Agony's Best Friend

Robin and Timmy-Bird

Dick was sure to make no sound as he dejectedly walked toward one of the many windows in the clock tower. He didn't want to be caught, especially with what he was doing. His eyes scanned the many shadows cautiously.

We're finally going to escape! Jason's joyous voice rang through his head. Get away from this place!

Back to the Titans. Tim thought happily.

Despite Tim's happiness, they all knew that he couldn't return to the Titans. Even if the plan did work and he managed to escape, it didn't work that way. He would, of course, still visit the Titans and all, but he wouldn't be able to face them every day knowing how he was manipulated into so many things that were, not only against his will, but against his moral code.

He bit his lip, not wanting to think about it anymore. His gloved hands took a grip on the window sill.

Tim was the one who came up with the plan in the first place. The plan was overall simple. It went that he would open the window of the clock tower, and swing over to the building right next to the tower. It's height and convenient location had made it a favorite of all the Robins at one point or another and Barbara could be seen there almost every night a bit after midnight. Once over, they would place a piece of paper with the hideout's location and a message from Dick in the mouth of the gargoyle. Right after that, they would be back in the tower with neither Slade or his niece knowing the difference.

The problem? Dick had found many different problems with this plan. What if no one found the piece of paper in the Gargoyle's mouth? What if they were caught on their way out? What if they were too loud? And what if the wind was too strong? There was no guarantee that the plan would work.

But Dick had agreed anyway. If he didn't do it, then Tim would as soon as he managed to get control of his body, probably while he was asleep. And if Tim were caught then Dick didn't know how quickly he could take over. And he knew very well how violent Slade could get in an instant. His bruised face was enough to point that out to him.

Get on with it, Grayson. He'll be back any moment. Damian's voice rang through his head. Despite the obvious message, there was worry behind the words.

Shut up, Damian. Stephanie complained. You're just distracting him.

Dick took a deep breath as he got a good hold. Then, he pulled. The window, barely making it up an inch, let out a loud creaking noise. Dick froze, listening.

Diane was still humming in the kitchen, acting completely normal. And he couldn't hear the metallic clang of Slade's footsteps. He sighed in relief. He had just went back to pushing up the window when-

"Murph!" He exclaimed.

Dick! Jason exclaimed in shock.

A hand had roughly clamped down on his mouth while the other grasped one of his wrists. The pressure on his wrist forced him to the ground where a boot roughly dug itself into his chest. He felt the gloved hand being removed from his mouth as he looked up at the man that he really didn't want to see.

Slade stared down at him. "Trying to escape, Dick?"

As Dick locked his alternate personalities in his mind, he smiled up at Slade. "What, I can't even open a window? That's sad, Slade."

Slade put more pressure on Dick's stomach, but, despite a small gasp, he didn't correct himself. Slade pursed his lips. "What were you doing?"

I'm sorry! Tim exclaimed inside his mind. It really was a stupid idea! I'm sorry!

Not the time, Timmy. Dick stated in his mind. He couldn't fully block them for some reason, just remove the painful parts. But he didn't want them to see this. Not any of them. Look away, guys.

What? Damian asked in horror and shock. No!

Damian, not the time to argue. Trust me, you don't want to see this. Despite their only being personalities, ghosts if you will, each of them knew how to back into the darkness. They all knew how to not look at something. But now, none of them would.

But Dick! Stephanie had just started to argue.

Steph-

"Were you listening, Dick?" Slade's honey smooth voice questioned. "Or do I have to repeat?"

"No need to repeat, but I think I already pointed out that I was opening a window-" Dick quit talking when a steel boot-tip smashed into his temple. It hurt, made his vision a little wobbly, but it didn't do any real damage and didn't mess with his concentration on keeping a wall between himself and his other personalities, siblings.

Slade stepped off Dick to pace. Dick propped himself up on his elbows, but didn't rise anymore than that. He knew it was pointless.

"Tell me exactly what you were doing." Slade commanded.

