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Chameleon

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Sometimes there was a moment where people knew things would never be the same again. A moment where life froze and changed in an impossible instance. A moment that changed everything.

He knew that moment for him was at the circus as a child when he saw the Graysons fall to their deaths. That was what led him to keeping an eye on Dick Grayson, then Bruce Wayne. That was the catalyst for his discovery of their identities and everything after. The whirlwind of change. His mom dying, his dad going into a coma, his dad waking up, his dad dying, Bruce dying, his friends dying, losing Robin to Damian. All from that one moment where Tim could have made a different choice, could have just asked to go to the movies.

His life was inconceivably changed by one small choice. Some might argue that his life was changed by one small action; Dick posing for a picture and hugging him. Tim would argue that. He doubted he would have been as invested in Dick’s wellbeing if he hadn't met him.

His mother and father left the next day. As a young child, even a young teen, that action had seemed cruel to him. That they just left him with the nanny with a few small words and a old broken watch.

“Why, mama?” he’d asked, tiny hands holding it tightly, examining the case and clasp carefully.

“Because, Timothy,” Janet had whispered, kneeling down and looking him in the eyes in a way no parent did to a three year old. Sad and old. So, so old. “It’s yours.”

“It’s too big to fit in my pocket,” he’d said, brow wrinkling in dismay. “It won’t fit.”

“You’ll grow into it,” she’d said, eyes crinkling, betraying her amusement at his frustration. “I promise. I love you, little Detective.”

Then his mother had hugged him tightly in an unusual display of affection. Tim had been shocked into silence. And he’d forgotten about the watch.

Tim never remembered the watch. Sure, there were moments where he’d notice it in his pocket and set it on a dresser. Moments he would absentmindedly feel the cool metal surface and think of his parents. Moments he’d remember when his mother gave it to him.

He never remembered it though, not really remembered other than an absent minded thought here and there. So someone else taking notice, it puzzled him. Not more so than the fact that he’d forgotten about it himself though. That puzzled him more.

He’d given it over to Jason immediately after being asked, giving an absent minded reply about having forgotten he was wearing it while his mind whirled. Why did he keep forgetting? Even now it was like it wanted him to forget. But that was ridiculous; it was a pocket watch, not an evil device.

“Why doesn’t it open?” Jason asked.

Tim shrugged, reaching for it. Jason dropped it into his hand. Still, Jason remained. Waiting for an answer to his question, Tim figured.

“I don’t know. I think it’s broken.”

“You think?” Jason asked incredulously. “Haven’t you ever tried to open it?”

“Well… no,” Tim said slowly. “I haven’t. I think my mom told me it was broken when she gave it to me.”

“Why not just try and fix it? It’s not like you’re the CEO of Wayne Enterprises or anything.”

Tim shrugged again. “To be honest, I just forget I have it most of the time.”

“Whatever,” Jason said. “It’s your watch. I’m gonna head home. You sleep or whatever it is you do when you’re not working.”

“I’m always working,” Tim said, turning away from his computer and shooting Jason a smirk.

“I should probably be worried about that, but whatever. I’m not Dick.”

“Goodbye, Jason,” Tim said, eyes already back on his computer, reviewing the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting at WE.

“See ya later,

Tim flipped him the bird until he heard the door to his apartment open and then slam shut. After that, Tim tried to focus on his computer, tried to be an adult (being an emancipated seventeen year old, that was), tried to stop thinking about his watch, but to no avail.
So, Tim drew it out of his pocket, closed his laptop, leaned back into the couch, and stared at the watch. His mom had told him it was broken, right? Or maybe she hadn’t. But that couldn’t be right, because he knew it was broken, knew it didn’t open. Or did he?

Tim held his thumb over the latch then hesitated. Was he ready to open the watch? Ready to see what was inside? Ready for any of it? Tim paused and shook his head. Why would he need to be ready? It was just an old watch.

He opened the latch.

***

Tim woke up to someone pounding at his door and with a pounding headache to boot. He woke up know more than he’d ever known before. About other planets and aliens and spaceships. He woke up with two heartbeats pounding in his ears and who knew how many years worth of memories in his head.

