"You will always stay with me, won't you?"
Robin smiled down at him, giving him his answer with a nod as a hand was placed on his cheek, a thumb stroking his cheekbone. "Of course I will, Tim."
Tim blinked a few times as those words filled his head, as they did for the past 7 years. He stared at his reflection in the mirror for a brief moment before his eyes traveled towards his right forearm.
There it had been.
A mark in shape of a small, delicate fire and a feather within. The moment his mark was gone and was replaced with a burn mark, he started drawing it on everything so he wouldn't forget the way it looked and told him that out there, he had had a soulmate. He had a picture of it too. When he got his first and only camera, he wanted it to be the first picture he took.
After years had passed, Tim had to accept the fact that his soulmate was gone and that he had no other option but to move on, to realize that he would be forever alone, without a partner. But it was a difficult thing to do and he still had trouble moving on. There had been a few times he had harmed himself and had also tried to go further. It was getting better, though.
Quitting the thoughts of how miserable his life was with a sigh, Tim reached for the loose, black tee that was left on the counter after he took a shower and put it on with sweatpants.
He left the bathroom to enter the kitchen so he could make himself a cup of coffee to give himself enough energy to live through the rest of the night, the usual frown printed on his face as he did so.
He had summer vacation and after it was over Tim would attend Gotham University and study photography. Of course he would have loved to study something that had to do with technology, like programming, but photography was his first option. It reminded him of Robin.
Even though he had a very small circle of friends and an empty circle of 'family' for years, he was content with the way things were currently. He wasn't that much of a social person in the first place. He liked the silence in his apartment.
His blue eyes looked out of the window only to discover that the sky's brightness had left and was replaced by the darkness of the night, which made his gaze lock onto the clock hanging just to his left side.
He still had an hour.
With that in his mind, Tim took the cup and moved over to his small but comfortable couch facing the TV he barely used. Taking the remote to turn on the TV, he rested his elbows on his knees as his hands held onto the cup and his eyes watched the news. It was the first thing that popped up, so might as well know what was going on lately.
Out of everything, the most interesting news was that apparently Bruce Wayne had lost money because of a reason Tim didn't bother to care about. He was sure that he had deserved it though. After what had happened to—
His thoughts came to an end when 'Breaking News' was written in red and yellow in the middle of the screen before it moved to the left corner to reveal a live clip (probably taken by an amateur). There was a dark figure moving on the rooftops, no doubt it was Batman, everyone would know that it was him.
But then his attention moved to a red dot— wait, no, it was a helmet. Even if the clip was as blurred as one could get, he was perfectly capable of putting pieces together and assume how the figure looked like. Judging from how muscular and wide the figure seemed to be, it was a man. And no vigilante or villain he knew wore a helmet, especially a red one.
This was a new one. He already knew it. However...
There was something that seemed... familiar about him. But he couldn't put a finger on it, so he shook the thought away as quickly as it came, noting it down as nothing.
Right then the live clip ended, and he saw that the clock showed 11:39 pm and turned the TV off, drinking the now cold coffee in one gulp. He got up after he placed the empty cup on the small coffee table so that he could take his camera—Yes, it was the same camera he used 7 years ago— in his hands and slid open the door that led to the balcony.
Hanging the camera's strap around his neck, Tim walked over to the edge of the balcony to place his hand on one of the bricks the building was made of, and the other on another brick in order to climb up to the roof.
After two minutes, he found himself on the rooftop of his apartment and took a minute to enjoy the little breeze of wind that somehow was always there.
And so, the last Drake began walking, climbing and 'parkouring' from one rooftop to another as he enjoyed the night's silence (which wasn't so silent at all), climbed on fire escapes and took one or two pictures as he walked until he arrived at rooftop he was headed to.
This was the rooftop Robin and Tim always met on— used to meet on. It had always been this one, it was their 'special secret meeting' place, as his soulmate had liked to call it. The reminder brought a sorrowful smile to his lips.
He walked over to the edge of the rooftop and sat down, his legs dangling in the air as Tim sat there with his camera in his hands.
After the death of the vigilante, he made it his duty to come to this rooftop every day if possible, take pictures and just sit there for a few hours and talk to himself as a sign he missed Robin and had enjoyed the times they talked together for hours. They had chatted about everything that came into their young minds: pets, family, their passions, their favorite food and heroes, their past, tragedies, everything. It made him sigh.
He allowed his right hand to rest on the empty space beside him, stroking the space slowly. He used to sit here.
While he reminded himself of that, a light thud caught his attention and Tim's head swung towards the direction the sound came from as his eyes furrowed in suspicion.
Then, a cat walked out of the shadows to calm his heart and, out of reflex, the young boy took a picture of it just as it stared at him with wide eyes and crept closer, until it was seated perfectly to his right. It stared into the view together with him as if to tell him he was not alone.
"You know what, kitty?" He asked, although he knew the cat would neither understand nor answer him. "I've been coming here for seven years, every day. But I wasn't always alone here." As he talked he began to pet the cat, another sad smile on his face. "He was my first, real and only friend. But he's not here anymore."
He let go of the cat after it began moving under his touch a little too much, letting him know that it wanted to continue its journey across the rooftops. So Tim let it go. If only he could let his soulmate go just like he let go of the cat just now.
He sat there for a long time, listening to the few police car sirens and other vehicles as he thought and thought about the boy that had been so close to him but now was so far away. How would their relationship have been if he hadn't died? Would they be enemies? Friends? Or maybe even more..?
It wasn't worth thinking about the what if's. Robin wasn't coming back. Though he still couldn't help himself and imagined how the boy would've looked like right now, how he would've sounded like, his laugh, his touch.
Finally, he dared to look at his phone to see what time it was. 02:13 am.
He pulled himself to his feet and stared into the distance, then began heading back to his own apartment to get at least a few hours of sleep after scrolling through the few pictures he took.
Tim never noticed another presence standing in one of the shadowed corners the whole time.
Almost a week had passed and every day there were more news about the Hooded guy — Shut up, that's what Tim called him for now — and he really began catching more and more of his attention. That guy was different than those vigilantes or villains.
So, Timothy decided it was the best to do some research. In his way of course. Hacking.
The intelligent was sitting in front of his few computers that had given him a lot of information for the past few years. His first step was to find the video the Hooded guy was first revealed in, which wasn't that much of a problem as it probably spread everywhere on social media. One search entered and there was the video.
Downloading it, the next step was to edit the whole scene of the video. Clearing the image wasn't that hard, and after some minutes of lessening the blurring the best he could, he stared at the image.
Now that he had a better look at him, he couldn't deny that Hooded guy really had a nice shape and taste. Muscular arms, thick thighs... Wow.
Focus on what you wanted to focus on in the first place, Tim.
On the red helmet there were two white spaces as big as eyes. He figured that those lenses were conducive to night vision. And probably that people knew where to look at while talking to the Hooded guy. He had to chuckle at that.
His upper armor seemed to be comfortable enough to move perfectly in them but also protect him from any harm.
There was a symbol on the center of his chest. It looked like the Batman symbol, but also didn't look anything like it at the same time. Why would Hooded guy use a red bat symbol, though? What was the meaning behind it? Or did it have a meaning at all?
Furthermore, his combat pants probably were just as comfortable as his upper armor, but didn't lend him the same safety as the armor did. However, Drake already knew that the guy wouldn't be that dumb, so he must have something below those pants other than private body parts.
The belt around his waist provided him with what seemed lile important stuff. Bombs, munition,...? He had no idea, but they must contain stuff of all kind he needed to, what, escape, rescue people, steal..?
Other than the remaining combat boots, which fit really nice, there was nothing else on Hooded guy that was worth of his attention (if Tim would leave out his body, which was worth lots of attention).
After collecting more available information on Hooded guy, Drake decided that he should take a break from all the info-hunting. Just as he was about to turn off his computer, a file suddenly seemed to stand out. It was that one file that made him break completely after the second Robin's death.
The clip that he got with a lot of digging.
The clip that also made him find out the identities of the vigilantes he once looked up to.
The clip which showed how his soulmate had died— or rather, how he was murdered by a clown he would kill if he could.
When the news about the death of the Robin were leaked, he hadn't wanted to believe it and he had been so sure that the older boy was alive somewhere, even as his soul mark disappeared and was replaced by an ugly burn mark. And to try to prove himself right, to make himself believe those theories of desperation, he had started digging. He had hacked into pages and sites that only few could hack into, only to discover the identities of Batman and Nightwing without actually wanting to.
But seen was seen.
That made him realize that he could also find out Robin's identity with ease, though he didn't try to find out. Instead, he avoided that. It had been the boy's decision not to tell him who he was and he respected that, so he left the identity thing at that.
Tim gritted his teeth as he remembered the first time he discovered both the clip of his soulmate's death and the identities.
He turned his computers off to leave the room and reached for his jeans jacket, put on his sneakers, took his wallet, then left his small apartment. It was 03:13 am, the boy was hungry and there was a store not far from his apartment that was open 24/7. So why not go and buy some junk food?
Even if many did not agree, Tim always believed that Gotham was safer at night than daytime. It was more quiet, he had the stars and the moon as company, plus...
Robin told him that he'd always be there when he was in danger.
Although he couldn't be there anymore, Tim still wanted to believe his words. So believe he did.
Just as he was about to turn around the corner where the store was located, someone grabbed him by the back of his jacket to drag him to the nearest alley, only to violently push him against a wall, which had him gasping for air as quickly as he could until someone held him by his collar.