Somewhere in the back of Dick's mind, Tim whimpered. It's okay, Timmy-bird. Dick cooed. "Why? You already know I was opening a window, so there's really no point." He smirked as Slade began circling him like a vulture, actually, exactly like a vulture. "In fact I think you know exactly what I'm doing. Don't you? Like now, I'm-"

From behind him, Slade sent his boot into Dick's elbow. He hissed in pain as he fell back on the ground. He heard both the angry growl of Slade and the horrified whimper of Jason. He, being so young when he was killed, must have only been that age in Dick's mind as well. Not only that, but his death was so brutal that this must have been almost as traumatizing as that experience for him. Dick was slightly thankful that the extreme agony in his elbow was shielded from his alternate personalities. It hurt. A lot.

Slade's voice was right next to Dick's ear when he whispered in a bone-chilling voice, "Tell me, what are you doing now? Anything you still have to say?"

Despite the pain, Dick smiled at the evilly glinting mask and the horrible eye that he could see through it. "Yeah. Only cowards attack a man while he's down."

Dick didn't even try to block the next attack. Four screams echoed through his mind as he worked to not let out screams of agony. If he showed how much it hurt, they would be even more scared. He didn't need or want that.

. . .

Bruce just let her rant. She needed to get it off her chest. And, not only that, but he didn't know if he could interrupt her if he wanted. "I just saw him! You obviously know something! You're the freaking Batman! But why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell me something was going on with Dick? Why didn't you tell me the TITANS WERE IN TOWN?"

"Barbara-" Well, his ears were staring to hurt.

"NO, BRUCE! Dick is my best friend! You can't believe that I would just NOT WANT TO KNOW! AND YOU!" She spun around to face the Titans and put her finger right in Cyborg's face. "You! I-"

It was never known what she was going to say, because right then the screen flashed on to reveal-

"Slade." Batman growled.

"Hello, Batman, Batgirl." His eye flashed toward the others. "Titans."

"What do you want?" Starfire asked him, her eyes glowing a bright green in anger.

"What do I want? I want to warn you." As Slade began his monologue, the bats seemed to focus in behind him. Although Slade was the only thing in the light, Barbara could swear she could see a dark figure in the background, although it was almost impossible to see. Her ears strained to hear a light slap of some liquid. She glanced at Bruce, his eyes trained on the screen. He heard it, too.

Slade backed into the darkness next to the figure. It was too dark, though-

Then the lights came on.

Gasps of horror could be heard. There Dick hung. His wrists were handcuffed to a pipe above him, and that was the best part. The bruised part of his face along with the fine side were now littered with cuts. From his mouth, blood, dried and fresh, were running down his chin. His hair was knotted with dried blood. The left side of his face had a huge purplish bruise that resembled a boot-tip. On the side of his neck was what looked like-like crowbar marks. Barbara nearly choked, remembering Tim's death. His top, which hadn't been removed but torn to pieces, was there in strips. They could see old scars as well as the small new cuts and purplish, bluish, and yellowing bruises. Bruce's eyes ran up his arms, which were covered in shiny crimson. He could make out that his left elbow was broken and his pinky was bent at an abnormal angle. His right shoulder was dislocated. His pants, which had been torn in various areas, yet were mostly in tact, were soaked through with blood. One of his boots were gone, showing off a bloody foot with the ankle bent wrong. Not only that, but Bruce could see that his ward's wrists were raw with struggling against the cuffs. So the cuffs had been put on around halfway through the beating. With him hanging an inch off the floor by his bloody wrists, it looked that way.

Slade smiled at the looks of horror sent his way. "This is your warning. If you keep searching, it will get worse." He cupped Dick's face with one of his hands and lifted his face. The simple movement sent Dick into a flurry of coughing, a look of extreme agony passing over his face for each cough. It was then that Bruce realized what was going on. His eyes went to Dick's battered chest. He had broken ribs. At least two. Probably four. And definitely had more bruised ones. He most likely had a few cracked ones as well.

Suddenly, his eyes opened. Dark blue skies of agony. They were out of focus, disoriented with pain. But then they snapped into focus. His eyes were determined, ready.

