Bruce Wayne had long been known for his playboy tendencies. He was used to having a model on each arm and at least five phone numbers in his pocket by the end of the night. His sex life was always hot gossip even for such ‘respectable’ papers as the Daily Planet.
But even he knew that when he opened his door to a small, frightened child as a foster parent, he would have to cut way down on the partying. And he did. He no longer went out four times a week, instead going out every other Saturday, if that, and the stories in the media slowly turned from relationship scandals to pictures of him and Dick at Starbucks or getting ice cream.
But he was still single and still had that Bruce Wayne image to uphold, so every now and then he still brought a woman home. He had made one rule for himself regarding these things, however. He never brought anyone to the manor if Dick was home, sometimes not even if he was in town but supposed to be sleeping somewhere else. He had been nearly fanatical about it, something Alfred had deeply approved of.
He had also kept that rule for all of his other children as well which usually meant his liaisons would happen in the other person’s home or in a hotel room. It had become a rare thing to be invited back to Wayne Manor.
The rule had done him well. There had only ever been one slip up and to this day Bruce maintained that it was entirely Tim Drake’s fault he didn’t have a perfect record. Tim maintained that he couldn’t even remember the incident but he was certain it was actually Bruce’s fault, just because. Dick and Jason thought it was the most hilarious story they knew and told it to everyone they could, certain details omitted depending on the audience. Cassandra and Damian had never cared; Duke laughed but never spread it around.
Alfred was just disapproving.
Tim had been fifteen at the time Bruce Wayne was dating an up and coming actress named Clara Montief. She had been absolutely beautiful then, the plastic surgery still doing more good than harm, thin, sober, and in possession of good genetics. She was also deeply selfish and loved the idea of becoming a billionaire the easy way. She had flaunted their three month relationship in the media and social media making them out to be a young couple falling fast in love. Bruce was entirely positive that she never learned a thing about him except his wealth rating and possibly his middle name.
But she had been a good publicity cover and ultimately she hadn’t really cared if he disappeared on her as long as each unexplained absence was followed by a gift. She had really enjoyed blue diamond jewelry.
Bruce had never allowed Clara to meet Dick, who had already been grown and out on his own for years. Jason had just barely returned and as far as the public knew was still dead and the other three hadn’t fully come into his life yet.
But Tim had still been living next door on his own family’s estate and even supposed to be in Gotham when Bruce and Clara had stumbled into the master suite on Saturday night, drunk and horny.
Even Alfred hadn’t been there. He had taken a vacation to England and to this day Bruce believed that it was Alfred who would have caught Tim coming up the stairs at three in the morning, excited and practically vibrating with mania.
But the house had been empty and so it was Clara who, restless, had rolled over, and seen Tim standing on the bed, one foot on either side of Bruce’s hips, holding what looked like a gun. She screamed, terrified, shocking Bruce from sleep.
He had started to sit up, caught sight of what he’d also thought was a gun, and froze, trying to assess in the nearly pitch blackness in the room.
“I finally figured it out,” the intruder replied. Bruce immediately felt the tension leave his body to be replaced with utter confusion.
“Tim?” he nearly shouted, leaning over and turning on the light, blinking to adjust to the sudden brightness. Clara grabbed at the sheets, covering herself, and reminding Bruce that they were both still naked under the covers.
Tim was soaking wet which was puzzling because it hadn’t rained. But that was hardly the most confusing part. The boy was wearing no shoes, though he had one sock on, his basketball shorts were bright orange, and his t-shirt was bright purple. There was a cut on the right side of his face, just above the eyebrow, and his left knee was skinned. The skin beneath his eyes were so dark, they looked bruised.
“Is that a potato gun?” he asked, too shocked to ask the question he wanted to ask which was why Tim wasn’t with the Teen Titans like he was supposed to be.
“I figured it out!” Tim replied, practically gleeful. Bruce felt Clara’s hand tighten on his arm, clearly terrified having been woken up by a crazy person. He carefully grabbed his sweatpants off the floor and managed to wiggle them back on without having to stand up, completely naked, in front of the kid. Tim bobbled a few times as Bruce moved his legs around, but never actually moved otherwise.
“What the hell is going on?” Clara finally shouted. Tim looked at her as if he was noticing her for the first time.
“Oh hello,” he said, perfectly chipper. “I’m Tim.”
Bruce stood up and reached for the potato gun, thankfully unloaded, and took it away.
“Come here, Tim,” he said, holding on to the boy’s forearm and gently guiding him down off the bed and towards the door. “Go back to sleep Clara. We’re fine.”
He shut the bedroom door on her and made a mental note to have her sign an NDA before he broke up with her on Monday morning. He guided Tim towards what was basically his room at this point, though they’d never officially made it so. Tim liked to stay there when his dad was out of town on one of his frequent trips.
“Where’s your Dad?” he asked, curious as to why Jack Drake was not in possession of his manic son.
“Cruise,” Tim said, perkily. “Or was it South America? Somewhere warm.”
“There’s a lot of warm places, Tim,” Bruce told him. When they got to the bathroom, Bruce leaned the potato gun against the wall, and lifted Tim up onto the bathroom counter.
