Cross-Post: No Lament For Perdix

original here. dated 2011-11-21

[A/N: This was before the DCU reboot but after the promotional re-designs were out]

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[[Based off the debut art and teaser of DCU Teen Titan’s reboot: “Tim Drake is forced to step out from behind his keyboard… etc.” Though I guess this is just an AU, since I don’t actually know what the reboot is like. I had assumed that they had completely rewritten Tim’s backstory; and that his debut as Red Robin was his first role as a physical vigilante. Also, I’m trying to make sense of that costume. That costume… Oh, Tim dear, what are you wearing?]]

Most people, if asked, can tell you who Icarus is: that Greek guy who flew too close to the sun and died because of it. Some people, if they’re particularly well-read and fond of mythos, may be able to tell you that Icarus died because he was too eager and ambitious when he flew on wax-and-feather wings. Icarus died because his father Daedalus the inventor made him wings to escape the tower they were imprisoned in, and Icarus had been so overjoyed at finally being free. Few people can tell you how the father and son had gotten into that predicament. Daedalus, beyond being the father of Icarus, is a background character in many other Greek mythos. For example, he was the architect who built the Labyrinth; famous for housing the Minotaur of Crete. King Minos of Crete trapped Daedalus and Icarus in the tower: unwilling to have the scandalous secrets of both the Labyrinth and the Minotaur spread but unable to kill them. This was because Daedalus had not always been the King of Crete’s inventor.

Daedalus had been born in Athens, not Crete, and he had been a prince. He attempted to kill his nephew Perdix: not for a politically-acceptable reason like to steal the throne, but because Perdix, even at his young age, had shown signs of being far more ingenious than Daedalus. Perdix, by looking at the discarded bones of a fish, had come up with the idea for the saw–now a primitive cutting tool, but then a revolutionary innovation. Daedalus had thrown his nephew off a cliff but Athena, the goddess of wisdom and mother-deity of their kingdom, saved Perdix by turning him into a bird. She banished Daedalus from Athens, and branded his skin with an image of his nephew’s new form to remind him of his punishment. It was this image of a bird that inspired Daedalus’ escape plan, that brought about Icarus’ brief freedom and sudden death, that caused one boy’s death to become an iconic myth, but not another.

Tim’s mother scoffed at the romanticization of Icarus in Greek mythology. She scorned mythology in general, knowing how ancient poets embellished the facts and how history is written by the victors, but she gave Tim books of mythology anyway; Greek, Egyptian, all kinds, because no child of hers would be ignorant of the past. Archaeology–the study of the past to understand the present and to prevent the same mistakes from happening in the future. Tim may not have much interest in ancient and civilizations, but he understands the utility of pattern recognition and misconduct deterrence. Janet Drake, in her own way, had been a good mother. She had also been a terrible mother, by normal standards of maternal affection and nurturing, but without her Tim would be a very different boy.

Jack Drake, on the other hand, could only be called a father in the technical sense. He provided half of Tim’s biological signature, provided the basic amenities of life, and provided whatever objects he believed Tim would need or want based on his well-meaning but misconceived but view of his son. If Tim didn’t have eidetic memory, he might not recognize his father’s face, though as it is he doesn’t remember what his father’s voice sounded like. Sometimes Tim wonders what he would have been like had his father been around more often. Sometimes Tim wonders what he would be like if they were still alive. But, if he’s going to be honest, he doesn’t imagine he would be all that different. He already lied to them constantly when they were alive, if anything it just makes his life less complicated now that they’re dead.

Tim doesn’t need time to wonder who, if not his parents, would have altered his life had things gone differently. He knows who has changed his life, and who he has to thank or blame for who he is today. Tim’s first memory is so burned into his mind, it has been branded onto his soul much like Daedalus’ punishment was branded onto his skin, and it is similarly of a bird-who-is-a-boy. Even without his photographic memory, Tim could never forget that day: a promise, a performance, two deaths, and a newly made orphan. Richard “Dick” Grayson doesn’t even know Tim’s name, let alone know how significant a role he played in Tim’s life; while a part of Tim will always be that child craving affection, this state of affairs is just fine.

Tim’s opinion of Batman aka Bruce Wayne aka Batman is just as conflicted as the man’s identity. On the one hand, Bruce Wayne had adopted Dick, on the other hand Batman had endangered Robin. Batman was a hero, Batman was a monster, Bruce Wayne was a liar, Bruce Wayne was insane. Bruce Wayne had adopted a boy from the streets, Bruce Wayne seemed to like young boys an awful lot, Batman had replaced Robin, Batman had killed Robin. Batman had failed to save his parents, Bruce Wayne had offered to adopt Tim. Bruce Wayne had rescinded that offer when Batman had discovered Tim’s use of Tim’s computer skills. Batman introduced Tim to Bruce Wayne’s friend Barbara Gordon aka Oracle aka goddess-to-hackers-good-enough-to-know-of-her-existence.

Barbara Gordon. Oracle. If Tim were the literary type, he would say she was his Athena, but he hasn’t decided if he is Perdix or Daedalus or Icarus or a tragic combination of the three or none of them at all so he’s not too sure if that would be a proper comparison. She’s his older sister and his mentor and his guardian angel and his shoulder devil and his everything and Tim is hers. Tim belongs to Barbara. Tim belongs to Oracle. Tim does whatever she tells him to: hacker grunt work, bug installation, Bird of Prey diplomacy, Clocktower cleaning, grocery shopping, whatever. When Barbara tells him to increase his physical training and start constructing those engineering side projects, Tim gives her a look but says nothing in protest. When Oracle tells him to review Batman’s encrypted files of known metahumans, vigilantes and villains alike, Tim hesitates only to ask if he should leave a reassuring message for Bruce. When Tim is given a mission to aid super-powered teenagers against an international organization, Oracle tells him it will not be as a Bird of Prey or as a Knight of Gotham, Barbara tells him it will be as founder of the new Teen Titans.