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Heart, Home and Family

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There was a time when things weren't like this. When Dick Grayson didn't have all of this responsibility; when he could be the one who was hurt or scared.

Not now, never now.

He was a big brother now, he was Nightwing. The family depended on him, his siblings depended on him, hell even Bruce depended on him.

So Dick decides that he can't be that same nine year old who went to Bruce when he had nightmares, needed a hug or any sort of support.

No, Dick was the one supporting now. He was the one Damian came to when he needed comfort, the one Tim came to when he needed reminding that he was human, the one Jason came to when he needed help. Hell, Dick was the one Bruce came to when he needed calmness and help.

Dick was the rock of the family (apart from Alfred who, of course, was the real rock), and if he struggled, then who would be able to keep the family running?

No. 

Dick didn't need help, he needed to stay focused.

Still, it was the beginning of May and Dick was struggling. Stupid, it was stupid. 

It had been almost thirteen years, he didn't even remember them; he didn't remember the exact colour of his mother's eyes, the sound of his father's chuckle, nothing about them... maybe the outline of their faces, but they were fading, fading fast.

It didn't matter. 

They were gone, and Dick had a lot of people who needed his help, who were still alive and fighting.

So Dick continued, he continues to go to work, call his siblings to make sure they're okay, then go out on patrol and kick bad-guys' asses and then go to sleep before repeating the routine the next morning.

Simple.

Because Dick was okay, he was.

.

Dick had started to get nightmares, bad ones.

It wasn't an issue, it wasn't a problem. Dreaming about his parents falling, then his siblings and everyone he loves, yes it was... tough, but it wasn't a problem.

No, Dick just stayed up and finished off some paperwork instead. It was better, more beneficial actually.

It wasn't like he stoped sleeping completely, because there were days when he would be exhausted enough to sleep without dreams. Dreams meant the brain wasn't tired enough, meant that there was some part in him that hadn't worked hard enough.

It was training, like heavy lifting but for the brain.

Nothing was wrong.

.

Then, his prescription went out. 

That wasn't a problem.

Why would it be? The hallucinations he got weren't a hinder, he just had to get used to them.

It was fine, everything was fine.

His parents were telling him to fall, whispering that it was his fault, that he would be better off dead, that everything would be better if he just... stopped. Then, hallucinations of Bruce popped up, it was fine. Dick was used to him, and it was nice to not be alone anymore.

At least he had company, someone watching over him and during good days Bruce would only use his deep disappointed voice and not yell, not scream at him that he wished that he never adopted Dick.

Things were fine.

.

"Nightwing!" Damian's voice caused Dick to look up.

Batman and Robin were walking towards him on the rooftop, Dick had promised to help them with a case.

"Hey, how are you?" Dick smiles, ruffling Damian's hair.

"Stop it Nightwing, I do not need to be pampered." Damian pulls away and Dick lets out an empty chuckle.

"He thinks you are a bother, he would be better off without you. Look at him, struggling with his relationship to you and his real father. You're confusing him, holding him back from what he could become." Bruce- or the hallucination of Bruce, maybe H-Bruce, states and Dick's knuckles tighten before he forces them to relax.

"So, ready to go?" Dick asks, voice light, almost too light.

Like a glass before breaking.

Bruce looks at him. "Are you-"

"More handsome than you? Definitely, now come on old-man!" Dick chuckles before he runs after Robin, jumping off the rooftop after him.

"Fall" Mami's voice urges as he pulls out his grappling hook "fall" Tati urges but he ignores them, keeping his eyes on Robin's back as he aims the hook on the next roof before firing.

He doesn't fall.

Because Dick Grayson doesn't fall, he's never fallen.

That was his dead parents, not him. He cheated death, has continued to do so for years.

They map out the warehouse where Scarecrow were holding his newest formula. Bruce had explained that they'd gotten the tip from an anonymous source, something that Dick knew made Bruce anxious.

Bruce didn't like uncertainties, and definitely didn't trust someone he couldn't interrogate.

"I'll go in from the roof then, and you two take the main door on my signal." Dick concludes and Bruce sends him a hard look.

"No, we don't know how many there are."

"Father, trust Gr-Nightwing, he has proven himself on multiple occasions." Damian pipes up and Dick sends him a soft smile.

"Fine, but I trust you to tell us if you can't do it Nightwing." Bruce states and something cold enters Dick's body.

"Sure, you got it B." Dick answers, nodding before they split up.

"He knows you're weak, he's hoping they take you out so he won't have to deal with you." H-Bruce whispers and Dick swallows.

He needs to focus, Damian's here and Dick would rather saw off his own arm than let anything happen to him.

He manages to sneak up on the roof, easily finding the fire-exit on the roof.

"Jackpot." Dick whispers, mostly to drown out H-Bruce's comments and his parents' words.

One, two, three.

Dick throws his back into the exit before turning, holding his escrima sticks high.

"Good afternoon guys!" Dick calls out, flipping over the railing and landing on the ground. 

There were at least five people close to him, and Dick didn't hesitate to strike out. They'd probably call in more, the shipments were but on big pallets.

"Nightwing!" 

Fighting had become... almost like dancing, almost like floating.

Dick's brain had started to almost shut off, like he didn't need to be present anymore.

It was nice, but his body was tired.

Everything was tired.

He was tired.

His brain comes back online, and he spots all of the men on the floor, holding their ribs or any other body part that Dick had managed to strike.

"Clear, you guys can-"

Dick will blame it on that he's tired, because this was... sloppy.

He was sloppy, letting someone sneak up on him.

A knife to his back.

"Don't move." A deep voice grunts and Dick huffs.

"That's not really my style, sorry." Dick turns, letting the knife slash his sid before slamming his escrima stick into the man, making him gasp before hitting him hard enough to knock him out.

