“And Green Arrow will say he just happened to be in the area but really he’s only there to flirt with Bruce, and we all know it–”
“Uh-huh,” Damian breathes out on a sigh, watching Tim gesticulate on the holoscreen.
After some gentle encouragement from Pennyworth, Damian had gathered his courage and called Tim to tell him about their icy adventure in person. Tim had listened with something like rapture, ooh-ing and aah-ing at all the right places, making Damian puff up in pride.
He had been especially appreciative of Damian’s efforts to help Mr. Freeze, taking the time to talk about how he’d realised that helping Langstrom was a possibility, and how many villains could probably be rehabilitated with proper care and empathy. The praise had made Damian feel warm inside, and he really was trying to pay attention to Tim’s Robin-advice but the enthusiasm with which he was sharing his ‘inside info’ as he’d put it was very distracting.
“But that’s okay, we like Ollie! Well, Alfred might disagree, but I think he’s just worried about Bruce’s heart–”
Tim looked good. Healthy. Like the time with his team was good for him. Though Damian missed his presence, he wouldn’t begrudge him that. Damian saw a shrouded figure float by in the background behind Tim’s smiling face. Raven, maybe? Damian had been so focused on studying up on the bad guys he had neglected learning about the good guys. It hadn’t seemed nearly as vital, and trying to memorise all of the available information on the Gotham City regular evildoers had taken up what little of Damian’s time that wasn’t dedicated to training.
A muscular arm suddenly dropped around Tim’s shoulders making him laugh. It was another boy, and Damian could see that classic ‘S’ symbol on his chest as he leaned into the frame.
“Hey there, Red Robin!” the boy said, with a strange sort of emphasis that made Tim laugh as he leaned into the sideways hug. Was Tim blushing? Could that mean something…? Not that it mattered! Damian flushed with embarrassment, cursing the light complexion he’d inherited from his father. He had no cause to be jealous. But did this Superboy have to cling to Tim like that? “Oh, and regular Robin! Sorry, am I interrupting?”
Regular? This guy had some nerve, and yes, he was interrupting! Damian started to say just that, but stopped himself. He didn’t want to seem whiny. Tim didn’t belong to him, so why was he feeling so envious, anyway? Tim was allowed to have friends! Or, or even something more than just friends! Damian had no real claim to either him or his time.
“Yeah, dude, you kinda are,” Tim teased, shoving him off. “I don’t get to talk to Robin much these days, and who else is gonna teach him how to make it through the job intact, huh? Scram, bro. Go bother Impulse or Wonder Girl or something.”
Damian felt a pleased little flutter somewhere around his heart. Tim wanted to talk to him! To Damian! Superboy winked knowingly at him and Damian realised he was grinning like an idiot. He could feel his face immediately getting even redder. He was being obvious, wasn’t he? And now Superboy knew.
“What? What did I miss?” Tim was looking between them in bewilderment. “Supes…”
“It’s nothing, Rob. Don’t worry about it.” Superboy mimed zipping his mouth shut at Damian and he seriously wanted the floor to open beneath him and swallow him up. “Keep up the good work, mini-Rob!”
Superboy wandered off with a wave over his shoulder, leaving Tim staring after him and Damian staring at Tim’s profile.
“...Okay. That was weird. Anyway!” Tim turned back and Damian hurried to compose himself. “You said you got to drive the Batmobile? That’s so awesome! It took years before Batman let me do that. You must’ve really impressed him.”
“I, um, maybe? I don’t know, I tried my best,” Damian mumbled, feeling a bit self-conscious, but flattered all the same. Not an uncommon feeling. He really was trying, but too often it felt like he’d never be able to catch up to his predecessors.
“Hey, hey. You did great, alright?” Tim was smiling reassuringly at him, leaning forward in his chair. His voice softened, taking on an almost confiding not. Damian leaned forward in instinctive response to it. “You helped save the day, and all the people of Gotham. Stopped the bad guys! You did some good work, Boy Wonder.”
“Thank you,” Damian said around the sudden lump in his throat. Tim made a sympathetic noise.
“Look, I know you’re far away from your mom, and that Bruce isn’t always the most approachable guy, and Dick is busy, but if you need to talk just text me.” Tim’s smile gentled, going lopsided but sincere. “I’m never far from my phone, I promise. I want to be your friend, Damian.”
“Yeah,” Damian whispered. For a moment they just sat together, screens connecting them over miles of physical distance, and Damian swore that in that moment he would’ve done anything to teleport to Tim’s side.
“Red! Mission!” someone called from afar, startling Tim and shattering the quiet moment. He and Damian shared a laugh at Tim’s reaction, before Tim leaned back, placing his hands on the desk in front of him.
“Alright, I gotta go, but hey! Good job with the things, Robin!” Tim used his hands to get up, straightening his cape as he stood. He bent forward and placed a finger on the button that would end the video call. Damian didn’t want him to leave yet, but duty didn’t wait for a young boy’s crush. “Stay cool, and I’ll catch you later. We’ll hang out, it’ll be great. See ya!”
“See you,” Damian managed to choke out. Tim hung up, leaving Damian to stare at the wall behind the screen.
“He said I was cool,” Damian whispered to himself, clutching his face in his hands. A small, disbelieving grin spread on his red, red face. Oh yeah, he had it bad.