"You have yourself to blame for your horrible life choices."
Bruce sighs as Jason walks around the lab – “Weren’t you supposed to be going through testing?”
"Nah, Tim’s in testing right now. All the other little lab geeks love him, yanno? They don’t even realize he’s got them wrapped around his little finger. Hey – for the next bot you make, can you make him less of a manipulative freak?"
"Tim is not manipulative." Bruce says, "I merely programmed him to adapt to situations better – "
"Pfft." Dick cartwheels in, stopping in a hand-stand, "That’s a really nice way of putting it. And I think I broke one of my joints – B, fix it. Please?”
"What did you do this time?" Bruce swears that Dick breaks his parts on purpose just to annoy him. Jason helps Dick up onto the repairs table, shoving aside various projects in the process.
(Tim is actually going to rip them apart for that. He spent the entire morning cataloging and sorting Bruce’s work space.)
“Well.” Dick says, in an voice that promises a headache and complete regret over ever creating the first autonomous AI.
"Never mind. I don’t want to know."
"Good call, B." Jason says, head tilted as he listens in on the network, probably. Bruce is going to figure out how to keep Jason from eavesdropping, one day. "Hey, Tim’s out of testing. Or, should I say that Tim’s done playing with your little henchmen?"
"The next AI I make is going to be polite." Bruce vows, just as Tim hi-jacks one of the computer monitors to spell out -
I do not play with the employees, Jason.
The doors slide open a few seconds later, and Bruce blinks at Tim’s exposed circuitry. Jason wolf whistles – “Jesus, Tim, you flash everyone in this joint?”
Tim shoots Jason a blank look – Bruce still hasn’t figured out if Tim’s emoting program isn’t working or if Tim is just perpetually choosing to wear a poker face – before turning to Bruce, “My paneling broke during today’s compression test. May I please get a replacement?”
Bruce waves his hand towards where the parts are, “You know the codes. And get me a replacement knee joint for Dick, please.”
Tim bobs his head, even as Dick and Jason gape – “You told him your security codes! B, not fair!”
"I trust Tim with being able to repair himself." Bruce says, examining Dick’s knee, "Besides, he always asks before using it."
"I should probably be angry with you.” Bruce says, staring at his only daughter, light of his life, and source of at least half the ulcer he’s going to develop. “You found a child.”
"Yes." Cass says, "I’m keeping him. He’s sweet."
"I’m not sweet.” The boy hisses, trying to escape Cass’s hand when she latches onto him to keep him from running away. “Lemme go!”
"Does he have a name?"
Bruce is one hundred percent done with even attempting to moderate his children. It’s a fight that just isn’t worth it. As proven by Dick when he go a mullet.
"He says his name is Jason." Cass replies, "And he’s from the original Earth colony. I don’t think he’s lying."
"Lemme go!" Jason is attempting to pry Cass’ fingers off his arm and Bruce is just -
"That’s interesting. Perhaps you should have asked him before taking him aboard the ship and smuggling him out into deep space?” Just a suggestion. Cass stares up at him.
"But where else would he go?"
Bruce is an orphan magnet and he doesn’t know how it happened. It’s like every time he turns around there’s a new child staring up at him with wide sad eyes and -
Jason and Cassandra pause, lean around Bruce to get a look at the doorway. Bruce turns around and sees -
A little boy with wide eyes -
"I lost my parents and I don’t know where I am."
Bruce hears Jason mutter, join the fucking club – language, they’re going to have to work on language – and Cass lets out a small high pitched noise of delight.
"What’s your name?" Bruce says, hopes to god that this one actually has parents and is not the strange product of his orphan magnetism, and kneels down as the boy shuffles forward.
"I’m Tim. And my parents were supposed to pick me up at the last port before we passed Jupiter, but they never came and I don’t know what to do because my au pair just said they’d pick me up before Jupiter, but it’s almost Neptune and -"
Bruce blinks – “You’re here by yourself?”
Tim sniffles, eyes watering as he bobs his head.
Jesus, Bruce thinks. What is the world coming to?
Ah, shit, anon. It’s like all the angst-filled tropes for BruTim haha, I hope you weren’t expecting anything happy…
Um. I kind of pictures them both being in SUPER denial about this? Like, this is right after the ending in RR so both of them are still a little sore and bitter about things…but the mission goes first and there’s just this polite veneer of things.
But then there’s this telepathy spell thing and it’s just these waves of negative emotions.