"-wing! Nightwing do you copy?" Bruce's loud voice causes Dick to wince.

"Yeah yeah I copy, sorry. All clear here, you can go ahead and take the main entrance." Dick answers and he can hear Bruce sigh.

In disappointment?

"Probably." H-Bruce states and Dick rolls his eyes.

He looks down at his cut, it wasn't particularly deep and Dick would be able to stitch himself up just fine in his apartment.

He moves towards the front of the warehouse, spotting Batman and Robin knock down a couple of more men.

"Hey, fancy seeing you here." Dick smiles and Robin tuts at him.

Dick helps them take down the last men and women before examining the pallets.

"Man, they're almost empty." Dick huffs.

Why would they only ship half of what the pallets could take? Most of the boxes on the pallets were empty.

"Maybe they were experiments?" Dick wonders, checking them.

"I'm calling Gordon, wait here; both of you." Bruce grunts and Dick shrugs.

"I actually have to go B, justice doesn't sleep you know and Blud needs its daily patrol." Dick states but Bruce sends him a look that tells Dick to stay or Bruce would hunt him down.

"Gotcha, gee ever tried to win a staring contest?" 

Dick walks over to Damian. "Hey, tell me what you've been doing recently? Anything going on in school?" 

"Tt, we're not supposed to talk about our personal lives in our suites, I thought you at least had some brains Nightwing." Damian huffs and Dick rolls his eyes.

"You got me, sorry Robin."

"I've called Gordon, Robin go and wait in the car while I talk with Nightwing." Bruce states and Damian tuts but does as he's told.

"Because he knows who his father is. He's made his choice, he doesn't want you in his life anymore, he doesn't need you." H-Bruce states and Dick stretches his neck to try and get rid of his voice.

It was too similar to Bruce's actual voice and Dick had to focus.

"So, what's up B?" Dick asks leaning back against a big box.

Bruce looks him up and down again, spotting the wound. "Agent A can help you with that."

Dick rolls his eyes, he forgot about Bruce's inability to show emotions or getting to the point. "I'll be fine, what did you want to talk to me about?"

"It's May, I wanted to... see if you needed some assistance." Bruce states after some time and Dick doesn't let his smile fall.

"I'm fine, you don't have to worry about me B." Dick answers and Bruce exhales, face turning pinched, his usual frustrated face.

"What I mean is... you don't have to be fine, I wouldn't-"

"Well I am fine." Dick interrupts, causing Bruce to let out a frustrated sound.

"I just-"

"Batman." Gordon's voice causes Bruce to whip around and spot him entering the warehouse.

"I'll see you later B." Dick concludes, waving to Gordon before walking the opposite way, ignoring Bruce's hard gaze on his back.

He was fine, and he didn't need Bruce worrying about him.

"I'm not worried about you. I never am, I'm worried about what you're going to fuck up. The damage control once you're done with whatever tantrum or meltdown you have." H-Bruce states and Dick shrugs.

"It's the same." He answers, ignoring the way his answer echoes in the cold warehouse.

He was fine.

.

Once he got home he patrolled until the sun rose. It was nice and nothing went wrong, which was always a plus. He had some nice small-talk with H-Bruce and his parents, and even managed to help a couple of teens to find their way home.

"Success, lets get home and take a nice shower." Dick muses, climbing up through his fire-escape to his window. 

He unlocks his alarm, 

Dick enters his apartment through his window, groaning as the wound he got in Gotham pulls.

"Gotta fix that and then I'll be good to go." Dick hums, walking over to the bathroom, finding his first aid kit.

"Wouldn't it be nicer to be with us? Let the wound be and come with us instead." His mother whispers and Dick lets out an empty chuckle.

"I'll be with you soon enough Mami, no need to hurry the process." 

Dick stitches his wound up before showering, letting the slightly cold water hit him. He was certain that a note would be plastered on his front door, asking (demanding) about his rent, it would explain the water and the fact that the whole apartment was cold.

It wasn't like Dick couldn't pay, not that he necessarily could. He'd spent his money on taking Damian to the art exhibit in Gotham, then for buying Tim the latest telescope and Jason dinner a couple of weeks ago.

He dries off and puts on some sweats, grabbing his computer he sits down on his couch, scrolling through the couple of cases he's got both as Officer Grayson and Nightwing.

 

Then suddenly he's standing on a platform. The sound of the circus music echoing around him, the audience cheer almost catches him off guard.

"My little Robin, it is time to fly." His mother says, standing beside him while waving towards the audience.

Dick's gaze whips up to his mother's face, she's wearing her Flying Graysons-costume, her red lipstick and even mascara but- her eyes were wide open and empty, unseeing.

"Mami?" Dick asks, hand suddenly grabbing hers, as to stop her from sailing out on the trapeze.

"Dickie, join me." She grabs his hand too, holds it tight and Dick suddenly wants to pull away.

"No, Mami stop! Stop, please just come down with me." Dick cries but she only lets out a sigh.

"If that is what you want. I wanted us to die together Dickie, I wanted us to die as a family."

Then she lets go of his hand, and swings out from the platform and into the air on the trapeze, jumping just as his Tati joins her from the other side. His eyes, just as unseeing and empty as her's.

"No! No stop!"

"It's alright Dick, come with me." Bruce's voice causes Dick to look up, Bruce was standing next to him on the platform, wearing the same Flying Grayson-costume as his parents.

"Bruce?"

"Come on chum, take my hand." Bruce urges, eyes meeting Dick's and Dick lets out a whimper.

"No, no B please- please don't do this." Dick sobs, eyes meeting Bruce's empty ones. 

Bruce lets out an irritated sound. "You never were a part of our family then, come on boys." 

Suddenly, the platform was full of both him, Bruce, Jason, Tim and Damian.

