A/N: This story is written in present tense to symbolize what is presently going on in Dick's head. The breaks are abrupt because they are dreams and like dreams, these images are jumping from one to the next.
First all he sees is darkness. He doesn't know where he is, or what happened to him to get him here. All he knows is that he can't move. He hears voices he can't link to a face, and smells that tell him he's not at home. Where is home? Where is he? Who is he?
"Dickie. Dickie, sweetheart, it's time to wake up."
He wakes up in a trailer. Its cramped yet homey. It smells of earl grey tea and lavender. He can hear animal noises outside. The roaring of a lion, and the trumpet-like sound of an elephant bring a smile to his face. A familiar voice askes him what he wants for breakfast. It's his mother, whole and alive. He hears his dad, sing a song from the old country. It's soft and melodic and fills Dickie's heart with joy. He reaches to touch their faces, but before he can the scene changes. His hand is still outstretched as he hears a scream and sees his parents' horrified faces as they fall from the trapeze lines leaving him helpless on the top platform.
He closes his eyes but he can still hear the screams. His heart is still in his throat, no sound is coming out. He opens his eyes just as a large man in a dark suit holds out his hand to him. He has a stern face, but kind eyes, though there are dark circles under them. There is also sadness in the older man's face as he lowers himself to Dick's level.
"I'm here to help you, would you like to stay with me?"
Dick stares at the man. His dark hair and light eyes look familiar, but he can't place a name. He also can't explain the immediate security he instantly feels from this man. There is an established trust between them, but how can this be? He just met him, and yet Dick feels like he's known this man his entire life. He takes the man's hand and allows himself to be lead to the man's car.
The car pulls up to a big house, too big for just one man and a butler. He's told this is his new home. He is lead to a bedroom. It's bigger than the trailer he shared with his parents. While it doesn't smell the same as his parents' trailer, for reasons unknown to Dick, it feels like home.
"If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask."
The one question he wants to ask he's too embarrassed to utter aloud. It's too humiliating for him to admit that while he appreciates this man's kindness, he should be able to recall his name, shouldn't he?
"Wait, sir, what's your name? I feel like I know you."
The man smiles and rests his hand on Dick's shoulder. "Don't worry Chum, it will come to you. Feel free to wander through the Manor. It's your home now."
He starts to wander along the halls of the Manor like the man suggests. Turn after turn looking down the halls and into various rooms details of the house start to coalesce. He is either great at guessing the layout of a rich person's house, or he has been here before. But that's not right, he just got here.
Dick finally makes it to the study, and stares intently at the towering Grandfather clock against the wall. He's waiting for it to reveal whatever secrets its concealing. But that is absurd, a clock doesn't hold secrets. It's then that he notices that the clock is stuck at 10:48pm. The gold glistening off of the weights in front of the pendulum catch his eye. The pendulum isn't swinging like it should. He touches it ever so slightly, and the entire clock moves on a hinge to reveal a hidden passage with descending stairs.
Against all instinct he descends the stairs not sure what he will find. There is no fear, just curiosity and its beckoning him to come. The pathway opens up to a vast cave…a Batcave.
"It's good to see you, son. What took you so long?"
Dick stares at the man with the kind eyes, in a Bat costume? His mind races to catch up with what he has just seen. It's then that Dick starts to remember that this man who opened up his house to Dick, also lost people important to him. The tragedy is what drove him to becoming The Batman. Other memories of a life he can't remember start to come to Dick. Memories filled with colors of red, green and yellow; of swinging from rooftops and punching criminals; of waking from nightmares and Bruce holding him while he cried. Bruce.
It's okay, boy. It's just a dream. You're safe. Dick, listen. You're not there. You're here. You hear me? You're with me now. I've got you.
Dick runs full tilt to his guardian with his arms stretched out. Relief spreading through him at the dawning of finally putting a name to a face. "Bruce! Bruce! Batman!"
"I've got you, son." Bruce reassures, catching Dick in his arms in a bone-crushing hug. "C'mon Robin. Get your suit on. It's time to go. Gotham isn't going to protect itself."
