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Tonight, I'll Need You To Stay

Chapter Text

Dick sat down heavily at the dinner table, ignoring the way the chair protested beneath him. He blinked twice, just to be sure he wasn’t going crazy.

“Is this a joke?” he asked. Kory frowned and sat opposite from him. “Because I’m not amused right now.”

Kory sighed and ran a tired hand through her face. “Stop being an ass and listen to me.” she sounded so done, Dick felt a little bad about it. But just a little. “It’s the only way it will work.”

“I can’t let you take Rachel alone. She’s my responsibility.”

“She’s our responsibility.” she sighed and looked away. “Look, I’ll take care of her, you know I will.”

“That’s- that’s not the problem, Kory.” he crossed his arms over his chest. “What if you need backup? Russia is on the other side of the world, goddamnit. I can’t let you two go alone.”

“If we don’t, our cover will be blown. And that would be worse.”

Dick tsked and turned his head towards the window. The night was bright, he could see the stars in the sky. It had been snowing for so long, it was a nice change to see a cloud free sky. It calmed him, somehow.

If he thought logically, he could see where Kory was coming from. He really did. But that didn’t mean he was less anxious about it. It’s not like he didn’t trust Kory to be able to come back alive, it’s just that-- what if something happened and he wasn’t there to help?

He slumped his shoulders before getting up. “Stay here.” he told her and went to the weapons room of the safe house, glad that he peaked at Jason’s password before the brat left earlier that week.

He found what he was looking for and made his way back to the dining room.

“This,” he placed the small device in front of Kory, “is a panic button. You click it, and your coordinates will show up on my phone. Use it if you are in trouble and I will get there the fastest that I can. You hear?”

Kory closed her eyes and smiled. “Thank you, Dick.” She pocketed the device.

He nodded and sat back on his chair, feeling more tired than before. Maybe all he needed was a drink…

“When you plan on leaving?”

“First thing in the morning.” she sounded wary, like she didn’t know how Dick would react to that. Smart move.

Dick closed his eyes and massaged his temple.

“Does Rachel know?” Kory shook her head. “Then you should wake her up and start packing.” But Kory didn’t budge. She sat there, looking at Dick with worried eyes. “What?” he asked, a little harsher than intended.

“What are you going to do in the meanwhile? I know you are not going to just sit around and wait for a call.”

Dick shrugged, “It doesn’t matter. Focus on your mission, Kory, and take care of Rachel for us.”

Kory nodded firmly. “And you of Gar.”

-

“I don’t understand.” Gar said, brows furrowed and pacing from one side of the living room to the other. “Why did they leave without us?”

“It was the only way.” Dick didn’t look up from his phone.

“But what if they need us? There’s no way we would be able to get there in time.”

“Kory is smart, they won’t get in trouble.”

“Yeah, but-”

“Gar, enough.” he put his phone down. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”

“Nothing we can- the hell there isn’t!” He stopped pacing right in front of Dick and pointed a finger at his face. “You just say that because you don’t care.” he spat.

Dick rose from his sit and slammed his hands against the table, chair scraping furiously against the floor.

“Don’t say that again.” Dick warned, eyes never leaving Gar’s.

“What, that you don’t care? Because you don’t.” Gar bent over the table, face coming close to Dick’s. “Rachel told me how you wanted to leave her at your friend’s house, like she was nothing.”

“Stop talking like you know anything!” he barked, closing his hands into fists. “You are just a kid, Gar.”

Gar faltered but didn’t flinch. “Is that what you really see?”

He looked at Dick with searching eyes, trying in vain to keep the hurt from showing in his face, but Dick saw it. He instantly felt like the worst person alive.

“Look,” he sighed, softening his posture, “there’s nothing we can do now.”

There was a beat of silence before Gar spoke, voice more tentative, “Did you mean that? Am I just another kid?”

Dick blinked. Of course Gar wasn’t, he was part of the family. Dick didn’t even realize Gar could feel otherwise. He would do anything for Gar, just like he would for Raven and Kory. Had he known Gar felt insecure he would have made it clearer beforehand.

“I see,” Gar nodded once, head turned downwards, not meeting Dick’s eyes. Shit, Dick was so lost in his own thoughts he forgot to answer Gar.

“Gar, wait-” he tried, but Gar just shook his head sharply.

“No- it’s, it’s ok, really.” he shrugged uncomfortably. “I will, uh, I will be in my room, if you need anything.”

Before Dick could stop him, Gar dashed out of the living room and slammed his bedroom door shut.

Dick slumped back on the chair and hid his face between his arms over the table. He was truly a mess. They’ve been gone for less than three hours and he already managed to hurt Gar. What’s wrong with him?

He should apologize to Gar, he knew that. But he was so afraid to fuck things more than he already fucked. He shrunk on himself, feeling cold all over. Maybe he should give Gar a moment. That’s what you do when you fight with a teen, right? Give them a moment and then apologize, he could do that.

Maybe he should buy something nice too, right? Like, like donuts. Gar liked them, Dick knew it. He got up, grabbed his jacket, wallet and keys and left the apartment.

-

Dick left the donut store feeling hopeful. He talked with the owner for a while and he seemed to empathize with Dick. He told him these fights were normal, part of growing up. So Dick left the store with four donuts and a small, hopeful smile on his face.

He could make this work, he just had to talk with Gar, he would understand.

But before he turned the corner of their street, he felt a sting spreading from the back of his neck.

He dropped the bag on the ground, feeling his head spin wildly, and, with great effort, took a hand to the back of his neck.

Just as he thought, he removed a small needle with a wince.

“Fuck.” he slurred out, barely feeling his lips anymore.

He fell forward on his knees and everything went black.

-

“Sir, … -king up.”

“Giv-... anesthetic… hold h-…panics.”

-

“His… human… now?”

“Lies-... anesthetic.”

-

First thing his brain registered was the slow drip of water that echoed around the room. It was too loud, his head was going to explode. There were other noises too, but they were all muffled, Dick didn’t know why.

He didn’t remember where he was. He didn’t remember much, really. Something to do with Gar and... donuts? He made a face, this headache was killing him.

He was cold, he realized. Where were most of his clothes? He remembered wearing a jacket. But if he were still wearing a jacket he wouldn’t be this cold. Dick hunched over himself, ignoring his body protests.

He opened his eyes cautiously. The room was dark, but not pitch black thanks to a small window far away near the ceiling and a dim light coming from a closed metal door. The walls were made of a dark stone, and Dick could tell they were old by the lime growing over it.

