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5 times Everyone realized Tim's the favorite, and One Time Tim realized he's the favorite

Chapter Text

Prompt one: Blinded for a day

Jason thought Dick was the favorite.
Tim thought Damian was the favorite.
Damian thought Jason was the favorite.
But who did Dick think was the favorite?

Nightwing finished snapping on the handcuffs in the dark alleyway while Robin looked on in disgust. One or two stars could be made out in the smoky, hazy sky. Pretty good for Gotham, actually. It had been a good night, a night where they’d managed to shut down a major drug ring. These were the last few henchmen who’d run off into the night. Not only that, but Red Robin had joined them for this case, in person. It was the first time in weeks they’d had a chance to see each other. He was always busy, or pre- occupied. Finally, finally, though he’d found a way to see him.

“We could have done this a thousand times faster if not for your interference, Red Robin.”
Unfortunately it had required him to bring Robin along. Not that he didn’t like having Damian along- it was just not a good idea to have him around if one was going to interact with Red Robin in any capacity.

Red Robin sighed. “Yeah, I know. Let’s just head back, mk?”

NIghtwing straightened up and slung his arm around Robin’s shoulders.

“Yeah, probably time to call it quits.” Hesitant, he looked at Red Robin hopefully. “It was good to work with you again.”

“Yeah. Sure.” And he hopped on his motorcycle, escaping leaving the alley, and Nightwing. Again.

That is, until he crashed his bike into the wall.

“Woah!” Nightwing ran over to the bike, which was now a pile of rubble and flames. The wall had collapsed onto the bike, and covered everything in a huge pile of broken cement. Nightwing crouched down, movements still calm, Nightwing himself a little in shock. Had Tim just… crashed into a wall? A literal wall. Holy Batman Tim had just crashed into a wall. At full speed.. And he was now buried. Alive. And on fire. Briefly, the Sherlock scene about the bonfire flashed through his mind and his eyes widened. He dove into the pile, fire licking at his costume while he frantically rummaged through the heap.

“We all knew he was incompetent, but that’s a new level.” Came a voice from the sidelines.

Shoot. He’d forgotten about Robin.

“Just quit it Robin and help me!”

A startled pause.

“Why in the world should I help you?”

“Because T- Red Robin is buried under flaming rubble and I can’t ******** find him!”

Nightwing’s wandering hands rustled even more frantically, feeling nothing but cold hard stone and heat.

“Gray- Nightwing stop.”

Nightwing looked up, annoyed (and a little surprised) at the tone of authority and desperation in his voice.

“WHAT?”

“Nightwing, you’re going to hurt yourself. Be logical-”

That’s when his hands struck gold. Or, more accurately, flesh. A cheek. Tim.

Grunting, Nightwing found his arm and pulled him out from under the heavy cement blocks, gasping until Red Robin was laid out on the dirty alleyway ground spread eagle. It looked like Nightwing had pulled him out before he’d sustained any serious burns… but one could never be too sure.

“Damian, call B. We’re taking Red Robin back to the Cave.”

“Red Robin won’t be happy about that.” Nightwing could hear the unspoken And I won’t be happy about it either.

“I know. But Red Robin may need medical attention, and a Bat doesn’t just run into walls like that. Something’s wrong.” Nightwing didn’t mention the part where Red Robin hadn’t been to the Manor in months and this was a great excuse to get him there. Or the part about how he hadn’t been answering his calls in, well, forever, and this was the time to finally trap him in a hug. Nope. That didn’t affect his decisions one iota.

Robin sighed and tapped into coms, requesting pick up, while Nightwing crouched down and started to apply treatment to a big gash that must’ve opened from the pieces of the bike.

A few minutes later, the batmobile showed up, and Batman stepped out, face stoic. He raised an eyebrow when he saw Red Robin stretched out on the ground, but only grunted, and picked up Red Robin like he weighed nothing.
“We’re done for the night. Head back to the cave.”

“And Red Robin? Something's wrong. People don't just crash into walls..” Nightwing tilted his head towards the person in question.

“Doesn’t seem to have any physical injuries, but we’ll run some tests.” With a swish of his cape, he left.

Nightwing stood there for a moment, the adrenaline from seeing Red Robin crash winding down, leaving him exhausted. Shuffling from the side drew his attention. Shoot. He’d forgotten about Robin again.

“Hey, look, Robin-”

“Forget it Nightwing. It’s time to head back.”

Well, so much for a good night.

__________________

Dick sat on some random chair stolen from the upstairs, listening to Bruce drone on as he had been for the last few minutes.

“Creating a stable environment is key; he’ll have to move back here. We’ll move all of his things tomorrow. Are you free?”

“Wait, what? Sorry, I zoned out after the part where you told me Tim is blind.”

Bruce’s eye twitched a bit at the blunt statement. “Yes. To recap, something happened midway during your patrol, and Tim could no longer see. He didn’t report it however, choosing to go through the rest of your patrol without… seeing, and planned to go home to deal with it, but found out he could not drive blind and crashed.”

