Or as I like to refer to it, Tim has a really bad day.
As previously mentioned, this next part to Nesting is a flashback. On top of allowing me to dive into the various relationships some more and explore the mythos quite a bit, writing this also gave me the opportunity to bridge the gaps between the "old" and the "new" and expand the universe out to include more of the DC Community.
This part takes place about three years before Part One, and the world looks a tad bit different. As I've planned it, this flashback has four parts (and I don't really see that changing). I have upgraded the rating of this part to "mature" due to some language, but I promise it is not excessive, and I think the situations more than warrant the uses of such words. Things get a little…complicated and they are thrown out in the middle of battle or times of great physical or emotional stress. The change in rating is more of a way of me pointing out that my vocabulary has changed a little bit in comparison to what I used when I originally wrote Part One.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read, and let me know what you think!
To say that things were going badly was a bit of an understatement. Cassie had a cut across her cheek; Bart was favoring a recently-relocated shoulder (which had been dislocated about two hours into the fight when he'd just given up all hope and body slammed one of the things); Tim had been electrocuted by his own staff about six times; and he wasn't even sure how long it had been since the last time Damian had made some kind of derisive comment.
Things had eased up a little bit since the Justice League had shown up, but even still, they were kind of at their wit's end about what to do, and not for the first time in the last thirteen months, Tim just wished that Kon was there so he could punch whatever was causing them so many issues in the face and they could all get on with their days.
That wasn't going to happen, though, and Tim crammed the thought (and it's accompanying wave of emotions) to the back of his mind and focused on the task at hand, because if they didn't take this robot/alien/thing and it's little cronies down soon, it was going to make it's way to a civilized area and start doing some real damage. Tim scanned the clearing once again, all tall grass cutting up through the sand and the rocks underneath, and suddenly he had a plan.
"Red Robin to Batman; I repeat: Red Robin to Batman. Come in Batman?" he flicked the button on his comms unit before he started speaking and was greeted with a grunt and mild swearing for a moment from the other side as he watched said Batman swoop down out of Clark's hands and struggle to take out one of the many canons that the robot thing had been firing at them.
"Yeah?" Tim got an actual (albeit agitated) answer about the same time that Bruce swore and ducked down to avoid getting hit by one of Ollie's exploding arrows. "What the hell, Green!? Be careful!"
"Sorry," Ollie apologized as he let another arrow fly, but he didn't really sound like he meant it. "Didn't see you."
Bruce gave another grunt as he managed to pry open the protective covering of the canon—pulling a batarang of some sort out of his belt, and slamming it down into the compartment underneath, "What do you need, Red?"
"You think Superman's strong enough to rip some of the metal off of that thing?"
"Depends on how much," Bruce answered back, a little breathless, and Tim watched as he slid off the robot's arm and twisted in mid-air as the ground approached, and flinched only the slightest bit when Clark swooped in to catch him before he became road kill. …Or would it be grass kill? "Why?"
"Because I need inside," Tim tightened his grip on the staff in his hand, and prepared for the refusal he knew he was about to get.
"What?" Cassie was the first one to hiss. "Absolutely not—"
"Robin, it's a giant alien-thing there's no way—"
"Have you completely lost your mind—"
"We have no way of knowing what's in—"
"Why?" surprisingly enough, it was Damian's voice that cut all of the others off, and Tim sent him a silent thank you from across the battlefield and made a mental note to buy the kid some ice cream or something when they got back to Gotham.
"It's softer on the inside—all of this thing's defense mechanisms are focused on keeping things out, and based on how easily B just blew up that canon and the way it's smoking now, it's internal defenses aren't very good. It's soft and pliable inside to help improve mobility, and doesn't have any kind of an 'immune' system to flush foreign bodies out of it's system—at least not a good one. If Superman and Wonder Girl can get me inside while the rest of you distract it, I should be able to take it down in a matter of minutes."
