The original story was from Dick's POV. I decided to do a second part from Bruce's and Tim's POV. Here's hoping you enjoy part 2 as much as the original. Once again, the story will take place "Then" (7 years ago) and "Now."

Say Please

Part 2


Batman dodged a punch and then knocked the perp out with one blow. Most of Batman's attention was on the enemies around him (9 conscious, one down, most armed with makeshift weapons since the heroes had relieved them of their original weapons, only three armed with handguns). But part of his attention was on his young sidekick. He knew Robin was capable- Batman wouldn't have brought him in the field if he didn't think so- but it was still his job to keep the boy safe. Over the last three years, there had been plenty of times when Batman had needed to bring an injured Robin to the Cave for treatment. Sometimes the injuries were severe enough that Batman had carried the boy. On those occasions when Dick hadn't entered the Cave under his own power, Bruce had to do some deep introspection. What right did he have to put this young boy- this child- in danger? It wasn't Dick's fight. He should be concentrating on school and friends, not drug distribution and gang violence. And yet, when Dick was healed enough that Alfred wouldn't do more than sigh at Dick leaving the bed, Robin was accompanying Batman on patrol once again.

Batman was glad that the other workers had cleared out when the vigilantes arrived. There was always the possibility that they would stay to fight for their livelihood. But this was Gotham. There were plenty of other places to make a quick buck if you didn't ask questions. The workers would much prefer dealing with a job search than the broken bones that Batman would provide. Batman kept his eyes peeled for the leader, Mason Sawyer, but so far the man wasn't present. If he were on the premises, he would either be in his office or fleeing like the workers. It didn't matter. When Batman was done, he would interrogate one of the guards he was fighting now for their boss' location.

The guards had spread out when the vigilantes arrived. Batman was in constant motion, trying to keep their attention on him. He knew that the criminals tended to gravitate towards Robin, sensing he was the easier target. Easier, maybe, but not easy. Batman had trained Robin well. And Dick had been training extra hard lately. He had proven to Bruce that he was capable of taking on more. Batman was impressed with the skill Robin was showing tonight. Heaven help criminals when Robin reached adulthood. Robin was capable now, but as an adult, he would truly be a force to be reckoned with.

Batman and Robin continued their assault on the criminals that kept getting up even as they were knocked down. Batman saw the rolling table heading for his sidekick, but before he could give a shouted warning, Robin had already moved aside. Unfortunately, that moved him right in the way of another criminal, who used the boy's inattention to knock him to the ground with a plank of wood. Batman had to incapacitate the two thugs next to him before he could move towards the other hero, and that delay cost him the advantage. Robin's attacker pulled Robin up by his hair and put the knife to the boy's throat.

A quick visual scan of Robin showed that he was conscious. No visible blood on his head, but his dark hair could be hiding it for now. The mask made it hard to see if Robin had a concussion. Batman filed that away to check on later. Now, he had to get that thug away.

"Batman, surrender, or the brat gets it!" Robin's captor said.

Batman considered his options. Without moving his head, he took in the position of the thugs. He had a direct line of fire between him and Robin's captor, if he was careful not to hit Robin himself. A grapple hook fired at the ceiling would allow him to swing over and knock the man over. But he couldn't count on the man being distracted for so many seconds. A better plan would be a batarang.

He slipped one into his palm stealthily. None of the other men noticed. One trick Batman learned early on was that people tended to look where you look. If you don't look down at your hand, neither will they.

He let the batarang go, and it flew true. It struck the man in the back of the hand. Robin's captor screamed and released his weapon and his prisoner. Batman made another note to himself to raise the collar on Robin's uniform to provide more protection in the neck area.

Batman moved forward just as he heard something like a small metal ball hit the ground and bounce. A concussion grenade. He leaped forward, intending to use his cape to shield both Robin and himself from the blast. He didn't get there in time. The force propelled him backwards, and connecting with the ground made his head spin.

He raised his head weakly to see the men surround him. Before he could push himself upright, a boot to the head knocked him completely out.