And I think that through all those waves of emotions that neither of them would really be able to think straight? Like, the negativity would just build up and up and up, and in true bat-style, neither of them would say anything about it, just growing colder and colder with each other.
Because Tim naturally thinks that the negativity on Bruce’s side is stemming from his recent actions and, of course, the fact that Bruce never loved him. Never even looked at him in any sort of light that wasn’t just co-workers. But he’s just too scared/tired/convinced he’s right to actually pay attention to what Bruce is thinking to see that NO HE’S WRONG, BROOSE IS JUST AN INSENSITIVE ASSHOLE OKAY okay tim, no why am I doing this to myself -
And on Bruce’s side he’s probably thinking that Tim’s angry at him even though he’s REASONABLY JUSTIFIED, and Tim is just stubborn or something. I mean, he probably thinks that Tim’s anger is unjustified and unfounded because he was trying to keep Tim safe and warn him away from the wrong path – and Tim was always his equal and his partner, and also the one he tends to worry about most because they’re so similar. But he doesn’t want to look closer at this because he knows that Tim has always been independent and never really cared for Bruce to be terribly involved in his life anyway – i.e. when Tim tells B not to parent him/”you aren’t my dad”/fake uncle scenario/etc. – he just doesn’t want to have that confirmed. Like, he understands that Tim stepped up to the plate but that wasn’t for Bruce so much as it was for Gotham and the memory of Robin.
But yeah. That’s it. *hands*
Crying is too easy. When sorrows overwhelm thoughts. Tim doesn’t pretend he is perfect. That goes to Dick, the golden boy. He knows that he’s just dead weight, an extra. He doesn’t play at mattering to someone else. People don’t need him. People don’t see him. Tim hides up in his room and nurses his chest wound. He had gone to a movie with Bruce, Dick and Damian, at Dick’s insistence. The chest wound, a light burn, had ached throughout the movie. Tim hadn’t minded; he liked being included.
The seatbelt in the car had rubbed on it, and Tim hadn’t said a word. It itched and twinged and Tim didn’t care. He wasn’t going to ruin the moment. It just takes one slip up for him to show he isn’t needed. Damian is harping on him about how he should be stronger and shouldn’t be bothered by such a trivial issue. Tim declines the pain meds from Dick; he needs to prove that he’s strong. That he can handle it. Dick gets this disappointed look on his face and refused to talk to Tim.
Bruce doesn’t pay Tim any mind, doesn’t acknowledge him. Bruce doesn’t care. He only has eyes for his golden boy and real son. Tim retreats to his room as soon as possible, barely bothering with pleasantries to Alfred. He huddles up under all his covers and gazes at the moon. He ignores that happy conversation downstairs and pretends he’s a bird. One that could fly away from the manor. Tim turns and reaches for the pill bottle on his nightstand. He’s just not good enough.
SO SORRY I HAVEN’T RESPONDED ANON FAJSDFKLADSJ
BUT OH MY GOD THIS FIC
BABY TIM NO OH GOD BABY EAFDSKLFJ;KASD I CANNOT WHY NO
*rolls into the sun*
"Gummy bats." Dick declares, tossing a packet of said sweets at Jason’s head, who retaliates by throwing popcorn balls at Dick’s face. Popcorn balls that could be made out of stone.
"Almond joys." Jason says. "It’s fucking Almond Joys.”
"You’re both wrong, it’s dark chocolate." Tim shields himself with a pillow, warding off an onslaught of gummy bats, popcorn balls, almond joys, and – "Where did you get an apple?”
Dick blinks, looks into his bag. “I threw an apple at you?”
"Tt." Damian sneers. "Unobservant as always, Grayson. And of course Father thinks candy corn is best."
"The fuck. You’re kidding. He’s kidding, right?” Jason says, popping a jolly rancher in his mouth, crunching down on it as obnoxiously as possible. “He is kidding, isn’t he?”
Damian throws an apple at Jason, “Candy corn is delicious.”
"Isn’t it too plebeian for you?” Jason sneers back, hand disappearing into his bag of candy before pulling out a toothbrush. Jason looks perplexed for a second before shrugging and throwing it at Damian anyway.
Tim cautiously edges further away from both Robins, Dick takes the opportunity to shove a packet of gummy bats down the back of Tim’s shirt. Tim yelps, “Dick did you open that packet?”
"Yes, Timmy. Yes. I did." Tim lets out a frustrated yell before turning around and smacking Dick with a pillow.
From there it dissolves into a full on fight between the four of them, stopped only when Bruce enters the room.