He turned to his side, groaning as he did. His body hurt all over, but he managed to sit up against the cold wall. He hugged himself as another chilly breeze went over him.

Maybe he’s been kidnaped. That would explain his recent memory loss and the body pain. Also, he looked down at his clothes, he didn’t remember ever buying a white medical gown.

He winced and rested his head carefully against his forearms only to jerk it back instantly when he felt a piercing pain coming from his forehead. The rapid movement made Dick feel dizier and his head to hurt more, but nothing like the pain from a moment ago.

His fingers reached over his forehead tentatively and he quickly found the spot that hurt, which was swollen and wet. He examined his fingers, yup, blood. He probably put on a fight before someone knocked him out.

He sighed, he had to get out of this place. Gar was-- Gar was alone. Fuck, he should be protecting him, but instead he was… somewhere.

Before he could think of an escaping plan, a clunking noise pulled him out of his head. Dick stood up, ready to fight -his aching body be damned- and saw the peephole sliding open. He flinched at the sudden burst of light, but suddenly the light got shadowed by a figure.

The man examined Dick’s defensive posture and looked him up and down before closing the peephole and opening the door.

He was dressed normally, black slacks and a button-down shirt tucked in. Only thing that made Dick’s mind sound the alarms was the lab coat and the clipboard on his hand.

“I see you are awake, Mr. Grayson.” his voice was low and grave, and it wouldn’t have made Dick shiver in normal circumstances. When he realized Dick wasn’t going to speak, he continued, “I’m Doctor Collins, we’ve already met, but I’m assuming you don’t remember anything from our first meeting.” He nodded to himself and made a note on his clipboard when Dick didn’t move a muscle. “I will be responsible for you while you are here with us.”

“Who’s ‘us’?” Dick demanded, hating how weak his voice came out. Dr. Collins narrowed his eyes, studying Dick again, before deciding his next words.

“The ones who are going to save you.” he explained.

“Save me from what?”

“From yourself.”

Chapter Text

They took him blindfolded to another room, one less cruel, but no more cozy. The walls were white, uninviting, as was everything else. Too clean, too bright. The smell of hospital disinfectant -Dick blamed his headache for not remembering the chemicals names, he always knew. Everything.- hit him in the face bluntly, but he didn’t let it show.

The less he let his emotions show, the best.

Someone tugged him forward and dragged him to the only chair visible, which looked, to Dick’s displeasure, like a procedure chair, perched in the middle of the room. They sat him down, and he let them wrap his wrists with strong leather. He needed more information about this place before trying for a escape. He had to be precise and thorough with his data gathering. Any slip up and things would only get harder.

The door opened again once he was tied up to the chair, and that same doctor, Collins, came in dragging a rolling table with a electrode machine. Dick didn’t like that, but it wasn’t the first time someone used it against him.

“So,” the doctor said as he stopped in front of the chair, “we are going to start the second phase of the treatment. I promise it’s going to be painless to you.”

Dick held back the urge to roll his eyes. Of course it was going to hurt, never did it not hurt.

“Can I ask you a few things before we start?” Dick could see Collins furrowing his brows, ready to deny his request, so he amended quickly, “If you are here to save me from myself, shouldn’t I know why and how things work around here? That’s it, what if after the procedure I fall back into the same pattern again?”

That got the doctor to freeze, scowl again, and think. Dick mentally cheered in victory as Collins nodded and somehow materialized a small stool and dropped next to Dick, bringing his bald wrinkled face closer to Dick’s.

“What is it that you want to know, Mr. Grayson.” he said, professionally.

“What was the first stage, and why can’t I remember it?” he decided to start with nothing difficult for the doctor to answer. He would build up over time.

“Scans, mostly. And some injections to see how you would react.” Dick suddenly felt his skin prickling. Fuck, they already got to him and he didn’t even remember it. Concentrate , he said to himself, don’t let this get to you, Dick . Now wasn’t the time to feel abused. He almost didn’t capture what Collins had started saying, “Some of the injections, however, carry a few side effects: headaches, dizziness, sometimes nausea and mental block. We mostly use it for our own benefit on stage one, but it becomes a nuisance over the course of the stages to come.”

“Why?”

“Because we need our subjects to remember them.” he said, easely.

“And why’s that?”

“Because if they don’t remember, they don’t get better.”

“Better from what?”

Collins paused and blinked down at Dick. He let out a breath before continuing, “I don’t think it’s going to be easy for you to hear this, but Mr. Grayson, you are suffering from a delusional disorder.” he studied Dick’s face before continuing. “You see, it’s a mental illness, not really common your age, but common enough that there’s a procedure treatment. But there’s also another thing. Your delusions have reached a high level, you have what we call, bizarre delusions. When you reach that level of delusion, you start seeing and believing things that are impossible to happen in real life.”

Dick stayed indifferent as he asked. “What?”

“To put it in simpler terms, you are under the impression you have a secret life aside from your own mundane one. A life where you and a friend named ‘Batman’ are vigilantes and protect the world from villains, such as ‘The Joker’ or ‘The Penguin’, to name a few.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Dick looked straight into Collins eyes, searching for the lie in his expression. He didn’t believe a word of what the doctor was telling him, something seemed off.

The doctor exhaled again. “You don’t have to lie, Mr. Grayson, we’ve been following you for quite a while now.”

That same prickling sensation came back. How didn’t he realize it before? He prided himself in always knowing his surroundings. He shook it off again. This man was crazy and obviously trying to get to him, he wasn’t going to let that happen.

“As I said, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” his tone was calm and slow, “I’ve never had a therapist diagnosing me with this disorder.”

“Never had, or don’t remember having?” Collins retorts.

This was getting ridiculous.

“Never had.”

Collins shrugged, “If you say so.” he got up, a clear indication their conversation was over and started the electrodes machine. Dick cringed internally but relaxed his muscles, it would hurt less if he didn’t struggle.

And then, when everyone thought he’d given up, he would make his move. He had previously memorized the route from his chamber to this room even with the blindfold, so at least he knew which way not to go. Hopefully the place wasn’t a maze.

Doctor Collins brought the cart closer and sat on the bench again. Dick flinched his head the first times the doctor tried placing the pads into his forehead, so the doctor asked one of the buff guards to hold his head down.

That didn’t stop Dick from glaring at Collins, even if it was less effective.

“Now,” Collins said after placing three more pads in his head, eyes gleaming darkly, “let’s get started, shall we?”

-

They threw him ungracefully on the floor of his dark chamber.

He curled into himself, feeling the pain and chills running through his body. Dick let out a whine and pressed his eyes close, trying to keep still as much as possible lest he wanted the pain in his head to throb even worse.