Being Robin was the coolest thing ever. Even after five months of being allowed to patrol with Batman, the thrill had not worn off. Tim was careful to conceal his excitement around his mentor, however. His goal was to emulate Batman in every way. Then Batman would see what a good partner he was. Imitating his partner meant he had to keep the joy buried under a stoic mask. He could do that. Tim had plenty of practice with figurative masks long before he donned a literal one.

When Bruce told him that he was going out of town for the weekend, Tim could barely disguise his disappointment. Robin was only allowed to patrol on weekends, and obviously only with Batman at his side. The second part was so apparent that the rule didn't even need to be spoken aloud. Since Bruce wasn't going to be back until Monday night, that meant another week before Robin could patrol.

Tim was in his room reading and listening to music, when he heard a knock at the door. "Come in," he called.

The door opened to reveal Dick. Tim was surprised. He didn't know that Dick was in town. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, that's a nice greeting," Dick said. Even though Tim knew Dick was teasing, he could feel his cheeks turn red.

"Sorry. I wasn't expecting you."

"It's important to expect the unexpected, Timmy." Dick walked over to stand in front of him. "How would you like to go on patrol tonight?"

Tim looked at him in confusion. "Bruce is leaving in an hour. He didn't say anything about going out before he left, and I know he won't let me go out alone."

"Who said anything about alone? I happen to know a very responsible older superhero that is free to partner up with you."

Tim let a tentative smile appear. "Really? You want to patrol with me?"

"Sure, why not? I'm not here as much as I could be, and this will be a good outing for brotherly bonding."

If you would have told Tim two years ago that Dick Grayson would refer to him as his brother, he would have called them delusional. "Okay! I'll be ready in five minutes," Tim said, abandoning the book on his bed. Dick chuckled as the teen raced out of the room and followed after him.

Both of them suited up quickly and waved goodbye to Alfred. "Do be careful, young sirs," Alfred said as they climbed into the Batmobile.

"We're always careful, Alfie," Dick said. The elderly butler raised an eyebrow at that.

When the roof of the Batmobile slid into place, Dick said, "Let's try for no injuries tonight. I want to prove to Alfred that we aren't as reckless as he seems to think we are."

The first hour of patrol was without incident. Tim's enthusiasm was beginning to wane. He had been looking forward to showing Dick his skills. Then a mugging caught his attention. Robin took the man out quickly without Nightwing's help. As Robin tied up the mugger, he worried that he should have let the older hero take the lead. His fears were dispelled when Nightwing approached with a smile on his face.

"Nice work, Robin!"Nightwing said. Robin glowed at the praise. They continued patrolling the rooftops.

"Hey, look," Robin said. He pointed at six men lurking in an alley. Two of them were picking the lock on a door while the others stood watch. "That's the Street Demonz gang."

Nightwing stared at the men for several seconds. Robin was about to ask him what was wrong when Nightwing said, "I've got this. You wait here as backup."

Hurt and annoyance ran through Robin. "I can handle myself. It's not like I'm taking them on alone." When Nightwing didn't look convinced, he continued, "Batman and I have taken down six men before." After he said it, he realized that sounded like he was challenging Nightwing's abilities, asking if he was as good as Batman. He was still trying to think of a way to take back the unintentional challenge without sabotaging his plea to fight when Nightwing answered.

"Okay, fine. Stay aware." Nightwing grappled to the far side of the gang, drawing their attention. Robin landed on the other side, behind them. The fight started off well enough, but then three additional gang members joined in. Robin grit his teeth and fought hard. He had convinced Nightwing to let him do this. He had to prove that he could handle it.

Robin looked up to see a man take a swing at him, but before he could block it, Nightwing stepped in and deflected the attack. "I had that," he said quietly. He didn't want Nightwing to think he was just some kid that needed protecting. But Nightwing gave one of his trademark grins and went back to beating up bad guys.

Robin shook his head and rolled his eyes. Nightwing couldn't help his instinct to protect him. Neither could Batman when Robin patrolled with him. An explosion of pain came from the back of Robin's head and the sounds of the fight seemed far away. He crumpled to the ground and everything went black.