"That's…that's actually not a bad plan kid," Ollie was the first one to break through the following silence, and Tim couldn't help but take a deep breath of relief.
"It's a dangerous one," Bruce was quick to growl, but Tim could hear the contemplation in his voice underneath of it, and apparently he wasn't the only one.
"Batman—Green Arrow, you can't possibly be thinking about-–"
"Silence," Diana was quick to reprimand her protégée from where the two of them were currently trying to keep control over one of the robot's various guns with their lassos. "I know you're concerned, Wonder Girl—but they know the risks. Focus on your part, for now. Leave the planning to them."
Cassie didn't take very well to that, Tim could see her scowl from one hundred yards away, but she didn't argue and seemed to just channel her newfound anger into trying to control the beast. She'd been quite protective of all of them since she'd come back from the dead, and it kind of made Tim proud that her concern extended to him.
"Red Robin, are you sure you've thought this through?" Bruce asked over the comms and Tim didn't resist the urge to sigh. "Nightwing and the Outlaws are on their way—"
"Yes, B, I've thought this through," he didn't snap at Bruce, and he tried his best to sound as calm, cool, and calculating as possible because he knew that if Bruce thought this decision was being based even remotely off of anything other than pure logic, Bruce wouldn't give in. As if to prove his point, Tim jumped up out of his hiding spot and took out a mini robot with three swipes of his staff. "We're throwing all we've got at it, and it's only a matter of time before it remembers it has rockets strapped on to it's legs and takes off for God knows where. We aren't making any headway with this thing, and this is a surefire way to get him to stop. It's worth the risk."
There was silence over the comms, save for the grunts and battle cries (and occasional screams of pain) of the team as they continued to engage the robot, before Bruce came over the line again, "Kal-El, there's a structural soft spot on the back of it's right thigh. Do you think you can rip it open?"
"…I'm not sure," Clark's answer was hesitant, and Tim could see him hunched down beside Batman a little ways away, both of them eyeing the robot critically and wearily. "All of the fastenings are too high grade for me to break, but the metal sheeting itself is some of the weakest on the entire thing…"
"If it gets the fight over faster so I can kill Red Robin myself, I'm in," her answer was sharp and instant, and Tim couldn't help but smile (even though he knew she was being completely serious).
"…Alright," it was Bruce who made the final decision, and Tim was perfectly okay with that. "Move out."
And just like that, everybody moved in synch to follow through with the new plan, even with as vague as it was, and Tim could see Garfield morph into a T-Rex to help aid Diana as Cassie released her grip on her whip and flied around to wait for Clark at the back of the robot's leg. Tim dived back into the battlefield with a single-minded determination that had been known to scare more than one person, and picked his way across the blood and metal covered terrain through the little robots and the falling debris from where Arrow, J'onn, Bruce, and Barry were trying to distract the big robot from doing…well, pretty much anything it was trying to do.
Clark got caught up on his way over. He'd picked Bruce up again as he'd taken off and dropped him on another one of the robot's guns, and had gotten the robot's attention for his troubles. Tim hadn't been able to keep up with the entire fight between the two as he engaged countless of the thing's little…offspring, but Clark looked worse for the wear when the two finally came face to face at the foot of the robot, and Tim didn't think it was possible, but it actually looked like Clark's nose was bleeding.
"You good?" Tim called up at him as he knocked a robot's head off with a batarang, and for a second, it almost felt like he had Kon back again, fighting side by side (or well, head to foot) with him—if only Clark had been in jeans and a t-shirt instead of his blue and red regalia, and about seventy-five pounds lighter.
"Yeah," Clark called back, spinning in the air and throwing the robots that had managed to cling onto him out to sea. "Wonder Girl?"
"I'm ready," she answered, fending off robots of her own.
"Alright, let's do this then."
