It isn't often one received the opportunity to study extraterrestrial beings, let alone meet them in person, let alone observe them to one heart's content. Tim Drake didn't think of himself as a lucky man however. His intelligence, devotion and sharp mind were forged by hard work and little sleep, but it had paid off. His acceptance into the XXX-project was not by the influence of his father, but himself and that made all the difference.
Wayne Enterprises owned many branches of industry in Gotham, and of course in the name of science, research institutes were part of them. Tim was to join them for a period of six months while they housed not one, but three specimens from outer space. A quarantine might sound restricting to most, but Tim felt giddy to start. A closed off facility with as little as impact from the outside world created an environment in which he thrived. Once he could set up his workplace, place his instruments and decorate it just so, Tim would not miss his family or the few friends he had. It was unlikely they'd wonder about his whereabouts for the first half of the assignment anyway, but Tim had done the more socially accepted thing and had warned them beforehand that he'd be unavailable to them. He would be taken care of by Wayne Enterprises. The project came with food and boarding, after all, and that was all he needed to stay alive. Maybe someone to remind him to eat and sleep as well, Tim thought idly as he finally stepped onto the property and scouted the area. So many reporters. It was to be expected, the world was curious and so was Tim so he couldn't blame them for asking questions. The woman fuming from the ears and snarling at the crowd didn't seem to share his opinion however.
"Be gone! No, I'm not answering your questions, I'm telling you to leave Wayne Enterprises' property or I'm calling the police!" She managed to raise her volume to drown out the shouting but not for long. Sounds of protest increased to a degree that Tim couldn't hear what other threats she was making by this point. Still, he couldn't simply pass them by: he recognized her as his contact person. Lucky him.
"Excuse me, everyone! I called the police, they are on their way. Please listen to this reasonable lady and leave before they arrive," he mentioned loudly. The crowd assessed if he was telling the truth. His blank expression gave nothing away however. It gave them enough incentive to slowly back off, to move their crew and equipment outside the gates where they could watch on public property. The dark skinned woman heaved a sigh, fixing her hair with both hands before turning to the new arrival.
"You must be Timothy Drake," she guessed extending a hand.
"Please, call me Tim... Miss Fox?" He replied carefully.
She smiled, shaking hands. "Well Tim, you can call me Tam. I'll take you inside, get the proper paperwork done, put you through some decontamination procedures and then you're good to go!" She was thorough.
"I trust you read the additional conditions for this assignment?"
"Yes: no communication with anyone outside of the facility. I left my phone and laptop at home," Tim informed her to which she nodded content with his preparations.
"Great. Don't worry however, I'll be your first person contact to the outside world once you enter the quarantine. If you have any message you need send to family or friends, you can do so through me. I know, I know, what about privacy? Well, here you have very little of it," Tam instantly explained giving a shrug of her shoulders. Tim could complain, but it had been in the paperwork he previously signed thus he had agreed to it already. He'd get used to it, hopefully. Also, there was little he had to hide seeing as he was far from a shameful person with bad habits. He figured living in 'Big Brother' for half a year was not too big a challenge.
“I do wish to ask.. why no deodorant or cologne? Even my shampoo and toothpaste?”
Tam pursed her lips in thought. It was clear she had the answer but was uncertain how to deliver it. “Well, we wish not to contaminate anything and are uncertain what these fragrances might trigger. Personal hygiene is most important however. You will find sufficient supplies inside,” she assured him, scribbling the last signature on a paper form allowing him entry to the quarantine zone. “Now, please enter the decontamination chamber after following these instructions and you’re good to go!”
