It was a thankfully quiet night, which should have set off alarm bells in Bruce’s mind. The usual petty criminals had gone down without much fuss, and the investigation against Penguin was coming along nicely. Even Damian had been more well behaved than usual. Batman was thinking of turning in early when a call came through the emergency line of the Computer from one of the numbers Jason used.
Heart jumping into his throat for a second, Bruce answered, “Red Hood, what’s wrong?”
There was an intake of breath on the other side, “Okay, so don't be mad.”
Whatever anxiety Bruce felt melted away into annoyance, “What did you do?” he growled.
“Hey!” Jason protested, “What makes you think it’s something I did? I’m hurt, Bruce. What have I ever done to deserve this kind of treatment? Don't you trust me?”
Bruce rubbed the bridge of his nose, “Do I need to actually respond to those statements?” he asked, “Because if so—”
“No no, I realized what I was saying as I was saying it,” Jason said, “But I totally didn't do anything this time. Mostly.”
“Then why will I be angry?” Bruce asked, wondering if Alfred restocked the painkillers. He was starting to get another migraine.
“Promise you won’t be first and then I’ll tell you,” Jason said. There was a thump on the other end of the line and Jason cursed under his breath.
“What was that?” Bruce asked, starting to lose his patience with the situation.
“Nothing,” Jason said quickly, “Well, technically it’s the reason I called, but it’s fine.”
Bruce growled, “Jason, just tell me what happened.” A few beats of silence passed and he sighed, “I promise I won’t be mad,” he finally said.
“I don't believe you, but whatever, I need help,” Jason said, “So Red Robin and I worked a case together tonight.”
“Are either of you hurt?” Bruce asked, the spike of fear returning.
“No no, we’re both fine. Kinda. Let me explain,” Jason said, “So it turns out we were investigating the same gang that’s been peddling drugs to kids. Mostly weed laced with other shit and coke that’s been mixed with baking soda and plaster dust. So we team up, playing nice and bonding as a family and all that shit, and somehow, I don't even know, there’s an explosion and the building catches fire.”
Bruce didn't bother resisting the urge to roll his eyes, since no one could see him. Translation: Jason caused the explosion and set the building on fire for no other reason than he felt like it.
“Any way,” Jason continued, “We got everyone out and everything, lots of arrests, no one was hurt too bad, but the fire department took it’s sweet ass time and there was a lot of weed in the building. Like, a lot a lot. My helmet filters out the smoke, so I’m just dandy, but Tim didn't reach his gas mask in time.”
Bruce closed his eyes and counted to three, “How bad is it?”
Jason let out a slightly hysterical giggle, “He’s so fucking stoned right now,” he said, “And fucking hell, he’s a slippery little shit when he’s baked. It took me half an hour to get him to my safe house that was less than a block away. I’ve got the little stoner wrapped up like a burrito on my couch. The only way it’s holding is I keep feeding him cheetos, but I’m about to run out. Come get him.”
Bruce let out a very long sigh, “I’ll be right there.”
“Bring someone to help, you’re going to need the extra set of hands,” Jason said. The was a shuffling noise and then a cry of triumph, “Oh fuck. I have to go, he’s escaped and making a break for the window.”
The line went dead as Jason hung up. Bruce counted to ten in his head and tapped the intercom, “Alfred, I’m going out again.”
“Again sir? I thought you might be done for the night,” Alfred sounded a little disappointed, but unsurprised, “Has something come up?”
“Something like that,” Bruce said, “I won’t be long. I need to go pick up Tim from Jason’s.”
“Is the lad alright?” Alfred asked, sounding a little worried now.
“He’s . . . not hurt,” Bruce said, “But he’s been drugged.” That was accurate at least.
“Oh dear. Shall I prepare the med bay?”
“No, that won’t be necessary,” Bruce said, “You might want to have some food ready though.”
“Ah,” Alfred said, sounding amused now, “That kind of drugged. I’ll prepare some of Master Tim’s favourites.”
“Thank you Alfred,” Bruce said, “And could you send Dick down? I might need his help.”
“Of course sir,” Alfred said. A minute later, Dick entered the cave.
“What happened to Tim?” Dick asked, not looking worried at all, but rather curious.