"I'll cover you," Tim offered, and the metas grunted their agreement as they took off. Tim's consciousness split between focusing on taking out the (relatively) tiny robots surrounding him and keeping an eye on what was going on above him. Clark and Cassie took a moment to survey the robot before they seemed to find a spot they found suitable and moved into position to start pulling. Clark made a couple of quick cuts with his laser vision, but they'd barely made half-inch dents in the thing earlier, so Tim honestly wasn't sure how much it would help. Thankfully, the smaller robots went down fairly easily, there were just so many of them. No matter where Tim turned, there were more of them, beeping and booping and doing everything from waving sharp pointy bits manically to firing some form of lasers at random and—
"Nightwing to Red Robin, Nightwing to Red Robin, do you copy?" static suddenly cut through Tim's periphery, and he spared a second to reach up and switch on his mouthpiece again.
"Yeah," Tim grunted, taking another electrocution from his own staff to his ribs before he slammed his elbow up into the robot that was attacking him and sent it to the ground just as he started to finally hear metal creak above him. "I copy."
"Red?" Dick asked again, and this time the business in his tone was gone, and it was pure elder brother concern and Tim wanted to roll his eyes and groan. He loved Dick's overprotectiveness—lived for it even, under the right circumstances—but it was so not the time. "Are you okay? Is something wrong? Are you—"
"I'm fine, 'Wing," Tim cut him off, grunting as another robot got in a lucky hit to his leg before Tim could more or less decapitate it. "Just a little busy. Is there something I can do for you?"
"Oh, no," Dick answered, voice sweet and completely distracted, and Tim could see him shaking his head and cocking his hip to the side as they changed the subject—probably running a hand through Jason's hair while Jason flew their plane and Roy glared in the background. "I just wanted to call and check in. We're about forty minutes out, but—huh? What's that, Hood? I don't think so…I—"
"Dick," Tim hissed, and it was only partially because Dick was babbling.
"Did you guys call in any other back up without telling us?" Jason's voice was all business as it cut over the line overtop of Dick's, and that was never a good thing.
"No," Tim's answer was immediate, but he didn't have time to think much on the question because the robots just kept coming and why weren't Cassie and Clark done yet? "Everybody else is busy."
"Oh…well, you might have a problem then," once again it was Dick who spoke.
"And why—holy fuck, you have teeth! get away from me! get away from me!—is that?" Tim asked as he very ineloquently delivered ten quick blows to one of the little robots' processing units, the last five of which hadn't exactly been necessary, but Tim felt justified in delivering, because it had honest to goodness tried to bite him.
"Because according to our radar you have a flying object coming at you at around four-hundred miles an hour…"
"WHAT?"Tim yelled, spinning around and scanning the sky for any incoming vehicles and—there it was, due west, approaching faster and lower than should be possible. Except it was too small to be a vehicle. Without thinking, Tim reached up to switch channels on his comms unit as he turned back around to deal with more of those stupid robots. "Red Robin to Justice League, Red Robin to Justice League. Be advised there is an incoming flyer, due west. I repeat there is an incoming flyer, due west. Origin and affiliation are unknown and it is to be regarded with extreme caution until more information becomes known. We are unsure if it is friendly or foe."
There was a smattering of reactions over the comms unit (and questions), but Tim ignored them all (missed somebody hissing his name) in favor of looking up towards Clark and Cassie, because he needed to be in the robot now because there was no way in hell they could handle two of those things at once, if that was even what the incoming flyer was (with Tim's luck, it was a government missile that had been sent to just blow all of them up), and they were pulling and tugging with all of their might, but they weren't making any headway and—
Tim's head snapped up so fast his neck cracked, and his heart stopped in its place, because a familiar type of energy was buzzing all around his body like it was smelling and touching and licking at him all at once—like each and every molecule of air was a tiny little dog that had been reunited with their master after far too long and were eager to make sure they were okay—and there, right there! Above him and a little to the right was one Connor Kent in all of his glory, dressed for battle in his three-quarter length sleeve t-shirt and his big, dumb, combat boots as he got ahold of the metal beside Cassie and gave a tug of his own, throwing his back into it with a snarl, and Tim watched as the metal slowly began to give under their hands.
