Disclaimer: I own nothing. come on people you should know this by now!
The bioship was nearing Mt. Justice and the team was preparing to land. Robin fell asleep on the way, feeling completely safe and at ease for the first time in weeks. Everyone kept stealing glances at him as if he would disappear if they took their eyes off him.
Aqualad opened communications once they were actually in Happy Harbor, "This is Aqualad. Does anybody copy?"
Immediately Batman's voice responded. "Batman here, what's your eta Aqualad?"
"Approximately three minutes sir." Aqualad responded, "We are approaching the mountain as we speak."
"I'll have the doors opened for you...Is Robin there?"
Aqualad smiled softly. "Yes, but he is asleep right now."
"Is he alright?" Batman urged.
Aqualad looked back at Robin who was sleeping peacefully next to Superboy, his head rested on Superboy's shoulder using him as a pillow. "He is fine, at least from our perspective."
"We're awaiting you arrival." Batman finally said, "Batman out."
The line went dead and Aqualad focused on landing the ship. "M'gann are we prepared for a landing?"'
"Yes, I can see the opening by the mountain." M'gann stated as she focused her mind.
They entered the doors of the cave and were greeted by the sights of a damp, dark tunnel with a bright light at the end. They finally arrived at the platform where a number of Justice League members awaiting their return with Batman and Nightwing at the front of the crowd.
They carefully landed the ship and turned of it's engines, all members standing up.
"We're home guys." Roy smiled, he turned to Superboy. "You got him?"
Superboy carefully cradled Robin in his arms bridal style and held him close to his chest. "I got him."
The doors of the ship opened and they were greeted with the smiles and cheers of the Justice League. Nightwing immediately sprinted towards the group and stopped right in front of Superboy. For a moment he simply stared at Tim as if he didn't believe that he was real. He reached out his arms and Superboy gently placed Tim in them.
Nightwing held Tim tightly to his chest and simply relished holding his little brother in his arms again. Tim seemed to be stirring, his brow pulling to a frown.
"Shh." Dick whispered. "Go back to sleep kiddo, I got you."
Tim complied, recognizing his brother's voice even through the fuzzy haze of sleep.
Dick looked up to stare the team directly in the eyes.
"Thank you." He said, his voice quivering from holding his tears back. "Thank you for bringing him home."
Batman decided that now was the moment to swoop in. "Nightwing, we should go. Robin needs tending to."
Nightwing all too readily agreed and followed Bruce out of the cave.
"Wait!" Superboy called out. "Where are you taking him?"
"He's coming with us to the cave," Batman stated. "We have a physician on-call that can give him all of the care he needs."
"But you can't!" Bart said, becoming the personification of everyone's internal panic at the thought of Batman taking Robin away. He would've run to Batman if Flash wasn't holding him back, this seemed to be the case with all of the protoges and their mentors. "We just got him back! You can't take him away again!"
Batman had signaled Nightwing to move on without him, once he felt that the team was going to get more excited. He didn't want their antics to disturb Robin's rest. Nightwing nodded and walked ahead making sure to hold Tim's body even closer than before.
"He's right." M'gann agreed struggling in her uncle's arms. "Not after everything we've been through!"
"My King please." Aqualad begged as Aquaman held him back.
"Get off me." Superboy growled, shoving Superman's hand from his shoulder, he turned to Batman. "I'm not letting you take him from us!"
"Calm down, everybody." Bruce said in a firm, but not harsh tone. "It's not our intention to remove him from the team...at least not yet. But I will be bringing him home. Home to his family. Whether you believe it or not, you were not the only ones worried about Robin."
"He's our family too!" Superboy snarled. Roy put a hand on his shoulder trying to calm him down.
Bruce turned on his famous BatGlare. "I am taking him home. End of story."
Batman's eyes then softened and he drew a heavy sigh, "Nevertheless...thank you for bringing him home. There's no way I can ever repay any of you for what you've done for me...for us. I am truly grateful for what you have done...so thank you."
He changed his demeanor once again, transforming into the intimidating, and dark-themed persona they've all become familar with. "I want all of you to take the next two days off, you've all earned a good rest. We can discuss the details of your expedition to me then."
That being said, he turned away, his cape swooshing in all it's dismal glory trailing behind him.
No one spoke for a moment, until of course...
"Well that was dramatic." Flash said, trying to ease the tension with a lame joke.
