There is cold, wet gravel under Tim Drake’s cheek when he hits the ground and the armor that protects his ribs from the blow reminds him that he is not Tim Drake with a broken gas mask, he is Red Robin.
But the mask is broken and the tendrils of fear toxin curling around his face remind of a time when he was Robin. A time when Scarecrow wasn’t climbing inside his brain, but when he donned a mask and saved the Bat from a similar fate.
That was when he stopped being just Tim Drake.
But he’s not Robin now either.
And Red Robin is about fifteen seconds away from being nothing more than a shrieking sack of bones and guts, based on the level of toxicity he’d measured before his gas mask broke.
“No.” The word was spoken with such
force and venom that it is a wonder the single syllable does not leave Hawke’s
“You said it yourself, the Wardens
started this mess. So it’s only right that—“
“NO!” It’s a good thing Hawke
shouted the word this time, because the earsplitting shriek that erupted in the
valley below would’ve drowned them out otherwise. The pools of black ichor that
they had waded through in the Fade were slowly drawing together. They rose up
and took form, congealing like blood trying to clot a nightmare-shaped wound.
Precious seconds slipped heedlessly through grasping fingers. There wasn’t
enough time to explain. Not enough time to tell Carver everything he should
have been told.
“I never could get out of your
shadow anyways. The best thing I can do with my life is to save yours.” Hawke was
shaking their head as he spoke, moving forward to take him by his shoulders.
First father, then Bethany, and mother too soon after. Not Carver too. It
stopped here. Carver must’ve seen that weight and determination in Hawke’s
eyes, because something in his posture faltered. He opened his mouth to speak,
but the reassurance died in his throat as another roar split through the air.
“I know you stopped listening to me
a long time ago,” Hawke said, their words were rushed but still spoken with
gravity. “But just for old time’s sake, little brother—” there, Hawke’s voice
cracked a fraction, “—just one last time, do as I ask.”
“Hawke,” The Inquisitor warned,
because in the brief silence the Nightmare had nearly taken full form. It
towered over them, despite being rooted in the valley below.
“I’m so proud of you,” Hawke
croaked, resting their forehead briefly against Carver’s. “So proud.”
“T-together…” Carver said, trying
to protest, but Hawke shook their head again.
“Live, Carver. But not for me, not
for anyone else. Live for yourself. You’re worth it.” Hawke was pushing him
away with their last words, trying to get him to move. The Inquisitor had taken
hold of his arm to lead him away because all he could do was stare numbly at
One last roar from the Nightmare
shook Carver from his stupor. He looked up at the creature that was swinging
itself around to face them.
“Sure would be nice if a dragon
could swoop in and save the day, huh?” Carver rasped as he stumbled away with
the Inquisitor. Hawke recognized the assent that the joke represented, and
their laugh was one of relief and false bravado.
“You never know what might happen,”
they called after Carver as he and the Inquisitor retreated toward the Rift.
The young Warden looked once over his shoulder just before stepping through the
astral green tear in the Fade. The last glimpse he caught of Hawke was of their
smile, their face turned toward him to make sure he had escaped. Even so far
away Carver could see it, knew exactly how the expression marked Hawke’s features.
They had worn that smile for him whenever the Hawke’s had been forced to move
to avoid Templars, and Carver found himself struggling in a new place yet
again. They had worn that smile when father had died, and Carver had thought
the whole world would simply stop spinning. They had worn that smile in the
Deep Roads when Carver had felt the Taint slowly consuming him.
And whether it was a trick of his
mind, or of the Fade, Carver heard what Hawke always said when they wore that
smile. Everything’s going to be alright.
You’re going to be fine. They had always been right before. But when Carver
came tumbling back in to the real world with tears in his eyes and the blood of
his last sibling on his hands… he wasn’t sure it would be true this time.
[Headcanon that, except for Cassandra, literally all of the Batkids are terrified of spiders. Even Damian. Even Steph. Especially Tim. Dick will take care of most spiders, if he has to, but he won’t go within ten feet of an albino spider. Or the big, creepy black ones with the squat legs and thick body. You can’t make him. You can’t pay him. He will refuse.]
[Bruce hates spiders, but worked past his fear of them ages back. He will take care of them for any of the Batkids, but none of them will admit their spider fears or ask for help willingly.]
[Cassandra will occasionally play with spiders. She finds it amusing how Tim will beeline out of the room and Dick and Damian will visibly shudder.]
[Barbara is also afraid of spiders. But if Babs is armed with a shoe, she’s 100% fine.]
[Alfred is that person who escorts a spider outside instead of killing it.]
[Every year, the Batfam has a miniature Secret Santa. But it doesn’t really matter who pulls whose name.]
[If Tim’s name is pulled, he’s probably getting a Superboy or Robin coffee mug (once he got a Polaroid camera, though). If Dick’s name is pulled he’s probably getting some gag disco gift (and then a Superman tee shirt, because of course he always gets a Superman tee shirt). Jason? Something Wonder Woman (either a top – tank or tee – or an action figure, usually). Damian? Sets of exotic teas and sometimes a fancy bladed weapon.]
[If Babs’ name is pulled, she’ll usually end up with a new harddrive, or something Batgirl (to remind her that she IS Batgirl, even when she’s Oracle). Steph usually gets a stack of cheesy romcoms (but when Jason drew her name, he purchased a bunch of seasons of different quiz shows, because he’s Jason). Cass will usually get her current favourite show on DVD, something mundane but thoughtful. Harper will get just… Batman merch. All the time. Every time. Probably to remind her that she IS a Bat, even if she isn’t a Robin.]
[Bruce always gets a really crappy page to put in this ridiculous scrap book that Dick gave him years ago. Alfred will get an all expense paid vacation (which he’ll never use) and a new tea cup and saucer (which he will use every day until the next year’s cup comes along). Selina gets cat toys. Always. Except when Jason pulls her name. When it’s Jason, Selina get’s a bunch of dog toys and a hamster ball.]