He should have known. Should have known what they were planning. Things hadn’t played out the way he thought they would.

For instance, he didn’t think they would use such a high voltage. For such a long time.

“You are not Robin.” Collins voice echoed cooly inside his head, “Robin doesn’t exist. It’s all part of your own imagination.”

Yeah, right , Dick scoffed internally, as if a little electricity to his brain and a few words would change everything he knew.

But everytime Dick got shocked. Damn their lie detection equipment. And each time, someone would increase the electric power. If he so much as arched an eyebrow, he got zapped.

Dick cringed at the mere thought.

He let his head fall on the cold rock beneath him and let out a pleased sigh at the cool feeling against his feverish skin.

He should escape soon, when he got his strength back. The more he stayed in this place, the more worried he became of Gar, alone in the safe house.

God, he hoped Gar was doing ok.

-

“Hello?” a man with a stony voice picked up the phone after the fourth ring.

Gar promptly sat up.

“Hi, uh, Hank Hall? I mean,” Gar took a deep breath, “Do you know Hank Hall?”

“That would be me.” the man answered.

“Ok that’s good, that’s-- great.” his voice broke a fraction but he cleared his throat and marched on, “I’m Gar, a friend of Dick’s?”

“Oh God, what did he do this time?” Hank let out an exasperated breath that Gar could barely catch over the line.

“No he didn’t do anything, I guess? At least I don’t think he did?” he scratched the back of his head. “But he disappeared. And I thought he might have been with you.”

The line was silent for a moment before Hank spoke again.

“Is his phone at home?”

“No.”

“And his wallet?” Gar looked at the table top where it would normally be.

“Neither.”

“How long has he been gone?”

“Three days, counting today.”

“Ok, sweet.” he said drily. “Gar, sit still for a moment, alright? I'll make another phone call and return to you in a moment.”

“Sure.”

And Hank hung up.

Gar sat down on the sofa again after turning on the lights. It was getting darker and the house felt so big with only he inside. He turned on the TV and let it play on the background while he waited for Hank to return.

Ten minutes later his phone was buzzing again. He didn’t waste time to pick it up.

“Hello?”

“Hi, it’s Hank.” he sounded more tired than before. “I spoke with an old friend of his, she doesn’t know where he is either. But Gar, I don’t want you to panic just yet, ok? I’ve seen Dick disappear for days, weeks, going completely MIA from everyone, sometimes even from Batman himself, ok?”

“But-”

“Just give him time. It’s possible he found himself a bad guy to kick some ass.”

“That doesn’t sound like him.”

“Trust me. That’s exactly something he does.” Hank said bitterly. Gar’s eyebrows arched in curious surprise. They definitely have had some bumpy history then.

“Ok, sure.” he hesitated a second before adding “But if that’s not the case, I need to know. Will you help me find him?”

“No.” came the answer too quick. Gar was taken aback. He was sure Hank would be the first to help, assuming they had some history in the past. “I mean- I can’t. Dawn, my partner is- she’s-” Hank let out a shaky breath before speaking again, voice sounding more vulnerable, “I can’t leave her side right now.”

Gar blinked. Yeah, Rachel had told him that something bad had happened to the woman who helped her, he didn’t know it was that bad, if Hank’s reaction was anything to go by. That didn’t mean Gar was ready for the rejection.

“Ye- yeah. Ok, I will, uhh, find someone else to help me.” he nodded frantically even though Hank couldn’t see it.

“Gar, listen here.” he regained his posture, “Give it a few more days ok? If he doesn’t come back to you in any way, find Batman. I’m sure he will help you.”

Talking about the impossible, Gar groaned internally. ‘Find Batman’, like it was the easiest thing to do. He knew it wasn’t, he tried already.

“Yeah, ok.” was all he answered. “Thanks, for the help and all.”

“No problem, kid.” there were muffled voices on the other side of the line Gar couldn’t understand. “I have to go now. Good luck.”

“You too.” Gar hung up and dropped the phone by his side.

Wait another few days before doing something about his friend disappearance? Maybe Gar could do that.

But even as he tucked himself in bed later that night, he knew something was badly wrong.

-

Next morning Dick woke up feeling more energetic than the day before. The swell on his head had diminished greatly, though it still hurt to touch. His body wasn’t hurting all over, mostly his head and wrists from the leather handcuffs.

He got up from the ground, pleased his surroundings didn’t seem too whirl around, and noticed a glass of water and a tray that held a piece of bread and two slices of ham. Someone must have come in when he blacked out. His stomach growled at the sight, Dick only now realizing how hungry he’s been.

He ate and drank like he haven’t in the last few days and set out an escape route. After he’d eaten, he took a look around his cell, checking for loose pieces of rocks. He found three in total, and hid them all in his gown for future use.

He walked back next to the door and grabbed the glass. Breath calming down, Dick could already feel some adrenalin running in his body as he got ready to fight. On the count of three…one… two.. three.

Dick threw the cup against the door with all his strength and hid right next to it, careful not to step on any broken piece of glass. As Dick expected, there were noises coming his way.

The peephole over his head slid open in a fast ‘vish’ and Dick held his breath, counting away the seconds again.

“What the-?” he heard a man say and the peephole closed again. Swiftly, Dick grabbed the wooden tray and rose from his spot, standing glued against the wall as he heard the locks begin to open.

After what it felt like an eternity, the door slammed against the wall and a built man stood inside, looking around confused. Dick didn’t waste time and quickly slammed the board against the man’s head, who let out a surprised grunt and fell on the ground unconscious. He grabbed the man’s stun gun and keys and bonded his arms together with his belt.

Dick smiled to himself and took a peek outside the door.

The halls were empty, so he took a careful step outside, locking the door quietly behind him. He strode carefully to his left not to make any sound, mapping the place as he went. Two security guards as big as the one by his door blocked Dick’s way, but he rapidly went through them, knocking one down with a stone to the head and stunned the other before he could call for backup.

Not long after that, the alarms went off almost deafening. Dick took a moment to recompose himself from the blasting sound, but continued marching on, trying his best to ignore the headache the loud noise was giving him.

A few more security guards tried to stop him, but they were easily put down. Too easily . Dick was starting to get a little anxious. No one had a security team so weak, specially if what they told him was true and they worked with vigilantes. Something was off, he thought, as he laid a final punch on the last standing guard.

His fears suddenly became a reality as he came to an abrupt halt after taking a sharp right. Standing a few meters from him was Dr. Collins, two guards pointing guns at him at each side. They didn’t look like the type of people who would miss a shot, so Dick didn’t try to move.

