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The Streets we Run

Chapter Text

“Pick one already.”

Two boys clad in ripped jeans and one in a grey hoody the other in a worn out brown leather jacket. Hunched low behind a dumpster. They peered out at the traffic zipping by every once in awhile a taxi or car would pull up to the curb to drop off it's passenger.

“I..don't know. I mean, come on Jay they aren't the best variety. What if I get caught?”

The older of the two sighed. “That's the risk, now go Tim.”

Tim stumbled forward as he was shoved out into the open. He glanced back at Jason, then took a breath taking couple steps forward before turning back and running to Jason.

“Pick one for me, this time so I know what to do right.”

Jason huffed then peeked out once more. His eyes took in a black sedan, then smiled. “Ok, THAT one.”

 

Tim's eyes widened as he watched as a thirteen year old boy, stepped out. “Him? That's suicide.”

 

Jason placed both his hands on Tim's shoulders. “You know that if we want to eat tonight we need the cash and we both know he has the green. You got this Tim, trust your instincts.”

Tim knew the window of opportunity was closing. With determination and focus he stepped out onto the side walk, putting the hood of his sweater over his head as approached the other boy; his heart thudded faster. He stayed focus then he straightened. Making like he lost his footing he bumped into his target. Slipping his hand in the other's pocket.

 

“So sorry.”

“It's alright watch where your feet are.”

“Thanks, will do.”

Minimal conversation. He breathed then felt confident in his pick, just then Jason stepped out from a few paces away in front of him.

Tim met up with him. Jason draped an arm around his brother's shoulder. “Kid, I'm proud of you. You didn't even get caught.”

“Hey, you! Stop!”

Both boys halted in their steps glancing over their shoulder to see the boy running toward them a long with a police officer and a older gentleman.”

“Jimmy run!”

 

Jason called out the fake name both boys booking it down the length of the side walk, weaving their way through strangers. He pushed Tim onto the cross walk on a yellow light cars slamming on their brakes. Both entered into an ally way and made it up a fire escape Tim followed Jason, jumping across the roof tops, down another fire escape around several back streets before coming to a stop. and away from danger.

Tim bent over panting. “Did-did we lose them?”

Jason smirked. Panting beside him. “Yep. Lets get home before we get yelled at.”

Moments later they were walking down the slum street. Tim staring down at his grey sneakers in thought. Kicking an empty pop can lazily in front of him.

 

“Jay...do you think we'll ever amount to something?”

“Don't know. Kids like us have it hard making it up in the world nor does the world care.”

 

Tim pulled out their catch. Opening up the wallet. “Damien Wayne.”

Tim looked through the compartments. “He's got enough cards in here to start his own deck.”

 

Jason took the wallet. Not impressed at was missing. “Seriously? The guy has no cash?”

“So my catch was useless.” Tim stated disappointment in his voice.

 

“Not necessarily, we could sell the cards and get the cash. This is gold because everyone will want a to spend a piece of the Wayne's fortune.”

 

Tim kicked the can across the road jumping over a chained link fence Jason doing the same. Making their way around the back of an abandoned junkyard they climbed into a bus.

“Home sweet home.” Jason said before shucking out of his jacket.

Tim plunked down on one of the seats. “Man, how are we going to eat anything when we can't use the cards? It will have to be late at night before we can sell any of this.”

Jason frowned. Then came to sit beside the other. “Hey, don't worry we still may have something.”

Tim leaned against the seat tipping his head back to stare at the rust covered ceiling. “This needs to be fixed we already have enough holes.”

Jason chewed a hang nail spitting it out onto the floor. “We'll have to scavenge the yard.”

 

Foot steps drew both their attention as a boy in his late teens entered the bus. He smiled. “Hey, guys. Got food.”

Tim straightened in disbelief. “Seriously?”

The young man lifted up a white bag. “Fish and chips.”

Tim got up and grabbed the bag peeking inside. “Jay it smells so good!”

Jay got up less enthusiastic. “Hey, Tim grab us our dishes and potion it out.”

Tim beamed. “Right on it!”

Jay came up to his older brother. “Dick, how did you afford that?”

Dick sat down. “You two need to eat.”

“You didn't answer my question.”

The older avoided eye contact a sure answer that Jason hated. “Damn it Dick, you sold-”

“Language.” Dick remind firmly.

 

Jason crossed his arms. Glaring at Dick.“This calls for every foul language in the hand book.”

 

Dick sighed. “Not tonight Jason.”

Jason softened. “Dick..you need medicine.”

 

Dick sat back in the seat. “Look at where we are 'Living' Jason. We can't afford medicine or doctors, you two need to eat and you know the high value meds cost on the underground.”

 

Tim brought over two plates. “I did the math, we can stretch this meal out for four days. Skipping lunch and huh.. breakfast or dinner. Prefrence.”

Dick looked at Tim then the plates. “Tim, you are not rationing this meal.”

Tim frowned. “We always do.”

“And I'm saying for this one we're not.” Dick shot out. “You need a full decent meal.”

“So do you I mean it's not hard four fries each and a third-”

Dick stood abruptly. “Tim, enough! I will not have you starving. On top of everything else, now sit down and eat your damn meal!”

“Language.” Jason shot out dryly.

Dick gave him an unamused look. “Jason, just..stop.”

“Dick!” Jason quickly supported the other as he tettered on his feet. Easing him back down. “This..this has to rectified, now.”

Dick lowered his hand from his head. “I will get the medicine later.”

“How much later. It could be a week from now four weeks from now two freaking years from now!”

“Please, stop yelling.” Tim interjected setting down the plates. “Dick, we can afford it.”

Dick wearily looked at Tim. “How?”

“We got a good pick today.”

Dick straightened looking at Jason. “Jason..you seriously took him on a run? He's twelve”

“He's got to learn sometime. I was younger than that when I started and you were younger than me.” Jason stated. “You'd be proud of him.”

Dick sighed. Pressing his fingers to his head. Tim quickly sat down beside Dick pulling out the wallet.

“Good catch, Jason said we could sell the cards and get real cash. Then we can stock up on food...and get you to see a doctor and medicine.” Tim explained. “Take a look.”

 

Dick looked at Tim then took the wallet offered to him. As soon as he saw the picture he couldn't help but showed his shock and disapproval.

“Are you two out of your heads? You pocketed Bruce Wayne's son.”

“Dick it's an awesome pick, we know that spoiled brat can make up the loss in two minutes.”

 

Dick frowned he knew it was the best pick they've had in ages but it was too high a risk. “Listen...you did good today, but this has to be returned.”

Tim's anger and hurt screamed across his eyes. “But Jason said-”

“I know, but it would leave a paper trail so long and transparent that it were ever followed and tied to the two of you. You'd be thrown in juvie and I'd be in prison. You two know I'm right.”

Tears stung Tim's eyes. “I did exactly what I was told. I did my best.”

“I know Tim.” Dick calmly replied.

Tim let out breath before he ran out the door. Jason stared at Dick who shifted under the weight.

“What.”

“You and I have picked the pockets of prominent business men before, it's hypocritical, and you know it.”

“None of them were from the richest and most powerful family in all of Gotham.” Dick leaned forward pressing his palm against his forehead easing the throbbing. “If anything were to happen to Tim or you I wouldn't be able to live with myself. It's my fault we're in this mess.”

 

Jason let out a breath. “No, it's not. It's life's crappy hand dealt to all of us. Tim, he is wicked smart and cares deeply about both of us, you the most. He sees you struggling and eats him up inside, you need to cut him some slack. Before he does something we both will regret.”

 

))))))))

Dick climbed up to the top of the bus. Finding Tim sitting picking at his shoe lace. He softened coming over to sit beside him.

“Your suppers getting cold.”

“I'm not hungry.” Tim muttered.

Dick drew his legs up. “I know that is a lie.”

Tim rubbed his arm over his eyes. Hoping to hide the tears. It didn't go unnoticed. “Tim, I know you want to help more and I love ya for it, but I want you to be a kid, go to school and just not have to worry.”

“I don't want you to die.” Tim sniffed out.

Dick drew Tim closer. “Tim, you should know by now. That I'm too stubborn to die.”

Tim pushed Dick away. “I'm not joking. I would skip a hundred meals to make sure you get the help you deserve.”

 

“I will Tim. Just trust me, I think I passed my entrance exam to get in the academy. From there...things will be brighter.”

Jason walked across the roof of th bus. “Hn, officer Dick Grayson has a nice ring to it.”

“Or lt. Grayson.” Tim suggested as Jason sat down beside Dick.

Dick laughed. “How about, cadet? Long road ahead before I reach those ranks and I don't know if I passed.”

“You will.” Tim encouraged.

“Just promise you won't a arrest us, when we do our thing.” Jason stated.

Dick smiled looking up at the sky. “Hey, at least I know you'd be in a warm bed and get three meals a day.”

Jason nodded. “Yeah...would be nice.”

“Yeah.” Tim replied. “It would.”

Chapter Text

Jason slid down the sheet roof landing onto the dock. Making his way to a burning dumpster where several men stood warming there hands. He spotted his target, his stature was bulky and could put up a mean front if ever crossed, but when it came to street kids. He was solid more of an asset in tough times.

“Hey, Tyrel.”

A fisherman turned. He smiled widely at his consistent costumer. “JT. What's shaking?”

Jason ignored the bite of the coastal wind. “I came to see if any shipments have come in?”

“Many. Depends on what you aim'n for.” Tyrel said ushering Jason closer to the bin. “Warm yourself while you can.”

 

Jason did so. then turned back to the older man. “Wondering if you had prescriptions.”

 

“Aw, sorry little man, but that shipment doesn't come ti'll next week. Been delayed.”

Jason stared out at the bay then down at his feet as he thought. “Maybe...maybe you know someone who is willing to share a cut of their supplies.”

Tyrel scratched his beard. “I wish I can help you but traffic on the water is tight with more patrols
sniffing for illegal trafficking. Anyone would be tightening their load then sharing it.”

Jason reached into his pocket and pulled out a card. “I can make it worth their while.”

Tyrel looked at the card. “Wayne? Impressive, but you know that we don't use cards. The cyber trail is worse than the paper. Too risky, people can get locked up for that, bring attention down on this harbour we don't want.”

Jason clenched his jaw taking the card back. “Yeah, Dick said something similar earlier this evening.”

Tyrel stared at Jason. “What I don't understand, is I gave you meds two weeks ago. It should have lasted you the month.”

“Yeah, well. My brother thinks more with his heart then his head, we needed, clothes and food so he sold it on the underground.”

“Ah, shit man. That's rough. Is the young one doing alright, he aein't sick is he?”

 

“No.”

Tyrel nodded in relief then looked at Jason. “You doin ok?”

“As best I can be.” Jason answered. “Dick...not so much.”

“What's wrong with him?”

Jason shrugged. “Don't know, was hoping to get to a doctor but... with not enough cash and our faces plastered everywhere.”

“Yeah, I hear yeah.” Tyrel reached into his vest pocket handing it to Jason. “Here, consider it a loan.”

Jason took the bottle. It was simple over the counter headache medicine, it was better than nothing.”

He held it up. “Thanks, I'll pay you as soon as I have enough. Promise.”

The fisherman walked over to a insulated bag and handed it to jason. “Some blankets and socks. Not much but you need it more than I do. Say hi, to your crew.”

Jason took the bag patting Tyrel on the arm. “Thanks, Ty. See you around.”

“Stay smart and safe.” Tyrel bid.

“Always.” Jason concluded before running out of sight.

))))))

By the time Jason entered back home Tim was sound asleep on the seat in half way in the aisle Dick not far behind Jason as quietly as he could made his way passed Tim and over to Dick.

“Hey.” he whispered placing a hand on Dick's shoulder.

Dick blinked his grogginess. “...Hey.”

Jason showed Dick the bag. “Tyrel sends his concerns and offerings.”

 

Dick peered in. “It's amazing he knows what we need, when we need it.”

Jason reached into his coat pocket. “Here. I owe him money but he wanted you to have it.”

Dick blinked staring down at the small bottle. He clapped Jason on the shoulder giving him a thankful squeeze.

“You didn't have to go down there Jay.”

“Evidence says otherwise.” He noted before taking out a blanket and made his way over to Tim and gently placed it over him.

Dick took out two pills and popped them in his mouth tipping his head to swallow. Jason yawned before sitting across from Dick. Dick reached into the bag and handed the remaining blanket to Jason.

“Here, catch some shut eye.” Dick stated before laying down on his seat. “Good night.”

Jason waited for even breathing from Dick before he got up and placed the blanket over him. He walked to his side of the bus, propping himself up against the window. Zipping up his coat tighter he leaned against the back of the seat and settled for the night.

 

A scream ripped through the cabin jerking Jason out of his sleep and causing Dick to bolt up right removing the blanket off him. Jason looked around him.

“Whaa? What's going on?”

“Tim.” Dick said hurrying his way to the younger boy.

Tim tossed and turned kicking out and throwing his arms in the air. “NO! Stop! Stop! NO!”

 

“Jason, flash light.” Dick ordered over his shoulder before turning back to Tim. “Tim, Tim, wake up.”

 

Jason balanced himself on to of the seats grabbing hold of the object laying above him. He ran over in record time. Clicking it on he placed the flashlight bottom up flood the space between them, he watched as Dick carefully coaxed Tim out of his nightmare.

Tim opened his eyes then awkardly sat up. Panting looking each way beside him, then turned his eyes to Jason then back at Dick.

“Dick.” he managed out before he burst into tears. Reaching out to the other.

Dick slid in on the seat. Bring Tim against him. “It's alright, your safe. It was a nightmare.”

 

Tim pressed himself into Dick more swallowing the warmth he gave. “I..I was trapped. I..I couldn't get out! I was alone!”

Jason across from his brothers placing the flashlight in between his legs. Dick wrapped his arm around Tim placing a gentle kiss on his Tim's head.

“It will be ok. Jay and I are here, no one else.” Dick soothed.

 

Jason rested his head against his hand, elbow propped up on the window sill. He stared at Tim then flicked his eyes to Dick. He realized that Dick's heart was a double edge sword, giving himself to both himself and Tim but in doing so it hurt Dick in the end.

He leaned over and placed a comforting hand on Tim's shoulder. “We're not leaving you, ever.”

Tim crying eased away as the nightmare disappeared in his mind. He picked up his head turned his tear filled eyes to Jason. He then shifted and lifted himself away from Dick. “Sorry...I didn't mean to wake you both.”

Jason got up from his spot and sat down beside Tim. “Sleep is overrated, now scoot over. I need to rest my eyes.”

 

Tim looked at Dick. “Can you tell me a story?”

 

Dick nodded. “About what?”

Tim leaned into Dick again staring in the distance. “The circus, what was it like on the trapeze?”

Dick thought. “It was magic. It was like you were flying.”

Tim liked the idea. “Wow, I bet you felt free.”

“Hm, I was.”

Tim brightened then. “Hey, maybe if we get a trapeze you could teach me how to..” Picking his head up to look at Dick. “Fly.”

He fell quiet as he saw Dick had fallen asleep. He reached over and grabbed the blanket pulling it over all three of them. He sighed and fell victim to the night curling into Dick as he slept. All of them forgetting the flashlight as it said goodnight and flickered a few times then went out.

Chapter Text

Dick put on his jacket picking up a pair of sun glasses laying in his bag by the door. He put them on stepping out where Jason and Tim were waiting at the bottom of the stairs. Tim hopped down from the railing Jason uncrossing his arms as Dick descended the stairs.

 

“Well?”

“I don't know yet.”

Tim shared a look with Jason. “Seriously, how long does it take to grade a test?”

 

“This isn't your typical test and there is a lot of students.” Dick reminded as both boys fell in step along side him.

“I'm sure you passed.” Jason stated. “Probably the smartest one in there.”

 

Dick chuckled. “Wish I had your confidence.”

“So...what next?” Tim asked stuffing his hands in his hoodie pocket.

Dick stopped and pulled out the wallet. “We need to return this.”

Tim frowned. “Figures I pick something so good it has to go back.”

“How do you suppose we do that Dick, when if we are in smelling range of a police station we will be taken in.” Jason reminded.