Tim didn't want to believe it, every fiber of his being was telling him that he wasn't really there, that this was just another one of Tim's dreams and he would wake up in a couple of minutes in his room in the Manor or the Tower, and Kon was going to be dead again, but Tim would know that scent anywhere—knew it better than Bruce's or Jason's or even Dick's—and no matter how real the dreams had ever seemed, nothing had ever come close to the real thing. And what he was smelling…what he was feeling—those were the real things, and Tim couldn't believe it. Tim didn't want to believe it, because he had no idea how to.
"Drake!" a voice very close to Tim demanded his attention, and Tim wasn't sure if it was the fact that somebody had called his name while he was in uniform, or the voice itself, but something about it grabbed Tim's attention, and when Tim looked down and his gaze caught on something in complete contrast with the scene above him. The white spaces of Damian's mask offered him comfort and solidarity, even if they didn't completely understand what he was going through, and Tim held on to that like a lifeline as his mind tried to drown itself in his own misery—just like it had been for the last seventeen months. "Look at me! You have to focus!"
Damian hadn't presented yet—he was still a year or two off from even beginning to come into his impending alpha-hood—but pieces of it were already starting to show through, and Tim had no doubt that he would be able to control crowds of even alphas with his voice alone one day.
"Please, Red Robin," he begged, stiletto in his hand, and blood dripping from his temple and a gash in between his shoulder and his bicep. "Father needs me on the ground."
And Tim saw what Damian was trying to do and happily ran with it—channeling all of the anger and confusion he felt into something usable, and focused it on the task at hand. Nobody scared Damian or made him bleed but Tim.
(And occasionally Jason and Killer Croc, but you know, Jason was Damian's older brother, too, and Croc was Croc, and everybody was terrified of him—even if only a little bit—and Damian had this thing with the semi-reptilian. Always had.)
"I need a way to get up there," was totally not what Tim meant to say, but it was what came out of his mouth, and thankfully Damian's posture relaxed and he took a look around them and analyzed what they had at their disposal and Tim purposefully didn't do the same.
"Up the side," Robin declared after a second of studying, pointing off to his left towards the ground, and Tim trusted his judgment enough to follow the gesture, to see what he was talking about. "There are little notches and rivets all the way up that should provide sufficient hand and footholds for someone of your size."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course," it wasn't quite a scoff, but Damian cocked his hip to the side and shot Tim a "look", and that told Tim enough about how he felt about the situation.
"Yeah, yeah," Damian rolled his eyes under his domino, and everything was back to normal. "Are we done here—or do you need me to hold your hand and coach you all the way up?"
"Nah, I'm good," Tim spared him a half grimace, turning to the side and delivering two quick hits with his bō staff to one of the robots that strayed too close to prove his point, before he turned back to Damian. "Get back to B's side before he gets tired of all of this and just lets this thing blow us up."
"Tt, imbecile," Damian shot back at him, but it didn't have near the amount of heat that it was supposed to, and Tim just gave him a two finger salute before he turned his eyes back down to the ground and made his way over to where Damian had pointed.
He met two robots on the way, but it wasn't even eighty-five seconds later that he was already half way up the leg. The brat had been right (when wasn't he?), there were plenty of nooks and crannies and giant bolts for him to hold on to as he climbed. Some of them were more of a stretch than others, especially the higher he got, but Tim had more experience climbing things than anybody could ever need (hello, being short and living in two different "houses" full of relative giants). The real problem was that some of the bolts had cracked when Conner and Clark and Cassie were ripping the robot apart, and it was only about another fifteen seconds or so before two of them broke under his feet and Tim was left hanging on by a loose cord he'd been using to keep his balance as he searched for something sturdier.