There were two men in front of him, and if one considered the way they were dressed and smelled, then it was clear that those two were nothing more than homeless drug dealers hungry for some cash to buy mors drugs or have some fun.
"Didn't anyone tell you not to go out at night, hun?" His captor asked, flashing him a smirk to reveal his yellow teeth when Tim made attempts to free himself from the strong grip the man had on his collar.
Tim wanted to shove a reply up that man's ass, though he had to deal with getting free at first, so he swung his shin up to hit the man right between his legs just as he grabbed his wrist and ripped it away from his collar when the grip weakened.
His captor groaned loudly in pain as he covered his groin area and bent forward only for his face to meet Tim's shin this time, forcing him to shout out his added up pain and cover his nose with his hand. It was most likely broken. Served him right.
But for all that, he forgot about the other man for a moment and that moment was enough for the other to pin him against the wall in a harsh deadlock with Tim's face and chest against the wall. "You lil' shit!" His new captor growled out.
A moment later, he couldn't help but shiver when he felt the man's ugly pair of eyes on his body, so he twisted and turned as much as he could with the hope of catching him off guard to give him the same lesson he gave the other. This man was stronger, he realized.
"My, my, you've got pretty nice legs and a good body on top of that, don't you, pretty boy?" Drake shook when he felt the man whisper in his ear and it disgusted him so much. "You would make a great slut, pretty boy. Why don't I try you out?" He had to squeeze his eyes shut when his ears blurred out the other groaning and only heard the sound of a zipper, thus he started to move and fight against the man more, but to no avail.
Right when a hand touched his sweatpants, it was quickly removed again just like the pressure on his arm. As curious as he was to look at what was happening, he really needed to recover from what just took place as he listened to the sound of punches, kicks and pain.
After he turned around, his breath caught in his chest when he immediately was face to face — rather face to chest — with the guy that had his attention for nearly a week. Hooded guy.
And because of the fact Tim was still unaware of whether he was one of the good or bad ones, he moved extra cautiously. As in, he tried to get away from the guy with eyes as wide as possible while completely ignoring the two unconcious bodies on the ground.
However the guy followed him towards the corner.
God Tim, why did you move to the corner, you idiot?!
"Stay away!" He warned, his eyes narrowed threateningly, though it wouldn't affect the taller man as much as Drake would prefer. Unfortunately for him, Hooded guy was right in front of him again, leaving him with no way to escape other than try to fight his way through. Well, so much for that.
"I'm not going to hurt you," Hooded guy said in a filtered voice. His helmet presumably changed his voice a little so that it was impossible to be recognized. Smart, he had to say. "If I'd want to hurt you, I already would have done it." Hooded guy added. He did have a point. Tim didn't have another choice other than to trust the man in front of him either.
He allowed his body to visibly relax under Hooded guy's gaze and he slumped back against the brick wall to take another break from the shock, seemingly avoiding eye contact with the... uh, helmet. "Um, thanks for that. I could have managed it though, ...?" He drew the 'though' out as a sign to ask the man how he should call him.
"It's Red Hood. And you sure as hell wouldn't have managed these guys if I hadn't saved your little ass." Hooded guy — Red Hood — said, and Tim swore he could hear the smirk on his lips. It made him glare at the vigilante in front of him.
"I would have managed them!" The smaller one of the two protested like a child.
"Of course you would have."
Drake's glare intensified even more before he decided it was the best option to change the topic so it would be his turn to annoy the other. "Why do you call yourself Red Hood anyway? The thing on your head is a helmet and not a hood. That's absurd."
"I chose Hood because it sounds better than Red fucking Helmet, happy now?" The last Drake heir sensed a pair of eyes rolled behind the helmet. "Why the hell are you outside at this time anyway? It's dangerous in Gotham, even more so at night. Are you trying to get yourself killed?" Tim thought he misheard the tone of the filtered voice when it almost sounded... concerned. He chose to ignore that.
"Because I can take care of myself." Because my soulmate said he'd always be there if I was in danger. "I don't need someone else's protection, especially if I don't know whether that someone is on the good or bad side."
A frustrated sigh reached his ears, making him push past the armored male with success. Nevertheless, he felt Red Hood's presence behind him the whole time he walked out of the alley. Although he should have felt endangered, he didn't. He found himself nearly as safe as he once felt around his deceased soulmate (But he would deny it no matter the circumstances).
"Would you please stop following me?" He huffed as he remained walking, turning left once he was out of the alley with the other man following him for whatever reason. "As much as I'd love to go and get a well-deserved sleep, who knows what else would happen to you. So, no chance. I'll leave when you are home."
Tim knew that it was an impossible task to convince his savior to leave him alone, thus he came to the decision to ignore Red Hood following him like some sort of guardian angel. He would leave him alone once they arrived at his place anyway and the chances for them to meet again was, what, one percent?
Their little walk was filled with a somewhat comfortable silence the whole way. Once in front of the apartment, the younger male twirled around only to be greeted by nothing and no one. Hood was gone. Just as he was about to feel disappointed, the sound of a grapple caught his attention, and his eyes moved to the rooftop of a nearby building to see how the vigilante left him there just as he had promised he would.
With a shake of the head and a smile he didn't know about on his face, Tim entered his apartment, his mind going to be preoccupied about the man behind the helmet.
Four days have passed ever since Tim's encounter with the Red Hood. Nothing much had happened during that timeframe. All he did was go out to take pictures, on his favorite rooftop or somewhere else, meet up with his friends Bart and Conner or watch news to get more information about the red hooded mistery on two legs.
He didn't want to, but his thoughts seemed to have a mind of their own, so they kept replaying everything that happened the night the new bad/good guy walked him home to make sure nothing would happen to him after the incident before. Why did he do that at all? He didn't know Tim. He had no reason to walk home with him, though he still did. Maybe that was what kind of guy he was when wearing the helmet. Maybe.
The heavy amount of wind washing over him got a big shiver to creep up and down his spine. He was on the rooftop again, thinking. Thinking about his soulmate. He didn't wear a jacket, he never had when he was a child and never did it now whenever he was alone. It was a rountine and he didn't like changes in his rountines. A big one happened anyway.
Robin would have scolded him for not wearing a jacket and freezing, then would sit down beside him, wrap his cape around Tim to keep him warm even though it was not the warmth he needed and deserved. His words, not Tim's.
Pressing his lips together, he muffled a sob as he blinked several times to keep the tears from spilling out of his furrowed eyes at the memory of his soulmate caring for him like no one else had. His jaw hurt from gritting his teeth.
He flinched when the ringtone of his phone reached his ears. It was an audiotape of Robin and him singing together like the two silly idiots they were— had been. He gave a look at the screen to see who his caller was. Mama Cat. As much as he would have loved to let the phone ring longer, to continue listening to Robin's voice, if he wouldn't answer he would be dead meat. He tapped on the green phone and put the call on speaker, placing the phone to his left side. He didn't speak first. After a moment of silence, she spoke.
"Baby cat, are you home?"
She always called him baby cat. She was like the mother he never had.
"Where are you, then?"
"You know where I am, Selina."
He heard the woman sigh on the other end of the call.
"For how much longer are you going to climb up there, Tim? You can't keep on doing this forever. You have to move on, kitten."
Tim knew that Selina only meant good and wanted him to stop being so... lost about someone who would never return. Her voice was strict but he knew under that there were many layers of her concern and care. He appreciated her concern, he really did, but he wouldn't stop. He simply couldn't just completely erase Robin from his head. It was impossible.
"You know I'm trying. For years now. Does it work? No. So please just let me sit on this rooftop. That's all I'm asking for, Mama. Please try to understand me."
With that said, he ended the call, not giving Selina the time to reply to him. It was better that way.
Of course he knew that Selina happened to be the famous Catwoman, he had figured it out himself. Once that had been revealed and he had lost his father just like he had lost his mother, he started to follow the woman around. She didn't notice him at first, which was a big success for him, but when she did, he intrigued her. And things continued from there. She showed him a few tricks to steal something, taught him a bit of self defense, taught him how to be quiet so no one would hear or feel him around. She also showed him how to use makeup that would make him attractive and seductive and to flirt like a pro. Just in case.
He frowned when a rain drop landed on his nose, quickly followed by more rain drops landing everywhere on him, instantly making him soaking wet. "Shit!" He hissed and tried to avoid the rain drops falling onto his phone and camera. Stumbling on his own feet when trying to get up, Tim ran towards the corner of the rooftop which would protect him and his camera from getting wet since the ceiling of another apartment hovered over it enough so three people at most would find cover from the rain.
A hopeless sigh slipped past his pink lips as a reaction to his current state: wet and shivering. He would get a cold at this rate, not only that, but Selina would murder him if he got sick because of his rooftop visit.
"What are you doing here?"
His head snapped towards the direction the filtered voice came from and quickly tried to cover his burn mark, already knowing who it was. The first thing his eyes drew on was Red Hood's face — yes, not helmet, his face — and he stared at him. So his helmet wasn't what filtered his voice at all, it was something else. His hair was a handsome kind of messy that would attract people instantly, and he swore his jawline could cut cows and— He had a mask on to hide his identity still, but... that mask was the exact copy of his soulmate's mask. It literally was the same and it broke his heart at the sight as he, even for a second, thought his Robin was standing there. Not Hood, but Robin. His soulmate.