The decontamination process took longer than expected, and was slightly more embarrassing than Tim initially imagined. His clothes had to go, so he stripped and hoped Tam wasn’t watching him as he cupped his privates nervously. A very cold and abrupt hosing down followed. The slacks Tam had prepared for him had the W.E. logo neatly printed on them. The door closed behind him and Tim exhaled a deep breath, realizing he was finally in. This was the quarantine zone, the highly secured research facility housing aliens. A smile tugged on his lips unconsciously as he cautiously ventured along the corridor entering what looked like a waiting room of sorts with a set of chairs and a table on one side and a vacated desk on the other. A little hotel bell called his attention and lured him closer. Before he could ring it, he caught sight of himself in the window’s reflection. There was no gel in his hair, as was also requested by Tam. His hair was unruly without it, falling into his eyes on occasion. His new outfit was a dark purple, eggplant, a good friend of his would claim, Tim thought fondly. It could not have been more plain, but at least they smelled of fresh laundry.
“You’ll get used to them, I promise,” a new female voice told him as he regarded himself with a somewhat displeased look. In the reflection he spotted a red head in a wheelchair similarly clothed behind him. "Welcome, Tim. It's great to finally get some backup here," she called out to him. The bespectacled woman came toward him, smiling kindly. "You even helped Tam out. We'll be getting along just fine," she added with a wink.
"Not a problem. You are.. Barbara?" Tim guessed as he held out his hand. She shook it with a confirming nod. Tam had filled him about the other researches a little over the speakers as he changed clothing. Barbara fit the description of a sharp, intelligent woman perfectly.
"That's right. Have you met Bruce yet?" She asked with a motion of her head, gesturing for him to follow her deeper into the quarantine zone. They rounded a corner, passed by what looked like a modest breakroom and a kitchen. Curiosity piqued, Tim could hardly contain his excitement over possibly meeting Bruce Wayne himself. A flush appeared on his face, heartbeat and breathing elated. Okay, he thought a little embarrassed by his immediate reaction, no need to be this thrilled, calm down. "You will soon then, first let me show you to your room," Barbara continued rolling in an awaiting elevator and smoothly venturing down another corridor on a higher level. They stopped at a door on their left. It didn't go unnoticed how her eyes lingered on the last door numbered '1' in big bold font at the end of the passageway. Tim caught up with her and remained silent yet intrigued.
There were a total of three numbered doors on the right side of the corridor, he realized. "Why are those doors--Ngh?!" His voice gave out, caught in his throat as a wave of heat started from his chest and shot down to his groin, setting his loins on fire. "Agh!" Was all that followed as his legs buckled and he found himself seeking support from the wall in an attempt to not tip over. Suddenly light headed, he panted into the cold surface pressed to his glowing cheek. "Tim! Oh damn it. Which one of you is it, huh?! Stop it!" Barbara's voice was supposed to be ringing in his ears, but all he could hear was the rushing of his blood, the pounding of his heart. Tim felt an unusual pressure on his chest that slid down to his front. "What the?!" He whimpered at the firm hold of his crotch. As if the startled squeak coming from his gaping mouth wasn't embarrassing enough, the bulge forming in his trousers certainly was.
Fortunately Barbara had wheeled off to one of the doors and was slamming a fist on it repeatedly until Tim felt like he could breathe again. His mind cleared, his regular temperature returning. Sweat had gathered on his brow which he wiped away with the cuff of his dress shirt. "It's not funny, Jay. It's called assault," Barbara complained, giving one last nudge with her elbow to the door for good measure. Tim thought he could hear a low chuckling sound coming from the other side, but his senses were on edge so he couldn't be completely certain. His crotch throbbed, but the pressure was lifting. He felt a linger of something, as if a tickle or a soothing caress.
"Are you alright, Tim?" Her voice was kind once more as she opened the door to his designated room and observed him. He was still blushing but had regained his composure. "Y-Yeah.. Sorry, that was.. I don't know what that was, actually," he had to confess as they entered and closed the door. "That was Jason. Bruce will fill you in on that later," Barbara explained, but didn't provide more than that. "For now, let's get you settled in. This is your room which offers a bed, a desk with chair and a sitting area. The restroom is communal, but it's really just the three of us here so you should never have to wait long to use a toilet or shower. Bruce was kind enough to provide me with my own bathroom upstairs in the Observatory to see to my needs," she explained performing a twirl in her wheelchair. It seemed she was rather agile in it and not the least bothered by the disability. Tim offered her a smile, thinking her a peculiar woman.