Dick placed the wallet back in his jean pocket. “We take it to the rightful owner.”

“You mean give it to Damien Wayne. He doesn't seem like the forgiving type.” Tim said as they once more made there way down the side walk.

 

“I second that.” Jason added. “Also, I highly doubt they would let three street kids just walk into Wayne Enterpises.”

“You're right but we may be able to get in at Wayne Manor.” Dick answered. Wincing at the throb in his head. Glad the glasses concealed his discomfort.

It was Jason who laughed. “Yeah,ok, Dick. Firstly, the manor is on the other side of the city I don't care how young we are walking that far is nearly impossible and when we do get there they will kick us out anyway.”

“We can get there.” Tim pipped in.

Dick and Jason looked at Tim who smiled. “We can take the train.”

“Money, Tim.” Jason reminded.

Tim smiled wider. “Have you two not seen western movies?”

 

Dick laughed. “I grew up in a circus I was lucky if I had running water.”

 

Jason shrugged. “Maybe one but it also could have been a kung fu.”

Tim shook his head. “Honestly, you just have to jump in the cart but you have to figure out the distance from ground to track and then factor in the speed of the train once you figure that out you know what trajectory to jump into the open cart. It''s simple.”

Jason knocked his arm against Dick's, giving a grin. “Hear that, simple.”

 

Dick smiled. “Great thought Tim but lets try less western and more transit.”

“Awesome. I've never been.” Tim cheered.

Jason frowned. “Huh, lots of people. High possibility in uniform.”

Dick draped an arm over Jason. “So, you'll just have to follow the master. We can be seen just don't get caught.”

“My fave motto.” Jason threw out playfully pushing Dick back.

 

Tim threw his arms in the air. “Wayne Manor, here we come!”

 

))))))))

Dick stepped out front a few lengths a way was Jason and right beside him was Tim. The bus came to a sliding halt. As soon as the doors opened the five o'clock school rush started as dozens of people stepped off the transport Dick signaled to Jason with a nod to follow his lead They entered the bus as others got off making his way to the back.

Jason ushered Tim to sit the next seat over. Jason standing as there was no available sitting room. Everything was smooth as the bus pulled away from the curb. Neither boy spoke while Dick picked up a newspaper and held it open, hinting to Tim to sit beside him.

The bus stopped once more and as feared a police officer climbed aboard. Taking a seat up front Jason turned his back looking at Dick who couldn't help but tense as he saw the officer talking to the bus driver.

For the next four stops people were dropped off and picked up Jason mouthed at Dick 'His he gone.'

Dick slightly shook his head. Two steps stops later the officer stood and got off thanking the driver handing him money for the fare. Dick realized this was going to be tricky knowing the farther out the bus went the more likely the bus driver would notice them.

The rythem of the sheels against the road filled the silence and after a few minutes the bus came to a halt. Dick stood hauling Dick up with him pushing Jason to take the lead, Jason glanced back at Dick then with purpose walked passed the driver. Dick squeezed Tim's shoulder to go ahead, as soon as Dick hit the first step out the bus driver spoke.

“You boys have a safe trip now.”

Dick blinked in surprise, seeing the warm smile on the older man's face. Dick nodded. “Th-thanks.”

The moment stepped off the last step the doors closed and the bus pulled away. As it turned out of sight it was then they finally breathed.

“I thought we were toast for sure.” Tim laughed in relief.

Jason couldn't help but do the same. “No kidding. Guess we have ally's after all.”

Dick looked at the sky seeing the sun set begin. “We have half hour before it's dark. Better move it.”

Jason watched as Tim ran ahead of them then turned to Dick. “What's the number?”

Dick glanced over at Jason then shrugged. “I'm fine, jay.”

Jason pointed at Dick's sun glasses. “Yu only wear those on the bad days. So, spill it.”

Dick slid his hand in his jacket shifting the bag on his shoulder. “Six, if had worse. Just my eyes are sensitive is all.”

Jason nodded. “If it gets worse let me know, or take the pills when you need to.”

“Thanks Jay.” Dick genuinely stated.

By the time they made it on the entrance to the Westside Tim turned mouthing a wow at the higher end mansions in a row. Flanked by large fences and gates. Jason whistled as each one seemed grander than the last.

“Can't deny the wealth dripping on these streets.”

Dick was also captivated by it. “For sure.”

By the time they stopped at the entrance to Wayne Manor the sun was setting it's final rays. The manor was more secluded out of all the mansions. They ascended a long road and stopping at the iron gate. All three of them stood for a few moments until Dick stepped forward pressing the com on the speaker.

“If you will please continue on your way. Trespassers are prohibited.” A British voice announced.

“We're here to se Bruce Wayne.” Dick stated.

“He is busy at this time.” the voice firmly shot back.

Dick pulled out the wallet. “We are returning something that was taken from his son.”

Dick looked up at the security camera titling the wallet to make sure whoever it was would see they he was telling the truth.

Silence greeted them. Jason scoffed at the response. “Forget it Dick. These people don't open the door for us at the best of times.”

Dick didn't want to admit he'd soon see the good in people before making up his mind on their character. He did surrender and turned Tim dejected, followed Jason they tok a few steps before the sound of the gate opening.

They shared a look with each other. Tim smiled. “You were say Jay?”

'Make your way to the front door.' the voice said.

 

The boys trekked up the long driveway passing a manicured hedge in the middle a fountain. Dick turned to his brothers as they came up to the door.

“Remember we're in and out. Don't want them to call police. Understood.”

Tim nodded.

“Crystal.” Jason answered.

Dick took a breath removing his glasses hooking them on the front pocket in his jacket. He let out a breath reaching over to press the door bell. Jason crossed his arms while Tim looked on with anticipation Dick tapped his foot against the landing. Taking in the large windows and arched door ways.

All boy coming to attention as the door opened. They looked in at the polished black shoes the immaculate suit fitting the lean frame the neatly pressed white shirt collar held in place by a dark brown tie. A slightly weathered face and the brown hair peppered with grey.

Dick glanced back at Tim and Jason who warily stood on the landing then cautiously entered the mansion.

“Welcome to Wayne manor. Mr Wayne will be with you shortly, if you would follow me.”

 

They watched as the older man left the room. Jason stepped forward. “I feel rich just breathing the air in this place.”

Tim frowned bending his feet to the side then back down. Dick looked at him. “Are you ok?”

“I don't think my shoes are compatible for this floor.” Tim stated.

Jason and Dick drifted there eyes to their own worn down runner feet then to the polished wood floors. More than ever feeling out of place like a spirit observing it's corpse.

“You boys can move from the hall.”

All three turned their attention back to the stoic being before them. They did as told coming to stand a room that command the attention of everyone who entered. Two grand staircases curving up in an elegant curve then a stair way flanked both sides leading into two hallways.

A crystal chandelier hung high above them pillars separate rooms to both their right and left. Footsteps pulled their eyes to a man descending the staircase. Dick stood his ground but on reflex put up his guard sensing his brothers holding their own tension.

He was commanding as the room they were in, clad in simple gray slacks and black shirt. His focus on his phone call he was having.

“I was told that they would have it ready by Wednesday...it's Friday and haven't even started putting it..I don't want excuses. Tell them if they delay it one more time, the deal is off.”

Dick couldn't believe how one man made him feel on edge just by simply walking into a room. Jason stuffed his hands in his jean pockets, while Tim clasped his hands behind him rocking his feet slightly back and forth.

Dick straightened his posture as the man ended the call and turned his eyes on them.

“Thank you, Alfred. “He noted to the butler.

“I have been told you are returning something, that was stolen two days ago.”

Dick reached into his pocket and wordlessly handed the wallet to the business man. They watched as he opened the wallet and shook his head. Dick was counting in his head trying to remember how many steps it took from the front door.

“I have told him so many times not to carry this around.”

“He is not one to stick to the rule book. Master. Bruce.” Alfred stated.

 

Bruce slid it into his pocket taking in closely at the kids in front of him. Their appearance definitely not even lower class the holes in the jeans alone were a stretch for being edgy the shirts to big on the youngest, the jacket too small for the oldest. His guess was siblings very similar in appearance, black hair, their eyes a various shade of blue. He sensed their uneasiness and kicked himself not realizing it was him contributing to it.

He smiled. “Thank you for returning my sons' wallet. Not many out there would do the same.”

“It's what we do.” Jason threw out earning a warning look from Dick.

 

Bruce smiled softly. “I was about to make dinner I'd like you to stay. The kitchen is just to your left.”

Dick shook his head. “Thanks for the offer but we better get going.”

 

They were way passed the 'in and out window.' They needed to leave now!

“It is a shame master, Bruce we have four different kinds of ice cream just going to waste in our freezer.

“Sold!” Tim shouted and like a shot took off to his left.

“TIMOTHY JACKSON!” Dick yelled as he tried and failed to stop him.

 

Jason cleared his throat. Stepping away from Dick stepping backwards in the same direction

“Well...someone has to..look out for those huh.. peanut allergies.” Jason explained his eyes landing on the piercing blue of Dick who glared at him arms crossed.. He stopped. Then with a click of his tongue and a half halfhearted salute with two fingers he disappeared around the corner.

 

Bruce didn't expect such a sudden reaction. “I..guess your staying. Do they have peanut allergies.”

Dick glanced over at Bruce. In disbelief at the sudden power shift, not sure how things fell apart in two seconds.

 

“No they do not.”

Chapter Text

“So, you don't have a cook?” Tim asked as Alfred set before him a small bowl of neopolitan.

 

“I was taught well, besides, I do enjoy it.” Bruce confessed as he watched the younger take a bite of his treat.

Tim tipped his head back moaning in delight. “OH sooo good!”

Bruce couldn't help but smile. “You like it?”

“Yes! Can I have more?”

“Tim.” Dick stated knowing that the boy would be sick before the evening was out. “You've had enough.”

Tim's face fell but understood. “Right, thank you Mr. Wayne.”

“Please, call me Bruce. Mr Wayne I hear way too much in the day.”

Dick frowned. Silence began to fill in the kitchen.

Jason picked up the chocolate sauce. “I for one thought you'd have maids. Lots and lots and lots and LOTS of maids.”

Dick reached out to stop Jason channeling his words through the topping successfully drowning his mint chocolate chip. Giving him an unamused look.

Jason set the bottle down dipping his spoon in his bowl.

Tim took another spoonful as Jason picked up his eyeing it in thought. “That or hookers.”

Tim nearly choked on his bite successfully dropping his spoon, While Dick slowly shot Jason a . 'Are you serious?' glare in his direction beside Alfred.

Jason set the bottle down, shrugged, than took a bite.

Dick turned to Bruce. “I apologize on his behalf.”

Bruce raised his hands. “It's alright, the papers and media have not been shy about painting an image and to be honest .I did supply them with a fair bit of paint and canvas in my early years.”

Tim set down his spoon. “Huh...can I use your bathroom?”

“Of course, go up the stairs and turn right third door on the left.” Bruce answered.

“Jason. Go with him.” Dick added.

Jason got off his stool. “Ok Einstein hop to it.”

Tim slid off his stool following Jason then stopped grabbing one last bite of his ice cream. Jason grabbed him by his arm and guided Tim out by his shoulders steering him in the said direction. Bruce picked up Tim's bowl.

“I haven't seen a bowl emptied so fast.”

“In his defense, that is the first time he's ever had ice cream.” Dick stated, pinching the bridge of his nose.

Both Bruce and Alfred were taken a back at the idea of a child never having tried such a trademark treat. Bruce glanced at Dick.

“Are you sure you don't want any?”

 

Dick lowered his arm. “I'm good. Dinner was enough.”

 

Bruce didn't think it was possible for such a young man to be so worn down. He set the bowls by the sink.

 

“Alfred can make a mean cup of coffee.”

Dick shook his head immediately feeling the protest as his vision blurred and a sharp pain gnawed in his head. He held back the groan that threatened to make it's self known, he just wanted out of this place. Couldn't stand it any longer. He planted on a smile.

“Thanks, but I'm good. I just hope the guys have found there way.”

 

))))))))))

 

Tim exited the bathroom shaking his head. “It's like stepping in a home décor magazine.”

Jason pulled himself away from the wall. “Sure is something.”

 

They made their way back down the hall until Jason paused, his eyes landing on a bedroom. He crept over to it and turned the handle. Flicking on the light highlighting the ornate bed room.

Jason opened the door wider, stepping, he gave out a whistle. “Talk about extravagance, seriously who has a bathroom attached to their bedroom?”

Tim's eyes landed on the queen sized mattress. Then with a burst of energy he dove onto it, flipping onto his back.

“If heaven and hell had a child it would be this bed. Sinfully divine.” he moaned in comfort.

Jason snorted as he ran his hands over the dresser then picked up a model of a samurai warrior. “I think that's blasphemous. I guess I better put this down. Hear Dick in my head.”

 

Tim sat up then grabbed a pillow and threw it at his older brother. Causing him to drop the model breaking the delicate sword. Jason gave a incredulous look.

“Tim-” he couldn'tt be serious as Tim gave a challenging grin.

Jason picked up the pillow and tossed it back at Tim who ducked. “Gee, jason pretty sure a blind cat could throw better than you.”

Jason eyes held a devious glint. “Oh, I'll show you what I can do.”

 

Tim let out a playful laugh as Jason joined him on the bed picking up another pillow and gave well aimed swing at Tim who latched onto his back. They tussled back and forth messing the immaculate made bed.

Jason broke Tim's hold, reaching behind him. “Prepare yourself-”

“Jason.” Tim said his attention on the door.

 

Jason looked at Tim then followed his eye line. He dropped the pillow as they saw the owner of the bedroom standing in stunned silence in the doorway. Jason slowly slid off the bed Tim following standing their ground.

They watched as the boy in the door way looked at the state of his bed then his eyes drifted to the broken model on the floor. Anger erupting on his face then flaring as his eyes landed on Jason and Tim.

Jason felt the anger flowing out towards them as the boy clenched his fists.

“YOU!”

“RUN!” Jason ordered snatching Tim by the sleeve of his shirt and with surprising strength tossed him into the hall.

 

Jason followed suit as he pushed the other boy hard against the door. Tim and Jason bolted with impressive speed knocking into the walls in the hallway as they were pursued.

 

“Come back here!”

Like on the street Tim and Jason always enjoyed the chase.

))))))))))))))

 

Bruce managed to convince Dick to take a glass of water. “You know you boys are more than welcome to stay the night.”

“No we should head back.”

 

Alfred stepped forward. “The hour is growing late, Master Dick. Not safe to walk out on those streets no matter how welcoming they may seem.”

Dick lightly turned the glass in his hands. It was tempting he opened his mouth. “I th-”

 

“STOP THIEVES!!”

A crash followed suit. Dick was up off his stool in record time followed by Bruce and Alfred when they entered the main hall. They were greeted with Jason sliding down the curved rail of the right stair while Tim jumped over several steps of the left forgetting the smooth surface of the wood floor and practically slid on his side across it then scrambled to his feet straight into the shocked arms of Dick.

Jason gasping as he too slid to Dick's side. Dick wide eyed looked up to see a boy in blue and gray plaid sleep pants and a blue tank bolting down the stairs. He was almost the exact carbon copy of Bruce except his eyes were green and currently blazing.

“Damien, what on earth-” Bruce stated

“Father you must apprehended these kids, they are the ones that stole my wallet!”

“I will do no such thing.” Bruce shot back crossing his arms.

Damien halted not believing what he heard he pointed at Tim and Jason feverish abandon. “They are STOLE MY WALLET!”

“And I have told you many times to never carry an entire bank in your pocket. You brought it upon yourself.” Bruce firmly shot back.

 

Damien mouth hung open then growled. “Fine, whatever, but that doesn't excuse them for trashing my bed and breaking my things.”

Dick stepped away glaring at both Tim and Jason. “Is that true?”

Tim raised his hands. up. “I swear on my mother's grave that we did not know it was your room.”

“Tim, you're mother's alive.” Jason responded flatly.

Tim threw a thumb over at Dick. “Then I swear on his.”

Dick face flattened. Not in the mood.

Tim cheeks slightly grew warm. “...My point is, it was coincidental.”

“Coincidental my ass.” Damien bit out.