Bart coughed out a chuckle, which turned into giggling, which turned to laughter and finally escalating into a hysterical laugh holding his stomach, and releasing great big gulping laughs, tears rolling down his cheeks finally releasing all of the pent up tension and stress he had carried during Robin's disappearance.
His laughter was contagious because once Bart started, M'gann soon joined in, along with Kaldur, Superboy and even Roy. All of the young heroes laughing, whether it was because of stress, hysterics or plain insanity.
Once the adults were sure they had finally calmed down, their mentors decided to take charge.
"Alright, it's been a long day for all of us." Green Arrow said, "I think Batman was in the right, we should all take these next couple of days easy. We all need to take time to recover from this ordeal. While you kids did find Robin you still disobeyed direct League orders I want all you kids to stay here for tonight. "
No one bothered arguing with him, for they had finally allowed themselves to feel relief and they simply leaned on each other for support.
"Let's go guys." M'gann said. "We should get some sleep, it's been a long day for all of us."
THe team immediately agreed with her, they all walked towards the rooms. Only Superboy remained, staring at the hallway where Robin disappeared to.
"You coming Kon?" Roy asked.
"In a sec."
"...he's coming back Conner." Roy said, "You heard Bats. He's not being pulled from the team."
"I'll believe it when I see it."
The ride to Wayne Manor was quiet. The only sound filling the air was Tim's rhythmic breathing. Dick had yet to release him from his grasp. Finally they arrived at the cave, where Alfred was awaiting them.
"Oh thank Heavens." Alfred breathed once he saw the Batmobile. Once he had heard that Tim was found a great weight was lifted from his shoulders, and he made sure to have everything in the cave prepared including the medical area. The car finally came to a stop and the hood slowly lifted from the car revealing Bruce and Dick's tired forms. Dick had fallen asleep on the way home, but his grip on Tim didn't lessen. Bruce carefully got out and slowly shook Dick awake.
"Dick." he said softly. "Dick we're here."
Dick awoke with a start, then relaxed once he realized where he was. Bruce held his arms out.
"Give him to me." he said. "I've got him."
Dick placed him in Bruce's arms and Bruce held Tim with an even greater reverence that Dick or Conner. He walked towards the awaiting Gurney and placed Tim on it.
"What are you going to do?" Dick asked.
"I want to do some tests." Bruce replied, "I want to make sure that he's okay. He'll be taking a week off, and after that I want J'onn to do a full psych evaluation."
"You sure about all of this?" Dick asked. "I mean after everything he's already been through."
"He was taken by the Joker." Bruce growled, "I'm surprised that Tim is still in one piece. You and I both know what the Joker is capable of."
"Exactly." Dick argued, "I don't want Tim to have to relive it all. He needs rest and support, not a bunch of medical junk and confinment."
Bruce gripped his fists, "I am trying to do the best thing for him."
"I know." Dick said, putting a hand on his shoulder. "But for tonight... let's just rest. He's home Bruce. He's safe."
Bruce knew he was right and decided for once to listen to someone else's advice.
He sat on one side of the gurney while Dick sat on the other, keeping a vigil watch over the child.
Jason was sitting alone in his cave, simply listening to the silence. He couldn't believe that after just one week with Tim, already his old lifestyle seemed so...lonely.
He had received confirmation that Tim had arrived at the Manor. He was safe and at home, and Jason was inexplicably glad. He turned off the computer screen that was playing the DVD from Joker's House of Horrors. Jason had barely managed to stomach it the first time, but he needed to see just how far the Joker went into damaging Tim.
Needless to say, Jason could barely keep his lunch in after what he had viewed. There was more footage in the original disc that the one that the Joker had shown him, images of Tim crying himself to sleep, eating moldy bread crusts and live rats just to stay alive. And it also showed an extra monologue from the Joker himself. He had planned to convert Tim into a minature version of himself. If Jason had been just a day late...he shuddered to think of the consequences for Tim.
Jason's fists clenched as he stared at the tiny little DVD in his hand. It took every ounce of his will power not to take that disk and smash it to bits. But he needed to keep it. This disk was the only testament of the sacrifice Tim made for not only Batman, but for the entire Justice League. For his team, for Dick...for him.
Tim had endured so much to keep all of them safe, he did not want that to be forgotten.
He placed the disk in a safebox and locked it away.
"I won't forget." he said to himself, looking at the photo of Tim on his computer, "I will never forget."
And there it is folks! The final chapter! C'yall later!
PSYCH! FOOLED YA! ...or did I?