“He just… didn’t tell us? He thought he could go back to his life blind and none of us would notice he was blind?”

“Admittedly, neither of you noticed while he was on patrol.”

“THAT’S NOT HELPFUL BRUCE!” The cave echoed with his shout for a second, and the bats shrieked.

“I- sorry. Sorry, I.. I don’t know.” He sat back in his chair panting and covered his face in his hands. He jumped a little when a warm hand covered his shoulder.
“I know chum. I wish…" Here Bruce let out a dry chuckle. "I wish a lot of things. I know things between you two aren't great right now, but all we can do now is try to provide him the support he needs, like we do with Barbara, and figure out what happened that night.”

“What are we going to do Bruce? What if this is forever?”

 

“It doesn’t seem to be forever. Scientifically, his eyes should be working. Alfred believes this is magical in nature.”

“Ok.” Dick let out a breath and relaxed minutely, lifting his face back up. “Ok. Hey, at least he’s back at the Manor.”

“Five months, three weeks, and six days.”

“Oh. You’ve been counting too?”

Bruce quirked a little smile, the smile Dick always called the Tim Smile. “I always count. This time is the second longest one of my children has been gone.”

“Second?”

“Jason.”

 

“Ohhhhhhh. I’m dumb. Hey, c’mere.”

Dick grabbed Bruce’s hand on his shoulder and used the momentum to pull the man into a hug. The elder stiffened a bit but relaxed a little and patted Dick back awkwardly. Dick clung tightly onto him, suddenly 12 years old again and so confused. So confused, and scared for Tim, and worried at what was to happen next, and all he really wanted was his dad.

“You know the only reason I’m letting you do this is because you’re my son.” Bruce warned.

“Oh, I know. Now,” He released Bruce. “Go check on Tim. I know you’re dying to.”

Bruce gave him a relieved smile, that Tim Smile again, (and did Tim know he had a special smile just for him?), and hurried off.

________________________

Dick stood in the doorway and watched Bruce guide Tim around the room. Tim didn’t need the help, and Bruce knew it, but an excuse to be with his son for one moment, without him asking what’s wrong, why are you hugging me? That was gold. Dick used to not have to have an excuse. He used to be able to tackle Tim in the hallway and hold him forever. Dick used to be able to know something was wrong with Tim. Now he couldn’t even tell when he was blind.

Damian stopped by him in the doorway.

“I don’t understand.” He said, after a minute.

“Don’t understand what?”

“Why father chooses to help him. Drake may be incomptent and worthless, but he is able to navigate on his own. Father has far more important things to do as well. Even investigating the cause of this would be more worthwhile.”

“Why? Well Damian, there’s a good reason.”

“And what would that be?”

Dick leaned down and whispered it into the boy’s ear. “It’s because Tim is Bruce’s favorite.”

“Very funny Grayson.”

Dick shrugged. “Believe what you want Damian. I, for one, am very happy to have Tim back in the Manor. Even if he’s… blind. It’ll get Bruce out of his Tim- less funk.”

Damian considered this for a moment. “He does seem happier with him around.” Then he scowled. “Though I cannot agree on enjoying his presence here.”

“Either way, you know who’s my favorite?”

Damian opened his mouth to ask, then his eyes widened, realizing what that meant, and he started to run. Dick chuckled.

“It’s you! Now come here for a hug!”

And Dick tackled him to the ground.

__________________

Turned out, it was some sort of magical spell cast by some magician in disguise. Zatanna was able to reverse it in a matter of seconds. Dick didn’t even have a chance to talk to Tim- not that that mattered. Of course. Really, everything ended up ok, and they would go back to their normal lives. It wasn’t like Dick wanted Tim to be blind.

As soon as it was resolved, Tim ran walked out the door and took his bike back to his apartment. Bruce had stood there for a few minutes, looking at the door, smiling that Tim Smile. Then he went off to go do whatever Bruce did when he brooded about his missing sons. Dick leaned against the wall for a few minutes longer, then he too headed off to console Damian’s sensitivities (though that may be the wrong word to use with that kid). He went on with his life, missing Tim just the same as before, not knowing a single thing to do about it.

However, those few minutes Dick stood there, watching Bruce and Tim? It was good. For a few minutes, Tim was there with them, and Bruce got to be with his son. His favorite son.
Dick could only hope it’d happen again.

Jason thought Dick was the favorite.
Tim thought Damian was the favorite.
Damian thought Jason was the favorite.
And Dick knew Tim was the favorite.

Chapter Text

Prompt Two: “You still have that photograph?”

Alfred

 

The halls of Wayne Manor were filled with photographs. In every corridor, in every nook and cranny, the often used and the abandoned, in prominence or lit by old gaslights no one had ever replaced, photographs littered the hallways. One could wander the Manor for hours and still not see them all. 

 

They were arranged with no clear order (except the massive portrait of Martha and Thomas Wayne in the foyer), so there were photos of Damian next to photos of 12-year old Dick. Bruce kept the photos from adoptions in his study. Pictures taken from phones hung right next to professionally staged; each was equally important and each was lovingly dusted every day by Alfred.