Bruce just walked to the Batmobile, confident that Dick would follow, “I’ll explain on the way.”
They arrived at Jason’s safe house (one of many he had around the city), mindful to keep out of sight. Not that they had to try very hard, the safe house was in a long abandoned tenement, the only resident being one Red Hood. They knocked on the door and waited, hearing thuds and cursing on the other side.
Jason threw the door open, looking a little frazzled, “Help me get him down from the ceiling.”
Bruce blinked a little in surprise, but stepped inside when Jason stood aside to let them in. Indeed, Red Robin was perched high above them in the exposed rafters of the ceiling. He smiled and gave them a cheery wave as they walked in.
“Hi Batman!” Tim called, sounding uncharacteristically chipper.
“Red Robin,” Bruce greeted, wondering how he got up there (it was a pretty high rafter), “Want to come down for a minute?”
“Nah,” Tim hummed, leaning back a little, “I like it up here.”
Jason growled something under his breath, “Come the fuck down from there!” he shouted, clearly at the end of his patience.
Tim huffed and stuck his tongue out, “Bruce, Jason’s being mean,” he complained.
Jason made a high, frustrated noise as Dick stifled laughter; Bruce wondered how this had become his life, “Tim, please come down. We need to take you home.”
“But it’s nice up here,” Tim said, “Also it pisses Jason off and I find that hilarious.”
“You little—!” Jason started, but Dick put a hand on his chest to stop him.
“Why don’t I try?” Dick offered, still holding back giggles. He looked around the open floor space and tried to find a way up, “How’d you get up there Timbit?” he asked the very stoned teenager.
Tim grinned, “I’m a bird,” he said, as though that explained everything.
Dick chuckled and looked around again, “That you are.” He took a running leap at a corner and used the momentum to propel himself in a kind of ninja run up the wall, grabbing hold of a rafter and hauling himself up. He made his way over to Tim and sat next to him, “Hi Tim.”
Tim smiled brightly and flopped over, cuddling into Dick’s side, “Hey big brother,” he hummed, “Nice to see you.”
Dick let out a little ‘oof’ at Tim thudding into him so suddenly and took a second to keep his balance on the rafter, “Nice to see you too,” he said, “It is nice up here. But we do have to get down.”
Tim grumbled, “I don’t wanna,” he pouted.
“Yeah, but we have to,” Dick said, “Alfred’s making dinner, and you can’t have any if you're here, so we have to go home.”
“Really?” Tim asked. He groaned at Dick’s nod, “Ugh, fine, but you have to carry me,” he said.
Dick laughed, “Sure thing,” he said. They made their way down and Tim immediately put his arms out so Dick could scoop him up into his.
“Ready?” Bruce asked, trying and failing to hide his amusement at his eldest and third’s antics. Jason followed them to the door.
“You know, shenanigans aside, I’m kinda bummed I didn't manage to grab any of the weed from the warehouse. Tim’s having a fucking blast,” Jason said, “Wish I could have tried it at least.”
Bruce sighed, “Thank you for calling,” he said, “Did you need anything else?”
Jason shook his head, “Nah, I’m fine.” He glanced at Tim, who was still clinging to Dick, “A video maybe?”
“No,” Bruce said. He wasn't going to get involved in the complicated blackmail system his children had set up between them (they thought he didn't know about it, but he was Batman™ and he knew everything), “You’re welcome to come back to the manor if you want to keep an eye on him,” he offered instead.
Jason glanced down and away, not meeting Bruce’s eyes, “No, that’s fine,” he said quietly. For all the progress they had made since Jason had first returned, there were still some hurdles to overcome.
“Alright,” Bruce said, “You’re welcome to come home whenever,” he told Jason. It was important that he knew that he was still a part of the family, even after all the mistakes he’d made (the mistakes they’d both made).
“Sure,” Jason said, still not looking at Bruce, “Make sure the kid drinks water and stuff.”
“I will, thank you Jason,” Bruce said. He wanted to do more, put a hand on his shoulder, hug him, but he didn't think it would be taken well and instead turned to follow Dick and Tim out the door.
“Awkward,” Tim said, though he was quickly shushed by Dick. Bruce ignored them both and led them back down to Batmobile.