His family, friends, refused to give up on him.

. . .

Dick? Dick, please! Talk to us! Stephanie begged.

Grayson! Talk to us! Damian's scared voice begged him.

Dick had been hearing their voices for hours, unable to do anything but breathe and block out the pain. In a way, that made it worse. But he didn't care. He couldn't care. He had to keep them from feeling it too. But Damian's voice, admittedly scared, sort of knocked him out of his trance. He blinked.

Wha . . . . That personality felt foggy, bad. It hurt.

Dick? Asked Tim. His voice wavered with fear.

I'm okay. He lied. It wasn't your fault.

Okay? You were tortured for hours! And-And then you quit-you didn't say . . . . Stephanie exclaimed, her voice, although loud and clear in his head, sounded as if she were going to cry, despite not having control over the body.

I'm a big boy. I can handle it. He told her softly. He was used to reassuring all of them when they were alive. It was the same, even with them no longer . . . .

Bu-But-

It's okay, Jason. I'm fine. There was suddenly a brilliant light in front of his closed lids.

It's my fault! Di-Di . . . . Tim sounded like he couldn't say anything else.

No, it's not. You know it's not. Nothing-none of this-is your fault. I can promise you that, Timmy. Dick reassured him, opening his eyes to the bright, horrid light. It burned his eyes, almost blinding him with pain for a moment, but he kept going. No one blames you. It's his fault and his anger was building. He would have done something like this even if we hadn't tried to leave. He suddenly saw everyone. There was a screen. Barbara, Bruce, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg, Beast Boy, and, in the background seemingly unknown, was Alfred. They all had similar looks of horror on their faces.

Right then, Dick snapped out of whatever daze he had been in and stared at them with all the determination he had. Your idea was awesome. Everything that has happened since our capture has been Slade's fault. Don't blame yourself. Despite it all, Dick could feel waves of pain and guilt from his other personality.

Look at them. Dick commanded. They may be scared. They may be ready to break, but they aren't giving up. So lets not give them reason to give up. We won't bow.

He let them stare out at Bruce and Barbara, and even his team.

He let every good memory fill his mind, let it overcome them. Swinging on a trapeze. The first time that he met the bat. The rush from the first time using a grappling hook. How he felt when he first met Barbara. All the times he put a bad guy in jail or saved an innocent. The first time he met Jason. The first time they put someone in jail together. The feeling of his fingers through Barbara's-Batgirl's hair. When Tim practiced his rope tying on him. Tim becoming Robin. Taking pictures when Tim first beat Batman at chess (the first and last time). Picking Stephanie up after a bad fall. Singing an old Romani lullaby when she had boy trouble and then hanging the boy from a tree in the morning. Teaching her a few tricks. Helping her with her Spanish class. Meeting Damian. Holding Damian when he knew that Batman-Bruce-his dad couldn't do it. Teaming up with Damian to take down some of the worst villains. The feeling of Barbara's soft hands in his and the taste of her lips. The feeling of power as he stared down the Batman and told him no more Robins. The first time that Starfire kissed him. The laughter of Cyborg and Beast Boy through the Tower. Raven and his laughter as they secretly made fun of them.

Suddenly more memories seemed to join his. The hold of his mother's hand. The rush as he ran from the cops, laughing. The sudden daring as he saw the Batmobile. The joy at the thought of even being able to be Robin, the boy wonder. Meeting Dick Grayson, the original Robin. Flying through Gotham. Standing beside Batman and Dick proudly. Stopping his first criminal alone. Teaming up with Dick. Blushing furiously as Supergirl kissed his forehead on Valentines Day after giving her a card. Listening to Dick laughing at him afterwards. Spying on Dick and Barbara. His first visit to Star City. Meeting the League. Joy at the possibility of getting his mother back.