"No! Dami, Jay, Timmy please-"

He can't stop them. He tries to grab onto Damian, shaking him as Damian's empty eyes meet his. "You always were a disappointment Grayson, never like me; the true Wayne heir. You are nothing; nothing to me, nothing to anyone." 

"Dami, Dami please no, Dami listen just-" Dick sobs as Bruce rips Damian out of his grasp, helping Damian to grab the trapeze before he sails out over the audience.

"Tim." Bruce urges and Tim takes a step forward.

"No! No! Timmy, come here, no! You can't take him! Stop!" Dick yells, holding onto Tim's arm as hard as he can.

"Let me go Dick, you've never been anything to me, never loved me, never let me love you. You've always been in my way to success, always ruined everything good for me." Tim states, his eyes as empty as everyone else's.

"Timmy, no! No you can't- Bruce stop!" Dick yells, but his grip suddenly loosens enough for Tim to grab the trapeze and fly.

"No!" Dick yells, sobs.

"Jaylad." Bruce's voice had grown almost soft now and Dick jumps onto Jay, forces himself to lay on top of him.

"No! Jay please, please snap out of it! They can't- they can't take you! They- no! Jay look at me, look at me!" Dick yells but Jason's eyes only stare up at him, white and completely glazed over.

He doesn't even see Dick.

"Jay! No! No you can't- Bruce no! No! Please Jay, I need you, I can't- no!" Dick yells as Bruce easily, moves him off of Jason, helping Jason up.

Jason grabs the trapeze and Dick can't stop him. He can't stop anyone.

Soon enough it's only Bruce left.

"Join us chum, look at them, look at how much of a family we are. We live together, and we die together. Let me help you chum." Bruce says, hand reaching for Dick's.

"B- no, please you were supposed to protect me! You were supposed to- B." Dick feels dizzy, shaky, everything was too loud, the lights were too bright and Dick just wanted to, just wanted everything to stop.

"You want it to stop chum?" Bruce asks, voice as soft as when he spoke to Jason.

"Yes, yes please please make it stop Bruce- dad, please please help me-" 

Bruce nods, letting go of the trapeze and moves forward, taking Dick's hand.

"I will make it stop chum, just look, look at them." Bruce murmurs softly and Dick does, lets Bruce push his face into their direction.

"I'll make it stop." Bruce says, and suddenly the sound of rope snapping echoes.

It's louder than the music, than the cheering.

"No!" Dick screams, voice hoarse and he tries to run forward, to desperately catch them.

He can't. It's like watching marionettes having their strings cut, his family falling through the air before the sickening cracks of their bodies hitting the ground meets Dick's ears.

"No! Nonononno- I can't- I- no-" Dick doesn't know what to do, Bruce's hands forces him to look, to look at the blood slowly seeping from their mangled bodies, the way their limbs are splayed out like fallen dominos.

"This is what you wanted chum, you wanted it to stop." Bruce says softly before getting up and Dick's in too much of a shock to realise what Bruce's doing until it's too late.

Bruce swings out before letting go of the trapeze.

He falls slowly, like slowmotion, dragging out on his inevitable death.

The sound of his body hitting the floor causes Dick to gag.

He can't breathe, can't think, he can't-

"Such a shame Grayson. Killing your own family, why didn't you fall with them? Because you know that they're not your family? You, Grayson, are the bringer of death, you mark anyone who comes near you for death, you are the cause of your family's death." Scarecrow's voice whispers behind him, and Dick wants to turn around but he can't.

He's frozen, everything's frozen.

The bodies have piled up now and Dick's suddenly in the circus ring, right by the mountain of bodies.

There are more.

Wally, Donna, the girl he didn't save a couple of patrols ago, Kory, his family, his friends, people he's met on the street, everyone.

The stank of blood and old rotten bodies causes him to gag again, and he can't stop. He's down on his hands and knees, trying to throw up whatever was blocking his airways.

"There there Grayson, breathe; you're the only one who can." Scarecrow's voice muses and Dick suddenly throws up.

It's not vomit though.

It's blood, and a small-

it's-

It's Lian's head.

.

Dick shoots up from his bed, vomiting onto the ground.

He's shaking, whole body trembling and he tries to forget about the vivid images.

It felt real, it felt so real.

He immediately tries to find his phone on his nightstand, trembling fingers pressing the first contact that pops up.

"Dick?" Bruce's voice answer and Dick sobs.

"B-dad. I-help, I need h-help." Dick sobs out.

"Dick? Why are you calling now?" Bruce asks and Dick's heart skips a beat.

"What?"

"I'm in the middle of my act, can't you hear the music?" Bruce's voice states and the sudden sound of the circus music makes Dick's head spin.

"No- no that wasn't- Bruce-"

Then Dick hears the sound of the ropes breaking, the sound of them snapping and then-

"No- no no no nonnono no no-" 

Dick throws his phone away, but the circus music won't stop.

Nothing stops.

He closes his eyes, tries to dissociate, tries to do anything to stop this.

.

"Dickie, chum open your eyes, you're okay. I'm here now, come on open them." Bruce's voice soothes after a while, minutes? Hours? Days?

Dick slowly pulls his hands away from his face and looks up.

He wishes he didn't.

His whole family was standing in front of him, their bodies mutilated and eyes just as empty as before.

"No, no-"

"Come with us chum, you can fly with us, fall with us." Bruce urges and Dick can't look away, he can't.

His brothers, the ropes around their necks, their necks broken, their eyes empty.

Always empty.

.

Dick shoots up from the couch.

He's already sobbing, panting for breath.

Was this real? Was anything real?

He finds his phone on the small coffee table next to his laptop.

He shakily grabs it, looking through the list of people before pressing down on a name.

The sound of ringing was comforting, felt better than the sound of the circus music.

