Ric knows this street. It’s a Gotham street, one in the business district of the city, so of course he knows it, but this is a different kind of knowing. He knows that he—Dick, not him because he’s not Dick anymore—did something very important here.
He can almost see it too, just a flash of a long forgotten memory.
Something breaks through the glass window of one of the upper floors of the building, something very important to him. Its as if it was kicked out. But he’s not on the ground when this happens, he’s hurdling through the air to catch this thing before it hits the ground.
He expects this thing to release a grappling hook, save itself, but there’s blood and broken bones from what he can see as he’s swinging to catch it. So it probably wasn’t a thing, but a person.
He remembers the wind hitting his face, the fear that he wouldn’t make it before this person hit the ground, and the relief when he finally catches the…boy? No teenager, definitely a teenager. It’s a narrow save, but a save nonetheless.
He remembers getting to the ground, and panicking even more when the teenager doesn’t move. He takes off the kid’s mask…no, it was a cowl, and he’s bleeding from his forehead and his breathing is off, but thank the gods he’s alive. He was worried he’d have to make funeral plans and after everything they’d been through he doesn’t want to make funeral plans for his little brother.
Another snippet of a memory flashes for just a second.
“How’d 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.”
It’s a sweet sentiment, but there’s something sick and twisted in his stomach that says the kid didn’t know, that he had accepted death, that he was willing to hit the ground, that he wanted to.
“Excuse me? Are you alright sir?” a voice reaches out for Ric through the haze.
“What?” Ric answers trying to regain his composure, “Yea, I’m sorry, I was just lost in thought for a bit.”
“That’s all fine, but if you would like to get on the bus, now is your last chance,” the woman from the driver seat says.
Ric is pulled back into reality. He was in Gotham just trying to get some of his old stuff, settle some paperwork about things under his name there, and take the bus back to Bludhaven. It’s sunset and this is the last bus to Bludhaven for another few hours.
Ric really should get on the bus and forget about the memory. It was from another life, one he doesn’t want to live anymore, but he can’t shake the feeling that he needs to find this kid. Something deep down wants to make sure he’s alright, talk to him, fix something that had been broken even before falling out of that building.
“On second thought, I think I might stay a bit longer.” Ric replies as he walks away. Ric really hates Dick.
Ric doesn’t even know where to go, but he does what he always does when Dick’s memories start to appear again: just starts walking and follow the instincts of his feet. Its no surprise when it leads him to the Wayne Enterprise building just a few blocks away.
The suns just about gone and it looks like the last of the employees are leaving. The few that are left are either the night crew or spending some overtime in the office. Ric wonders why he would look here for the teenager. He would have thought maybe a skate park, or a nerd convention or something.
“Is that little Dick Grayson I see there?” A voice booms from the security checkpoint. The next thing Ric knows, there is a large, slightly aged, security personnel marching his way. “It is! Its been a little while hasn’t it?” the man greets.
Ric is starting to regret coming here. “Yea,” is all he can manage. What else is he supposed to say?
“I heard about the accident, Tim told me, but I hope your feeling better,” the security guard beams a genuine smile that Ric can faintly remember. “I heard you’ve got a bit of an amnesia spell, so don’t worry if you don’t remember me, but I’ve worked here for a while. Saw you grow up every since Bruce adopted you, how many years ago was that? More than ten at this point.”
Ric is blank faced and nods. He would very much like to leave now.
“You know, you used to be this small,” the man makes a gesture with his hand showing how tiny Ric was as a kid. “Always wanted to be something great, with such a big heart. It didn’t surprise any of us down here when you decided to become a cop. But anyways, the buildings just about to close. What are you doing here so late?”
Ric has almost forgotten why he’s here too, then he replies, “I’m looking for my little brother.”
“Well, Tim is probably still on the top floor. He came in earlier to visit Ms. Fox,” the man answers. “I don’t think he’s left yet, so he’s probably still there.”
“Thanks,” Ric says abruptly as he speeds his way towards the elevator. As he leaves, he hears the security guard say one last thing.
“No problem Dick! Get better soon!”
