1. Lightning Strike
Bruce heard the shutter's click.
Tim was higher up than Bruce was comfortable with but the uneasy truce that he had negotiated between Janet Drake and himself didn't allow Bruce to respond to Tim's stalking. If he wanted to see his son in any way, Bruce had to ignore Tim utterly while out patrolling. He had to pretend that he wasn't Tim's father while around Tim or Janet would take him away from Gotham for good.
She might not realize yet that Tim knew but Bruce knew his son had figured it out years ago. Hopefully Janet hadn't realized that Bruce Wayne and Batman were the same person, though given her intelligence she might have. She might simply deem it too unimportant to be concerned about. Janet got that way. She'd been that way about her surprise pregnancy after their encounter, too.
He hoped that the stalking was because Tim wanted to have some level of connection with Bruce, not because he was jealous of Dick getting to openly be a part of his life.
Below, Bruce spotted the Joker, tonight's target. There was a storm coming but there should be more than enough time to get the Joker behind bars before the rain began. Bruce always tried to be out of Tim's vicinity before the weather turned. Tim would stay and continue taking pictures until he left. The last thing he wanted was for Tim to catch pneumonia during his self-appointed vigils.
He and Dick managed to subdue the Joker relatively easily. They were securing the Joker for the police when lightning struck the building that Tim had hidden on. Dick started and made a quip about the size of the bolt but Bruce barely heard Dick's words. He stared up at the building, praying for any small sign of life on that dark roof. It wasn't until Dick tugged him around so that he would meet Dick's eyes that a shutter clicked.
If Tim could take a picture then he wasn't hurt too badly. Hopefully.
2. Jason Todd
If Bruce had thought that Tim might be jealous of Dick, he was reasonably certain that Tim hated Jason. The stalking had increased in both frequency and duration since he'd fired Dick and then taken Jason in. There was no way for Bruce to tell Tim that bringing Jason into the fold was Bruce's way to attempt to stop a criminal from being born. The boy was bright and capable but the rage that always simmered under the surface reminded him far too much of where Jason had come from.
It was obvious that Jason would be a villain to fight someday if Bruce did nothing, so he did what he could and gave Jason another path to follow. That Jason took that path very willingly helped Bruce feel better about the situation. Unfortunately, Jason figured out Bruce's true opinions about his character fairly quickly and it strained their relationship rather badly. Jason never accepted all of the training he should have had because of that realization.
Tim took three times as many pictures of Bruce and Jason together than he ever had of Bruce and Dick. That couldn't all be due to his increasing age and Janet's more frequent trips out of town.
Some nights, after Jason had been sent home, Bruce would engage in his own stalking. There was a spot across the street from Tim's room where he could perch to watch the house. The bugs in Tim's darkroom and in his bedroom let Bruce hear his son's voice. It sounded much like Bruce remembered sounding as a young boy, though Bruce thought he heard a different sort of frustration in Tim's voice.
Bruce had been frustrated by his lack of vision at that age. He'd known what he wanted to do but not how to achieve it.
Tim was frustrated because he saw exactly what he wanted and someone else had gotten it before he'd had the chance to take his place by Bruce's side.
3. A Death In The Family
If there was one thing that Bruce would forever regret, it was that the first time he spoke face to face with his son was when Tim pleaded for his rightful place at Bruce's side. Bruce refused him, too full of fear and pain at the thought of Tim facing the Joker, Two Face, or any of his other enemies. Jason had lost his life wearing the suit.
He couldn't let that happen to Tim.
But Tim was every bit his son and Alfred must have figured it out years ago because he argued for Tim's right to do it. There was no way that Bruce could meet those eyes that were so similar to his own and hold firm. Far too quickly, Bruce gave in, though he put strict limits on Tim that he had never put on the other boys who'd served by his side.
There was extensive training, which Tim excelled at. He'd basically been born for it, after all. Tim was everything that Bruce had been at his age, and better. His education could not suffer, no matter how late he stayed out or what was happening in the world. Tim got better grades than he ever had before he became Robin. Most importantly, his parents could not know. To that, Tim agreed so readily that Bruce had to wonder just what Janet had said about him in the past. It would be like her to speak poorly of Tim's actual father, though Bruce supposed that it could simply be that Tim disliked emotional confrontations even more than Bruce did.
Jason's death haunted Bruce, making him push Tim harder than was sane or reasonable. Tim took it and seemed to enjoy the ferocity of his training; no matter how exhausted or sore he was the next day Tim always came back for more. He was a natural at all aspects of the Mission, from the fighting to the investigations to computer work that Alfred excelled at over Bruce. Tim fit in by Bruce's side without a word of complaint.
But Bruce still wished that he could have had that first moment be something other than an argument.