What he did do was raise his hands in the air, feeling the bitter taste of defeat spread through his mouth. He looked right into the doctor’s cold, empty eyes, a contrast to his heated and provocative gaze.

“Say, doctor,” Dick started, eyes still on the man even as the guards shifted around him. “If I didn’t know how to fight, would I have gotten past your security?” Another guard came from behind and bonded Dick’s wrists together. Dick hissed involuntarily as the guard tugged strongly on the handcuffs. Sadistic , Dick wanted to retort

Collins didn’t say anything, yet his impassive expression didn’t change. He just kept staring at him with calculating eyes, looking as though he wanted to sit down and write more notes on that clipboard of his.

He turned his gaze to the man behind Dick and gave him a sharp nod before turning away. The guard held Dick’s biceps with more force than necessary --Dick really hoped it wouldn’t leave a mark-- and tugged him again, towards the direction he had come.

A few moments later he was back as his cell, thrown right over the shards. He grunted, feeling the skin of the left side of his body being penetrated by sharp pieces of unforgiving glass. At least they uncuffed him, he scoffed through the pain as he rolled away from the glass.

He was halfway through getting the red stained pieces out of his arm, each falling on the ground with a short ‘ping’, when the door opened slowly.

A doctor entered the cell, Dr. Collins at his side. He approached Dick cautiously and crouched next to him, a first-aid kit by his side. Dick flinched first time the doctor got a hold of his bloody arm, but his grip got stronger, and Dick didn’t want to fight it.

He didn’t like the help, but it would be better than having an useless infected arm.

The doctor worked in silence, taking the last pieces of shards with medical tweezers as Collins supervisioned from above.

Once his arm as patched up, the doctor left, leaving Dick to face Collins alone.

“I see just one session of phase two didn’t do much.” his tone chilling as ever. But Dick didn’t let himself be affected.

Instead, he sat back and glared.

“Your resistance is futile, Mr. Grayson.” the doctor sighed and took his glasses off to clean with his white overall. “After all, we are just here to help.” he smiled, baring his teeth, but the sentiment didn’t reach his eyes. He then left the room without another word.

Dick got the feeling he wasn’t the one they were trying to help after all.

Chapter Text

“Again.”

Dick eyes shut close as another wave of shock flowed through him. He hated it.

It stopped ten seconds after it had started, like all the other times.

“Let’s try this again, Mr. Grayson.” Collins face took most of the scope of his line of sight once he opened his eyes. “You can’t lie, you can’t disagree. We know when you do.” he signaled with his head towards the lie detector connected to Dick’s torso and fingers. Not like Dick could forget, it was a tight press over his chest, he couldn’t even breathe straight. “I would start believing, if I were you.”

Dick didn’t answer, he just kept on staring at the doctor. The doctor, in turn, nodded and took a step back, nodding again to his assistant sitting on the controls.

“Robin doesn’t exist.” Collins said, and Dick is electrocuted almost instantly. “Dick Grayson is sick.” his muscles spasmed against the intrusive electricity.

Collins paused, waiting for Dick to catch his breath before speaking again.

“Batman is just a fabrication of your sick mind because you grew up without a father figure.”

Stop , Dick wanted to scream, but the waves of shock inhibited his every move, each cell of his body freezing painfully. It hurts, it hurts -

“You are just a detective.” Collins voice was getting further each second, more muffled. Or it could be that the high pitch was becoming louder and louder. Where was it coming from? His vision was blurring on the edges, maybe he was going to pass out.

“Increase the power.” Dick thought he heard it, maybe he didn’t.

Another surge of electricity went through his body. Fuck, this time it was worse. His new injuries on his arm and the one in his forehead started to throb violently. Dick jerked off his seat, his back involuntarily shooting out of the chair. Someone was screaming.

Was it him?

His vision was even more blurry now. All he could see was white.

Suddenly it all became black.

-

When he came back to himself, he was lying on the cold stones he came to know and expect.

He groaned, breath catching up a moment later when he tried and failed to feels his limbs, as if he was being pressed by a heavy numbing cloud over his extremities.

He shut his eyes hard, cursing the wetness forming on them and let out a couple of shaky breaths, trying to re-establish control.

Perhaps resisting wasn’t an option anymore.

-

Next session didn’t hurt as much.

It was good.

Was it good?

Maybe… maybe they were right, maybe he was sick. Dick thought while eating a hard piece of bread they gave him after he behaved so good.

He took another chunk to his mouth but froze midway, suddenly having a perturbing thought.

Fuck, what if he really was sick?

Dick dropped the bread and with shaky fingers, tugged his hair by the roots.

It couldn’t be. He knew his life. It was real, all real . Bruce, Alfred, Donna, Barbara, and more recently  Rachel, Kory and Gar. They were part of his life.

Real.

Was it?

Maybe… he created them all.

God , did he?

Fuck. Fuck Fuck.

He shut his eyes and let his chin fall against his knees and shivered violently.

What was happening to him?

-

By the corner of his eye he saw a dark shape moving fast from roof to roof.

If it wasn’t for the moonlight strongly illuminating the city’s blackests shades, Gar wouldn’t have found him, and his trip to Gotham would have been useless.

He started moving, jumping from roof to roof just as his counterpart. Not as gracefully, but he didn’t want to be. This way, Gar would be noticed faster.

And time was something he didn’t want to waste.

He kept an eye on his mark, which was withdrawing faster from his line of sight than he first expected, and another on the steps he was taking.

He truly wished he knew how to transform into something more useful than a tiger at that moment.

But when he blinked up again after struggling with some hanged clothes he became entangled, he couldn’t see where his mark had gone.

Fuck, he probably jumped down when Gar wasn’t paying attention.

Suddenly there was a blunt pressure between his shoulder blades and he instinctively raised his arms.

“Look, I’m not here for trouble.” he blurted, and the blunt head of the weapon jabed him. He stumbled forward and would have fallen off the building if it wasn’t for the short parapet. “Dick! I’m Dick’s friend! Don’t kill me!” He panicked.

“Oh yeah,” he sounded more cheerful now, “you’re right. The green haired dude.”

“Gar.”

“Robin.” said Jason. If he wanted to go by Robin while in the suit, Gar could do that. The pressure on Gar’s back dissipated and he turned to face Robin. “So,” he shrugged, putting away his weapon, “what are you doing here in Gotham? Batman doesn’t like intruders.”

Gar appreciated him going straight to the point.

“I’m looking for Dick, has he been around?”

Robin tilted his head.

“If he’s been, I didn’t see him.”