Once Ric is in the elevator, he gives himself room to breathe. What may have seemed like a normal conversation to anyone else was probably one of the most nauseating conversations Ric has had to go through yet. He felt wrong, like he was fraud. So many people loved Dick Grayson, but that doesn’t equate to loving Ric Grayson. They aren’t the same person. Ric doesn’t know these people, and every time he’s around them, he feels like a fraud that’s pretending to be Dick. He feels like he’s stolen a face that isn’t his and he can parade in and out of Dick’s life as he pleases. He’ll never really be Dick, never really understand these people’s love for him, so he’d rather not even have it.
That, then, begs the question, why was he chasing after a little brother that’s not even his anymore?
Before he can answer his own question, the elevator doors open and he is on the top floor of the WE building. Its completely dark aside from the glowing buttons on the computers and the light coming from one of the main offices. Its an office with snowed glass windows which is just enough to make out the shapes in the room. Upon further inspection, the office belongs to Bruce Wayne, but the lights on and there is no one inside.
Ric knows for a fact that Bruce wasn’t the one who was working here because there’s a university jacket on the chair that most definitely did not belong to him, but Ric can faintly remember some of the patches on it. He chose a few of them, as a gift to his little brother.
He walks around the desk to find the screen still open on the last item his little brother had used. He seems to be recording something, almost like blogging. There are a lot of videos so Ric decides to open a few.
“Hey its Tim here,” the teenager on the screen says into the camera. “Um, so this is my back up video for Dick, err, Ric…”
Ric gasps and stares wide-eyed into the screen.
On the video, Tim takes a deep breath. “God, this is a horrible way to start this video. It would be so much easier to do this if you actually remembered who I was,” Tim says mostly to himself, then ends the video.
Ric looks through the rest of the files. Its full of videos that don’t exactly span that long except the last. Ric starts selecting the shorter ones at random.
“Hey Ric!” Tim smiles into the camera, “I know you might not know who I am, but I’m Tim. Before you got amnesia we used to be brothers. But even then our relationship wasn’t that good. But before that it was good and um….shit.” Tim ends the video.
Ric opens another.
“So this is weird and honestly this may just be awkward for the both of us, but you once told me ‘You’ll never know if you can fly if you don’t take the risk of falling’ and so that’s where this video is going…I guess.” Tim’s face contorts into something of mild disgust then he says to the camera “I can’t believe I just quoted Dick Grayson. Ugh, that is so cheesy.” Tim ends the video.
Ric smirks. He likes that quote a lot and it is absolutely not cheesy. He reminds himself to write it down later. Then he clicks the next video
Tim is sitting in the chair, staring intently into the camera. He’s trying to act charming but it just comes off as displaced and try-hard. He smirks then with a fake deep voice goes “The name’s Drake. Tim Drake.” He holds the stare and the smirk for a little longer and then bursts into laughter. Through the laughs he says “God Dick I wish you could remember so you can understand why that is so funny.” Tim ends the video.
Ric laughs a genuine laugh. For some reason he can’t quite explain, he thinks it’s the cutest and most hilarious thing in the world at the moment.
Ric opens another video at random. From the moment the tab opens, he can tell this video has a much heavier tone.
“So you probably don’t know who I am, but my name is Tim Drake-Wayne. Before you got amnesia we were brothers, and you were the first person whoever really believed and cared about me so I thought, even if you didn’t remember me, I…I should say…um….I should give everyone closure? But I mean if you don’t remember me, I guess its really just me getting closure” Time stares out into space for a while then says “I’m just going to write a script.” He ends the video.
Ric doesn’t know what that’s supposed to mean? Closure? For what? Maybe the kid doesn’t want to talk to him now that he’s Ric, since Ric can never be Dick. Maybe the kid is making a video to send to Ric as his last good-bye to Dick. And then he’ll find closure. The idea makes Ric upset. He goes to the very last video, the longest in the group and the one most recently taken. Maybe he’ll find the real reason for these videos in this one.
Ric opens the file.
Everything about Tim in this video is almost the exact opposite of the Tim in the other videos. When the others videos showed how goofy, nerdy, awkward, and genuine Tim was, this video screamed formal, distant, barely holding it together.
“Hello Ric, it’s Tim here. If you’re receiving this video, it means I’ve died.” Tim reports casually. Ric pauses the video with the sudden realization.
Tim was making a video in case he died.