It couldn't have been more than half an hour later when Batman awoke. He had a pretty good internal clock, and even considering the minor head injury, Batman figured it was accurate within a few minutes. Quickly taking in his surroundings, the hero saw that he was chained by his wrists to the wall behind him. This wasn't the room they were in earlier, but probably the same building. Batman was no lightweight, and the uniform added another fifty pounds. Their captors wouldn't risk trying to move him to another building before Batman awoke.

Robin was lying unconscious on the ground several feet in front of him, ankles bound with wire. The boy's arms were behind him, suggesting that his wrists were also restrained. Robin's utility belt was gone, just like Batman's was. Batman wouldn't be able to get knife out of his boot unless their enemies all looked away from him long enough for him to stretch his foot up to his hand. That left the lockpick in his glove. The device was small enough that he could work on jimmying the lock without the others noticing, even if they were looking right at him. Batman had practiced enough over the years that he could unlock cuffs without looking at them. This would be easy.

He pressed the trigger on his index finger that would release the lockpick. Then he pressed it again. Still nothing. It must have gotten stuck somehow. The concussion grenade? It was a possibility. He would need to do testing back in the Cave to make sure this didn't happen again.

Mason Sawyer, the leader of the cartel, saw that Batman was awake and swaggered over. Another five men looked up to see what was going on. Batman recognized them from the fight. The remaining five men must have been nursing their injuries in another room. "Glad to see you're with us, Batman. I was worried you might have had some brain damage from the blast."

Batman remained silent. It was a tactic he was still working on with Robin. Robin preferred to drive his enemies crazy with idle chitchat and taunts. But Batman knew his silence unsettled the criminals they faced. People don't like the silence. They'll say anything to fill it. Batman got more out of interrogations from being silent and letting the suspect chatter than any other method. Well, dangling them over rooftops was a close second.

"Not going to talk to me, hmm? That's fine. I have some things to say to you. I'm very surprised that you found me so quickly. I've been working on a quiet acquisition of the market. I figured I would have to make some bigger waves to get you sniffing around. Is crime down overall in Gotham, giving you some free time?"

When Batman still didn't speak, an expression of annoyance crossed Sawyer's face. He waved to one of his thugs to come over. "If the Bat doesn't want to talk, maybe we'll have to loosen his tongue." The thug punched Batman in the middle of the chest, which was a big mistake. The criminal screamed and fell to the ground, clutching his injured hand.

Sawyer's annoyance went up a notch. "Not with your bare hand, idiot," he said, although he hadn't thought to warn the man before then. "Grab a weapon."

Thug #1, the stupid one who just punched a Kevlar suit with a bare hand, removed his gun from his waistband while Thug #2 approached with a plank of wood. The other men watched with interest.

Thug #1 pistol-whipped Batman. It hurt, of course, but Batman accepted the pain and then let it go. Pain was your body's way of telling you something was wrong. Nothing to do about it but get the lockpick out before the men turned their attention on Robin.

Thug #2 swung the board at Batman's midsection. It didn't hurt as much as the blow to the face. Honestly, do these criminals not understand his suit was designed to withstand attacks?

"Boss," one of the men in the back of the room called. Sawyer and his two thugs moved toward him. Batman tried to listen in to their conversation, but was distracted by Robin's return to consciousness. 'No,' Batman thought. 'Stay still. Don't let them know you're awake, or they'll target you.'

It was too late. When Sawyer turned back towards Batman, he caught sight of Robin shifting slightly. "So, you're awake, little bird. The Bat hasn't been good company, so I'm hoping you'll be more interesting." The man circled Robin and squatted down in front of him. "You're not so tough now, are you? I bet it wouldn't take much to make you chirp." The other thugs laughed. Either their intelligence was low enough that they actually thought the joke was funny, or they realized that laughing at the boss' jokes would keep them employed, and alive, longer.

Robin's voice was clear and without a trace of fear. "Your threats are what I'd expect from a middle school bully."

"You should know. What are you, in fifth grade? Isn't it past your bedtime?" Sawyer retorted.

"No, but it is past time for you and your men to be in jail."