It just looks like his. It's not the same.
It angered him. The fact that that man wore his mask and played with his hopes and feelings, even if it was not his intention and he wasn't aware of it. The sight of the mask on Hood's face made his eyes water, so he looked away.
"None of your business."
"Jeez, someone's not in a good mood." His frame tensed when Hood took a seat on the ground next to him. If he saw his burn mark, he didn't mention it.
"Can't you go somewhere else? I want to be alone here."
"Theoretically, I can go somewhere else. But I want to be a pain in your ass right now, so deal with my company."
Tim muttered curses under his breath, surely loud enough so the guy could hear him. "Asshole." He huffed and, with camera in hand, he stood up, then walked out of the protected space. He was dripping from head to toe in about five seconds and quickly sat back down while shivering, ignoring the way that asshole stared at him.
He expected for him to mock him and say some teasing stuff, though these words never came from the vigilante. If he wasn't going to tease him, then why stare at him? As if he could read his thoughts, he answered him by taking his leather jacket off to place it around Tim's shoulders all too gently. It froze him in his place before his fingers held onto the jacket securely. It was keeping him a bit warm.
"Care to tell me what the hell you're doing up here in the middle of the night?"
Tim could pick up a bit of tried amusement in Red Hood's voice to get him to at least smile, though he wasn't in the mood to joke around with someone he barely knew (but felt safe around).
"No." He replied simply with his gaze looking ahead.
The reply he got was silence and Tim almost thought Red Hood disappeared until he spoke up again.
The vigilante didn't appear to like the answer he received. "So back to my question. What are you doing here, fesity pretty boy?"
Pretty? Did the vigilante just call him pretty? No, Tim just misheard him because of the loud sound of rain hitting the ground. His mind was playing games with him. Yeah, that's it. Who would call him pretty anyway? He was anything but pretty.
"Why do you care?" He asked coldly, not returning Red Hood's stare. He knew he was being the asshole right now and should thank the taller for saving him four nights ago but he didn't. The world had been an asshole to him ever since birth. No one should have anything against him being an asshole every once in a while.
"I've got nothing better to do."
"Then find something better to do."
"What if I don't wanna?"
Tim prayed for the rain to stop so he would be able to get the hell away from Red but his prayers weren't heard. The amount of rain only increased, making his desperation only grow. Silence crept up between them. It wasn't one of those awkward silences where one person thought about how they could keep the conversation going, this silence was... comfortable, favored even.
"Hey..." He began slowly, fingers playing with the fabric of the other's leather jacket. "Thank you."
That made the vigilante raise his eyebrows. "For what?"
Tim pulled his knees more towards his chest as he tugged on the leather jacket with his hands to cover himself with it more. "For giving me your jacket." He replied and looked at his feet.
Red didn't reply but Tim didn't mind.
They had been sitting on the protected part of the rooftop for an hour and a half at most, though once only a few rain drops were falling, Tim decided to get up and leave and it seemed like Hood hadn't had any plans about leaving, judging by the way he seemed startled before clumsily getting up too. Drake stared at him with confused eyes and furrowed brows but didn't say anything, just continued to cover the burn mark.
Burn marks had never been a nice thing to look at. Whenever someone's soulmate passed away, a burn mark would spread across the soulmate mark and it looked horrible, only making people look their way in pity. That's why he always covered his burn mark, he didn't need pity.
"Thanks." Tim repeated quietly, not meeting the taller male's eyes while waiting for a reply that never came and turned around to leave. Hood still wasn't saying anything but the younger could feel his eyes on him. Why wasn't he saying anything?
Tim walked back from rooftop to rooftop to his apartment with a tight grip on his leather jacket, leaving Hood standing on the rooftop.
Once at his apartment, he didn't bother showering and let his body fall onto his bed. He was really tired and didn't care about whether he'd get a cold or not. He just wanted to rest.
Tim stared at the leather jacket draped over the couch. He still had Red Hood's jacket and the vigilante probably wanted it back, but he had no idea how he should even contact him. But he knew Red would find him easily, he knew where he lived, after all. Their paths would probably cross again too, so he wasn't too worried about it. He put on an oversized hoodie because he still was a little cold after having spent some time on the rooftop a few days ago.
He plopped down onto his couch with a bowl of popcorn in his lap as he opened up an action movie to watch. He lifted his legs to rest them on the coffee table and focused on the movie.
Tim scrunched his nose, tilting his head slightly before he opened his eyes in confusion. The bowl of popcorn was half full, some of the popcorn spilled over him and the couch. He looked up at the TV to read the words 'Are you still watching?'
Well, now he was.
"Hmmm," He grumbled to himself and lifted a hand to rub one of his eyes as he sat up slightly, picking the spilled popcorn up with his hand. He got off the couch to head over to the kitchen, throwing the popcorn he picked up into the trash while placing the bowl onto the counter.
He froze and stopped moving when he heard a thud coming from the living room, momentarily forgetting how to breathe. He swallowed thickly as he straightened himself up.
Sneak up, surprise, beat up. That's what Selina taught you.
Well, not quite. He left the seduce part out.
He moved towards the side of the kitchen's doorframe, pressing his back against the wall for a few seconds before he carefully leaned over to take a peek into the living room.
He froze when a familiar red helmet immediately caught his attention and forced him out of his hiding spot immediately to hurry over to the vigilante.
Right when he was beside him he saw the red color soaking a part of Red's armor and combat pants. He was wounded, the guy was freaking wounded and he came to Tim of all people to seek medical assistance?
Before the taller could muster his request, Tim's hand already took his arm to drag him over to the couch.
"Sit. Don't move." He ordered Red in the strict voice that he last used years ago, entering the bathroom to take out his first aid kit before he joined the injured male's side once again, taking a seat beside him on the couch. He placed the kit beside him to lean over and get rid of the boots, then sat back up to figure out how to remove the armor. Hood was too gone to actually show him how it was done, thus, after a few experiments here and there, he managed to take off most pieces of the armor. He gritted his teeth at the sight of his bloody waist and chest.
Might as well take off the rest of the armor, he thought as his hands reached to Red's arm to take off the armor parts there.
"Don't. Not there,"
Tim looked up when the vigilante's hand held his wrist in order to prevent him from taking off the final pieces. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
"It would be more comfortable." He reasoned.
Tim sighed at the refusal, nodding his head before he pulled his hands back to himself. His hands rummaged through the first aid kit after he tied his hair into a tiny ponytail, some strands of his hair falling back over his face.
In that moment he was glad that Selina had actually taught him how to handle some injuries and gave him more knowledge. When he still used to live in his parents' mansion where he spent all of his days alone, he got injured quite a few times. He had taken care of his injuries all by himself with some common knowledge and How To Youtube videos.
After an hour of taking care of the vigilante's wounds, he sighed and leaned back against the couch to take a break from the medical assisting, moving to rest his forearm on his forehead as he stared up at the ceiling. Why the hell did this guy come here? He probably didn't even know if he was capable of cleaning wounds in the first place, yet he still showed up here. If Tim wouldn't have knowledge about this all then he could have died of blood loss. And yet he still took the risk? Maybe Red didn't have anyone to go to.
He carefully moved Hood's body so he was laying down and covered his body with a blanket, then put the kit away. He went back to the living room to sit on the other couch. The other had long passed out and it would be easy for Tim to just take off that helmet to see the face behind the mask and helmet. Did Red Hood not even consider that?
Tim was more than relieved that he had chosen to wear a hoodie. He wouldn't want the vigilante to see his burn mark covering up his soul mark.
He pulled his legs onto the couch and crossed his arms over his chest as he moved into a laying position to take a nap while waiting for his patient to wake up.
The sunlight hit his eyes just right to wake him from his slumber. He whined like a child as he lifted a hand to cover his eyes to try to continue to sleep, though he gave up on that pretty quickly. He slowly sat up and frowned when the couch across from him was empty, a blanket on his lap.
"Red?" Tim called out even though he knew he was the only one in his apartment, forcing himself to get off the couch to look through his apartment. When he entered the kitchen, his eyes narrowed down onto a sticky note glued to his fridge. He walked up to it and leaned in to read the words.
I only wanted something to eat. Instead, I found either bullshit or nothing in your kitchen.
Went grocery shopping. Fill your fridge more often. Unexpected visitors can show up.
Thanks for taking care of my injuries and not looking at my handsome face :P
Tim snorted because of the other's note and opened the fridge to check whether it was full. The last time he saw his fridge, it only had cheese and tomatoes in it. He pursed his lips when he was greeted by the sight of a completelly full fridge. He couldn't resist and checked the cupboards too. They were also full.
He smiled to himself and closed the cupboards again, walking into the living room to make a face.
That idiot didn't take his jacket back.
The next few days passed by uneventfully. Tim didn't have another encounter with the vigilante to actually hand him back his leather jacket (he wasn't bothered by the smell of gunpowder). He just didn't like having people's belongings in his place for a long time. However, he did occasionally wear Red Hood's jacket because it was the first thing his hand would reach for and the smell of gunpowder did scare some people off too whenever he was out during the night. It was a little entertaining.
Tim's hand reached for Red's leather jacket once more after he put on his sneakers. He stepped onto the balcony, turning around to climb up the brick wall successfully. He had climbed up there so many times, he could probably do it asleep as well. It took him about ten minutes to reach Robin's and his special rooftop, moving to the edge to sit there with his legs dangling above the street.
