Continuity: Comics!verse AU, based on post-Crisis continuity.
Rating: Very M.
Characters/Pairings: Timothy Drake, Jack Drake, Janet Drake, Mrs. McIlvaine; one-sided Tim/Dick, sorta.
Word Count: 1196
Summary: Tim spends his Saturday night with broken animals, thoughts of Dick, and Plans.
Warnings: Discussion of the following: animal death (in a fair amount of detail), the recreational killing of animals, and the casual infliction of harm on another person. I believe I did mention that AU!Timmy is not your friend? No spoilers for anything more recent than the 1980s.
Disclaimer: Most of the characters and locations in this story are © DC Entertainment Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment. All content is fictional and for entertainment purposes only, not for profit.
Posted to robin_fans, we_love_dick, mrsarcastic_tim, batfic.
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On Saturday evenings, when my athletics schedule allows, I volunteer at the Bristol Veterinary Hospital. I am the youngest volunteer at the hospital. John Macy wrote me a letter of recommendation. He thinks I want to become a doctor of veterinary medicine. The doctors and technicians here think I want to be a doctor of veterinary medicine.
I don't want to be a doctor of veterinary medicine.
What interests me about this place is not the ways in which you can keep an animal alive. It is the ways in which an animal can die.
Death interests me. It has for a very long time. I remember looking down at an earthworm on a sidewalk on a hot, sunny day, standing carefully so that my shadow did not touch it. I remember the time at my grandmother's house before she was dead when one of her yellow tang jumped out of the tank and I found it on the marble tiles, flopping; I stood and watched as the fish became weak in too much air, as its flopping got slower, smaller, eventually stopped. And the time after that, when I reached in with my hands and caught one, took it from the tank and laid it on the dry tiles so that I could watch that one flop too.
Life is complicated. Death is simple. (And it's permanent. Death is the only thing in this world that is permanent.) So simple, but it changes everything. A heart stops beating and it changes everything. To be the hand that stops the heart is to wield a power that thrills, that is more addicting than anything in my life... except for Dick.
This is why I come to the veterinary hospital. There are so many animals here, so many that are dying or close to death. There are so many ways. Something pierces the skin and blood vessels, something sharp or moving with great force, and the blood pumps out through the tears and holes in the flesh: exsanguination. Or blunt trauma tears the animal on the inside, and it bleeds out into its own body cavity. If the animal does not bleed out, bacterial infection can set in. Microorganisms get into the wound and feed on the proteins and sugars and fats in the animal's body, duplicate and multiply and spread, the infection poisoning as it grows. Or maybe the poison is man-made, ingested by the animal accidentally or fed to it on purpose. Maybe the poison comes from inside: cancer. A mistake, a genetic glitch, dividing cells that keep dividing and spread through the body, choking off healthy function. These and so many other ways, but they all end the same, so simply. The heart stops. The animal dies.
Sometimes, on very special occasions, as a reward when I deserve one or to relieve stress and frustration, I kill one of the animals at the hospital. It doesn't take much–with an animal already close to death, the slightest adjustment to its drip, a quick injection, or pressure on the airway when the doctors and technicians are not looking is enough to make the change.
I have had to be careful, indulging only rarely and only with the most sickly of animals. I cannot allow myself to do it at all now. I am taking drugs from the hospital, occasionally and only in very small amounts. It is not enough that anyone will notice, but too much suspicious activity and sometimes people will start thinking. So I keep my killing away from the hospital, for now.
It is a shame. Yesterday my jujitsu test did not go as well as I would have liked. I passed the test easily, but my performance was not comparable to my personal best. Belts and certificates mean nothing if I do not improve. ...It is frustrating. I could have used the relief. Instead I wash the cages and the soiled laundry and fill the bowls with food and water, and when the technicians need an extra hand I hold the puppy immobile and pinch the vein so the needle can go in.
My school is on its winter break, so at the end of my shift I go to my parents' house. My mom and dad are waiting for me. They flew in from Switzerland early yesterday morning. This is the first I have seen of them since they arrived. Next week they go to Bogotá.
Dorothy has prepared a late supper. We must be pretending to be a family tonight, because we eat it together. Dorothy has made a lasagna. It is acceptable. (The last time we ate together, Dorothy made shepherd's pie. “Your favorite,” she said. Shepherd's pie is not my favorite. Dorothy burned her hand on the stove.)
My mom is saying something. “Where are your fish?” she says.
“We noticed on our credit card bill that you bought a hundred-gallon aquarium last March, but we didn't see it anywhere,” says my dad. “Is it downstairs?”
I look at them, long and unblinking. “It turns out I don't like fish,” I say.
My mom and dad decide they don't want to know about my aquarium. “Great job on the lasagna, Mrs. Mac!” says my dad.
~ ~ ~
Dick came back to Gotham, like I knew he would. I have seen him. He is even going out at night, flying above the streets like he used to, hunting. But he does not hunt with Batman. And he isn't Robin. He is dressed as something else.
Nightwing, I have seen him say. A more serious name. A more serious costume. He looks older wearing it. The bright red and green and yellow are gone. Now he wears shades of blue.
The new costume is simple. I think Dick made it himself. There is no cape. The suit is one piece, sleeves and leggings fitting snuggly under gloves and boots. A wide collar flares up around his neck and jaw. He still wears a domino mask, but it curves into spikes at the edges. It makes him look mean. He has let his hair grow out longer. He carries escrima.
The new costume covers almost all of his skin. All that is visible is Dick's face, his neck, and below that where his neckline plunges to the middle of his chest. The rest of his body is hidden. Only it isn't hidden at all. The suit clings to flesh, showing every curving line of muscle in Dick's body and it's Dick. It's Dick. Perfect.
The new costume is–it's–it looks... in it, Dick looks... he—
...I am going to have to get photographs of the new costume.
But I want Robin back. Dick needs to be Robin. Robin is his destiny. Being Robin makes him happy. Bruce is pretending he doesn't want Dick to be Robin, and Dick is pretending he doesn't need Robin anymore. But he does. Bruce and Dick need to work together again. Dick needs to be Robin.
Dick will go back if Bruce asks him. Bruce is the problem. I will have to change his mind.
This will take some work.
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