"Well, this isn't good," Tim sighed to himself as he dangled off the back leg of the robot and looked up longingly at the hole he was supposed to be infiltrating barely ten feet above him, and resisted the urge to bang his head on the metal of the robot. There was absolutely nothing between where he was and the hole for Tim to grab on to, no matter where Tim looked (Cassie and Clark really could have thought that one through a little better, even for them) and the distance down to the next in-tact foot hold was too far for Tim to safely retreat without risking falling to the ground. And as if to make matters worse—
Tim looked over to his right just in time to make out the shape of an arrowhead before it embedded itself in the metal of the robot, and he swore as he was thrown away from the resulting explosion.
Oddly enough, the resounding thing in Tim's head in the following seconds wasn't the fact that he wasn't fried to a crisp or the body that had wrapped around his and shielded him; instead, it was that he wasn't the only person cussing.
"Oh, shit," Oliver's realization came over the comms unit in Tim's ear as Tim was yanked away from the robot in the resulting explosion as a thick body rapped around and shielded him from the worst of the debris, and Tim would have rolled his eyes if he weren't otherwise occupied.
"Arrow!" Bruce's resulting growl came next. "What the fuck? Would it kill you to be more careful?"
"Sorry, B," Oliver croaked and grunted as Tim assumed he dodged an attack from the bigger robot or engaged one of the smaller ones. "I didn't see him and one of the robots knocked off my aim. Sorry, Red."
"S'okay," Tim slurred back, trying desperately to fight off the air-sickness that was suddenly overwhelming him as he realized he was still way too high off the ground (and actually, realized he wasn't a mess of blood and bones on the ground, in general). "'Didn't mean to."
"Doesn't make it right," another deep voice grumbled and Tim cringed when he realized he felt the rumble more than heard it, even through his thick uniform. "You okay there, Rob?"
"S'not Rob anymore," Tim huffed out, slowly starting to test his muscles in their Kryptonian cage to make sure that everything was still intact and working as he started to get his wits back about him. "It's Red."
"So, I've seen and heard," Kon mused, and Tim didn't even want to try to figure that out. "Were you going somewhere when you decided to go careening through the air, or were you just climbing up the side of the scary murder robot for fun?"
"Oh, you know me—I was just hungry and wanted to see if that thing had a take out window on it somewhere for a donut or some fries or something…" Tim answered him with a sarcastic lightness to his voice before he turned in Kon's arms to smack at his head and shoulders in annoyance. "Of course. I. Was going. Somewhere. You. Gigantic. Jerk Face."
Kon laughed in response, big and booming and child-like, and let Tim squirm around in his arms for a moment, before he caught him with an arm around his shoulders and the other under the bend of his knees and forced him bodily to his chest in a bridal hold.
"You've gotten feistier since I left," his wolfish grin was fond as he looked down at Tim.
"Yeah, well, put me down," Tim did not pout as he crossed his arms over his chest and glared up at Kon's sunny face, because that would have been childish, and Tim was above such things (especially when it came to gigantic jerk faces who were supposed to be dead, and why was the universe torturing him like this?). "I was in the middle of trying to do something and people's lives depend on it."
"Sure thing, Princess," Kon grinned, and Tim resisted the urge to huff again in annoyance. "Just tell me where."
"That giant hole you just helped to rip open."
"What?" that got Kon's attention, and his eyes opened almost comically wide as the humor and teasing drained from his features. "You mean you want to go inside that thing?"
"Yes," Tim tried to remain patient, but it wasn't working out very well. "That was the whole point of ripping it open in the first place."
"No," Kon shook his head, eyebrows furrowing as he geared up to start arguing with Tim, but then a voice broke over the comms unit again—
—And Tim instinctively pushed himself up and forced Kon's upper body down, just in time for Clark to go soaring past where their heads had been just seconds before.
"Huh—wha…?" Kon sputtered for a moment, turning to watch as Clark hit the water and created a small tsunami, before he turned back to look at Tim with eyes wide for a completely different reason. "In the hole you said?"