 

The Cave, however, was a different story. Only one collection of photographs hung there. These hung in the nicest frames. They were all very professional looking and all depicted Batman and Robin (the pantless two)  in various poses. Everyday, without fail, Bruce would take the dust cloth from Alfred and dust them himself. It had started sometime when Alfred had caught Bruce with misty eyes gazing at something beyond the photos. He had, if he remembered correctly, told Master Brucce “Perhaps, Master Bruce, if you wish not to be seen as idle, you could dust these for me?”

Shaken from his reverie, Master Bruce had responded, “I’d be happy to.”

As Alfred had turned away, he’d grabbed him by the shoulder.

“Thank you,” he’d said softly.

 

It had become a ritual of sorts for the two of them. He never failed to venture down at the same time, and Master Bruce would never fail to take the rag from him with a smile, that special smile he always got when he reflected on the pictures.

 

Alfred could remember further back the day they’d gotten the photos. Bruce had frowned at the cardboard box of negatives and developed photos shoved in his hands, then passed them off to Alfred.

“Burn them.” He’d ordered. “They contain compromising images.”

 

Alfred hadn't burned them.

 

For goodness's sake, they were rare pictures of Master Bruce, with Master Jason no less, he didn't really think Alfred was going to burn them? Alfred had often rationalized that it was really Master Bruce's fault if he disobeyed his orders. Honestly, the younger man obviously knew he was against things like that, never mind that Alfred kept his actions against his commands secret. Master Bruce should expect him to take a different path if he was going to make those decisions.

 

Over the years, they had become more. A memory, a reminder. Sometimes, after a recent shouting match, either Jason or Dick would go look at what once was. Sometimes, if Bruce was especially cold that day (and Alfred made sure his displeasure was known later) Damian would go look at what he would be. And Bruce….

 

Would go look at what he could’ve had.

 

(What he still could have, but those were Alfred’s private thoughts, not meant to be shared)

 

Tim? Well, turned out, the photographer himself didn’t even know they were there.

 

It had been a long night, several weeks after Tim’s blindness ordeal. Another Arkham breakout, and all of the young Masters had decided to return. Alfred had never seen Master Bruce so completely delighted and exhausted at the same time. The cave was filled with shrieks from Damian, Jason’s teasing jabs, Dick’s pleading tones, and Tim’s focused mumbling as he sat on a floor he hadn’t been anywhere near in weeks, doing the only productive thing in the cavern.

 

Master Bruce caught his eye, tilting his head towards his family. Alfred offered him a knowing smile in return and strode over to the various Bats.

 

“Perhaps it is all time for us to retire? Your rooms are made up.”

 

Immediately all talk ceased. Master Jason muttered something like “That’s Alfie’s polite way to say get the **** to bed.”, but the ‘Alfie’ in question chose to politely ignore it. 

 

“Sure!” Dick smiled. “Haven’t been here in a few weeks. Why not?”

 

He stood up and bodily picked up Damian, putting him in a fireman carry while Damian growled.

Jason chuckled but went along too, a welcome surprise. Then Alfred turned his attention to the remaining Bat.

 

“Master Timothy?”

 

“Wh- Oh, sorry Alfred. Can’t. I have a meeting tomorrow, early.”

 

Out of the corner of his eye, Alfred could see Master Bruce’s smile drop. He knew, as well as Alfred, Tim had no meeting. Of course, Tim didn’t know they knew. It had something to do with Master Bruce, in his wonderfully caring and completely not creepy ways, hacking into Tim’s schedule and checking it obsessively, making plans to meet up and then discarding them. If this happened to coincide with Master Bruce’s 4 a.m. ‘reports’, Alfred had not batted an eye.

 

Of course, trained in Bruce’s microexpressions as he was, Tim had noticed it too, but misinterpreted it. “Don’t worry Bruce, I’ll finish up this report before I go.”

 

Alfred did not need more 4 a.m. reports, thank you very much, so he swooped in to intervene.

 

“Would you care to work upstairs then? It’s rather cold down here.”

 

Tim blinked. “I- I guess. Sure.”

 

“Splendid. Now, Master Bruce, perhaps it’s time for you to wrap up your work down here as well?”

 

The man sent him that… smile, a smile seen only in the presence of Master Timothy, again, and turned back to the screens as Timothy headed up. As soon as Tim had left the Cave, his fingers started twitching. Alfred pulled the rag from his pocket and dropped it on the desk, busying himself in other tasks around the cave. Quietly, Master Bruce picked it up, and began the ritual.

 

But then Timothy came back down the stairs.

 

He snatched his phone, which he had forgotten on the cave floor, and turned to look for Bruce, probably to tell him he was done with the report. He found Bruce in a shadowy corner of the cave he’d never had much cause to look at before. Alfred watched as Timothy strode purposefully over, then paused at the sight.

 

A quiet, almost breathy, “You still have that photograph?” echoed through the cavern.