Robin? It's the name his mom used to call him when he would fly on the trapeze lines with her. He was her robin because he was born on the first day of spring.
Dick breaks out of the hug and the scene changes once again. This time he's a little older and wearing jeans and a black and blue striped sweater. He's on the grounds of a spacious Manor…Wayne Manor. The gardens are lush and well manicured, not fit for playing sports, more for hosting elaborate garden parties.
"Hey, Big Bird, go long!"
Dick glances up at the odd nickname just in time to see a football coming his way. He catches it and throws it back at the young boy several feet away. The recipient makes a show of catching the ball, like something mimicked from a professional football player.
It's a kid about thirteen wearing well worn jeans and a red hoodie. He has wavy black hair and bright blue eyes. He looks a little rough around the edges, like the most important years of this childhood weren't good to him. His smile is playful and his laugh, infectious with mischief, tugs at Dick's heart.
They continue to talk and toss the ball back and forth. Dick helps the young teen with his throw and hand placement on the ball to get that perfect spiral. Eventually they are both playfully trying to run the ball passed each other toward an imaginary goal. Dick reflexively puts an arm around the kid's neck and ruffles his hair. The kid in return hugs Dick tightly around the waist. Dick's heart is full. He can't remember having this much fun with one person.
He can't remember…he can't remember anything about this kid, and his stomach drops at that realization.
Is this a memory? Who is this kid? Is this kid real? Is it his brother? Surely, he'd remember having a brother.
"Do…do I know you? I feel like I know you." Dick asks, and instantly regrets the question.
The kid's smile starts to slowly fade, but the mischief doesn't leave his eyes.
"It will come to you. When you realize this never happened between us."
"What you do you mean?"
"This," the kid gestures to their surroundings and holds up the football. "We never hung out like this. You were too busy, always too busy. You gave me your number once and a box with your old uniform in it. Told me to call you if I ever needed to talk."
The crushing blow of the kid's revelation hits Dick in the gut. He likes him. There's a familiarity to the young man that Dick can't quite place. The smile, the laugh, the eyes that dance with trouble and tragedy. He knows this kid, why can't his brain tell him who the young boy is to him? He can feel it, a name dancing at the tip of his tongue. The kid may be young, but he makes Dick feel safe. Maybe Dick is just lonely.
It starts to get dark as clouds slowly overtake the sunshine. Dick can hear thunder and the air smells damp like it's about to rain.
The kid looks up, noticing the change in the weather. For the first time since Dick laid eyes on him, he looks sad.
"I'm going to go."
The young teen starts to head toward the house. Tossing the football from one hand to the other.
Dick starts to tense up and panic. He doesn't want the kid to leave. They're having fun goofing off and hanging out. The kid's company is something that Dick has missed and he doesn't want it to go away. Deep down more than anything, he doesn't want to be alone. Not when there is a storm coming.
"Wait! Please! Don't leave me here!" Dick yells frantically, and starts to run toward the boy.
Lightning strikes and the scene changes. The elaborate gardens of the Manor are gone and in its place is a dark alley. Dick freezes in place at the strange surroundings. He's cold and doesn't know where he is. Everything is new and scary. The kid is long gone.
"Kid! Where are you!"
Lightning strikes again. He's back in the front gardens of the Manor and he can see the kid running toward the front door. Dick starts to run after him.
He never seems to catch up to the teen no matter how fast he thinks he's running. His legs start to tire and his lungs start to burn. Dick has to make it to the house, but each effort of his chase is proving futile.
Say his name. He'll stop if you say his name. But what is his name? Say his name. You know his name. SAY HIS NAME!
Instantly the boy, Jason, is at his side, taking his hand and leading him toward the Manor.
"Whoa, whoa, Dick, calm down. I'm here."
Jason, his Little Wing. How could he forget Jason? The tough talker who likes reading classic literature and watching movies. The boy who loves Neapolitan ice cream and Alfred's pot roast. The boy who likes to cook and keeps his room neat as a pin. Jason who became Robin after him.
"Please don't leave, Jason." Dick begs, hugging the boy tightly.