4. Jack Drake
When Jack finally figured out that Tim was Robin, Bruce cursed and threw things at the walls despite Alfred's tisking and disapproval. He should have said something ages ago to Tim but the skittish look in Tim's eyes every time Bruce approached the subject had encouraged him to let it go. Tim knew. Bruce knew that he knew. Tim knew that Bruce knew. It had been enough until Jack decided to impose his opinions on fatherhood on the boy that called him Dad.
That Jack made Tim unutterably miserable in process was apparently far less important than declaring his place as Tim's 'Father'. He certainly didn't seem to be about actually caring about the boy he'd raised. Bruce never regretted his deal with Janet Drake more than when Tim came to him and so awkwardly told him that he couldn't be Robin anymore.
He should have taken Tim from Jack and Janet Drake when Tim was a baby, rather than let him be raised by a man who thought Tim could have only one father.
Every day that went by without Tim by his side was like a knife in the gut. Stephanie's offer / demand to take Tim's place as Robin was yet another occasion where Bruce took in a child who could become a villain in the effort to give them another way. Granted, Stephanie was no Jason but then Jason wasn't himself anymore either.
Neither of them would ever be Tim and Stephanie's 'death' and subsequent efforts to 'help Tim be better' damaged Bruce's relationship with his son so badly that Bruce didn't think he'd ever be able to make up for it.
Damian's appearance in Bruce's life was perhaps the most painful moment for Tim yet and Bruce would never know how he could have made it better. When Damian appeared with all the confidence of a boy who had been incorrectly assured that he was his father's sole heir, the pain and anger in Tim's eyes was nearly enough for Bruce to throw Damian out on his ear.
But Bruce had made that mistake with one son. He wasn't going to make it with another, even if Damian was nothing at all like Tim. Except for the ways in which they were far too much alike, of course.
They fought so viciously that Bruce despaired of ever getting the boys to deal with each other. Dick quickly took over as Damian's mentor. Bruce wasn't sure what it said about him that he was unutterably relieved by that. Tim had begun to patrol on his own, so there was no way for him to reassure Tim, not that would be accepted or effective after all this time. The opportunities to assure Tim of his place in Bruce's heart had long since passed. Bruce didn't think he could say anything that wouldn't fall flat by now.
All he could do was try and balance his attentions to his two so different and yet so similar sons in ways that he hoped wouldn't damage either of them. Bruce wasn't sure it was possible but he kept trying.
6. One Time It Didn't Matter That He Hadn't Said It.
"I fail to see why Father keeps you around," Damian said in his snarkiest tone of voice. "I am his heir after all, not you. There is no need for a pretender to be here, especially one as flawed as you."
Bruce sighed, hesitating so that he could brace himself before he entered the library where the others had gathered. From the sound of it, practically everyone was there, from Dick to Jason to Tim, Steph, Damian and Alfred, if that little huff-sigh was Alfred and not Tim.
"…You might want to study genetics a bit, Damian," Tim said in a tone so dry that Bruce wanted a drink of water. "You're not operating with full information."
"…What?" Damian's flat tone shifted to something vaguely panicky as no one answered him. "What? What are you not telling me?"
"Um, well, it's not something we talk about," Dick said hesitantly.
"Yeah, though seriously, I thought you knew," Stephanie said with what had to be a shrug. "I mean, it's not like it's really a secret or anything."
"What?" This time Damian's voice sounded horrified. "No. Absolutely not. I refuse to believe such a thing!"
"Kid, don't fool yourself," Jason drawled. "Hell, even the villains in Gotham know."
"He cannot be!" Damian was downright shrill that time.
"We don't talk about it," Tim said in such a casual tone of voice that Bruce had to raise a hand to muffle his laughter. "It's never been necessary."
"When did you know?" Dick asked as if he was honestly curious and not trying to distract Damian from what sounded like a spluttering fit of complete outrage. "I didn't figure it out until after he fired me."
"Took me until after I'd been resurrected," Jason commented.
"Pfft, I knew as soon as I saw both of them," Steph said. "They look so much alike it's scary."
"I always knew," Tim said and walked to the door. " My mother told me when I was three years old at the same time she told me that her husband didn't know that I wasn't his son. I never said anything out of respect for him. And for Bruce. He gave up the right to be my father so that I could have a regular mother and father, a family like the one he lost. How could I not respect that?"
Tim slipped outside and then blushed at finding himself face to face with Bruce. Bruce put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently. Tim ducked his head and then shrugged the other shoulder as if to dismiss his words. Damian's spluttering turned into cursing in Arabic. They exchanged a look and then walked away shoulder to shoulder. He had made many mistakes with Tim but maybe in the end it was all right.
Now if only he could figure out what to do about Damian…