Gar sighed, slumping his shoulders. Gotham had been his last hope and he was so sure he would find Dick here, he didn’t even have a backup plan.

It’s been a week since he spoken with Dick’s friend, Hank, over the phone, but he hadn’t been able to calm down like the man had told him to. He could feel something was wrong, and he couldn’t just sit around and do nothing.

It was horrible enough already without Kory or Rachel to help him, now he was on his own.

“Do you know where he could possibly be?” It wouldn’t hurt to ask, he supposed.

“If he still had the tracker in him, yes, I would know.” Robin sighed, mumbling something under his breath and sounded a lot like ‘idiot’.

Gar sighed as well. Dick liked to complicate things.

“Would you help me find him? He might be in danger.”

“I can’t.” he said, promptly, but then hesitated. “But there’s a rumor on the streets…” he stopped and shook his head.

“No, say it. Anything could help.”

Robin considered him for a second before nodding.

“It might not be the case, but there are some superheroes that’s gone missing. No one knows where they are, haven’t seen some for weeks, and they are disappearing with more frequency now.”

“So… you’re saying that you think Dick was kidnaped? ” Gar blinked in shock.

Robin nodded.

“Precisely. I know a few people who have been investigating… acquaintances of Batman, trustfull ones. Lois Lane is one of them, she’s a reporter for the Daily Planet in Metropolis. She will be glad to help out.”

Gar nodded determined, at least he had another lead and wasn’t wandering aimlessly around.

“Thanks, really.” Gar told Robin, already making plans for a trip to Metropolis.

“No problem,” he smirked and shrugged, “good luck.” and with that, Robin jumped to the next building.

-

Dick woke up gasping from a nightmare. He sat up straight against the humid wall, its wetness not bothering him anymore, and tried to catch his breath, remembering.

He dreamt about the green haired guy this time. They fought. They had been family.

It felt so real Dick started doubting again. There was no way a sick mind could create so much detail.

He groaned and bumped his head against the rocks.

The door opened and a guard came inside.

“Doctor is waiting you for the next phase.”

Chapter Text

All in all, it was the first time Gar had been to Metropolis, and he was enjoying the sights, despite everything.

The city was almost the polar opposite from Gotham. Tall and bright buildings reflected light instead of absorb it, like the old ones in Gotham did.

Gar felt more welcomed in these streets.

The Daily Planet building wasn’t difficult to find, what with that giant globe shining blindingly over top. Still, he checked twice the number of the building and the address in his hands. One could never be too careful.

Once inside, Gar didn’t waste time observing his surroundings -next time, he told himself- and went straight to the receptionist.

“Hi, uh- I’m here to see Lois Lane?” he said, tapping absentmindedly on the counter.

The receptionist gave him a glance over and squinted.

“And you are…?”

“Gar.”

The man furrowed his brow, but Gar didn’t diminished his posture, just looked the man in the eye and waited.

As if deciding his day would be a lot easier if he didn’t have to escort a kid out of the perimeters of the building, which would involve struggling on Gar’s part, the man shrugged and told Gar which floor to find Lois. H e was grateful for that.

Gar got out of the elevator on the right floor and looked around, searching for the black haired lady with sharp eyes he googled on the way there.

She was sitting on the far corner of the room, elbows resting on what looked like a meeting table, one hand holding a mug of coffee and she looked casual, approachable. Maybe that’s what made Gar like her in the first place.

“Excuse me, Lois Lane?” he said once he stepped closer, “Is this a good time or…” his gaze fell on the man sitting next to her he didn’t see before. He had a big physique behind the baggy clothes, Gar could tell, and half his face was hidden behind thick glasses. Something about him set Gar’s instincts off, so he kept his distance, focusing back on Lois.

“Yeah, sure! You are…”

“Gar.” he felt a jolt of déjà-vu for some reason. “Could we talk?”

“Sure!” She said a little cheerfully (a part of Gar was a little shook because she didn’t sound the slightest doubtful while talking to a complete stranger), but didn’t budge from her seat.

“Uh, could it be in a more private place?” Gar was starting to regret his plan of just marching in and improvise. Good thing he wasn’t the brains of their group. He sobered up instantly, remembering that the person who was indeed the brains could have been kidnaped.

Maybe she sensed something changed in his posture, but suddenly she straightened her back and gave him a serious nod.

The man behind him stood up a second after, and, Gar observed, didn’t look dubious about Gar either, maybe a little curious, but aside from that, nothing that Gar could read.

“Thank you, Clark.” Lois said and the man nodded before leaving for his cubicle.

Once he knew no one was giving them two thoughts, he turned back to Lois, who motioned him to sit in front of her. He obliged and started,

“I’m sorry to come like this, but I need your help.” He examined her calm and understanding expression before continuing, “A friend told me you are trustworthy and I have no one else to turn.” And frankly, responsibility was starting to weight a lot heavier on his shoulders alone. So he hoped to God Jason had been right about this Lois.

She nodded slowly once, but didn’t say a word.

“A friend of mine went missing.” he saw her eyes spark with interest, catching quick on what he wasn’t saying, “And I think you know where he might be.”

She stayed silent for a moment, chewing the insides of her cheek and considering Gar with squinted eyes.

“What’s his name?” she asked cautiously.

Gar didn’t hesitate before saying,

“Dick Grayson.”

There was a crash followed by a splash coming from behind him so he turned and first thing he noticed was the man who was sitting with them a moment ago, Clark, getting up from his seat in a hurry, eyeing sorrowfully his shirt now stained with coffee.

-

“Hank.”

Hank’s eyes shot open the moment he heard his name being whispered by the sweet voice he loved so much.

He looked up and his heart instantly melted when he noticed Dawn was glancing back at him, tired and looking like she needed more twenty four hours of sleep, but alive. And that’s all Hank could ask for.

“Hi.” he hurried to catch her hands, careful not to hurt her. He held back a sob and shut his eyes. For a few days he had been so sure she wasn’t going to wake up again.

His shoulders fell, relaxed for the first time in weeks.

“Hi.” her voice was still hoarse from disuse, but she gave him a weak smile even so.

Hank grabbed the water from the nightstand and helped her drink some.

“How are you feeling?” he asked as he placed the glass back down.

“Like crap.” Dawn huffed a laugh.

“Can’t imagine why.” he smirked.

There were a few minutes in silence, where Hank played with Dawn’s fingers while Dawn fully woke up, blinking at the hospital’s white walls.

Hank was placing soft kisses at her fingers when she seemed to remember something.

“Where’s Dick?”

Hank froze. Fuck, he didn’t know how he was going to tell her this.

