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Fic: Not This Time Chapter Two

Title: Not This Time
Author: Brokaw22
Disclaimer: The norms
Rating: T
Story Synopsis: Tim knows there's no way out for him...not this time.
Warning: There are no happy endings here.
Thanks to Kathy for the beta work.

Previous Chapter: Chapter One

Dick’s already calculating the best route to take -- waiting for Bruce to tell him which little brother he’s going after -- when the comm link crackles to life. “Grayson, I need assistance. I can’t get the chains off.”

He can feel his heart leap up into his throat. It must be really bad if Damian is admitting defeat. “We’re on our way, little D.” They haven’t heard anything from Tim, but Dick is sure that if he needed help he would call. After all, Tim is far less stubborn than Damian about admitting when he needs backup.

Batman and Nightwing take off in the same direction, racing to get to Damian before they run out of time, and it’s driving Dick crazy that he hasn’t heard a single thing from Tim yet. He knows Tim has a plan…Tim always has a plan, but the silence is starting to make Dick’s skin crawl and his heart race. He doesn’t want to call Tim…doesn’t want to divert Tim’s attention from whatever wild strategy he’s come up with, but he’s slowly going insane from the eerie quiet over the comms. When he finally loses his battle and contacts Tim, Dick tries to keep the desperation out of his voice.

Tim’s answer, however, doesn’t instill confidence. Dick knows that if Tim was actually fine, then he wouldn’t have felt the need to tack on the demand to not worry about him. He can’t imagine what’s delaying Tim’s escape, but he knows that Tim will find a way through it. He always does. It’s one of the things Dick likes the most about his little brother. He can always count on Tim to have some intricate plan and be able to pull it off, no matter the circumstances…no matter who’s on his side…no matter the obstacles, even if one of those obstacles is Dick. Tim is brilliant and he uses his mind to do amazing things, and Dick has no doubt that this time will be no different.

There’s a long bout of silence that would have had Dick screaming if he wasn’t so focused on trying to get to Damian as swiftly as possible, but the need to keep air in his lungs comes as a distant second to the need to hear Tim’s voice and know that he’s made it out. However, the more Tim avoids his question, the more frantic Dick becomes. He can’t even conceive that Tim hasn’t made it out yet. Surely, if there was a problem Tim would have told them -- but as Bruce and Dick work together to move the giant metal barricade in front of Damian’s cell door, Dick can’t for the life of him figure out how Tim moved this thing. It’s taking all of his strength and he knows Bruce is putting in a decent effort as well. But he’s certain that Tim figured out some crazy mad scientist way to get out, just like every other time.

At least, that is, until Tim dodges his question once again. The fact that Tim won’t tell him how, or if, he got out is distressing. Normally, if Dick asked Tim how he managed an impossible feat, then Tim would be only too happy to rattle off his thought process, the science behind his plan, and how he managed to execute it. The fact that Tim continues to ignore direct questions means that something is definitely wrong. The sudden realization forces all of the air out of Dick’s lungs. Tim has to have found a way out. He refuses to believe otherwise.

They get Damian out of the chains -- the impossible to get one’s self out of chains -- and they get the hell out of the building. They don’t stop until they’re a block away, and, when they do, Dick nearly stumbles on the rooftop, because it finally hits him. His denial evaporates the moment Tim refers to himself as a distraction, because Dick knows now… knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Tim is still trapped in that cell, and it kills him. Tim should have called. Dick would have gone to him if he had only called.

The fear, regret, and pain chill him to the bone. It doesn’t matter if Tim couldn’t have possibly known that it would take both Bruce and Dick to save Damian, because it did. Dick was there. He saw the set up. If they had separated… if Tim had called for help, then he would be losing two little brothers instead of one, and that knowledge is like a knife to the heart. He has to know, though… needs to understand why Tim didn’t call. There was no way that Tim could have possibly seen what the blockade in front of his cell door was like… no way he could have known that it would require both of them to move it, so why didn’t he call?

The answer is something that Dick is sure will haunt him until he dies. He doesn’t understand how Tim could believe that he failed. He doesn’t know why Tim thought he wouldn’t come for him. All Tim had to do was say the word, and Dick would have been there. But then, Dick guesses that’s his own failure. He should have known that this time was no different from any other, because Tim would never ask… no matter what. He only wishes that Tim had gotten to hear him say, “That’s not all that matters.”

The End