 

“Which one?”

 

Master Timothy placed two careful fingers on the most blurry of the collection. The picture in question showed Batman and Robin, Robin a blurry figure as he leapt off the rooftop, and Batman standing disapprovingly to the side. It was a dim photo, obviously taken at night, and the whole thing was tilted a bit.

 

“This. The first picture I ever took of Batman and Robin.”

 

 I kept it.”

 

“But it’s blurry, and off centered, and the colors- ugh, I don’t ever think I’ve taken worse.”

 

Softly, gently, he repeated “I kept it.”

 

Master Timothy was still for a moment, and Alfred dared let himself to hope, believe, maybe this was the day he’d be back, he’d see what the all- knowing butler had seen long ago when he kept those photographs. Maybe, maybe today was the day Timothy would get that Master Bruce wasn’t the same without him, and he needed Timothy in his life. Perhaps, he would understand how much he meant to the man, perhaps he would understand out of all of Bruce’s children, Timothy was the one Bruce wanted back the most. Indeed, some would say he was the favorite. Perchance-

 

But no, that was not to be, as Master Timothy turned away with a thoughtful noise and communicated that his report was finished. He walked out, out of the cave and out of Bruce’s life again, and Bruce turned back to polishing the photos once more.

 

Alfred supposed he might as well get the hot chocolate ready for another 4 a.m. report.

 

The old butler hiked up the stairs and into the kitchen, putting out a pot with milk to boil. He reached out for the cocoa, but another younger and scarred hand stilled his.

 

Jason stood in the kitchen, leaning against the fridge. Alfred gave him a smile. He had no shame in admitting to himself that this was his favorite. Of course, the other boys would never know, but this was between Master Jason and himself.

 

“My dear boy, what can I do for you?”

 

“Hey Alfie.” His eyes wandered over to the hot chocolate. “Can I help?”

 

“By all means. I was going to make some rolls as well for tomorrow’s dinner.”

 

Silently, they both followed a recipe memorized years ago- butter and salt and flour, eggs, don’t forget to set the oven!- and such. Both men knew their place in the kitchen, working in tandem. It was a harmonious silence created by year’s worth of understanding. Alfred knew he only had to wait until Jason was ready to speak. If Master Jason had come here to cook, he’d have immediately started upon some Mexican dish. If he’d come here to spend time with the butler, Jason would have made tea. The only time they cooked together was if Jason wanted to learn a new recipe, or something was troubling him. In this case, it was the latter. It was sometime before Master Jason finally got his thoughts together and was ready to speak his mind.

 

“Why doesn’t he get it!?” He exploded.

 

In his own, Jason way.

 

“I’m afraid I don’t quite understand.”

 

“The two of them.” He gestured down to the cave. “It’s so obvious. Everything he does… There’s a reason I wanted to kill Replacement, and that’s because he got what I never had.”

 

“Ah, you are referring to the photographs downstairs?”

 

“I was watching through the monitors.” He explained. Alfred only cocked an eyebrow, and he blushed. “I was… curious, I suppose. Wondered if they’d talk about me.”

 

“Mmmmm…. Well, of your previous statement, I do not think Master Timothy had ever had anything you didn’t. At least in his younger years. Master Bruce was very distraught at your leaving, and I believe Master Timothy’s relationship was defined upon him looking and seeing another boy. As to how Master Bruce acts now, Master Timothy simply cannot believe the recipient of any affection to be himself. As a child, neither his biological parents nor Bruce ever cared to show any kind of love to him. The thought that a parental figure does care about his well being, and that having him around is not a problem, is preposterous to him.”

 

“That’s messed up.”

 

Alfred chuckled. “That’s one way of putting it. As to the latter statement….. My dear boy, you don’t have to hear it from them. I am quite happy to tell you myself.”

 

 Alfred abandoned butler protocol and swept the younger man up in his arms. Old joints creaked to form a surprisingly strong grip, encircling Jason in one of the best hugs a person could get. Slowly, Jason brought up his arms and squeezed him back.

 

“I am overjoyed to have you back.” He murmured.

 

And the old man, war torn, and the young man, torn from a very different war, hung on.

Chapter Text

Prompt: “What time is it?”

(Clark Kent)



The entire League was gathered around the main console on the control deck, where Red Robin sat. Flash was loudly munching on popcorn. Cyborg was still staring at a holographic screen, frowning. He’d been trying all afternoon to figure out how the aliens had hacked into the satellite- and how Red Robin had managed to get into the Watchtower. Wonder Woman was absently tying her lasso into different knots. She’d mentioned once she took knot tying up as a hobby (Clark had laughed at her at the time, but turned out she went to different knot tying competitions for fun?). And the Bat had not moved from his position since Red Robin had burst in, still staring at Red Robin like if he looked away, Red Robin would disappear.

 

Sometimes, Clark wondered what his life had become.

