[He’s stopped trying to predict where this conversation might lead, because every time he does, it takes a new turn and leaves him feeling dizzy. First he’s crushed, then he’s angry—the ups and downs are between the clouds and the center of the Earth. He supposes that’s fitting for them, though. They never quite settled into a comfortable medium, which is maybe what made him so infatuated with what they had. It never got boring. They never gave it the chance to.]
That’s right, Tim. Six months. Not a couple weeks. Not one or two months. Six.
[The fingers tangled at the base of Tim’s hairline circle just a bit tighter. Dick’s opposite hand dives down to find and capture one of the teen’s wrists, ripping the painfully familiar touch away from his body and pressing it down against the mattress.]
I know you waited for me, and I’m sorry that it took me so long to realize it. But I was always there for you, even when we weren’t together. And when we were, I would never have left you like that. Never.
[Fueled by months of hurting, Dick narrows his eyes and presses forward—just an inch, just enough to remind them both how closely fitted they are.]
Six months without contact? Without seeing your face? That’s warrant for a long more than a break up. What else was I supposed to do?
Moving on was the only option you left me.
[Tim’s chest heaves with shallow breaths as Dick leans over him, his wrists pinned to the thin matters with a pair of practiced, calloused hands— Dick’s thighs on either side of his waist, his weight holding Tim down with ease. He hates being controlled like this; contained. He hates it.]
Maybe what I did was wrong— I know that! But at least what I felt for you was real. [His face scrunches together in an angry way, crumpling in on itself as he looks up at Dick from his position on the bed. His eyes are tired.] I spent every minute of every hour of every day thinking about you while I was gone— and for a long time before that, too!
You and I both know that this wouldn’t be happening if the situations were reversed.
What do you mean ‘at least what I felt for you was real’? [Dick’s voice is low, dangerous.] If for a second you think that I wouldn’t have done anything for you—anything, Tim—then maybe you’re not as perceptive as I thought you were.
We’d just moved in together. I was committed to you. You don’t think I spent every second trying to figure out where you went once you were gone?
[The aged look on Tim’s face wears at Dick, but he can’t seem to reel himself in. He’s bitter, his words are acidic, and even though he feels guilty with each accusation, they just keep coming.]
If it had been you? I’ll tell you what would have happened if it had been you.
After a few weeks, you would have worried. You would have searched, frantically, everywhere. After a few months, your heart would have broken. You would have blamed yourself. You would have felt more alone than you had in years. You would have asked yourself what you did wrong, and what you could have done to change it.
And then you would have sought for something, anything, to try and take your mind off the fact that the person you loved abandoned you without a word.
If it had been you, we would be having the exact same conversation.
[He feels like he can’t breathe. The inside of Tim’s chest is hollow and cold, his ribcage tight— constricting and squeezing around his already shallow puffs of air. He wants to be angry, so badly he wants to yell and scream and pound his fists until Dick understands, until he just—
Tim’s eyes slide away from his brother’s unfocused and glazed as he stares at in inscrutable point in the distance. He’s right. Everything Dick has said so far—Tim left Dick. At the time, maybe, he thought it was his only choice; the only way to find out what had happened to Jason was to use the one connection the two of them had shared.
Ra’s. And the League.
Tim knew Dick wouldn’t understand, he wouldn’t let Tim leave on his own—He’d beg and plead and refuse to let Tim go, at any means necessary. He wasn’t just a little brother to Dick anymore; Tim knew that. He knew the strength of their bond, he knew that the (very likely) possibility of his death at Ra’s hands would destroy Dick. Which was why—Tim thought, humorlessly—he did what he felt was necessary to keep that hurt away from the one person who mattered most.]
I didn’t—[He licks his lips, the chapped, dry skin chafing as he talks. His throat feels dry and chalky.] I didn’t want to hurt you. That’s why I couldn’t tell you, I—I didn’t want to hurt you, ever. I love you. [It hurts to say it now, more than it did a few hours prior. Now that everything is out in the open, now that he knows what Dick thinks of him—selfish, unloving—it feels hollow against his lips.]