"What the fuck do you want?" Jason's tired voice answers and Dick lets out a shaky exhale.

"Where are you?" Dick asks, body trembling.

"I'm sleeping in my fucking bed, what do you think I'm doing?" Jason growls out and Dick lets out a strangled sob.

"Dickface?" Jason asks, voice growing less angry and more confused. "What the fuck are you doing, calling me at like four in the fucking morning? Is something wrong in Blud?" 

"You take him here and he might suffer the same fate as he did in your dream." H-Bruce's voice causes Dick to jump, dropping his phone on the floor.

He immediately reaches for it, body still trembling. "No, no everything's fine. I just- I didn't realise that it was only four. I- I was going to ask you about going to Damian's art exhibition next... month, if you're free." 

Jason stays quiet for a couple of seconds. "You called me at four in the morning, sounding off as fuck, to ask if I wanted to go to the demon's fucking art exhibit?" 

"Yeah, sorry. I- I was out patrolling with him yesterday and he told me about it." Dick states and Jason lets out a loud huff.

"Your lying is shit, you haven't been out patrolling in days Goldie. B-man asked me about you and I covered for you, so whatever-"

Dick doesn't hear the rest.

Days? No, no they patrolled together yesterday. 

What-

"-head! Dickhead fucking shit, I'm coming over. You better not be fucking okay." Jason growls out and Dick immediately tenses.

"No! No don't come over. I- I'm fine, you're right. I've been going undercover for the past couple of days and I just wanted to ask about Black Mask, but it can wait if you need your beauty sleep." Dick shrugs and Jason swears into the phone.

"Fucking hopeless piece of shit you are, I told you to leave him alone and let me deal with that shit." 

"I know, I'm sorry, I'll talk to you later though." Dick forces before hanging up.

He's trembling again, staring out into his cold and dark apartment.

He was losing it, he was losing time, losing himself.

What was happening?

He checks the date on his phone. Jason was right, it was Tuesday today and he'd gone out patrolling with Damian and Bruce on a Thursday.

Had he missed going to work too?

He checks his inbox and sees an email from Amy, telling him that she'd given him a couple of weeks off since he hadn't shown up to work. Dick had worked with her for long enough that she knew that March and April weren't good months for him, she must've thought that he hadn't come in because he felt bad.

Felt bad.

Dick did feel bad.

"You will be with us soon my Robin." Mami's voice causes Dick to look towards his window, spotting her outside on the fire escape, before she suddenly tips backwards and-

"No!" 

Dick can somehow hear when her body hits the ground, but he's too scared to move from the couch and check outside.

What- what was he supposed to do? What could he do?

.

The nightmares continued, or were they nightmares?

Dick wasn't sure anymore, he wasn't sure of anything.

He hadn't left his couch, hadn't been able to move at all. His phone had died after the first couple of days, so Dick didn't need to listen to it ringing. 

"I don't know how much more I can take." Dick whispers to no one.

No one.

Everyone gone.

He was laying on his couch, fetal position with his arms around his legs. 

"Five-hundred and forty-seven elephants, five-hundred and forty-eight elephants, five-" Dick whispers, rocking slightly.

He'd had to start over about ten times, or more, he wasn't sure.

The sound of his window opening had him turn to see who he would watch die this time.

Jason.

"Not real, it's not real. Jay's fine, he's fine, he's safe." Dick whispers to himself, scanning over Jason's body.

He was wearing ha domino mask and dark clothes.

"Fucking shit." Jason mutters as he scans the apartment.

"Not real, he's not real, he's not- not not not NOT!" Dick whispers and Jason's eyes immediately turns towards him.

"Oh fu- Dick? Dick, you can you hear me?" Jason asks, voice going into something softer, or calmer.

"Not real, not real, he's not here, Jay's safe, he's safe he's-"

"Dick, it's me, Jason. Hey, hey it's okay." Jason slowly etches forward, kneeling down by Dick's couch.

"Hey, can you tell me why you don't think I'm real?" Jason asks and Dick shakes his head hard.

"Not real... not real not real... fifty-fifty... fifty-seven elephants, fifty-eight elephants, fifty-nine elephants-" Dick starts and continues to count, hoping that Jason would go away, would leave him alone.

"Fuck, B you have to get over here. He's- something's wrong with him, I don't know if it's his meds or if something's happened." Jason says in his black phone. 

When did he pull that up?

"Hey, Dickie look at me. Can you tell me what day it is?" Jason asks, phone still pressed against his ear.

Was he talking to Dick?

"No he's gone. I don't- no don't call an ambulance. I don't fucking know B!" Jason yells and Dick immediately cowers, going back to counting elephants.

"It's going to be okay Dickie, I'm going to put a bullet into whoever's done this shit to you." Jason murmurs and Dick just keeps his eyes on him, because Scarecrow said to keep his eyes on them.

To never let his gaze move away from his family or Scarecrow would take them.

He would take them.

"Take who? Dickie who's doing this to you?" Jason asks and Dick shakes his head.

"Don't- don't make him angry." Dick whispers, hand slowly moving out and grabbing Jason's arm.

His eyes immediately widen, maybe he could safe Jason. 

Maybe this time, maybe-

Dick pulls, hard, until Jason's on the couch with him and Dick manages to flip them so that Jason's underneath him.

"Ugh fuck, okay Dickie, it's okay you're-"

"You can't have him, not again." Dick growls, eyes moving around the room until he finds Scarecrow in the corner.

"I will always have him." Scarecrow whispers, taking a step forward.

"No! No! No please, Jay Jay don't- Jay don't go. Please please-" Dick sobs, holding onto Jason tighter as Scarecrow's almost in front of them and Dick cries harder, desperately trying to cling to Jason.

"Dickie, breathe. Breathe it's not real, hey look at me, look at me." Jason whispers and Dick shakes his head.