Tim refused to be put down even in the car, so Dick was forced to sit in the back with Tim happily perched in his lap, snuggling into Dick’s neck while Bruce drove. He seemed completely content to stay that way until they arrived at the Batcave, upon which he lept out of the car before it stopped moving.
“Tim! Jesus Christ!” Dick shouted, trying to grab a hold of Tim before the boy could get sucked under the wheel or something. Tim managed to evade him and landed safely a few feet away, bounding up the stairs and out of the cave like a bat out of hell.
Bruce sighed and parked, quickly following Tim up the stairs, trying to determine which way the boy went. He couldn’t help but be a little proud of how stealthy Tim was, even as impaired as he was.
They found Tim in the kitchen, standing on the counter and searching through the cupboards, Alfred watching with amusement. Tim made a triumphant noise and pulled out a huge party sized bag of chips.
“I knew these were still here!” Tim crowed happily, waving the bag around.
“How on earth did you hide that from me?” Alfred asked, for once looking quite shocked. He didn’t usually allow what he called ‘trash snacks’ in the house, and never in such large quantities.
In answer, Tim only shrugged and proceeded to open the bag and start munching away, still standing on the counter. Bruce sighed, “Why don't you come down and have dinner first, then snacks?” he suggested.
Tim hummed, considering it while he crunched on another chip, “What’s for dinner?” he asked.
“Come down and discover for yourself, Master Tim,” Alfred said.
Curiosity taking over, Tim hopped down from the counter and obediently followed Alfred towards the dining room. Bruce stopped him, plucking the bag of chips from his hands, “Go change and wash first,” he said.
“But I’m starving,” Tim whined reaching for the bag of chips, which Bruce held out of reach.
“You know the rules Tim,” Bruce said, “Change and wash first.”
Tim grumbled, but stalked off back to the Cave to change. Bruce sighed and put the chips back in the cupboard (hopefully where Alfred wouldn't get to them right away) and followed Tim down to the Cave. He had to get changed as well, and he wanted to keep an eye on Tim.
Tim, for all the grace he’d displayed getting into the rafters and leaping out of moving vehicles, struggled for nearly twenty minutes getting out of his uniform. To be fair, the system of clasps, snaps, zippers, and buckles was very complicated, and on a good night it could take almost ten minutes to get it completely off. Bruce stuck close in case Tim needed help, but the boy either forgot that he was allowed to ask for help or was very determined to do it himself. When he was finally out of the uniform in it’s entirety, he also uncharacteristically left it scattered across the floor and bench of the changing room, heading for the showers. Bruce rolled his eyes and set about picking the discarded uniform and putting it away for Alfred to clean later. He was just finishing putting his own suit away when Tim stalked out of the showers, soaking wet and still in his under clothes.
“Did you shower in your underwear?” Bruce asked, watching Tim drip where he stood.
Tim glanced down at himself, like he hadn’t realized that he was still in his tank top and shorts, “They needed a wash too,” he said. He made for the stairs again before Bruce stopped him.
“Towel,” he said, throwing it over Tim’s head, “And put on some dry clothes.”
“Can I borrow yours?” Tim asked, rubbing at his sopping hair vigorously.
Bruce raised an eyebrow, “They’ll be way too big on you,” he pointed out.
Tim pouted, “So?” he said, “I like wearing your clothes. They’re big and comforting. I feel like I’m wrapped up in a permanent hug.”
Bruce blinked at Tim’s blatant honesty. Tim wasn’t usually so open about himself like that, and Bruce had never known that Tim felt that way, “You can borrow my sweatshirt,” he said.
A few minutes and a bit of struggling later (Tim had spent a good three minutes trying to get his head through the sleeve), Tim was dry and dressed and heading back up the stairs towards the smell of food. Bruce’s sweatshirt was huge on him, sleeves trailing past his hands and the collar almost falling off one shoulder. Tim didn't seem to mind at all, even though he looked smaller than usual, something that Tim usually avoided. He was the smallest out of all the boys, excluding Damian, who would surpass him in a few years anyway, and he always seemed a little self conscious about that. Now he seemed perfectly happy being swamped by Bruce’s clothes, despite looking like a child.