She caught his expression and returned it. A flicker of hope appeared in her eyes. "We've made little progress the past two months. We're hoping adding a new face to the team will not only ease our workload but allow for new developments as well."
"I read the paperwork you sent beforehand. Tam spoke highly of the technological and scientific papers I wrote, but admittedly there was no clear job description. What is it exactly that is expected of me?" Tim inquired while laying out freshly bought notebooks to scribble observations in on the desk. His room came with its own terminal which was linked to the main database of the research centre. His fingers itched to turn it on and delve into an ocean of new data. Tim suppressed the urge for now.
"Top secret facility and all that, you’ll have to forgive us for recruiting you but leaving you in the dark. Bruce and I are thrilled you agreed nevertheless,” Barbara reasoned. “You'll be taking care of feeding our guests and keeping their compartments clean," she started to which Tim raised an eyebrow and nearly dropped his expensive headset. "Excuse me?" He managed, bewildered. He was way overeducated to be a janitor of sorts. She laughed at his expression. "Don't worry, Tim. They may sound like tedious chores, which they are, but they are key moments to interact with our subjects. Bruce has me up in the Observatory most of the time, keeping track of their movements from a distance. I observe their habits, maintain the security system and support running analyzes on samples Bruce manages to get from the few visits they allow him. Adding you to the visiting roster will hopefully increase opportunities to expand our research materials."
Tim allowed a relieved sigh to pass through his nose. "I understand.” Then his bright eyes twinkled. “When will I be allowed to meet them?"
"Right now, as a matter of fact," a new voice joined the conversation. The door to his room had opened so quietly, Tim nearly startled at the sudden presence of the man. Barbara appeared immune to it though.
"Bruce! Took you long enough, Dick been giving you a difficult time again?" She asked obviously amused. The man crossed his arms over his chest but didn't answer. He looked guarded and unwilling to share what had occured. It was enough for her to wheel out of the room while laughing anyway. Her sounds of glee lingered in the background as Bruce turned his attention to Tim.
"Tim Drake. You have quite the reputation," he announced and Tim felt only a tiny bit intimidated by that penetrating gaze.
"As do you, mister Wayne," Tim responded stepping closer for another handshake. The man's hand was large, his grip sturdy, his face showing signs of contemplation. Was he perhaps not what Bruce had expected? Didn't matter, Tim told himself trying to overcome a surge of insecurity: he would prove his worth soon enough.
Bruce hummed at him, as if having heard his inner resolution. "Come, I'll introduce you." Tim inhaled deeply to prepare himself and followed to the door at the end, the one Barbara had been gazing at when he first arrived.
The padlock next to the door was softly glowing, a bright yellow hue illuminating the numbers one to nine. A small white card appeared from within the labcoat Bruce was wearing, now stuck between two of his fingers. It was for Tim to take. "Your personal access code. Don't lose it, don't share it," he was warned strictly as the man entered his own series of numbers.
Tim flipped the card, was memorizing the sequence by repeating it in his head as Bruce opened the door and stepped inside. It wouldn't be too difficult to remember, Tim thought as he lowered the item and was overcome with a inexplicable sense of exhaustion. Not the alarming kind, mind you, but the 'you had a long day and worked hard, you have earned some rest' kind. Odd, he had not slept much and was intimately familiar with the sensation but never before had it felt this difficult to resist. He felt warm, secure and at home, as if he could slide down the wall right there and then to take a nap and not be bothered by it one bit. Bringing a hand to his suddenly drooping eyes, he stumbled after Bruce and caught sight of the compartment's habitant. It was a man, or what resembled a human man, but with two black horns pointing up from its head and nails as long as an animal’s.
The figure sat upside down on his bed, long legs resting against the wall, arms hanging over the bed next to his head where he appeared to be grinning at their presence. He wore similar purple trousers as Bruce and Tim, but they had slid down his calves, revealing more of his hairless, caramel coloured skin. It was also the only thing he appeared to be wearing. The man’s chest left nothing to the imagination. His skin was taught over his lean frame. Tim found his focus drifting to the man’s light brown nipples and had to lick his lips. Affronted by his own reaction, he bit his lip immediately after his tongue retreated to scold himself.
