The two of them are standing on the rooftop, silently staring at each other. Neither one of them is actually ready to return to the HQ, even though Tim knows that, if they don't at least check in soon, he's going to have to deal with a whole slew of problems in the form of four worried super-powered teens. Tim wishes he had all of the answers, but he just doesn't. He never expected to run into Jason that night, and he certainly never expected to discover that Jason's mother had been murdered. Now, he's left with too many options - and yet not enough of them at the same time.
He doesn't know what to do. He never wanted to interfere. Tim has done his best to limit the amount of information he's let slip, as well as the impact he's made on this world, but he's never been one for standing idly by while there was something he could do. And now is no different. He has an obligation to help as much as he can, even if only because he was trained by a Batman to do what he could no matter the situation. Tim doesn't know how to do anything else, but that doesn't change the fact that he technically has no right to keep Jason from Bruce, even though he can really only see one way for that to end.
He could potentially find Jason a nice family to live with somewhere in the city, but Tim knows Jason well enough to know that, as long as he's in Gotham, he won't ever really be safe. Heck, he's already had one run in with The Joker, and if Tim hadn't intervened he'd probably already be dead. Still, ethically speaking, Tim has no right to make this decision. He can't just remove Jason from Gotham and place him with some random family. Jason would never go for that, and he'd be back in Gotham within a week, probably getting into trouble - trouble that would inevitably lead him right back to Bruce, and put him right in the line of fire for The Joker.
Not to mention, Tim refuses to place Jason with someone who isn't prepared to deal with Jason Todd-level antics. Unfortunately, when Tim thinks about it, the list of people with that kind of fortitude isn't long, and the majority of people on that list are people that Tim isn't even sure exist in this world. Besides, even if they do exist, they sure as hell don't know Tim and don't owe him any favors. Furthermore, he's fairly certain that he would lose any and all credibility he might have if he asked any of the people who might be willing to hear him out to keep this from Batman.
Tim doesn't realize that he's sat down on the roof and is clawing at his head until he feels two small but firm hands pulling them away from his scalp. "Hey, I know I don't know everything that's going on, and everything is pretty crazy right now, but I'm pretty sure whatever's going through your head right now doesn't need to be resolved tonight."
Tim just blinks owlishly a few times at Robin, while he tries to derail his thought process and calm down. "What do you mean?"
Dick shrugs, evidently uncomfortable with seeing Red Robin falling apart in front of him, which makes Tim wince. He probably should have taken Dick back to the HQ before he decided to have a mental breakdown, but there's nothing he can do about that now. "I mean, Jason is staying with Mrs. Miller, and we did tell him it would be a few days. We can go back to the HQ and figure this out later."
Tim nods as he gets to his feet. After all, he probably should have taken Dick back hours ago. "One thing before we go - I know that you don't like keeping things from him, but you can't tell B about Jason, Robin. Not until I figure out what I'm going to do, and maybe not even then, okay?"
Dick shakes his head. "Don't you mean until we figure out what we're going to do? I'm in this too, and just because I don't know everything doesn't mean I don't want to help."
Tim sighs heavily. He should have known that the moment Dick got involved, he wasn't going to be able to get rid of him. "Fine, but you can't tell anyone about Jason or anything else that I told you tonight. Not Batman, not the rest of your team, no one, and you can only speak to me about this whole situation when you are absolutely certain that we're alone and no one is listening in. Is that clear?"
Dick nods his head vigorously. "You got it, boss."
Tim rolls his eyes and tries to ignore how much that particular nickname bothers him, and then he reconsiders. This Dick's penchant for being obnoxious might actually surpass his own. "And don't call me boss."
Dick folds his arms over his chest. "Fine, but in exchange for my cooperation, I want details."
Tim raises an eyebrow, knowing that whatever Dick is asking for is going to be more than Tim wants to give him, because some things never change no matter which Earth he's on or which Dick Grayson he's dealing with. "What kind of details?"
"I want to know about your world. I want to know about Jason….both Jasons, and the issues currently going on between you and your brother. I want to know why every time you think of your home your face blanks out and you look like you've lost everything. I want to know about your Batman and the other heroes from your world, and why you go by Red Robin, and everything." Dick pauses for a moment and takes a deep breath. "Yeah, I want to know everything."