"Yes," Tim answered him, and Kon held his gaze for a moment, searching his eyes behind the mask seriously, before he nodded his head and tightened his grip on Tim's body as he swooped back down towards the robot.
"What can I do to help?"
"Distract it," Tim answered, and tried to ignore how wonderful Kon's broad shoulders felt under his arms as he held on to them to keep from falling. He'd noticed Kon drifting as they were talking earlier, slowly floating up and away from the scene in his excitement and distraction, but Tim hadn't realized how far they'd gone until Kon literally had to fly them back towards the battlefield. "See if you can take out a couple more of its cannons and things from the outside. They're the only weak spots we've been able to find, other than the spot where you guys ripped it open."
"Got it," Kon nodded his head, all humor gone as he reverted back to battle-mode, and a couple of seconds later Tim let go of his shoulders to slide down until Kon was just holding him by the wrists until the robot was close enough for Kon to let go completely. "See you on the other side."
Just like that, Kon's hands were gone and Tim was forever thankful for Bruce's training because his body still managed to somersault mid air and guide him down through the hole even as his heart stopped and his mind slammed into what Tim was pretty sure was only a metaphorical wall.
Tim wasn't sure why that phrase out of everything he and Kon had said back and forth had struck something inside of himself—maybe it was the fact that it implied that this wasn't all some kind of hallucination and that Kon had intended to be there "on the other side" and that Tim was going to have to face him again—but it had, and Tim scrambled to get a hold of himself as he landed on a grated divider installed for what had to have been maintenance workers, a couple of feet below the hole.
The robot was big—not the biggest they'd ever fought, but definitely up there on the list—and Tim was lucky enough to have landed in what seemed to be a mostly empty compartment. All kinds of wires and circuit boards ran along the walls so it was a tight fit, but Tim had enough room to stand up comfortably so he would take it. Things would get tighter the higher Tim climbed and the structures became more and more complex and less and less just for support.
Still, Tim couldn't stand up, couldn't do anything for the hundreds of memories that were flashing in front of his eyes, and he hugged his knees to his chest as he gasped and raised a hand up to his comms unit to change his radio to a private frequency.
"Robin?" he choked out in a whisper, and a second later Damian's voice came back over the line.
"I…I…" Tim tried to get the words out, but his mouth just wasn't working, and neither was his brain for that matter, and they just weren't coming and—
"Red?" Damian's voice was soft, at least for him, and it helped to ground Tim, once again, as he synced his breaths up with Damian's. "What do you need?"
"Talk to me?" was all Tim could force out around his panic attack, and Tim could practically hear Damian melt.
"Tt, you don't need me to help you through this, Red," Damian argued, but his words weren't hostile like they once would have been. No, now they were just…fond. "But, yes. I'll talk to you, if it helps."
"Thank you," Tim let out a sigh of relief, and Damian gave him a minute to collect his thoughts before Tim pushed himself up off of the platform and pulled a double-bladed batarang from his belt. "Now, let's disable this son of a bitch so we can go home and order a pizza."
"My thoughts exactly—also, Beast Boy is clearly a moron."
So, the two kept at it, talking and snarking and complaining about the fight in general back and forth as Tim made his way up the robot and cut at any wiring and soft material he found.
He accidentally shocked himself a couple of times, but no worse than he had when fighting any other electricity-centered villain, and the effectiveness of his work was clear in the relaxing of Damian's tone and the cheers of victory that came from their various teammates as they were finally able to get close enough to start landing some major hits the farther up the thing Tim worked.
"So, as I was saying, Amelia was sitting up on my dresser and Titus was laying underneath of her and—"
"Red Robin," Damian was suddenly cut off by Bruce's voice and static a couple of minutes later, and it took longer than Tim was willing to admit to realize that he'd overridden the controls on Tim's equipment when Tim hadn't answered him on the officially designated frequency for the mission.
"Are you still alive?" Bruce's question was somewhere between annoyed and amused, and Tim blushed under his mask.
