Tim was tired (but, really, when was he not nowadays). He had been running all week conducting a sting operation on a trafficking ring with Jason. He had had to go to meetings to finalize deals with three companies. It had taken more meetings than was frankly necessary just because the board members couldn't stop whining about every inane detail. Then had to inaugurate the reconstructed Gotham City Central Bank, which had gone suspiciously smooth.
As the weekend had approached he had, for once, wanted to stop, relax, breathe . Had planned on getting into Jason’s apartment to just snuggle with his big brother, scarf down his delicious cooking and sleep.
Of course, that happened to be the weekend to be needed in San Fran to help with Teen Titans business. Tim had to spend two days (his poor, poor weekend) fighting Lex Luthor which seemed more like a custody battle for Kon.
Now he was back at the bank he inaugurated three days back, because the bank chairman had insisted on giving him a tour and showing him their ‘progress’ .
What the hell was the tour for ? This was a goddamn bank! And what sort of ‘progress’ was he chattering on about? It had been three days!
He had asked Tam why they were even indulging him, she had simply replied that it was good press to appear interested in things he was making donations for. If Tim would have had the time to think about it earlier, he would have made an anonymous donation for the bank’s reconstruction.
A little grumpy, aren’t we today? Said Jason’s amused voice in his head, mocking him.
Shut up, I deserve a break. He paused to think. You said that I deserved one.
And I meant it, babybird. You deserve all the breaks . Came his big brother’s voice again but gentler.
He wanted to have this one free afternoon spent relaxing because if he went another hour without doing so, the nagging voice in his head that sounded, in turns, like Jason and Alfred was going go bananas till either of the real versions themselves manifested to karate-chop him into bed rest.
He thought of dragging the others for a snuggle pile at Jason’s with Dick’s help but the problem was that – Dick and Damian were in Bludhaven and would arrive today at God knew what hour, Steph and Cass were in Hong Kong still and Duke was running an op with Bruce.
He sighed internally, he would just have to get this over with.
He would have to listen to the bank’s chairman chatter for another- “ Dear lord , Tam! Forty minutes?!” “Yes, shush now.”
Tim almost groaned but held his tongue.
The universe soon enough decided to fuck around and gave him another reason groan.
A few showy gunshots and people scattered, getting down on the ground in a frenzied panic.
Now a hostage situation, unfortunately, wasn’t new for Tim but the fucking bank chairman was here and even more importantly- there were children. Shit, he had to find a way to get all the civilians out of this. Pronto.
Why couldn’t he be patrolling as Red Robin right now? Why didn’t they all take day shifts? Ugh , being a civilian in that moment sucked, especially when he knew he could have kicked ass had the situation been slightly different.
“None of you move. Money in the bag. Don’t try anything smart.”
The counter lady threw the goon a fierce glare and Tim wanted to laugh. Trust a Gothamite to be defiant even at gunpoint.
Denied, motherfucker. Jason and Steph crowed in his head.
While the goon tried waving his gun and t-posing as dominance maneuvers on the lady, the rest of the party made a loose ring around the edges. Their apparent ring-leader looked around - and, God, Tim really hoped he was brainless as the other one - as if searching for something.
His head played out scenarios:-
1 - They held the bank chairman captive and asked for ransom or worse - looted the rest of the branches in Gotham as ransom if they had other people awaiting orders.
2 - They spotted him and asked Wayne Enterprises for ransom.
Tim slowly reached for his phone and sent out an emergency call to Jason, hoping he wasn’t neck deep in case work because he was just as bad as Tim once he got into it (yes, Tim was was self-aware enough to know that - yes, he had a terrible one-track mind, a terrible one) and then remembered Jason had chipped him. At least, he had the decency to tell Tim and explain why (not like an explanation was necessary considering his state but Tim was a hard-headed bastard at times), unlike someone else.
3 - They kept the children and women captive (oh, Jason would have so much fun making them regret that).
4 - They were working for a Rogue and an actual super-villain was about to stroll in with Starbucks.
5 - Scenario 4 seemed too unlikely considering all their uncertain and awkward stances and their needlessly elaborate approach, so it was likely that they would just take the money and book it.