Then there were more. Running through the fields, feeling totally free. Figuring out who the Batman was. Her disappointment as he refused to train her, but her joy at Dick telling her to come back the next day. Dick training her and Batman angrily taking over. The joy of being able to actually do a backflip. Batman's first smile at her. The rush of flying through Gotham and the feel of rain on her costume. The feeling of success as she got her first baddie. Dick's hand on her shoulder as Batman walked away. A distant lullaby and strong arms as she cried. Laughing herself to death when she came to school to find her cheating x-boyfriend tied up, crying, and hanging upside-down from a tree with makeup on his face with a note beside him saying "Curtesy of the Older Brothers Committee." Facing down so many bad guys, knowing she could take them. Waking up in the hospital for Batman-Bruce Wane holding her hand and Dick sitting on her other side.

To add to that, more happy memories flooded through their minds. The comfort of being there for his mother. The amazing stories of Batman, and knowing that that was his dad, his father. Getting out of the League of Shadows. Batman smiling at him. Dick picking on him and him dubbing him "Grayson" before being laughed at even more. Dick helping him put away a bad guy. Dick holding him as he cried. Knowing someone cared for him. Refusing to go back to the League of Shadows and feeling greatness and power flood through him. Taking down the Joker and Ra's in the same night with Dick and Batman. Dick protecting him, even when he knew he couldn't-wouldn't make it.

Then, warm memories came flooding in. Enjoying life with his parents. Being at the circus. Holding his mom's hand in comfort. Meeting Batman-THE Batman-and demanding that he take him on as Robin, the boy wonder. The hard work and sweat he put into it. Meeting the first Robin, Dick Grayson. Dick agreeing to let him practice his rope tying on him and ending up having to cut them off Dick when he couldn't untie them. Dick helping him with clasping the cape on the Robin suit and saying he deserved it. When he beat Bruce at chess, and had jumped up from the table, doing a victory dance. His embarrassment when Dick sent him the video of it and claimed he still had the pictures. Beating his first villain. His dad commenting on a picture of him, Dick, and Batman in the news. Batman complementing him on a job well done.

Then, one memory seemed to take them all in.

A little, black-haired boy was pulling his dad through the crowds. "We have to get a picture!" The kid exclaimed. He could only have been six at the most, but his grip was tough. "Come on!"

"Slow down, kiddo!" An older, kind-faced man laughed as he was being pulled. "I'm sure he'll be there by time we get there."

"Dad! Come on!" The smaller boy continued to complain, a pout on his face.

In just a few moments, they were at the front of the crowd, right in front of a group of people. There were two women, two men, and two boys, one around fourteen and the other about eight. The youngest and one of the women, presumably his mother, smiled at them. The mother and the older man started talking, but the two boys were uninterested.

"Hi!" Squeaked the younger.

"Hi." Smiled the older one. "I'm-"

"Dick Grayson, youngest of the Amazing Flying Graysons." The younger one said, seeming almost as if he were about to explode.

Dick blinked and smiled. "Yeah, something like that. What's yours?"

"I-I'm Tim." Tim smiled brightly.

"Nice to meet you, Tim." Dick smiled. "Did you like the show?" Just then, his slight accent could be heard, but Tim didn't seem to notice.

"Like? I loved it!" The young boy exclaimed before talking so quickly about how amazing it was that Dick couldn't understand him. He blinked.

"Oh, so you have a fan, Dickie-bird?" Said a deep voice as one of the men appeared behind Dick. Both Dick and Tim went beet red. He chuckled before putting a hand on his wife's shoulder and looking at Tim's father.

"Well, I don't want to waste too much of your time." Tim's dad said.

Dick's mom smiled warmly at him. "Oh, not at all."

Tim's dad blinked. "Well, alright." A thought flashed across his face and he pulled out a camera. "Do you mind?"

Dick's dad blinked. "Oh, of course not. Come here, boys."

Dick grabbed Tim's hand and, to his surprise, hoisted the smaller boy on his shoulders. Tim let a look of shock pass over his face before complete joy crossed it. With the white flash of the camera, the smells of cotton candy and the bright circus disappeared, replaced with the reality of Slade turning off the screen, removing the presence of their family, their friends, where Dick hung beaten and bloody, and where they four brave souls were all dead.

They would not give up. He would not give up.

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