With little to no effort, the almost human-like creature pushed a foot to the wall and rolled from the furniture backwards onto its feet with such elegance it left Tim staring even harder. The stranger straightened to his full length, he was taller than Tim, but a head or so smaller than Bruce. "Bruce.." A gentle tenor voice called fondly at the older man standing on the other side of the bars that separates the inner sleeping area from the rest of the chamber. The horned creature neared the steel pipes and lingered passively in front of them.
"Good afternoon, Dick," Bruce greeted him. Tim caught the hint of a smile on Bruce’s face and was mesmerized by the brilliant smile this 'Dick' gave in return. His eyes were skyblue and twinkling behind a curtain of dark bangs. He was quite a handsome sight to behold, Tim thought timidly. "This is Tim. He's new and will be taking care of the food and cleaning from now on."
Dick's attention shifted to Tim and that same reassuring warmth from before fell over him, like a blanket to snuggle with. "Tim.." Dick tested the name, raising an eyebrow at the sound of it and deciding he liked it by the widening of his grin. "Hi! Tim!"
"Y-Yes, hello. I'm Tim Drake, it's nice to meet you," Tim replied feeling clumsy and cringing at himself. It didn't truly matter, they couldn't understand their language anyway, but Bruce could and Tim truly didn't want to start out embarrassing himself further on his first day, especially not in front of his new boss. Bruce and Barbara must have had a difficult time communicating. Still, it appeared that Dick comprehended Tim was not an unfriendly presence. Tim bit the inside of his cheek trying not to smile too brightly, because Dick even looked eager to have him here? Well, the feeling was mutual. Tim would tell him, when they finally understood each other.
"Dick's been here the longest, he arrived first," Bruce told him, his voice instantly attracting Dick's attention once more. The creature pressed to the bars this time, took a moment to hum with closed eyes. He looked almost as if listening to fine music instead of Bruce’s voice. Or perhaps they were the same to Dick, Tim noted curiously. "He is also most well behaved. You will experience little hardship from him and he is likely easiest to communicate with despite the lack of knowledge of our language."
"Noted," Tim replied wishing desperately he had brought one of his notebooks now. "He appears very.. docile..?" His observation was met with a grunt. "Don't let him fool you that easily, Tim. I said he's most well behaved, but that doesn't mean he's without... his excentricities," his new boss elaborated, vaguely. Tim frowned but chose to remain silent. There was little he knew about this man, this creature, and Bruce had more experience handling him. Tim would take his word as truth until proven otherwise.
"Tim!" Dick exclaimed upon hearing the new name once more. Tim could hardly contain a chuckle as that eager face turned to him once more. He wanted to check if there was a tail somewhere, wagging happily. There wasn't. Tim realized he almost felt disappointed by that fact.
"He will visit you again soon, Dick. For dinner. Be patient," Bruce announced and extended a hand through the bars to the head of this creature. Tim jerked at the sight of it, wondering if it was safe and if he also was allowed to make physical contact. Dick saw the hand coming and raised his head into it, humming at the touch. "Hmm.. Brrrrrrruce.." Was that a purr? That was definitely a content purring sound. Tim observed Bruce’s petting motion atop Dick’s head before his boss retreated his hand and motioned from him to follow.
“Tiiiim!” Tim was nearly outside by the time Dick whined for his attention. He looked over his shoulder at the fallen expression of the creature and felt a twinge of regret having to leave him so soon. “I’ll be back soon, Dick,” he felt compelled to comfort him. He saw the hint of a smile, but Dick seemed to understand he had little control over the situation and returned to his upside down position on his cot. Tim exhaled a little laugh.