The door flew open and Dick tumbled in, eyes wide and worried. He saw Tim right away and leaped towards him, wrapping him in a tight hug that had Tim’s two hearts beating fast enough he was worried Dick would notice.

“We’ve been calling you for hours,” Dick said when he finally released Tim. “What happened?”

Tim considered his options in the blink of an eye and said: “I fell asleep. Guess I must be working too hard.”

“Tim,” Dick said gently, as if talking to a wounded animal. “It’s Thursday.”

Oh. Oh. It had been Tuesday last Tim knew. He’d slept through Wednesday and part of Thursday.

While he was trying to formulate an answer Dick said: “How long had it been since you slept?”

“Almost three days,” Tim replied right away.

“Well, that’s probably why you fell asleep then,” Dick said. He was still frowning like he was deeply troubled. “You need to stop doing that.”

Tim nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat that appeared whenever he lied to Dick. It was for the best, he told himself. Dick couldn’t know that his friend, his younger brother, was an alien from another planet.

“Can we just get some food?” Tim asked. “I’m starving.”
Dick laughed and ruffled Tim’s hair. “Yeah, okay. Food it is.”

***

Tim hadn’t taken into account Conner coming to visit him, arriving at the Manor during the weekly family dinner when there were no guns, no fighting, and everyone was there. He also hadn’t taken into account Alfred giving Conner a seat at the table.

“Hey, Tim,” Conner said cheerily. He cocked his head a second later, as if listening to something. “What’s up with your heart?”

Tim froze. “Nothing,” he said, just the right amount of surprise and interest to convey he had no idea what Conner was talking about and that his friend should therefore shut up. Conner took the hint and smiled sheepishly.

“I guess it’s just beating a tiny bit faster than normal.”
This settled everyone down and the dinner passed by normally until Tim was pulled away by Conner into his old room, the one he still hadn’t fully moved out of.

“You have two heartbeats,” Conner hissed, peering at Tim’s chest in a way that has Tim sure his friend is using x-ray vision. “I know you’re you though.” Tim doesn’t question how. “How did you get two hearts?”
“It’s a really long story,” Tim said. “I don’t know how to explain.”

“Start at the beginning,” Conner said. So Tim did.
He told Conner about being young and living on Gallifrey. About the war with the Daleks and his mother taking him and leaving. About the Chameleon arch. About her marrying his dad, Jack. About regenerating before landing on this universe’s Earth. How he ended up a tiny two year old instead of a smallish eight year old.

And at the end of it, Conner hugged Tim tightly, perhaps just a little too tight. He was strong.

Conner left soon after, with a promise to visit again. Tim wasn’t really sure he believed it, but it was a nice thought anyway.

***

Tim knew it could only last so long, his secret. Getting slammed in the head - with a frying pan! - wasn’t how he expected it to start, but it carried the same end result. He woke up, head throbbing, in a cell. Bruce was standing there, along with Jason, Dick, and Damian. He couldn’t help but wonder why no one else had been called.

“What’s up with the cell?” he asked, although he knew the answer to that quite well. They thought he was an imposter. Suddenly having two hearts would cause that.
“Who are you?” Bruce growled.

“Timothy Jackson Drake-Wayne,” Tim said. “And… something else. But I’m Tim, Bruce. I really am.”

“You’re not Tim,” Jason snarled.

“I am,” Tim said calmly.

“Prove it,” Damian said haughtily. “Prove you are Drake.”

“Do you want me to recite everything I know? Tell you your IDs’? You’re not going to believe me no matter what I do. But I’m Tim and I’m a Time Lord. An alien. I just… forgot.”

They stared at him. Tim stared back, daring them to call him a liar.

“When I missed that meeting and slept almost thirty-six hours I opened that pocket watch, Jason. The one I said was broken but I’d never opened. It’s called a Chameleon Arch by my people. It disguises us among aliens, keeps us hidden. My mother and I, we used it to hide here.”

Tim took a deep breath. He could explain everything. Could tell them about regenerations and how he’ll probably end up being hundreds of years old before he really dies. He could tell them about his life and the Tardis his mother hid on Earth. About Gallifrey. About how the Doctor saved him and his mother right before they stole their Tardis.

He didn’t.