 

It had been a normal Wednesday when the alarms went off. The screens had flickered, the usual drama went off, aliens had declared their intentions to raze the Earth and use it as a breeding ground, yadda yadda. Clark had quickly assembled the rest of the League, and they had attempted to enter negotiations. However, the aliens had somehow managed to put the Watchtower on lockdown, and they were forced to work remotely. A plan was drawn up, requiring a massacre of the entire civilization of aliens, but the League had long ago prepared to make hard decisions. They had set up the mission in the main control deck when-

 

BAM ! Red Robin burst in, with a wave and a “don’t mind me guys”.

 

He had proceeded to sit at the console and talk to “Wnioteshe” like he was an old friend. No, not like he was a old friend. He actually was. They referenced getting together a bunch. 

 

Red Robin had called off the entire fleet, directed them to another empty suitable planet, drew up plans for the breeding grounds there, drafted a treaty between Earth and them, accepted apology gifts, integrated the alien technology with theirs, opened permanent communications, and directed them through a crisis when they realized miscalculations had been made and their life support systems on the ship were failing. Turned out, it wasn’t miscalculations, but assassins sent to kill ‘Wnioteshe’. He’d opened a portal of some sort with the alien’s help, fought off the assassins, used the aliens tech to search their memories, found their leader, remotely trapped their leader in his ship, gave the race the leader’s location so they could have revenge, returned to the ship, made plans to meet up with ‘Wnioteshe’ next Tuesday, and sent them off in full fellowship.

 

Needless to say, Clark was impressed.

 

He glanced over at the vigilante. He was finishing up a report on the negotiations. The ship was out of lockdown, and everyone was free to go, but the entire League was curious to see what the Bat was going to do with Red Robin. Yes, Red Robin had totally saved the entire human race. Yes, Red Robin had just carried out the most dramatic and absorbing rescue they’d ever seen. However, Red Robin had burst in, and was friends with a race that three hours ago had wanted to kill all humans.

 

Red Robin suddenly stretched and yawned. He looked exhausted. Heavy black bags hung under weary eyes on a pale face that didn’t see enough sun. His hands were shaking as he reached for the ever- present coffee that Flash had been sent to refill more times than could be healthy. 

 

Abruptly, he dropped his thermos and stared at his shaking hands. Clark was by side in an instant.

 

“Hey son, you ok?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I’m ok.” The boy massaged his forehead. “Hey, what time is it?”

 

“About nine.”

 

“About- shoot!” He suddenly shot up. “Shoot, I’m going to be late! The meeting!”

 

“Woah, woah hold up.” Clark eyed the kid critically. He was swaying on his feet, looking ready to collapse. “Kid, you just saved the entire Earth. You’re probably fine to skip.”

 

He shook his head. “No, no, it’s a meeting with our, er… Problems with my civilian identity. I have to be there.”

 

“You sure?”

 

“Yes.”

 

The kid swayed again and Clark caught him with a big hand. He shot Bruce a look.The Batman was tense, looking like he wanted to move, wanted to help, but couldn’t. Clark tilted his head and mouthed ‘Take care of this’.

 

“Red Robin, I’ll take your place at the conference . Go back to Gotham.”

 

Red Robin blinked but otherwise did not comment. Good, some of Bruce’s kids could be kind of stubborn-

 

Red Robin began to fall against his chest. Oh. He’d fallen asleep. Standing up. Clark caught him gently and turned to look at the entire League.

 

“Ok everyone. Looks like the ship’s off lockdown, so you’re all free to go.”

 

Surprisingly, they seemed hesitant to leave.

 

“Hey, Batman.” The Flash started hesitantly. “Your kid’s pretty impressive.”

 

The smile on Bruce’s face seemed out of place by the cowl. 

 

“I know. He’s pretty special.”

 

The entire league froze at that, then they all did a weird head nod thing and rushed out the door. Batman? Willing complimenting someone? They weren’t touching that with a ten- foot pole.

 

Bruce turned to him and held out his arms, the tension from earlier released. He had this look on his face, like he couldn't believe he had a chance to hold him. Clark picked up Red Robin easily (dang that kid was small) and dropped him onto Bruce’s lap. His best friend put his arms tight around Red Robin (Tim, right? That was his name?) and squeezed tight. Tim let out a little oof but slumped into Bruce, his unconcious figure practically melting into him. The older man gave a smile, a smile Clark had never seen before, to the sleeping figure, and brought one arm up to pull back the cowl and ruffle the boy’s hair, leaning in. He whispered something in the kid’s ear, then tugged him back in to hug him.

 

Clark was pretty sure he was having a stroke.

 

Bruce looked back up at him, his face unusually open.

 

“Something wrong, Clark?”

 

“I- You-” He gestured towards the sleeping child. Teenager. Adult? Ok, he was tiny and precious looking, he was a child.

 

Bruce rubbed Tim’s back and hummed. “I don’t get to do this a lot. Tim’s not around very often, but I’ll take what I can get. Tim will too, not that he’ll mention it. He… had a hard childhood. I don’t think his parents ever touched him much. These days, he pretends he’s not one for touching. After all that’s he gone through, he’s very good at hiding exactly how bad his touch starvation is. I wish… Well, I wish a lot of things. But right now I’m not going to deny him a hug.”