"Uh, yeah—sorry. Just…a little overwhelmed."
"Understandable," Bruce responded back in a tone that matched the sentiment. Even if Bruce didn't know the extent of it, he'd still been around when Kon died, and he'd seen first hand how strongly it had affected Tim. "I pulled Kryptonite on him after he landed. At the very least, he is partially Kryptonian, even if he isn't Kon-El."
"Don't tell me that," Tim shook his head, refusing to fall back down into the hole his mind kept trying to push him towards. "I need to focus."
"…Alright, then," Bruce agreed, after a couple of heartbeats of silence. "Status report?"
Yes, right, good. The mission. Tim took a look around him at all of the wires and catches and releases.
"I've climbed roughly thirty feet up the thing," Tim assessed the area around him. "I'm somewhere in the abdominal cavity, as we speak. It's a tight fit, but I'm managing. The wires are cutting almost scarily easy, but from the sound of it, it's working."
"It is," Bruce confirmed, and started to say something more, but then one of Ollie's arrows blasted another hole in the metal, about ten feet above Tim's head, and Bruce swore as the robot started moving underneath of Tim's feet and he dropped his batarang and grabbed on to the still intact wires for dear life.
"Hang on, Red," Bruce ordered him, and Tim could only imagine him switching his own comms unit back to the 'public' feed to yell at Ollie.
"Red?" Damian's voice came back over the comms unit, undercutting Bruce giving Oliver the third degree.
"Yeah?" Tim answered back, making a mental note to himself to reprogram his earpiece so that it couldn't be accessed remotely, even by the other Bats.
"Where are you?"
And in spite of everything, Tim sighed, "I'm up in this robot thing's abdominal cavity. I just told B—"
"Get out," Damian cut him off, and if Tim could have furrowed his eyebrows at the younger man he would have. "Abandon mission."
"I kind of can't right now, Rob. I'm a little—"
"Red," the urgency in Damian's tone increased and wasn't that just weird? But then, Tim heard gears and things shifting somewhere below him down in the robot, and the smell of gasoline washed over Tim like a wild fire.
"Get out, now!"
"Um, kind of can't," Tim gave a nervous almost half laugh back as he looked around himself and tried to figure out how the hell he was going to get himself out of the robot alive. The shrapnel from Oliver's arrow had him caged in, and there was nowhere down for him to go.
"What?" it was Bruce this time and that didn't really make Tim feel any better.
"I'm a little bit stuck—"
"I know," Tim flinched at the tone and turned as much as he could in his little hole.
"Hang on," it was Damian, again—frantic, almost desperate. "I'll be up there in—"
"NO!" both Tim and Bruce yelled in unison, and at least there was one thing they agreed on.
"Absolutely not," Bruce added at the same time that Tim forced his breaths to stay calm and his brain to work through the panic. "Superman!"
"Robin," another voice cut through the haze, and if Tim had enough room to stand up straight and snap to attention he would have. "Where are you—"
"It doesn't matter—"
"The hell it doesn't—"
"Get out of here and save yourselves—"
"You won't get to me in time—"
"I'm not leaving without you—"
And, there! There it was! One of the main processing units! Two feet over and about halfway up to the hole. Destroying it might not stop the robot completely, but it should at least slow it down and weaken it enough that one of the metas would be able to get inside to get to him.
How had he missed that up there?
It didn't matter, though. Tim would sit down and figure that part out later. He just needed to figure out how he was going to get to it and disable it before the robot finished its pre-flight command sequence and blasted both of the two them up into outer space (or blew them up in the process).
Scanning his surroundings quickly, Tim mapped out the best course of action and started worming his way around in the little crevice he'd made for himself, and just a couple of strong shoves and one particularly long stretch there, and—
"Done," Tim smiled to himself as he suctioned the last batarang into place instead of throwing it and let go of the cable he'd been using to hold himself up so he could slide back down into the robot as far as he could, hitting the detonator switch that was still in his hand as soon as his feet hit something solid and he could tuck himself down into a little ball.