“Hank? What’s wrong?” he looked back at her eyes, now filled with concern.

“Dick went missing.” her eyes widened. Hank thought that she wasn’t already pale from the comma she would be now.

“What?”

He nodded and took a deep breath.

“A week ago, one of his friends called asking if I’ve seen him, which I didn’t. He sounded stressed,  so I asked what happened and he told me Dick had disappeared. I called Donna and she hadn’t heard anything from him either.”

“And still no word from him?”

He shook his head and felt a pang of guilt.

It must have shown in his face because next thing he knew, Dawn was giving him a look.

“Tell me you didn’t say no when his friend asked for your help.”

Hank’s mouth went slack for a moment before he recomposed himself.

“How could I say yes?! For all I knew you were dying -” his voice broke. “How could I live you alone?”

“Stop being dramatic, Hank, I’m fine.” she scowled at him. “For all we know Dick is in a lot more trouble than me.”

He knew that, of course he did. Dick was his friend, his skin was itching to go and find him. But he couldn’t let Dawn off his sight.

The door opened and a nurse came in, telling them that the doctor was already on his way to examine with Dawn.

The moment he arrived, Hank slipped out, giving them both the space to talk about medical things he already heard before. He sat at the bench just outside the door, and looked around at the hospital, watching doctors and nurses rush through. He breathed in the smell of antiseptic and closed his eyes, resting his head against the window of Dawn’s room.

His phone went off in his pocket and for a moment he almost decided against answering, but he shrugged the thought off and touched the green button.

“Hank here.”

“Hi Hank, it’s Gar.”

Hank immediately sat up, eyes widening and caught Dawn’s eyes through the window. As if she could read his mind, she nodded once and focused back on what the doctor was saying.

“Did you find him?”

“No.” Hank’s shoulders slumped down, but Gar quickly continued. “But we might know where he is.”

“We?” he furrowed his brows.

“I’m with a friend who can help. She knows Dick.”

That’s not enough for Hank to trust whoever this person is, but he let it slide for now.

“Gar, I…” he glanced once more at Dawn, still weak from her injury, but looking determined and safe in the hospital room, and it was all he needed as confirmation that she was going to be ok. Hank sighed before saying, “Where do you need me to be?”

There was a pause on the other side of the line, and he waited impatiently for Gar to tell him.

“Come to Metropolis, I’ll tell you the details when you arrive. It’s safer that way.”

“Right.”

They hung up. When he looked back up, Dawn was staring at him, a knowing look on her face. He didn’t have much time. He entered the room again, noticed the doctor left already, grabbed his coat and kissed Dawn.

“I have to go.”

She looked him in the eyes, her expression set and trustful, and it gave him all the strength he needed.

“Save him.”

And he will.

-

Finding Gar was easier than he thought it would be. Green hair, Gar had said over the phone.

Well, he wasn’t difficult to spot.

What Hank wasn’t expecting was for Gar to be just a child.

A teen, no older than 15, God, what the fuck.

He wondered momentarily what this kid had gone through in life to be right there at that moment, but waved the thought away. It wasn’t his place to know.

They walked in silence until they got into a cafe, where they sat on a table already occupied by no other than the infamous reporter Lois Lane.

“Let’s go straight to the point. Lois here-- I’m sorry, can I call you Lois?” Gar was saying as he sat down.

“Sure thing, kiddo.” She sounded amused.

“So,” he turned his attention back to Hank. “Lois here has been investigating some disturbances around the area, mostly focusing on the disappearing of superheroes, vigilantes, whatever you call it. She said Dick might have been captured by this group.”

“And what group is that?” Hank asked, not taking his eyes of the woman.

“The Intergang.” she answered, voice resolute, not leaving traces of doubt. Hank instantly trusted her. That, and Superman seemed to trust her too, so who was him to doubt her.

She grabbed a folder from her bag and opened over the table discreetly.

“My colleague and I took pictures of some criminals we’ve been monitoring carrying unconscious people around metropolis.” she slid three pictures over to them. He took one to examine it carefully. It looked like a normal kidnaping scenario, and, he glanced quickly at the other two, looked like the same. “Coincidentally, at the same time, we discovered a few heroes had gone missing. Speedy is one of them, so you can imagine Green Arrow is freaking out too.” she grimaced.

“Do you have any idea where the Intergang have been taking them?” Hank asked after a few beats of silence.

“I have a hunch. There’s this abandoned factory leaving Metropolis that doesn’t look abandoned. At all. I think we should start looking there.”

“Hang on, we?” Hank frowned.

“Yes. Why? Did you think you would go alone?” She crossed her arms. “I’m going with you. And Superman has already contacted Batman about Dick’s situation, so I guess we will have other heroes with us.”

“Hm, not wanting to sound rude or anything, but I don’t think Dick will want to see Batman.” Lois’ flinch was barely visible as Gar spoke. “I don’t think they’ve been in the best of places recently.”

“I understand,” Lois nodded, already recomposed. “Let’s just hope Batman can as well.”

Chapter Text

The lights went off with a thud, and suddenly the electric surge came to a abrupt hast that had Dick falling back on his chair, still trembling slightly.

“What happened?” Dick heard someone say, or maybe he imagined it. The pain from the shock waves was still too fresh over his skin, he felt raw. So there wasn’t much space to think about anything else.

He had made a mistake again. He didn’t know what was real anymore so he had been just guessing for the last few hours.

Phase three, he had thought before, wouldn’t be harder than phase two, right? But then they dragged him to a darker room, one which the walls weren’t blindingly bright, and made him sit in front of a metal table and look through a couple of photographs and he had to point which were real and which ones were a fickle of his imagination. If he got them wrong... he was reprimanded.

Three sessions in and he didn’t think he knew who he was anymore.

He noted the voices were getting louder now, someone was screaming, maybe? It could be him. It wouldn’t be the first time he screamed and thought it was someone else.

He acknowledged in the corner of his mind he was still convulsing through the pain. God, how he wish it would stop.

Stop.

Suddenly the screams stopped.

The room as silent aside from his --his?-- heavy breathing.

A second later the leather cuffs around his wrists and ankles were cut off, and synthetic fingers --or was it gauntlets?-- were touching his face with all the care in the world. Or, at least, more carefully than the doctors.

Opening his eyes had been a difficult task but maybe not as difficult as trying to focus again. There was something cold and wet streaking over his cheeks and into his mouth… it tasted like salt. Was he crying again? The hands stroked his cheeks clean.

