linktime

Found Not Lost

A sequel to @preciousthingsareprecious​ ‘s story Lost Not Gone

Found Not Lost - AO3 Link

Tim Drake-Wayne has been back from the dead for only two days and they have been exceptionally weird days, even for him and the kind of weird he’s lived with. And he has to keep reminding himself that he is back from the dead because, from his perspective, he never was dead.

Just missing.

Missing for so long.

So long.

Tim isn’t sure at this point what precisely would even top the list of weird details, but there are a few contenders. At least a couple strong ties for the lead.

And so much crying.

Dick wasn’t really a surprise, honestly, but Alfred– now that had rattled him a bit.

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” he had to keep saying.

Bruce collapsing in the Cave was pretty high up there. And by that point, Tim was so glad to just be home and not in hell that wasn’t Real Hell (because, again, wasn’t actually dead) that Tim had just joined him right there on the floor and cried with him.

The hug he had gotten from Jason was tracking up in the single digits, too. It was tight and long and Tim had just needed it so much that he’d sagged into it, until the moment he realized he was running out of oxygen and had to mumble, “Okay, Jay, if I don’t breathe I’m going to die for real,” prompting Jason– Jason, King of All Drama – to pull him back and say sternly, “Don’t joke like that, Tim.”

Way up on the list of surreal, contending for top, was standing in the Manor graveyard with his hands jammed into his jacket pockets and looking at his own tombstone through his shaggy bangs.

He needs a haircut. He doesn’t have time for a haircut. He is too busy assuring people he is alive, for real.

Timothy Jackson Drake Wayne the tombstone read in letters carved into the granite. It was real and cold and hard and he ran his fingers along the top of it.

He let his eyes trail the tombstones after that, and right up there with staring at his own grave was the startled realization that he was standing at the end of a line of broken tombstones that had read before they were demolished and left in pieces:

Jason Peter Todd Wayne

Bruce Robert Wayne

Damian Thomas Wayne

Richard John Grayson Wayne

And now,

Timothy Jackson Drake Wayne

A whole row of empty graves.

A whole row of sons come back to life, hooked at the other end with Thomas Anthony Wayne and Martha Kane Wayne, who never would.

Bruce had come out behind him and put the sledgehammer in his hands, looking far more composed but still close to emotional, his hand on Tim’s shoulder, his eyes on Tim’s face.

“Go for it, Tim,” he’d said.

And Tim had.

But the thing that probably tops the list of weird?

The thing Tim honestly and genuinely didn’t, in all his months of captivity, anticipate?

Damian.

He had been in his cell again, after a long day of forced work and experiments, trying and failing as usual to sleep.

(Those first days had been close to Real Hell, with the terror and the lack of coffee and the migraines that followed the absence of caffeine.)

But he had been trying to sleep, insomniac even when exhausted, and there had been a noise. An unusual noise.

Tim had lifted his weary head and Damian had been there, right in front of him on the other side of the cell, one hand to the synthetic glass and pushing back his hood. When Tim had stood across from him, they were the same height.

(How long had he been gone? At that point, he didn’t know. There had been drugs involved at some points and he’d lost track.)

Damian opened the cell and Tim, desperate and lonely and desperately lonely, had clung to him.

The weird thing was, Damian had clung right back.

“We have to get out of here,” he said, his voice cracking a little. Was his voice changing? How long had it been?

(It had been eleven months. Tim had missed a birthday. And the start of college. And so much. So, so much.)

And Tim would have gone with Damian anywhere, even though his senses were returning and he wasn’t entirely sure Damian didn’t have plans to drag him off and finish the job, to finalize things with no one the wiser.

(But no, that was cynical of him, even where Damian was concerned. He felt the poison of the last year all through him, like a virus he couldn’t shake.)

Damian had brought him home.

Damian hadn’t left his side.

Damian had pressed a Red Bull into his hands and brewed coffee for him in the kitchen while Tim hugged Alfred and Dick and phone calls were made.

Through Bruce’s breakdown, Jason’s hug, the tombstone and it’s demolition, Damian had been right there next to Tim.

Every so often, even two days in, he will reach out and touch Tim’s shoulder or elbow or walk close enough to bump into him and he just keeps staring.