The heat and the sound of the explosions were intense, but thankfully Tim's aim was still as good as it had ever been, and both of the batarangs he'd thrown had ended up down the thing's arm-like appendages, and not down below Tim to ignite the robot's gas tanks like he'd been half afraid they would. It wasn't exactly what Tim had in mind when he'd first brought the plan up to Bruce barely fifteen minutes before hand, but all in all he couldn't really complain. The explosives were small discharges—big and strong enough to crack concrete but not much more impressive than that—but they did their jobs and tore through the cables and the circuit boards well. Tim wasn't sure if he had managed to completely shut down the robot based on the lack of movement and the extent of the damage around him, but at the very least he'd set it into some sort of emergency-stasis, and Bruce and Vic would have a little bit of time to figure out what to do with it next.
Tim could hear the cries of victory from outside, as the fire and smoke cleared quickly (there wasn't much inside other than cables to continue to burn, and the gas tanks had remained intact) and he started pushing himself up out of his little ball to test the use of his limbs again.
"Red Robin?" Bruce's voice was near a whisper when the programming on Tim's comms unit finally switched back on and out of safe-mode.
"'M fine," Tim answered as he fumbled to stand back up, knees and legs shaking underneath of him as he did so, and the relieved sigh that Bruce gave in return was both heart-warming and terrifying.
"The primary-threat and beta threats have been secured and eliminated," Bruce confirmed after he'd taken a second to collect himself again. "Shutting down the master robot has seemed to incapacitate the smaller ones that accompanied it. Most of them stopped working before you'd even had the chance to detonate your explosives, but Wonder Woman and Cyborg are taking care of the ones that remained, now."
"That's good," Tim nodded his head, even though Bruce couldn't see him, giving a small grunt as his abdomen protested against supporting his body weight as he climbed up to the hole that Ollie had blown through right before Tim had blown everything up. "Status Report on the rest of the team?"
"Unknown at the moment. There seem to be no major injuries, but most everybody is still too high on adrenaline to trust their assessments."
"As usual," Tim hummed, and he wasn't quite sure who was staying on the line to help the other, but it was working for both of them, so Tim just kept talking even as he pulled the top half of himself up and out of the hole so he could see what was going on around him on the ground…which was mostly Cassie shoving her tongue down a very surprised looking Kon's throat so Tim immediately redirected his gaze out over the ocean instead. Yeah, that view was pretty. Tim wouldn't have minded looking out at that for the rest of his life. "'Wing and the Outlaws?"
"About fifteen minutes late and going to get a stern talking to when they get here."
"Well, better late than never," Tim shrugged, far too tired to feel anything even remotely close to annoyance. There was silence over the comms unit for a moment, as Bruce had to disengage to answer a question from Ollie or J'onn, and for the first time in over a year, Tim was almost able to just take a deep breath and relax without having to worry about anything that was going on around him, and he was almost ready to just give in and let the wind blow over his face and ignore how horribly wrong his life was about to go, when the metal of the robot gave one of the loudest, most gut wrenchingly strong creaks Tim had ever heard, and his eyes snapped open as he realized what was happening.
"Red?" Damian's voice cut over the line again, and Tim could only imagine what it looked like from the outside as the robot started to sway in the wind.
"Today's just not my day, is it?"
"Hang on!" Damian completely ignored that Tim had said anything in the first place. "All of our flyers are occupied at the moment except—WONDER GIRL! WOULD YOU STOP YOUR INSUFFERABLE—what—no—how dare you—BATMAN!"
Tim didn't know what was happening below him, but it was already too late.
"Batman," the name was soft off of Tim's lips, a prayer—a thank you, and before anything else could happen, an explosion went off on the back side of the robot, somewhere up near it's 'head', and Tim was sighing as the robot finally tipped forward and the water rushed up to meet him.