Ric can’t. He shouldn’t watch it. He’s only supposed to see this if Tim’s gone, but Tim’s not gone. No, he was just here. His jacket is still here and everything. He just made the video. He’s fine. He’s fine. He’s fine.
But that only begs the question, if he’s fine, and all his stuff is here, then where is Tim?
Ric forgets about the video, ready to storm out the room and check all 100 floors of Wayne Enterprises for the kid, but just as he’s about to leave, the door to the office opens and in comes a sleepy-eyed Tim Drake.
“Tim,” Ric breathes in relief. He’s okay. He’s okay.
And now Ric is furious.
“Oh, Ric, hey…” Tim greets hesitantly, incredibly confused. “How did you even get in here at this hour? The guard isn’t supposed to let anyone in unless they have clearance. Unless it was Tony. He’s always kinda a sucker for letting Wayne kids break the rules.”
“What the hell is this?” Ric demands.
Tim is taken aback by Ric’s anger. “What the hell is what?” Tim questions defensively.
“The hell are these videos, Tim?” Ric nearly shouts, pointing to the computer. He turns the screen around, rewinds the video, and hits play.
The video repeats itself again. “Hello Ric, its Tim here. If you’re receiving this video, it means I’ve died.”
Ric pauses it there and waits for Tim’s answer.
“You weren’t supposed to see that.” Tim replies, dumbfounded.
“Really? Because its addressed to me.” Ric breathes, he’s not sure if he’s more concerned or angry, and he definitely can’t tell which one he’s expressing more when he says; “What the hell are these Tim? Why would you need a video to prepare for death? Are you planning on doing something stupid?”
“Stupid? Are you kidding me? You know what we do. You know its risky.” Tim argues back.
“Yea but knowingly throwing yourself into danger that you know you can’t handle by yourself is stupid Tim. From what it sounds like in this video, you’re about to do something really stupid.”
“I’m not stupid! You don’t even have the right to tell me that anymore! You told Barabra that you didn’t know us or even want to try to remember us. I left you alone so you could go live your own life, without any of us anymore. Frankly, I’m surprised that you even know who I am.” Tim replies coldly. It hurts Ric.
But this isn’t even about Ric knowing Tim or not. At this point its about keeping Tim alive. Ric doesn’t get how this kid doesn’t see that.
“Okay, fine. You want to go that way?” Ric says. “Yeah I don’t’ remember you. But I don’t need to remember you to see that you obviously aren’t dealing well with whatever it is your going through so, maybe, you should go see help or— “
Tim interrupts “Its this again? Are you serious? You don’t even know who I am and you don’t even remember who you are and you’re saying the same thing that broke our relationship the first time. You don’t trust me! You never had! You say you do but you don’t! You said you would be there when I needed you but you weren’t. You didn’t believe me when I needed you to believe in me the most! How could you just abandon me like that Dick?” Tim finishes, breathing heavily, the intensity in his voice still echoing through the room. Tim doesn’t realize what he’s said until moments after it’s already left his mouth.
Ric doesn’t know what to do. He’s pushed Tim too far and he knows that, but he doesn’t know how to fix this. He wishes he could take back what he said, he didn’t realize how badly it would hurt Tim, but now everything is out in the open and its Ric’s fault. He has this strange feeling like he’s had this exact argument with Tim before.
“Ric,” Tim says exhaustedly, distantly, as if he’s just accepting fate now. “I mean Ric. Sorry. I keep forgetting that you aren’t…that you’re Ric now.” Tim walks past Ric and picks up his things. Then he heads for the door.
“Are you leaving?” Ric asks. He doesn’t want the conversation (if you can even call it that) to end here. Its too sad, too much anger and regret.
“Yea. Stay here if you want. Watch the rest of the videos, I don’t care anymore.” Tim answers bitterly. “Just turn everything off when you’re done doing whatever it is you came here to do.” Tim pauses for a brief moment, then, “Why are you even here, Ric?” Tim asks, anger and annoyance leaking into every word.
Ric wants so badly to say For you. I came here to see you and I want to know that you’re okay because sometimes I get flashbacks of that time you got kicked out of a building and almost died and if I wasn’t around to catch you then you would have died and now I’m not around and I’m so scared that somehow you’ll need me again and I won’t be there.
But instead, he says nothing.