A soft sigh slipped past his lips as he watched a car drive past him every few minutes. The view was amazing, he could see the Robinson Park with its large lake further behind too with the trees surrounding it. It always looked amazing during a sunset.
Sometimes Robin and he managed to meet up on the rooftop to watch the sunset together. Those times were one of the best times they had together. During their first sunset together, Robin had taken his camera to snap a picture of them together with the sunset behind them.
"Can I have your camera for a sec?"
"Sure." Tim replied with curiosity as his small hands removed the camera's strap around his neck to hand Robin his camera.
"What are you going to do with it?"
"You'll see." Robin said with a grin, reaching for Tim's arm to turn him around so they were facing the sunset with their backs. He wrapped his arm around Tim's shoulder as he lifted his camera up, both of their faces and the sunset appearing on the small screen.
"Say cheese!" Robin added brightly, forming a grin from ear to ear. Tim was surprised for a second before a toothy grin spread over his lips, his eyes shining brightly just like Robin's as he pushed the button to take their picture.
The camera needed a second to print the picture and Tim lifted his hand up to take it, shaking the picture for a few seconds before another smile spread across their lips.
"Is there a way for you to copy this one?" Robin asked and kept his arm around his shoulder while handing the younger child's camera back.
"I can give you a copy in a week." His parents would arrive home in two days and actually getting their attention would take him a day or two.
"Settled." Robin grinned.
Robin came that week to take the copy with the promise of hanging it in his room so he would see it every day. Tim believed in him to keep his promise because he did the exact same thing. The picture was still in his room together with their other pictures.
Tim gasped and flinched in surprise at the sudden voice.
He turned his head, tilting it all the way back to look up at Red's masked face. He had his helmet under his arm with the same damn mask on his face. He wanted him to wear another mask. Whenever he saw him wearing it he immediately saw his soulmate in front of him.
He then looked down to Red's leather jacket that he was wearing while the vigilante moved to sit down beside him.
"You should wash it. It just smells like gunpowder." He grumbled under his breath, not bothering to take it off as both looked forward at all the different sized buildings and trees.
Red Hood snorted at that, silence spreading between them both.
"Thanks for taking care of me the other day." The man started off, his voice not filtered this time. He had a pretty deep and mysterious voice, almost melodious. Though it undoubtedly matched his personality.
"Don't mention it. Thanks for filling my kitchen with food."
"Your kitchen needed that. Who knows how long you would have survived with nothing in there." Red teased.
"Shut up." Tim snorted and the vigilante did the same.
"Why did you come to me in the first place? You didn't know if I could actually help you or not and yet you still took the risk. Why did you that?"
The man beside him just shrugged. "I took a guess." He replied as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
"You risked your life and just assumed I could help you, that's a great idea." Tim replied, his tone dripping with sarcasm.
They went silent once more, just enjoying the starry night sky in front of them like a silent agreement. Tim didn't know why Red kept coming to him every few days since they didn't know anything about each other. Yet their paths kept crossing for some unexplainable reason.
After half an hour, Tim felt Red Hood shift beside him, so he turned his head to look up at the man and he held his breath. He hadn't realized how close they actually were until he actually looked at him. He stared into the white spaces of Red's mask, the slightest hint of Red Hood's breath ghosting over his face.
He cleared his throat slightly and looked away with a small flush on his cheeks as he played with the fabric of the vigilante's jacket. What was going on with him?
"Here, your jacket." Tim began and slowly took off the jacket as he made sure to hide his burn mark from the other's view. He handed Hood his jacket.
"You didn't have to return it." The vigilante replied and took back his leather jacket without bothering to put it on.
"I wanted to."
Red Hood changed the topic. "Why are you always here?" He asked curiously, Tim didn't blame him for asking that. He would be curious too if he saw someone in the same place more than once.
"It's a special place to me that I'm not willing to let go of." Tim replied in the end, revealing everything and nothing at the same time as he stared at the street that appeared so small from where he was looking. The building they sat on had ten stories and people around looked like ants. "I come here around nighttime whenever I can."
Red was quiet again as if he understood where he was coming from, as if he understood what he meant with that. He probably didn't understand, couldn't possibly understand. Even if the vigilante had a soulmate he probably was too busy to be with someone. No one could understand Tim.
"And why is it special?" Hood asked instead, trying to get to the memories Tim had always kept to himself.
"Me and my only friend and soulmate spent our time here together." He started off and kept staring down at the street with his eyes watering, his fingers curling around the edge of the rooftop.
"And then he died." Tim's voice slightly cracked at the last word. He had never actually said those words out loud because of the simple reason that he could possibly break down. He didn't even know why he was saying it to some random stranger, to someone he didn't even know the name of.
"He was killed by the hands of that fucking clown and I would kill him if I had the chance!" He added furiously and raised his voice, hands gripping tighter on the edge to stop himself from shaking as he didn't allow his tears to fall. He couldn't help that he let his feelings take over for a second, they had been kept in for so long.
"I should go. I already said too much." Tim finished quietly, swiftly getting to his feet while covering his burn mark. He turned around with his back facing Hood, making his way back home from rooftop to rooftop with big steps.
He couldn't stand the pitying eyes staying on him for even a second longer.
Tim sat down in front of his desk, turning on his desk lamp to cast light onto the wooden surface. He pulled on one of the drawers to take out a blank piece of paper, a pencil and an eraser.
Drawing his soulmate mark always calmed him down. He had never been a perfect artist, though luckily his mark wasn't complicated. He had drawn it so many times that he memorized every single detail about it and didn't need to copy it from his camera anymore. The drawer to his left was full of all of his sketches because he could never make himself throw them away. It was a part of him, after all.
He began to draw thin lines on the paper until skillfull curves formed the image of a fire with a feather in the center.
When he finished, he leaned back against his chair as his eyes never left his drawing. He traced it with his fingers just like he used to trace his soulmate mark on his forearm before Robin died and replaced the mark was replaced with a burn mark instead. Only some tips of the fire were still visible. The rest was completely gone. He had it better than other people, though. People with larger marks could have their entire arm or leg covered with a burn mark. He couldn't grasp how something so beautiful could ruin a person in a matter of seconds.
Tim gently took the paper, opening his left drawer to put it in there along the rest of his sketches and turning off his desk lamp. He left his bedroom and went to the kitchen to make himself something to eat, deciding to make some rice with chicken and vegetables. He had never been the best cook in the world. Most of the food he made either didn't taste too good or he would immediately throw it in the trash because it tasted horrible and would order a pizza instead. No one had ever taught him how to cook either. It was kind of sad, actually.
Once he finished, Tim tasted it all and came to the conclusion that it was edible. He put all of it in one plate, taking a fork before he sat at the dining table in front of the window.
He never minded eating alone, it was something he did ever since he could walk on his own feet and his parents decided he was old enough to eat by himself. A few years later, they also decided he was old enough to be left home alone with a nanny coming in every day to make him food and clean the place before leaving. Due to the fact he hadn't been taught to increase his social skills, he never managed to talk with other students at galas he attended to with his parents and at school. He was alone during the breaks until he got to know Conner and Bart. Though now they wouldn't see each other in university anymore, all of them enrolled somewhere else. They did message each other in their group chat, called each other from time to time and still met up sometimes.
Tim sighed as he picked at his half-finished food, not noticing the sound of the window opening in the living room.
He looked up with widened eyes when he saw Red Hood step into the kitchen and look at the remaining food on the stove with an approving hum.
"Looks good." Hood said with his filtered voice and took off his helmet. He was wearing his mask though.
He couldn't make himself say anything because of the surprise, his lips parted as he watched the vigilante open every cupboard until he found a plate and fork to put some of the rice, chicken and vegetables on his plate before he sat down across from him at the table as if it was something he did every day.
After a minute of eating, Red looked up with his mouth full.
"What?" He asked as he chewed on his food.
Tim needed a second to pull his senses together so he could actually form words. "What are you doing?"
"No. What are you doing in my apartment? Why did you come here?" He asked, more seriously and frustrated this time around. This guy pissed him off like no one else did sometimed and he would probably lose his cool someday and lash out at him. He was ruining his daily routine too, and he didn't like it when things didn't go according to plan.
Red looked at him like he asked him the most ridiculous thing, making him furrow his eyebrows even more as Tim waited for his answer.
"I'm hungry?" The vigilante replied but it sounded like he wasn't even sure of his answer himself.
"That doesn't answer my question."
"It kind of does."
Tim let out a tired breath and placed his fork on the table so he could lean back against his chair and look up at the ceiling. He wouldn't see Red Hood in front of him, that was why he did it. He didn't hear the man continue to eat, though he could feel his masked eyes on him.
"I know you don't like new things, but you should get used to this."
Something in this sentence bothered Tim.
He sat up in his chair to look at Hood with a raised eyebrow as he crossed his arms over his chest and inspected him with his suspicious gaze.
"How do you know that?" He questioned, his lips pressed shut as he basically glared holes into the taller seated across from him. He couldn't remember ever telling Red Hood that kind of information and he knew that there had been no Red Hood just a few months ago to ask him something like that.
"I kind of guessed that? I mean, you have the routine of going up that roof almost every night, so it kind of points to the fact that you like things you're used to." Red answered without even needing a minute to think about his answer.
