It’s Saturday morning, early Saturday morning, when Tim’s cell phone rings loud right next to his ear.
The ringtone he set for Stephanie back when they were freshmen in high school bursts into Tim’s consciousness as he flails and only manages to send his cat Mozzie scrambling off of the bed to hide. My Best Friend by Weezer seems like such an ironic choice when love is the farthest thing from Tim’s sleep-addled brain as he hits the green call button at the base.
“What do you want, Steph,” Tim growls into the mouthpiece of the phone as he rolls over onto his side. Without his contacts in, the numbers on the digital clock atop his bedside table are blurry. But when Tim squints, the numbers seem clearer. “It’s not even eight o’clock. Is something wrong?” He frowns and then sits up in his bed. “Is there a problem with Robin?”
It’s early and Tim is mostly still asleep. That’s Tim’s only excuse for mentioning his best friend’s little girl in such a worried tone. Normally, they don’t talk about Robin. Not unless she’s right there in front of them.
It’s the one thing that they just haven’t talked about since that summer after their senior year of high school.
Stephanie sucks in a breath of air and then lets it out in a sigh. “Robin is fine,” she breathes, tension vibrating in every syllable. “She’s with my mom for the weekend. This isn’t about her anyway.” Tim can hear Steph trying to get comfortable on the bed in the tiny little apartment that she rents from Gotham heiress, Kate Kane, and he leans back against the headboard of his own bed. “It’s about work.”
Tim makes a questioning sound in response. “What happened?”
“Barbara and Dinah called in sick today,” Stephanie says in a soft tone. “And you know what that means. No Babs. No Dinah…” She trails off and sighs as she waits for Tim to pick up on her sentence.
Tim sighs and presses the palm of his hand to his forehead. “That means that Cass and Charlie won’t be in to cover their shifts either. Shit.”
“I had a date with Jason today, Steph,” Tim says because he can’t think of anything else. “We were supposed to go to the zoo today. I can’t just cancel on him like that.” He’s frowning hard at his lap and he doesn’t know what he can do.
He can’t let Stephanie down, not after all they’ve been through.
But… He doesn’t want to let Jason down either.
“I’m sorry, Tim,” she whispers, “But it won’t be a full shift. Conner and Bart can go back and forth with me between re-shelving and the desk work.” She pauses and there’s just enough hesitation in her voice that Tim can tell that she wants to ask him for something else. “You’d only be doing the story telling for today.”
Tim rolls his eyes. “Storytelling, Steph? Really?”
“You’re good with kids, Tim.”
“That doesn’t mean that I want to spend my Saturday with them.”
The young man blows a breath out through his nose. It’s not often that Stephanie actually opens her mouth and asks him to go out of the way for their job. “How long will I be working today, Steph,” he replies in a resigned tone. “I’ll have to call Jason and reschedule.”
“Thanks, Tim,” Stephanie breathes, “You’re the best. And it’ll only be for four hours starting at nine. I’ll owe you one.”
Tim hangs up the phone and flops back on his bed with his left forearm covering his eyes. “You certainly do,” he grumbles into the empty air as Mozzie leaps back onto the bed and makes herself comfortable on her master’s legs.
“Great,” he sighs as he flicks through the contacts on his cell phone. “Now I have to call my… Jason and let him know that I have to cancel because of work.”