A/N: THIS IS IMPORTANT! If you're reading this, please know that if you haven't read the edited version of the first chapter, this won't make much sense to you. PLEASE go read that if you haven't. That being said, i hope you enjoy!
When Dick had staggered in that night, Tim had thought he'd been gassed, it was the only time he'd seen Dick act even close to this. But he wasn't, they'd checked. Scarecrow was still locked up in Arkham, and while some other criminal might've been able to get their hands on the drug somehow, they knew that wasn't the case. They'd run Dick's blood for traces of any detrimental substances five times now, there was nothing. No answers, no clues. Nothing that could tell them what had happened or how they could help.
Tim had been hacking into cameras along Dick's patrol routes for the last five hours trying to find any clues as to what had happened, but so far it was looking just like a normal night. He watched Nightwing swinging from roof to roof, flipping and cartwheeling, diving into alleys and beating up criminals, or would-be-criminals, but so far, nothing was really standing out. Till, that was, Nightwing stopped and took a break on a phone line.
He knew that Oracle had some cameras up in that area, but none of them had the right angle to see what was going only footage Tim could get of the scene was from a shotty camera with fuzzy film and a cracked lens. Even after enhancing it, it was still horrible. But from what he could see, Nightwing was taking a short break on the phone wire when a figure approached him. The figure stood too far in the shadows and the film was too crappy for Tim to make out who it was, despite his best efforts. All Tim could tell was the figure was male, and about as tall and wide as Bruce, and TIm could only tell that after Nightwing had jumped down to meet him and he was able to compare their frames. That and the figure's shoulders were much too wide to be a woman's.
It looked to Tim as if they were simply talking, and then Nightwing tossed something to the figure and five seconds later they were sprinting off and swinging to the next roof, and it was as they were leaping to the next roof that Tim got a glimpse of who the figure was. A man, wearing a red hood.
"What does Hood have to do with this?" Tim muttered softly to himself, not even realizing he was saying anything.
"Did you say something Master Timothy?" Alfred asked behind him, setting a steaming cup of coffee just within reach where it wouldn't be knocked over. SInce Dick had gotten in, Alfred had been anxious, not that you would ever see it just from looking, but he was. You could tell in the way he straightened and doubled checked, heck, triple checked, the med bay supplies, how he doted on his wards, making sure they had everything they would need, or could need, how he continuously reassured himself that they were safe and well, you could see it in how he constantly found more to do, never let himself rest enough to really think about all the horrible possibilities of what might've happened. Tim glanced at him with a quick smile before he was turning back.
"Hmm? Oh it's nothing. Thanks Alfred." Alfred raised his eyebrow at that, made no comment on it.
"Very well Master Timothy." With that Alfred withdrew to check once more on the others, and Tim was back to hacking. Quickly, Tim set about following the two vigilantes he'd spotted though the last camera. Watching through a nearby building's security cameras, he saw them perch on the building across the way from one of the city's banks and evaluate the robbery he could see taking place inside. So far it was still looking like a normal night, despite Hood joining Nightwing. It was, after all, not unusual to see the two of them patrolling together. Since they'd discovered who Hood was, Nightwing had pushed to be closer to his brother, but Hood had been hesitant at first, which made sense from what Tim had heard about their past. Apparently, Dick and Jason hadn't had the best relationship before Jason died, Dick had fought to much with Bruce to really be close to Jason while he was living at the manor- but since Jason had gotten back, Dick had taken it as his personal mission to make up for it. And he had, Jason and Dick had gotten closer over the last few years; that was obvious to everyone in their little family. So the fact that they had been patrolling together last night didn't really surprise Tim much, especially since Jason had been away for so long on an outlaw mission with Roy and Kori, and Dick had no doubt missed him and bullied him into coming out with him.
Continuing to watch, Tim noted how well they were working together nowadays as well, observing how they practically danced around each other taking down thugs and evacuated hostages with vicious and graceful efficiency. There was a small hiccup with the rescue when a masked man started threatening a little girl, but even that his brothers handled with ease.