Drake remained silent while observing the vigilante in front of him who didn't waste another second and proceeded to eat the meal in front of him. The answer was logical and reasonable. As a vigilante, one of the most important things was to create a profile of people they stood in front of to figure out their weaknesses, values and personality so they would know how to deal with them. He knew that because Robin had explained it to him once after he had pointed out one of Tim's habits.
"I came here to make sure you are still alive. Who knows how many days you would live without anyone checking up on you." Hood finally said, answering his question from before. "Better get used to it."
Tim knew he didn't have a choice.
The weeks flew by just like that. His new routine consisted of making breakfast, wondering whether Red would show up that day, playing some video games or watching a movie and then going to the rooftop with Hood occasionally showing up there.
The Drake heir couldn't say that he didn't like spending time with Red Hood because he did. They had conversations where one would think they had known each other for ages even if that wasn't the case. They shared some viewpoints as well, which was not liking Batman, for example. He didn't tell him the reason, but Hood said he didn't like his morals and that his way of not killing didn't change the crime rate.
Whenever the taller showed up at his apartment (and pretended that he owned the place) they either watched a movie together, played some video games or ate together while they talked about stupid things.
Somewhere along the way Tim even began to miss Red whenever he didn't show up for a day because he got used to his invading presence. However, one thing he always had in the back of his mind was that he shouldn't get attached to him too much, that he shouldn't end up crushing on him because Tim's soulmate was dead and he was destined to live his life alone and Red still had a soulmate out there. He caught a small glimpse of a mark on his arm from a few meters away. It would never work between them if things turned out the way he didn't want them to be. He shouldn't even be crushing on someone he didn't know as a person.
Drake knew so much but also so little about Red. Yeah, he knew his morals or his favorite game but he didn't know his name, didn't know the way he liked to dress or anything of the sort. It did bother him sometimes, but he knew that it wasn't easy to just reveal their identity. Robin hid his identity from him too.
"Hurry up, slowpoke!"
Tim rolled his eyes as he filled two glasses with juice, then took them both to return to the living room and sit down beside the vigilante after handing him his glass.
"You're annoying." Drake said as he leaned back against the couch and pulled his legs up on the couch before he crossed them as Hood took the remote to open up the movie he had picked out. It was a weird situation to watch a movie with a masked vigilante, but Tim had experienced weirder situations. Definitely.
"You're annoyance is contagious."
The smaller laughed slightly because of the smartass answer and shut up so they could watch the movie in peace.
It was a boring movie, both figured and closed the movie after half an hour of watching it.
"So much for having a movie night." Tim snorted and shook his head, lifting his arms above his head and arching his back to stretch himself a little while Red closed the TV with a frustrated sigh. He turned to the masked man slightly, his elbow pressed on top of the back of the couch to rest his head against his palm.
"Do you have any other ideas?" He asked the vigilante with a sigh coming from his lips. He didn't really want Red to leave sooner than planned. He could use his company even if they wouldn't do anything at all.
"We could go out and beat up some people." Hood teased him with a (handsome) smirk spread across his lips but Tim tried not to look at them without making it too obvious.
"Yeah, right. Anything else?" He giggled while staring at the taller. Going out and beating up people didn't sound like the safest plan. He held his breath, swallowing thickly when Red lifted his hand to tug a strand of hair behind his ear, fingers lingering near his face for a second too long before he pulled them away. None of them looked away from each other, Tim's cheeks turning to a dark shade of pink.
"Not that I can think of." The vigilante replied after a minute of silence and stares.
"Me neither." Tim replied dryly and turned his head to exhale deeply in an attempt to cool himself down and force the blush on his cheeks away. He licked his lips as he adjusted himself on the couch to break the tension between them because he couldn't stand it.
The taller cleared his throat and shifted beside him too.
Tim's blue eyes were swift to land on Red's face once more when he got to his feet. His heartbeat increased slightly as they looked at each other. He moved to stand on his feet too, though their height difference still forced him to tilt his head nearly all the way back to look at Red.
The blush that he had shooed away just a second ago sat on his cheeks again like a brat.
"I guess I should get going then." The taller started off as he lifted hand to rub the back of his neck. Tim instantly noticed the tongue running over Hood's lower lip for a second and took a heavy gulp, imitating the same movement. It was the other's turn to stare at his lips. The only difference was that he actually kept his eyes on them.
Tim froze completely when Red lifted his hand, carefully placing his thumb on the corner of his plump bottom lip and rubbing it with his finger. Slowly, gently.
He had no idea how his legs didn't give up as his support yet. All he wanted was to fall to his knees so he wouldn't have to pretend to be unaffected by the way Red looked at his lip and touched it.
"You know... duty and all..." Hood breathed quietly, however made no effort to actually get to the balcony to leave his apartment. Tim didn't mind.
"Yeah," Tim replied the same breathless way. He didn't make an effort to see the vigilante off either, both of them silently agreeing not to move an inch away from each other like it was a promise. He saw the way his Adam's apple moved slightly and he couldn't tell why that just kind of got to him.
"Yeah," Red repeated after him mindlessly and maybe Tim's imagination was playing tricks on him because did Red move closer? Was he just imagining his breath ghosting over his lips? But he couldn't lie about not liking this. He had missed the touch of an actual person. It had been so long.
Tim's eyes slowly fell shut as his head made him believe that the man in front of him actually leaned in to connect their lips. Hood's thumb moved to part his lips slightly, causing a shiver to run down his spine. He could feel how his lips were nearing his.
The Drake heir jumped in surprise, the vigilante in front of him flinching when the sound of his phone ringing stepped into whatever the hell they were about to do.
"Ah," He breathed out and avoided looking at the taller. He couldn't tell whether he should cry about his phone preventing him from kissing Red or if he should be grateful for the interruption because this was just wrong in so many ways. And then there was the whole fucked up addition that his ringtone was an audiotape of him and Robin, his soulmate, singing.
Tim was the definition of clumsy as he hurried to the dining table to answer the call, the phone pressed to his ear the second it was in his hand.
"H-Hey, Kon," He stammered helplessly, the flush on his cheeks refused to leave as he talked to his friend. He already planned to murder him in many ways for the perfectly timed interruption.
Thank god Red Hood didn't leave though and patiently waited for him to finish the call instead so things wouldn't get too awlward and tense between them the next time they would see each other.
"Yeah, the uh, skatepark is fine." Drake stuttered, then ended the call before he set his phone back on the table, just idling there awkwardly. What the hell should he even say? "Hey, I don't know if I like the idea of you trying to kiss me or not so can we try again?" Bullshit.
"Your friend? The vigilante asked. He perfectly demonstrated the perfect image of awkwardness after an almost-kiss.
"Um, yeah. Asked to meet up on Friday." The joke was on Tim. He wasn't any better than Hood.
"Alright, um," The man started off as he scratched the back of his head as his other hand reached for his helmet. Leaving was probably the best choice, both of them would have a good amount of time to actually calm down. "I... will be going then." He said as he walked over to the balcony before he put on his red helmet.
"Stay safe!" Tim called after Red, who gave him a salute in return, then jumped off his balcony. He stood still for a while, his mind now taking its time to process what actually happened and how it would have turned out if it weren't for his phone ringing. He sighed tiredly as he rubbed his forehead and entered his bedroom to let himself fall onto the bed and stare at the ceiling.
His heart did a jump in his chest when he thought about the way Red had dragged his thumb over his lip even though he shouldn't approve it. This was dangerous territory they were dancing on. One wrong move and everything would be over. As much as a small part of him begged him to cling onto the hope of not having to live his life alone anymore, of finally having someone, the reasonable and logical part of him was better at making its point.
He will leave you sooner or later anyway.
It is just a matter of time before he gets with his soulmate and leaves you.
Tim tried to block those thoughts out. He really did.
You aren't worthy of the attention from someone like him.
Let him go before its too late for you. Save yourself while you still can. He will only bring you pain.
However, as usual, Tim was the loser of the fight against his toxic intellect that always questioned and doubted every good thing happening to him. He bit on his lip. He tilted his head all the way back to prevent his eyes from bleeding the tears in his reddened eyes.
There is no reason for you to cry, idiot.
Once sure that the tears wouldn't flow down, he changed into a shirt instead, the need to hide his burn mark gone before he slid under the warm sheets of his bed.
It had been one of his coldest nights.
Tim avoided Red Hood at all cost for the past two weeks now. He didn't go up on the rooftop at night, instead, it was the first thing he did in the early morning hours where he knew the other would arrive home to take a few hours of rest. During the day, he went out for any reason possible so the vigilante wouldn't confront him at home. The only way he could see how Red was doing by watching the news. The first few days had been fine like usual, however, after each passing day he perceived how his actions turned even more violent than the day before. On the first days, the news let him know that he stole a few drugs here and there and left injured people behind. But now the news reported warehouses full of dead people with only one man left to tell the tale of Hood slaughtering them.
The last heir narrowed his eyes and clenched his jaw. This wasn't how he had planned everything to turn out between them. Hood should be unbothered by their sudden loss of contact, should go on with his life, should not care that Tim avoided him and should not take lives because he was frustrated.
"You have to make it difficult, don't you?" He muttered to himself as he rubbed his face with a hand. He got up to head to his desk. He quickly turned on his computers to analyze all the areas Hood was seen most of the time to try to figure out his route. Everyone had a route. Robin had had an own route to patrol Gotham as well. It took him half an hour to notice a specifc pattern. The only place Red always stepped into was Crime Alley in Old Gotham.