Tim heaves a large sigh, knowing that there most likely isn't any way for him to avoid answering those questions, especially not since they both know he's going to need Dick's help with the whole Jason situation. Tim should have seen this coming, though, because this is no different from his own Dick. His older brother always knows exactly how much he can ask for when the other person is in a bind and has limited options, and never feels any guilt about taking advantage of said situation… at least, not in Tim's experience he hasn't. "Fine, but not until we're in a secluded area back at the HQ. This information isn't for anyone else. I've kept it all to myself for a reason, and I expect you to respect that."
Dick smiles brightly and jumps at his obvious win. "Alright, you got it. Now, let's get going, Red Robin."
He gestures for Dick to lead the way, intending to allow Robin to burn off his excess energy with as many flips as he feels necessary. After all, Tim plans to use the mindless roof top run back to figure out exactly what he intends to tell Dick when he inevitably begins interrogating him about his world. There's so much that he can't tell Dick for his own good, and there's so much more that Tim simply doesn't want anyone to know. Things weren't great back home before his accidental multiverse displacement, and Tim would rather not dwell on all of that if he doesn't have to; but he's been here long enough to know that if he doesn't give Dick enough information to satisfy him, the kid will do something exceedingly ill thought-out. Jason's broken window is enough of a testament to that as Tim needs.
When they enter the HQ, Tim isn't surprised to see the rest of the team standing in the entryway with worried frowns plastered on their faces. Tim's not exactly sure how long after he left that Dick followed him, nor does he know what excuse Dick gave the rest of the team, but they've both been gone long enough that their reactions are rather expected. He just wishes he had devoted a portion of the return trip to deciding what he was going to tell all of them. To be fair, though, Tim's mind had been a little preoccupied with everything else going on in his life to consider the team.
"Are you two hurt?" Predictably, it's Kaldur who approaches them first, and Tim breathes out a sigh of relief that the first question he has to answer is something he can respond to honestly.
Tim shakes his head, knowing that they both probably look like they haven't slept in a week, even though they haven't even been gone for a full twenty-four hours. "No, we both fine. Tired, but fine." Tim hasn't wanted to kill a conversation this much since he first arrived here, but now that he's back at the HQ, all Tim wants to do is to take a shower and sleep, even though he knows he doesn't really have time to sleep - no matter how much the stress is getting to him. He has to figure out the whole Jason situation swiftly, because the longer he takes, the higher the risk that Jason will decide he's taking too long to find his mother and flee Mrs. Miller's apartment all together.
Apparently, Tim has spent too long lost inside his own thoughts, because M'gann's hand is suddenly on his shoulder, as if steadying him, and she looks as though she's been trying to get his attention for some time. "Are you sure you're alright?"
Tim glances around to see all of them, including Robin, staring at him as though he's going to pass out right in front of them. He shakes his head as if to clear it. "Yeah, like I said, I'm just tired.
Superboy is on his other side, braced to catch him if the need arises. "You should sleep."
Tim nods numbly; almost afraid of losing his reprieve from various questions that he knows he doesn't have the answers to, or at least not answers that he's willing to give. "Yeah, that's probably for the best. It's been a long day."
He's about to walk out of the door and head for the showers when he hears Wally call to him. "Hey, don't think this means you're getting out of movie night. You already committed, and you owe us after that training session earlier."
Tim can't help but smile. His assenting to movie night and the subsequent training session feels like it was eons ago as opposed to mere hours, and Tim knows he shouldn't actually be this tired, but everything is just weighing so heavily on him now. The reminder of why he's so tired makes Tim incline his head at Wally's demand as he considers the best way to let him down. Tim has far too much work to do now. He doesn't have the time for a movie night. Heck, he still needs to design their next training session, especially since their previous one got cut short. Tim didn't even think about that until now - because normally he would have had that planned out weeks ago - but he needed to see where everyone was at the end of the team building obstacle course before he could move forward with his training plans.
"Wally is right." It's Dick's voice that actually brings him out of his brooding this time, and Tim is actually grateful, because he was starting to work himself into a real frenzy for a second. "You can't ditch movie night, even though I know you're busy." Dick pauses for a moment, and Tim tenses waiting for the inevitable questions from the others pertaining to what he's busy doing, but Dick continues before anyone can get a word in. "But, you know, planning our training sessions isn't everything, nor is anything else that you might be thinking about right now." Tim really hopes that the rest of them just assume Dick is referring to Tim's normal habit of locking himself away with various books, trying to find a way back home, but he doesn't actually have enough time to properly fret over it, because Dick cuts off every thought in Tim's head with one simple sentence. "Plus, it's probably good for you to relax a bit and chill instead of drowning in whatever insanely complex thoughts you're having right now."