"I'll stay as long as you want me." Jason reassures him gently patting his back.
They head to the Manor where it's warm and safe. Alfred hands them each a mug of hot chocolate as they enter.
Dick enters the kitchen and turns to talk to Jason, but he isn't there. The kitchen is quiet and empty save for a lone figure sitting at the breakfast nook hunched over a steaming mug of coffee and a file of papers laid out before him.
"I can't seem to figure this out, Dick. Can you stay and help me with this case?"
The hunched figure sits up and he looks rough. His hair falls in uneven layers around his face like he has been overdue for a haircut. It's not a bad look on the kid, it suits him. There are bags under his eyes and his body language tells of exhaustion from a few days of sleep deprivation.
"Um," Dick looks around for Alfred, Bruce or even Jason, to help him with this newcomer.
As if on cue, Jason appears behind him. Looking older, taller and bulkier. He pats Dick on the shoulder in greeting and heads straight for the cabinet. He grabs the biggest mug he can find and sets it under the Keurig. He then takes a K-cup from the caddy, puts it in the dispenser, and presses the button.
The kitchen is silent as the coffee machine squeaks and hums out the hot beverage. Dick can sense the awkwardness as no one is saying anything. He is just relieved that someone he knows is with him. He can feel two sets of eyes on him. He's too afraid to look at the teenager. Something tells him he should know who he is, but his brain is drawing a blank.
"Oh, I didn't mean to break up this shin-dig," Jason says, breaking the silence. "I can leave so you can be alone. I'll just grab my coffee and head to my room."
Dick starts to panic. He doesn't know why, but he needs Jason to stay with him. "No, please Jason, don't leave. Please stay, I don't…"
He doesn't want to admit in front of the kid that he doesn't remember him. It's too embarrassing.
"Hey, hey, calm down, Dick. I'll stay."
Dick nods and they both head to the table to join the lone occupant.
"What do you need help with?" Jason asks the teen peaking at the papers on the table.
Dick watches the two discuss the different documents in the case file. He starts to wonder if the teen is another one of his brothers. He looks familiar. His hair is dark like Jason's but straight and thinner. His eyes are also blue, but a different shade. He suddenly feels compelled to tell this kid that he needs to lay off the coffee and get some much needed sleep.
Dick finally musters up the courage to ask a necessary question.
"I know you, don't I?"
The young teenager smiles and replies, "Don't worry, Dick. It will come to you."
Dick continues to watch both Jason and the boy start to dialogue over the contents of the case file. The exchange is sweet, and their banter full of gentle teasing that comes with being brothers. While Jason is giving great insights, he is also making the teenager laugh. Watching the two young men interact together slowly starts to make Dick's heart ache.
"Quit it," the teenager laughs as he trys to dodge a headlock from Jason in the latter's attempts to ruffle his hair.
Instantly the flashes of memory come faster than Dick can contain it. The image of a boy telling Dick he has to be Robin again, and showing pictures of Dick in his costume. Memories of the both of them sparing in the cave and then riding on top of train cars as Robin and Dick as something in a black and blue uniform. The both of them goofing off and hanging out in Bruce's office, and playing tag in the Wayne Enterprises stairwells. Dick catching a falling Robin…Red Robin from a building.
How did you know? How did you know I'd be there to save you?
You're my brother, Dick. You'll always be there for me.
He rushes over to the teenager and embraces him. How could he forget about Tim? The mini-Bruce with his strategic mind and genius intellect. The only teenage CEO in Gotham who outsmarted Ra's al Ghul and Vicki Vale. The little brother he got to help train and go with on patrol. How could be forget his Baby Bird?
Dick looks sadly at Jason and the guilt of not being there for him returns.
"Don't sweat it, Big Bird. We can still do all the brotherly stuff. What do you want to do?"
Dick doesn't hesitate in his answer.
"I just want to hang out. Eat food that is not good for me, and watch movies."
Dick walks into the Manor's tv room and sees a young boy, around 10 years old, playing a video game. His brow furrowed and tongue sticking out, the boy is obviously in deep concentration in his attempt to pass a certain difficult level. Without a word to the boy, Dick sits down on the couch to watch him.