And then, it all went wrong.
They had had everyone down, checking on the little girl, and then suddenly, Jason was being shot. Nightwing was panicking, screaming and crying. Saying Jason's real name. And then Jason was just, gone. Disappearing in a flash of blue light. And Nightwing broke down.
Tim quickly emailed the footage to Barbara knowing she and Bruce would want it to check over exactly what happened, wiped all footage of the scene from any and all of the cameras that saw or picked up sound from the scene and shut down his computer.
...It made so much sense now. Why Dick had been so out of it, so distraught. Dick, he hadn't even been on the planet the last time Jason… He hadn't been there and he had still felt so much guilt. Guilt for not being there, for not being better to his brother, for not doing something, even though there was no way he could've done anything. And now- now Dick had been right there, and he still hadn't been able to do anything. He had, in his mind, failed his brother. He hadn't saved him, even though this time there was surely something he could've done to stop it, should've done. He should've been better, should've been able to stop the shot, should've been able to protect his brother. But he couldn't save him. Didn't save him. That was what Dick was thinking.
Dick would blame himself, was blaming himself, Tim knew that. Because that's who Dick was. After his parents death, Dick had in his own way formed himself into everyone else's safety net, because he didn't want to see them fall too, couldn't bare to see them fall too. He protected them when they needed him, caught them when they fell, and always supported them, because that who he was, he was their safety net. And this time, he hadn't caught them in time, and Jason had fallen.
Tim needed to check on Dick. He couldn't be okay right now, he needed them. This thought leapt into life and raged around his mind like wildfire, and it was almost like his feet had taken on a life of their own as they leapt from his seat, not even pausing for his hand to give the chair a push into place as they flew to the stairs, deciding it would take too long to wait for the elevators, and rushed down the halls, bursting into Dick's room. The sight that waited for him there was not what he was quite expecting.
Tim knew that Cass and Damian had taken Dick to his room and were watching over him till he was ready to talk to someone, but TIm was never expecting to come in to see Cass crying. Dick, yes. He knew Dick would be, but TIm had never seen Cass cry. Over anything. Cass was always in touch with others emotions, reading them off of people came as easily to her as breathing, but she herself was a usually stoic figure. Seeing her crying froze all of the thoughts flying around his head and brought them all crashing down. Just the sight of it seemed so wrong, and Tim wasn't sure what he should do. And how he should respond was yet another of the frozen thoughts that had come to an abrupt stop in his head, leaving him drawing an absolute blank. To see her crying, it was unsettling, even though Tim understood it. The wet trails done his face proved that.
His feet had stop just as abruptly as his thoughts did though, and momentum caught up with him in seconds, pushing him forward and almost sending him crashing to the floor. If it hadn't been for his training he would've face planted. As it was, it still caused a wisp of a giggle from the other side of the room before he scrambled to his feet.
There on the bed Dick laid asleep, Cass and Damian tucked on either side of him with only Cass awake. Tear tracks were still heavily present on Dick's face, though they seemed to be drying. 'Dick must've woken up a little while ago,' Tim thought observing the tangled bodies, 'He probably told Cass what happened before he fell back asleep, that must be why she's crying.'
Looking up at him, Cass gave a sad, small smile.
"You saw what happened." She said, not asking. She didn't need to, she already knew. Tim nodded back, his voice felt trapped in his throat, caught on the rock lodged there. She nodded and opened her arm that wasn't trapped between her and Dick's bodies, offering him to join them, offering him comfort, support. TIm padded over silently, mindful of his sleeping brothers as he crawled across the bed to lay beside Cass, who turned and pulled him closer, wrapping her arm around his shoulders.
"I knew going into this that it would be dangerous, I knew we could die. I just never dreamt…" Tim whispered softly after a few minutes of soothing silence. Cass nodded and pulled him tighter for a few seconds before relaxing again.
"I know. I know." She whispered just as quietly, and silence fell again, filled only by the momentary sounds of sniffling and tears.