Everyone in Gotham would cower in fear at the mention of Crime Alley. It was the oldest and most dangerous area in Gotham, but it was the only area everyone knew about. It was the place with the highest crime rate in Gotham. The first thing to come to mind when mentioning Gotham was Crime Alley. The place lived up to its name. It was swarmed with criminals of all kind: Drug dealers, thieves, gangsters, rapists, murderers and so many more. Everyone living outside of Crime Alley did their best to prevent nearing that place.
"Fine. You wanted it this way." Tim breathed out, hastily getting up and pushing his chair back by a few meters. He stormed to his entrance door to put on his sneakers before he opened his door and slammed it shut behind him.
As he stepped out onto the street, lady luck was there to greet him with a cab waiting for a customer across the street. He hurried as he got to the cab and sat down on the backseat. "Crime Alley, please."
The driver threw him a look that said 'are you mad?'
"I'm sorry, but we don't drive to Crime Alley." The older man said. Tim didn't blame him, that place was a hell hole.
"What about Old Gotham?"
"That works just fine."
The last Drake stepped out of the cap after paying the driver. And as soon as he got out, the cap immediately drove away. Now he had to walk half an hour to arrive at Crime Alley.
The closer he got to the dangerous place, the creepier his surroundings became. Old Gotham mostly had old buildings, though then abandoned and broken buildings started to appear the nearer he got to Crime Alley.
Robin would kill him for risking his life like this. Tim snorted, sad smile on his lips.
No matter where you are, I will make sure nothing will ever happen to you. I promise.
Even if Robin wouldn't be able to protect him in Crime Alley, Tim didn't care. Even if his stupid actions would turn him into a lifeless body by the end of the night, Tim didn't care. Because there was no reason for him to care, no reason for him to actually stay alive. He didn't have a soulmate anymore, he didn't have a family, he didn't have more than five people he talked to, his inheritance was only decreasing and his choice to study photography didn't offer him jobs with the best income unless he worked his ass off.
Tim wasn't one to believe in heaven all too much, but he liked to imagine that his soulmate was waiting for him.
Before he knew it, he was already strolling through Crime Alley. He was tense with every step he took, looking around like a lost kitten. There were people hanging around in every alley he saw and flinched whenever he heard a scream or even a gunshot.
He debated on whether he should shout for Red every few seconds to make it easier for himself to find the vigilante (or make the vigilante find him). Of course the risk he would take was enormous. The people around possibly could, or would, come after him. But Tim was good at running, climbing up buildings and hiding. He could fight a little too, though he would be weak compared to an experienced fighter or a group of people.
"Red!" Tim suddenly shouted from the top of his lungs. He took bigger steps then, a weird sort of confidence and adrenaline boosting through his veins. "Red!" He shouted once more as he ignored the noises around him. His steps turned into little jumps, and then, before he knew it, he started running.
"I know you're here!" He yelled loudly. He ignored the way the people he ran past looked at him with annoyance and fury. He would never see them again no matter the outcome of his idiocy. "Hood!"
"Shut the fuck up!"
Tim's heart skipped a beat when he heard the yell behind him, slowing down in his tracks for a second. He began to run again and he didn't shut up. That yell only fueled the fire of his determination even if it would lead him to his destruction.
He ignored the lump in his throat that swelled with every shout, ignored how his legs shook every once in a while to try to keep his balance as he ran. His throat itched, he ignored it. His cheeks and body were on fire, he ignored it. He ignored every sign his body gave him to give up because it was too late to give up.
"Shut the hell up, you piece of shit!"
The cold wind hitting his skin wasn't enough to cool his burning body down. Nothing was enough to cool Tim himself down.
"Show yourself you fucking coward!!" He screamed as he stopped running when faced with a dead end, ragged breaths slipping past his lips as his chest heaved and shook. He was turning in circles, his eyes desperately looking for Red on the rooftops. But there was no Red. The panic in his eyes intensified, the tears welled up.
"Red!" He yelled once more, his voice slightly cracked at the end.
Tim's breath as well as his entire body was shaking as he slid his fingers into his hair to pull on his strands. He kept looking up at the rooftops but he knew it would only be a waste.
"You fucking talking to me?"
No, no, no, no, no.
He faced the way he came from as he slowly dropped his hands. There were five men ten meters before him, twice his size and armed. He gulped heavily, the natural human instinct to survive kicking in even though he tried to force it down.
"N-No, I-I wasn't, I wasn't yelling at you," His shaking voice explained while he shook his head, one tear already falling as his life flashed before his eyes.
"Not so confident now, huh?" One of the thugs spat before the group in front of him laughed.
When did they get closer?
His eyes immediately searched for the next exit route. He turned around to climb over the dead end.
He could never finish his thoughts of escape.
Tim let out a choked gasp as he got violently thrown onto the ground. His breath staggered as he placed his palms on the ground to try to push his shaking body up. A painful blow to his stomach made his efforts go to waste and he fell back down onto the ground with a sound between a wince and sob.
He clawed at the stones under him, tried to drag his body away from the men grinning down at him. His plan was short-lived when another strong kick met his legs. He cried out as the tears spilled from his eyes, wincing when one of the men stepped on his hand.
So this is it.
He tried to free himself from the kicks and blows at first, tried to free himself from the unbearable pain. But he soon felt numb, short intakes of breath and tears being his reaction to the beating.
His mind wasn't capable of rebuilding his consciousness. That was until he couldn't feel anything hitting his body, the sound of gunshots following right after. His vision was too blurry for him to see what was going on, though he let out a pleading whimper when he saw something red and was cradled in someone's arms until his vision went black.
The sheets didn't smell like his shampoo. His mattress didn't feel like his own. That was the first thing Tim noticed when he fell back into consciousness. He slowly opened his eyes to take in his surroundings. His eyebrows furrowed as he pressed his hands against the mattress to sit up carefully, hissing when pain spread across his stomach and chest. This wasn't his apartment. Before he let panic overcome him, he dropped his gaze down to the blanket resting over him. He stared at the blanket, one of his feet lifted up on a few pillows unded the blanket. Why?
Pain shot up his leg and he winced when he moved his elevated leg too quickly. He gritted his teeth in pain, looking up when the door of the room he was in opened and in stepped a familiar figure.
"Fuck, why did you move your leg?" Red breathed and moved over to him to push the blanket away slightly, gently taking his leg to rest his foot on the stacked pillows. "Your ankle is sprained. Don't move it too much." The man explained softly as Tim remained quiet. The memories of the night before flashed in his mind.
"What happened?" He asked quietly. He watched Hood avoid looking him in the eye as he placed some ice against his ankle. He spoke after a few seconds of silence. "I killed them off, then took you here."
"Why did you kill them?" Tim asked as he furrowed his eyebrows.
Red looked back up at him and even if he wore his mask, Tim knew he was narrowing his eyes and looked at him like he had asked something the answer was obvious too.
"They were fucking hurting you, Tim." Red replied and he heard the pain in his voice.
"That isn't a reason to kill them, Red."
"No, it is."
"So the people you killed in all those warehouses hurt me too?" Tim raised his eyebrow while crossing his arms over his chest. He leaned back against the headboard and pillow, waiting for an explanation from the taller who avoided looking at him once more. He saw the way Red tensed his jaw, but the pressure of ice to his ankle was still gentle.
After a while he realized the other wouldn't answer him at all in an attempt to close the topic. But the topic was going to be far from closing. He was only starting now.
"What's going on with you? Why have you been slaughtering all of those people?" He questioned Hood, his wonder reflecting in his eyes. He did try to get him to look back at him, though Red's eyes didn't move away from his ankle. He didn't like the way things were between the two of them, but this talk was necessary for them to move on.
"Because this is the way I am, Tim." Red replied, finally looking back at him. "Alright? I like spilling blood whenever I can." He pulled the ice off his ankle when he supposed he cooled Tim's ankle enough, getting up. "I'll bring you something to eat." With that, the vigilante walked out of the room and left him there alone. He hated how the tense atmosphere around them didn't fade like he hoped it would.
The vigilante had told him it would take two to three weeks for his ankle to heal. Tim would have asked Hood to take him home so he would be in his own apartment if it weren't for the fact that he liked the way Red was around him most of the time. They did have some playful banter from time to time after they had sorted out their issue. Tim was more than happy about it.
But of course things other than banter happened between the two of them as well. Their emotional connection was an unavoidable thing, that was something that got clear after each passing day. Their stares were an unavoidable thing. Their fleeting touches were an unavoidable thing. Tim's growing feelings for Red were an unavoidable thing. Tim's rapid heartbeat whenever he saw Red was an unavoidable thing. Tim's growing attachment to Red was an unavoidable thing.
All of it was unavoidable.
Whenever Red would lower him down onto the couch or bed they always happened to stare at each other until one of them looked away. It always had Tim's cheeks burning up, Red sometimes teasing him by saying he looked adorable when blushing and only causing his blush to deepen.
Sometimes he did ask Red to hand him a piece of paper and a pencil so he could draw his soulmate mark. Red had never been around before to actually see how his mark used to look like, though he was this time around.
They were sitting beside each other on his couch. His ankle had healed to the point where he could stand and walk around for a little while. He had a book under his paper so he could draw without any difficulties, Red's gaze went between the TV and his drawing. Their shoulders were brushing together, something both of them had grown used to after a while.
Once Tim finished drawing the feather, he began to draw the fire around it. He didn't notice how Red's head now was completely turned towards his drawing. Every little line Drake drew matched his mark as if he copied it from the actual source.