"You think you're funny, don't you, kid? Well, maybe I'll beat the funny out of you." The boss stood and motioned forward one of his men. Thug #1 approached Robin and kicked the boy in the stomach. Robin instinctively curled inward. The man kicked again, this time connecting with the boy's side. Batman reminded himself that Robin's suit was reinforced to protect the young hero from attacks. It didn't make it easier to watch Robin being hurt with no way to protect himself.

"Is that as hard as you can kick?" Sawyer asked, annoyed that his thug couldn't get a boy to cry out in pain.

"Yeah," Robin chimed in. "You kick like a girl." The thug kicked him harder. "Actually, I know some girls who kick harder than you. Maybe you kick more like a baby."

Robin's taunts were juvenile, but they had the desired effect of keeping the attention away from Batman. If the trigger mechanism in his glove was functional, Batman would have unlocked his restraints and rendered all his opponents in the room unconscious by now.

"Hey, Batman, don't you care that we're beating up your sidekick?" Sawyer called. He and Thug #1 had moved out of the way so Batman could see Robin. The boy's posture showed that he was holding up under the abuse.

"What, do you not care about the twerp?" the boss said. Still nothing from the Caped Crusader. "You're not going to tell us not to hurt him?"

Mason Sawyer continued, "How about this? You ask me nicely, and I'll leave the boy alone." The other men snickered. "All you have to do is say please."

Batman couldn't respond. Their only way out of this is if Batman got free from his restraints. As much as he hated seeing Robin hurt and being unable to prevent it, this was necessary. If he thought it enough times, he might even believe himself.

"He doesn't think we'll really hurt him," the boss decided. "Let's show him he's wrong."

The other men moved forward to assist. The boy curled up, making his figure as small as possible. Robin barely made a sound as the men took turns kicking him in the back, side, chest and legs. Batman was proud of his protégé for his strength. But as time went on, Batman could tell the attack was taking its toll on the boy. Robin's breathing became labored. Batman mentally went through all the swears he knew as he fought the stubborn mechanism. When they went home, he wasn't sleeping until this was fixed for next time. Because there was not going to be another time when he watched his sidekick- his son- be injured while he stood by helplessly.

Finally, the boss called for a halt. "Anything to say, Bats?" He walked right up to Batman, right as the lockpick sprang out of his glove. Batman stared back at Sawyer, his face impassive. If Sawyer saw and confiscated the lockpick, then all the pain Robin had gone through was pointless. "Nothing? You really don't care if we kill the kid?"

"If you don't want to kill me, then you should make Ugly here leave. He's killing me with his ugly face." Batman would have smiled at Robin's taunt, if the two of them had been alone. He really needed to teach the boy some better insults.

Thug #1 kicked Robin in the nose. Batman heard it break and clenched his fists in anger. When he got loose, Thug #1 was going to get some special treatment from the Bat.

"Look, the kid's crying," the attacker announced. Sawyer turned to look, so Batman took that opportunity to move the pick to his other hand. He left his free hand wrapped in the chains so no one would see he was getting loose.

Robin said something about tear ducts and lachrymal fluid. Batman could hardly make out the words. Only Robin would give his tormentors a biology lesson.

"Look who's the smart guy."

"Smarter than you," Robin retorted.

The boss hadn't moved from his spot next to Batman. He studied his prisoner. "I've always heard you were a coldhearted bastard, but this is dark, even for you."

Finally! The click of the manacle was music to Batman's ears. Batman threw himself on Sawyer and knocked him out in a single blow. Then he quickly took down the other men, saving Thug #1 for last. Batman took great pleasure in beating the man who hurt his son. Some point after the man stopped struggling, Batman remembered to show restraint. He looked down at his gloves to see them covered in blood. Taking a deep breath, he felt the man's neck for a pulse. He found one. Another night of fighting against the vengeful instinct to kill and staying on the right side of the moral line.

With the threat taken care of, Batman approached his sidekick. He knelt and released Robin from his restraints. Part of him hesitated to touch Robin. He didn't want to touch him with blood-covered gloves, hands that didn't know when to stop punching. He could have gone too far. He could have broken the first rule he ever taught Robin- Don't kill.

"Let's get out of here," he said gruffly.


