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Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

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It’s snowing.

As in, a lot. A lot a lot. There’s practically a blizzard ravaging the city of Gotham, turning the whole world white and fluffy.

Tim spends the entire school day staring out the window, watching the inches of snow grow with every new class period. Snowflakes drift from the sky in flurries, making it feel as though Tim is trapped within the confines of an inside-out snow globe.

A few of his teachers grumble about global warming and its audacity to make it snow in November, thus assassinating their good day. Tim’s classmates don’t seem to care, crowding around the windows with eyes agleam as they wait for the final bell. Everyone is eager to get outside for an afternoon of snowball fights and snowman construction.

Tim can’t say he shares in their excitement. Not when he knows he’s going to have to trudge through all that snow on his walk home, which is just fabulous . Mom and Dad are in South Africa this week, and the housekeeper only comes on Thursdays, so Tim’s on his own.

Of course there’s the bus, but Drake Manor is on the far side of town with the rest of the elites. The public school buses don’t extend to his house, which Tim is usually fine with on days when there isn’t a two-foot pile of snow covering every inch of the ground.

Not that Tim should complain. It could always be worse, he reminds himself. At least he’s not on the streets. Not dead in a warehouse explosion. Not less than a rich kid who lives in a literal mansion and is currently training to be a superhero.

Besides—maybe the experience will be useful for snow missions. A Robin needs to be prepared for any kind of weather, after all.

When school lets out all too soon, Tim takes his time gathering his books while the other students make a break for the doors faster than a speedster after a red eye. Tim steps outside and draws his coat tighter around himself with a shiver.

He should have thought ahead. Should have checked the weather report before leaving the house this morning, grabbed a pair of gloves. But last night Bruce had kept him up well past midnight with some new escape techniques, so Tim woke up late and had to rush just to get to school on time.

Tim tucks his books under his arm and tightens his scarf as he descends the school’s stone steps. Already he feels the cold air nipping his skin, turning his cheeks red. He really should have worn gloves. Hindsight is a jerk sometimes.

The snowfall is so thick that Tim doesn’t realize he’s stepping on a patch of ice until he suddenly slips, books flying out of his hands. He lands flat on his back, right into the snow bank. White powder puffs up around him and freezes his skin.

Tim groans. His teeth chatter as he sits up, catching sight of his chemistry notebook half-sunken into the snow beside him. This is not his day.

Then a gloved hand appears above him, and Tim looks up. As soon as he recognizes the figure he freezes, but not because of the temperature this time. Because Bruce of all people is standing over him, a smile playing on his lips. “Need a hand, pal?”

Shaking off the shock, Tim takes it and lets Bruce pull him up. “Mr. Wayne. Hi. Sorry, I was—there was ice,” he says lamely. He brushes the snow off himself, trying not to let it show how hard he’s shivering. (He makes a mental note to ask Bruce later about teaching him one of those Jedi mind tricks to keep himself from shivering. Because he totally has one of those.)

Bruce bends down to pick up the books Tim dropped. “How was school?” he asks, handing them to Tim.

Tim blinks. “Um. Good?” Is this a test? Did they have something scheduled for today and it just slipped Tim’s mind? Maybe this is Bruce’s way of testing his ability to roll with surprises. Or to see whether or not he’s able to think on the fly with secret identity stuff.

“I took off work early today,” Bruce says in explanation. What he’s explaining, Tim has no clue, but he hopes it seems like he does.

“Oh. That’”

Bruce reaches out and brushes some snow off Tim’s shoulder with a frown. “Is this the only coat you have? It doesn’t seem very warm.”

Tim looks down at himself. “Um. My mom promised she’d take me to buy a new one last weekend, but…” But Tim has learned by now that “I promise” is just code for “Don’t hold your breath.” “I mean, they’re busy. She forgot.” He shrugs. “It’s fine.”

Bruce’s frown deepens. “I’ll give you one of Dick’s old ones.”

Is this a fever dream? Did Tim fall on an icicle that gouged through his skull, turning his brain into mush? “You really don’t have to do that, Mr. Wayne—”

Bruce waves a hand, like this is all completely normal and not currently giving Tim an aneurysm. “He grew out of them years ago, anyway. They’d just be gathering dust if you didn’t take them. Now, you ready to go?”

Tim has never been more confused in his entire life. “Am I...missing something?”

Bruce pauses. “What?”

“Why are you here? Did we arrange something and I just forgot? Is this a test?”

Bruce’s eyes soften, and his mouth twitches like he wants to laugh. “I’m driving you home, Tim.”

Cue record scratch. “Why?”

“Because it’s freezing. I’m not letting you walk home in the snow.” He says it like that should be obvious.

Tim’s brain is still mush, but he manages a small, “Oh.” Then he shakes his head. “But don’t you have stuff to do?”

Bruce puts a hand on Tim’s back and starts leading him towards the parking lot. Tim is too puzzled to resist, trying to fit this curveball into his previous notions of the day.

“I already told you, I left work early. Wayne Enterprises can handle an afternoon without me.”

“But what about—”

Bruce stops walking and faces him, humor in his eyes. He puts his hands firmly on Tim’s shoulders. “Tim.”


“It’s fine. Really. Don’t overthink this too much, okay?” He waits for Tim’s perplexed nod, then starts walking again—one hand still on Tim’s shoulder. “Now let’s get you in the car to warm up.”

Tim is still confused, but Bruce’s hand is warm on his shoulder and he knows the car will be even warmer. So he goes with Bruce's guiding hand, slowly relaxing. “Thanks, Mr. Wayne.”

“Anytime, pal.”