Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I haven't done some Tim/Cass in a while so R/R if you still remember how awesome they are.
There are no more heroes in the world. Tim Drake, or perhaps Tim Wayne at this point, ponders this fact. Sure, Superman still soars through the skies of Metropolis and a Batman prowls the dark alleys of Gotham. However, there are no more heroes in the world. It's the reason why he chose the identity he did. As Robin, he was held up to a standard and he kept that standard throughout his tenure. Being Robin took more from him than he took from it though. Being Robin took his heart. When Dick chose Damian over him, that's when Tim realized that every rule he had lived by was gone. In a world where psychopaths can wear the insignia that marks them as Batman's closest confidant, there are no more heroes. So Tim chose a new insignia to wear, chose to lower his standards because the rest of the world had already shot theirs to hell. He tells himself he doesn't mind.
The quest is all that matters. It keeps Tim awake at night, keeps him chasing down every single lead he can think of. It keeps him working his body past its normal limits, limits that are beyond what any normal human can tolerate. Tim doesn't feel human anymore if anyone in the Bat-family could still be considered that in the first place. Yet wasn't that the reason everyone loved and respected Bruce, because he was human? Isn't that the reason he was cut down and his city thrown into chaos? So if Tim wants to be better than Batman then he has to burn out the human part of himself. He has to become a shadow and cross lines he used to swear he never would. He's already a ghost, a shell of his former self, but now he wants to be a wraith, a monster lurking in the dark ready to devour those who think they're safe hiding there. Tim can't afford to be a human anymore, not when the rest of the world has forgotten its humanity.
He cracks open the window to the hotel room and wearily drags his broken body into its sparse but accommodating shelter. He's not intent on spending too much what's left of the Wayne family fortune on luxury. When Bruce finally returns, Tim knows he'll be pissed if he wasted too much money on this pointless crusade. Bruce is coming back. Tim knew it all along and now everyone else is starting to catch on. He always was ahead of the learning curve when it came to deduction. He's not above saying "I told you so" this time. He's no longer above a lot of things. Tim's crossed a lot of lines when it comes to chasing this Holy Grail. He's made his bed with Ra's al Ghul and knows that in the end that bed will become his coffin. He tells himself it's worth it to see Bruce alive again. It's worth it to finally get someone back after seeing everyone he's ever cared about get caught in the crossfire. War is no place for meekness, for scruples, for morals. Tim knows that now because he's paid for that lesson with blood.
He moves to the bathroom first, eager to dress the minor bruises and cuts he's sustained after another night's search. Tim pulls off the cowl and takes a long, hard look in the mirror. Since he began his quest, there were nights when he didn't like what he saw in the mirror. Now Tim doesn't mind because there are other things to worry about. It's this lack of concern that bothers him now because it means he's sinking further into this hole, losing himself in this monster he's trying not to become. It's all for the greater good though, isn't it? He hopes it is but sometimes he wonders. He worries because he can't find the line anymore. He worries that he's lost his bearing and part of him likes it. He wasn't lying when he confessed to Cassie about the Anti-Life Equation. He's reminded of quicksand, of how the more you struggle against it the deeper you go. Is he stuck in quicksand now?
He opens the medicine cabinet and pulls out the necessary tools to treat his wounds. He's sloppy, not noticing the intruder until they're already behind him. He notices it's a woman and the costume is unfamiliar to him. She reaches out her hand and he spins, catching it before it can touch him and jabbing her straight in the throat. That blow would've connected with any normal human but he knows she's not a normal human because she catches his hand before it even makes contact.
"You've gotten better," admits a familiar voice before the woman pulls back her mask, "Still sloppy."
"You would know best," he replies as he stares into the eyes of Cassandra Cain, "I thought you were still Batgirl."
"Steph is," explains Cass, "It's . . . not for me anymore."
"I know the feeling," admits Tim. He feels his cheek sting as she slaps him across the face in one lightning-quick motion. He doesn't even ask what it was for because he knows.
"You're stupid," she tells him, "I know you can't trust . . . them. Go home, Tim. Get away from them."
"Ra's has resources I need," he counters but he wonders if he's trying to convince her or himself, "It's not what you think, Cass. I'm going to take him down from the inside out while I get what I need from him. Bruce is alive, Cass. I know it."
"You're too smart to chase ghosts," she retorts, "I know . . . I know when you can't think right. I know how it feels." She grimaces in pain because she still remembers how it felt to have that drug in her, to have it twisting her thoughts and her emotions. Last time they met, she almost killed him but he brought her back to her senses. She wishes she had some magic potion for him to make him see that he's going too far into the dark.
"I know what I'm doing," he tells her sternly. "Did Dick send you too. He's sent everyone else after me to tell me to come home. I'm not some petulant child who's throwing a temper tantrum, Cass. Bruce is out there and if none of the others will find him then I will." He knows she can sense the determination in his voice. He won't quit until he finds the truth because he's too close to turn back now.
"Not like this," she cautions him, "Not with him. Come home, Tim." She can sense that it's not too late yet. She knows he's doubting this course of action, doubting the new "friends" he's made. Cass knows what it's like to want to stop but not be able too. There was a time when she was digging that same hole, staring into that same mirror and not knowing or caring who stared back. He saved her from herself. She thinks maybe she can return the favor now when he needs it most.
"I will but not yet," he tells her, "Let me do this on my own, Cass."
"Of course," she replies before lightly kissing him on the forehead, "Don't make me come after you, Tim. Don't make me . . . have to hurt you."
"I'll come back," he promises her before kissing her on the lips. He lets the hollow pit in his stomach fill up with her kiss and for a moment he feels like he used to. He feels like he used to when the world was young and full of promise. When he kisses her, he can feel himself step out of that dark place he's taken himself to. As soon as their lips part though, he feels himself step back into the void. It's not time to come out of the cave yet. Someday soon though, he'll step back into that light. He just hopes she's there waiting for him because he could use someone these days.
"I'll find you again if you don't," she promises him in return before pulling up her mask again and slipping back into the shadows. Tim Drake watches her go before turning to look into the mirror once again. How far into the dark is he willing to go? He always wonders, always asks himself that question but never finds an answer. He stares through the looking glass of his bathroom mirror and catches a faint glimpse of the person he once was staring back at him. He has some small comfort now though. He takes solace that even if he loses himself in the dark, Cassandra Cain will be there to find him and drag him back into the light. She'll be there to remind him of who he really is when he can't recognize himself in the mirror anymore.