So let's ignore the part where there are Robins-in-a-room requests which I haven't responded to yet, and all the other things I should be doing, and instead play a game which I like to call 'adventures in obscure spin-offs from random challenge snippets, which cool people took and made into something mind-gripping, so now I'm gatecrashing the party which I technically sort of started'. I give my games the best names.
To attempt a recap: A week ago, I started a project called Robins in a room
, which is still going on but which I need to catch up with. One of the first batch of snippets I wrote was 'Red Hood meets post-rotj-Timmy
', which was requested by the always wonderful red_eft
Then I acted like a brat and declared that I wanted to see them, so the ever fabulous _audrey
stepped up to the plate and made a shiny
, the consistently nifty-keen thete1 wrote a story
Erm, yep. Even with all that, this probably doesn't make sense. Move along, nothing to see here.
Sing for the moment
Summary: An afternoon in the life of Timmy Drake.
Rating: Not really that kid-friendly.
Notes: I am blaming all those listed above for this, plus several others, and also my own brain. Title is borrowed from a song off The Eminem Show
, because that whole CD fed my head while I scribbled this and because I am crap at titles. Rabbit holes are fun to jump down.
At two-thirty, as the motel room's getting that lazy mid-afternoon warmth from the sunlight through the grimy windows, Tim gives up at gets out of bed. He's feeling twitchy; if he does manage to fall asleep again it'll just end up with him waking Jason.
In the bathroom mirror his skin looks chalky. His eyes are bloodshot, the pupils pindot-thin. Tim sighs, and presses down on the pump-pack of sunscreen they bought after last time his skin went this pasty. He'll burn easy, if he goes out anywhere, and it's not like there's anything else to do but go out.
He does his best to be quiet as he crosses to the door and unlatches the lock, but as he's easing the old hinges open Jason stirs on the bed.
"If I have to break you out of jail, I'm going to lock you in the trunk," he warns Tim, voice muzzy. "And bring back some fruit. You'll end up with scurvy."
Being told what to do gets him cranky, so he steals Jason's sunglasses and the ancient walkman they found at a charity store. Tim is nowhere near tired of ragging on Jason for the cassette thing.
He takes out the mix tape Jason's been listening to and replaces it with one of the ones he snatched from the gas station last night. Jason hates the music he likes, so Tim tries to play it as loudly as possible whenever he can.
Earphones and sunglasses in place, Tim walks down past the discount furniture warehouse, the tattoo parlour, the charcoal chicken restaurant, and the liquor store, to the train station. Outer suburbs are always quiet right before school gets out.
He buys a ticket, because he likes tickets. He's not sure why. He never used to. But now he does, so he buys one.
It's two stops to the local mall, and he spends the trip staring at the people in his carriage until they look anywhere but at him. Their discomfort makes him laugh, so he turns the volume on the walkman up until he can't hear himself.
The mall has a food court, and a cinema complex, and a supermarket. It's generic enough that Tim feels at home, and thinks that's the most searing critique on modern life he could think to make.
He goes to the pet store and watches all the puppies romping in the window. One of them looks up at him with big, dark eyes. Tim bares his teeth at it. It paws at the glass.
"Look at the wolves, Mommy!" a little girl says, leaving sticky fingerprints where she's put her palm against the shopfront.
"Those are dogs, honey," the mother corrects.
"Can we see if they have hamsters, too?"
They sound so normal and happy that Tim can't handle the idea of them looking at him, so he hurries away before they do.
He finds what he's looking for in the parking lot near the food court. Dealers who hover near after-school hang outs are as generic as malls.
"Look, I don't have any money, but I was wondering if we could work out..." Tim makes his eyes stray down. "Another way."
"Step into my office, kid," the dealer says with a smirk, and gestures to the darker recesses near the garbage bins.
Tim can't believe how easy life can be sometimes.
He has to ditch the sunglasses on account of the blood, so on his way back out through the mall he swipes a pair from a store. He makes sure that the clerk sees, and plays an enjoyable game of tag with the security guards up and down the escalators.
In a fit of inspiration, he stops abruptly and allows himself to be caught. He's marched into the staff-only area, and he smiles at the other kids waiting to get told off and photographed. One of them looks away. The other stares. Tim hums to himself, swinging his legs in time with a song that isn't playing. His clothes smell like blood, but all the stains are hidden.
Feeling bored sooner than he expected to be, he makes a break for it. He picks up the sunglasses on his way out, and manages to grab a plastic bag full of donuts off the rent-a-cop's desk as well. Stealing pastry goods always puts him in a good mood.
The train back out is full of schoolkids. Tim puts his earphones back on and turns the music up even louder. He doesn't like crowds.