"He'll take you, he'll take you and I- no! No please, please don't, please leave him alone- LEAVE HIM ALONE!" Dick yells and Scarecrow sends him an ugly grin.

"Dickie, hey, hey look at me." Jason's hands forces Dick's head towards his face instead of Scarecrow and Dick tries to trash but Jason's stronger, always stronger.

"Hey, it'll be okay, look at me. That's good Dickie, keeps your eyes on me. We're safe, we're okay." Jason murmurs and Dick nods against him, burying his face into Jason's chest.

"You're okay Dickie, I'm here." Jason murmurs and Dick holds onto him tighter, then-

"Dick? Are you leaving me? Dick, please help me." A younger version of Jason's voice pleads and Dick shoots up, spotting the younger version of Jason by the window.

"You can save him Grayson. Go on, before he falls." Scarecrow announces and Dick immediately scrambles away from Jason and towards the open window.

"Dick- no! Dick!" Jason yells but little-Jason's too close to the railing.

"Jay- no! No wait, wait I- wait!" Dick screams, but suddenly something hard slams into him and Dick's tackled to the ground.

"Dick, breathe. It's not real, I'm right here, don't-"

"Jay!" Dick screams hoarsely as he watches him plummet from the window and the fire escape. "No- nonono you promised! You- you told me, Jay please, Jason don't-" Dick sobs, screams and tries to trash away from the person holding him down.

"It's okay Dick, breathe. Breathe, you-"

The sound of the apartment door opening is drowned in the sound of a body hitting the ground, the sound of Jason dying all-over again.

"Dick? Jason?" Bruce's voice causes Dick to tense up again.

No, was he here to take Jason? Was he-

"Hurry the fuck up." Jason's voice answers, above Dick, was Jason here? 

Dick feels Jason slowly letting go and helping Dick to sit up. 

"Dick? Look at me, it's going to be okay, just let B come over okay?" Jason asks and Dick's eyes turn towards Bruce's form in his living room.

"B?" Dick asks, eyes growing big as he looks at Bruce, Bruce's eyes not empty; but blue.

"Chum? Can you tell me the last time you took your pills?" Bruce asks, kneeling down in front of Dick and next to Jason.

"Please, please- please don't take him, please let me- anything. Don't-" Dick yanks Jason away from Bruce and towards himself and Bruce's eyes grow big.

"Dick?"

"I told you to fucking bring the sedative." Jason growls under his breath and Dick tries to shield Jason.

Maybe Bruce would leave, maybe it'd be enough to take everyone else, wasn't that enough?

"Chum-"

"He'll take him, he'll take everyone you've ever loved and leave you alone. You've always been alone Grayson; never loved, never belonged anywhere." Scarecrow's voice forces Dick to look up and behind Bruce.

"No- no! Leave me alone! Leave us alone! You- you've already, it's too- nononno. One elephant, one elephant, five elephants, seven elephants, three elephants." Dick whispers, closing his eyes.

If Jason was going to be taken from him, he'd force Scarecrow to peel his eyes open like the last time he tried to close them.

A sudden prick in his arm causes Dick to open his eyes.

"Wha-"

"You're going to be okay, don't worry, I'm not leaving you Goldie." Jason murmurs and Dick nods heavily, everything feels heavy.

He's lowered on the floor and his shirt's suddenly pulled up.

Catalina? Again? Or was it Mirage?

Dick wasn't sure anymore.

"No- please, Cat please-" Dick sobs out, gentle shushing makes his mouth go slack.

"It's okay Dickie, breathe." Jason's voice is the last thing Dick hears before he falls into darkness.

Falls.

The first time he falls and hopefully the last time.

.

Things, faces, sounds, lights morphs together.

He watches his parents fall, watches their faces turn into one until it's Bruce falling. Then his brothers, one by one like drops of rain hitting the pavement.

The sound of soothing voices mixes with screams, white lights mixes with darkness.

Everything and Nothing.

One and the same.

Finally, finally he feels the nightmare growing quiet, growing dark, the curtain closing.

He dreams of nothing.

.

Dick wakes up slowly this time.

Lets himself inhale and exhale before he opens his eyes.

He blinks, not knowing where he is until he recognises his old room at the manor.

"Dick?"

Dick slowly turns his head, spotting Jason sitting by his side.

"Jay?" Dick slurs, why was he slurring?

"Yeah Dickhead, how you feeling?" Jason asks, and Dick blinks.

"I- what-" Dick tries to make sense of his thoughts, but there's like a fog in his brain that's making it hard for him to understand what exactly was going on.

"You're on some pretty strong drugs right now, probably why you're feeling... like that." Jason explains and Dick nods dumbly.

His door opens and he spots Bruce and Alfred walking inside, speaking in hushed voices. Both stop when they spot Dick looking at them.

"Master Dick, how good to see you awake." Alfred announces and Dick nods slowly.

"He's confused, I don't think he remembers anything." Jason states and Dick turns his gaze back to Jason.

"Hey, chum?" Dick turns and suddenly Bruce's right in front of him.

He immediately flinches back and Jason swears. 

Bruce, but-but was it Bruce-Bruce or H-Bruce?

Was... his head was hurting.

Dick lets out a pitiful moan, burying his head in his hands.

"Hey Goldie, it's okay just breathe." Jason's voice instructs, or suggests, and Dick tries to obey but it's hard to breathe when he's barely aware of breathing.

"Perhaps we should get the oxygen mask for him again." Alfred's voice states and Dick hears them talking again.

Then, Dick feels someone laying down next to him, arms suddenly wrapping around his chest.

"Hey Dickie, we really need you to breathe okay? Just breathe in when I press down, and breathe out when I let go, okay?" Jason's voice murmurs before a gentle hand presses down on his chest.