He's not interested in making conversation with the boy, not yet at least. Dick assumes that this is another important person in his life, though he can't yet remember his name. He's more than happy to watch the boy play his game while he reads a book.
The boy, not taking his eyes off the screen, grabs another controller and tosses it to Dick.
"It's about time, Grayson!"
It's unnerving that the kid knows his name, not to mention that the kid was also expecting him. Dick isn't sure what to do at first. The buttons on the controller take some getting used to, but he starts to make slow progress. After awhile his fingers flow effortlessly on the various buttons enough to advance further in the level. For once he's proud of his muscle memory.
They play the game in companionable silence. The only sounds that can be heard are from the game and occasionally from the boy's exasperation at mistakes. Dick is surprised at his own skill at playing the game. They are about to finish the level when someone breaks the silence.
"Ooh, the new Cheese Vikings. Can I play next?"
"Back off Drake, Grayson is mine. You had him yesterday."
"Hey, be nice."
"Please back off Drake, Grayson is mine."
"See you can be nice." Tim teases, ruffling the boys' hair.
Dick snickers at the exchange. He finds the boy's possessiveness of him hilarious. He can't deny that it makes him feel important and needed, like a big brother. Seriously, how many little brothers does he have?
Another voice enters the room, "Ooh the new Cheese Vikings. Can I play next?"
"No, Todd. What are you two even doing here? Don't you both have jobs?"
"Not at the moment."
Dick and the boy complete the level and for the first time since he walked into the room, the boy turns and smiles at Dick. The smile reaches the boy's eyes causing an overall softens to his features. Dick can sense that the boy doesn't give out smiles to just anyone.
"I could have finished that level without you, but I'm always thankful for your help. As usual we make a exceptional team, Grayson."
Dick had to laugh at the formalness of the compliment. The boy was right, together the two of them did make a great team. Perhaps this isn't the first time they had played a game before, or been in a situation where they had to rely on each other's skill to accomplish a task…or complete a mission.
"Anytime. I'm always here to be your sidekick," Dick smiles at the boy.
A memory comes to Dick and he sees himself in a Batman uniform and the boy as Robin. They're in a flying Batmobile chasing down criminals, dropping from the sky and landing on a roof.
"Damian? You were my sidekick once, weren't you?" Dick askes, kneeling down gently grasping Damian's shoulders.
"Yes, Richard, I was Robin when you were Batman, and we were the best!"
Damian instantly reaches for Dick and envelops him in a hug. Damian Wayne, his littlest brother. How could he forget his Lil' D? Together as Batman and Robin they both helped shape each other into better people. Dick into a better mentor and Damian into an overall better human. The idea of making Damian his Robin wasn't the easiest decision, but it was the best one for the situation.
Dick breaks out of the hug and finds himself outside in front of the Manor again. The weather is brisk with a chilly breeze freezing him to the bone. He looks around and no one, is around. It's eerily quiet and the silence starts to unnerve him.
He searches throughout the grounds, the back patio, gazebo, even the greenhouse. He can't find anyone, nor can he hear any sign that anyone is home. He circles back to the side door leading to the kitchen, but its locked. He knocks, but there is no answer.
"Alfred, it's Dick, can you open up? I've been locked out."
He doubles back to the front of the Manor and looks through the large living room window. Relief spreads through him as he can now see that everyone, Bruce, Jason, Tim and Damian are gathered in the living room. They all seem to be in a deep discussion.
Dick heads to the front door, and tries to open it, but its locked too. He knocks excitedly on the door. He waits for what feels like a significant amount of time, but no one answers. He tries again, louder and with more urgency. He waits yet again, but no one comes for him.
He heads back to the window and bangs on it to get someone's attention, but there is no sound.
Not one person is looking in his direction as he pounds with all his strength on the glass window. Why can't they hear him? It didn't make any sense. Tim and Damian are now looking back and forth between Bruce and Jason as if watching an intense tennis match.