When Tim woke, he had to blink his eyes a few times to get them to focus. His head throbbed from the blow to his head. Without moving his head, Robin took in the room. He and Nightwing were handcuffed to chairs facing each other. It looked like Nightwing was still unconscious. Then again, maybe he was really good at faking. It wouldn't surprise Robin. The men who had captured them were off to one side talking. They didn't seem to notice that Robin was awake.

Then Nightwing awoke. He didn't make a sound but the leader of the Street Demonz approached them. Robin had learned from Batman that his name was Roadkill.

"Well, well, you ain't the Bat."

"Nope, I'm just filling in. Batman had more important things to take care of than some lowlife thugs," Nightwing said.

The leader punched Nightwing, and Robin winced in sympathy.

"You're not very smart, birdbrain," Roadkill said.

"You think I'm afraid of you?" Nightwing retorted.

Robin's heart stopped when he saw Roadkill pull out a gun and point it at Nightwing. "You should be, punk, 'cause I can make you deader than a doornail."

"You're not going to kill me, because you know that Batman is probably already on his way," Nightwing said. Robin was amazed at the confidence he showed.

"You think I'm afraid of some dude who likes to play dress up? I'll do whatever I want to you. And the kid, too," he added, moving back to include Robin in his threat.

"Yeah, I don't think you'll hurt me. You're as afraid of me as you are of Batman."

The thug hit Nightwing in the face with his gun.

"You need to learn some respect," the man said, pointing the gun back at the elder hero.

"And you're going to teach it to me?"

"Yeah, I am." The gang leader moved toward Nightwing, but then changed his mind. "How much do ya think it would take to make the kid scream?"

"Oh, sure go for the easier target. I knew you weren't tough enough to take on me." Even though Robin knew that Nightwing was saying that to protect him, the statement hurt.

"I see what you're doing. It won't work on me." Roadkill and two of his men moved over to Robin. Roadkill pointed the gun at Robin to keep him from moving. The teen watched helplessly as the men unlocked his handcuffs only to recuff them in front of him. Then as an extra precaution, they tied a rope around his shoulders and the back of the chair. They weren't taking any chances, Robin noted with annoyance.

"It's really sad when three armed men have to restrain a teenager because they're afraid of him," Nightwing said. The thug stuck his gun in the waistband of his jeans.

"I've had other people disrespect me, and as much fun as it is to teach them the lesson by breaking every bone in their body, I've found it is much more effective when I beat on someone they care about." The man grabbed Robin's left hand and dislocated his index finger. Robin bit his lip to keep from making a sound. Part of his training included how to deal with torture. This was the first time that he had ever dealt with it in the field, though. "That didn't work? Let's try it again." Roadkill dislocated the next finger, and when that still didn't get the response he wanted, he did the one after that.

"Stop! I get it. I'll stop mouthing off," Nightwing promised.

"Not good enough. I want to hear the bird beg. No," he said suddenly. "I want to see you beg."

Robin knew that Nightwing wouldn't do it. They were both trained by the same mentor. Batman had been very clear on not giving the bad guys what they wanted, and on not showing weakness. Robin was determined to make it easier for Nightwing to refuse by concealing his pain from the others. His plan went out the window when the boss took hold of Robin's three dislocated fingers and twisted them roughly. Robin gasped in agony. He immediately felt embarrassed at his weakness.

"Don't hurt him," Nightwing said.

"Say please," Roadkill taunted.


Robin was surprised that Nightwing had said it, and then was more surprised when the boss dislocated a fourth finger. Robin understood now why Batman had been so insistent on this point. The bad guys wouldn't back off if you gave in. They would attack like sharks who smelled blood in the water.

"I said please! What do you want?"

"I want you and the other do-gooders out of my city. I want you to stop interfering with me and my crew. And I don't want some snot-nosed kid thinking he can get the best of my gang." Seeing Roadkill's fist coming at his face didn't help Robin do anything but flinch.

When he pushed past the pain and looked up, he saw that Nightwing was free. The older hero took out the criminals faster than Robin could follow since he was focused on his aching head and fingers.

