Chapter 5

"Red! Stop!" Dick yelled as I felt two sets of strong arms trying desperately to restrain me.

I struggled to free myself, straining against the iron grips of my family. "Let me go!" I growled in a voice that didn't sound like myself.

"Red Robin! Enough!" Bruce ordered as he quickly disarmed me. He had to kick the staff away when I slipped from Dick's grasp and attempted to lunge for it. Then he pulled me hard and turned me to face him, his expression stern and commanding. "That is enough!"

"He would have killed her!"

"Tam's alive!"

"She would have died! She would have never come back! Just like mom! Just like dad! Just like everyone normal I've ever loved! That we've all ever loved! When those people die, they NEVER come back! YOU KNOW THIS!"

"Tim? Tim, please stop."

When I heard Tam's voice, I finally stopped fighting against my father and brother. She was walking unsteadily towards me, holding her injured hand close to her chest. Her eyes were focused only on me, and she was pointedly ignoring Damian as he tried unsuccessfully to persuade her to sit back down. The sight of her struggling just to stay upright cut me to the quick.

"Tam," I said as my rage bled away. Bruce and Dick cautiously let me go, and as soon as I was free I moved past them and the still unconscious Croc to go straight to her. "Tam, you're hurt. Please stop—"

Words failed me as she stepped into me, resting her head against my shoulder and leaning her body against mine. She was trembling. I could feel it as I wrapped my arms around her. Whether it was from pain or fear or something else, I couldn't tell.

"I'm here, Tim. I'm right here." She lifted her good hand to stroke the exposed skin of my cheek in a soothing gesture. Tears filled her eyes and spilled over onto her cheeks. "You don't have to kill him. Please don't cross that line."

My throat tightened uncomfortably. All I could do was hold her and comfort her as best as I could even as she tried to comfort me. "I just don't want to lose you," I whispered. "I can't-"

"Then don't push me away."

In response, I gently gathered her up in my arms. Tam attempted a weak protest, but once she was off her feet she relaxed against me with relief, letting her eyes slide closed. There was no doubt in my mind that she was in a lot of pain and probably suffering from shock after everything she'd been through.

"Take the car and get her to the Tower," Bruce said in a subdued tone. "I'll call Leslie and have her meet you both there."

I nodded and proceeded to make my way out of the drainage tunnels back to where we first entered. Before I was out of earshot, I overheard Dick as he posed a question to Bruce.

"Did something happen between those two?"

#

In Bruce's car, it didn't take long at all to reach Wayne Tower. Tam faded in and out of consciousness along the drive. Though she was alive, and I didn't think her life was in any immediate danger from her injuries, I was still worried sick.

As he'd promised, Leslie was there waiting for us, along with Alfred. Rather than just treat her there in the bunker, the good doctor insisted that she be taken upstairs to a guestroom that Alfred had prepared for her. Once I'd laid Tam down on the bed, Leslie shooed me out of the room so she could conduct her examination. I didn't go far though. Wearily, I removed my cape and cowl, sat down right next to the closed door, and leaned my back against the wall. I think I might've dozed off for a few minutes, because the next thing I knew, the aroma of a hot coffee was waking me up.

"Miss Fox will be alright, Master Timothy," Alfred said with his patented reassuring manner as he offered me one of two mugs that were on his tray. "She is in good hands now."

I took it with a grateful murmur of thanks. "I know, Alfie. I know Leslie will take good care of her."

"Then, if you do not mind me asking, why do you still look so concerned?"

"Because Croc wasn't the only one who hurt Tam tonight," I admitted guiltily. "I did too. I broke her heart trying to push her out of my life earlier this evening, to keep her safe, but in the end it didn't matter at all. She still got hurt. I still couldn't protect her."

"Oh good grief. Has Bruce's thick-headedness about love infected all his boys?" Leslie's no-nonsense voice cut off whatever Alfred seemed on the verge of saying. The door opened fully and the silver-haired doctor stepped out. She gave me a scolding, maternal look and reflexively I tried to melt into the wall away from her

It didn't work.

With an exasperated sigh, Leslie knelt down so that she and I were on the same level. "Timothy, dear… I've told this to Bruce. I've told this to Dick. I know you're the smart Robin, so I'm hoping with you this will actually sink in this time. I want you to listen closely and not interrupt. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Good. So listen well. Over the years I've noticed a type of woman that the men in your family tend to attract. They're strong, independent, resilient, and usually pretty fearless about speaking their minds." Leslie's eyes narrowed. "What they're certainly not are fragile little delicate porcelain dolls that need to be tucked away in an ivory tower to protect them from the evils of the world. If you treat them like that, you're being an idiot."

She looked back through the open door into Tam's room. "Strong women who fall in love with men like you don't want a protector. They want a partner who'll love and respect them as their equal."

Leslie got to her feet and turned to Alfred to retrieve the remaining cup of coffee on the tray. She took a quick sip before turning her attention back to me. "If you love Tamara as much as she loves you, shouldn't you be fighting as hard as she is to stay by her side? It's a masochistic hypocrite who strives so hard to make this world a better place while consciously sabotaging his own life's happiness in the process."

Then she sighed and shook her head. Her posture shifted and I could tell from her body language that she was done with her blunt lecture. "Tamara has a mid-grade concussion, some severe bruising on her torso, and several deep lacerations on her right hand. Once it's healed, with therapy she should regain full use. She's also suffering from shock and has some amnesia about what happened to her in the tunnels. She needs her rest, but she wants to see you. Don't upset her, or else."

And with that, Dr. Leslie Thompkins took her coffee and walked down the hallway towards the living room. I stared after her for a long moment.

"Wow…" I said as I raked my fingers through my hair.

"Wow?"

I looked at Alfred with a contrite expression. "I think Leslie just took a few whacks at my skull with a fully loaded cluebat."

The grandfatherly old man looked at me curiously. "Has it helped?"

"Between that and the talk I had with Bruce earlier, I think it all has."

"So what will you do now?"

"Well," I started with a sigh as I turned to go through the door to Tam's room. "There is one more person I think I need to have a long, long conversation with, but that can wait till later. For now, I just want to watch over her for the rest of the night."

"Don't you mean the rest of the morning?"

"Huh?"

Alfred glanced at the watch on his wrist. "It's nearly daybreak, Master Timothy. The sun should be rising any minute now."

I gave him a small, thoughtful smile. "Perhaps, I'll open the drapes in her room. After being in the dark all night, it might be nice to let a little light in."

The End

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