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My Teeth Are Like Swords

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Tim waits under the huge clock at City Hall for midnight. He doesn’t know why all city halls like to sport a giant clock like it’s all the rage, but whatever. It seems like the best place for a bit of melodrama. (Besides, he’s taken tips from the best drama queen cough starts with a ‘B’ and rhymes with juice cough ). The hand strikes the top and the clock booms, each gong vibrating his body underneath the clock face and finally— finally —Tim turns eighteen.

And Tim Drake Wayne gets what he’s been waiting for.

Sparks crackle under his tongue as his pupils narrow for a moment to take in the stars through the miles of smog. His skin ripples impatiently as his mother’s magic bubbles up and wakes in his bones at last. Finally, he thinks rubbing his chest at the fire that freaking hurts thank you very much right under his sternum. That’s gonna take awhile to get used to. Finally, he smiles when he looks down his shirt to see the muted glow flickering in time with his heartbeat. Ready to burn when necessary.

It's beyond totally rad.

Awaking his inner core is like being Robin for the first time again. Where everything is brand new: the sights, the smells, even the air tastes fresh with chemicals Tim can only begin to decipher coating his roof of his mouth. His heart beats hard at how exciting and dangerous it all is, just enough to make normal people run away screaming.

But then again when has he ever been normal?

Not since Mother set him on her knee to tell him what he is, what she is. Tim absentmindedly pulls off a gauntlet to claw the side of the building, trying to soothe his itching and aching nails as flashes of her pass through his mind.

Like the night when Mother thawed enough to remember her duties to her clutch egg. The eight-year-old boy fitting tight in her lap as she tends to his hands.

“We’re lucky your claws are soft enough for obsidian,” she muses as she efficiently moves from digit to digit, the volcanic glass snipping quickly. “When you’re older you'll have to grind them down with something more...durable, metal for instance, over and over to sharpen them to your liking.”

(Like he’s doing now. Augh. He’ll have to find a parking garage or something. Somewhere loud enough to cover the screeching nails on chalkboard sound, somewhere where the grooves he’s making will go unnoticed.)

The boy bounces once or twice and then bites his lip. “Mother?”

“Yes, my pet?”

“Did you marry Dad because his name was Drake?” Tim asks, looking up. There’s a scale somewhere at the base of her jaw, he just knows it.

“No.” But her tone mildly suggests otherwise. At Tim’s sceptical face she adds, “It might have made me more susceptible to his advances, however.”

“Oh my gosh, you so did.” His mom kept his dad over a pun.

Janet hums, bemused at her clutch child. What a silly thing. When his nails are done, she grooms his hair, double-checking for signs to hide. A charm or two can go a long way. Besides, she and Jack leave in the morning and it will not do for one of hers to be unkempt. Sometimes she wonders if the only reason she convinces Jack to return is for this, to sate the itch, the biting lips, the shaking of her fingers that will only stop if she checks and accounts for the hoard. Not that her human mate knows that everything in the quiet mansion is a part of her treasure.

“Are you ever going to tell Dad?”

“Tell him what?” She goes still. Her child is growing clever too fast. Not as easily placated as before.

Tim carefully moves, tracing the lone black piece that glimmers in the hollow under her ear.

She cocked her head at him, the crack her neck makes is unnatural. Her eyes flare a tiny bit bringing the purple out of them, the same purple that hides in Tim’s eyes. “No. Humans always panic.”

Tim cringes. “Always?”

“Always. And their weapons, their toys, my pet? Have gotten much, much better.” At his crestfallen face, she swoops down to press a kiss to his forehead. It burns. He knows there will be a light mark tomorrow, but he’ll still treasure it and outline where it used to be when it’s long gone. “Besides I’ve already decided to spend the rest of my days in this form with your father. Why tell him about something he’ll never see?”

The notion is irritating and Janet refuses to waste time considering it. Humans are so hard to convince. Hard to convince that the idea of your very being is real and then hard to convince that you mean them no harm. Janet huffs. A dragon’s patience is not limitless.

“Well, don’t you need to tell him about me?” He peers at her through his bangs.

Janet purses her lips. “Perhaps. We do not know how your father’s blood will mix with mine. We’ll see if it’s necessary when you come of age...but I doubt when your lessons are done that you’d be so foolish to slip and reveal yourself.” A hint to fang escapes her at the thought.

Tim gulped loudly.

“Oh, stop that. Your emotions are too clear, Timothy. Remember: cold face, cold voice. Let no one know your belly’s hot.”

Tim schools his face and tries his last question. “Do you really have to go?”

“Oh, my son, one day you will understand the call to find, to take, and hoard for yourself. But never collect people, Timothy.” Her sharp nails rake carefully over his scalp. The next words are softer, almost gentle for the ruthless woman. “Humans are too hard to keep, they don’t stay where you leave them...your heart weeps when they never stay.”