 

Wow. That was information he did not know. Superman took in the strangely intimate scene before him- his best and oldest friend, scarred and stoic, snuggling next to his son. Clark mentally raised an eyebrow. He never thought ‘Bruce’ and ‘snuggled’ would ever be in the same sentence, but it worked here.

 

“He did a good job today.” Clark said quietly.

 

“He did, didn’t he? Tim’s always been the smart one. I’m in awe of what he does everyday.”

 

“That was some serious notable stuff he did. I think all of us would struggle to do what he did, but he carried it off flawlessly.”

 

Bruce nodded then chuckled. “I don’t think I ever shared what happened the time we took on the Asheti, did I?”

 

Clark remembered that. The Asheti had been a cult stretching across the universe, bent on taking over worlds and forcing them to worship their ‘High One’. They had been on course towards Earth, and the entire League had been freaking out, drawing up plans to stop them and trashing them almost as quickly. The ships were on route, cannons cocked, when they suddenly,... stopped. And turned around. No one understood what happened, but the Asheti had all but vanished by now.

 

“No, I don’t think so. What happened to them?”

 

“I was just as confused as the rest of you until I asked Tim. Turns out Tim had hacked into the ship five days before, used their tech to make them believe there was an otherworldly presence among them, convinced the entire cult he was their ‘High One’, took over as leader, reformed at least half of them and sent them to go help free some of their conquered planets, and put the other half in prison due to imagined crimes against their ‘High One’. He then gave the fleet to struggling civilizations to help rebuild.” Bruce pressed a kiss to Tim’s forehead. “I almost fainted when he told me that.”

 

Clark whistled. The kid had taken down a cult that the Justice League feared. “He’s got some brains, that one.”

 

“You can say that again.” Bruce stood up, rocking the small child in his arms. “Anyway, we should probably get going. I’ve got to take over for his Tokyo investors meeting, and he needs some sleep.”

 

“I’ll write up the report. You spend time with him.”

 

His oldest friend shot him a grateful look. “Thanks. It might go away tomorrow, but... “ He held Tim a little tighter. “I sure love this kid.”

 

The Bat walked away, the living embodiment of fear for so many, cradling his son.

 

Clark sat back at the console, thinking it over. He’d always thought Dick was the favorite. Certainly, Dick was his favorite. But now… In their long years working together, he’d never seen Bruce utter the L-word out loud. If Clark went home that day and hugged Jon and Lois a little tighter, if he called Kon an extra time after his weekly call, if he had a big grin on his face going about the next few days, no one mentioned it.

Chapter Text

Prompt: Rescue Mission (Tam Fox)

 

Tam sighed at the pile of paperwork on her desk. Why her? What did she ever do to the universe to deserve this? She took a look at Tim conked out on the couch in his office and sighed. Better her than him. She knew he hadn’t slept in three days and was purely surviving off of fumes and caffeine. If he took a nap now, they wouldn’t have to deal with him being loopy and not sleeping for five days, or that time when he hadn’t slept for seven. She still referred to it as “the week of fire and brimstone”.

 

She wished sometimes that the elder Wayne would come back, but then nothing would ever get done. Say what you will about Tim’s work ethic, but stock prices had risen since Tim had taken the CEO office. Sure it might kill him before he reached 20, but none of the rest of his family seemed to care (Tam was a little bitter, ok? She’d pulled Tim’s butt out of his weird dash cross- country, she was a bit attached, he wasn’t going to die on her now).

 

Tam sighed, again, and figured she’d better get to it. The woman grabbed the top paper on the stack then twitched. Was that…? She twisted around and looked into the hallway. Nothing. Never mind. Slowly, she turned her head back, then whipped it ‘round again. Oh, it was a light flickering. And a masked ninja carrying two very sharp pointy stick-things, but really, who cared about that?

 

“You’re late.” She said. “You usually come on Tuesdays.”

 

The ninja, predictively, said nothing, but dropped off a bouquet of roses on Tim’s desk and turned around, going back the way he came. The roses were creeeeeeepppppyyyy, but Tam had enough problems in her life. She’d just dispose of them, like usual, and hope Ra's would eventually give up on his obsession with Tim. Speaking of Tim, he’d had thirty minutes already. If she didn’t wake him up now, he was going to glare at her the rest of the day. She got up and shook the pile of blankets.

 

It felt weird.

 

Wait.

 

She pulled the blankets back to reveal nothing but stuffing.

 

Had Tim woke up and snuck out to go do more work without her noticing? She groaned. Really, stuffing. He couldn’t be more creative. 

 

Hold up. Stuffing?

 

Face paling, Tam remembered the news she’d been watching that morning. It’d been the usual report of villains, blah blah, Joker’s still in Arkham, Harley’s quieted down, The Riddler’s new Youtube channel was up and he seemed like he was doing better, and The Condiment King had been upgraded from a D level threat to C level. 