They stare up at him, before blurting out, “B what’s your favorite candy?”
With a complete deadpan and unchanging expression, Bruce answers, “No candy, only justice.”
They stare at him before he adds on-
"And candy apples."
Halloween is traditionally one of the worst nights for patrol in Gotham. If it isn’t one of the big names out causing trouble, it’s some fanatic or – worse – several fanatics.
For all of this – every year, Bruce still gives them all the night off.
When Dick learns of this, his eyes light up – “Really?" Bruce smiles, ruffling Dick’s hair.
"Of course." He raises an eye brow. (Dick thinks he knows where Demon Wing got it from.) "Why would I say it if I didn’t mean it?"
"Because he’s evillll.” Jason stage whispers as he rolls by in his rolling chair. Bruce catches the chair by the back, pushing Jason back towards the computers.
"You have the day off, but it’s a school night. You still do your homework."
Jason pouts, “Like I said, evil.” Dick bounces on his heels.
"Can we go trick or treating?" He’s never gone before. Normally he just had extra candy at the circus – usually there was an extra special performance. But he’s never actually gone door to door for candy.
Tent to tent, yeah. But it’s different when the person behind said tent can say Dick, your mother said that you only get one candy apple a week, kiddo.
Bruce smiles, nods. “That’s generally what kids do.”
Dick is totally unashamed to admit that he might have squealed at the top of his lungs and vocal range at that answer, jumped and hugged Bruce while babbling about aster and full of awe.
Jason snickers as Bruce awkwardly pats Dick’s back, coaxing the youngest Robin to eventually let go.
"But I don’t have a costume." Because Dick could go as Robin. It’d be authentic, for one thing. But it’d feel too much like…every day.
"Attach to Demon Wing, you could be a koala. Or a barnacle." Dick punches Jason’s shoulder, gets a nerve strike, and sticks out his tongue in response. "It’d be accurate.”
"What are you going to be?" Dick asks, perching on the table while waiting for the nerve strike to wear off. Jason shrugs.
"I haven’t gone trick or treating since." Jason looks uncomfortable. "Since mom died."
Dick doesn’t know how to answer that. (There are a lot of things people in this house, this family, say that he doesn’t know how to respond to.)
The elder Robin shakes his head, nudging Dick’s knee. “Go bother Demon Wing or Pretty bird. You heard B-man. I gotta finish my stupid homework.”
Dick smiles, “Fine. I can see when my glorious presence isn’t wanted. And you got number four wrong, by the way.”
He retreats as Jason swears at him, going off to find the other two birds. Huh. That’s an idea. They could be crows. They could be a murder. It’d be genius.
"Timothy is this what you do for a living? It does seem so very dangerous." Aunt Morticia says, sweetly blinking at him. Her cold hand pats his shoulder. "I’m certain that if your mother and father were still alive they would be very proud of you."
"Thanks, Auntie." Wednesday and Pugsley tug at his cape, he unbuckles his bandoliers and hands them to them, patting their heads. "I’m going to need those back, later."
"Thank you, Cousin Timothy." They chime, going off with Thing and Lurch to play with them. There is no doubt in Tim’s mind that they will inevitably find the explosives.
"You spoil them so." Mortica sighs, smile on her face. "You remind me so much of your father."
"Uncle Fester says I take after mom." Tim holds up a hand, "One moment. It seems that you’re in a bit of trouble with the JLA. And I think Uncle Gomez is making it worse."
They both look to where Uncle Gomez is attempting to goad Bruce into a fencing battle.
Bruce looks incredibly unamused. “Red Robin.”
Tim winces. “Sorry, um. B, this is Uncle Gomez. And Aunt Morticia. Um. They’re my relatives. Somewhere around here is Uncle Fester and my cousins just ran off with Lurch and Thing. They’re really harmless. They didn’t mean to scare anyone. Uh. I thought you guys weren’t allowed in Kansas anymore? After that whole…uh. Thing with the state police?”
"Ah, my boy," Uncle Gomez sighs, nostalgia in his eyes as he loops an affectionate arm around Tim’s shoulders. "Those were such good times, it’s so hard to find such an open area for mass burials and summonings."
"Yeah. Um." Tim wonders how he’s supposed to make the best out of this situation. If it’s possible. At all. "Really, they weren’t doing anything to be malicious. So. Can we just write this one off as a mistake? That’ll never happen again?" Tim claps his hands together, "Please?"