Bruce followed Tim closely, wanting to keep a close eye on him. Jason had mentioned that the marijuana that had been on the streets had been laced with something, so it was probably best if someone kept watch over him, just in case. Tim seemed fine enough for now, but he’d been following the case at a distance and knew that some of the kids had had a bad reaction to the laced drugs and were hospitalized. Hopefully, whatever the dealers laced it with was in too small a quantity it to effect a warehouse full of weed.
After Tim had devoured two helpings of dinner, Bruce directed him toward the media room, hoping to keep him distracted and entertained until he tired himself out and slept it off. Tim, somehow without either him or Alfred noticing, reacquired the bag of chips and brought it with him.
“How’s the little stoner?” Dick asked, wandering in as Tim sorted through the DVD collection, apparently needing to organize them before he chose one.
“Distracted, thankfully,” Bruce said, content to sit on the couch while Tim came up with some convoluted system to organise the DVD’s (Bruce wasn’t sure how he was doing it, but it sure seemed to make sense to Tim).
Dick chuckled, “He’s certainly more relaxed than I’ve ever seen him,” he said, “Maybe we should get him a prescription.”
“You know I can hear you both,” Tim called over his shoulder, still focused on sorting the movies, “I’m stoned, not deaf.”
“Sorry Tim,” Dick said, “But really, you do need to relax a little more. You’ve had a rough year.”
Bruce made a low noise in his chest. He didn't like to think about the last year too hard. Being dead had put an enormous strain on all of his children, and the things they’d had to deal with alone made him ache to think about. Tim especially had gone through a lot, though he had seemed to be getting better lately, even without being drugged to the gills.
“Yeah well, recovering from being suicidal can make you a little tense,” Tim said, “Like you said, I’ve had a rough year.”
Bruce’s heart seized in his chest, “Suicidal?” he blurted out in shock. He’d known Tim had issues, but he hadn’t had any idea it had been so bad. From the way Dick went white as a sheet, he hadn’t known either.
“Mm-hm,” Tim carried on, seemingly oblivious to their reactions, “I wasn’t like, actively trying to kill myself, I think, but I sure wasn’t doing a good job of keeping myself alive, that’s for sure. I mean, I challenged Ra’s al Ghul to a duel. Not a good idea, wouldn't recommend it.”
“I caught you,” Dick said, “You knew I was going to catch you. Didn’t you?”
Tim shrugged, “Not really,” he said, putting another stack of DVD’s aside, “I mean, I’m glad that you did, at least I am now, but at the time . . . I wasn't one hundred percent sure you’d catch me.”
Dick looked like he might throw up or pass out at the implication of that. Bruce got up from the couch and walked over to sit by Tim. Tim smiled up at him and leaned into his side, snuggling into him without any of his usual qualms about personal space.
Bruce wrapped an arm around Tim’s shoulder, trying to comfort himself by his physical presence, “Tim,” he asked, throat a little tight, “Do you need to talk to someone? A doctor?”
“I thought about it, but honestly, I’m doing a lot better lately,” Tim said, picking through a new pile of movies, still snuggled into Bruce’s side, “I think dating Conner has helped a lot, though I don't want to be one of those people who say that depression can be cured by romance. I hate that cliché.”
“Dating Conner?” Bruce asked, raising an eyebrow. He hadn’t heard that Tim was dating anyone.
Tim nodded, “Since a few months ago. It’s great actually. Like a bestfriend that you make out with sometimes.” He looked up at Bruce, “Is that what it’s like for you and Selina?”
“ . . . Sometimes,” Bruce admitted, not sure what to make of this conversation. He was starting to feel like he had some kind of emotional whiplash.
Tim smiled up at him, before turning to look back at his older brother, “What about you, Dick? Is it like that with you and Barbara?”
Dick still looked like he was going into shock. He shook himself out of it and vaulted himself over the couch, crossing the room and dropping down next to Tim, pulling him from Bruce’s side into a fierce hug. Tim hummed and snuggled into Dick, content and oblivious to the emotions behind Dick’s actions.
Dick held Tim tightly, burying his nose into Tim’s hair, “I’m sorry little brother, I didn't know.” He sounded so upset.