People are sheep. And sometimes the dogs look just like the wolves.
His skin's burnt, even though he's barely been out and the sky's cloudy. That doesn't bother him. It'll make what he has in mind even better.
The stocky woman in the tattoo parlour gives him a sharp look when he drops a fistful of the dealer's money onto her equipment tray.
"I'm short for my age," he says, unzipping his jacket and shrugging it off his shoulders.
"You're short for a midget, kid," she says, and puts some alcohol on a cotton ball.
The back of his neck is pinked and tender, and he grips the back of the chair as he bends his head forward. Since he doesn't really care about what design he gets -- there isn't anything he wants -- he's going with just a line. If Jason gets pissy about it, he can pay for the laser removal.
At the first touch of the needle, Tim has to swallow a whimper.
He's not sure if it's the sting, or the electric whine, or the hand holding his shoulders still, but whatever it is it makes him feel like himself again.
In those days, those endless hours of shocks, and drugs, and dark rooms with Harley's coos, he'd tried so hard to hold onto himself. He'd tried to hide in memories, in hopes for the future, in stupid daydreams. Anything he could think of, he'd tried.
So now, like some fucked-up Pavlov dog, he finds himself in the situations where he'd clung the hardest to what that self had been.
"You okay, kid? You're kinda quiet there."
"Fine," Tim says through gritted teeth, as if that's anything like a truthful answer.
It's getting on to evening by the time he gets back to the motel, and Jason's singing along to some old pop song on the clock radio.
"Cooking in your boxers is disgusting. You're going to give me some disease," Tim says, flopping down onto the bed.
"Who says this is for you?" Jason flips the omelette and turns the heat down. "Do anything fun?"
"Got some donuts. Held a heart in my hands. It was weird. Like a little animal or something, moving around. Took a really long time to stop beating," Tim answers.
"Jesus, you fucking... we were going to stay here a few days, remember? Try to get some names to look up further down the road? Now we'll have to take off." Jason slams the frypan against the stove, swearing for a while longer. "He better have been the god-damn antichrist."
"He was selling overpriced, low-quality drugs to kids. And nobody'll find him for weeks, if they do at all. Did you eat the last of the salt and vinegar chips? Those cheese ones taste like shit, and I don't want anything else." Tim prods the pile of junk-food wrappers on the night stand.
Jason dumps the omelette onto two plates, carrying them over to the shaky table littered with weaponry. "You need real food. I'm not nursing you back to health if your system overloads from crap."
"Don't want an omelette."
Jason grips a fork, hard, and looks like he wants to swear again. Then he breathes. "Did you buy bananas?"
"Yeah. And pears."
"Make yourself a fucking banana milkshake, then. Put an egg in it. Nutrients, remember those? No, wait, on second thoughts, shut up and eat your omelette. Nobody who rips hearts out for fun gets to be picky about breakfast."
"It's six p.m."
"And you'd better eat before it gets any later." Jason kicks the chair out. The scrape of the legs on the linoleum makes a screech.
Tim hauls himself off the bed and drags his feet on every step across the room.
"I don't want this," he mutters. Jason kicks him in the shin. "I don't
." He prods the meal with his fork.
"I swear to God, if you lose your shit over a fucking omelette, I'm -" Jason lets the threat hang.
Tim gets up, carrying his fork with him. It fits in his palm comfortably. Maybe he'll take it with him when they get back on the road.
"Did you want to die?" he asks conversationally as he peels a banana and drops it into the medieval-looking blender. "At the end? When you knew how hurt you were?"
There's a clattering sound as Jason drops his own fork against the rim of the plate. "Can we talk about something else while I'm trying to eat my dinner?"
"Thought you said it was breakfast."
"Well, right now it doesn't look very appetising as either. Guess you've got solidarity for your choosy stomach."
Tim snickers. "Milkshake?"
Jason actually laughs, a little. "Sure, why not?... What happened to my sunglasses?"
"You needed an upgrade. You're years out of fashion, you know."
"If you're going to start on the cassette thing again..."
"Do you ever say anything but half-finished threats?" Tim asks, and turns the blender on before Jason can reply.
They fight about the radio, and drive in silence. When the town's nothing but a bright dot in the distance behind them, Tim climbs into the back and lies down. He likes the air when they use bikes. The wind on his skin keeps him grounded. But in cars he can try to sleep.
"Don't you puke milkshake over my bag back there," Jason says, meeting his eye in the rear-view mirror.
"That another threat?"
Tim gives a salute which turns one-fingered on its way back down.
mature," Jason says, and taps his fingers on the steering wheel.