A soft sigh was the result of him finishing his drawing, running his forefinger over the mark as Red fully tensed up beside him.
"Where did you get that design?" Red asked as if he had difficulties speaking.
"It's... my soul mark." Tim explained. There was no need for him to lie about what it was. He trusted Red more than anything else. He looked up at the man staring blankly at his drawing. He always wondered what his eye color was or how they displayed his feelings. It would be so much easier to see his emotions through them.
Time seemed to pass faster than usual because suddenly Red's hand was tangled in his hair and their lips were pressed together, the man swallowing Tim's small, breathless gasp.
Tim pressed back after a second, heart violent in his chest and cheeks burning as Red touched his lips with his tongue for access. His lips parted slightly and he moaned into his lips for Red to taste when he shoved his tongue into his mouth.
Red relished the way his mouth fell open for him, he claimed Tim's lips with his tongue, his teeth and his own lips. He had to pull away for a brief second to catch his breath, but Red caught his lips again for another kiss, both moaning into the kiss. Tim ran his hand over the side of Red's neck as the other kept his fingers curled in his hair.
"Red," Tim gasped the other's name like a mantra, eliciting a groan from the other.
Red kissed like a man starved.
This time it was Red who pulled away, only enough for them to catch their breath, both panting against each other's lips with their foreheads against each other. Tim's whole body was hot from the passionate make out session, slowly opening his eyes to look at the mask in front of him.
"What," He started off, trying to form a sentence but his mind was too dizzy and his head was too much in the clouds for that.
"I'm your soulmate," Red breathed.
Drake pulled away slightly so he could fill his lungs with more air to look up at the vigilante with furrowed eyebrows.
"This isn't funny," He mustered out in between his breaths. No joke about his soulmate, his emotional scar, would ever be funny.
"I'm not joking, Tim. Look," Tim's eyes were drawn to Red's shoulder when the other pulled up the sleeve of his shirt until they zeroed in on his mark.
There it was. Tim's covered mark, on Hood's arm. The fire and the feather was the copy of his own covered one.
"I-It can't be, my soulmate is dead," He stammered out, mind trying to fabricate a reason for Red to be lying because this couldn't be. Robin was dead, he died seven years ago.
"No, he's not."
Tim's eyes widened in shock when Red lifted his hand, pressing his fingers against his mask before it loosened around his eyes and nose. His heart stopped dead when he entirely took his mask off to reveal his face.
No. This is just a coincidence.
The tears gushed out of his eyes as he looked at the man's exposed face, at his hopeful and pleading eyes.
"It's me, It's your Robin, Tim." Red breathed with a half smile on his lips.
This joke went too far.
"This isn't funny, Red!" He warned the man who dared to play with his feelings as if they were a mere toy. "I don't know how you found out but this isn't funny! Robin died!" He said louder as his lips trembled just like the rest of his body and he pressed his hands onto the couch to push himself away from him.
"Tim, I'm not joking, believe me," Red said and looked around as if he was trying to think of a lie to make him believe that he was saying the truth.
"I promised you to always be there when you were in danger," The man desperately started off and began to list things up only his soulmate would know. "Remember that one time in winter? We met up on our rooftop again and you gave me the scarf you bought so I wouldn't get a cold." Red let out a light chuckle at the memory. "I still have that scarf, Tim, and I also still have the picture of us during our first sunset and—"
Tim raised his hand, his palm in front of Red's face to get him to stop talking because he couldn't take this anymore.
"It's really you?" He trails off, his voice quiet and broken at the end of his sentence because his voice is just lost, the tears didn't help.
"It's me, it's Robin." Red, no, Robin, assured him, gently taking his hand in between his own and lowering it so they could see each other's faces again.
"But— my burn mark?" He asked desperately because even if Robin was alive there was still the burn mark hiding his soul mark.
"I did die. I was dead for a few months but– but I was revived, Tim. Ra's Al Ghul did it," Robin explained. He knew the Al Ghul's and it perfectly explained his burn mark and the fact that Robin sat in front of him. Relief was the first thing to wash over Tim.
But then, silence.
It was as if something inside of Tim snapped, all the pain from the last seven years finally fully catching up to him and bubbling over all at once. When Robin completely smiled at him, the muscles in his jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed and Robin clearly didn't expect that after he crushed something inside of Tim.
"I can't believe you lied straight into my face." Tim breathed in disbelief and fury as the tears streamed down his cheeks, slapping the smile off Robin's face.
"I thought you were dead for seven years. Seven fucking years," He said and it hurt to even talk. "I spent all those years going up on that rooftop, crying, suffering, wanting to end my life, thinking I would die alone and you were alive?" He asked as he shook his head to himself as if trying to tell himself that that wasn't true. "I tried to take my life for nothing? I went through all of the pain for nothing? Absolutely nothing?" He questioned, internally begging Robin for an excuse so he would make himself believe that he was wrong.
Robin looked at him with horror in his eyes when he learned what he had put him through before he spoke.
"I-I had no idea," He started off. "I feel fucking terrible and if I was there for you like I promised, maybe I could have stopped it. Maybe I could have done something so you wouldn't even think of that. That's what I regret and want to prevent from now on—"
Tim cut him off.
"Did you not care about me at all?" He asked as he shed his tears, his body shaking. "Did you not think about me at all?" He continued and his voice broke even more. All the blood had drained from his face by now, black dots swarmed his vision, coming in and out of existence within the corner of his eyes.
"Did I really, only mean absolute shit to you?" He asked Robin louder and the taller actually flinched when he raised his voice, the sight of Tim breaking a painful sight to look at because he looked like the definition of despair and hurt.
"Of course not!"
"Then why did I have to live through this hell hole?!" Tim shouted before he started to uncontrollably sob, covering his mouth to try to calm down and not arouse pity but it was a difficult thing to do when someone who caused him so much emotional and mental distress through their death suddenly appeared. But he couldn't get the awful feeling under control.
"Don't touch me!" He warned Robin when he felt the slightest bit of pressure on his shoulder which quickly faded away again. He quickly pushed himself away from the man even more even if all he wanted to do was hug him.
He looked up to see Robin's eyes turn a shade of red because of his own tears that didn't leave his eyes.
"It's ironic how I thought you were dead while you were alive just a few minutes ago," Tim started weakly with a sorrowful smile on his lips. "Now I know you're alive but you're still dead to me." He breathed out shakily, bitterly. He ignored how pleadingly Robin looked at him because he didn't deserve that, not after this. Now it was his turn to hurt him too, exactly how he had learned from him.
You will always stay with me, won't you?
"Leave." Tim said and Robin parted his lips to speak, probably wanting to beg him to let him explain.
"Don't." Tim warned him before he pressed his lips together when he felt his sobs coming again, wanting to be heard. "Go. Just go. Please." He begged him, sounding so small all of a sudden that it made Robin get up without a word. Tim didn't return Robin's gaze. He knew if he would look at him he would change his mind. Without another word, Robin turned around, mask in hand, and left.
Of course I will, Tim.
Tim's sobs finally broke out.
Tim couldn't feel any more dead by the the time a few days passed after Red revealed that he was Robin and Tim just completely lashed out at him. He was like a ghost flying around his apartment, doing nothing but eat, sleep and cry. He couldn't help himself anymore and thought about the man he didn't want to think about as an unhealthy new routine. Sometimes, whenever he saw himself in the mirror, he wanted to break it so he could grab a piece of the broken glass and do something to himself— but he never went that far. He wouldn't try something like that because of Robin, not again.
He would always lay in his bed and hug his pillow whenever his thoughts became too much to handle. He wouldn't leave his apartment either, he always ordered food of the unhealthy kind whenever he felt like eating. That didn't happen often these days.
Bart and Conner did come to him the second day and tried to get him out of his shell, without success. He didn't bother to move, didn't even speak more than four sentences.
"Leave me alone, you are exaggerating."
"Robin is alive, not dead."
"No, I don't want to see his lying face, he'll just play with me again."
His friends went quiet after that, respecting his feelings and decision enough to leave him in peace. They did check up on him occasionally via messages and calls.
Luckily, Robin didn't show up at his apartment even once after he had told him to leave. Though he knew he was secretly checking up on him, he didn't imagine the quick movements on the balcony or in front of the windows. Perhaps he should move out, leave Gotham behind him for good. Though he already knew his soulmate would find him no matter where he would be.
If I was there for you like I promised, maybe I could have stopped it. Maybe I could have done something so you wouldn't even think of that.
That's what I regret and want to prevent from now on.
Tim pulled his knees up more as his fingers clasped around his hot mug of coffee as he looked out the window while sitting on the window bench, his back against the wall. Was Robin telling the truth? Was he being serious? It seemed like he was, but he couldn't be too sure. Not after Robin lied to him and only revealed himself after finding out they were soulmates. Would he have shown himself to him even if he wouldn't know?
Unconciously, one of his hands crawled to his chest, fingers clutching his t-shirt.
Would he be able to trust those sea blue eyes once again? Would he believe the words coming out of his lips? Would he believe that he's saying the truth?
Tim didn't know, and he was afraid that the small bud of hope in his heart would break again.
Months had passed by now, summer was about to leave the stage and show fall its workplace. By now Tim dared to step out of his apartment and level down his crying, showing great success in his classes. University had started and he actually had expected it to be worse than it was. He got along with most of the people in his classes and was one of the best when it came to photography classes. But it wasn't enough to fill his aching heart silently begging for his soulmate. He ignored it.