“Damien.” Bruce warned.

Jason stepped forward. “Easy, buttercup we returned your treasure trove. So, chill.”

 

“Both of you. A word.” Dick said hauling Jason and Tim out of ear shot from the others. “Can the the attitude, we are guests in their house. One mention of food and it brain washed you both of common sense. We have been offered to stay the night so I want you both from here on out to be on your best behavior.

Jason glanced over his shoulder to see Bruce and Alfred no doubt have the same discussion with the young heir.

Dick released his grip on both kids. “You will apologize and fix whatever you did in Damien's bedroom, understood?”

 

Jason stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Yes.”

Tim nodded. “Yes, I understand.”

 

Dick lead them back to the center of the room. Bring the small family to look at them. Dick nudged both Jason and Tim forward.

 

Jason cleared his throat barely looking at Damien.“Sorry for..the mess.”

Tim stepped forward. “I'm sorry to we'll clean up.”

Damien let out a breath. Barely getting his words out through his destine. “It's. Fine.”

 

Jason took Tim by the hand and made all effort to avoid Damien like a gazelle passing a lion. Damien with great effort followed them.

As soon as they were out of sight Dick worked on calming himself before approaching Bruce and Alfred.

“Sorry about that. “I don't blame your son. Those two together are a menace and cause trouble easily. Good on the streets not so hot in a house like this. I can pay you back as soon I can for what they broke.”

“It's alright. Really they are just old nick nacks.” Bruce replied not impressed with his own son.

He turned to Dick. “Need not worry.”

 

Bruce placed a hand on Dick's shoulder like he always did in reassuring his son. Dick pulled back harshly pushing away Bruce's hand.

“Don't touch me.”

Bruce blinked at the negative response. Dick didn't both explaining. Silence then Dick finally spoke.

“We will stay the night, but we will share one bedroom.”

“There is more than enough-” Alfred began but closed his mouth as he saw the firm look in Dick's eyes.

“We will share the same room.” Dick said matter of factly.

 

Bruce and Alfred watched as Dick strode passed them and made his way to where his brothers last went.

Chapter Text

Haley's Circus- 9 years ago

 

The slap of flesh filled the cold night air. It had been a occurring routine Dick had memorized, the first few times he couldn't fight back. One part scared out of his mind the second part, a weight both physical and mental was overpowering him so much it paralyzed him. His parents didn't know how could they know? It would break their hearts and his life if he breathed a word.

He fought back once and regretted it but sometimes the pain was so bad he could do nothing but to cling onto the broad shoulders, nails digging in with such torture. This wasn't right, hadn't been since the beginning, but this was perfect setting, place that was constantly moving.

With both his parents dead it was worse.

He would always go back to their arms reminding him what love was like what protection was. A strength he desperately thirst for but holding onto it was like holding water in an open palm. His safety net was gone.

He counted in his head the rhythmic hips rubbing against his own. He wasn't sure what he hated more the hot breath against his ear whispering what a ''good boy' he was. The way the sweat soaked skin stuck and peeled off against his own. The rough dirt scrapping his back the large hands roaming over his body like aphrodisiac to the demon above him, devouring him like he was forbidden fruit.

In truth he hated the part of him that reacted to this dance. His eyes focused on the yellow tarp above them.

The breath against his ear sputtered grinding out. The hands that touched him rose to his throat and squeezed. Moments later he felt warmth flood his legs.

….

He did enjoy it...apart of him..maybe? He had to of to let this go on for three years...Or was this...what he deserved? Must be after all he didn't save his parents, should have...should have. Done. Something.

Dick lay and waited he slowly turned his head to see the monster laying, collapsed and snoring. He then looked at the arm draped across his chest. He picked up the arm like one holding a rancid piece of meat and removed it to settle down beside him. He gingerly sat up ignoring how filthy he felt he got to his feet forcing his shaky legs to walk toward his discarded clothes.

He used his shirt to clean himself off then slid into his pants. He tossed the shirt away, he took hold of the zipper then with a surprised gasp he was pulled up against the large body.

“Where do you think you're going?”

Dick's breath quickened as he felt the hands descend down his bare chest and then rest on his crotch.

“I haven't finished with you yet.”

 

Dick's breath hitched as he felt the lips press against his neck and his face then laughter. “Aw, you crying? I can make you feel better, make you feel good.”

This was wrong. This was wrong. Dick inched his hand into his pant pocket ignoring as the hand between his legs rubbed.

“Come with me and I'll show you how real love is like.”

He had to do what's right. His parents taught him that, always, do what's right.

 

He pulled out his hand from his pocket clamping his mouth shut as the chapped lips brushed against his own violently and forcing them open. Dick squeezed his eyes shut as he in haled the cigar smoke and found a fat tongue sliding against his own.

His hands tightened around the handle and then breaking away he plunged the blade deep into something he didn't care all he knew he was free, and with that freedom, he ran.

And never looked back.

 

))))))))

Present.

 

Dick shot up from the floor. Heart pounding he raised a hand to his chest giving a moment for his eyes to adjust he stood. The pale moonlight filled the corner of the bedroom allowing Dick to see Jason and Tim sound asleep in the bed Tim under the covers and Jason on top. His arm resting gently over Tim sleeping form, Tim curled facing Jason while Jason head rested against the younger.

Dick slowly made his way over to the door and opened it quietly shutting it behind him. He made his way down the stairs and into the kitchen. Turning on the light he opened the cupboard and got a glass of water.

He raised it to his lips and then downed it. He filled it again and drank it fervently, he filled it again and tipped the rim against his mouth taking in the water before he sputtered and dropped the glass into the sink.

He let out a few choked sobs. Forcing them back as he felt tears sting his eyes, he sucked in air slowing his heart rate. He stared down at the broken glass in the sink water dripping from the tap a few times to join the watery path escaping down the drain.

Dick gathered himself together. With shaky hands he picked up the shards of glass hissing as it sliced into his finger. He stared at the blood flowing freely.

Then to his surprise he felt hands gently taking in his. He looked over to see Bruce. What did this man see when he looked at him? He saw kindness there. How strange. How strange indeed

Didn't he know.

He was holding the hands of filth? Of pain. So much more than a homeless street parasite. but

Of a murder.

Chapter Text

Gotham Heights- 6 years ago

“Janet!...JANET!”

Janet Drake burst into the bedroom shutting the door and locking it behind her. She quickly set her son down running over she pulled up a rug lifting the loose floor boards in the corner of the room. She turned holding out her arms.

“Tim, sweetheart. Come here.”

Tim ran over Janet scooped him up and placed him inside. She ran her hands through his hair giving him a kiss.

“Remember quiet, hide and seek ok? Quiet and stay low.”

Tim nodded. Then the floor boards were quickly placed back as the fists banged on the door.

“Janet! Open the damn door!”

 

Janet grabbed hold of the rug getting it part way over until the door burst open so hard it left spider web cracks where it hit the dry wall. She dropped the rug stepping in front of it as she spun around and faced her husband.

“Where is he?”

Janet shook her head. “He's at a sleep over.”

Her husband searched the room with all the ferocity of a hurricane. Opening the closet door he let out a irritated yell throwing all the clothes hangers and all on the floor. Kicking the shoes so hard against the floor it hit the other side of the room. He let out a irritated huff coming over to her.

“You're lying, where is he?!”

Janet remained in her spot. Watching him as he grabbed the mattress off their bed heaving it off the frame.

Tim jerked as the feet of the bed drug across the floor. He ducked lower as the footsteps seemed to be over him.

Janet let out a yelp as she was slapped hard across the face. “WHERE.IS.HE?!”

She glared daggers at him. “He is at a sleep over.”

He let out a growl then slammed her hard against the floor, Tim saw her arms and satin pink blouse as she scooted across the floor away from her attacker. Then a hard hit ripped a pained scream from her causing Tim to do the same.

Janet heard it and so did Jack who's drunken eyes honed in on the floor behind her. She grabbed at him in fear and desperation.

“NO! NO! Don't you dare touch him!” she pleaded earning her a hard push to the ground.

Tim laid low but let out a cry as he was yanked up by his collared shirt. “You disobedient brat! I'll teach you a lesson!”

Tim whimpered then reached out to his mother. Who reached out for him. “Jack, stop! He is only six, he is bound to be curious. That's all it was!”

Jack kicked Janet against her chest knocking her hard against the wall giving him enough time to storm to the door. Janet winced lifting her eyes to see the wide fearful blue of her son looking back at her, getting to her feet she ran.

“Mommy!”

“TIM!” she shrieked but was a second too late as she was met with door being slammed.

Her heart leaped into her throat as she heard the door being locked. She slammed her hand repeatedly against the wood surface.

“Jack! Jack open this door! OPEN THE DOOR! JACK!” she ordered. Yanking and pulling on the door knob.

“TIM! TIM!”

)))))

Jack entered his study. “She wants to keep you from me. Then I will show her how it's done, she will know how it feels!

Tim yanked against the death grip on his hand his feet sliding against the polished wood floor. Then he was lifted over his father's shoulder banging his fists against the man's back. Earning a growl he was roughly placed on the floor he received a bruising grip as his arms were pinned to his side. His neatly combed hair broke out of place as he was shook.

“STOP it!” Jack yelled.

Tim went to open his mouth but received a slap across his face. The sting so harsh it turned the skin numb.

Jack stomped over to chest and opened the lid. He snatched Tim throwing him over his shoulder and unforgivably tossed him inside.

“You will stay in here and think about what you've done.”

Tim was forced to lye on his back as the lid banged shut. His breath quickened letting out a cry as he fell to the side as the chest moved. Then footsteps walked away.

“I'm sorry! I'm sorry!!”

Tim slid on his back bringing his feet up to kick on the lid but it wouldn't budge. He lowered his legs and got on his knees and pushed on the sides.

“Let me out! Dad! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!”

He slid onto his back then lay on his side. “....I'm sorry.”

 

)))))))

Tim lay in silence for so long. His tears keeping him company in the darkness for awhile but he simply fell quiet. He remained still as foot steps approached the chest then movement, the rattling of the lock then darkness was flooded with light.

“Tim, Tim. Sweetheart.”

Tim slowly turned to look at his mother's face. Janet held out her arms waiting for her son to reach out to her, but she saw the fresh tears fill his eyes.

“I said I was sorry.” he whimpered.

 

Janet's heart broke. She reached her arms inside. “I know, baby. I know.”

 

Tim stared a beat longer before he wrapped his arms around her neck and was lifted out. She kneeled onto the floor. As they both cried, she pressed her lips against his cheek as he wept. She set him down and pulled away.

“Sweetheart, you need to leave.”

Tim blinked trying to figure out what she meant. He ran his arm along his eyes. Drake's don't cry, they had to stop crying.

“No I want to stay with-”

Janet cupped bother her hands softly against his head locking her eyes onto his. “You run out the door. You need to go now.”

Tim didn't have a choice as he was lead out of the study down the stairs she heard they both flinched as they heard movement up stairs. Janet knelt down, turned back to her son, running he hands along his neck and shoulders. Resting her forehead against Tim's, weeping harder as she felt the tremors rippling against her.

“I love you Timothy Jackson. Be a good boy and run.”

She kissed him once more as Tim let out a choked sob. Then she ran to the kitchen opening the french doors. She gently pushed Tim out. Cupping the side of his face once more. Then quickly shut the door as Tim stared at her retreating frame.

Tim was torn stepping towards the doors, then obeyed his mother and ran. He climbed up the iron bar fence. Jumping down.

BANG!

His blood turned to ice spinning around to look at the house. His pulse racing. He stood a few agonizing heart beats longer. Then darted across the street.

The stars and moon sharing his secret whispering in the night.

 

)))))

 

Present.

 

Tim opened his eyes forgetting where he was for a moment. He felt the comfort he was immersed in, but brought him the most warmth was the boy sound asleep beside him. He inched himself closer to Jason grabbing his arm to drape around him. He closed his eyes.

Jason?

Jason was safe.

Chapter Text

“Doesn't look like you need stitches.”

 

Bruce dabbed lightly on the cut then placed a band aid on it.

Dick remained quiet. Bruce traced his eyes up from his task to look at the boy, truly he was. He didn't have to be asked to know it, but somehow, he held a maturity that matched his own thirty-eight self.

“Listen...Dick I can't help but notice.”

Dick looked at Bruce then removed his hand out of the others grip. “I need to leave, first thing in the morning.”

“I think-”

Dick got up from the stole at the counter. “They have school to go to. You have no say.”

“What school do they go to?” Bruce asked innocently but under estimated the weight of that question.

Dick wasn't used to people asking questions wanting to know him. Or Tim and Jason for that matter. He had to give an answer, maybe Bruce would drop it.

“On the other side of the city.”

“Where on the other side?”

“Just before the subway.”

“What Line?”

 

Dick turned and faced Bruce with a disapproval that the other man wasn't prepared for. “Don't.”

“Don't do what.”

Dick stepped forward. “The interest, the prying or whatever you want to call it.” He held up his injured hand. “Don't patch things up, don't give us meals, or bed rooms. All because it makes YOU feel better.”

“It's not what I.” Bruce stated.

Dick anger was cold but a sharp as any well forged blade. “I can take care of us. I will not have you treat us like a charity case. We don't need your pity. That's the end of it.”

“Dick.”

Both Bruce and Dick turned to see Tim standing in the entrance. “Tim what are you doing up?”

Tim blinked not hiding the yawn that rose. “I saw you weren't around, I wanted to see if you were ok?”

At first Dick didn't notice, it was that subtle but after another closer inspection he saw Tim shake. Tell tale sign he had a nightmare, he walked forward.

“Hey, it's ok. I just need to get a glass of water.” Dick said. “Come on lets go back.”

Bruce watched how the two boys interacted. He couldn't get passed it he needed to help some how. He stepped forward.

“Dick, you do know that I would never do anything to hurt you.”

Dick stopped then met Bruce's eyes. “No. I don't.”

 

)))))))

The next morning after a fitting breakfast for three boys. Bruce, Alfred and with much convincing Damien were seen off.

“I wish you boys would change your minds.” Alfred said as Tim slipped his hands in his hoody.

Jason waited cross armed as Dick put on his jacket. Bruce after much back and forth in his head stepped forward

“Here.”

Dick looked down at the small object in the billionaire's palm. He adjusted his collar. “What is that?”

Bruce tried to sound anything but insulting, the conversation the night before still mulling in the forefront of his mind.

“It's a cell phone.”

Dick pulled his eyes back to Bruce. “Like I can afford something like that.”

 

“I can.” Bruce stated the truth. “I want you to have it. So, you can contact me for anything you may need...or, if you just need to talk.”

“Thanks but-”

“We'll take it.” Jason shot in. He ignored the disapproval coming from Dick, instead placing a hand on his arm. Speaking in a hushed voice. “It's smart Dick, just..take it we can toss it if it causes us more trouble then it's worth.”

Dick hesitated, then wordlessly grasped the offering. He then turned to Jason and Tim. “Say your thanks, then we're leaving.”

Jason stepped forward. “Food was awesome, so thanks for that.” He looked at Damien. “And sorry for the fuss.”

Damien shrugged giving half of his attention. Jason barely managed to stop himself from rolling his eyes.

Tim was more physical as he hugged Alfred and then Bruce. “Thank you for everything, didn't have to.”

To Damien's surprise he receieved a hug. “Thanks.”

Damien patted limply on Tim's back. Then ran back to join Jason at the door. Dick opened it and lead the way out.

Bruce felt all kinds of wrong and red flags as the door shut behind them. He turned to Alfred who mirrored his on feelings.

“I know, but we must not force them. Patience is all we can do.”

 

Damien was more than glad to rid them from his life. “I'm going to be late for school.”

“Hold it.” Bruce firmly said causing Damien to look at his father annoyance driving him.

“What?”

“I am disappointed in your behavior, those three have gone through who knows what, the least you could do is extend some kindness.”

Damien let out a huff. “Father, they are street kids, who free load off of our money. Anyone can see that. Now, if you can excuse me.”

Bruce shook his head as Damien went back up stairs to get his things. He turned to Alfred. “What am I going to do with him, ever since Talia left he has been a nightmare.”