The door to compartment one closed behind them and for the first time did Tim notice the number above it change colour. Red morphed into green, a suitable system to show if it was occupied by someone other than their guests. Bruce caught him staring. "Barbara is posted at the Observatory on the upper floor. She has live feed and audio in every containment chamber. You will not enter these rooms if the light above the door is off. The light indicates she's at her post and therefore able to assist. Should you be in need of help, Barbara will sound an alarm designed to paralyze them. Do not enter when it's dark," the man laid out the rule firmly. Tim hummed thoughtfully. He figured she would only be gone from the monitors to see to basic needs which didn't take long. Except for sleeping, that's what normal people do, Tim reminded himself almost sheepish.
"Why would I be in need of her help?" Tim dared to question.
"We have yet to determine if these creatures are friendly, Tim," Bruce pressed with narrowing eyes. Tim was quick to nod in understanding, but was unable to shake the soothing smile Dick had shown him. Bruce sounded cautious but had caressed Dick's head just now. What for? For behaving well? Was he attempting to condition him? Maybe. That's what Tim deduced had triggered the motion, because it couldn't have been genuine affection. Could it?
"The bars you saw can be unlocked, but only if the outer door is locked. This will prevent an outbreak from ever occurring," Bruce resumed his explanations as he pressed his code into the padlock of the second door. "I suggest you do not allow them such freedom with you yet however, especially this one." Tim was about to ask why, when that sudden pressure from before returned to his chest. For a moment he feared Bruce Wayne would be witness to a raging boner in his trousers also. This time however, it wasn't as forceful but a gentle pull, a teasing lure towards the grinning horned man inside compartment number two.
"Jason," Bruce warned instantly, catching on as Tim clutched the door frame as soon as the creature inside caught sight of them. The one called Jason was large, bulky, massive in fact. Tim could only swallow at the domineering energy he exuded. The bars were there to protect them, but Jason looked hardly deterred by them, casually lounging there with one arm hanging through, ready to grab at them should they venture closer, Tim guessed. It took longer than expected to shake the thought of finding out what would happen should he get within Jason's reach. His mind was curious, but not for the matter of science, Tim realized with an awkward shuffle of his feet. Admittedly he was not at his most professional today. He cleared his throat.
"This is Tim. He'll bring your food, clean your chamber," Bruce told the man who only had eyes for the smallest man in the room, the new face.
"Timmmmmmmm..." The creature's voice was raspy and like a moan and he pushed his crotch against the bars, right in front of Tim who flushed from head to toe at the sight of it. The dark look in those teal eyes promised sensual delight, he was sure of it. He wasn't so sure he wanted to be looked at like that though. Something told him he wouldn’t survive a tumble in the sheets with this one. Tim tried clearing his throat again, but ended up coughing awkwardly instead. Jason barked a laugh at his nervous reaction. Bruce ignored it, thank God.
"Jason arrived two weeks after Dick did. I'm uncertain of their connection, but they appear to react to each other's name," his boss decided to share with Tim who did notice the little tilt of Jason's head at the mention of the other creature. Bruce was right. Interesting, Tim thought wringing his hands in his shirt unconsciously. Jason wouldn't stop staring at him, wouldn't stop evidently wanting him. Playful it wasn’t for that predatory grin showed sharp fangs.
"He's... defiant," Tim concluded with a strained voice. Bruce nodded and faced a little camera in the corner of the room. He signalled with two fingers before a high pitched alarm resounded, sending Jason snarling into the corner of his barred confinements. He was shielding his ears, glaring death and destruction at Bruce's pensive face.
It was a necessity, of course, but seeing anyone this tormented was not to his liking. "I thought you said it paralyzes them," Tim asked confused. He could see Jason struggle against the wall, but moving nonetheless.
"Jason is the only one who doesn't fully succumb to the alarm. It will provide enough distraction for you to extract yourself from his compartment however," his boss looked reluctant to admit it.
"Distraction? He seems to be in pain." Tim frowned at the small grunts Jason was emitting like an angry wounded animal.