It takes a couple of seconds before Dick understands the concept, then multiple tries until he finally manages to breathe properly again.

"Good, nice and easy. You're okay now, you're safe." Jason murmurs and Dick nods weakly, hands moving away from his face and to Jason's arms, pulling him closer until Jason's close enough to block everything terrible and dark away from Dick.

"You can go back to sleep Dick, I'll be here when you wake up, I'll keep you safe; I promise." Jason murmurs and Dick exhales, letting his eyes fall closed.

Jason would keep him safe, Jason promised.

.

The next time Dick wakes up he's more coherent. 

He also remembers everything.

"It happened when we were investigating Scarecrow's newest formula. We found substance in your blood, a new formula he created to take you out." Bruce explains while Dick's still laying in bed and Jason's sitting on a chair again.

"Why?" Dick rasps and Bruce sighs.

"He understood that he wouldn't be able to do his business in Gotham, so he was thinking of moving to Bludhaven instead. We got the information from one of his men. The new formula was made to give the same symtoms as his normal fear toxin, the only difference would be the severity of it. It slowed you heart, and if you would've died in your dreams, you'd actually die. It intermingled with your current diagnosis though, you stopped taking your medication." Bruce continues and Dick closes his eyes.

"I'm fine."

He sounds like broken record.

"Dick-"

"Hey don't fucking pin this on him. You shouldn't have left him alone for the whole fucking month when you know what time it is for him. He doesn't leave you alone for the whole fucking June because he knows how you get." Jason interrupts and Dick opens his eyes to glance over at Jason.

"It's okay Jay, I told him that-"

"It's not fucking okay, he was shit, we all were for leaving you fucking alone." Jason interrupts for a second time and Dick lets him because he's too tired to get into an argument about him actually being an adult.

"Jason's right. I should have tried harder, I thought you were... I thought things were starting to get easier, but I see now that it was naive and ignorant of me. I'm sorry Dick, this is my fault." Bruce sighs and Dick closes his eyes.

"I'm fine now, it's over." 

"Dick-"

"Actually, I want to be alone. Just- please." Dick's tired.

He's tired and he just wants some quiet, after everything; after everything being so loud, being so... much.

"Of course, I'll see you in the morning." Bruce says before leaving, but Jason stays.

Dick opens his eyes, waiting for the inevitable.

"You know, I'm not your responsibility." Jason starts and Dick sighs.

"Of course you are, but I'm sorry if I scared you." Dick answers and Jason huffs.

"You didn't- I didn't understand what was happening at first, then I sort of did. Was it, was it like that when you called me?" Jason asks and Dick shakes his head, eyes staring up at the ceiling.

"I... I called you because I had... an inception dream. I had a dream in a dream in a dream, and they were... very real, so I called you to make sure that you were... okay." Dick explains slowly and Jason shakes his head.

"I know you're the fucking golden boy of the family, but could you just stop and tell me what the fuck it was about? Listening to you- hearing you scream like that. It fucked me up." Jason mutters and Dick sighs again.

"The first time... I dreamt that all of you fell, from the trapeze and I couldn't... save you. It was... then, when you were at my apartment I saw... I saw Scarecrow first, then I heard your voice; your voice when you had just become Robin. You- you were about to fall from my window, and when the real you tackled me... I heard your body-" Dick trails off, he doesn't want to continue.

Doesn't want to think about it.

"That's some fucked up shit." Jason states after a couple of moments. "I bet that's not even half of it, you never tell the whole fucking truth." 

Dick can't help but agree, the memory of Lian's-

"I thought it'd never end, you know? I couldn't- it sounds stupid but I couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't. It... my hallucinations have always been... strong but this, I couldn't- I didn't know what to do. I was powerless, and I heard my parents tell me how we were supposed to die as a family, and then Bruce telling me...the same stuff and then watching all of you... It haven't been that bad in a long time." Dick finishes, body starting to tremble.

"That's even more fucked up Dickhead." Jason huffs and Dick nods.

"Hope you know that none of that shit's true though. Fucking hell 'dying as a family', what kind of fucked up shit did your brain come up with? Jesus, do I fucking have to smash your head into the ground too?" Jason mutters and Dick frowns.

"Wait what? Who did you-"

"Who do you fucking think? He should be happy that I didn't decide to string him up like a pack of fucking meat. I could've killed him, but I figured you'd be whining for months about it so I didn't." Jason shrugs and Dick suddenly realises who he's talking about.

"Wait you beat up Scarecrow, for me?" Dick asks and Jason lets out an irritated sound.

"You're not the only one who's fucked up." Jason answers and Dick's a little unsure if he's referring to himself or Scarecrow.

"Thanks Jay." Dick smiles, still staring at the ceiling.

"No worries Dickhead." Jason answers and Dick lets his eyes slip closed.

Sleep comes easy.

.

Dick wakes up gasping.

Then he's suddenly vomiting in his bed.

"It's alright Master Dick, breathe. It was just a dream." Alfred's voice guides his breaths and Dick trembles.

The dream-nightmare (was it a dream though? what if it was real?) still fresh in his mind. They'd fallen again, everyone and Dick had seen their corpses, seen the way the maggots were-

"I-I-" Dick stammers, chokes on a sob and Alfred gently helps him sit up.

"It is alright, you are safe here. Drink some of this." Alfred helps his shaking hands hold onto a bottle of water.

"A-Alfred... I- they fell, they-" Dick tries to muffle his sobs and Alfred takes the water bottle back before gently pulling the covers full of vomit away from them before sitting down on the bed.

He wipes Dick's tears away and the vomit from his lips while murmuring comforting words, reminding Dick that it was "only a dream." 

A dream.

No one fell, no one had maggots in their eyes or skin.