“Patience, master Bruce. Patience.” Alfred reminded.

 

))))))))

The final school bell rang,Tim looked up to see Jason waiting for him on the side walk. Jason grinned.

“Hey, how was it today?”

Tim shrugged. “Alright.”

Jason hung his arm around Tim's shoulder. Walking down the street. “Talk to Uncle Jay.”

Tim shrugged once more. “Kids can be cruel we have established this.”

“Doesn't make it easy to handle, because we acknowledge something.”

 

“I want to fight back, is that so bad?” Tim confessed.

 

Jason thought for a moment. “..No it isn't not when it's defending something or someone. You of all people should know that, in fact I know you do because you've done it before.”

Tim frowned as past memory greeted him. “I wish..I wasn't a coward.”

Jason was concerned by the remark. “Hey, you TJ are not a coward.”

Tim held a solemnness Jason never saw before. “Tell that to my mother.”

Jason reached out and stopped him. “Tim...where is this coming from.”

Tim rarely saw anger when he did meant he was hurting than he's letting on. “It's true Jay, I didn't go back.”

Jason held up his hand. “I'm going to stop you there, you are anything but a coward, you are the...bravest person.”

Tim looked wounded by the compliment. “Forget I said anything.”

Jason opened his mouth to speak but closed it as Tim strode in front of him.

 

)))))))))

3 years ago

Jason skidded to a halt as he saw the brick wall of the building before him that boxed him in. He quickly scanned the area. He saw a dumpster and the first few rails of a fire escape, his arms length the distance to grab he heard several voices growing louder. He jumped up again his fingers wrapping around the bar, his triumph was short lived as the bar broke he hit the dumpster lid hard tumbling into the ally. He groaned shaking his head then looked up to see the owners of the voices stand ten feet away.

He scrambled to his feet. Gritting his teeth as he glared at his target. Dick would not be impressed with his result. He grounded himself as his assailants stepped forward.

“You are a terrible thief, give us what you've taken and we will let this go.”

 

Jason felt the lump of cash in his back pocket and the packet of drugs in his front. “You have the wrong kid.”

the four men chuckled as their leader took a step forward. “e didn't say anything about a kid.”

Jason kicked himself twice. Dick definitely was lecture him for slipping up. “Just a hunch after all you are wasting time chasing the wrong kid.”

 

The three men shared a look with one another until the leader growled. “Screw this.”

Jason eyes widened as he saw saw the crow bar in the others hand. “Give us the cash and the drugs and I may take it easy on you.”

Jason knew his pick was golden. It would help with rent they could delay getting evicted, at least that was what hoped.

“Yeah, right. You could barely hit a fly with your aim as previously proven when I so easily pocketed you fools, seriously go to a gun range or something. You're sloppy.”

Jason saw an opening behind them that he missed darting in if he could just.

“You arrogant cocky piece of garbage. I'll end you.” the leader threatened.

Jason smirked. “Like to see you...try!”

He made a good effort to the opening but four arms stopped him. He grunted as he was thrown on the ground. His eyes widened as the crow bar was swung down he grabbed it but a kick landed in his side making him cry out.

The crow bar connected with his shoulder. A scream ripped from his throat. He tried to roll out of the way but was halted a few well aimed hits connected with his neck and head. Then the crow bar smashed against his leg.

Jason tried to hold back the agonized yell ringing out in the otherwise silent ally. He curled up into a ball as Dick taught him to make himself smaller and minimized the hits. The head criminal wailed on him once more drawing blood.

Then a scream suddenly captured and seized his attacker causing him to drop the weapon entirely another pained yell as he clutched at his leg blood pulling down his calf. The two other men spun around in confusion and shock delaying their response time as they received the same injury.

Then sent two to the ground as bare feet blew passed them. All stared in shock as they looked wide eyed at the boy stood between them and Jason. A knife clutched in his hand in brown shorts and a grey tank. Blue eyes held a primal anger. Black hair slightly matted but as the sudden arrival raised his knife intent undeniable.

“C'mon man it's not worth it!”

They pulled their leader away from his victims. “You'll regret this, I won't forget your faces!”

The criminals took off around the corner. Jason gingerly uncurled himself wincing as his injuries greeted him.

“Are you ok?”

Jason blinked through his good eye his focus looking at the worried face staring down on him. He groaned his answer. Then he felt himself hauled miraculously to his feet.

“Just lean on me I'll get you to safety. Trust me.”

Jason leaned gratefully on his good side. He breathed in a breath since this all started. “I'm Jason...who are you?”

The boy sunk the knife back in his pocket. Then made his way to the opening Jason desperately tried to get too. With surprising gentleness he was helped along, it wasn't until he was leaned back against the wall in the thin opening.

“He should find you hear shortly.”

Jason tried to raise himself off the ground but yelped. He once again had gentle hands on either side of his arms.

“Don't push yourself, rest he'll be hear.”

Jason watched the young boy look about him then his eyes met his; with a smile he stepped away.

 

“By the way nice pick.”

That was the last Jason saw his rescuer as passed out. Reminding himself to say thank you...next time.

 

))))))))

Present.

Jason stared at his young brother, never forgetting that day in the ally.

Tim?

Out of both Dick and him. Was the strongest he just wished, that he would see it. He smiled as he thought, crossing the street.

'Thank you..for saving my life.'

Chapter Text

Dick weaved his way through the ally then made his way on the nearest roof he heaved himself on top. He had found a good source of food outside a bakery and a restaurant, but it was remarkable that even scraps thrown out the back door was still considered theft. He did avoid the ever watchful eyes of beat cops.

He was ecstatic receiving the news that he passed the test second best result. Even the rain couldn't dampen his spirits. Providing for his brother's was all he wanted. Make up for all the struggles they have endured for the last few years, he couldn't be more proud of them.

He took another leap, he knew his turf like the back of his hand. He had the south circuit, Tim had the north and Jason had the east.

He dropped down to the ally below, running down the side walk turning the corner he jumped over the chain link fence. He slowed his pace looking once more the bag in his hand. Tonight they'd actually have dessert it's been six months since there last treat, longer than that for Dick.

His mind flicked back to Wayne Manor, he hadn't given it another thought the moment he stepped out the door.

Dick closed the bag. Knowing deep down it was his pride that denied the offer, but it was really the driving force in his life. He once more thought of Tim and Jason and how excited they will be when they arrive...home.

 

)))))))

Tim had let go of his negative thoughts and had quite the fun discussion with Jason. That is what he loved about him it was easy to talk to him about anything, unlike Dick who was more inclined to talk about their lives and ask questions about their past. Of course, Tim would have to confess he did keep details out of his past that he just didn't want to face. He imagined it was the same for Jason.

They hopped over the fence as Tim landed he winced. Jason cocked an eye brow. “You ok?”

Tim smiled then laughed he raised his hand to his right side. “Yeah, I pulled a muscle yesterday, grabbed the ledge of a roof the wrong way.

Jason smirked. “Yeah, done that more than once.”

Tim followed jason as they weaved through the pile of cars eyes landing on the bus before them.

“Got to love that junkyard chic.” Jason stated.

Tim ran in front of Jason who was surprised by the sudden burst of energy as the other entered the bus in record Time. Jason shook his head stepping up into the bus.

“You know for a kid who pulled a muscle you sure-”

“SURPRISE!”

Jason blinked at the one eighty. His focus switched from Tim to Dick. “What is this about?”

Tim smiled. “It's your birthday silly.”

Jason set down his back pack. Taking in the attempt at streamers clearly toilet paper lightly spray painted then card board paper chain linked and tapped to several of the seats making an arch all the way down.

Dick stepped forward. Showing him the 'spread laid out' for him. Small Meat and veggie tray, rolls, and to Jason's surprise an actual cake. That was shaved off in places.

“Happy sixteenth, it isn't much but-”

Jason quickly wiped a hand over his eyes. “You...didn't have to do this you idiots.”

Dick smiled as Jason's attempt to be tough was falling away as tear escaped down his cheek. “Like we would just skip a milestone like this.”

Tim walked over their dishes in hand. “Now lets eat up, I'm starving.”

Jason smiled his thanks, moments later they all sat down to eat their meal. The conversation light and airy as they told jokes and reminisced the days when they first met each other.

“Oh, speaking which. I didn't pass my test.”

Jason and Tim smiles fell away, then saw the glint in Dick's eyes. “Crushed it!”

“What?! That's great news!” Tim beamed.

Jason laughed. “I didn't doubt you for a second.”

“I had to double check. I couldn't believe it, second best.”

“Hey, we'll take it.” Jason stated taking a piece of his roll.

Tim smiled. “Guess we're celebrating two milestones.”

He set his plate down. “That reminds me.”

Jason and Dick shared a look with each other in curiosity as Tim walked over a few seats down. Falling to his knees he pulled out a poorly wrapped box. He came back feeling a bit embarrassed at the box.

“I huh..improvised with the wrapping more masking tape then paper.” Tim said handing it over to Jason.

Jason couldn't hide his shock as he slowly took it. “Tim.”

Tim sat down ignoring the protest in his side excited for all three of them. “Go on open it!”

Jason looked at the box then pulled the paper and masking tape away. He glanced at Tim then opened it. His eyes widened in disbelief pulling out a leather jacket a lighter brown then the rust colored one that had seen better days.

Tim oddly avoided eye contact. “I know it's not new, new, but I thought you might...but if you”

jason set down the box so abruptly as he walked over to Tim and wrapped his arms around him.

“Tim...I love it.” he pulled back. “How did you ever-”

Tim grinned. “I stock piled a few things also I can bargin up a storm when I need to.”

Jason russled up his hair. “You. Timothy jackson are amazing.”

Dick smiled then picked up the chocolate cake. “I got you.. this.”

Jason walked over and gave Dick a hug. “It's perfect.”

Once the slices were on their plates jason lifted his fork in the air. “To sixteen.”

“here, here!” Tim cheered.

Dick clinked their forks together then all three dug in. They all managed one bite before they spat it back on their plates. Jason coughed.

“Ugh, that is the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted.”

Tim ran his fingers down his tongue. “It..is foul. I don't think the worst monster would he that!”

Dick coughed at the taste. Then laughed. “Didn't say it was going to be good.”

Jason chuckled than broke out laughing. Tim followed.

From there they talked well into the late night.

)))))))

The next morning Jason dawned his new jacket a roll held in his mouth. He took a bite. “Tim better get a move on or we'll be late.”

Dick knelt down shaking Tim's shoulder. “Tim, hey you need to get ready for school.”

Tim groaned cracking open his eyes to look at Dick. “I don't feel very good.”

Dick furrowed his brow. Tim shivered managing to crack a smile.

“Don't worry I...” Tim trailed off as Dick pressed the back of his hand against his forehead the on his cheek.

“You have a fever.” Dick said.

Jason set his roll down coming over beside Dick one look at Tim told him he was sick. “Tim, when did you start feeling this way.”

Tim grimaced. “Ngh...mid way in the night.”

“Why didn't you say something?” Dick asked his concern deepening seeing Tim discomfort.

Tim groaned. “...Didn't want to worry you. It's probably just the flu.”

 

Tim grimaced then shook again. Dick's concern melted to alarm. “Tim, are you in pain?”

Jason frowned. “He did say he pulled a muscle when he was jumping the roofs. Grabbed a ledge wrong.”

“That wouldn't explain the fever.” Dick removed the blanket down to Tim's waist to Find him clutching his side. “Tim, I'm going to look you over ok?”

Tim groaned then winced as Dick removed his hands from his side.

Jason leaned forward. “Dick..”

Dick moved his way between the seats. “I want you to tell me if it hurts more when I push down or let go.”

Tim nodded slightly, Dick placed one hand over the other and pressed on Tim's side. Jason knelt down as Tim gritted his teeth turning head into the seat. When Dick removed them Tim jerked then cried out his hands flying back to clutch at his side. Jason ran his hand through Tim's hair trying to calm the tension in Tim.

Dick cupped the side of Tim's face. Then looked at Jason both knew what it was and Tim through the haze of pain knew as well.

Jason let out a breath. “He needs a hospital ASAP.”

Dick nodded. “I don't have..”

Tim furrowed his brow then lurched forward He threw up cry out whimpering as he laid back. Jason shook his head.

“We can't afford the cost, not to mention the moment we step through those doors we'll be arrested.”

Dick knew Jason was right, but he knew the risk he would be taking, and he couldn't do it with Tim's life. He weaved in his head a plan but nothing ended good, then he stopped he looked to Jason.

“Stay with him.”

“You bet. You have an idea?”

Dick walked over four seats up, taking his bag from the storage rack above him. He unzipped a compartment.

“The only safe option.” Dick answered.

He pulled out the cell. Turning it on he saw the only contact on the screen. He clicked it and pressed call.

)))))))

“The stock has plummeted and gained momentum on several occasions it's too unstable. investing in it is a bad idea....”

 

Bruce's board meeting was interrupted, secretly glad of the caller. He stood. “Excuse me a moment.”

He walked over to the corner of the room his eye brows rising at the number on the screen. He clicked it without hesitation.

 

))))

Dick looked back at Jason who tried his best to comfort the boy tossing back and forth. His heart was in his throat as the first few rings went unanswered. Then..

“Dick?”

 

“Bruce...I need your help.”

Chapter Text

Bruce had followed Dick's instructions. He didn't phone 9-11, if he must, at least not until he was a good few blocks away from Ripley's Junkyard. Why a junkyard, was beyond him but he didn't press on it sensing the urgency in Dick's voice.

Bruce managed to explain to Alfred that he would have to pick Damien up from school as he had to run an errand. It was not entirely a lie. He pulled into Ripley's lot and made his way as deep as he could into the lot until he couldn't he go farther. He looked about him then foot steps he turned to see Jason round the corner.

“What are you sight seeing? Hurry this way.” Jason called.

 

Bruce ran, following Jason around several piles of cars until he saw a worn down transit bus. Jason jumped up the steps, Bruce entered ignoring what he was walking through to focus on Dick attending to Tim.

Tim gasped then cried out once more. Dick brushing the damp strands of hair sticking to his forehead. Jason ran forward.

“Dick, he's here.”

Dick looked up to confirm until he carefully lifted Tim in his arms Jason jumped up on the seat to let Dick through. Bruce found himself cradling Tim against him with as much care as Dick had.

“Take him to the nearest Hospital.” Dick ordered.

Bruce looked down at Tim then turn and hurried out of the bus. Dick and Jason followed to the car. Jason ran forward opening the back door. He turned to Dick.

“He can't drive and keep Tim steady at the same time.”

Dick nodded. “Go.”

Jason hopped in the back seat. Tim whimpering as the movement and new position caused him pain. Dick shut the door Bruce already around the front opening the driver door, he looked at Dick.

“I'll call you.” he promised before he slid in the front seat, bringing the car to life, he turned the car around and drove out of sight.

Dick ran back to the bus making his ray down the isle finding the cell then on the way back to the door he grabbed his bag. He took a couple steps, then a sharp pain caught him off guard rattling him so much he leaned heavily in the door way, raising a hand to his head before his slid down on the first step. Tipping his head back, waiting for the dizziness to subside.

He cursed. Now of all times. It took a few agonizing slow moments for the episode to subside before he got to his feet then hurried as fast his body would allow to the hospital.

Gotham General. He could wait out of sight until he got the call.

'Hang in there Tim, you're in good hands.'

 

))))))

 

Jason comforted Tim as best as he could, he heard the worst pain was appendicitis to endure next to kidney stones neither he rather find out for himself. He impressed beneath the worry how Tim tried to remain strong but with every turn the car made it brought wail from him.

Jason moved his arms, tight as he dared around Tim as the car sped down each street then out onto the highway. For a rich guy he knew how to drive like a seasoned race car driver. Each second seemed like a minute and each minute felt like an hour, then suddenly the car stopped

He heard the front door open then in record time his door opened, Jason hadn't seen such focus on a man's face that strong in his life. Barely, acknowledging Jason.

 

“Give him to me.” Bruce said firmly.

 

Jason did so as smoothly as possible. Bruce cradled the boy in his arms and ran across the ambulance bay and straight into the emergency doors. Jason dropped out of the car shut the door and ran across the street and of out of sight around the corner in the ally. He let out a breath resting against the wall

 

A hand landed on shoulder causing him to jump, pulling away then raised a hand over his heart. “For the love of what ever deity don't do that Dick.”

