The Breaking Point
Disclaimer: I don't own Batman or The Breakfast Club.
Author's Note: This is another story that I thought up in the middle of the night, and had to type up while it was still fresh. I'm really glad this story finally came together. I'd been wanting to write a story like this for a while, but I just couldn't get my ideas together. I hope you enjoy it.
Author's Note 2: The concept of living with your guilt is from my favorite manga, Kodocha volume 8.
"EVERYONE HATES YOU! EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER HAD THE UNPLEASANT TASK OF EVER COMING INTO CONTACT WITH YOU, HATES YOU!" screamed Tim. "Nothing about you is likable! Everything about you, every WORD that comes out of your mouth, every feature about you makes people want to kill you! And they only HOLD BACK BECAUSE MURDER IS WRONG! NOT THAT YOU WOULD KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT'S WRONG!"
Damian tried his hardest to maintain a poker face, but his eyebrows just kept going higher and higher and closer together on his forehead. He tried desperately to keep his mouth in a straight line, but the corners just kept sinking with every syllable of Tim's rant.
"You know why your mom left you here with Bruce? It wasn't because you lacked "the teachings of a great man" or whatever bullshit excuse she gave. It was because you're a cranky little shit who was too much trouble to deal with and she wanted to GET YOU OUT OF HER LIFE!" Tim continued.
"You're wrong," was all he could squeak out before Tim resumed his snarling.
"YOU KNOW WHY DICK KEEPS YOU AROUND? IT'S NOT BECAUSE HE WANTS TO, YOU KNOW! HE KEEPS YOU BY HIS SIDE TO MAKE SURE YOU DON'T GO ON ANOTHER KILLING SPREE!"
Damian tried to squirm back further into his chair, but the furniture was solid, and there was no way he could sink through it.
"YOU ARE THE WORST, MOST EVIL, ANNOYING CREATURE THAT WAS EVERY CONCEIVED ON THIS EARTH! NOBODY LOVES YOU, NOBODY EVER WILL LOVE YOU, AND EVERYONE WOULD BE A LOT HAPPIER IF YOU WOULD JUST JUMP OFF A CLIFF!" Tim finished and finally leaned back up into a standing position, so that he was no longer leaning down with his face two centimeters from Damian's.
The elder Bat brother quickly walked out of the living room and into the kitchen, where he had left his jacket hanging over a chair.
He should be launching himself at the back of my head in three...two...one, thought Tim. But nothing happened. Keeping his back turned, lest he come off as paranoid and afraid, he put his jacket on and headed toward the door. Any second now, he thought. Still nothing. Well, no skin off my nose anyway. And with those thoughts of satisfaction, those thoughts that he'd finally defeated the young Robin, Tim Drake exited Wayne Tower, and started home.
Dick had asked Tim to "check in" on Damian while he and Alfred were at a meeting with Bruce. Tim knew that his brother meant for the two of them to bond, even in the slightest bit, but that was just not possible. Tim had never hated anyone so intensely before. Not even Captain Boomerang, the murderer of his father. Damian was in a whole other class. The child was stuck-up, violent, socially inept and felt that there was nothing wrong with himself. Dick had hoped to reform the child; teach him right from wrong and train him to be a great crime fighter. Tim, however, saw the child for what he really was: a killer.
Damian's throat seemed to close up. He had never felt anything like this before. Sorrow, heartbreak, fear? None of these emotions were familiar to him. Sure, he'd cried before. When he was a baby (not that he remembered being a baby), when he'd been severely physically injured. But never when he was in emotional distress. This feeling was foreign to him and it scared him worse than he'd ever been scared before.
Shaking from head to toe, the ten-year-old slowly pried himself out of the chair he had been stuck in, and hurried to his room. His arm trembled as he pulled back the blankets from his bed. His legs quivered as he sat down on the mattress. His heart pounded as he lay down sideways and pulled the covers up to his shoulders.
Never before had Damian been emotionally traumatized. But tonight his spirit had finally been broken.
And the young Robin burst into tears.
That was the meanest thing I've ever said, thought Tim as he drove back to his new headquarters. That was seriously the worst thing I've ever done. That was just straight-up awful of me. I can't believe I just basically told a child to commit suicide. And there's no way I can go back on it. No way in hell could I go crawling back there and take it all back. Say I was sorry and I didn't mean it. Especially since I did kind-of mean it. I truly think we would all be a lot better off without that kid. And how many times has he asked for it? WAY more times than I've dished it out, thats for sure!