He tried harder to focus on the owner of the faux hands, he couldn’t see much, it was too dark without the lights on, but he manage to catch some outlines of the person. He was, and Dick frowned, or tried to frown, wearing a cowl. He knew that cowl, black as the night, covered most of his face, and there were ears too. Bat ears.

Bat?

No.

No no no no.

Batman didn’t exist. This couldn’t be real.

Was this another test? He was failing.

Fuck. No more shocks, no more.

Dick would do anything. No more.

Please .

The hands on his face calmly made their way to Dick’s back and pulled him closer. Dick attempted not to tremble too much, and failed when he tried to push away the body that was holding him, even when his whole existence was screaming protection.

Safe.

He heard a low rumble vibrating off the chest against his cheeks.

Safe.

Was the person saying something?

“You are safe now, Dick.”

Then everything went black.

-

When Dick came back to his senses wasn’t to a dark humid cell in the middle of nowhere, no. There was something soft and warm beneath him, he felt… comfortable.

Dick hadn’t thought he would ever feel like that ever again.

He blinked his eyes open and found himself in a room he didn’t recognise.

Fear spiked through him, smothering his momentarily comfort. Fuck, did someone else take him? He stumbled out of the bed, ignoring the chorus of pain moving through him at every slightly turn of his body.

He managed to walk as silently as he could until he got the the closed door, and opened it with just as much caution.

The coast was clear, but the more he looked around, the more he got the feeling he knew the living room he was stepping in.

He got as far as the kitchen door before he came across anyone.

There was a man sitting with his back towards the door. He was hunched over some papers Dick couldn’t read and looked distressed, judging by the way he was jiggling his legs.

Dick must have made a sound while walking, because the man was in his feet in the next moment, already turning towards him.

“Dick! Gosh, you shouldn’t be up.” Dick flinched when the man --he knew him, didn’t he?-- tried to touch him on the arm, but the man, thankfully, didn’t just retracted his hand.

“Where am I?” He ignored the man’s statement. He certainly didn’t feel like lying back down again.

“I’m my place. It’s safer that way, in case there’s still someone out there looking for you.” he inspected Dick, deep furrow on his brows. “Seriously, go back to bed. Gar will be back soon from the farmacy so we can redo your bandages.”

“I don’t--” he froze.

Gar.

That name echoed through his brain like a loud siren. He shut his eyes close and swayed on his feet. Gar, where did he know that name from?

Gar.

Images of a green haired teen invaded his mind. His breath hitched, remembering.

Gar didn’t exist. It wasn’t real.

His knees weakened beneath him and next thing Dick knew he was on the ground, body screaming in pain. But at least he knew the pain was real.

“Gar is real, Dick.” the man said, squatting next to him. Oh, he realized, he was saying those things out loud. He opened his eyes and saw the man looking at him with a mixture of worry and anger. “I don’t know what those people did to you, but Gar is real, Batman is real, Robin is real.”

“No no no no-- I’m- I’m sick. I’m sick.” Dick shook his head violently. This wasn’t right. He didn’t know what to believe. He just hoped he wouldn’t get reprimanded again. “Please, not the shocks.”

The man’s face softened and looked almost pained.

“I won’t hurt you, Dick. You are safe now.”

You are safe now, Dick.

Someone had said that to him last time too. Was he, though?

He shook his head again, and duly noticed his hands were shaking over his knees. Dick couldn’t let himself believe that easely.

“Remember that time Dawn, me and you got caught by that Polish mafia? We still didn’t know each other’s fight patterns that well back in those day, so the risks of being captured were higher.” the man, --Hank, he remembered his name-- started, voice so calm it was almost smoothing. “I was so angry when we got caught, I wanted to blame it on you, because it wouldn’t have happened if it was only me and Dawn.

“But then you looked back at us when the bouncers weren’t paying attention and only with that quick glance, even though you were wearing a mask, we understood each other.” Hank snorted reminiscing, “The Polish mafia didn’t stand a chance afterwards.”

Dick blinked. He remembered that. The three of them had been tied to some old pillars over an abandoned building. They escaped safely and without any other complications.

But his favorite part about that day--

“Then we came back to your place and grabbed a pizza. We fought for the last slice.”

“But Dawn ate it in the end.” he chuckled, “You remember that?”

Dick frowned but nodded. It was strange, remember something so vividly, share the memory with someone else, it was-- it felt--

“It was real, Dick.” Hank said, as if reading his thoughts. “I have photos of those moments. I cherish that day, and I know Dawn does too. You are a friend, Dick, and you need our help.”

“I don’t need help.” came his instant response.

“You do. And you will get it, whether you want it or not.” his voice was so resolute, Dick didn’t find any strength left to fight over it, so he nodded and accepted the hug his friend offered.

“Can I ask you a question?” Dick’s voice was so soft it was almost a whisper. He felt Hank nod over the embrace and continued, “Is Gar real?”

There was a small pause where Hank didn’t say anything and that got Dick’s anxiety to spike again, but then he was moving Dick between his arms so he was facing the front door, where a green haired teen stood frozen, paper bags threatening to fall from his hands as he stared back at Dick.

“Ask him yourself.” and Hank motioned Gar to come closer with his hand.

He complied, taking every step carefully towards them and leaving the bags over the coffee table nearby. Dick tensed up involuntarily.

“You-- Gar.” Dick breathed shakily, “You’re Gar.”

Gar tentatively squatted over his other side, carefully as if he was trying not to scare a wound animal and nodded, giving him what Dick thought was a reassuring smile.

“And… you are real.” he was disguising his questions in statements. Somehow, it felt easier that way than ask directly, he felt less exposed.

“I am very much real.” he nodded again, and extended a hand to Dick.

The hand was soft and warm to his touch, Dick noticed. This couldn’t be a trick, this kid was real. Gar was real.

Dick hunched over himself and placed the hand against his forehead, his grip over the wrist becoming stronger as he let himself break apart.

“You are real. God, you are.” he was shaking, but didn’t have in himself to stop. “I’m not sick. I’m not.”

He sobbed, letting the tears fall from his face carelessly, like he’d done all those years ago when his parents died.

Dick was so lost in his own mind he didn’t realize he fell asleep between two pairs of soothing hands.

Chapter Text

He woke up back in the bed again, but this time the door was wide open, so he could see what was happening around the house without having to leave the comfort of the bed.

Dick sighed, feeling the exhaustion finally catching up with him.

How many days was he held back on that place? It felt like an eternity but it couldn’t have been more than a few weeks, he guessed.

There was a knock on the door and Dick snapped out of his daze to see Gar standing awkwardly by the door. He was holding a canister full of water and some new dressings for his wounds.