Dick peered out to see the hospital. “Sorry, just didn't want to...scare you, but back fired.”

Jason huffed. “No kidding.”

Dick turned to Jason. “How was he?”

“Well, to be expected under the circumstances, not great. Tim's a tough piece of meat.”

Dick cocked an eyebrow over his shoulder at the other boy. Who shrugged. “I'm nervous, sue me.”

“I'm not surprised about Tim, but I was asking about Bruce.”

Jason looked at the hospital then leaned against the wall. “I never thought you could speed down a highway that fast and missed being tagged by a cop. He did..amazing, maybe he isn't as bad as we thought, note that it is a sliver of a maybe.”

Dick released a breath taking out the cell.. “Now we wait.”

Jason tipped his head back. “Yeah, how hard can that be.”

))))))

Bruce watched as Tim winced as he laid in the bed. Even though Bruce knew the boy would be in agony he dealt with it far better then he thought. Bruce stood silently as the nurse put IV in his hand and arm. The doctor placing his stethoscope around his neck.

The doctor looked over at Bruce. “Do you know his next of kin?”

Bruce hated that his identity was so strong, he couldn't pretend he was Tim's father as much as he wanted to. He shook his head.

“No,I don't.”

The doctor turned to Tim who was no where near coherent enough as the sedative set in. He turned back to Bruce.

“Do you know his name? Maybe, I can track his parents down. I need someone's consent before I take him to surgery.”

Bruce held the doctors attention. “I will pay for surgery, I'm sure his parents would want him to live. I'd suggest you move it.”

The nurse glanced at the young doctor. Bruce stepped forward. “NOW. Would be ideal.”

The doctor raised the bars of the bed with the help of the nurse rolled the stretcher out of the curtain and hurried down the hall.

Bruce hadn't felt this kind of anxiety since waiting for the birth of his son. He pulled out his cell. One step at a time.

))))))))))

The ringing seized both boys. Dick clicked answer. “How is he?”

 

Bruce sat down in the waiting room. “They just took him to surgery. It will be awhile.”

Dick ran a hand over his face. At least they got Tim that far. “He's going to be ok, right? I mean it's not a crazy surgery.”

Bruce for the first time heard the vulnerability from since he met Dick, he saw hints of it when he saw him in his kitchen that night six months ago.

“We'll wait and see... but I'm sure he'll be fine.” Bruce quickly reassured.

))))))))))

Jason tapped Dick on the shoulder giving a 'What's going on?' look holding out his arms in the air. Dick held up a hand.

“Keep us posted.” Dick ended.

He looked at Jason. “They took him to surgery..we'll have to wait.”

Jason shook his head running a hand through his hair. Turning his back to Dick, waiting was not his strong suit.

“Great...just peachy. So we make are selves comfortable. At least Bruce is our eyes and ears, it can't get worse, right?” he said.

 

A click greeted his ears. Jason turned to see the cell phone on the ground, Dick sliding against the wall to the ground. “Dick!”

Jason was by his side in an instant. Dick tried to focus on Jason his vision zoning in and out.

“Jay..”

Dick managed, then Jason cried out his name as he passed out. Jason rested Dick awkwardly against him.

“You have got to be kidding me!” Jason exclaimed. He looked about him as he thought a plan

Making the decision.

 

))))))))))))

Bruce paced the small length of the waiting room. His mind flicking back to the junkyard, how on earth three boys have survived in living in such a place for so long. It was a wonder it took this long for something to happen, at least what he knows of.

“I need a doctor!”

Bruce was pulled out of his thoughts he saw Jason struggling to keep Dick up right. Bruce was on the other side of Dick who was barely conscious.

Immediately a doctor and nurse took over both Jason and Bruce stood in their spots as they watch them lay Dick on the next available stretcher.

A few moments of chaos raged around them. Their thoughts trying to keep up. Jason raised his hand up.

“I'd call you but it seemed royally moronic.”

Bruce glanced at the cell phone then turned his eyes back to where Dick lay. As, much as he tried but he couldn't help but agree with Jason.

“Can't argue with that.”

Chapter Text

Tchtchtchtchtch

 

Jason leg vibrated up and down against the small table in front of him, arm crossed along his chest while the other was being occupied as he bit his thumb nail. His eyes darted over to the nurses station for the umpteenth, umpteenth time, it drove him nuts.

 

Bruce let the magazine fall over his leg as he looked at the boy. The pair of jeans a darker shade of denim then the last he saw him about the same number of holes in them not as exaggerated. Olive colored shirt peeking through the leather jacket. Wondering how many number of streets his shoes held, his hair was longer.

“Dude, if you don't stop staring at me I will freaking break you.”

Bruce straightened. “I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable. Just trying to figure out an observation.”

Jason glowered. “Well, observate your eyes to something else, I'm not a damn artifact in a museum..”

 

In Bruce's defense this whole situation might as well have been, despite how brief the encounter. These three kids nagged him, maybe it's the paternal instinct he has with having his own son. Or maybe it was the fact his vast wealth was a striking opposition to equally vast poverty that currently sat across from him.

Jason rubbed both hands on his legs shifting in his seat bending over. “Seriously, it's been what? Five hours since they've been admitted?”

Bruce looked at his wrist watch. “Forty minutes.”

Jason half slid down in his seat giving a groan. “It can't be, how slow can a surgery be? It's simple. You slice. You dig the thing out. Stitch it. Like 20 minutes tops.”

Bruce couldn't help the chuckle which in turn earned him a dirty look. Bruce raised one hand up to show he meant no offense. “I get it, just remind me to not hirer you to be my surgeon. It takes almost half a life time to be a doctor.”

Jason narrowed his eyes at the comment then turned his attention to the ceiling. “This is the longest I've sat in a chair next to school of course, but in a hospital? Never.”

Bruce closed the magazine seating it down on the empty seat to his left. “You go to school?”

 

Jason eyes landed back on Bruce. “Just because I'm poor doesn't mean I'm illiterate.” he tapped his hand against his head to drive his point home. “I have a brain in here despite what you think.”

“I was curious. Damien, I know exactly his schedule because it coincides with my plans. You and your brothers? I have no clue and that...drives me out of my comfort zone. I'm used to being in control.”

Jason took in the information. Staring back at the ceiling. “I guess I can understand where you're coming from.”

Silence filled the space bruce leaned forward resting his arms on his legs rubbing his palms together as he carefully chose his next question.

“How long have you three been living in that bus?”

“Four years. Hard to believe saying it out loud.” Jason confessed sadly accepting that answer.

Bruce shook his head. “What about your parents?”

“What about them?” Jason shot back.

“I was asked of who was Tim's next of kin. I couldn't give an answer.”

Jason lifted his head then sat. “...Tim, is hard to pin point his answer always fluctuates depending when you ask him or how he's feeling. I know it isn't pleasant. Dick? His parents died when he was eight told us that soon after we met him but I can't help he is also holding back info. I don't press on it nor do I want too.”

“And you?”

Jason frowned. “They...they're well, I actually don't know. Could be alive, could be dead. Don't care.”

“I don't believe that.” Bruce stated sitting back in his seat.

“Believe it, if they gave a rats ass where I was they'd be looking for me. I'd find it easy to swallow to know they are dead, then to grind my teeth knowing they are alive.”

Bruce nodded. Falling silent at the new info, what a life they have lived in their short years. Jason eyed over at Bruce. He dressed modestly for a man of great power and wealth he always thought he'd be flitting around in a three piece suit twenty-four seven eating caviar and what else. The only thing that hinted at it was the rolex watch on his wrist, even then it looked aged.

“So, what's your story hot shot?”

Bruce was surprised by Jason's willingness to ask. “I..inherited my parents fortune, and all the stress and struggles that come with it.”

“Where are they now?”

Bruce smiled but it held a sadness that Jason did not expect or the answer he received. “They died when I was ten. Shot at close range during a mugging, I was supposed to have been with them but was sick at home. Received the news with a hundred degree fever throwing up in the bowl beside me.”

“Oh...sorry.” Jason sighed. “Suck, doesn't it.”

Bruce agreed. “Yeah, it does.”

“So, when did sunshine come into the picture?”

Bruce rubbed the back of his neck. “I married young, if I'm honest, I married because my wife to be was pregnant. It was the right thing to do was to wed her. I was twenty-six when he was born in the midst of running Wayne Enterprises properly. Professionally.”

“Where is she now?”

Bruce looked at Jason. “I don't know..she up and left when he was three.”

“Explains a little bit. No offense, actually yeah, with insulting layered thick. You're son is a pretentious snob I have ever met in my life. Tim taught me that word. Kid is weird like that. Then again Damien has mean streak, I admire that.”

 

Bruce frowned with all the traits his son would earn admiration for, his temper would not be on the top of his list.

 

Then silence, unbearable for Jason, Tim he had an answer for but Dick? The not knowing was like bugs crawling under his skin. For the next few hours he had paced, groaned, fidgeted and anything in between.

“Excuse me?”

In an instant both Bruce and Jason stood as a nurse entered the space. She looked at the chart then at Bruce. “Are you related to John Do?”

 

Bruce opened his mouth but Jason stepped forward. “I am his brother..to both.”

She smiled. That is good the more info we know the better. What are their names?

Bruce opened his mouth- Ti

“Jimmy Olsen, the one you sawed into and the oldest is Roy...Harper.” Jason answered squinting not sure of second name choice nearly coming out as a question.

 

The nurse smiled. “Thank you. Jimmy will be fine he will need to rest for the next few days, I've yet an update on Roy.”

 

“Can we see Jimmy at least?” Jason asked hopefully.

The nurse nodded “Of course, follow me.”

Jason practically ran after her Bruce trailing behind. That was interesting

 

)))))))))))))

Dick blinked slowly regretting it as the lights sent sharp knives into his skull. He forgot how he even was laying a bed, then he was aware of a band wrapped around his arm. Pushing passed the protest of his head the smell of antiseptic and the sounds of beeping beside him was a shocking give away.

A hospital. Jason must have made the call, the blame didn't rest on his brother but with him, in disgust a slammed his fist down beside him.

Tim. He needed to get to him, was he alright?

He ripped the blood pressure band around his arm off then the oxygen line under his nose. Swinging his legs on the side of the bed, a pained gasp escaped him as his hand flew to his forehead. Bowing his head, he sucked in a breath. He needed to get Jason and Tim out of here..somehow.

He got off the bed and made it halfway to the door, the room titled causing him to lurch forward. Arms suddenly wrapped around him sending a pang of panic through him.

 

“STOP!” he pushed so hard against the body in doing so he fell against the floor. Doing no favor to his head.

“It's alright, I won't hurt you.” a gentle voice reassured. “You need to get back in the bed.”

Dick turned to see runners accented with purple stripes, legs clad in blue scrubs. Taking in the white coat, then brown hair falling neatly around her neck until he rested on the green eyes staring back at him.

“Careful.” she urged reaching out. “Can you stand for me?”

Dick winced but with the help of the doctor he was lead back to the bed. She eased him down as he pressed briefly at his head lost in his discomfort to acknowledge the woman in front of him.

“My name is Dr. Lee Thompkins, can you tell me how you got here?”

Dick furrowed his brow, he knew Jason must have brought him or maybe Bruce. He simply shrugged. However, Lee would interpret that was left in her hands. Tim..he needed.

He gritted his teeth then to his shame felt tears sting his eyes. This was the worst it's been in awhile, this didn't go unnoticed by Lee. She took his hands in hers and lowered them, she took out a silver pen out her coat pocket.

“May I? I want to look in your eyes.”

Dick stared at the tool then drifted his eyes to her. Uncertain of her intentions. “Why?”

She smiled warmly. “So, I can help you.”

Help. Was he truly that far gone? Deteriorated so much he couldn't take care of himself, if that was the case then he wasn't able to protect Jason or..Tim he needed to know.

“Tim will be just fine, in fact he should be waking in a few minutes.”

Dick stared at her. How did she know Tim's name? Jason would never be that careless, they always used fake names when interacting with strangers. Must have been Bruce.

“Jason, is fine as well.”

“So, you are next Roy Harper...aka Dick.” she knowingly smirked.

Dick mentally rolled his eyes. 'Really Jason,The Bowhunter security guy.'

Lee held up the pen light. “So, that leaves you.”

Dick surrendered adjusting his posture. Lee welcomed the cooperation. “Look at my nose.”

Dick wordlessly did as asked; She scooped her fingers under his jaw titling his head up,the light passed over his right eye barely reaching his second. Flinching, keeping back a yelp but a moan did meet the open air. Lee frowned closing her hand over her device.

“Sensitive to light?”

Dick cracked open his eyes one at a time. He didn't have to answer for her to receive the truth. She set the pen light in it's rightful place.

“I'm going to check you over, let me know if it hurts or not.”

Dick fought the urge to pull away from her hands. Letting her run her fingers down her neck, strictly medical, performing a effortless examination..nothing more. At least that was what he was drumming through his mind.

She looked at his face of any indication of pain other than the obvious discomfort that held in his eyes.

“Does any of that hurt?”

Dick shrugged the less he moved his head the better. She lowered her hands. “I'm going to sit behind you.”

Dick tensed. Medical..just medical. She pressed down his neck and then back up, she noted the tension in his muscles and to her surprise the shiver that passed through his entire body.

“You ok?”

Dick had to answer before she really was going to do something else. “..Yeah.”

She found it hard to believe. “You hold a lot of tension in your neck and shoulders. It wouldn't help with your headaches.”

She removed removed her stethoscope. “Going to listen to your lungs and heart. Breathe in...and out...again and out.”

She came back to his front repeated the same task. She placed her stethoscope back around her neck.

“Ok, I want you to hold your arms out in front of me.”

Dick gave a wary look. She smiled. “It may sound silly but it does hold significance.”

Dick did so.

“I'm going to push down on them you push up. Don't let me win.”

Dick did; then she reversed. She didn't say a word stepping back one she looked at him holding up her pointer finger.

“Touch your nose touch my finger.”

Dick slightly cocked an eye brow but did as asked. He followed it effortlessly no matter where she moved her finger to. She held out her hands to the side lifting her finger up again.

“I want you to look at my nose and tell me which finger is moving.”

Dick let out a breath through his nose. This was the stupidest thing he has ever done, but the faster he did it the sooner he could leave.

 

“Right...left...right..left...both.”

“Good.” she said. “Ok, a couple more. Follow my finger with your eyes.”

Dick did. Up to the right down to the left side to side then center. She smiled. “Great.”

She gathered her clip board and wrote on it. She set it down on the bed. “Stand up.”

Dick let her lead him away from the bed to the middle of the floor. “Hold your arms out. And close your eyes.”

Dick stared at her for a moment but complied. She eyed him carefully, then quite suddenly he pitched forward startling both of them she supported him. Quickly getting back to the bed, Dick cried out, as the pain reverberated through his head causing him to press both palms against his head.

She sat down beside him as he gasped silent for a moment, when he did speak she could here frustration and remorse hiding under the pain.
“I...can't do this. I want it to go away.”

Empathetic, she placed a hand on his arm. “Dick, how long have you been having these symptoms?”

Dick tried to remember but.. it lead him to a place he long buried. “I don't know..awhile I guess.”

“How long is awhile, your earliest memory?”

Dick lowered his hands. “...Six years.”

 

She was alarmed and hurt by the news, for someone so young to have suffered. Dick leaned forward. “I can't decide whethre to throw up or lay down.”

She stood easing him down on the bed. “How about I give you some medicine to help with the pain so you can sleep?”

Dick liked the sound of that but he went to sit up. “I...can't.”

“yes, you can.” she answered.

“No...I literally can't I shouldn't even be in here. Any of us.”

“It's alright. I know a close friend who will help out. Now lay back and get some well over due rest.”

 

)))))))))

 

Jason tapped at the saline bag, connected to Tim's arm. Bruce sat in the chair beside Tim's bed. “Don't touch that.”

Jason did then drummed his hands against his legs as he let out a breath. Bruce eyed Jason. “You really aren't good at this waiting thing are you?”

