, and the Joker had tried to break his completely. He had failed. It had taken a full year of therapy, a full year devoid of anything that could trigger a relapse, but he had survived. Sometimes, he felt he could even risk a smile, or even, on good days, a full laugh without falling into mania.

Good days had been few and far between, lately.

But still, how did the old maxim go? Whatever does not kill me makes me stronger?

Well, Bruce sure didn't seem to think so.

Tim shook his head violently. Why? Why had Bruce seen the need to do that? Why take his mantle away?

The argument when Bruce had announced this had been explosive. Bizarrely, Bruce hadn't been expecting it. He'd just thought that Tim would be happy to surrender the one thing he had left.

He wasn't a normal person. He hadn't been for years, really. But the Joker had sealed the deal. Going back to a civilian life would drive him insane.

He snorted in grim amusement at his wording.

Tim should have been ready for this, really. After all, it had been one of the recurring themes of his nightmares, on the few times he didn't dream of Arkham, or a ghost in purple.

That's not funny...that's not...

Bruce had said it had been for his own good, and why couldn't Tim understand that?

Oh, he understood alright. He understood all too well.

You broke. You couldn't handle it. They spent a lot of effort putting you back together, and now they're going to put you in a glass case so you won't get broken again.

He had no friends here, no allies against the Bat.

Barbara, of course, agreed with Bruce. She couldn't forget what he had been like when they had found him in the abandoned asylum, and Tim couldn't hate her for it. She was scared, scared for him. But her fear was patronising. He didn't need protecting.

Sometimes, in his dreams, he would see her masked face, streaked with tears, whispering frantically in his ear, and dream-Tim would always wonder who this woman was, and who was this 'Tim' she kept talking about? And, most importantly of all, did she get the joke? Did she understand?

As for Dick, his stalwart ally, the one guy he felt he could rely on to defy Bruce in anything, he had abandoned Tim (again) to Bruce. Somehow, he thought that because he'd abandoned Gotham (and he'd had every right) everything was his fault. If there was one trait Bruce had instilled in him, it was a tendency towards idiotic self-flagellation.

A glass case? Why that image?

Oh. He was in front of the costumes.

His wasn't there, of course. The black and red was locked away, somewhere where he wouldn't find it.

But Dick's costume was.

As he moved in front of the costume of the first Robin, he caught a glimpse of himself, reflected in the glass.

A year in therapy had changed him. He was paler, gaunter. But he was also taller, a fact that pleased him immensely, when he remembered to notice things like that.

The old costume fit him well, he found, and he nodded in satisfaction. He crossed over to the workstation, and harvested as many gadgets as he could.

Only one thing was left. Transportation.

He'd been pestering Dick to make him a bike, just before...just before. In the long year, only about half of which he could vaguely remember, he thought Dick had mentioned that he was working on it. Or maybe he had just dreamt that. It had been early on, when Dick and Barbara had sometimes come and sat outside his room and talked to him. At him. He hadn't let them in for months.

Aha. Looks like Dick had made it after all. Maybe Tim had more allies than he thought. Full tank, too.

With sudden surety of purpose, Tim wheeled the bike onto the roadway that led out of the cave. It was time to leave this mausoleum.

Without a backward glance, Tim mounted the bike, and the newly dubbed R-Cycle (his imagination had been stunted lately) roared into life, and Tim cannoned from the cave like a bat out of hell. It was time to leave his shadows behind.

Maybe he'd go to California. He'd had enough of the cold.