Tim hummed, “I didn’t say anything,” he said, “And let’s face it, you’re not the best detective in the family.”
Dick let out a watery laugh, “That’s for sure,” he said, ruffling Tim’s hair a little.
Tim smiled up at him and made himself a little more comfortable in Dick’s arms while he continued to sort through the DVD’s. Eventually he got them how he liked them and pulled out an old cartoon to watch, something called Cat’s Don't Dance, which Bruce had never heard of. Tim insisted that they all pile up on the couch, with Tim sandwiched between the two of them.
“You’re a very affectionate little stoner, you know that?” Dick said, having mostly recovered from Tim’s little revelation earlier.
Tim hummed and burrowed deeper into Dick’s side, “I like to be cuddled,” he said, “Even when I'm not stoned.”
“Yeah?” Dick asked, “It never seems like it.”
Tim hummed, “I have intimacy issues,” he said, “Like, I like being cuddled and stuff, but it hard for me to be comfortable.”
Bruce didn't like where this was headed, but he was a little afraid to ask. Luckily (unluckily?), Tim seemed more than happy to keep spilling the secrets about himself that he usually kept closely guarded.
“You know, I don’t remember ever hugging my mom?” Tim said, not sounding upset about it, but maybe a little quiet in contrast to the bright attitude he’d exhibited all night.
“Really?” Dick asked, sounding appalled. Bruce had long ago learned to grapple with the urge to go back in time and shake Janet and Jack Drake until they saw sense. How could they have ignored such a wonderful young boy to the point where he felt as though he had to earn love that should have been given freely, or was even unworthy of that love at all?
“Or my Dad until after he woke up from that coma,” Tim said, “I talked with Conner about it a lot. We’ve both got issues. We’re working on them.”
Bruce lifted a hand to card through Tim’s hair, “Good, I’m glad,” he said. He honestly was relieved to hear that Tim was working through his deep seated problems. He would have liked it if he’d known about it, or if Tim had come to him or one of his siblings, but he couldn’t think of any reason to complain too hard (aside from maybe Tim’s choice in boyfriends).
Dick shuffled around a little so he could hug Tim a little closer, “I’ll try to remember to hug you more,” he promised.
Tim hummed, “That sounds nice,” he said.
They lapsed into silence, watching the cartoon play out. All the while, Tim was still slowly munching his way through the bag of chips, occasionally pressing a chip to Bruce or Dick’s mouths to feed them, refusing to relent until they took the offered chip. On the screen, an orange cat was jumping around and dancing with a cast of other animals, including a white female cat.
“I used to love this movie as a kid,” Tim sighed, “I used to beg my parents for a cat, but they never let me have one.”
“You wanted a cat?” Bruce asked.
“Still do,” Tim said, “I was thinking of going to the shelter at some point.”
“Why don't you?” Dick asked.
Tim shrugged, “I guess I keep making excuses,” he said, “I keep hearing my mom telling me that they shed everywhere and that I’ll just get bored of it after a few days.”
Bruce took a deep breath, keeping his temper in check. He was well aware of the fact that, if Tim’s parents had payed even a little more attention to their son, he never would have been able to become Robin, but he couldn't help but think that Tim might have been better off in some ways, “We’ll go to the shelter tomorrow, if you're feeling up to it.”
“Really? Shouldn’t we plan a little more?” Tim asked, meticulous even high as a kite.
“What is there to plan? We already have Alfred, what’s another cat?” Bruce said.
“Well, I think I want to keep it at my apartment,” Tim said, “So Damian doesn’t try to steal it.”
Bruce made a noncommittal noise while Dick chuckled. As much as he wanted to deny it, Bruce knew that stealing Tim’s cat is exactly the kind of thing Damian would pull. His love for animals surpassed his hatred of Tim (though no one in the family was convinced that they really hated each other anymore), and if he could annoy Tim, all the better.
“Tomorrow,” Bruce promised, “A little kitten.”
“An adult cat,” Tim clarified, “Adult cats are less likely to be adopted and more likely to sit in shelters for long periods of time. Plus, with an adult cat, you already know what personality you're getting.”
Bruce hummed, “Good point.”
