Learn To Love Chapter 15: Worry Rock
Disclaimer: I don't own Batman or anything else I might make references to.
Author's note: Sorry for the long wait. I was stuck. I knew how I wanted to end this story, but I wasn't sure how to get there from the last chapter. I wanted to write and action-filled crime-fighting sequence, but I suck at that, so I skipped it and went right to the emotional stuff.
Thank you all for your feedback. It really means a lot to me.
Father and I go on patrol tonight, just the two of us. Dick and Tim stay behind to guide us using the computer system, since they're both still too weak to be out in the field.
The night is pretty routine; breaking up gang fights, rescuing victims from burning buildings, etc. Not that I'm wishing something worse would happen. It's actually better this way, because it gives me time to think. Not daydream, but think.
Since Tim has recovered I don't find myself anxiously wondering about how I should feel, so it's easier for me to keep my head in the game. I can think about things, but I don't totally drift off.
Occasionally, Dick will contact my father to inform him of another crime being committed, and the two of us take off in search of it.
The criminals seem so easy tonight. Maybe it's because this suicide attempt is behind us now. No more worrying about Tim, now I can just cut loose and do what I'm supposed to. I can't express how content and calm I am, just to hear his voice over the comm.
But also, every time I feel relief, I also feel dread. Now that we have Tim back, how are we going to keep him back? He attempted suicide and he survived. But what if he tries it again, right? How do we make sure he doesn't slip back into that depression?
I guess we'll never know, and we'll never be 100% secure. We'll always be worrying if this will ever happen again. What can I do to help? How can I help Tim see that he's wanted and loved?
Despite these thoughts swirling through my mind, I manage not to make any mistakes in the field tonight. Possibly because Batman is handling most of the criminals. He's so full of energy tonight that I almost don't have to do anything. It's nice to have a little less pressure on me, but I do want to help.
As we drive back home I keep thinking about Tim's mental stability, and I reach a conclusion; I have to tell him how I feel. I really, really have to be honest with him, and tell him that even though he gets on my nerves, I don't want to lose him.
"Welcome home, Master Bruce," Alfred greets me as I step out of the Batmobile.
"Hey," I say gruffly, taking off my cowl as Titus trots up to me. "Hey, boy," I say to him, scratching him behind the ears.
"Where are Drake and Grayson?" Damian asks, taking his mask off and petting Titus.
"They have both gone to bed," my butler answers. "This past week has been quite trying on them both."
"On all of us," I agree. "I'm going to grab a shower before bed."
"Very good, sir. How was patrol?"
"Eh, what's to tell? Nothing new," I say, taking off my boots and undressing. "A knocked-down dragged-out fight, fat lips and open wounds."
"Business as usual," Alfred chuckles. "Master Damian, may I be of service?"
"Huh? Oh, that's OK, Pennyworth," my son answers, looking up from his dog. "I'm going to go to bed, too."
"Hey, come here," I say, outstretching my arms. To my surprise and happiness, Damian runs into me and wraps his arms around my waist. I embrace him tightly. "I love you, son."
"You, too, Father," he answers softly. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight," I reply. And he scampers upstairs.
Dick seems to be more-or-less stabilized by now; meaning he's secure enough to let me sleep in my own bed without fear that I'll try to hurt myself again.
I've just finished cleaning up the small mess I'd made in my room that night, when I was throwing shit 'cause I was mad. I've managed to fix the bookshelf I'd damaged when I threw a boot at it, and while I had to throw away all the ripped-up pictures of Dick, I know I still have the negatives lying around somewhere, so I can just print out new copies.
The bloodstain on my carpet won't be nearly as easy to mend, though. I'm going to have to call Stanley Steamer or something.
Actually, scratch that. I'm sure Alfred has some magic detergent that can get out week-old blood.
…man, there sure was a lot of it.
I turn on my bedside lamp and turn off the overhead light, and climb into bed, when I hear a soft knock at the door.
"Come in," I say.
"Hello," says a prepubescent voice. It's Damian.
"Uh, hi," I answer. He doesn't look like he's come to pick a fight, so I lower my guard. "What's up?" He comes in and closes the door quietly behind him.
"Um, about last night," he begins, looking me in the eye. "I, uh, I didn't mean what I said. I mean, I meant it, but I didn't mean to sound so angry."
I smile at my little brother. Did he come in here to apologize? That is so adorable! Can't say that, of course, lest I embarrass him and piss him off.
"Look, uh, I'm not very good at this," he mumbles.
"That's OK, Damian. Just say what you have to say." I try to be as gentle as possible, since I know how hard this must be for him. I watch him as he turns his head away from me, takes a deep breath, and looks back.
"You can't do that ever again," he states. My eyebrows go up almost involuntarily. Is he telling me what to do? Why, that little-
…Stop. Stop. OK, stop, Tim. Don't get angry. He's trying to be nice, so don't take it so personally.
"Do what?" I ask.
"Commit suicide," he affirms. "Do you understand? You can't do that." I swear I can hear his voice crack.
"I won't, Damian."
"But that doesn't mean anything," he cries, tears spilling forth from his eyes. My stoic persona immediately melts and I get up off my bed to rush over to kneel down and hug him.
"Oh, Damian, don't cry," I say gently. "It's OK. It's OK, I'm not going anywhere." He clings to me and whimpers.
"I don't know why, but I can't live without you," he mumbles. "I know it doesn't make any sense and I know we hate each other, but I don't want you to die."
"I know. I know, it's OK," I assure him, rubbing his back. He sobs onto my shoulder and at that moment I think I get it.
We love each other. We're brothers, we fight all the time, we annoy the hell out of each other, but that's what brothers do. I never got it until now. I can't expect him to look up to me the way I look up to Dick. He can't expect me to be protective of him the way Dick is protective of me. We have a different kind of relationship; we're the kind of brothers who can't stand each other, but still love each other.
And you know what? That's fine with me.
"I love you, Damian. I love you so much," I whisper.
"I love you, too, Tim," he replies, squeezing me tighter. "Promise me no dead-end streets."
"You can't feel that way ever again!" he pleads, pulling back from our hug and staring me straight in the eye. "You can't ever feel like you're unloved, alright? Because you're not."
"Well, I was being really stupid and selfish that night," I say. "But now I know. I know how much damage I did, and I'm never going to do it again."
"But even if you don't try to commit suicide again, I'm trying to tell you, you can't ever feel that way!"
"Well, Damian, I mean," I start, sort-of half-smiling at him. "I can't really control how I'm going to feel. I might very well get depressed again. I won't hurt myself, but I still might feel-"
"Then you come to me," he demands. "If you ever feel that way, like, if you're mad at Grayson or whatever, come to me. And I'll help you."
I almost start to tear up myself when I hear those words. Damian wants to be there for me. He wants to be the one comforting me. That is so cute, and so nice of him. I can't say that he's the first one I'll come running to when I have an emotional crisis, but there's no reason to tell him that.
"Thank you, Damian," I say, hugging him again. "Are you going to be OK? Do you want to stay in here for a while?" I see his eyes dart over to my bed, just for a second, and then back to me. I smile, and pick him up in my arms, and set him down on my bed.
"Maybe just for a little while…" he mumbles, getting under the covers. He's still so embarrassed that he cares about me. I think it's kinda cute, though.
"Stay as long as you want, little brother," I say, getting under the covers and turning off the lamp.
The only light in the room is the moonlight coming in from the window, and it lands across Damian's face, making him look pale and innocent as he closes his eyes.
"Goodnight," I whisper.
"Goodnight," he answers. And after I turn over to lie on my side, facing away from him, I can swear I feel him kiss the side of my head.
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