“It’s time to change the bandages again.” he was looking at the water when he spoke. Without being able to hide his own awkwardness, Dick nodded and set up on the bed, hissing only a little at the skin pulling on his left arm. “Don’t move too much, you will make it worse.”

Dick held back a snapping commentary about who was Gar to know anything about aiding as he remembered with a jolt about Gar’s past with that strange doctor. So he just sat quietly as Gar made a quick but precise work cleaning the wounds on his arm and forehead before dressing it up with clean gauze.

“You know,” Dick broke the silence and ignored the way Gar’s hands flinched over his arm, “that day, I went out to buy us some donuts. Or bagels, I don’t really remember which was it.”

“Why?” and then Gar looked in his eyes for the first time since he entered the room.

“Because I wanted to apologize. I-” his gaze fell on his hands and he admitted, “I never realized you felt like an intruder, Gar. For me, you are just as part of the family as Kory and Rachel.”

He heard Gar breathing hitch a little at his words, and when he looked up, his eyes were glazing with tears.

“You are my little brother, Gar.” his own voice was trembling with emotion at this point. “And I’m so-”

“Don’t you dare apologize.” Gar cut him, “we were both hot headed at the time. I was hurt because we couldn’t go together with them to Russia and I took it all on you. I should be the one apologizing.”

Dick shook his head smiling fondly and hugged Gar.

“I guess neither should apologize, then.” and he felt Gar smiling against his shoulder.

They broke the embrace when Hank appeared in the room, carrying a tray with hot mugs of tea and some snacks.

“Got something for you to drink. It’s herbal.” he put the tray over Dick’s lap and sat on his other side.

As they ate and drank, Dick let his mind wander back on the last few weeks. He still didn’t know much about his capturers, but he got the feeling he knew at least some things from observing his surroundings.

“My capturers were from the Intergang, weren’t they?” he asked after he swallowed a piece of sandwich.

“How do you know that?” Gar looked at him surprised.

“Not the first time I beat some of those asses.”

“But from what Lois told us, this is not how they usually do stuff.” Hank said, and took a sip of his tea.

“Wait a sec-- You’ve contacted Lois? Who else?” His eyes widened as glimpses of a dark cowl over a dark room appeared in his mind.

“Superman and Green Arrow helped us take the other heroes to safety and later burned the place down.” Gar didn’t even waited to swallow before speaking.

“And… Batman?”

Gar and Hank exchanged a look.

“He… was there.” Gar said, and promptly added, “He left as soon as he found you, Robin on his tail.”

Dick blinked stunned. He was remembering the moment Batman found him. Everything was still too foggy to remember it clearly, but it had been Batman then. It had been Batman who hugged him and took him out of that damn place.

Batman had cared for him.

“... Anyways, so we didn’t know for sure what they were planning on doing with you all until we got to the place,” Hank changed the subject and Dick silently thanked him, “and saw the electric machines they were using on you.”

Dick closed his eyes and tried in vain to forget the tingling sensation that still ghosted over his skin. He gulped drily.

“They were trying to make us think we were just normal humans. Metas or not.” his voice came out strained.

Hank nodded slowly.

“Good thing they didn’t get far with any of their subjects.”

Dick didn’t want to think what would have happened to him if they hadn’t have found him when they did.

He still didn’t know if he was ever going to completely recover.

-

The next few days were a bit of a blur. They were filled with mostly sleep and eating, which Dick had been bored since day one, but knew better than to try to escape it.

Soon enough, he was feeling well to at least walk around the place without hurting all over, and he couldn’t help but smile. It has been so long since he didn’t feel pain, he had forgotten how liberating it was to walk without aching.

After the first two days, Dick realized, Hank would spend more time away from the house than in it, and firstly he thought it was because of his presence, but then noticed he hadn’t seen Dawn since he got to their place.

So one day, before Hank could leave the house, Dick stopped him.

“You’re going to visit Dawn in the hospital, aren’t you?”

Hank froze, hand stopping mid air to the doorknob.

“Yes.”

That sunk into Dick’s heart like the sharpest knife. Dawn was still in the hospital because of him. Her fall had been far, they were so lucky she was still alive, but still--

“I’m really sorry for everything that happened, I’m truly am, Hank.” he said, voice small.

Hank’s face softened around the edges.

“I know.” He placed a hand on Dick’s shoulder, “I was planning on saying this later on, when you were completely recovered, but now seems like a good time as any,” he huffed a laugh, “I’m not mad at you, Dick. We are all heroes, we know what we are in for. And all of this,” he made a airy motion with his hand, “all that has happened since that day made me think about our life choices and stubbornness, and... I don’t want to be angry at you anymore. The thing that happened between you and Dawn was so long ago, before we were even dating, I have no right to be angry at you because of it. That and… I miss our friendship.” Hank gave him a tentative smirk.

Dick felt his own lips stirring into a smile.

“I miss our friendship too.”

-

The day Gar took the bandages off of him was the day he realized things were going to be ok. If his physical wounds were healing, the mental ones would sure as hell heal too. Maybe it would take more time and care, but he would get over it.

And he also had a family to help him in any way they could.

Gar and Hank were always by his side whenever something triggered his memories and he started shaking, though it has been happening a lot less than those first days.

Then Dawn came back from the hospital and they ordered a couple of pizzas as a welcome back party. Gar had eaten an entire one just himself, and apologized for the bad manners the second he swallowed the last bite, but they had only laughed, it was too funny not to.

Now that Dawn was back, Hank stayed most of his days inside too, so the house felt full and alive, which Dick cherish a lot more than he showed.

It made him reminiscent of the days in the circus.

The next day he got a call from Kory saying their mission in Russia had gone as planned and they were coming back to the USA first thing next morning.

“And how are things on your side?” Kory asked.

“Ah, you know… same as usual.” he heard Kory snorting on the other side of the line and couldn’t help but smile. It quickly faded away as he prepared himself to say the next part, “There has been some complications, but it can wait till you two come back. In rest, Gar is fine.”

Kory was silent for a few seconds and Dick sighed internally. He forgot how easy she could read him.

“Really, Kory, nothing to worry about. We are… fine.”

“Dick, I swear to God if you don’t tell me when we arrive you will regret it.”

He felt something dark churn inside him. He still wasn’t ok enough to be threatened and take it slightly, but he smothered the feeling, remembering Kory was a friend and didn’t mean it, not really.

“Dick?”

“Uh- yeah- sorry. It’s nothing. See you tomorrow.” he hung up before she could ask anything else.

So. He still wasn’t fine, but he was getting there.