“Tell me about what you figured out,” he said as he started to open cabinets in search of a first aid kit. As Bruce cleaned and bandaged the cut and skinned knee, Tim babbled about a Dark Web marketplace he’d managed to hack and traced the source of the website back to a library computer in the Bowery. It had apparently taken him the next three days to discover that the user hadn’t been a patron of the library but the librarian herself. The boy seemed incredibly proud of himself.
“So you didn’t go to the Titans this weekend because you were working this case?” Bruce asked. Tim crinkled his nose, something he only did when he was trying to recall a memory. It didn’t happen often due to Tim’s incredible recall but Bruce always thought it was adorable when it happened. Not that he’d ever said that out loud.
“It’s Wednesday,” Tim finally said with conviction. Bruce rolled his eyes and helped Tim take off his soaking wet shirt. The kid was shivering.
“It’s Saturday,” he corrected. “How long have you been awake?”
“Only twelve hours if it’s Wednesday,” Tim replied.
“So a lot longer than twelve hours then,” Bruce replied, guiding the boy back into the bedroom and turning off the bathroom light. He pulled some of Tim’s clothes out of the closet and left him to change, going back to his own bedroom. Clara was on her phone when he got back scrolling mindlessly.
“Did you call the police?” she asked.
“No,” he replied, actually surprised, temporarily forgetting who he was talking to. “Why would I do that?”
“Because of that crazy kid!” she snapped, almost screaming.
“That’s just the neighbor kid,” Bruce told her. “He’s harmless. Just go back to sleep.”
She huffed, rolled her eyes, and went back her phone. Bruce moved past her to his own closet where he opened a small floor safe that held his basics. Birth certificate, passport, all the boys’ paperwork, and a small bottle of low dose prescription sleeping pills Leslie had given him for moments like this when sleep was literally a live or die situation. Bruce hated the thought of using them but Leslie had assured him that they were so low dose they were practically over the counter. Apparently, she prescribed them to children all the time.
He made sure the safe was shut and locked and then walked out of the room, more than happy to close the door on Clara again. She was fine when they were at the club or having sex, but he certainly never wanted to have her in the same building as the boys and it annoyed him greatly that she was.
When he got back to Tim’s room, the boy was gripping his potato gun again, standing in the middle of the room, in just his boxers and a large t-shirt that Bruce was pretty sure had been his at one point. Tim looked incredibly small in that moment, bandaged and exhausted nearly beyond sanity.
“Where did you get a potato gun?” Bruce asked, taking it away again and leaving it on the desk. He opened the prescription bottle and fished out a pill. “Open your mouth.” Tim complied immediately and Bruce popped the pill onto his tongue. Tim swallowed without even asking what Bruce had given him.
“I made it,” he said, gesturing to the desk. “I use it to train Connor and Cassie on their flight skills. They suck at it, you know, the flying thing.”
“It takes some training to get good at it,” Bruce agreed, thinking of all the buildings Superman had damaged before he’d learned that even he had to obey some laws of physics.
“Have you been at your home this whole time?” Bruce asked.
“I was working,” Tim replied, not fully answering. Tim had always been his most difficult Robin. Impossible to shake and even more impossible to corner. Dick and Jason had been smart and rebellious in their own ways but Tim was something else. He had the ability to dive into a problem so deeply that he would obsess over it, staying awake for days at a time, skipping meals, and losing time.
Bruce had been watching the behavior for a while and he knew it was most often triggered by Tim’s family drama. A problem worthy of obsession had yet to fall into Tim’s lap; he was always the one to find it. And Bruce wasn’t sure what to do about it. Nobody in this house had ever been accused of following a healthy pattern of behavior when it came to obsessions.
Even Alfred was obsessed with finding ‘the perfect cup of tea; the tea to end all teas.’
“Okay,” Bruce said instead. “Time for bed.”
He practically had to force Tim under the covers, he was wiggling around so much, trying to show the Bruce the skinned knee he’d gotten falling into the lake that separated part of their property lines. He’d just been so excited to give his report. Bruce knew it was because he was delirious and quite possibly on the verge of hallucinations . He could also smell espresso and Red Bull on his breath.
But eventually the kid was settled and the sleeping pill kicked in, taking away the last of the boy’s resistance. He grabbed a spare pillow and laid down on the other side of the bed, perfectly happy not to sleep in the same room as Clara, and caught his own six hours.
She was gone in the morning, having left in a huff, and they never actually spoke again except for him to bribe her into signing the NDA in exchange for $600,000 cash. It was worth it to keep this particular story out of the press. Bruce wasn’t entirely sure if Jack even knew that Tim and Bruce knew each other, much less that Tim would often spend the night. He’d rather not have that scandal on his plate.
When Tim woke up 22 hours later, the side of his hair sticking up at odd angles, and Dick making jokes almost immediately after he entered the kitchen for food, he claimed he couldn’t remember a thing. Bruce was fairly certain he remembered something but let it slide.
And when Tim shot the potato gun at Dick later that day for teasing him mercilessly about the whole thing, Bruce simply took it away. It was still in the back of his closet, technically forgotten.