Batgirl pulls off the top half of her costume as soon as they reach Tim's room. She tosses it on top of his bed, and Tim thinks of how normal it shouldn't feel to see the cowl and emblem lying between the t-shirt and jeans he had been wearing a few hours ago. Tim reaches behind his desk and grabs his first aid kit. He leaves his gauntlets on top of her cape, and it's the jeans that look out of place.
Tim steadies Batgirl as she pushes a rib back into place, and then helps her wind the medical tape around her body. There's a maroon and purple bruise forming over the left side of her torso, but Killer Croc is back in custody and it's never easy. If there hadn't been layers and layers of kevlar woven into the suit, Croc would have bitten through her lung.
But Croc is a brutish opponent, and Tim can't figure out how she managed to obtain the thin, dark bruises that show between her ribs on the right side. As far as he knows, she went on duty at the same time he did, when Oracle put out the alert on Croc. But these bruises are fresh and careful and done by something capable of touching her. Of hurting her.
Tim traces the pattern with his fingertips as he manoeuvres the tape. They dance between pressure points, just close enough to real harm to be anything accidental. Not Bruce's style, and not anything that had been worth alerting Tim over. And Cain is still incarcerated. Which… narrows the possibilities significantly.
There's a shallower bruise beside a nerve cluster near her spine. Tim moves the base of his palm over it, and it's a pretty fair match. He's always had small hands.
The marks trail over her abdomen, deliberate but not dangerous, touches that had left shadows on skin. They disappear beneath the reminder of Croc's artless savagery and continue along her back, dipping finally beneath the line of her suit.
Tim closes his eyes for a moment. The lenses on his mask are shut, but he doesn't fool himself that Batgirl wouldn't have noticed. He tightens the last length of tape and tucks it under the rest. It'll hold until Alfred can provide something better for her. Tim walks back to his desk and puts the kit back. He'll have to report back to Bruce about the Killer Croc incident, about what had happened tonight…
"No," says Batgirl.
"What?" says Tim.
Batgirl tilts her head towards him, and she looks almost amused. "You were wondering," she says.
Tim glances again at the small bruises on her body, and then stares at a point beside her ear. It's pointless to lie to her. "That's Lady Shiva's handiwork," he says instead, because it's something that's not, Does Batman know, or She's a killer, or What were you thinking?
He very rarely wants to understand what she's thinking. Now is not an exception.
"Yes," says Batgirl. "But we were not." She blinks at him for a moment, deciding on the right word. "Together."
"Mmm," says Tim. He crosses his arms and doesn't change his focus at all. With his lenses down, anyone else would have assumed he was meeting their gaze. "Then she was unusually gentle. I'm surprised she let you leave so easily."
Batgirl slides her hands through a simple blocking manoeuvre. "She was teaching me."
"Why," says Tim.
It's two separate questions, but Batgirl chooses to answer only for herself. "She's better than me," says Batgirl. "Still."
She shifts her stance so that now Tim is looking directly into her stare, and he doesn't need her to finish the thought, because he would do exactly the same thing. You learn how your enemy fights, and then you beat them.
He wonders if this understanding is what she feels, all the time.
Batgirl slips back into the rest of her costume and snaps her belt into place. She hardly favours her left side, but it isn't just a show of strength for Tim's sake. He's sure she'd do exactly the same if she were alone. He opens his window for her, and she climbs onto the ledge. She nods at him once, and then she's gone.
Tim sighs. Then he walks over to his bed and collects his gauntlets, leaving the abandoned school outfit alone on the patterned quilt. He can hear the faint sound of sirens on the air.
The night's not over for him, either.