In fact, all scenarios seemed like a tall task for these imbeciles but Tim wasn’t about to underestimate his opponents on half-backed assumptions.
“Rogues’ balls! Is that Timothy Drake-Wayne?!”
On one hand, Tim was glad the goon hadn’t said his middle name - Tim would have had to box his teeth in - and on the other, scenario 2 was looking more probable by the second and Tim was not excited. Also - Rogues’ balls? Seriously?
“My, my, my. What do we have here?” leered the ring-leader.
“I’m a person, you should have said - ‘who’ do we have here. To answer your question, your….accomplice is correct. I am, indeed, Timothy Drake. Also, I don’t use the Wayne anymore, I got emancipated.”
The master hissed, “This one talks too much. Listen carefully, Timothy Drake , you speak too much, you get shot to the grave. Understood?”
Tim merely raised an eyebrow.
Red Hood wanted to take his mask off and have a good long laugh. Tim’s sass was a never-ending tirade and the ring-leader looked half-absolutely-gobsmacked and half like he was about to pop a vein. One of his compatriots had startled enough to nearly drop a rifle.
“Correcting grammar, correcting the use of ‘Wayne’, the sass. Little wing, you have corrupted him.” Nightwing accused from his perch beside him.
“Untrue.” Tim had always been sassy. “Besides, what do you want him to do? Flirt with them? Tch.”
“Hmph, whatever you say.”
“Old man, how much longer do we have to wait?”
“Yes, father. I say we have waited long enough, the pigs won’t be arriving on time. As always,” Robin threw in.
Red Hood was trying so hard not to laugh that he was practically vibrating.
Nightwing’s faux-scandalized gasp, then- “Omigod, you have corrupted him too. He calls them pigs just like you! What have you done?”
“Shut up, pig .” Hood said with a smirk that he was sure N could sense under the mask.
Nightwing huffed but shut up.
“We will wait for seven minutes more and if they don’t arrive, we will strike.” B-man growled.
The ring-leader (though with the way they were handling things, ring-master seemed like a more appropriate term) had taken to monologuing and Tim looked absolutely done.
Hood had chipped Tim. He had hated to but Tim’s exhaustion…..it was bad. Hated being like the old man but he reminded himself that he wasn’t being a control freak like him. In fact, he never would have considered or done it had the situation not been what it was and he had told Tim . He was just looking after his little brother because said little brother was too exhausted to break out the kung-fu and was going out as a civilian. It was for his own good. And for Hood’s peace of mind.
He had immediately known when things went south and had gotten an emergency call from Tim minutes later. He would not admit it but he had panicked a little when the call hadn’t come immediately. But as soon as he got it while grappling across the city, his tenseness had decreased just a tiny bit.
Approximately 750 meters away from the bank and he had been joined by Batman and Signal. Hood hadn’t even wanted to question how they knew.
Batman had intoned that Signal leave for the Cave and get his thigh wound checked or get benched. The yellow-clad vigilante had clapped Hood on the back and grappled away.
A few rooftops away and Nightwing and Robin had joined them. Had said they had arrived early to surprise them but had suited up when informed by Oracle of the hostage situation.
Ah, O’s city wide access to cameras was how the old man knew.
He snapped to the present just in time to hear Tim cut off the master-goon and say, “You've already said you were going to kill me, but I didn't think that meant you were going to bore me to death.”
“Good God, did he just quote Alex Rider?” Red Hood couldn’t help the little burst of laughter that escaped him.
“This really is all your fault, Hood. Look at him - you have corrupted him. Look,” Nightwing accused yet again.
“For the last time, shut up . ‘Sides having a PhD in back-talking is a Robin requirement,” Hood shot back.
“I agree, akhi. Besides, it wasn’t like the idiot was saying anything of use. Had we not been waiting for the pigs they would have been taken down simply because of their loquacious leader, tt.”
Tim knew he was going to get pistol whipped for that. He was surprised he hadn't been the very second the words left his mouth.
The goon tried several fortifying breaths (maybe they wanted him unharmed for some reason? Hypocritical, with the way he had threatened to kill Tim) which proved useless in the end. He raised his hand and just as it was coming towards Tim’s face, a small-bladed dagger embedded itself in the hand.
