Their Worst Fears
Features Jason, Dick, and Tim
Warnings - nothing really extreme, implied instances of developed issues and anxiety
Ever since Dick lost his parents, he’s been kept awake from the same reoccurring fear. He cannot live with the idea of being forgotten, even worse, left behind. This fear is the origin of his clingy behavior, yet the reason he sets off by himself. Dick is very self aware by his fear of being by himself that he tries to isolate himself to combat it, yet he finds himself unable to stay away from the ones he loves for more than a day unless he absolutely has to. Snarky remarks and horrible jokes stem from his fears of being thought of and remarked as boring, one of many reasons to leave. He grasps for any interactions he can make with you, just to be reassured you’re not annoyed, that you’re not getting sick of him.
Attachment issues have always come fast with Dick, and he tries, he tries to distance himself, but he cannot stray from the comfort of being with the ones he loves. He constantly finds his hands on some part of you, mainly your hands, arms, or back. Yet, he can’t help but feel as if he’s being too much sometimes, then your part comes in where you squeeze his hand and tell him everything will be alright. However, there will always be a part of Dick that churns a sinking fear in his stomach, and he’ll be left alone some day.
Jason Todd has been given hundreds of things to fear. With time he’s conquered many of them, not much bothers him like it used to, save one thing. The very fear that stuck with him all this time has been simple, Jason’s worst fear is not being loved. He questions it all the time with everyone he knows. This issue has persisted with everyone he knows, no matter how hard he’s tried to push it away. This even you occurs with you, he questions everyday whether you really love him or not; only to shove his hands in his hair for questioning your loyalty. It’s stupid, he used to say it all the time, and you had no idea what he was talking about. And then it clicked; you knew he blamed lack of love from Bruce on his death, or in other cases supposed death, and you know he will blame anyone else leaving on the fact that they never loved him in the first place.
To figure out he also does this with you raised many insecurities in your relationship, but you eventually learned to address the issue whenever it would show. You very rarely find yourself saying the words “I love you”, rather showing your feelings in the little things. Jason notices every time you turn on the Tv you turn the volume down a little, he doesn’t like it loud. He notices you make his coffee just how he likes it every time. And with each little act, Jason knows you love him despite the questions his head raises.
Being over appreciated has always been something Tim was never fond of, but this would never come close to being undermined. Tim could feel something crack inside of him every single time someone downplayed his intelligence, or for the matter anything about him. This wasn’t because of a superiority complex or a large ego, he could leave that all to Dick; it’s all because he’s terrified of criticism and insecure of every little detail. The first time you noticed this occur was when Bruce commented on a file Tim had filled out, saying the way he documented the information was unsatisfactory and sluggish for him. You saw how much it got to him when he went silent and laid his hands flat out against the table he was leaning over. In times like these, Tim will blank out and the back of his mind will take over, constantly muttering of “what did I do wrong?” And more consistently “Oh god.”
The only thing you can really do about Tim’s constant self berating is actually, the bare minimum. You know he dislikes constant compliments, so you save them for when you’re really proud of him, more than usual, and when you know he really needs it. You show your appreciation of his work by watching what he does with silence and interest, yet he appreciates every question you ask as it shows you’re paying attention. Tim swears he loves you more every time you pass out beside him on the couch while he’s working, coffee mug slipping out of your hand and head on his shoulder. Everything you do that shows you’re paying attention and acting on feeling, rather than praise, lessens his worries.
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This fic is for Anonymous. For the prompt: [A story of Dick and Cass training or hanging out, sorta like that short one you did with Dick and Steph in the cave talking about his death.]
Note: This fic takes place post-amnesia arc.
Read on AO3
A Little Less Susceptibility
The Thai House was full of noise at this time of night. It was all forks clinking against glass plates, sizzling meat being tossed in hot pans, and incessant chatter from customers.
In the booth across from Cass, a teenager was whining about how spicy his chicken was while his dad laughed and offered to switch plates with him. Another parent at a separate table didn’t sound nearly as amused as she reminded her young daughter to sit on her bottom and to stop staring at people.
On a normal visit to Cass’s favorite Thai restaurant, she wouldn’t have minded all the noise so much. She was usually far too busy people-watching to mind a little racket. She would get wrapped up in learning about the strangers around her by absorbing the way they expressed themselves through hand gestures and theatrical face movements, or by the way their muscles loosened with laughter or turned taut with tension. She felt included in their lives when she saw them light up as the waiter approached with their food, or when she’d see them shred the straw paper into little pieces. It was even better when her source of entertainment was accompanied by a plate of yum pla duk foo.
But tonight? Tonight was different. Tonight she was here with Dick, and ever since more and more people started swarming in for dinner, the crease in Dick’s forehead had gotten more pronounced, and his fingers hadn’t stopped clenching around the edge of the wood table.
A pair of reflective sunglasses were pressed as close to his eyes as they could get. Cass knew his eyes were closed behind the lenses. She’d realized it as soon as Dick had stopped eating his phat kaphrao halfway through.
Pain radiated from him. She could see it in the tension of his shoulders and in the way he kept his legs ramrod straight instead of resting his ankle on top of his thigh like he normally did.
He didn’t speak as much as he normally did either. Dick was always good at telling her stories and making her laugh whenever it was just the two of them hanging out. But that was before the bullet. Before the amnesia. Before the persistent migraines that could be set off by a loud noise, a light that was too bright, or a strong smell.
Cass knew the influx of people in the restaurant was the trigger for it this time. She felt bad about it. She shouldn’t have suggested coming here when she knew Dick would agree to go wherever she wanted, his new sensory sensitivities be damned. He was thoughtful like that. Annoyingly so.