When all the men were down, Nightwing knelt in front of Robin. He cut the rope and then unlocked the cuffs gently so he wouldn't hurt Robin's hands any more. "You okay?" he asked.

Robin nodded, which was a mistake. The movement made his stomach revolt. He looked up at Nightwing, intending to thank him for the rescue, but he was worried that if he opened his mouth, he would vomit. Nightwing put his arm around Robin's shoulders and helped him stand.

"Let's get you home."


Batman had to contact Commissioner Gordon before taking Robin home. He kept the message short so he could move on to more pressing matters. Robin needed medical attention and sleep. The poor boy was swaying on his feet. Batman helped him back to the Batmobile and then spent the drive home trying to think of what to say to Robin. He probably should apologize. While it wasn't directly his fault that- What was he saying? He allowed Dick to be Robin, trained him, and brought him on patrol. How much more direct could the line of blame be drawn?

Batman knew he wasn't perfect. He tried hard to be. If he were perfect, then he could save everyone. Then no one else would have to deal with the pain of losing their loved ones to crime. But one thing he continued to struggle with was apologizing. Bruce Wayne wasn't expected to apologize. Neither was Batman. Batman was a symbol of hope, of justice. Batman wasn't allowed to be fallible.

When they reached the Cave, Batman still hadn't decided what he was going to say to Robin. Alfred saw Robin's injuries before the boy had crossed half the distance between the Batmobile and the elderly butler. "Go change, Master Dick. Then I will see to your injuries," Alfred said. Bruce was glad that Alfred had told Dick to leave the room. This gave Bruce the opportunity to consult his most trusted friend before talking with Dick.

Bruce sat at the computer, which he found was a comfortable spot to think (or as Alfred called it, brood). He waited until Dick had closed the bathroom door behind him before speaking. "Alfred, I need your help with something."

"Of course, sir. What can I do for you?"

"Tonight, Batman and Robin were captured." Bruce felt like a coward for describing the scene using their aliases, but he had a limited amount of time to get Alfred's advice before Dick returned and using their civilian names would slow him down due to guilt. Maybe he should put the cowl back on to give himself another layer of protection. He continued, "The men hurt Robin. They wanted m- Batman to... to beg them to stop. Batman didn't."

Alfred hadn't said anything yet, so Bruce rushed to excuse himself. "It wouldn't have been a good tactical decision. If the bad guys knew they could hurt Batman through Robin, they would have continued to do it. It wouldn't have made them stop. They enjoy having power over others too much."

Alfred considered this. "And does Master Dick know your reasoning behind this?"

Bruce winced. "Maybe? I've talked to him before about not bowing to your captor's demands."

"You need to tell him what you told me. If you don't, he will think you don't care about him. He will think that his safety and well-being are not a concern for you."

"Of course it's a concern! He is my top priority."

"Sometimes actions speak louder than words. And sometimes words need to be spoken, not just assumed." Both men looked at the bathroom door as it opened. Bruce quickly looked away.

Dick sat on the exam table. Bruce listened to the soft conversation between Alfred and Dick. He was once again proud of the boy for his resilience and optimism. Bruce could hear the smile in Dick's voice even though the pre-teen had every reason to not smile. He waited until Alfred said, "I'm glad you're back home," before pulling back his cowl and standing. Then Alfred left the Cave, giving Bruce the space he needed to have this conversation.

Bruce approached the exam table. "You know why I did it, right?" he asked before he lost his nerve.

"Did what?" Dick asked.

"Why I didn't... do what those men wanted. If they knew they could hurt me through you, they would hurt you even more."

"Oh. I was worried, when you didn't get free of your restraints faster. I couldn't figure out what you wanted me to do." If it was possible for Bruce to feel any guiltier, Dick's words would have done it. Of course the boy would blame himself. He still thought of Batman as perfect, above reproach.

"The concussion grenade damaged the mechanism in my glove. The lock pick was stuck and it took me that long to get it out."

"So I did okay?" Dick asked. Bruce looked down at his young charge. The boy still craved his approval. It was dangerous to do this job for the glory. Bruce was always careful about doling out praise in small doses. Hubris led to the fall, and in the case of superheroes, to death.