 

But there was something else. They’d mentioned a string of kidnappings where the victim simply disappeared, leaving only stuffing behind. The reporters had called him ‘StuffingMan’. Tam remembered thinking it wasn’t terribly original, but then again, they lived in a city where a guy literally called himself ‘Batman’ and dressed up like a giant bat. And it was sexist too. Not all criminals were men. 

 

Tam blinked. There was something off about that statement. Then she blinked again. Focus, Tam! Where is Tim? He’s probably in R & D or something.

 

She called his phone as she set off for the Research Department, but turned back when she heard ringing.Tim’s phone was still by the couch. Which meant… wherever Tim had gone, he hadn’t brought his phone with him. So it was either Bat business or… Tam shook her head.

 

She checked his office instead, the nooks and crannies and secret compartments allowing him to change as quickly as possible. Not there. Well, Mr. Wayne, for once in his life, was in today. She’d ask him.  Yeah, good plan.

 

Her footsteps echoed down the halls as she strode over to Mr. Wayne’s office and yanked open the door. Her dad and Mr.Wayne had their heads bowed over some official looking documents, but both looked up at her entrance.

 

“Sorry to burst in,” she greeted them. “But have either of you seen Tim?”

 

They both shook their heads.

 

“He’s probably at R & D or something.” Her dad offered.

 

 Tam raised an eyebrow. Really? She was better than that. “That’s what I thought too, but he was taking a nap, and when I checked on him, he wasn’t there. His phone was still there.” Now to deliver the final blow. “And where he was, there was only stuffing.”

 

Dad looked confused, but Mr. Wayne immediately jumped up.  “You think he’s been kidnapped?”

 

“I don’t know. That’s why I’m here.”

 

“Ok. Ok. Let’s go check it out.”

 

They all went back over to Tim’s office, Mr. Wayne leading the way, Tam striding purposefully beside him, and Lucius Fox trailing behind them like a confused duckling. Bruce Wayne opened the doors with a touch more force than was necessary and set to examining the couch. While he was looking, her dad turned to her.

 

“I don’t understand. He was taking a nap?”

 

“He hasn’t slept in three days. We worked out a system, I make him take a nap, and he gets to keep drinking his coffee. If I hadn’t made him sleep, he’d be up for even longer, and then nothing would get done.”

 

Mr. Wayne straightened up. “He hasn’t slept in three days ?” His forehead furrowed. “Does he do that a lot?”

 

“Ever since he became CEO. I don’t know about before.”

 

A guilly expression settled on Mr.Wayne’s face, and she felt a rush of satisfaction. Serves him right, cutting his sons off like he did. But she couldn’t revel in it for long. They were in a crisis. Somewhere, Tam remembered reading that the first few moments after a kidnapping were the most critical.

 

“It doesn’t matter right now. What matters is where he is.” Her gaze settled on Mr. Wayne. “Could he have left due to Bat business?”

 

“I don’t- I don’t know. He doesn’t communicate that with me.”

 

“Seriously? You guys need to work on communication skills. Nevermind. Could he have gotten up and rushed to go do something?”

 

“And leave stuffing behind? No, that’s not something Tim would do. He’s trained better than that.”

 

“So… we’re dealing with a kidnapping situation.”

 

Lucius Fox threw his hands up. “Could someone please explain what’s going on, and why my CEO seems to apparently get no sleep?”

 

The other two ignored him.

 

“Yes.” Mr. Wayne said. “A kidnapping as a civilian. I don’t think it’s a good idea to release this to the media though, it’ll only make them panic. Call the police and I’ll get the Bats together, see what we can do.”

 

Tam nodded and typed 911 into her phone. “911? Hello? I’d like to report a kidnapping.”

 

She listed out the details as Mr. Wayne disappeared from the room. Her dad remained for a few seconds.

 

“Uh, I guess I’ll just follow him?” As he walked away, she could hear him mumbling “What did I do to deserve this.” Huh, that’s where she got it from.

 

Tam knew they were lucky. If they’d caught this hours later, who knew where Tim could be? At least she could vouch for his presence up till thirty minutes ago.

 

She hung up the call, and Mr. Wayne appeared at her doorway, now carrying his briefcase and ready to go.

 

“You’re going to accompany me back to the Cave. We may need additional details.”

 

“I, um, ok.” Woah. The Cave. Like, the Cave. Also… Batman, working in a Cave? Wow, the dude was dedicated to the aesthetic.

 

She followed him out the door to the back entrance they took to avoid paparazzi, and into a Lamborghini. If he went a little above the speed limit, she didn’t complain. And if his face wore a concerned expression, she might be a little confused, but she didn’t say anything either. 

 

They pulled into the secret entrance almost effortlessly, a skill born of years of practice. He almost leapt out of the car, and Tam followed behind, trying not to look too awed at the Cave. Which. Well, it was something. (A giant penny? What the heck?) An older man came down the stairs not two seconds after their arrival, as if summoned.

 

“Master Bruce! Guest?”