“Congratulations professor your observation skills astound me.” Jason shot back.

 

Bruce knew what he would do if his son mouthed like that to...ok, so he doesn't. He finally decided on the less explosive choice.

“You can have my-”

“Shit!”

Bruce blinked in shock as he saw Jason dive between Tim's bed and Bruce's chair. The billionaire turned his attention across from him to see two police officers talking to a nurse. After five minutes give or take the trio parted.

“Psst, are they gone?” Jason asked.

“They're gone.” Bruce stated watching as jason stood adjusting his jacket. “Do you do that all the time you see a blue uniform?”

 

“Pretty much, it's easier on the street then in a building. I'm surprised we aren't tagged yet.”

“Hard way to live.” Bruce simply stated.

“Not much of a choice, when you huh..'borrow without giving back' for a living and your face is plastered on everything. My face was on a urinal once.”

Bruce wasn't sure how to respond to that when Lee entered the room. “Mr. Wayne, a moment if you will?”

Bruce stood then looked at Jason. “Behave.”

He followed Lee out into the hallway. “How is Dick?”

“Well, for now I can say he is ok. I believe he is suffering from migraines. Neurological exams did show some concerns. His balance is not hot and a for sure sensitivity to light and there was some slight jerky movements in his left eye. I didn't want to alarm him. He...seems to be uncomfortable with people with close proximity.”

“This is all very new to him, to all of them really.” Bruce reminded.

Lee nodded. “I want to get a MRI, EEG, CAT scan done on Dick just to make sure we're not missing anything. Plus, full exams on all of them. Just on first glance alone, they are all under weight. I'm afraid you'll have quite the medical bill.”

Bruce looked at Jason and Tim his thoughts coming back to Dick. “From where I'm standing.

“They're worth it.”

Chapter Text

Tim stirred as he heard a 'Blurb' sound. opening his eyes to see Jason tipping his saline bag slightly to watch the water bend against the plastic.

“J-Jason?”

Jason looked down at Tim then smiled. “It's about time Cinderella.”

Tim gave a slight smile. “I think you mean, Aurora.”

Jason slid his hands in his front pocket and shrugged. “Cinderella sounds better.”

 

Tim lost what smile he had as he took in his current situation. He turned his head away from Jason so he didn't see the tears that threatened to fall down his face. Jason, however knew Tim well enough to know his coping techniques. Always one to hide what he truly felt so not to burden others with his feelings, been like that, since the first year he stayed in the bus.

“Tim, it's ok.” Jason softly stated coming down to sit on the edge of his bed.

“Find it hard to believe when currently there is a needle in my arm and the stitches in my side. This is a mess because of me.”

Jason took hold of Tim's hand. “Tim, you can't control something like this. Besides, you can't take all the credit. Dick is contributing his own sloppy seconds to your mess, quite impressively if I say so myself.”

 

Tim furrowed his brow as he processed the words he turned. “What do you mean?”

Jason rubbed the back of his with one hand. “Oh, right you were floundering in darkness. Dick passed out on me had no choice but to bring him in.”

Tim eyes widened then pushed himself up. “Passed out? How bad is he..AH!”

Jason quickly reached out to stop Tim from doing extra harm to himself. “Whoa! Hey, easy he's fine.”

Tim winced. “I need to see him, we both can't be in here or we'll be-”

“Fine.” Jason filled in. “They say Dick has migraines, apparently that is a royal pain in the butt to have. Doc is doing all kinds of exams and such.”

Tim frowned. Raising a hand to his head. “How can we be 'FINE' do you know how much the medicine costs? Apply doctor examinations on top of my surgery and Dick's tests and no doubt the doctor will look as us all over. Ugh did the number count and we'd not be eating for years.”

Jason laughed. “Tim, you are the only person I know who would problem solve something despite just having woken up from surgery. We're apparently worth all the bells and whistles.”

Tim cocked an eye brow. “Says who?”

Jason threw thumb behind his shoulder. “Bruce, eavesdropped as best as I could on the conversation he had with...Dr. Lee something.”

“Bruce?” Tim blinked letting the name sit in his mouth. “How did Bruce know we were here?”

Jason scratched his arm. “Huh...Dick called him. Said it was the safest choice, trusted him I guess.”

Tim let out a breath as he rested against the pillow. “So...Bruce is covering the cost.”

Jason rose from the bed. “Yep, guess the guy isn't that bad after all or it pays to have rich friends.”

“Ha. ha.” Tim said dryly.

The curtain pulled a side. “Good to see you awake.”

Tim looked at Jason for an answer to who the doctor was. 'Lee.' Jason mouthed. Tim tried to present himself not as weak as he look.

“Dr. Lee.”

Lee smiled. “Lee is my first name, Thompkins is my last.”

Jason wrinkled his nose at the name as Tim was more to the point. “Dr. Thompkins...I would like my clothes and shoes so I can leave right away.”

She looked between Jason and Tim, finally coming over. “Not quite yet. I want to keep you over night for observation.”

Tim sat up ignoring the protest in his side. “I'm fine really, no need.”

Lee shook her head. “Tim, you just had surgery.”

“But-”

“No, if's. ands or buts.” she firmly said walking over to him. “You're safe here.”

Tim let out a huff crossing his arms. She chuckled. “You boys are quite something.”

 

Jason plunked down in the chair. “Thanks Doc.”

Lee placed the stethoscope in her ears and placed the smooth metal against Tim chest. She quietly did her check over than froze as she saw a long scar down his chest, frowning mentally. She picked up his left wrist and looked at her watch, after a minute she set it down.

“Is he going to live doc?” Jason threw out.

Lee looked at Jason.

“Yes, he will.” she smiled at Tim. “If you need anything just press the button on the side of your bed. I'll see if I can get you something to eat.”

Jason made a gagging look causing Tim to smirk. Lee turned to Jason mid way through pantomime act.

“Ok, you are coming with me.”

Jason's face fell. “You and what army?”

lee gave a knowing smirk. “I have many ways to get my patients to do what they are told, the easiest if you just get off the chair and follow me.”

Jason rolled his eyes. Getting to his feet. “Ok, ok.”

Jason pointed at Tim. “Be back in no time.”

Tim smiled giving a halfhearted wave. As they disappeared on the side of the curtain Tim turned his focus to the ceiling.

She saw one. How could he explain it to her the scars on his body? He was smart, like Jason said he could solve a problem no time flat.

Tim raised a hand to the scar on his chest. A memory flickered in his mind of a knife laced with angered voices, he shook his head freeing him from those thoughts. Movement grabbed his attention he looked over to see the last person he expected.

“I heard you have had quite the medical experience.” Alfred stated warmly.

Tim watched as the older man set down a small arrangement of flowers. A helium balloon floated behind his head causing Tim to catch sight of Damien standing a little ways waiting for Alfred to step aside.
With curiosity he watched as the boy looked around the room finally making his choice he approached on the end table on the right side of Tim's bed. His green eyes focused on placing it in the right spot. Then those green eyes met his ice blue.

Silence.

Damien then cleared his throat. “Father...informed us of your.”

Tim watched as Damien waved his hand to gesture at Tim's side. Tim looked at Alfred as he set down a teddy bear and a box of something beside it.

Alfred came forward ceremoniously resting his hands behind his back. “An arrangement of chocolates when ever you want them master, Tim.”

Tim hadn't...rarely experience something so kind. He stared down at his hands then bunched the blankets up in them. Damien shot a concerned look at Alfred as Tim's shoulder's shook, Alfred came forward.

“Are you alright, Master Tim? I can acquire a doctor-”

Tim shook his head then met Alfred's face. “No, it's just...I've never had this before.”

“Never have had what before?” Damien asked as he once more made sure the balloon didn't become a nuisance when he brushed against the ceiling.”

“Usually when I get laid up in bed I...” Tim closed his eyes stopping the painful memory that nudged and prodded. He smiled looking at Damien. “Thank, you. Both.”

 

Alfred bowed his head with a smile. “I shall see master Bruce. Are you alright to stay here master Damien.”

Damien nodded. “Yes, Pennyworth.”

Tim smiled at the use of the last name. Once the older man left the space and Damien sat down in the chair did Tim turn to him.

“Pennyworth?”

Damien linked his hands together leg crossed over the other. “Does it make me sound wealthy?”

Tim snickered. “I huh..guess.”

Damien leaned his eyes toward Tim then broke down his pose. “ 'I guess' wasn't what I was hoping to achieve.”

“Don't you think it's a bit redundant?” Tim asked intrigued.

Damien for the first time actually gave his full attention to the boy in the bed. “How do you mean?”

“What is the point of sounding wealthy, when you're wealthy?”

Damien stood turning his back to Tim. He was silent for a moment to the point Tim thought he had given up on the question entirely.

“Father, he has this effortless power to him. Everyone knows just by his presence in a room tells them his social status and how rich he is and what he can do with his money. When people look at me? They think that I am a pretentious free loading snob.”

“Any person who thinks you are pretentious is narrow minded. I think they mistake pretentious for anger and even as far as pain.”

Damien turned back to Tim. “Do you see that?”

Tim raised his hand back slightly at his chest then rested it back down. “I just...get it.”

Damien came back to the chair and sat. “After treating you all like dirt, you were the only one to give me a hug despite my actions.”

 

“I'd sooner be kind to strangers, better chance at making friends and people who won't hurt you then being angry creating what hate loves best. Pain.”

Damien couldn't quite figure out how a kid younger then him could have so much wisdom. What did rub him the wrong way was that it may come from experience. He leaned forward.

“Do..you see me as a friend?”

Tim titled his head at the question. “...Yes”

 

))))))))))

Bruce was surprised to see Alfred waiting for him in the hallway outside Dick's room. “Alfred, I thought you would be home by now. Didn't you get my message?”

“Yes, sir but we made a pit stop upon receiving it, brought something to brighten up master, Tim's room.”

“That's good of you Alfred.” Bruce stated as he placed his cell phone in his pocket.

“Actually master Bruce, it was Damien's idea.” Alfred smiled. “Something you said about empathy.”

 

Bruce couldn't actually believe it. “We'll take the win Alfred.”

“Indeed master, Bruce. Indeed.”

Chapter Text

Dick hadn't realized he was screaming till he felt hands resting on his shoulder. He felt damp and it nearly stopped his heart the room dim he delivered a hard punch to his assailant he heard a surprised grunt. Movement then the room was flooded with light.

“Dick. It's ok.”

Dick wide eyes focused on Bruce running his hand a long his cheek and jaw.

'Tell that to my heart.' Dick scolded in his head.

“What were you doing in here?”

Bruce lowered his hand. Taking in the quickened breath, catching the reminiscence of panic in the young man' eyes.

“You were having a nightmare. Screams could be heard down the hall.”

Dick eased out of his tension as his heart settled. He rested his eyes to his lap, would he ever be rid of him?

Bruce waited for a moment before coming over. Reminding him not to touch or get close. “How's your head feeling?”

Dick sub consciously raised his hand to his head. “Better, not as painful.”

Bruce smiled. “That's good. Tim is doing well he can go tomorrow, but on strict orders to rest. Jason is being examined as we speak.”

Dick nodded. He laid back down against the pillow. “I guess this is the last time we'll be free.”

“How do you mean?” Bruce asked as he sat down in the chair.

 

Dick stared at the ceiling. “All these tests will be on file meaning that it will be in the system. Police will be stationed at each of our rooms until we recover. Tim and Jason will have a chance to get out of juvie early with good behavior but..”

 

“None of you will be going to prison, you have my word.” Bruce reassured.

“Your 'word.' isn't above the law.”

Bruce couldn't argue that. “Dick, all I want is to help you and your brothers.”

“Many a people I've met have told me they want to help in the end it's just a branding iron for those gullible enough to fall for it.” Dick stated.

“I-”

“Bruce, you don't know us. We don't know you.”

Bruce watched Dick, as he was more thinking out loud then actually directly to him.

“You feed us, you take care of us when we are hurt.” Dick continued.

 

“Your point?”

Dick looked at the Bruce. “My point. Is why? I could see it if we were in the same bracket but we're nothing to people like you.”

“That isn't true.” Bruce defended more than he would have liked.

Dick slightly scoffed. “Clearly, your blinders are up. The streets don't lie, a poor man would sooner share his full meal than a rich man would give up a quarter of his. There is crime yes, but for the crime that hits breaking news, is not even close to why people commit those crimes. You live to thrive. Me, Tim, Jason. Everyone else. We...have to forget about living and ..”

“And what?”

Dick turned his eyes back to the ceiling. “We do what we do. So, what is in it for you? Certainly not the money. Maybe...keeping up appearances but you are not that vain. You say you want to help and maybe there is a part of you that says what you are doing is, but it's not.”

 

“I gave you my word.” Bruce reinstated. “My word is more than a promise. Promises are too easily thrown around prone to break, my word is my strong hold. You can trust that.”

Dick clenched his jaw tears stinging his eyes. “You see that's the problem. Trust. I can't do that, not with Tim and Jason's life. I know Jason plays it tough but he's not ,and Tim, I know he is tough, probably tougher than Jason and I put together. He just doesn't see it. I don't want to put them through hell for the sake of a strangers trust.”

Bruce breathed and sat forward. He knew this wasn't going to be easy, anyone with raising a child under the best of circumstances underestimates how hard it's going to be. He was everything these boys hated, feared. It was hard to show someone black and white stripes and say it's white and black but be it the same animal.

“I can't let them live in that bus, knowing that Tim would more likely than not be in the mess he's in if I didn't get evicted from my apartment. It's not safe and winter months are tough. I wanted to provide for them and..I failed. But I can't..what if..”

Dick was taken back as something wet fell down his cheek then a caress of a touch wiped it away drawing his eyes to look at Bruce.

“Trust is not easy. No matter what social status but love and protection everyone needs and I have plenty of that to go around, will you accept that? Would that be enough?”

Love? No not for him. Protection not sure if he deserved that either. Tim and Jason they..needed that. Starved of it for so long it would be a good break. As he stared at Bruce he couldn't help but notice something. He was kind...he didn't think men could be kind.

Dick shifted away from Bruce's touch. Bruce breathed once more than stepped away. “I better check on Damien.”

Dick heard his foot steps recede. As Bruce stepped out into the hall he received an answer he didn't expect.

“I..can accept that.”

 

)))))))))))

 

Jason kicked off the rail on the stool spinning his seat. Stopping every once in awhile as Lee asked him to do a test. She smiled.

“So, far you are almost in perfect health.” she said.

“Naturally.” Jason stated, kicking himself around once more.

 

Lee reached out stopped him. “Jason, I said almost.”

Jason looked up at her then kicked away from her. “Spit it out.”

 

“I noticed some scars on you that are troubling.”

 

He snorted sending himself on another circulation. “Doc, everyone gets scars not a big deal.”

Lee reached out and stopped him again this time holding the chair still with her hands. “Jason, work with me. How did you get them?”

Jason remembered back in the ally then shrugged. “I got mugged.”

 

Lee straightened. “Mugged?”

“Yeah, as in not a tea cup. It comes with the job, I just ran a tip for Tyrel and kind of went side ways. Been through worse”

 

“Who's Tyrel?”

Jason cocked an eye brow. “Sounding like an interrogation than a medical exam.”

Lee smiled. “Doctors are in many ways more powerful than even the highest rank officials out there. We do ask questions to diagnose and then to find away to apply the correct treatment.”

“So what's your diagnosis doc?”

“Depends, Will you answer me honestly when I ask further questions.”

“Probably not.” Jason shot back. “Am I dieing?”

Lee crossed her arms. “No.”

Jason stopped. revealing the genuine concern side of Jason, Lee thought she'd never see.“Is Dick?”

“I can't disclose medical information with another patient-”

Jason shot to his feet. “Screw that! Dick is not 'Another' anything he is my brother if he is dieing you tell me now!”

Lee raised up her hands. “Jason I-”

“Tell me or I swear I'll knock you to the floor and..kick your face in.”

Lee cocked an eye brow. “It would have been convincing if it weren't for the split second pause to decide what you wanted to do.”

Jason sat back down. “Bruce isn't family. Tim and Dick are WE are family. So, just because he throws his money bags around doesn't mean he has a say. Yes or no? Simple.”