Maybe if she’d known his limits better she would’ve known to go somewhere a little more off the beaten path. Somewhere quieter where there wasn’t a baby crying off and on. But maybe she was being too hard on herself. She didn’t think Dick knew all of his limits yet either.
Brain damage was tricky like that.
The cushion under Cass groaned when she leaned over the table and rested her hand on Dick’s larger one. Dick didn’t move at the touch but the subtle way he inclined his head let Cass know that his attention had shifted to her.
“We need to go get your meds,” she said. She couldn’t keep sitting here and eating her food when he looked like he was being tortured.
“I’m fine,” Dick mumbled, barely moving his mouth. Cass’s stomach lurched when she realized he was probably trying to limit any movement to his face to avoid tensing his muscles. “Go ahead and finish your food.”
She gripped his hand tighter. “No. We’re leaving.”
Dick said nothing in return, which was all the incentive Cass needed to get the waiter’s attention and to ask for the check and to-go boxes. They bundled up in their winter coats and hats, and then they left with the to-go boxes tucked under Cass’s arm.
A three-legged pup happily greeted them at the door when they got back to Dick’s apartment. Her nails clicked against the floor when she danced around Dick’s feet, and her tail turned into an aggressive windmill that smacked against Dick’s calves repeatedly.
Cass observed Haley from a few feet away. She was bigger than the last time Cass had seen her. She had still been in her teething phase at that point. Cass distinctly remembered getting her fingers chomped on by razor-sharp teeth when she’d fought Haley over a stuffed duck toy. Now Haley had grown into her puppy skin and was closer in height to Cass’s knee.
“Hey, baby,” Dick crooned softly. With one hand pressed against his temple, and with one hand outstretched, he slowly lowered himself to the ground to give Haley a few pats. Haley seemed to take that as permission to slobber all over his hand.
Cass still saw the pain radiating in Dick’s every movement but it somehow seemed less oppressive now that he was distracted by Haley giving him kisses.
“Baby?” Cass repeated with a curious tilt of her head. That was a new nickname.
As if realizing that she was being spoken about, Haley turned her attention to Cass and wound around Cass’s legs like Alfred the cat tended to do when he wanted attention. Cass wanted to run her hand over Haley’s silky smooth head but there was no way she was bending down when she was carrying the to-go boxes.
She was supposed to be focusing on Dick anyway. Playing with Haley would have to come later.
Cass placed her hand on Dick’s shoulder to get his attention. “Go upstairs and turn the lights off. I’ll bring you your meds.”
It was only after she said it that she wondered if he could even make it up the stairs in his current state. Cass warily eyed the stairway that led up to the loft where Dick’s bed was. There were 19 steps in total which wasn’t ideal but seemed doable for someone like Dick who often had to run around on injuries.
“It’s a nasal spray,” Dick said, shrugging off his coat. He placed it on the hook by the door that was attached to the loose plastered wall. “Look for something in my medicine cabinet called Imitrex.”
“Got it,” Cass said, turning towards the kitchen to go put the food away.
“And hey, listen,” Dick said. Cass stopped in her tracks, looking at him over her shoulder with a cocked brow. “Sorry we had to leave because this,” he pointed to his head, “started acting up.”
“There’s nothing to be sorry for,” Cass said without hesitation. “It’s not like you have control over it.”
“I already had a bit of a headache before we met up,” Dick admitted. Cass still couldn’t see his eyes past the sunglasses, but she was pretty sure he was staring at the floor. “I thought it would go away by the time we got to the restaurant but it didn’t.”
Cass shook her head firmly. “You’re not clairvoyant. You can’t always predict whether it will get worse or not.”
“But it usually always turns into something worse,” Dick sighed, shoulders slumping. It made Cass’s spine prickle uneasily. The action looked a little too close to defeat, and defeat wasn’t a word she ever associated with Dick. It wasn’t a word she wanted to start associating with him.
She stepped around Haley and rested her hand on top of Dick’s shoulder. Her own determined expression was reflected in Dick’s sunglasses.
“Next time we’ll prepare for that,” she said, giving his arm a gentle squeeze. “If you’re not sure whether it’s going to get better or worse, we’ll be cautious and make a plan to accommodate it.”
A mixture of gratitude and embarrassment filtered through the upturned corner of Dick’s mouth. “So you’ll be fine if next time we stay here and order Thai food?”
“Yeah, that’ll be great, and you know why?”
Dick hummed questioningly.
“Because it doesn’t matter to me where we go or what we do. As cheesy as it sounds, the point is that I get to spend time with you. And I know you would feel the same way if our positions were switched,” Cass said. “I know you would be wrapping a towel around your head and acting out Rapunzel for me.” She caught Dick’s smile before it turned into a pained wince, and with laughter bubbling up behind her words, she said, “Don’t tell me you wouldn’t do that for me.”
“Maybe not for Rapunzel but you know I would for Ariel,” Dick said.
“Because of her hair?”
“No, because she has better songs.”
Cass rolled her eyes. “Whatever. Point is: we’re doing takeout next time this kind of situation comes up. Deal?”
“Deal,” Dick said right before his face crumpled. He hissed through his teeth and pressed the pads of his fingers against his temples.
Cass wished he had taken his meds already. It was painful to look at him when he was feeling so awful.
She repositioned her hand to Dick’s back and guided him towards the stairs. “No more talking until you’ve had your meds. Got it, Ariel?”
Dick huffed out a strained laugh. “Will do, Sebastian.”
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