Bruce looks like he’s considering it, “That’s up to Superman. It’s his state.” Superman, of course, looks ready to accept this. Tim widens his eyes, and contemplates sticking out his lower lip. He’s been told it makes him hard to say no to. Bruce smirks – he’s always been particularly proud of Tim’s manipulation skills (when Tim isn’t using them on him).
Wednesday choses that specific moment to throw a batarang as his neck.
Tim blinks, even as Bruce’s eyes widen behind the cowl and Superman freezes.
"Oh." Tim reaches up, pulling it out of his skin. "Ow."
"If he was so important to you- you should have taken better care of him." The old woman looks over her glasses at him. "And I cannot undo the adoption. You gave him up- Colin adopted him. The only way for him to return to your possession would be for Colin to give him to you. Something I highly doubt."
"He’s my son.”
"Then why did he end up here?"
Because I had one stupid moment of doubt. Because I was afraid. Because I was a fool. Because I listened when I shouldn’t have, and I didn’t listen when I should have. Because I’m a horrible father. Because I failed him.
The woman’s eyes soften. “Perhaps it was time for you to move on. To let go. It happens. People outgrow their imaginaries all the time-“
"He wasn’t imaginary." Bruce finds himself saying. "He wasn’t my friend. He was my son and I will never out grow my son.”
It goes unspoken-
Then perhaps he outgrew you.
The eight Robins’ eyes go back and forth between the two Batmen, who are sitting at their respective monitors and doing case work.
Dick- on one side, nudges his Batman. “Aren’t you going to do anything, B?”
Damian, on the other, clears his throat. “Father.”
Both Batmen grunt.
Batman- on Dick’s side, replies. “I don’t want to get into this.”
Batman- on Damian’s side, answers. “This is not my problem.”
Damian, replies, “It’s your cave.”
"Then I’ll do what I want in my cave.”
Dick, protests, “B.”
Dick looks fairly agitated and Damian looks downright annoyed. “I’m moving.” Damian declares.
"Of course you are.” Bruce answers in the tone of voice that one would normally use to humor a small child. Damian puts his hands on his hips.
"I’m taking Timothy with me."
"I don’t doubt it."
"And the car."
"Consider it a house-warming present. Don’t forget to keep rooms for your brothers for when they visit." Bruce smirks. Damian makes a frustrated sound and looks two seconds away from stomping his foot. "So when can I expect you out?"
On the other side of the cave Jason whistles. “Damn, B. Why can’t you be that cool?”
Bruce turns, gives Jason a look. “Maybe it’s because my witty repertoire would fly over your head.”
Red Hood rests his hand on the back of Red Robin’s neck. “He’s just young.”
Wonderwoman stares, incredulous. “He’s unnecessarily violent.”
"Little red gets enthusiastic about justice." Red Hood shrugs and Red Robin smiles like a cat that’s got the canary. Red Hood rubs Red Robin’s head, like one would a small child. "Red Robin just loves serving justice.”
Somehow Wonderwoman thinks that the two are playing some sort of twisted joke on her and the rest of the league.
"Now if this is done- I have to take Red Robin somewhere."
Red Hood ushers Red Robin out of the hall and when Red Hood isn’t looking- Red Robin turns, sticks his tongue out. Wonderwoman is this close to flying after them and knocking some sense into the brat.
Batman comes in a few minutes later. “It didn’t go the way you thought it would, did you?”
"No." Wonderwoman grinds out. "Control your children."
Batman looks incredibly distressed. Well. As distressed as Batman can look- what, being Batman and all. “Impossible.”
"They are your children.”
"Have you met them?” Batman counters. “It could be worse.”
"There could be no Nightwing to keep Red Hood in check."
The first thing that hits him is holy scaly panties, Batman! Red Robin! Your face!
The second thing that hits the Flash is a wall. As he ran into it- distracted as he was by the sight of Timothy Drake’s face on the screen of the JLA watch-tower’s main computers relaying information to his mentor.
Flash stares at the screen, turns to where the others are assembled in similar states of shock, and confirms- that no, he is not the only one seeing this.
"And…I think that about covers it. Good luck, B." Tim cuts the transmission, and Batman turns. Glaring at them all.
"You say nothing. You will not think about this, you will not talk about this, and if anyone breathes a single syllable I will throw them into space.”
Oops. Daddy-bats mode is on. (Is it ever off?)
Flash looks between the now blank screen and Batman’s blank face.
He wonders if Batman is joking.
(He’s never joking.)
"What if he doesn’t make any friends?"
"What if the other kids are mean to him?"
“Children can be so mean.”