 

“Tim’s been kidnapped.” Mr. Wayne all but growled. Talk about whiplash. He just switched personalities like that. “Tam here is his secretary. We think he’s been taken by the Stuffingman.”

 

“Should I call in the network?”

 

“Yes. I’ll contact Oracle.”

 

With that, they both strode over to different consoles in the Cave and set to work. Audio played through the cave, as Mr. Wayne- no, Batman, he changed quickly- contacted allies. A minute or two later, he handed her a radio.

 

“This is Oracle.” He explained. “She has a few questions for you.”

 

Tam nodded her head and answered the questions the voice on the other end asked as best she could. Minutes later, people started trickling into the cave- Tim’s older brother (she had petitioned for his title to change to ‘Tim’s estranged former relative’ as soon as Tim got emancipated, he was a ********), Dick, and some dude with a white lock of hair and a leather jack who was insanely hot, seriously Tim, set her up on some dates. Soon after was Steph. She remembered Steph. She kicked Steph out one time. Even later was a grumpy 10 year old. That must be Damian. Tim had pulled her aside once and told her if she ever saw him in his office to deep clean the entire space. When she’d asked why, he only looked at her and said “Poison.” 

 

From her seat in the cave, she kept answering questions Oracle posed and watched as the rescue enfolded. It seemed Batman had brought everyone in whether they were busy or not. Weird. Honestly, she didn’t think they’d care too much- and the 10- year old didn’t as far as she could tell- but everyone else seemed a little frantic. Batman especially. But…. Tim had told her things weren’t good between them. What was going on?

 

Soon enough, Oracle ran out of questions for her, and everyone left the cave to go get Tim, who apparently was chained in some underground facility somewhere. It was just her and the line to Oracle. It had all happened so fast. Ten minutes, and they’d found Tim. Just like that. 

 

She voiced this to Oracle. “Yeah.” she replied. “Tim’s the favorite, so I’m not surprised they all seemed a little anxious.”

 

Tam outright laughed. “Tim? The favorite? Very funny. We both know nobody in the Bats gives him the time of day at this point.”

 

“That’s not true.”

 

Although Oracle couldn’t see her, Tam raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean? You guys basically wrote Tim off. I mean, not only did not one, but two of his brothers literally try to kill him, his girlfriend died, his parents died, his two best friends died, but he got kicked out of the Robin position and was told he was crazy. And then lo and behold, he isn’t crazy, and he goes on a way too dangerous mad rush across the world to get Batman back, but does anyone so much as say thank you, or apologize? No! Because they’re all a bunch of messed up people who don’t seem to get that Tim has feelings too. Sorry, I’m kind of mad about this. Tim just takes it, like it’s normal, like there’s nothing wrong, and there is something so so wrong and no one seems to care, you know?”

 

“Oh. Wow, is that how Tim feels? I didn’t know, I guess. Look, I’m not one for getting involved too heavily with the Bats, think of me as a part time consultant, but Tim… You’re right. The Bats are a bunch of emotionally constipated idiots who need to fix things.”

 

“Thank you, finally, someone agrees with me. Sorry, that was kind of a rant.”

 

“No, no, you’re ok. I appreciate it. But Tim really is the favorite. He’s trying to reach out, Bruce is, but he has absolutely no idea how to talk about feelings.. This is the most freaked out I’ve ever seen him since someone died. Bruce wouldn’t pull out literally everyone he knew short of the Justice League if somebody else went missing.”

 

“He doesn’t do this for everybody?”

 

“Nope.”

 

That was new information. Was Tim… Could Tim have misinterpreted things?

 

Oracle signed off, said she needed to go help with the rescue effort, and Tam sat there, thinking things over. All this time… It still didn’t erase everything that had happened. However, if Mr. Wayne wanted to actually fix things… Tam’s eyes widened. Tim might get eight hours of sleep. Tim might stop coming to work with a fever. Tim might actually smile and not be sad when someone called him ‘Mr. Wayne’, and then correct them: “It’s Mr. Drake, actually.”

 

Before Tam could go too deep into her daydreams of all the problems that would be fixed, the Batmobile arrived back at the Cave. Batman got out, carrying an unconscious Timothy Jackson Drake- Wayne in his arms. His wrists were red from what looked like cuffs, like medieval chain sort of cuffs, and he was bleeding on one leg. Batman laid him out in the medbay. His hand gently brushed Tim’s hair back and he stood, stoic and tall, just watching.

 

“Is he going to be ok?”

 

The Bat didn’t turn around. “He should wake up soon, probably with a mild concussion. Tim won’t be returning to work. Alfred can get you a ride back.”

 

“Ok. Thank you.”

 

Batman didn’t answer.

 

“Well, at least he didn’t lose his spleen this time. Last time was a mess. Hey, when he wakes up, tell him Ra’s left him flowers again.”

 

With that, she went up the stairs to go find Alfred, only barely hearing a “What last time?”. Oops, did she let something slip? Would it accidently lead to some reconciliation? Oh whoopsie, what a shame.