Disclaimer: I don't own any DC characters.
Author's Note: I wrote this in the middle of the night. I was plotting it in my brain while trying to get to sleep, and then I figured I'd better type it up while it's still fresh. It was somewhat inspired by the episodes of Degrassi "Hide and Seek," where Holly J works too hard and ends up in the hospital.
He should have seen this coming. Tim would be in the hospital for exhaustion. Of all the things that could put Tim Drake in the hospital, it wouldn't be the Joker, gang wars in Gotham, or anyone on his Hit List. No, it would be his inability to balance all of those things. And it wouldn't have happened in the field, would it? No, it would happen during a press conference in front of Vicki Vale and every other reporter in the city. Couldn't even take him to the Bunker and work on him there. No, it happened in public, so he had to go to Gotham General, and they couldn't publicly talk about how it was his work as Red Robin that landed him there.
Dick Grayson sat in the waiting room in the hospital, elbows on his knees, hands folded and his forehead resting on them. Trying so hard not to cry, he drew in deep, shuddering breaths as he clenched his eyes shut, not daring to let the slightest hint of tears fall from them.
"I don't know what you're so worried about," said Damian, who was by his side. The young heir was clad in jeans, gym shoes and a green sweatshirt hoodie. It wasn't often that Damian dressed like a normal ten-year-old, but he just happened to today. "If anything was going to kill him, it would be me, not some stupid exhaustion diagnosis."
"Damian," Dick said slowly.
"Please," said the boy. "If he really wanted to die, he'd pick a fight with me. He's not going to-"
"Damian, that's enough!" shouted Dick, disturbing everyone else in the waiting room. Damian flinched and climbed a little higher into his chair. "You do not talk that way about someone in the hospital!" Dick glared angrily at his protégé. "You may not want to hear this, but Tim doesn't deserve all the crap you give him, OK? He is your brother, your elder and your superior. And he deserves to be treated with respect!"
Damian's eyebrows quivered a little and he turned his head away from Dick, so the eldest Bat wouldn't see the corners of his mouth start to shake as well.
"I'm sorry," he mumbled. "I was just..." Damian inhaled shakily. "I was just trying to take your mind off it." Dick could tell that Damian was being sincere; something he rarely saw from the boy. "I don't actually want him to die, you know."
Dick sighed. "I'm sorry," he said. Damian blinked as a few tears fell from his eyes. "I didn't mean to yell at you. Come here." The ten-year-old climbed over the armrest of his chair and into Dick's lap, and wrapped his arms around his mentor. "It's going to be OK. Tim's going to pull through."
Sure enough, Dr. Leslie emerged from around the hallway corner and presented the two brothers with good news.
"He's stabilized," she said. "And he's awake, if you want to see him." Damian hopped down from Dick's lap and Dick stood up, and they went in to see Tim.
His hospital bed was propped up a bit, so he could see his surroundings. His left hand was connected to an IV, and his skin looked so pale and thin.
"Hey," Tim said weakly. Dick wasted no time striding over to the bed and leaning down to kiss his brother on the forehead.
"How are you feeling?" he asked softly.
"Not bad," Tim answered. "Not that good, but not bad, either." He looked past Dick and saw Damian standing near the doorway, wiping his face on his huge, oversized sweatshirt sleeve. From that far away, Tim couldn't exactly tell why, but he had an idea. But since it was Damian, he quickly dismissed it.
"Said I have to stay here a few days while they run some tests," mumbled Tim. "SO lame."
"Well, you listen to the doctor, Timmy," Dick said sternly. "You work way to hard for your own good, and look where it got you."
"I know, I know," grumbled Tim. "It's not like I could go anywhere even if I wanted to." Tim looked up again over at Damian across the room, and this time he could see that the boy's face was a little red. Yes, Damian was definitely wiping tears out of his eyes, Tim concluded.
Dick then went out in the hall to talk to Dr. Leslie, and Tim motioned with his hand for Damian to come closer. Damian did so.
"Are you OK?" he asked.
"I've been better," Tim admitted.
"I'm glad you're alive," Damian said softly. "I was worried. Grayson and I were...we were worried," he quickly corrected himself.
"Thanks," said Tim flatly. He knew now that Damian had been upset by this whole ordeal. No need to force it out of him. "I didn't intend to scare you, you know."
"I know," Damian said, his voice cracking. He had a quick flashback of Tim standing on the podium, panting to get through a few simple answers about his plans, and then watching him suddenly collapse on the steps of Wayne Enterprises.
"Come here," Tim said, scooting over in his bed and patting the mattress for Damian to climb up. Damian did so. Looking up at Damian, as the boy was higher than him now, since Tim was lying down, Tim lowered his eyebrows in seriousness." Look, I know we get on each others nerves," he said. Damian nodded and managed to produce a weak smile. "But for all our differences," he continued. "I see myself in you."
Damian raised his eyebrows at this. He wasn't expecting Tim to actually compare himself to him. Just recently when they were fighting side by side with the Teen Titans, both of them had simultaneously declared "WE'RE NOT BROTHERS!"
"You're really good, as much as I hate to admit it," said Tim. "But I don't want to see you end up like me. I mean...look at me," he said, gesturing to his defeated state.
"I won't," said Damian.
"I'm serious, Damian," said Tim, petting the ten-year-old's forehead and up to his hair. "Don't do this to yourself."
"I won't. I swear," said Damian. Tim smiled and took his hand down from his little brother's head.
"Damian, we've got to go," Dick called from the doorway.
"Coming," said Damian. He turned his head back to Tim and smiled tearfully. Tim smiled back as Damian hugged him. "Get better, OK?"
"Sure thing," said Tim, hugging Damian with only his right arm, since his left one had an IV stuck in it.
"Alright, alright, enough with the hugs," said Dick, lifting Damian off of the bed and leaning down to give Tim another kiss on the forehead. "I'm glad you're OK, Timmy," he said. Picking Damian up, Dick walked out of the room. "Bye!"
Tim just smiled at the sight. Damian, now facing Tim, since Dick held the boy in his arms, smugly wrapped his arms around Dick's neck, pretending to rub Tim's face in the fact that Dick obviously loved Damian. And Tim smirked and jokingly gave Damian the finger.
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