"TIM! DAMIAN! I'M HERE! OPEN THE DOOR! PLEASE!"
No change. They still can't hear him and he still can't get their attention. It's starting to get darker. Dick can hear thunder in the distance and a light shower of rain starts to fall.
The discussion looks like it's reached a tipping point. Bruce now looks flushed and is pointing at the front door to Jason.
Jason looks equally angry and heads to the front door, hand on the front handle.
"BRUCE! JASON! STOP FIGHTING AND JUST TALK!" Dick yells.
Tim finally spots Dick through the window and points. Damian touches his Father's elbow to get his attention. Sweet relief floods his body, they can see and hear him.
Dick races to the front door to meet Jason, hoping to talk him into staying. Bruce will not make him leave, not again, not ever. He gets to the front door, but he's too late. It's wide open and there is no trace of Jason.
He slowly enters the Manor and heads to the living room to confront Bruce, but he's not there. In fact, no one is in the Manor.
"Tim! Damian! Alfred!"
Still, no answer.
Heart hammering in his chest, Dick wanders through the Manor halls. He can hear someone crying. He follows the sound to his bedroom. He opens the door and sees a 13 year old boy in worn jeans and a red hoodie sprawled face down on his bed sobbing. It's Jason.
He walks gingerly to the bed and sits down next the boy rubbing small circles on his back.
"Being the older brother right now s-sucks!" Jason sobs.
Dick could only empathize with the boy. "I know it feels that way, but I think you're doing a great job."
"I don't know what advice to give Tim. I have no idea how to cheer up Damian…I'm not you, Dick. I'M NOT YOU!"
"Then don't be me, just be you. You are great at being Jason, "Dick says, though he doesn't think Jason is hearing him.
Jason sits up and looks at Dick. His eyes are red rimmed and wet. He turns to Dick and with a trembling bottom lip pleads. "Please wake up, Dick. We need you. I-I need you."
"What? What do you mean, wake up? I'm right here." Dick asks, confused by Jason's request.
Jason gives him a watery smile and hugs him. "Dick, look around. Look at me." Jason pulls out of the embrace to look Dick in the eye. "Do you honestly believe I'm still 13 years old?"
Dick doesn't really have an answer for that question, but it makes sense. Still, he doesn't want to leave. He likes it here in the Manor with Jason, no matter if he is thirteen or nineteen.
He lays down on the bed next to Jason staring at the ceiling.
"Thanks for staying here with me."
Jason gets off the bed. He kneels down by Dick's side and whispers, "I had fun with you. Now wake up, Big bird."
Dick could feel the pull to consciousness and welcomed it with open arms. He struggled for a bit to open his eyes, but after a few blinks, his world came into view.
He couldn't really move and his head throbbed when he tried. Dick couldn't pinpoint where he was at, but he was able to identify a familiar head of hair resting on the bed near his hand. He only knew one person with a single patch of white hair that stood out amongst their ebony locks. A sudden rush of affection overcame Dick as he realized Jason was with him.
Dick heard sniffling and could see Jason's shoulders shaking. He was crying. He tried to move his arm, to place a hand on his head, but nothing was happening. Why wasn't his body doing what he wanted it to do? Is that why he was here? Did something happen to him?
Don't freak out. Don't freak out. Don't freak out.
Ok, Dick. Tell your brain to tell your arm to tell your hand to move.
He kept saying it over and over again, and each time he kept trying to move his arm and hand. He started to get tired, but he didn't want to go back to sleep. It hurt Dick's heart that Jason was so distressed and he wasn't able to physically comfort him.
Move your arm! Move your arm! MOVE YOUR FUCKING ARM, DICK!
Finally, he was able to lift his arm a little bit enough to hover it over Jason's head. The exhaustion of the simple task made him drop his hand hard on his head. He could not only feel Jason tense at the gesture, but he also stopped crying. Dick tried to stroke his hair with his fingers in comfort, but the attempt fell short. He thought maybe he should try talking.
"D'on cry, lil w'ng," Dick croaked in a lazy whisper.
Jason looked up at him and smiled. "Welcome back, Big Bird."