The first time he heard it, he wasn't sure it was real.
It was foreign to the cave. The cave always made the same sounds: dripping stalactites, the screeches of bats, the deep voice of its master. Whirring computer noises and the sound of snapping fists against punching bags. There were rarely any lovely sounds, only hard ones. Cold ones. The cave was lucky to hear a laugh every now and again, and those were only made by Dick and Steph.
And they were gone.
So when Tim heard a certain voice, he wasn't sure if it was just his imagination.
It wouldn't have surprised him. He'd gone almost 48 hours without much sleep, and he saw Captain Boomerang's face everywhere. His father's murderer. In the cracks on the walls. In the darkness that haunts the pavement. In the passing expressions of hooded strangers. It was enough to drive one mad, let alone one like Tim, who was faced with being two: a teenager and a Bat. Hearing things wasn't exactly a rare thing for people like Tim.
But when he saw it, when he climbed up and saw her with her back against the wall, it was downright bizarre.
But not in a bad way. No, not in a bad way at all.
He watched her every time from that point on, afraid he might miss it. There was something so utterly comforting in watching her. It was like a reminder of hope, like a rainbow, with its arrow stretched towards the sky. Something startlingly bright in Tim's increasingly dim world. A drop of water against the stains of his father's blood.
Tim's watching her now. He knows it's odd, and that he should reveal himself, but he's always been comfortable this way. Perched in the shadows, quietly making his observations. A gargoyle on the rooftop, like any self-respecting Bat.
(not an angel with wings)
Plus he doesn't want her to stop. Not now, not ever.
Her voice is small and timid, just like it always is. Sometimes, he loses it completely and wonders if she's lapsed back into her usual silence. But then it will pick back up again, so utterly strange and strong and helpful. It makes him smile; a rare occurrence, since Steph disappeared.
(just someone to love me)
It's Cass. And it's Cass sitting in the cold corners of the Batcave, staring up at the sky through the tiny skylights Bruce has installed. Her face is bathed in small streaks of light that pattern themselves on her face like tiger stripes. And she's singing. Something from a musical, Tim thinks. "Goodnight" is the only word he can properly make out, but it's probably something from one of the few movies her father would let her watch. She would have memorized every line, of course. That's the kind of person Cass is.
(who is not afraid)
Cass doesn't sing. Tim knows that, because Cass doesn't talk. She speaks with her movements, with the pull of her fist and the swipe of her leg, with the rush of her knees and the flash of her short-cropped hair. Her battle cry is the moonlight in her eyes. She's terrifying.
And, yet, here she is. Singing something high enough to be soprano. Singing quietly, almost as if the notes weren't really existent but rather a mirage. A combined mirage, filling the ears and the minds of both Tim and Cass. The notes are a shiny hallucination in the desert, wavering above the sand like waves of heat.
(our star is shining)
She sits with her arms wrapped around her legs, more out of comfort than out of shyness. Tim is just above her, in the shadow of the ledge, the hood pulled off of his face. His matted, sweaty hair hangs in his eyes but he doesn't brush it away. Something makes him want to get closer. He blinks at her in the darkness, at the mask lying on the floor beside her feet.
He slowly creeps forward, as she cuts off, then sighs another note.
(if dreams there be)
No one in the Bat Family can sing. Steph tried once at a Karaoke bar and almost got kicked out. But no one even considered that Cass might have the talent.
No one ever considers Cass.
He's almost afraid to touch her, he won't lie. She's wild when she's surprised, like a startled cat with its huge eyes and snarling hiss. Except she's always so calm about it. Huge wide eyes and a snarling hiss, but the demeanor of a meditating monk. Mouth set, arms tensed, heart focused. Cold.
He isn't sure he can block her if she moves too quickly. He's faced against her before; her moves hit like frozen steel. So he's as gentle as he can be. This girl isn't Steph, he has to remind himself. This is the girl whose bandages he wrapped. Who was shot repeatedly by her own father, as a training exercise. This is the girl who has no fear and has every fear in the world.
(my white knight)
He touches her shoulder, and her voice cuts off immediately. It leaves a ringing silence in the air around them, as she pulls in a breath and whips around to stare at him. Eyes so dark green they're almost brown.
He holds up a hand before she can speak.