» Chapter 5

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---- From chapter 1 ----

T: Okay- I know u don't care, but I'm like, gay-panicking because Robin just rescued me from falling off a building and he's so attractive and oh my god he was so strong?? But like, he seemed different than usual??
J: You're right, I don't care.

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Tim wasn't happy with his life. It wasn't surprising, not really, not with the atmosphere of his house, the loud disappointment in his parent's eyes when they looked at him and the quiet of shared dinners. He wasn't happy with his life, and he'd come to accept it with dull resignation and depravity.

Still, he didn't spend more time in Drake Manor than necessary. He slipped away as often as possible, to Wayne Manor or into the city. Wayne Manor was safer, but sometimes the volume of the love he was forced to breathe in there was just as choking. A sort of disorder, something he craved after in scraps but ran from when the quantity became something he couldn't consume in quick, manageable bites.

He didn't drink often. Actually, he hated the way alcohol tasted, but his body was getting too used to too little sleep and it was starting to become the only thing he could do to stop thinking. It was so, so easy to break into the safe in his parent's room and take the good scotch, to stuff the unopened bottle, his camera, and his laptop into his backpack, along with a set of spare clothes just in case this is the time he decides not to come back, and hitchhike into the city.

His hands catch the bottom rung of the fire escape when he jumps for it. It had taken a while to get good at it; when he first started doing this, he'd miss and scrape up his knees on the concrete. Now though, he does it on his first try and the rust rubs off on his hands as he pulls himself up.

The higher up he gets, taking the precarious steps one at a time, the more the absolute stench of the alleyway lets up, the smell of rotting trash and dead cat not penetrating the air this far up.  Honestly, it was probably better than the nicer parts of the city; it wasn't even winter yet but Gotham was always cold and wet and it was enough that the taste of artificial heat and radiators with broken fans was thick and foul on the air. The hot, disgusting air rose and fell, and the burnt fossil fuels sunk into everything; the ground, the houses, your skin. Gotham drowned in it, all but the tallest steeples and spires. This far in the city, though, it was overpowered by the sour smell of fear and whatever you could call the gag-inducing stench that rose up out of the harbour.

Tim was possibly the only person in the city not used to it, and he climbed and climbed until the fog broke, and he could gaze out at the skyline, lousy with the unnatural shapes of civilization.

He'd been working his way across the city, trying to get a picture of that skyline from every angle, trying to find the one that will make Gotham look like home.

He's twenty pictures and twelve ounces deep when he catches a blur of colour out of the corner of his eye. He stands up sharply but drunkenly, exposing himself to the cold of the night. It's so much later than he thought it was, so very, very dark. So very dangerous.

His heart beats in his chest, in his fingertips, as he scans the horizon for whatever sent off the alarm bells in his head.

A few buildings over, hidden in the shadows, Robin is crouching next to a gargoyle. Tim's hands go to his camera so fast he nearly drops it, only the strap around his neck saving it.

The angle is wrong, so Tim steps up onto the ledge of the roof he's been loitering on, aiming his camera at Robin carefully, willing him not to move. The teen superhero seems to be talking, he has one hand pressed against his ear. Probably a comm, Tim realizes, watching through the lens of his camera, zoomed in on Robin's face, as Robin scoffs and appears to shut off his comm.

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