Tim understands. Tim brought Bruce back from the dead, after all, and he knows the inclination, the impulse, the need to keep proving that it’s real. But even if he understands, it’s Damian and that’s just plain weird.

He has an apartment but he doesn’t have the heart to leave the Manor yet.

So the entire second day he is home, he does things with Damian next to him. He’s hardly spoken to him because he doesn’t know what to make of the change, doesn’t know what to say.

But honestly, he’s been alone for so long he’s drinking in the company like a man staggering out of the Sahara drinks water. He just needs somewhere there and he doesn’t know yet if Damian is there because he senses this and feels obligated or if Damian is there for himself for some reason Tim doesn’t yet fathom.

Evening finds them in the den where Tim is starting a movie after wandering around the Manor in such aimless loops that Alfred gently suggested he sit down and do something normal, just for the practice.

Tim picks something old and familiar from childhood, hoping it will be pure nostalgia and trigger-free. He expects Damian to scoff at the low-brow cartoon.

Damian doesn’t scoff.

Damian cuddles up next to him on the couch, leaning on Tim’s arm, and Tim still can’t get used to the fact that they are the same height when they stand.

(Maybe that in itself should be its own category on the Ranking of Weird, if he’s sorting things anyway.)

The movie is only five minutes into the story when Damian says, so quietly Tim almost doesn’t hear,

“I missed you.”

Tim looks over at the younger boy.

Damian’s eyes are full of tears. He’s got a finger wrapped in the hem of Tim’s shirt.

Tim has never felt like an older brother. Maybe it’s because Jason and Dick fill the role so well, maybe because Cass always feels like an equal, maybe because Damian made it very clear early on that Tim was a rival and not a sibling.

But tonight he sees himself as an older brother.

With a younger brother who missed him and fought to bring him back home.

And Tim knows how lonely and isolating that fight can be, to bring someone back from the dead, someone who isn’t dead but is deeply and thoroughly gone while everyone else is frowning worried frowns and glancing toward a grave.

So Tim lifts his arm and wraps it around Damian and pulls him close. Damian pulls another Red Bull from his hoodie pocket and hands it to him, but Tim tosses it aside on the couch.

“I missed you, too,” Tim says and Damian’s shoulders shake under his arm.

(And he did, he missed everyone, everyone, everyone. He just didn’t think they’d all miss him the same way.)

The movie is still playing and Tim keeps his arms wrapped around his little brother, his little brother who brought him back, until Damian’s cried out and they are just sitting and watching the movie together.

Together they fall asleep before the movie is over, Damian still held in Tim’s arms.

Together, when Tim cracks an eye open to see Jason with a finger to his lips, throwing a blanket over the two of them.

Together, when Dick sneaks in and takes a picture.

Together, when Alfred comes in and turns off the TV and pats their heads.

Together, when Bruce creeps in after patrol and from behind the couch, leans forward while he thinks they are asleep and kisses Tim’s head, and then Damian’s, and leaves again.

Together, when Damian stirs around four in the morning and Tim wakes from his light dozing and expects his brother to jerk away from him and pretend they hadn’t spent most of the night curled up together.

But he doesn’t.

“Are you awake, Tim?” he asks, and it strikes Tim like a thunderclap that Damian didn’t call him Drake.

(That, more than direct insults, had hurt him over and over: it was like being reminded You aren’t a Wayne, you aren’t a Wayne.)

“Yeah,” Tim says, his heart in his throat. He swallows. “I am.”

“Several musicians you enjoy released albums in your absence,” Damian says in a whisper, though there is no one else in the room. It is dark and that makes it feel secret and maybe it is why Damian hasn’t bolted for the door yet.

“I made a playlist,” Damian says, slipping his phone out of his pocket. He doesn’t move the blanket off of them or sit up, away from Tim’s arm. “Would you like to listen?”

Tim missed music and now he’s the one with tears in his eyes. It’s stupid to cry over this, of all the things he has to cry about these days, but the fact that Damian– Damian – made a playlist trusting he would return…

“Sure,” he says, his voice husky. “That’d be awesome.”

He doesn’t move and Damian tucks an earbud in Tim’s ear and one in his own, then pushes play. They sit together, still together, listening.

“I do not know if they are good, or what you would consider good. I have not listened to them yet.”

And Tim can hear what his brother did not say:

I was waiting for you.