That was when Gotham’s soldiers (and Nightwing) flew in.
“Hood! The cover!”
“Really, old man? Know what? I’m not even gonna dignify that with a reply.”
“Yeah, we weren't gonna watch him get hurt for the sake of the goddamn cover, B.”
“You patrol alongside him all the time. Our profession is injury-prone. He could get hurt. He does.”
“Tt, father, he has the option of defending himself then. He doesn't right now, not as a civilian.”
“Doesn’t mean you should have thrown the dagger, Hood.”
“Fine. Next time I’ll just take a shot at ‘em.”
“I second the statement.”
“Thank you, habibi. Also, if you really didn’t want me slicing him you should’ve used your batarang - oh but the cover .”
Tim heard them as they flew around the place.
Damian suddenly drop-kicked an assailant near Tim and stood in front of him for a second like a dog expecting a head pat for a particularly good catch.
“You did good, Dames,” Tim told him, feeling a little unsure because they had just started mending their relationship. Apparently, it was enough for him because he gave Tim a nod and ran off to the others.
(The first time Jason had heard how Damian behaved with Tim, he had been upset and taken him aside to talk. Later, he talked to Tim too because Tim hadn't been the best to Damian either.
Whatever he had said, Damian took to heart and had started making an effort to be better, way better, to Tim. Tim had likewise made the same effort.
Tim had been pleased but his curiosity won out and he had told Damian that while he was happy with the improvement he wanted to know what Jason had told him. Only if he was willing to share, though. Damian had looked him straight in the eye and said, “Treating you the way I had been disappointed him - so I would either have to die from disappointment in myself for having upset akhi or worse, I will have to live with having disappointed akhi. I cannot displease him.”
Tim couldn’t even tell him to sort his priorities because same. And it didn’t answer his question but wow. Just wow.
Damian had paused and then said, like his teeth were being pulled out, “Besides, I have been made aware of the qualities you possess which I had failed to see earlier. That was….admittedly negligent of me. We will have to ‘give each other a chance’, as Grayson says.”
Tim had been flabbergasted to put it lightly but he had said, "Yeah, I'm not proud of the way I handled things with you previously, honestly. I'm glad we are doing better."
They had shared tentative smiles at that. It had felt good.)
The vigilantes kept up a steady stream of chatter and very quickly had the situation handled.
Dick pulled Tim and the bank chairman aside while the rest three secured the civilians.
“Are you alright, sirs?” The things they did for appearances honestly.
“Just fine. Thank you, Nightwing,” Tim replied primly.
“Ah, yes quite the commotion but we are fine, thank you,” stuttered the chairman.
“Good to know. We will vacate the premises for a while to make sure the area is secure. The police have arrived and will be securing working personnel and civilians. I suggest you postpone your….”
“Tour,” Tim supplied with all the passive-aggressive bitterness he felt.
Dick looked confused for all of a nanosecond, easily missed by anyone who didn’t know him, and said, “Right. Your tour to a later time.”
The chairman looked like he was more than happy to run away any moment, “Sure. We can discuss the particulars later?”
“Actually, my schedule is quite packed for the upcoming month. I will send a board representative to have the tour in my stead, though. Would that be amenable?” Tim really hoped he agreed now because it would be easier to dodge his persistent ass if he got out of here.
The chairman looked like he wanted to haggle but wanting to get the hell away - and having a well-known vigilante looking at him imploringly - made him agree quickly.
(Back at the Cave)
“A tour of a bank? Seriously?” Dick asked incredulously.
“Listen, I don't know what kind of shit he was on and I’m not about to ask,” said Tim from the bench he was perched on.
“Language, Master Timothy.”
The flutter of a yellow-and-black cape and Damian joined them, “With the kind of day he has had, I suppose a little bit of swearing would make him feel lighter.” They all knew this wasn’t the worst kind of day any of them had had but the sentiment was appreciated.
“Aww, you do care!”
“Tt. Only because his eye bags are ginormous enough to carry a month’s worth of groceries.”