Ironically, Tim was able to concentrate on driving very carefully on his way back to his place, despite the moral conundrum eating away at his mind and soul.
Knowing Damian, he won't tell Dick. Or if he does, it won't be because his feelings were actually hurt. He would never admit to that. If he does tell Dick, he'll probably make it sound like I was just being annoying, and he'll act like none of it affected him emotionally. The kid probably won't admit to having his feelings hurt.
Pulling into his underground garage, Tim thought,
If Dick never knows, and never confronts me about this, I'll just have to live with the guilt for a while. And that's what I deserve. If I do truly regret what I just did, then the best punishment will be to live with my guilt. Apologizing will only clear my conscience, and then I'll feel better, which I don't deserve.
Back at Wayne Tower, Dick and Alfred finally returned.
"Damian? Tim? Everything cool?" asked Dick. No one answered, and the apartment was empty.
"Perhaps Master Damian is training with his brother," Alfred suggested.
"No, wait..." said Dick. "...do you hear that?"
"Hear what, Master-"
"Shh. Hang on. Damian?" asked Dick as he slowly opened the door to his little brother's room. The lights were off, but the floor-to-ceiling curtains were open, leaving a view of the vibrant city lights, and allowing illumination of the room. Dick saw a quivering lump on the bed and deduced that it was the source of the sounds he heard.
"Damian?" he asked again, horrified at the sight. Turning on the bedside lamp, Dick was appalled to find not only Damian sobbing hysterically, but dozens of balled up tissues all over the floor. The poor child had evidently been crying for hours, and blowing his nose and wiping his tears all the while. "Damian, what happened?"
"Nothing," sobbed Damian.
"That's...clearly not true," said Dick. He was very close to being at a loss for words. "Damian, please tell me what's wrong."
Damian continued to sob and choke, prompting concern from the Bat Family's faithful butler.
"Master Dick?" asked Alfred. "Is there anything I can do?"
"I, uh, I don't know," stuttered Dick. He was just as clueless as Alfred was at this point. "Damian, please. Please tell me. I can't help you if I don't know what's wrong. Please!" Dick scooped Damian up into his arms and grabbed the last remaining tissue out of the box that was stuffed between Damian's pillows, and proceeded to wipe the child's tears away.
"Drake..." Damian sputtered. He inhaled sharply, and began to cough.
"Uh, OK. Hang on. I'm going to get you a glass of water real quick. You're probably dehydrated as all heck," said Dick. "Try to stop crying, OK? I'll be right back."
"What's the matter?" asked Alfred.
"I don't know, I think maybe he and Tim exchanged words," said Dick, holding a glass under the ice cube dispenser on the fridge and then filling it up with water. "I'm just trying to calm him down, first."
Damian managed to take a few deep breaths and stop crying hard. Tears still flowed from his eyes, but he was no longer sobbing and gasping.
"Hey," said Dick, returning with the water for Damian. "Here you go. And you can talk when you're ready, OK?" Damian nodded and sipped the water.
"Thanks," he said in a broken voice. He took another shuddering breath and placed the glass on his nightstand. "Um, when Drake was here, he..."
Tim was surprisingly NOT feeling all that guilty anymore when Dick arrived at his headquarters at three o'clock in the morning. He was working on his computers like nothing had happened when his brother arrived.
"Tim," said the elder Bat. "We need to talk."
"Yeah, you've been saying that a lot lately. You know I'm not a very talky person-"
"Tim, you and I are going to have a talk. I am going to talk, and you are going to listen. You are going to talk, and I am going to listen. And we're not going to stop until we resolve this problem."
"Tim...you can't yell and scream at a ten-year-old boy," said Dick. Tim inhaled, and looked like he was about to say something like "Oh, so that's what this is about" but no words came out. Instead, he just nodded and looked down. "Tim, that kid has spent his life being used. Manipulated. Betrayed. He came to this city, embraced our lifestyle, and is trying his DAMNEDEST TO DO WHAT'S RIGHT! YOU DO NOT GET TO SCREAM AT HIM THAT EVERYONE HATES HIM AND THAT HE SHOULD KILL HIMSELF!"
"I, I know. I know! I'm sorry! I'm...really, REALLY sorry," said Tim, putting his hands up to try to back away from Dick.