They continued to watch the movie together. By the end of it, Tim was starting to nod off, the warmth and closeness of his father and brother figures working to make him relaxed and sleepy. By the time the credits were rolling, Bruce was almost convinced that Tim was asleep. It was only when he shifted a little that Tim’s eyes opened again.
“Bed time,” Bruce said, sitting up and ignoring the pins and needles feeling in the spots where Tim had been leaning.
“Mmmpf, carry me,” Tim grumbled, cuddling down into the cushions, probably content to stay there the rest of the night if he had to.
Bruce let out a small huff of laughter and leaned down to scoop Tim up into his arms. Tim made a pleased noise and wrapped his arms around Bruce, burying his nose into his neck. Dick smiled at the two of them from where he was putting the DVD away. Bruce made sure he had a good grip on Tim before walking out of the media room and down the hall to Tim’s bedroom. Alfred was waiting for him at Tim’s door, opening it as Bruce arrived at it.
Looking into the dark room, Bruce stopped. He’d been fully intending to put Tim to bed and let him sleep it off, but looking at the empty room suddenly filled him with an odd sense of unease. He clung to Tim a little tighter, taking a moment to feel Tim’s slow breath on his neck, as though to make sure the boy was still there, still alive and safe.
“Is everything alright sir?” Alfred asked, though he had that look in his eye where he knew exactly what was going on, but was too polite to call Bruce out on it.
“Actually Alfred, I think it’s a better idea that he stays with me,” Bruce said, “We still don't know what the drugs were laced with, he might still have a bad reaction.” Bruce looked down at the mostly asleep boy in his arms, “My bed is big enough for us both.”
Alfred wasn’t fooled in the slightest, “Of course sir,” he said, shutting the door to Tim’s bedroom and following Bruce to his.
Bruce gently laid Tim down on his massive bed. When he brought women over, they always commented that he must have such a big bed because he brought a lot of women home. The reality of it was that he’d gotten a big bed shortly after Dick had come into his life because the boy had nightmares and sleeping in the bed with Bruce was the easiest way to calm him down enough to go back to sleep. Even now, after a particularly rough night, Dick would crawl into Bruce’s bed with him (granted they weren’t fighting about anything serious). Jason had come to spend the night with Bruce a handful of times, mostly after close calls on patrol. Damian was more likely to seek out Dick for comfort, but he’d come to Bruce a few times. Cass had no qualms about crawling into his bed when she needed comfort.
With Tim, Bruce could count on one hand the amount of times the boy had let himself be cuddled at night. At first, Bruce had assumed the boy was simply very self-sufficient and independent, much like Jason had been, and would come to him if he needed to. It had taken him almost two full years to realize that Tim didn’t know that he could come to Bruce with his problems, that he was allowed to be emotionally vulnerable at times. Bruce truly regretted the nights after a close save on patrol that he let Tim return to his empty home, unable to seek out comfort in his parents even if they would have been accepting.
With the help of Alfred, they got Tim settled, then said goodnight. Bruce gingerly crawled into bed next to Tim, careful not to wake him. Tim, ever the light sleeper, snuffled a little and stirred. Bruce shushed him and rubbed his back, getting him to fall back asleep. Once he was sure the teen was truly asleep, Bruce allowed himself to drift off as well, ever aware of the comforting warmth of Tim’s body next to his.
The next morning, Bruce was a awake well before Tim, which was unusual. Tim was the lightest sleeper in the family, even next to Bruce, to the point that it was actually a little worrying. Bruce had completely expected Tim to be up before him, already working on something that needed to get done. Instead, Tim was sound asleep, curled up like a burrito in most of Bruce’s blankets, leaving barely enough for Bruce.
Slowly, Bruce extracted himself from the bed, careful not to wake Tim. He made mental note to cancel anything Tim might have to do today for WE or Red Robin. He could use the rest, obviously. Bruce petted his hair once before finding his way downstairs.
“Hello Father,” Damian greeted at the breakfast table, looking as well composed as ever.
“Morning Damian,” Bruce said, reaching out to ruffle Damian’s meticulously combed hair. He’d never say so, but sometimes it was a little fun to mess with the boy. He was much too serious, and coming from Bruce, that was saying something.