"You did okay," Bruce allowed. "Rest tomorrow, and the next day we will train on how to get free when your attacker has their arm around your neck. We will also discuss reading the situation to see if the enemy is using a diversion."

Dick's smile was blinding. The boy hopped down from the table and gave Bruce a quick hug. "Night, Bruce!" he said, then ran up the stairs. Bruce stared after him. He really did not deserve the love that boy so freely gave him.


Robin was quiet on the way home, and he was surprised that his usually loquacious brother was also silent. Maybe Nightwing realized that Robin's head was still pounding and would appreciate the silence.

When they arrived home, Robin went immediately to the bathroom. He looked at himself in the mirror after he removed his mask one-handed. His face was bruised up some, but not too bad. He felt the back of his head and found the dried blood on his hair by large bump. Finally, he lifted his injured hand and examined it. Tim couldn't look at it too long, though. His fingers bent the wrong way made him sick. He changed clothes carefully and then went back into the Cave. Alfred was waiting.

"I assume you are in need of some medical care, Master Tim?" the butler asked.

"Yes, Alfred. Sorry."

"You don't have to apologize for getting hurt. Up on the exam table, please."

Robin had trouble getting up with one hand out of commission and was embarrassed when Alfred had to help him. Alfred examined his face for a few moments before asking to see his hand. Tim held it up and Alfred took hold of the teen's wrist to see it better.

"Odd injury to get in a fight," Alfred commented.

"We were captured. One of the men did this," Tim offered quietly.

"I see." Alfred's voice was a little colder than usual. Tim's stomach churned at the thought of making Alfred upset.

"It's okay. It doesn't hurt much," Tim lied.

"Nonsense," Alfred said, and then more gently, "I'll have to push the fingers back into place. It will hurt worse when I do it, but then it will feel better."

" 'Kay," Tim said, suddenly tired. He was ready to go to bed. Had he really wanted to go on patrol tonight? That seemed like so long ago. Alfred efficiently relocated his fingers. Tim bit his lip and wondered how many times Alfred had done something like this before. Probably a lot. Alfred was right about the pain receding after the fingers were back in place. Tim breathed a sigh of relief.

"Any more injuries?" Alfred asked as he handed over pain pills and a glass of water.

Tim thought about the knot in the back of his head and decided it wasn't important enough to mention. "I'm fine." When the butler looked at him skeptically, Tim gave him a winning smile. "Really, Alfred. I'm fine. Thanks for patching me up." He slid off the table.

"I do hope you'll take it easy for the next day or two, Master Timothy," Alfred said.

"I'm going up to bed now," Tim promised. "Goodnight."

When Tim reached his room, he realized that even though his body was tired, his mind was wide awake. There was no way he would be able to fall asleep. Tim sat crosslegged on the bed and thought about what had happened. Guilt was the overpowering emotion for the evening- at getting the two of them captured, at not being able to escape, and forcing Nightwing to beg for him. Why had Nightwing done that anyway? He knew Batman's teachings and had gone against it anyway. Did Tim really look that weak that Dick had felt the need to beg for him?

A knock drew his attention to the door. "Come in," Tim called. Dick pushed the door farther open and came in.

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

"Bruised, but I'll recover," Tim said.

Dick looked at him with the knowing big brother look. "You want to talk about it?" Tim shrugged. "Is this about getting captured? Because I can tell you, it happens to the best of us."

"You shouldn't have done it!" Tm said. He saw Dick flinch from the force of his words.

"Done what?" Dick asked. He looked honestly confused.

"What those men wanted. You shouldn't have begged. Not for me," he said. Tim mentally added, 'I'm not worth it.'

"Tim, look at me," he commanded. Tim looked up. "I care about you and I would do a lot more than that to keep you safe."

"Yeah?" Tim smiled hesitantly. Living with Bruce and Alfred who kept their emotions buried, he still hadn't gotten used to Dick's bold statements of brotherly love.

"Yeah. You're totally worth it." Dick wrapped an arm around him, and Tim beamed. "I love you, little brother."

The End (For real this time!)