His family (almost his whole family) was safe, no one fell.

"There there Master Dick. There is nothing left of the formula, you are completely safe." Alfred soothes and Dick tries to steady his breathing.

"How about I set up a nice bath for you?" Alfred asks and Dick nods and shakily tries to pull his shirt off.

Alfred helps him with it and Dick's too shaken up to feel embarrassed about it.

He follows Alfred to the bathroom, it feels safer than staying in his room alone, or worse; not alone.

What if H-Bruce comes back? What if Scarecrow or his dead brothers comes back? 

Dick sits down on the toilet seat while Alfred starts the bath, Dick starts humming hands intertwined and he watches himself turn them around, checks his knuckles and fingers.

Better than to look up.

Better than to see H-Bruce standing in the corner, hearing his voice as he continues to tell Dick what a disappointment he is.

"Master Dick? Your bath is ready, would you me to leave you for a moment or wish for me to stay?" Alfred announces and Dick looks up.

"I- Maybe, you could come back. The others, are they out?" Dick asks and Alfred nods. "Maybe, maybe just go down and check on them? I- I'll be fine." 

Dick hurries before he tries to get out of his joggers, managing to kick them away from his body and onto the floor.

"Alright, be sure to call for me if you are in need, otherwise I will be back in a couple of minutes." Alfred states and Dick nods, not meeting Alfred's eyes when Alfred walks past him and out of the bathroom.

Dick pulls down his boxers before slowly shuffling over to the bathtub, he watches the clear water, thankful that Alfred knows that he hates the bubbles when he's coming down from an episode or nightmare.

It's the perfect temperature and Dick slowly sinks down into the nice tub, letting the warm water soothe his upset body. The tension slowly escapes his limbs and Dick rests his head against the edge of the tub.

Alfred and Bruce had explained that they had kept Dick's medicine at the manor for emergencies or possible sleepovers, not that either one would phrase it like that, so his body had gotten whatever it needed to stay balanced which probably was the reason for Dick not seeing H-Bruce anymore. 

Sometimes Dick wondered how Bruce felt about that; about Dick seeing him in a less... caring form. Dick knows that Bruce knows all about his hallucinations thanks to Bruce witnessing them several times, but it didn't help that Bruce always distanced himself from Dick whenever he got out of an episode or managed to stabilise his unbalanced brain.

Still, Bruce probably felt guilty.

Guilty for making himself into one of Dick's worst fears, for causing Dick all the trauma and... pain that came from his hallucinations. Not that the hallucinations were Bruce's fault, but managing to morph yourself into your son's unbalanced brain wasn't exactly normal, nor was it... good.

"Master Dick?" Alfred's voice causes Dick to slowly move his head in Alfred's direction.

Had it really been minutes since Alfred had left him?

"Alfie?" Dick asks slowly and Alfred walks forward, sitting down on the toilet seat where Dick had sat.

"How are you feeling Master Dick? Have you had any hallucinations or problems since I was gone?" Alfred asks and Dick shakes his head, turning his gaze back to the ceiling.

"Alfie, do you think I'll ever feel okay?" Dick asks quietly, eyes checking the nicely put tiles in the ceiling.

"Of course my boy, perhaps you will come to feel less okay in certain moments, but you most days you will start to feel okay, there might be a chance for you to feel happy during those days too. I believe that your emotions right now are based on the chemical imbalance you've been facing along with the more pressing circumstances." Alfred states with a gentle voice and Dick nods.

"Do you... do you think my hallucinations are... fake? I kept... kept hearing my parents telling me that I should've- should've died together with them, that we should've died like a family." Dick explains, suddenly letting out a chuckle. "Jason thought it was stupid, but you know how he is."

Alfred stays quiet for some time, long enough to cause Dick to look over to him. "I believe that you do not die as a family, but rather that you live as one; something I believe that you did and continue to do. Remember my dear boy, people do not leave you once they die, they continue to live on inside of you." 

Dick lets out a sniffle, hands going to cover his face, or hold his face, he's a bit unsure of their reasoning.

"I'm sorry Alfred, I- I just... sometimes I wish that I-" Dick cuts himself off and Alfred suddenly moves forward, sitting down by the tub before putting a gentle hand on Dick's shoulder.

"My idea is that your parents are thankful for you not having the same fate as they suffered, but rather live on. I understand that this is a tough time for you, and I am sorry for leaving you alone in this time where I and your family should have stayed close to you and not forced you to battle this alone." Alfred sighs and Dick nods into his hands, tears escaping his eyes and falling into the already filled tub.

"It's not like I'm making it easy for you guys." Dick chuckles wetly and Alfred continues to hold his hand on Dick's shoulder.

"Perhaps we should try a little harder, and we will." Alfred promises and Dick nods.

"Could-can you... can I have some of your hot cocoa?" Dick asks, and Alfred gently strokes his shoulder.

"Of course, here let me fetch you some clean clothes and a towel." 

Twenty minutes later Dick's sitting in the living room, watching a documentary about orcas with a mug of hot cocoa and a bowl of cereal in his lap. Alfred's sitting next to him, quietly commenting on the animal's size and whatever he finds nice on the screen with an identical cup of cocoa in his hands.

"They are lucky they don't need to brush their teeth Alfie, forty to fifty teeth; could you imagine?" Dick asks and Alfred shrugs.

"Perhaps they use some sort of seagrass to try and at least clean some parts." Alfred suggests and Dick nods.

"What are we watching?" Jason's voice announces and Dick jumps, managing to not spill either of his food and turns to make sure that it's the real Jason.

It is, he's wearing an apologetic look that he's quick to turn into a bored look.

He sits down next to Dick, stealing some of his cereal.

"Killer whales! At least you've got some taste, they're the best whales there is except for the big one." Jason states and Dick rolls his eyes.