"What if he gets sick?"
Alfred finds it terribly endearing how Damian’s siblings worry over him. At the same time- “I am certain that Damian is doing quite fine, please get out of the kitchen. I am attempting to make dinner.”
All four of them dejectedly file out to the living room and Bruce’s eyes follow them before he turns to Alfred. Alfred clears his throat. “You too, Bruce. I assure you- that sending Damian to summer camp was not a bad decision to make. He is not being eaten alive, bullied, or otherwise harmed. Do you honestly believe that he would take it lying down if such a thing were to occur?”
Bruce gives Alfred a half-smile, but Alfred can see the worry in his son’s eyes. (Never mind that they aren’t related, Bruce is his son just as Damian is his grandson- and the other children in the living room are his grand children.)
Alfred watches Bruce go to attempt to comfort his other children, shakes his head, and returns to trying out this new recipe he found perusing the cook book.
"Honestly," Alfred mutters, "One would think that Damian has been sent off to Hogwarts or some other such imaginary realm. As if we have not gone through this before with four other children every other summer…”
(This happens every time a child goes away for more than two days. It is quite predictable at this point.)
As I’ve told everyone who’s asked- Nope! C: I don’t want anything, I don’t need anything, no gifts, no nothing because I’m just happy to be surrounded with such supportive friends. Friends like you, miss pro! So really- the only think I could possible ask for is for you to stay the wonderful, sweet, classy, charming lady you are! c:
Bruce’s children are aware of one thing, distinctly aware of one horrifying fact that no child ever wants to have to acknowledge.
Their dad is hawt. Not even hot.
Hawt. With a aw instead of an o.
Their dad is hawt stuff- like, da-yum.
It’s pretty mortifying, really.
For all of this- it baffles them how he hasn’t married.
"Maybe he’s- you know. Defective.” Jason says, shifting his weight and Cass shakes her head.
"He had Damian.” Dick points out. “Maybe he’s…at the end of his natural cycle?”
"It’s not like he has an expiration date, Dick." Tim sighs, exasperated. "Maybe Dad just doesn’t want to date. Has that ever crossed your mind?”
From the looks he gets, obviously not.
Damian frowns, eyes darting towards the door. “It is not our place to be talking about these things.”
"You’re just embarrassed because our Dad is like. Hawt.” Jason says, nudging Damian with his foot. “For that matter, so am I.” Jason wrinkles his nose. “Why are we even talking about this?”
"Because I’m worried that Dad’s repressed." Dick reminds them. "Like. Seriously repressed."
Tim mumbles something that sounds like, are we seriously thinking about Dad’s sex life right now?
All five of them freeze when they hear someone clear their throat behind them. As one they all turn to see Dad standing at the back door, vaguely amused, mostly horrified.
"I was going to say that I got off work early and that it would be nice if we could all go do something as a family. Together. Appreciating each other and other various things we forget to do because it’s…us. I think I’ll just go back to work now.”
The door closes and the car pulls out of the drive way before his words even register in their heads.
But once they do, it’s a mad scramble for all of them to get through the door, pulling on shoes and grabbing jackets on the way, and chase after him.
(The reason Bruce doesn’t date is because he honestly forgets about everything in the face of the family he already has.)
It’s okay, anon. I understand. It can’t be helped sometimes.
It takes less than an hour to find the wayward Drake-boy and it takes over two months to find his kidnappers.
Faces cracked in Joker gas, frozen behind doors protected by thick tree-trunks.
Bruce examines the traps, the security and everything rings of Riddler and Scarecrow and Penguin-
All of his rogues, pretty much- actually.
It takes them less than one hour to find the Drake-boy and Deathstroke immediately swoops the child into his arms, glaring at everyone with his single eye before taking the child back to the Drake manor.
Bruce doesn’t know what is happening and he doesn’t even know if he wants to know.
It takes two months to find the Drake boy’s kidnappers and it takes another three to get them to talk.
And all they can say is I’m sorry.
They make his skin crawl-
And the sheer thought that he has to let them into his house- let those monsters into his home, around his children, around his pride-
It makes him want to kill.
But he opens the doors of his home because he has to. Because it’s demanded of Brucie and as he shakes Jack Drake’s hand he wants to burn his own skin off.
(Reveal the claws underneath.)
He wonders how much of his people’s blood is on this hand. How many have been killed because of this man.
Bruce is glad that his sons are not in attendance tonight. If they were in the same room as this…murderer he wouldn’t’ be able to hold it together.