Bruce came in with his swishing black cape and tentatively kept a hand on Tim’s head, “You really should get some rest. Don't think I don't know about the trafficking ring you and Jason brought down.”
Near silent footfalls, surely deliberately made audible for their sake, and a hooded figure melted out of the shadows, “Then you must also know about the custody battle for Superbrat over the weekend, hm?” Stalking over to Tim he said, “Tim-tam, time to go.”
The rest looked surprised that Jason had willingly come to the Cave, while the man in question simply came behind Tim, made him lean back into his chest with an arm around his shoulders and started carding his fingers through his hair with the other hand.
Low enough only for him to hear Jason said, “Or if you wanna stay we’ll talk later-”
“Nah, let’s go to the Nest, you can come over,” Tim cut him off in the same low whisper.
“Okay,” his big brother said with a small smile.
As Tim melted at touch, he noted Jason wouldn’t have been doing this in front of everyone had he not been immensely worried and it was warranted, he thought. Seven whole days without proper rest wasn’t healthy to say the least.
“I’m good, really. Some sleep and food is all I need.”
“Tch, I really didn’t think you would’ve been able to walk after the adrenaline and caffeine crash.”
Damian was watching them with a vague look of….jealousy and longing that he was trying to hide. Jason must have caught on and as they got up to leave he bent down to nuzzle his forehead and pat his head. Damian visibly relaxed at that.
“Masters, you are welcome to stay over,” Alfred said in a tone that could have been a request had it not been scolding.
Tim and Jason exchanged a look. Jason still felt restless in the Manor and Tim hadn’t been faring any better lately. They despised disappointing Alfred like this but constant undertones of uneasiness really wouldn’t help them relax.
Jason gave him an apologetic smile and said, “Sorry, Alfie, not today.”
Alfred gave them a small smile that said he understood, “That’s completely fine, my boys. Could you just wait for a little bit? I will pack lunches for you both.”
Tim nodded eagerly. Alfred’s food was heavenly and as much as Jason was fretting over him, he himself hadn’t had a proper break so he would be too tired to make lunch . “Sure thing. Thanks, Alfred.”
“Um, I had meant to ask - where’s Duke? He wasn’t in the med-bay when I checked. How’s he?” Jason inquired. Everyone knew Jason had taken Duke under his wing. It was sweet seeing him so openly concerned.
Dick spoke up, “The wound is shallow but his shoulder muscles have been strained badly, so he’s on painkillers. He is in his room and, last Alfred checked, he had been asleep.”
“Hmm, he should exercise his arms and shoulders more. Grappling across the city puts the entire body weight on those areas,” Jason said, speaking mostly to himself as if making a mental note. Tim knew the next time they trained together Jason would be introducing more rigorous forms of upper-body endurance.
In the meanwhile, they thought it best not to disturb Duke.
(At the Nest)
After changing into casual clothes, Jason and Tim had their lunch. Too comfortable to move, the brothers had decided to cuddle on the couch. They had been contently dozing off when the alarms went off. Only fellow batkids knew to disengage the alarms but they were both instantly on guard.
Turned out it was in fact their brothers who had broken in.
Dick took in their sleep mussed hair and empty plates on the table and whined, “Aww, not fair. There was a snuggle pile?”
Jason raised an unimpressed eyebrow and Tim just shook his head fondly.
“Omigosh, there actually was one! And I wasn't informed!?!” A huff. “The audacity .”
Jason snorted and said, “Fine. FYI, there is going to be a snuggle pile. Participants - Jason, Tim and Damian. You aren’t invited.”
“Hey!” Dick fake-gasped.
“You told us to inform you, you said nothing about being invited. So. There,” replied Jason with a slight smirk and shrug.
Dick pouted and Damian must have decided that he had waited long enough because he got onto the couch and nestled into Jason's side like the little bird he was.
Eventually, all of them moved into Tim’s bed after checking the alarms were reset properly. Jason grumbled and complained but let himself be used as a pillow as Dick and Tim latched onto him from both sides and Damian curled up on his torso like a little kitten (the range this boy had honestly).
Tim fell asleep to the rhythmic pressure Jason’s long, lithe fingers applied on his scalp and to the warmth of the bodies near him. Finally some good fucking rest.