"Orcas' aren't whales, they're dolphins." Dick states and Jason huffs.

"Same thing." 

Dick slowly hands Jason his cereal bowl, stomach churning a bit. Jason doesn't act too surprised, only starts digging into the bowl as Dick takes a slow sip of his cocoa instead.

"What sort of ridiculousness are you watching Grayson?" Damian's voice causes Dick to look up again and spot both him and Tim in the doorway.

"Can't you see? He's watching the most misunderstood dolphin." Tim answers with an eye roll.

Both walk forward and sit down on the floor by the couch and Dick blinks as they both relax against the couch, their bodies touching Dick's legs.

"Stop brooding and get in here Bruce, you're fucking embarrassing yourself." Jason's voice causes Dick to turn and spot Bruce in the doorway, looking unsure and determined at the same time.

He ducks his head, walking into the room and is about to sit down in the armchair when Alfred suddenly gets up.

"I must check on a few things in the kitchen, why don't you sit here instead Master Bruce while I go and get some snacks for you all." Alfred suggests, but the tone leaves no room for arguments and Bruce slowly sits down to Dick's left side, leaving enough space between them to make it awkward.

Jason lets out a huff but doesn't comment and Dick's eyes never leave the screen. Once the documentary is over, Damian and Tim excuse themselves to bed and Jason leaves after a long and throughout glare towards Bruce.

"I'll catch you tomorrow Dickie-bird." Jason announces before Dick hears his steps in the long staircase.

There's a new documentary coming up, about polar bears and Dick doesn't move except for taking a couple of more sips from his cocoa.

They sit in utter silence for the entirety of the documentary, then they watch one more about space before Bruce clears his throat.

"Dick, are you avoiding-"

"I'm going to go to bed, soon." Dick interrupts, eyes still locked on the screen as a documentary about penguins in South Africa starts.

"Dick, the formula is out of your system and-"

"It's not about the formula B, you know that." Dick interrupts, tired of Bruce walking around the real subject.

"Dick, look at me." Bruce orders, causing Dick to huff without turning his head.

"Please." Bruce adds and Dick sags, head turning towards Bruce as his eyes scan over Bruce's tired face.

He almost looks as tired as Dick feels.

They keep looking at each other, like waiting for which one of them that would break first. 

It's Bruce, but maybe it's only as a nicety.

"Dick- chum, come here." 

Bruce extends his arms and Dick feels something inside of him crack. He puts down his cup of cocoa on the floor before slowly edging forward until Bruce's arms envelope him.

"I'm just- I don't want to be stuck there B, I can't- I can't hear them again." Dick sobs and Bruce slowly starts stroking his back, one of his hands go behind Dick's neck, putting enough pressure to make the tension run out.

"It's okay chum, I'm here. You're not alone, I'll be right here. I'll wake you up if anything happens." Bruce promises, sounding just like old times when he'd let Dick sleep in his bed when he was younger.

Bruce promised to chase the nightmares away, and Dick would always feel... safe.

He missed that.

"I can't, B please don't make me. I can't, I hear them every night, heard them every day. I can't- please B just help me, help me please." Dick sobs and Bruce continues to hold him as Dick buries his head into Bruce's chest.

"It's okay chum, I'm here. You're safe, you're perfectly safe here." Bruce soothes and Dick nods, eyes falling shut and Dick tenses every time his mind starts to drift into sleep, but Bruce shushes him and strokes his back; soothes him enough to lull him back into the abyss.

Dick doesn't want to, but Bruce is asking Dick to trust him and Dick does. At the end of the day, Dick trusted Bruce in a way that he doesn't trust anyone else. Bruce was his safety, his resting place, his sense of home.

"Sleep chum, I will be here."

It's the last thing Dick hears, and he lets himself fall into that quiet peaceful sleep that Bruce promises him.

Some falls are easier than others.

.

Dick still get nightmares, but it gets better.

Bruce stays, he either lets Dick curl up in his bed like when Dick had been eight and scared or stays in Dick's room; sitting on a chair by his bed while Dick sleeps. Every time that Dick gets a nightmare, Bruce is there; waking him up with soft and gentle words along with a steadiness that Dick's never been able to find anywhere before or after he'd met Bruce. Still, Bruce even stays home from work and takes walks with Dick to both of their parents' graves, laying flowers and words to them, letting them know that they're missed and how Bruce and Dick would keep fighting; keep living for themselves (mostly because both of them know that their parent's wouldn't have liked knowing that they continued to live on only for them and not for themselves).

Dick had been taken to the manor by the twenty-fifth of March, right after Bruce and Jason had found him in his apartment, and stays until almost the end of April. At the day of his parents' death, his whole family stays together. Alfred makes his homemade lasagna and Dick watches Disney movies with his siblings.

Tim and Damian have completely different taste and complain at the other one's taste until Dick puts on Brave; they stay quiet after that. Jason likes most of the movies, only comments that some of the scenes are dumb or how the princesses could've fought for themselves and how the prince's were "boring and cowards."

On the evening when they're eating Alfred's lasagna Dick suddenly clears his throat.

Each member of his family looks at him, eyes alive and warm.

"When I was young, my parents used to tell me how our people didn't have a country, we didn't have a specific place where we had our home base or even a place to just call your own. I used to feel confused, sometimes sad when we visited new countries and places where the people were so proud of their country; proud of the country they served or the country they lived in. But my parents taught me a secret; that a country didn't have any specific meaning, that a country wasn't the same thing as a home. A home was where your family was, where the feeling of safety and love was, and for some people that is their country while others find their home where their family is. I think, that all of our relatives who have passed would be... happy that we've found each other, that we've found our family and that we're growing it, that we're keeping it alive. So, I just wanted to say; that I'm thankful for all of you, for finding a new home together with all of you."