He also stopped hiding his burn mark from time to time. He still received those glances full of pity, though it felt different than it did for the past seven years. Because he knew his soulmate wasn't actually dead. But alongside those glances, he also heard some of the students in university say that he was lucky that he didn't have a soul mark anymore and could do whatever he wanted with anyone he wanted.
Of course his mind couldn't stop itself from wondering about what his soulmate was up to for the past few months. He was soothed every time he saw his name come up in the news a few times a week. At least he was doing alright. Although his violent ways of murdering thugs didn't change for the better.
Tim threw the chocolate bars he picked from the shelves into his shopping cart and strolled down the aisle. His eyes landed on the perfectly red strawberries at the end of the aisle, quickly taking them and putting them into his cart.
"You've always loved strawberries."
He froze when he heard a familiar voice that he internally longed for, then turned around to look up at Robin with a face void of any emotion. But his eyes betrayed him because they were showing Robin his hurt.
He looked away after a few more seconds, he couldn't have himself weak in front of him. He continued to push his shopping cart with Red following behind him as he arrived at the register.
Tim paid the cashier and took the shopping bag in his hand (after telling Red off when he tried to take it). He left the supermarket but his patience was running out because the taller was still following him like some kind of lost puppy. He turned around.
"Why are you following me?" He asked in frustration.
"Because I miss you."
I miss you too.
"And we need to talk." Robin replied firmly. It was already clear that he wouldn't take 'no' as an answer. Tim knew how stubborn he could be, he was even worse now.
The way to his apartment was uncomfortably silent just like when he put his groceries away with Robin watching him while shifting his weight from one foot to another. The second Tim put the last grocery away Red took his hand in his own and made him look up at him with just that.
"It's Jason. Jason Peter Todd." His soulmate breathed. He couldn't control himself, thus his heart did a flip at the name he was told.
Jason. He wanted to say the name he had yearned to know out loud so bad.
"It's up to you to forgive me. All I want from you is to hear me out even if asking that is already too far from what I deserve." Was the first thing Jason, his Robin, his Red, his soulmate told him.
"I died and got brought back, you already know that. The first few months were crazy. I was out of my mind, crazy, and I couldn't remember shit while I was being trained by Talia Al Ghul."
Tim knew who Talia Al Ghul was. He knew who all of them were.
"It was fucked up. When I started to remember things more clearly, you were the first to come to my mind," Then why didn't you come back? "But I had changed so fucking much, I was almost crazy. I couldn't control myself and beat up people for no reason sometimes." Jason squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. "And I was scared that I would hurt you or that you wouldn't believe me because I didn't act like your Robin."
"How the hell did you think I wouldn't accept you?" Tim breathed.
Jason just shook his head. "I was too much of a coward, Tim. I kept telling myself you would turn me away if I told you, so I fucking kept quiet about it even though I shouldn't have. And then I saved you from those two bastards, " He swallowed. "I immediately wanted to talk to you for hours on end. But I knew I couldn't do that. So I thought if I were to befriend you as Hood then we could, we could talk like before."
Tim's heart didn't stop stinging.
"And I was fine with the way things were going between us then. But then I fucking saw your soul mark and I just couldn't hold myself back anymore, you didn't deserve to live with that sadness in the first place and I—"
He silenced Jason by pressing his lips against his, hand cupping the other's cheek as he stood on his toes. His soulmate stood still for a moment, then slowly moved his lips against Tim's and this was completely different from when they were sucking each other's faces off a few months ago.
Jason moved to wrap his arm around his waist, just holding onto him, gently rubbing Tim's knuckle's with his thumb before Tim pulled his hand out of his to wrap his arms around his neck instead. Jason was nothing but gentle as his lips slid against his own. He loved it, he really did, but after he had gotten a taste of a hungrier kiss he couldn't help but ask for that. So, he pushed his tongue against the other's lips before he got free access.
Tim felt like his heart could leap out of his chest the way it was hammering away.
He quietly moaned into Robin's mouth when he played with his tongue and explored the inside of his mouth more thoroughly this time. He pulled him further down with the arm around his neck to deepen the kiss as he tilted his head when Jason moved one hand to hold his head to angle his head for himself.
Tim whined when Jason pulled away to suck on his bottom lip before crashing their lips together once more because both of them were hungry to taste each other more.
He gasped for as much air as he could when Robin broke the kiss to press his face into the side of his neck and started to trail down kisses on his pale neck, making Tim moan when he sucked on a specifically delicate area on his neck. To leave a mark. A breathless Tim slid his hand into Jason's hair to curl his fingers into them, pulling his face up so he would look at him, both of their eyes blown wide.
"Bed," He breathed. Jason groaned, bending his knees slightly to place his hands on the back of Tim's thighs to lift him up in one go as if he weighed nothing. "Fuck," He sighed because that move shouldn't have charmed him this much. And Jason deserved another kiss for that. He pressed their lips together, kissing the man needily as he carried him into his bedroom.
He was dropped onto the bed and Jason didn't waste a second to get on top of him, latching his lips on his neck to suck and nibble on his soft skin. Tim panted, had his legs spread with Robin sitting between them and tilted his head to the side so he had more room. He shivered when Jason pulled away to ghost his lips over his while looking him in the eye, their breaths mingling together.
"Are you sure?" Jason asked him to make sure Tim really wanted this and didn't just act on impulse in the heat of the moment and his consideration got his heart beating even harder. "Because I don't think I can hold myself anymore," He told him in his deep voice.
"Then don't," He whispered against his lips as he curled his fingers into the shirt Jason was wearing. "I want this."
"Fucking hell," The man above him groaned before he slammed their lips together once more as their hands explored each other's bodies until they both grew impatient and began to get rid of each other's clothes. Maybe a little too eagerly.
Once Jason took off his boxers, Tim should have seen it coming. He was pretty big and he could foresee the burning stretch. It would be worth it though.
"You're so beautiful," Jason whispered and he made him flush under his inspective gaze.
"Stop staring," He muttered out shyly, a laugh being Red's reaction to his embarrassment before he placed a sweet kiss on his lips. Tim pulled away to lean over the bed in order to take the lube from the drawer and hand it to Jason, who looked at him with a risen eyebrow.
"Only I use it." He breathed to tune down the other's concerns of him having been with other people before he managed to voice it out, moaning when Jason sunk his teeth into his marked neck. Before he knew it, two fingers were already inside of him and stretching his walls. "Oh," He whined, hands on Jason's shoulders and nails digging into his skin, arching his back once another finger joined the rest to open him up.
He had never wanted someone to wreck him so much, to mark him up for everyone to see, to touch him until he was begging for it for hours on end. His skin was flushed and his breath ragged as Jason spread him open with his fingers and marked him with his teeth and tongue.
Tim couldn't hear the whine he let out at the loss when Jason pulled his fingers out to leave him empty. A breath of anticipation erupted from him as he watched him position himself against his entrance, moaning out loudly when Jason slowly slid inside out of him. He wrapped his legs around the taller's waist, the tight grip on Jason's shoulders not fading as both took deep breaths while Tim tried to adjust to his size. His dark strands were sticking to his forehead, the rest of his hair spread around his head on the pillow.
After a while Tim wanted more, wanted Jason to move, to take him as hard as he could and leave him a screaming mess. "You can move," He breathed, sliding a hand into Jason's hair to press their lips together. "Fuck me," He whispered into his mouth and made Jason groan and attack his lips.
He wrapped his slender arms around his neck, clinging to the man as he kissed the living daylights out of him. Tim moaned against his lips when Jason pulled himself out nearly all the way before thrusting back in, driving himself inside of him over and over again. "J-Jason!" He cried, writhing in pleasure underneath him.
Jason groaned on top of him and broke the kiss to press his face into his neck in an attempt to muffle his own sounds as he fucked into him hard. "You're so fucking sinful," The taller grunted as Tim shook against him, hips slapping together hard and fast and eager with the sounds echoing through his room.
Tim threw his head back into the pillow, a loud moan close to a scream coming from him when Jason managed to hit that one spot. It made him see stars and the taller must have realized that because now he was just thrusting right into that spot on repeat to get him to be that loud again.
Jason kept ramming inside of him, making it clear that he was the focus of the pleasure's scope. The smaller was panting and moaning and crying out whenever he got pounded into, just fueling Jason's ego while doing so.
"I-I'm close!" He whined and came between their bodies after a couple of more thrusts. Jason followed him shut, filling him up on the inside as he bit his skin to muffle his drawn-out groan. He stilled his hips, both trying to come down from their high for several minutes until Jason slowly pulled out of him to drop beside him instead.
A tired smile was painted on his lips when Jason pulled him up against his chest to cuddle, chests heaving and eyes closing.
Tim opened his blue eyes when the taller moved to take his hands and lift it uo to place a kiss on his knuckles, then on his burn maek as if the flush on his cheeks from the sex wasn't enough already. When Jason saw the happy but questioning look in his eyes, he spoke up.
"Let me take you out on a date."
His heart jumped before he laughed lightly.
"Shouldn't you have done that before this happened?" He asked teasingly and moved his head to rest it on Jason's shoulder as he looked up at him.
"Might have switched the order a bit." Red teased him, kissing his burn mark one last time. He then held onto his hand while playing with a strand of his hair.
"I don't mind."