The next time Tim woke up, he realized they had been asleep for four hours and he still felt sleepy. Deciding that he could get some water and go back to sleep, he stalked over to the kitchen, got a glass of water, turned around -
“ Sweet Mary -”
“ Calm down . It’s just me. Chill,” Duke said from the couch. “Also, I ate the remaining lunch.”
Tim went over to the couch and sat down beside him, “Yeah, man. It was there to be eaten.”
“Duh but you know that’s not what I meant.”
Tim made a dismissive gesture, “Dick would’ve made it his evening snack or Damian would’ve given it to the street dogs ‘because we can’t let them starve like that!’ Either way, we were gonna cook dinner.”
“Hmm. Are all of them still asleep?”
“Yeah- wait. How did you check on us and not wake us up? Also, how did you get in without tripping the alarms? Oh god- do you think I should update it- wait don’t tell me you came across the city with an injury-”
“Tim. Tim , listen, my man,” Duke made a placating gesture, “Bruce didn’t want me to aggravate my shoulder strain or the thigh wound so he drove me over. He tried to disarm the security because we didn’t want to disturb you. He and Barbara did it but the alarm near the window still tripped. She is still salty about it, by the way. Jason and Dick were in the hall by then. With way too many weapons between them for people who literally rolled out of bed, to be honest. So your security system is perfect, dude.”
“Oo-kay, tell Barbara to not be pissed about it ‘cus I had put that particular one put separately for the sole reason for it not to be disarmed with the rest.” It was a universal truth - grass is green, the skies are blue, Barbara Gordon would always be the superior hacker. “How did Damian and I sleep through that, though?”
“Damian, as I have been informed, was standing guard over you with his trusty katana. You were still sleeping.”
Now that Tim thought about it, he was still drowsy. He had tacked it on being too tired but afternoon naps were heavy and he should have felt more awake.
“Aw dammit, Jason-”
“Put sedatives in your lunch? Yeah, he told me when I asked about you. Said you need at least six hours of sleep now and another eight hours immediately after dinner.”
Tim huffed, “At this rate, they won’t let me patrol.”
“Dick said you wouldn’t be patrolling for at least two or three more days.”
“I mean, with the way you are, you would probably just go splat in the middle of a fight if let out.”
“Now all of you are just being over-protective.”
Duke gave him a sheepish smile, “Yeah, I can admit to that. But really, dude, you tellin’ me you're gonna rest without being forced to?”
Now it was Tim’s turn for a sheepish smile, “Guess that’s fair.” He cocked his head a little, “Why didn’t you join us?”
Duke made a questioning hum around his last bite of food.
“I mean, why didn’t you join us to sleep? Your meds would be making you sleepy too.”
Duke ducked his head a little at that. After swallowing he said, “Um, I was hungry so I figured I would eat something first….and uh…”
“I could open up the other room for you? If that makes you more comfortable? No hard feelings. But hey, man, you know you’re welcome to join, right? I mean it.” Tim assured him, gently rubbing his back. He had caught on because he understood.
Duke let out a slow breath, “I know. I do. I guess it’s hard to believe it at times ‘cause I’m new to….all of this.”
Tim huffed out a soft, sleepy laugh, his eyes going droopy. “I get you, bro. C’mon.”
Duke put his plates in the sink and followed Tim into his room.
As they climbed into bed, Jason cracked his eyes open to slits. He gently slid Damian off his chest, who promptly snuggled his back into Dick’s chest and Dick’s arms came around to hold him close. Jason, on the other hand, opened his arms to Tim and Duke. Both of them crawled into bed.
Tim pressed his face into big brother’s chest and, back pressed to Duke’s chest, threw a hand over his back. Meanwhile, Duke tentatively put an arm over Tim's waist from behind him. Jason had somehow thrown a long arm over both of them and gathered them close.
Tim smiled a little and whispered, “Is this okay, Duke?”
Duke’s slow, relaxed breaths ruffled his hair, “It’s perfect, Tim.”
Tim’s smile grew and he felt Jason hold them a little tighter.
And maybe, just maybe, it was a little cliché but it was the best sleep he had had in a while.