"Not necessarily," was all Bruce had to offer on the subject. He signalled once more and the wailing noise ceased to exist. Tim sighed at the silence returning, but jerked in surprise at the sudden movement of Jason lunging at the bars, clawed hand reaching as far as possible to get to Bruce's throat. Strategically placed however, Bruce was several inches out of reach and unperturbed. Tim wondered how often Jason displayed this violent behaviour and made a mental note definitely to not enter without Barbara watching his back. There was a challenge in Bruce's eyes as he raised his hand once more. Jason growled at the implication but backed off, huffing at him and favouring to sit on his bed for now. He slumped forward with narrowed eyes.
"Let's move on. Damian is far better mannered," Bruce promised him as they left Jason's comportartment and went for the third door in the row. Tim wondered if he could ask for a moment to catch his breath. Meeting these two had already worn him out mentally, Dick lulling his body into a sense of safety, lowering his guard and then Jason picking up on it and luring him closer with what felt like physic abilities. He should probably ask Bruce about that.
"Do they possess any special powers?" Tim inquired as Bruce entered his code a third time. The man paused, raising an eyebrow at him. Tim cringed, only now realizing he had probably made them sound like superheroes. "I mean, I-In the hallway- and just now.." Tim ended in a mumble, rubbing at his forehead. These foreign beings were messing with his mind, his usually brilliant clear mind. Bruce was not at all seeing the best of him right now. It was mighty frustrating.
"Oh," the man suddenly confirmed, looking away to the side shortly. "Yes, I assumed Barbara had already explained that to you seeing as they did the same upon first meeting me and her as well."
"She hasn't," Tim managed quietly, realizing the awkwardness of this conversation.
"We have established the fact that they are able to transmit thoughts supernaturally. Seeing as their words mean nothing to us however, they have been resorting to emotions and images instead."
"All of them are capable of this?" That could very well complicate things, unless Damian was honestly as well mannered as Dick was.
"They do, but not on a regular basis," Bruce confirmed unlocking the door to Damian's compartment. "Dick and Damian mostly refrain from using their ability, unless it is to request a visit from me or Barbara."
"What for? Communication is still impossible," Tim pondered out loud. The answer didn't come as Bruce stepped inside and introduced the final extraterrestrial creature to Tim's enlarged eyes.
"Damian," Bruce called for the creature's attention without receiving it. A lean muscled man nearly the size of Bruce himself sat on the floor, his back to them. He also was only wearing trousers. Perhaps upper attire was foreign to them? Tim only now took notice of the marks littered across scarred skin, recalled seeing them on Jason and Dick's torso as well, but not nearly as prominent as these green marks on Damian's dark skin. They didn't appear decorative, but perhaps showed ranking or heritage? Tim really wished he had his notebook right now.
"Damian!" Bruce raised his voice. The creature slowly turned his head, bestowing them with an unimpressed stare. Tim had the feeling they had disturbed him. Was he meditating? He stepped closer and to the side to view Damian more clearly. His interest in his persona caused Damian to snarl at him. Tim wrinkled his nose at the bad attitude, giving Bruce a sceptic look. "I thought you said he was well mannered?"
"He is," Bruce said to the creature's defense, which Tim didn't truly understand, just yet at least. "We believe Damian is of military descent, and picks up on ranking quite well. He is perhaps a soldier or a lieutenant who is familiar with receiving orders from superiors. When he first arrived he tried to assert dominance over me, but the attempt was short lived. I have yet to experience bad behaviour from him when I visit for samples. He is quite forthcoming when it comes to them and the experiments. Still, he has come to accept Barbara as a part of my research team only several days ago. It will take time for him to extend that courtesy to your presence as well."
It would take a long time, or would probably never happen, if Tim had to guess. "Hello, I'm Timothy Drake, Tim for short." Tim greeted him stiffly. The creature was sizing him up none too subtly, but not with Jason's needy look or Dick's eager expression. "Tim..othy," Damian repeated, the name foreign on his tongue and by the looks of it intriguing. There was genuine inquisitiveness, but also a reluctance to act upon it. It took all but thirty seconds for Tim to get dismissed by Damian altogether, the being returning to meditating. Tim expected to feel insulted by it, but instead experienced a sense of calm and relief. Damian's shoulders, tense since Bruce called for him, eased back to a compliant state. Tim might not be worth his time yet, but he was also not considered an enemy. That had to count for something. Still, it irked him.