Tim scowls, and its so funny to Ric because he scowls just like a mini-Bruce, and then Tim leaves.
And now its Ric here in the empty room with the computer filled with videos meant for him. Or maybe those were really meant for Dick, now that he thinks about it. He doesn’t know what to do anymore.
Ric realizes that he never finished the last video. He paused it on the first sentence. For some reason, deep in his gut, something is telling him to finish watching the video.
Ric turns the computer back the correct way and sits back in the chair. He takes a deep breath, then plays the video one more time.
“Hello Ric, its Tim here,” the Tim on the screen says. “If you’re receiving this video, it means I’ve died. I know that might not mean much to you, considering you don’t really know who I am anymore, but before you got amnesia we used to be brothers. I just felt like I couldn’t leave peacefully, knowing that there are still so many things I never got to say to you. You know, when so many people disappear from your life so suddenly, you kind of just learn to expect death. I mean, at least that’s how I see it. I’ll never know what day will be my last, so I wanted to make this for you, just in case. I know I have one for you on the Manor computer,” Tim gives just the slightest wink. A signal, Ric thinks, meaning that the computer he’s referring to is the one in the Batcave. “but I know you don’t want to go there. And personally, I want you to remember me not by that, but by me, Tim Drake.”
Tim continues. “Our relationship wasn’t perfect, but it was really good a lot of the time. You were the first person who believed in me and cared about me. You taught all these crazy acrobatics tricks and watched all the nerdy movies with me and showed me its okay to just be myself at the time when I thought I was nothing but a fraud. And I just want to say thank you for that. It meant a lot to me. But the reason why I taking this video isn’t to remind you about all the things you can’t remember anymore. I’m here to say that….its okay to not miss me. Because even if you can’t remember me and my death meant nothing to you, knowing the person you are on the inside, I know that you’ll feel bad for not missing me. But its okay Ric. I’ll be okay.”
Tim goes on, “And I also wanted to leave you with some advice. I know that its hard, being Ric. In the sense that you kind of have to live in your own shadow. People remember someone else when they look at you, but you can’t ever really live up to what they’re seeing, who they’re seeing. I felt that way a lot when I was starting out with Bruce when Jason first died. But,” Tim pauses and takes a breath. He looks methodically to somewhere behind the camera, and then back to camera itself and says “a wise guy once told me that its okay to not be someone else, because the world doesn’t need another them, they need one unique you. And even though that is the cheesiest thing ever said in the known universe, its true. You aren’t a fraud Ric. I hope you see that someday. Thanks for everything. I’m really going to miss you.” Tim ends the video.
Ric sits back. He can’t quiet wrap his head around this. Actually, he can’t quite get a grip on his feelings either. He’s got so many things going through his head. He starts to feel tears coming out his eyes, which makes no sense. He knows Tim isn’t dead, so why does it feel like he is? Why does he feel like this is the last thing Tim is ever going to say to him?
Ric looks up to the place Tim had looked at before he ended the video. If he follows Tim’s line of sight, it should lead him right to…
…a picture. One Bruce has hung in his office of Dick and Tim at some random fair. They’re smiling. Dick is holding a large, pink, stuffed elephant doll and Tim is holding blue cotton candy. Its cute and for a small moment, Ric feels again.
Not the nagging feelings of memories he can’t reach, or the guilt of not knowing people he should, or the shame of being someone he’s not. No, what he feels now is something like home—or maybe purpose? Ric isn’t so sure.
But what he does know is that for so long, ever since waking up in that hospital bed with no memories, Ric has only ever felt lost. Being around these people, his so-called “family,” did not make it better. But when he sees this, the reality, the cracks behind the façade and the masks they all put on, Ric sees it. When they finally show some actual emotions, he sees them, and sees where he had once fit.
Because somewhere between the darkness and the danger and the death of the life he led before, somewhere between there and here, he found Tim. And for some reason, out of all the things Ric has in his life right now, Tim seems to be the only thing he can be sure is real, is his. His little brother. Because Tim still sees him as his brother, Ric or Dick. Just being alive to Tim was something. And if its something to that kid, then its something to Ric. Just for moment, Ric can finally see how he had once fit into this life, this family.
And sometimes, just sometimes, he wonders if he could fit there again.