Here’s the thing, right.
Tim is an asshole.
He’s one of the best guys that she’s ever known and he’s brave and smart and a lot of good things, but he’s still an asshole. He’s condescending without meaning to and he always thinks that he knows best and he does this thing when you watch Star Wars with him where he won’t shut up about all of the production trivia that he knows.
Sometimes a girl just wants to watch Princess Leia choke Jabba the Hutt to death in peace, you know?
Steph can’t really blame him for it. The asshole doesn’t fall far from the brooding Bat tree and they’re all about as bad as each other, and the way she sees it, there’s only so much Alfred can do to save them from themselves.
But the other day, Steph had the greatest life realization that she’s had in a good, long time.
It was halfway through a strategy session with Team Batgirl and she was running on three hours of sleep and too many Dunkin iced coffees when Tim drops in, all stupid Wayne Heir Expensive Suit and too-long hair, and he shared some info and talked tech with Babs, and then he looked at her and he gave her that smile, that small sort of quirky half-smile he used to save just for her and asked her how her classes were going, and that’s when it hit her.
She isn’t in love with him anymore - doesn’t think that she ever will be again, not after all this time, after everything they’ve been through.
But she does love him. She loves the boy who held her hand when the world fell down around her and the boy who made her soup when she was sick and the boy who swore up and down that he’d never let himself turn into Batman.
She likes to think that they could be friends. She wants them to be friends.
Enter: Mission Befriend the Ex. Alternately, Team Friendship Bracelets.
Okay, so the mission title could use a little work.
“Yo, Doctor Mid-Nite, do you have a band-aid I could borrow?”
Tim’s jaw clenches noticeably and Steph laughs a little to herself because he’s always been so easy, temper rising to teasing a little too quickly. He has that in common with Damian - which, honestly, probably has a lot to do with why those two can’t stand each other. She makes a mental note to come up with a plan with Cass to trap them in a bouncy castle together later.
She’d have to make sure none of them were carrying weapons on them beforehand but she’s pretty sure the photographic evidence would be so, so worth it.
“Technically, you can’t borrow a band-aid because band-aids aren’t the sort of thing that you return after use, Batgirl.”
“Blah, blah, killjoy,” Steph says, reaching out to smack Tim’s cowl-covered head. “What’s happening, RR?”
Tim shrugs. “Slow night. I was about to call it quits, actually. Only -- “
“You’re too wired to even think about going to bed?”
“Got it in one, Batgirl.”
Steph bounces up and down on her toes, feels her whole body thrumming with energy like a good caffeine kick or the best kind of adrenaline high. “We could play a game.”
“Is that so. Will I know this game?”
“You’re familiar with it,” Steph says.
“You think you can keep up with me?”
Steph flushes a little, an instinctive reaction and she almost lets herself get angry until she sees that tiny smirk at the corner of Tim’s mouth, and he’s fucking with her, that sneaky little shit.
“Let’s find out, Doc.”
She sees Tim tense, the line of his shoulders ready for her, and she’s already laughing when she reaches out and smacks his shoulder hard enough to make a sound. “Tag, you’re it.”
Time was, Tim would have beat her at rooftop tag handily and he would have been equal parts apologetic and smug about it, a combination that had always pissed her off.
Now, they’re about even. Now, they’re playing for keeps.
He’s winning for a couple of blocks and then they leave Park Row and his territory behind them, into Batgirl’s part of the city and the tables turn. Steph knows this area like the back of her hand - she knows the feeling of gravel crunching beneath her feet and how the rooftop of the old factory has some give to it, too many loose rafters that could send them tumbling down to their deaths if they fell the wrong way.
If they weren’t good enough, if they weren’t Bats.
But they don’t fall.
They keep running and chasing and tumbling and Steph’s hands are scraped and bleeding, but so’s Tim’s jaw and she’s sure he’ll have a hell of a time explaining that to the office tomorrow morning, but that’s tomorrow’s problem.
“Last round, winner takes all?” Tim calls out, dancing his feet backwards across some scaffolding.
“Loser has to spend twenty minutes in a bouncy castle with Robin,” Steph says. Two birds, one stone.
“High stakes, Batgirl.”
“What, you chicken-shit?”
Number one way to get Timothy Jackson Drake to do something: tell him it’s something he can’t do.
“Never,” Tim says, darting in to tag her hand before taking off.
Steph tears off after him, blonde hair flying messily around her, and her every muscle is screaming at her excuse me what the fuck are you doing, and oh right, she has that pysch test next week that she hasn’t even started studying for.
Well. All the more reason to make tonight worth it.
Steph takes a flying leap and tackles Tim into the roof above a corner store, the two of them falling hard and landing onto the hard gravel and concrete with a thump. “Tag, sucker.”
“Goddamnit,” Tim says, and then, “you know, you’re cutting off the circulation to my everything right now.”
“Sorry,” Steph says, releasing him and rolling off of him to collapse backwards onto the roof.
“Can winner buy ice cream from the corner store?”
“I don’t know, does the loser want to give the winner money to buy ice cream from the corner store?”
Tim snorts and then pulls a ten dollar bill out of a pocket on his utility belt. “Go nuts, Batgirl. I’m just gonna lie here and try not to move.”
One incredibly hilarious reaction from the store’s late-night manager and two pints of Ben & Jerry’s purchased later, and Steph is back on top of the roof, digging into a pint of AmeriCone Dream with gusto.
“Ow, fuck,” Tim says, reaching up to rub at his forehead.
“Brain freeze? And I thought you were supposed to be a genius,” Steph says, and it’s a relief to see him so fallible, so relaxed in a way that he often hasn’t been.
“Genius brain’s on vacation right now, leave a message or call back later.” Tim knocks his shoulder into hers. “Hey, this was fun.”
“Sure was, Doc.”
“I’ve missed you,” Tim says, quiet. “I don’t know, maybe we could. Hang out? More often? Not, you know. Not like before but like -- “
Steph reaches out and flicks at Tim’s nose. “Can we have friendship bracelets?”
“Sure, why not,” Tim says.
“I totally kicked your ass tonight,” Steph says, and it is half smug and half amazed because knowing she could do it and actually doing it are two different beasts entirely.
“You totally did, Batgirl.”
“You think I could kick Cass’s ass some day?”
“I think if we tag-teamed her, we might have a shot.”
“Bee tee dubs, paying for the ice cream doesn’t get you out of the bouncy castle thing. You can call it penance for past jerkishness.”
“Damnit,” Tim says, and he must think that he’s scowling manfully down into his ice cream but it’s definitely a pout.
Steph just laughs.
They’re totally gonna have friendship bracelets.