"Ignoring people is rude," Tim muttered mostly to himself, perplexed by the lack of interaction he received.
A female voice slithered into the chamber through the audio system from the ceiling: Barbara's voice. "Damian's just a little shy, but don't let that keep you from bonding with him. He's just as curious to learn from us as we are from him," she told Tim showing she had overheard the conversation and reminding him she was always present as long as the light above the door was on.
"If you say so, could have fooled me," Tim allowed the snark comment to leave his frowning lips, side-eying Bruce for a moment. The man had not moved from his spot, eyes trained on Damian's silent form. His interest in the three creatures was logically placed and yet differed greatly between them. The fondness he had shown Dick, the distance he had kept from Jason and the brooding look he was giving Damian: Tim started thinking a lot had happened already in the past two months that the three beings had arrived.
"I'll take it from here Bruce, you might want to come up and check on that saliva sample you took last night," Barbara offered pulling their boss from his trance like state. He nodded and without further ado left the compartment, passing Tim by while still in thought. "Now that you have met the gang, what do you think?" She asked Tim next. That was a tough question to answer, especially since Damian had started staring at him again now that Bruce had left and the expression in those emerald orbs was difficult to identify.
"I think... I don't know what I signed myself up for," Tim revealed slowly, captivated by Damian's gaze that demanded his full attention. "What.. what do you call them, their species?"
Tim started visibly at the clear sound in his head. "Incubi?"
"Why yes, actually, how did you know?" Barbara asked surprised over the audio system.
"It just.. I.. lucky guess?" Tim opted without sounding convincing to either of them. He could hear Barbara humming thoughtfully. "Maybe, Damian told you?" She suggested instead. Impossible, Tim thought, because that would mean they did understand their language. Yet, Damian's expression had changed if only for a second. Tim held his breath and willed his eyes to stray from that dominating gaze. Had that been a smirk? A hint of it? What did it mean? Had Damian truly understood him?
".... Tim? Tim, can you hear me?" Barbara was calling out to him, but he couldn't fathom for how long already. He felt dazed as he blinked his eyes rapidly and tried to get his bearings. Damian was no longer looking at him, the creature's face turned away from him.
He had to get out of this chamber. Tim retreated a tad too hastily for Barbara not to be worried, he knew, but he'd reassure her later. The outer door closed and locked, the green light above it shining brightly. Gooseflesh had broken out over his arms at which he rubbed furiously. It didn't take a genius to see he was on edge, out of his comfort zone and definitely unprepared for what was to come. Slowly Tim ventured down the corridor and to his room, ears twitching at the faint sound of Jason's chuckling and Dick's upbeat humming. Only when he closed the door to his room behind him could he find peace and quiet. Tim emitted a sigh and dropped to his bed, exhausted beyond belief. There was plenty more to do today, such as preparing dinner, Bruce had mentioned that. But his body felt weak, his eyes felt heavy and sleep came upon him easier than he had experienced in the past ten years.
In the middle of the night, Tim came to. It wasn't a natural waking process however. Faintly he could hear it: the calling of his name. Blinking sleep from his eyes, Tim rose from the bed. Someone had been in here. There was a blanket covering him and on the nightstand stood a plate with two cheese sandwiches. Also, a little note telling him to rest well and that tomorrow he wouldn't get to skip his duties so easily. It was signed with a B and a smiling face. Had to be Barbara instead of Bruce then. Tim regarded the drawn emoticon and couldn't imagine the man adding it.
There it was again! Standing from the bed, Tim ventured to his door, pressing an ear to it. Silence. Had he imagined it after all? No, not likely. Those creatures, those incubi, had psychic abilities and it felt like they were testing him. Or they were trying to communicate with him, a hopeful part of him hypothesized. Intrigued, Tim opened the door and stepped out into the corridor. Now, if only he could determine which one of them had been calling for him.
It felt like it was coming from…