There's a chorus of, "Yeah, exactly," behind him from the others, but Tim barely comprehends it. He's too busy focusing on how much this Dick is just like his own, even with the massive age difference. He's not sure how this particular Dick Grayson is so aware of Tim's thought process, but it's something he's been missing for a lot longer than Tim really wants to think about.
He turns back around to face them, and smiles gently in an attempt to ease the tension suddenly stagnating the room. "You guys are right. I guess I have been a little trapped inside my own head lately. Tell you what, I'll go get a shower, and then we can watch whatever movie you guys decide on. I think I could use some time to relax before I crash for the night." Tim actually has no intention of sleeping tonight, but he knows that if he gives them this movie night, then the rest of them will be out of it long enough for him to make some real progress on the Jason situation. At the very least, he'll have time to do some research into the various people on that very short list of people with the fortitude to withstand Jason Todd antics.
All of them practically jump in excitement as they immediately start fighting over what movie to watch. Apparently, the fact that Tim has decided join in their junk-food-mindless-movie tradition vetoes Superboy's right to pick the movie, despite it technically being his turn. However, Superboy doesn't seem particularly perturbed by the seemingly unanimous decision as they all start voting on which movie would best be suited for a relaxing post-mission-mind-numbing experience. It appears that the only prerequisite for said movie is that it doesn't require higher brain power to enjoy. Tim's fairly certain that they're going to end up watching something with very little plot and a lot of explosions.
He can't help but think of the last time he did something like this, but it doesn't necessarily bring back all good memories. After all, the last time he had any kind of movie night was with his own Dick, and it ended with Damian crashing through Tim's apartment window in a flurry of anger that Dick wasn't out patrolling. The fact that Dick was only at Tim's apartment because Tim had a broken ankle only added to Damian's rage. In the end, Tim ended up feigning exhaustion just to get the both of them to leave and stop breaking stuff in his apartment.
Again, he's brought out of his thoughts by someone nudging him out of the room. "Come on, you said you needed a shower, and from the looks of it the others are going to take forever to finally settle on a movie." Tim glances down to see Dick practically dragging him out of the room. "You're really out of it. Are you sure you're okay?" Dick's concern for him is almost too reminiscent of Tim's own Dick.
Tim shakes his head and reconsiders his stance on actually sleeping tonight. He really can't afford to be this distracted. "Yeah, it's just…well, you know I have a lot on my mind."
Dick nods as he continues leading Tim towards the showers. "Yeah, and don't think I'm letting you back out of your promise. You're going to tell me everything, but right now I think you really just need to stop thinking."
Tim laughs hollowly at the suggestion. "Yeah, well, my Dick would love you forever if you could actually manage that."
Dick hums in consideration and strokes his chin in a faux thoughtful gesture. "I'll see what I can come up with."
Tim huffs out a breath at Dick antics. "Now, I'm starting to worry."
Dick shakes his head. "No, no, no worrying. You do too much of that. Now, go shower, and try not to think. I'll go make sure the others haven't broken the TV in their squabbles."
Tim shakes his head again as Dick practically runs out of the room. There are times he really does wish he could just stop thinking, but now isn't one of them. Tim knows his time is limited and he needs to find a solution. No matter how much he may know, he doesn't actually have the right to make a decision involving anyone on this earth, least of all Jason. But he can't just stand by and do nothing, either. It's not in his nature, even if he thinks his life might be easier if it was.
Tim gets into the shower and starts going over everything he knows about this world and the possible trajectory its future could take - which arguably isn't much, because once again there are far too many variables. Tim hangs his head in defeat - knowing that no matter what he does, it's probably going to be the wrong choice - but he really doesn't think that not making a choice is an option. At least, not for someone like Tim. He hates multiverse travel, and he's fairly certain he always will, but that apparently is a problem for another day.
Tim sighs heavily, knowing there's only so much time he can spend in the shower before someone - most likely Dick - comes to check on him. He just wishes that he had someone other than a thirteen-year-old Dick Grayson to talk to about everything that's been going on, because Tim honestly doesn't remember ever missing his older brother as much as he does right now. He knows that it would be better - that he wouldn't feel nearly as lost as he does - if he could just talk to Dick like they used to before he got transported to this earth. Except that's not exactly true, if Tim is completely honest with himself, he would admit that what he really wishes is that he could talk to Dick like they did before Dick ever put on the cowl and everything fell apart. It's that thought that makes Tim realize he's been missing his big brother for a lot longer than he has been stuck on this earth.
The End (for now)