 

Lee rested her arms. “How about this. You answer a question I give you honestly and I will give you my answer honestly about Dick. Fair?”

Jason eyed her suspiciously but nodded. “Shoot.”

“Have you ever been abused?”

Jason frowned. “How do you mean?”

“Physically, mentally, emotionally-”

“Sexually.” Jason finished.

A flicker of surprise passed her face but she continued. “Have you?”

Jason was quiet. “Yes”

Lee narrowed her eyes slightly. “To which one?”

Jason crossed his arms. “That is two questions. I asked you honestly, now tell me the answer to Dick.”

Lee gently placed her hand on Jason's. “I need clarification, so I can accurately place it on my chart.”

 

Jason bit the inside of his cheek as she picked up her chart and held up her pen. “Just yes or no simple.”

Jason shook his head. “Tell me Dick.”

Lee waited a moment then set her pen down on her chart. “Dick suffers from migraines for what causes them? I don't know until further exams such as MRIs and EEGs I cannot give you a full answer as of yet. As of this moment. He is not dieing. Honest answer.”

She picked up her pen and chart. “Now your turn. Yes or no.”

Silence filled the small space between them. When Lee looked at the boy in front of her the depth of seriousness was deep that it sent her pulse to quicken.

 

“To all mentioned....Yes.”

Chapter Text

Gotham City -Lower east side 3 years ago.

 

“I don't care that it's rain'n get yourself soaked until it's wringing out of your ears like a fountain for that money or it be bullets instead of water streaming down on our fucking heads!”

 

Dick leaned against the wall his breath coming out in white puffs in the night air. Peaking in his coat jacket to see he actually grab the two thick stacks of one hundred dollar bills. Jason would be jealous of this pick but secretly thrilled for sure. This would pay for rent for a good couple months this was the breath they been aching for.

He rounded several corners then climbed the pipe drain up one side of a hair studio inched his way along the window sill then with a deep breath leap to the adjacent building across from him. He ran out of the direct neon signs and out where the city grew less quiet.

The scrape of rough shingles with each step filled the air. He zipped his green spring coat up tighter, even though it was water proof, it did nothing for warmth. He ignored the goosebumps rising on his skin as a breeze made it's passing.

He made his way over to the ledge dropping down onto a stack of pallets climbing his way down. The moment his feet hit the ground he was grabbed then a knee to the gut sent him to his knees.

“Thought you were really smart.”

Dick's vision went white as a hit slammed into his side. Then hands like iron pinned him against the pallet another pair of hands found their way to the money tucked away in his pocket.

A whistle filled the air the bills rippled as a calloused thumb riffed the edges. “Quite the catch.”

Dick grunted again as he was forced to his knees. His vision clearing some to see the attacker. There was only two but the man before him was no average build. He recognized him to be a bouncer at the strip joints he knew the target would have spies but just how many he underestimated. He wasn't clueless he rarely picked in the east end too many people that were inclined to harm then aid when you got into trouble. Judging by the six foot, cut beast currently in his line of vision was a good indication he was in trouble.

Dick yanked against the arms holding him. Then a slap greeted him he glared at the other as his jaw was held.

“Boss, is going to want you.”

Dick was hauled to his feet and fought every step as he was lead across the street. The bustle of nightlife buzzed as club music pounded out into the air, arguments and car horns doing their dubious routine of clashing over deals gone wrong and trying to say this life is normal. In reality Dick knew that this was a funnel cloud and found himself rapidly losing control of what was happening.

He was led through the entrance of a club than weaved through the crowd a barrel of a gun jammed unforgettable into his side. He soon found himself pushed into a back room in a hall, stumbling behind the curtain. His legs kicked harshly out from under him, on reflex he struggled but a the grip on his shoulder curled and tightened making him wince.

A curtain rustled in the back out emerged a older man, in his late fifties early sixties. A cigar sat loosely in the corner of his mouth his salt and pepper hair combed neatly. His Armani black suit stuck out of place in a run down establishment infested with all kinds of wrong. His olive eyes honed in on Dick.

“Two bundles from the warehouse near the shipping yard.” his hired hand announced.

To confirm his statement he held up the evidence in the air. The older man didn't even flinch from their spot.

“Place it on the desk.”

Dick watched as the man in front of him stepped forward. Dick didn't break the stare then it was decided for him as he received a back hand hit against him so hard it forced his head to the side.

 

“How dare you steal from me. Hasn't your parents taught you nothing?”

Dick spat out the metallic taste from his mouth. Raising his blue to glare at the other.

“I suppose, you don't know who I am.”

Dick ignored the burning in his shoulder. “You are Tony Zucco.”

The older man chuckled out of the honest reply. He walked over to his desk, pulling out a glass and bottle of whiskey in it.

“Then you are a fool or do it for the thrill. Either way, it has won you know favors or good fortune.”

 

“I need the money and you have it.”

Tony took a gulp from his glass. “You are old enough to have a part time jon.”

 

Dick wish that was the case but the damn head aches have been so bad lately he was lucky enough to go out tonight and get the job done. He would hardly admit it to a criminal like Tony Zucco, last thing to admit was his weakness. He remained silent.”

Tony poured another few spills into the glass. “I have heard of your antics through Gotham, nothing happens in this city without me knowing. Hn, they call you 'Nightwing.' You are hard to catch, like a sly raven, doing your best work in the shadows of the night, unlike your little side kick who doesn't bother to hide his activities. Sloppy.”

Dick had taught Jason to be cautious to be level headed. If he survived this he would reenforce it. Dick tensed as Tony approached him.

“You, boy are a nuisance, a thorn in every operation happening. Others couldn't catch you.”

Dick leaned back as much as he was allowed Tony inched his face closer, Giving a menacing snarl.

“But I have and you will be punished as any crime would.” he straightened looking at his men. “Take him out back, you know what to do.”

Dick gritted his teeth, heart hammering in his chest as he was man handled down the hall and out the exit door. Shoved into the ally. The rain seemed to fall harder than last time, he stood his ground drawing his fists up.

He received amused laugh from his opponents. Then they rushed at him, he flipped back swinging out a kick managing to connect with ones jaw. Then he found the air knocked out of him as he was body slammed against the ground. He sputtered and coughed as he tried to get to his feet stars burst and exploded behind his eyes, his hearing muffled then he found the arms and feet gone. He felt a pair of large hands haul him to his feet.

“Hurry, while we have an opening to do so.”

Moments later under the safety of few dozen containers. Dick raised a hand to his ribs coughing a few times before he saw the least unlikely man. He looked like an old fashioned sea captain.

“You kid are one crazy bastard.”

Dick straightened. “Sorry, but who are you?”

“People call me Tyrel.”

“Last name?” Dick challenged.

“Now no man is dumb enough to give his full name in these parts.”

Dick winced rubbing his hand on his bruised shoulder. “How did you know I was here?”

“Jason. He pulled through for you, had a hunch where you were going tonight.”

“Yeah, well, back fired.” Dick muttered.

“I can help you two boys out, but for now you need to get back home. I'll handle things from here.”

Dick was gently ushered to a back route. Of the yard. Tyrel pointed at him.

 

“Stay smart. stay safe.”

 

)))))))))

 

Present

Dick stood in front of Tim's bed Jason gently pulling on the string of the helium balloon.

 

“Guys, we need to talk.”

Tim pulled on a simple long grey t-shirt gifted to him by Damien. “What is it Dick?”

 

“I've been thinking..” Dick began frowning as he battled the negative thoughts swirling in the back of his mind.

Jason released the string in his hand. “Thinking is a good start. What about?”

Tim slid off the bed walking over to the chair. “What is it Dick?”

Dick took a step forward. “I think we should take Bruce's offer.”

Tim halted in putting on his shoes while Jason made his way over to Dick. “Are you crazy?”

Dick ran both hands through his hair. “Probably, but we can't keep going down this road.”

Jason crossed his arms. “We have never asked for help from three pieces and you know it, we can't believe that Bruce is genuine. It's like you said, the Wayne family is the most powerful in all of Gotham, he could use that power to crush us.”

“I know, I know, but if he was going to do that. He would have done it sooner than this.” Dick stated.

“Dick's right Jay. We would have been taken down the moment we returned Damian’s wallet.”

Jay walked over to Tim picking up his shoe. “You shouldn't be bending over give me your foot.”

Tim didn't complain. “Winter is only three months away.”

Jason tied the laces on the shoe resting against his leg. Tapping Tim on the other to lift his other foot.

“I won't lie it is tempting, but we have managed on the streets for years. We all know winter is not the worst...ok, its not peaches and apples but I'd risk freezing my but then put my life in the hands of daddy Wayne and his spawn.”

Tim lowered his foot. “Actually, Damian isn't that bad.”

Jason chuckled ruffling Tim's hair. “Awe it's cute that you believe that.”

Tim smirked pushing his hand away, then looked at Dick. Seeing the internal struggle he stood gingerly to his feet.

“Dick I-” Tim was pulled back into the chair. He looked at jason who pointed at him to stay point. “I don't want you to stress yourself out.”

Dick sighed. “Look at we went through the last couple days. I don't want to be in this position again, living in that bus has done us well, but Tim you need to rest in a place that has insulation and no holes in the roof. I hate to admit it but...I don't think I am up to it either.”

“I'd take care of you both, no biggie.” Jason reminded.

Dick smiled. “That shouldn't be your responsibility, I'm not saying we have to stay permanently at the manor for now until we are full health then we can go back..”

Home? Dick couldn't believe that he was going to consider that junkyard a home, but it was for three years.

“I won't make this decision without your agreement.”

Tim turned to look at Jason who purposely avoided eye contact. Tim took hold of Jason's hand. “C'mon Jay. It's smart.”

“And safe.” Dick added.

Jason was aware of the eyes on him, he tried to ignore it but finally caved. “Fine, ok. But only until Tim is well and you sunshine figure out what the heck is up with you.”

Dick felt the weight off him lift. “Ok, it's a cautious yes.”

the sound of wheels entered the room drawing the attention of Alfred. “Pick up for Master Timothy.”

Tim went to stand but Jason gently pressed him back down earning a 'really?!' look from Tim. “Jason, I can walk two steps.”

Alfred brought the wheel chair up. “He is right to make sure you take it easy. Master Timothy.”

Jason wagged his finger at Alfred. “The butler knows, best listen to him.”

Tim rolled his eyes but complied as Jason eased him into the chair. Alfred smiled then turned the chair around and wheeled him out the door. Dick went to follow but stopped as Jason caught his arm.

“Dick if at all you change your mind let me know.”

“I will.” Dick reassured.

Bruce and Damian waited at the end of the hall by the exit doors. Damian stepped forward. “I'll take over.”

Alfred stepped aside enjoying the change of attitude from the wayne heir.

“Thank you Pennyworth.” Tim bid with a exaggerated flick of his hand.

Damien managed to make it passed the exit door before laughter filled the air. Jason and Dick stood slightly stunned. Alfred stepped forward.

“Shall we, Master Jason?”

Jason stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Whatever floats your boat.”

 

Bruce turned to Dick. “You alright?”

 

“I never said yes.”

Bruce smiled. “Your actions said it for us.”

Dick took a breath. Watching as Jason's back disappeared around the corner. Bruce waited patiently for Dick.

Dick pushed down his anxiety flicking his eyes to Bruce before he finally took the first step. Hoping towards a better future than the den of a lion.

Chapter Text

3 month later.

Jason peers over Alfred's shoulder at the sizzle sound that hypnotized him into the kitchen from his bed room.

“Whatcha cook'n Alfie?” he asked a playful twinkled in his eye.

“The meal I have prepared this breakfast is that of hash browns, eggs over easy, bacon and as requested from master Damien, sausage.” Alfred explained bringing up a hand to slap away Jason's prying one as it reached for a slice of bacon. “We do not touch with our hands master, Jason.”

 

Jason nodded. “Ok, thanks for the reminder.”

Jason removed himself from Alfred's back.

 

“I'd also, like you to replenish the sausage with the two you have in your pocket.” Alfred added.

Jason walked over to the two door fridge and pulled a package out. He placed it on the counter. “Here you go.”

“Also the scones from the table.”

Jason cocked an eyebrow slowly pulling out the scones from both his robe pockets and placed it on a plate on the counter. He took two steps towards the entrance to the living room.

Alfred cleared his throat twice.“Granola bars.”

Jason slowly turned around. Digging the bars out of his sleep pant right pocket. He turned.

“Master, Jason.” Alfred curtly said. “ALL of them.”

 

Jason huffed yanking out one from his left pocket of his pants. Placing it on the island counter beside him. Alfred turned his eyes staring at him Jason held it briefly then wordlessly lifted up the front of his shirt yanking one that was pinned by band of his pants planting it down beside the others then after another hard stare he rolled his eyes and yanked out harsher the one pinned behind him.

“Dang, snack hound!”

Alfred returned his attention back to the frying pan in front of him. “You may set the plates on the table.”

“Fine.” he caved then reached up and collected the plates.

 

“Good morning Alfred.” Bruce greeted as he entered the kitchen. “Jason.”

“Good morning, master Bruce.”

Jason walked passed him toward the table. “Morning.”

 

Damien and Tim followed soon after. A conversation of math equations that started upstairs was continued, Damien noted the small pile lumped on the counter his green eyes honing in on Jason.

“Do you ever learn?”

Jason unloaded plates around the table. “One of these times I'll get him.”

Damien scoffed slight as he took his spot at the table beside his father. “What is it 0-4?”

“0-7” Tim corrected as he took his spot in the middle of the table across from Damien.

Jason mockingly clapped his hands. “Congrats, you two can count.”

 

“Well, someone has to make up for your poor grades.” Damian shot out.”

“Boys.” Bruce warned.

Jason narrowed his eyes as Damien stuck out his tongue earning a chuckle from Tim. Alfred came forward pouring coffee into Bruce's mug; as he read the paper Bruce picked it up.

“Thank you, Alfred.”

“Of course, sir.” he turned to Jason. “Pour the juice.”

Jason hung his mouth open. “Huh, what about Tim and sir snob-a-lot?”

Alfred placed the coffee pot back in it's place. “Bad behavior has consequences. Master, Jason.”

 

Jason sighed. Then opened the fridge pulling out a pitcher of orange juice. Damian held up his cup titling it in the air.

“About half way would be good try not to spill.”

“Oh, I think I can shove this half way up your-”

“Jason.” Bruce interjected a flash of his blue eyes landing on Jason who silently filled the cup.

Damian set it down. “Thank you.”

Tim slid his over. Jason filled it Tim drew it back giving a smile earning one back from Jason. Jason filled his and Alfred's then paused.

“Does Dick have juice or coffee first?”

“Pour him the juice. Coffee can keep warm in the pot..” Tim suggested.

Bruce lowered set down the news paper. “He not up yet?”

“I think he will be down in a bit.” Damian answered.

Jason sat down at the table. “He was restless last night. Wouldn't blame him for sleeping in.”

Tim nodded. “Yeah, it's not a school day.. but it is ten, this is technically brunch sort of.”

Alfred brought over the main breakfast meal and set it in the center of the table. Bruce looked at his watch. Then back at the hot meal before them.

“You all get started.” Bruce stood and walked out of the kitchen.

 

))))

Bruce knocked on the door.

“Dick, time to get up.”

Dick didn't answer, Bruce turned the knob and found the bed empty evidence of it being occupied with the messy state it appeared in.

“Dick?”

Bruce entered deeper into the room to find he wasn't there. He furrowed his brow stepping out into the hall way, listening, before he made his way to the second floor bathroom as he approached closer to the door he saw the light on.

“Dick, breakfast is...ready.” he stood in the door way taking in the young man sitting on the floor by the toilet

Bruce came forward seeing the others eyes closed. “Dick, hey. You alright?”

Dick stirred cracking open his eyes. “... It's cooler in here.”

Bruce reached out pressing the back of his hand against the others forehead. “You don't feel hot.”

Dick winced. then groaned resting his head on his hands. “Ugh, I wouldn't have the light on if it weren't for the fact I needed to see the toilet to throw up in.”

Bruce knelt down closer. “Did you take anything for it?”