(Tim should have listened. There’s an old ache beyond the fire in his veins. Steph, Kon, Bart, Bruce...Dick. Yeah. He was an idiot. Then again...he shouldn’t have thought they were his in the first place.)

She turns him and settles the young child into bed. Pats the covers and turns off the lights. “If nothing else comforts you, remember this...you and your father are the only people in my hoard.” The glow of her eyes lulls him to sleep.

And the phrase did comfort him. No matter how rare it was for her to be warm, no matter how long their ‘trips’ were, no matter how utterly alone he felt among the priceless antiques and artifacts that multiplied over the years. He had a place to belong.

He was hers.

She just wasn't...his.

In the present, he stands and shakes himself loose from the wall. The others will be coming for him soon. Or at least Dick will. Something about birthday wishes and all that. You never know what is really going to hit the vigilante as super important, though it’s funny to see him shake up the bunch of bats. Tim even thinks he saw Damian kicking wrapping paper under the bed. Dick really did a number on him.

“Drake!”

Speak of the devil and he shall appear. Tim smirks, and slips from the roof to meet the boy on another. (Gotta leave the evidence behind somehow, right?) He hears boots clip the side of the building with an angry huff.

Too bad Mother’s adages have their limits. The traditional favorite of ‘Eat him’ is just not going to cut it. No matter how tempting the solution is whenever Damian decides to be annoying, or vicious.

It’s regrettable sometimes.

Luckily, the boy has mellowed out from ‘let me stab you’ to ‘let me stab your insecurities’. It’s progress. Dick is so proud.

“Where have you been?” Damian snarls, getting up into Tim’s space. “Father and others have been wasting precious time looking for you everywhere. Even Grayson has cut back patrol for this ridiculous farce of a celebration.”

“Oh, did he? I didn’t get the memo.”

“Yes, you did,” the preteen hisses. “Grayson has sent text messages all day. If you say your phone has not been vibrating itself into oblivion, then you shall be the filthiest liar in my association.”

Aw, Tim feels so honored. “My phone is dead?”

Damian puffs up and Tim with his new sight can even see his face flush red in the dark. “Must you be absolutely impossible? How could you–” He freezes and sniffs the air primly. Then he turns to the man enraged. “Drake...have you been smoking ?”

Why would I be –yes.” Tim switches tracks so fast his own head spins a little. “Yes. I’ve been smoking.” Fuck, he didn’t think that effect would take place so soon. He swallows down the version of nitroglycerin lingering in his mouth awkwardly and breathes through his nose to drown his sparks. But hey, the excuse would work, huh? Even mother carried a box of cigarettes just in case.

“Alfred shall be most displeased.” Damian narrows his eyes in disapproval.

“Well, Alfred should know that I’ve turned eighteen. I’m now an official adult. Free to destroy my body in any way I choose like the Waynes before me. Be grateful that I’ve picked my vice in coffee and smoke instead of the horrible wiles of flesh...like Dick.”

The line earns him a wrinkled nose and glare. “You are completely despicable, Drake.”

“I am,” Tim continues. “But don’t you fear, you won’t catch me smoking. Ever. No secondhand smoke ruining your lungs for you.”

“How beyond gracious of you,” Damian snorts. Tim smiles. Damian pushes on his back towards the edge of the building. “Now come. Everyone is waiting for you and you will not waste my time a moment more.”

For that, Tim deliberately takes the long way home, just to hear Damian angrily spew curses behind him. It’s his birthday, let him have this.

He takes into account other changes in the meantime. His steps are a little quicker, his jumps higher, longer until he uses his grappling hook only as a means to not to arouse suspicion to the boy struggling to keep up behind him until Tim actually slows down to keep the distance between them short. He bets he’s stronger too, but any other tests will have to wait. He’s probably not as strong as a meta, like Kon or Clark...not like this of course, but it won’t be something to laugh at.

Like how well his skin can take a hit..or a bullet now.

Poor B. The Bats really pride themselves on being completely powerless. Using tools and toys to compete with the whole superhero community (and generally come out kicking all their asses). Tim was gonna have to work twice as hard to cover up his tracks to avoid any...realizations. It’ll take a detective to fool a detective or take a few more ‘Titan’ missions out of Gotham to keep things under wraps. Missions that are more working on the tight pinch growing between his shoulder blades that’s starting to get real annoying. After a few hours he’ll definitely have to find a place to shift soon. Shed skin and fly until light cracks over the dirty city.

Will he have the same coloring as Mother? Dark ebony scales that merge into the night? Is he the size of a horse? A house?

Tim can’t wait to find out.

“H-Hurry up, Drake!” Damian wheezes when he gets the lead for a second or two. You know, when Tim pauses enough to let him catch up.

“Coming.”

He can’t wait to see what kind of Drake he is. In his ear, he can almost hear an echo of his Mother’s voice.

‘Happy Birthday...my pet.’

Happy Birthday indeed.