"I'm not the person you should be saying that to!" said Dick. "I don't even know how to fix this, Tim. You have gone SO FAR I don't even know if there's like a CATEGORY to put this in!"
"Dick, I remember what I said. Not word-for-word, but I do remember the bulk of it. And it was cruel, I admit that. But I meant it. I really, truly despise that kid, and I'm NOT the only one! And I KNOW that you understand me. I know that you've thought some of those very things that I said to him."
"Yeah, but you're never supposed to TELL THE CHILD THAT, Tim! We all THINK horrible things, but you're never supposed to actually SAY them out loud!" said Dick.
"Well, OK, what do you want me to do, Dick? You want me to go apologize?"
"No," said Dick. "I mean, yes. I mean... oh damn it, Tim. You don't DO that! You just DON'T!"
"Dick, I'm not proud of it," said Tim. "But I don't know how to feel bad about it, either. I'm standing here, NOT feeling all that bad about it. And I don't know how to change that."
"Tim...he was crying," said Dick. At that, Tim's eyes widened. "I have NEVER seen that kid cry before. Not once. Not even after you kicked the shit out of him that one time." (A/N: Red Robin #14)
"Really?" Tim asked timidly.
"And I don't know how to help him," said Dick, almost looking close to tears himself. "Tim, this has to stop. This hatred between the two of you, it has to stop!"
Tim blinked back some tears and looked down. "I'm sorry."
"Tell that to him. Please, tell that to him," begged Dick, holding his arms out, into which Tim walked and embraced him.
"OK. I promise," said Tim.
Tim came back to Wayne Tower that night (or morning or whatever) with Dick.
"Master Damian is asleep," said Alfred.
"OK, we can talk tomorrow," said Dick. "Tim, I want you to stay here tonight, OK?"
"Yeah. I'll crash here. It's OK," said Tim. The middle brother stayed in his old room that night, but he didn't do much sleeping. He felt like Emilio Esteves's character in The Breakfast Club, and how he was so helpless as to how to apologize for his offense.
"How do you apologize for something like that?" he remembered the character saying. "There's no way."
That morning at breakfast, Damian was trying to act like he hadn't been at all affected by Tim's rant last night, but Dick wasn't buying it.
"Damian, Tim is here, and-"
"Look, Grayson. I don't have anything to say to that guy. I don't need any pity or sympathy, or-"
"Damian, shut up," said Dick. "We both know what happened last night, and we both know how you reacted to it. So don't try to put up this tough-guy front, cause it ain't going to work. Got it?"
"Damian," said Tim, entering the kitchen. Dick got up and left. He knew that this was a conversation that had to take place in private, between only Tim and Damian. "Look, I said what I said last night, and there's nothing I can do to change it. But I am actually sorry."
"No, see, that attitude is one of the things I hate about you, Damian! Don't you see that? Don't you see that your personality invites hatred from the people around you? I mean, I was wrong to yell at you, and I'm sorry. But you have a lot to apologize for, too."
"Like...being a little snot who thinks he's better than everyone? I don't know why your mother instilled in you this sense of entitlement and self-importance, but it's NOT a good quality to have. I mean, do you like it when people talk down to you?"
"OK, so why do you do it to other people? Why do you think it's OK for you to behave a certain way, but it's not OK for someone else to?" said Tim. He was pretty sure Damian had never been presented with that argument before.
Damian shrugged. "I don't know," he said.
"Well, that's something you have to work on. You can't treat people like dirt, and then get mad at them when they stand up to you. You're NOT the most important person in the world, Damian."
"I know that!"
"Alright, well, start acting like it. If you recall, when we first met, I was nice to you. And what did you do? You punched me in the face. How was that fair?" said Tim.
"It wasn't. I'm sorry," said Damian. Tim smiled.
"See? It's not so hard," said Tim. He knew Damian didn't like to be patronized. In fact, that was the first thing the kid had said to him when they were first introduced.
"Hmm hmm," Damian chuckled. "I guess I did kind-of deserve it, huh?" he asked.
"I still went way too far," said Tim. "And I'm really sorry. I promise I'll never lose my temper like that again."
"Thanks," said Damian, smiling weakly at his brother.
"Come here," said Tim, holding out his hand. Damian hopped off his chair at he table and crawled up into Tim's lap. "I love you," he whispered. Hugging the ten-year-old tightly, Tim allowed a tear to escape from his eye and slide down his cheek onto his little brother's hair.
"I love you, too," said Damian. "...Tim."
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