Damian squawked and set about fixing his hair, though there wasn't much to be done about it. Alfred arrived with breakfast and started laying it out for them, “And how is Master Tim this morning?” he asked.
“Sleeping,” Bruce said, snagging a piece of toast and dragging the butter dish closer to him, “And probably going to stay that way until late. Remind me to call the office and tell them he won’t be coming in today.”
“Very good sir,” Alfred said, the most miniscule of smiles tugging at the corner of his mouth.
Damian was not so amused, “Tt, Drake is slacking off? How atypical of him. Usually his folly is that he works too hard and runs himself ragged. No matter, the end will be the same.”
“And that would be?” Bruce asked, knowing what the answer to that was a mile away.
“I retrieve Wayne Enterprises from his grasp as is my birthright,” Damian said, lifting his chin. The pout that followed only made him look more ridiculous, “The board of directors refuse to pay attention to my motions to depose him.”
Bruce sighed and shook his head, more amused than anything else. The feud between Damian and Tim was ongoing, but at least they weren’t trying to kill each other anymore.
After breakfast, Bruce went about his day, making a few calls and then filling out paperwork for WE,as well as some light investigating that could only be done during daylight hours (when customer service lines were open, and therefore hackable). Tim wandered out of bed at around two in the afternoon, looking extremely ruffled.
“Please tell me no one filmed me,” he grumbled at Bruce, squeezing past him in the kitchen to get to the coffeepot.
“Aside from the security, which I’m sure you’ve already hacked, no,” Bruce said, passing him the sugar bowl.
Tim grumbled something unintelligible and spooned a half teaspoon of sugar into his coffee, just enough for a hint of sweetness under the bitter lifeblood. He leaned against the counter and sipped slowly.
“How’re you feeling?” Bruce asked, watching his son more closely than normal. Tim had always been good at appearing to take good care of himself.
“Fine,” Tim said, “No lingering effects from the drugs.” He took a long sip of coffee and refused to meet Bruce’s eyes, “Embarrassed after everything I said last night.”
“You don't have to be embarrassed,” Bruce said, “I’m glad you were able to open up a little.”
Tim said nothing and focussed on his coffee. They might have passed the next few minutes in relative silence if Dick hadn’t poked his head into the kitchen.
"You’re up!” he said, smiling his bright smile. He weaved around Bruce and wrapped his arms around Tim, hugging him tightly, “How are you feeling little brother?”
Tim let out a little ‘oof’ as he was squeezed, “I’m fine,” he said, “You know, despite what I said last night, you don't have to hug me.”
“Hm, too late, already promised,” Dick said, not releasing Tim, “You need more hugs in your life, and I’m more than willing to provide them.”
Tim, pale as he was, had never been good at hiding when he was blushing, as he tended to go a very vivid pink, “If you want,” he mumbled, but Bruce could see the hint of a smile on his face.
“When you’ve had something to eat, wash up. We’re going to the shelter later,” Bruce said, watching his two sons with amusement.
That got Tim’s attention, “You were serious?” he asked in disbelief, like Bruce might just forget about it and they’d never speak of it again.
“Of course,” Bruce said, “I called the shelter, they’re open late, but I want to go in soonish. They have a good selection of adult cats that they seemed very happy to adopt out.” They had also seemed very happy to accept a large donation from the famous Mr. Wayne.
Tim’s eyes were alight, like he was young again, just starting as Robin and soaking up any praise Bruce gave him like a sponge, like he couldn't believe he was being praised at all. Bruce smiled at him and managed to wrangle him into a quick, one-armed hug once Dick let him go.
“I’ve taken the liberty of sending a few things to your apartment already,” he said, “They should arrive later today. You should take tonight off, to make sure the drugs are completely out of your system, and take the opportunity to bond with your new cat.”
Tim blinked owlishly, “Alright,” he said dazedly.
Bruce chuckled a little, “Have something to eat Tim,” he instructed, leaving his sons in the kitchen. Dick was already excitedly throwing out names from Tim’s new cat. Bruce went back to his office and sat down, taking a deep breath, reminding himself that, despite everything that had happened, Tim was still here, still fighting, and didn't look like he was going anywhere anytime soon.