Dick groaned. “It feels like my head is splitting apart

Bruce stood walking over to the medicine cabinet about the sink. He scanned the small shelves then picked up the pill bottle alarmed about how much was left.

“Dick.” he held up the nearly empty bottle. “How often have you been taking these?”

Dick gestured weakly with his hand. “Two...three times a day. Maybe more.”

Bruce set the bottle down on the counter. Growing stern. “You can't just keeping popping these like candy.”

Dick pressed his palm tighter breath hitching. “I..just couldn't take it anymore. I have mid terms and I can't even think straight enough to do them without some relief.”

 

Bruce softened kneeling back down. “Dick, I can take you to the hospital.”

Dick wept slightly at the thought. “Not up to a car ride.”

Bruce brushed a strand of hair from Dick's eyes. “They can give you a shot of morphine.”

Dick let a sob out causing Bruce to come over to sit beside Dick. “Come here.”

Dick remained where he was leaning heavily against his hand. “I..just need to sleep but I can't get to my bed and it's too hot I-”

Bruce reached out carefully but saw Dick slightly recoil from the offer touch. He settled on the next best thing.

“I'll be right back.”

 

once out of ear shoot he took out his cell. Going through his contact list he pressed a name.

))))))))

 

Tim looked over at Dick's spot and frowned. “What's taking them so long?”

“Never mind you worry. Master, Tim.” Alfred encouraged. “Best finish your breakfast.”

Tim flicked his eyes over to where Jason was washing his plates. Damian drying them a punishment for earlier rough housing and back talk.

Tim without thinking reached for his glass but misjudged it entirely sending falling to the floor below. Capturing the attention of Damien and Jason.

Alfred stood. Sending a surge of panic through Tim that he thought he had pushed past him.

“I-I-I'm so sorry! I'll clean it up.”

Alfred watched baffled as in hurried moment Tim bent down carefully picking up the shards. Tim hands shook slightly then Alfred reached for his a flash of someone else's hands greeted his minds eyes and he cried out.
Falling back against the floor.

“I'm sorry! Please, don't lock me away!” Tim pleaded bringing his hands to his eyes. rocking back and forth.

“Tim. Tim, it's ok.”

Tim lowered his hands to see Jason in front of him. Tim blinked then in a fit of shame and despair got to his feet and ran out of the room.

 

))))

Bruce entered the main hall when Tim smacked into him startling them both. He saw brief flash tears before the youngest ran up the stair way.

“TIM! Wait!” Jason called out speeding passed him in pursuit of his brother.

Alfred and Damien found themselves mirroring the same shock and confusion as Bruce.

“What's going on?”

Alfred and Damian opened there mouth to suddenly have the door bell fill in the space. Alfred went to answer but stopped as Bruce took charge.

 

He opened the door. To see a beautiful blond woman clad in black pants a brown winter coat and red hat.

“Bruce. You were lucky I was in the area.”

“Dinah, I'm glad you came on short notice.”

The woman stepped inside looking about her than back at the billionaire.

 

“How can I help?”

Chapter Text

Jason found Tim in their room face first into their bed. Jason didn't have to ask to know Tim was crying, he walked over and sat on the edge of the bed rubbing soothing circles on the small of his back.

“Tim, hey c'mon. Everything is alright.”

Tim mumbled something into his folded arms earning a sigh from Jason. “TJ, I do not have super hearing need to speak up.”

Tim lifted his head turning away from Jason wiping his arm over his eyes so Jason didn't see his tears.

“I said I'm ok.”

Jason frowned as Tim sat up his breath hitching slightly. “Sure, you are.”

 

Dick entered the room his eyes landing on Jason and Tim who had there mouths hung open. Jason stood.

“Dick, excuse my french but...you look like all kinds of shi-.”

“Language.” Dick muttered.

He walked over to the bed Tim making space for him between him and Jason. After a few quiet moments they all let out a breath then flopped back against the mattress in unison. Jason threaded his fingers in Dicks while Dick brought his arm around Tim's shoulders. There eyes focused on the ceiling.

“I know you said we would stay here a little bit, but in case you didn't notice, Tim is healed from his surgery three months ago minus two weeks.” Jason stated.

Dick ignored how sore his eyes were. “...I know.”

 

“Dick..you should go back to the hospital. I know you want to protect us but-” Tim faltered as he saw the sadness held in his eyes.

Jason felt Dick's hands clench tighter in his own causing Jason to look at Dick seeing something more than Tim's innocent eyes did not.

“Dick what is it?”

Dick let out a shaky breath. “I..need to tell you both something.”

The tone Dick held in his voice made the air feel heavy. Jason and Tim waited as Dick composed himself enough to form some words together that would deliver the blow to their hearts with as much softness as possible. Even as he tried to remain strong he felt him crumble.

“I know what's wrong with me, I've known for three months, I've known for four years.”

Jason furrowed his brow as Tim swallowed neither saying a word. Dick's remorse seem to ripple through into Jason's hands flowing around Tim's shoulders. Dick let a few seconds pass to breathe correctly.

“I already have been to the hospital, I've had tests done, I've done all scans.”

“What? When?” Jason asked hating himself for not knowing this information.

 

“It was before I met you two, when I was twelve I collapsed under an overpass and was taken to a hospital in Bludhaven. I don't know why but I guess they decided to do the whole thing. Check me over and all that. I was frail for my age anyway, so I don't blame them. Four years on the street does that to you. I just didn't imagine what they found nor the diagnosis to be so.. so.”

Tim felt fresh tears fall down his cheeks he had never seen Dick like this, maybe he was tired. How stupid is that idea.

Jason tightened his hand locking the tension with Dick. This wasn't going to go anywhere good. Whatever this was, whatever was happening in this moment was sending him into heart palpitations at record shattering rate.

Dick's eyes never left the ceiling in fear if he did make eye contact with either of his brothers he would lose hold on the narrow string of control he had. Spit it out Dick, how hard could it be? Say the damn words and get it over with. He took another breath.

“I have a build up of inter-cranial pressure.”

Jason mouth went dry Tim blinked trying to process through the overwhelming information. He has read books he's heard of it he knows it so well that he mentally fabricated a list of causes. Dick on cue winced bringing a hand to his head adding unintended drama to the whole confession process.

“Inter-cranial-” Jason clumsy repeated his throat feeling incredibly dry.

A beat of silence. One.two.three.four.five.

“I have-”

A cleared throat sent a Shockwave disrupting the tension causing all three boys to gasp then sit up. Alfred stood in the doorway. “You all are summoned to the living room, as requested by master Bruce.”

 

The trio stared at the older man each battling the churning emotions that funneled in their core. Dick found his voice first.

“We're coming.”

Alfred bowed slightly then left the room. Jason and Tim grabbed at Dick simultaneously, Dick smiled as best he could.

“We better get down there.”

Jason yanked Dick back down on the bed losing all regard for his migraine. “We are not leaving this room because crumpet says we must.”

Tim got up and closed the door. Locking it. Dick blinked at Tim then eyes landing on Jason who stared with an intensity he didn't think any sixteen year old kid harbored.

Tim sat back down on the left side of Dick his hands folded in his lap. Dick stared at his feet Jason resting his hand over Dick's.

“Like a band aid, yeah? Fast.”

Dick blinked tear escaping down his cheek as fear and anguish melted into a horrible few syllables in his mouth then washing over his tongue spilling into the air.

“I have a tumor.”

Dick felt Jason's grip tighten the air in the room vacuumed out. Each acutely aware of each others
presence then at the same time being on a planet eons away. Dick had to finish plunging the blade in, he gasped out feeling the grip on his hand tighten as he spoke.

“It''s in operable.”

 

One. Two. Jason's heart stopped followed by Tim's. Dick's sped up as he had to deliver the finishing blow.

“I'm...dieing.”

Jason let out a breath,Tim doing the same seconds later. Dick felt the hand loosen over his.

Silence.

Jason felt confusion and anger looking over at Dick. “I could shove the whole curse word dictionary in your mouth, to emphasize how much this fucking sucks! Why didn't you tell me, why didn't you tell us?!”

“I meant to.”

Jason stood waving his arm in the air. “When? When? at your freaking funeral?!”

“Jason just-”

“Don't you dare tell me to calm down Richard!” Jason fumed but the layer beneath was a world of hurt

“Jason.”

Jason ran both hands over his mouth turning once to breathe in a few times to lower the feelings he had buried so deep with in him came roaring back with a ferocity he underestimated. He let out a frustrated huff then turned back to Dick.

“You don't trust us or something?!”

Dick felt a needle of hurt into his heart. “I trust you both, you know I do.”

Jason incredulously shook his head. “You lied to us for FIVE YEARS!”

Dick knitted his brow suddenly feeling on the defensive. “I didn't! I pushed it back as soon as you and Tim entered the picture-”

Jason stepped forward pointing at Dick. “Don't you EVEN go there! Don't say we were the reason. Don't blame US for your cowardice!”

Dick stood. “I'm not Jason, it's just the truth! My life changed the moment you and Tim walked into my life.”

Jason lowered his arm. “I am sick and tired of people treating me like crap. Either telling me how pathetic and a piece of shit I am. Using me as there punching bag when they need to unleash their anger , molesting my mind and my body. I'm a big boy Dick, you should have told me! I'd expect this from monsters that devoured me day in and day out. Now that I think of it... I'd sooner run drugs on the streets then stand in the same room as you!”

 

Dick grabbed Jason by the arm. “I didn't mean to hurt you.”

Jason ripped his arm out of Dick's grip. “You didn't give any consideration about us!”

 

Blue eyes darkened as they locked on to Jason. “I lived my life for you! I gave every fibre of my being to make sure BOTH of you were safe! THAT you HAD the chance, to Have a better life than I did! I provided FOOD and clothes and-”

 

“AND WHAT?! It was all a WASTE in the end wasn't it!”

“JASON JUST SHUT UP!”

Jason and Dick turned to see Tim who remained on his spot on the bed. Rise. His eyes glistening with tears that had flowed down his cheeks the entire time wetting the backs of his hands. He stepped forward.

“It wasn't Dick's FAULT! And it..it isn't YOURS!” Tim expressed outwardly in years.

The raw, unbridled anguish flowing from Tim broke down the hot anger searing out of Jason's being.

Jason failed to keep his own tears from breaking out as he blinked several repetitions. Then doing a very Tim move. Wiped his arm across his eyes.

“...crap.” he managed out. “This..this sucks.”

Tim then sobbed turning away. Dick looked between the two he breathed out walking back to sit on the bed.

He stared at the floor willing his own tears back, after all he was the big brother, he was supposed to be strong. Composed.

“You know that, right?”

Tim and Jason looked over at Dick.

“If I could, I would change everything! For you two? I would do it for eternity. You are my family always will be. I..I would never do this to harm you, after all these years, you HAVE to know that right?!”

Dick winced then sobbed as he couldn't bear the thought of his own failures. “Y-You have to know. I love you. I..love you. I would never...never...nev.”

He broke down. Weeping uncontrollably. He felt pressure on his right than on his left.

“Of, course.” Jason stated. “And don't let this get to your head but...I love you too.”

Dick couldn't help but let out a small chuckle lowering his hand to look over at Jason. He then looked over at Tim who simply took hold of his hand and squeezed it. All faced back to look at the door in front of them.

Collectively they breathed then fell back against the covers.

“crumpet is waiting for us.” Jason muttered sadly.

Dick sighed. Then drew Jason and Tim closer.

“Let them wait...at least, for a little while longer”

 

))))))))))))

 

Dinah looked over at Bruce as they stood in the hall. “YOU. Have to tell me everything.”

Chapter Text

A spoon clinked against the cup as it dropped the excess coffee back into the swirling black pool.

“You know, Bruce, when I told you find something to fill the empty space that your wife ripped open when abandoned you and your son. I didn't says save the world and everyone in it.”

Bruce turned placing the cup on the island. “Bit of an exaggeration don't you think?”

Dinah wrapped her hand around the cup. “You forget that you are in the media almost twenty-four seven and every time it's Bruce Wayne donates 2 million dollars to a Children's hospital in China another million to a fund in India another in Gotham for another in metropolis exct exct exct. And now you take in three homeless kids into your care.”

Bruce set down his own cup leaning on the counter. “Never thought giving away my money to a good cause would be considered a bad thing.”

Dinah looked down at her mug. “Of course not, but I can't help thinking that you are living vicariously through your fortune.”

“I feel greedy if I don't give it away. You know I never wanted Wayne Enterprises and I cringe that one day Damian will take on the mantle.”

Dinah looked at Bruce. “I get it, but..you have enough on your plate and first thing you do is take on three homeless children into your care.”

Bruce took a seat beside her. “It not as reckless as you make it sound. I didn't plan on it, it kind of happened.”

Dinah straightened. “ 'Kind of' is not concrete you must have lead them on or vice versa.”

 

Bruce almost laughed at that. “Dinah, it wasn't like that at all. I didn't drive down the roads and shopped for children to take home.”

Dinah sighed. “No of course not. Just how did this come to be?”

“My son.”

Dinah eye brows shot up. “Go on.”

Bruce smirked then took a sip of his drink. “His wallet was stolen. It was three days of hell trying to get it back and canceling all credit cards in hopes we weren't too late.”

Dinah shook her head. “He always learns the hard way. Still pushing the limits of your parenting I imagine, but what does it have to do with the three boys up stairs?”

Bruce didn't answer. She clicked it together. “Ah, so you not only took in children but thieves.”

“As Jason told me once. 'It's borrowing with an extended IOU.”

Dinah touched his arm. “Bruce, you can't fix everyone.”

Bruce looked at her. “Dinah, these boys could have went to town on the amount of money they had in their possession; but they chose to come from across the city, knock on my door, and personally hand it back to me. I don't know many who would do that. I know I wouldn't.”

Dinah nodded. “I'm not saying they aren't worth helping it's just-”

Bruce shook his head sadden by a memory. “Did you know that Tim had never had a bowl of ice cream until he came here? Or that Jason has the survival instincts instilled in like any combat soldier has or that Dick is a kid himself, despite his own sufferings, has practically raised his brothers on the streets of, or if not, the Worst city for crime rate. Illegal trafficking both drugs and people, it has sky rocketed just going by police reports alone. Then there is prostitution, gang wars, you name it. Then you have kids like Tim, Jason, and Dick who are navigating through mine field of trouble. They either succumb to it or they fight. No one to be there for them. I have the resources, I can give them what they need.”

“I'm not disputing that I'm worried that with all the problems that you have yet to come to terms with, that you could be getting over your head.”

“Maybe you're right, but after 11 years of cleaning up after Talia's wrecking ball. I like to think that I have learned and grown from that, including Damian and I'm not alone Alfred has been outstanding through all of it.”

A few breaths of silence.

Do you know there last names?”

Bruce scratched the back of his head. “Jackson. Dick mentioned it once in passing and not directly to me. I had to put that as their last name for Lee to use.

Dinah picked up her cup as she thought. “I could look at medical could come up with something. I will have to talk with Lee to sort it all out. Your call was rather sudden and unexpected.”

 

Bruce pushed his drink aside turning toward her. “Dinah.”

Just then footsteps entered the kitchen causing both adults to stand. Jason looked between the two.

“Who is this? Victoria secret?”

Bruce cleared his throat. “No, this is a friend of mine.”

Dinah smiled softly clasping her hands neatly in front of her. “Hi, I've heard so much about you.”

Dick slid his hand in his sleep pant pockets while Tim stared at a tile on the floor.

“I know men who have 'friends. So, what street corner did you pick her up from?”

“Jason.” Dick threw out.

 

“It's alright. Dick.” Dinah stated. She smiled at Jason. “I get that a lot, but if you like I could tell you more of myself and would like to get to know you better. Bruce has told me wonderful stories.”

 

Jason bumped his arm against Tim.“Hear that guys? That's code talk. For 'I'm a psychiatrist and I want to find out if you are crazy or not.' “

 

Tim shook his head. “I'm not.”

Dinah looked at Bruce who simply gave a knowing look. “Street Smarts.”

Dinah took a step forward. “There is more to psychiatry then that awful cliché.”

Jason walked over to the fridge opening the door he looked at what he wanted.

“Tell that to the people in Arkam.” he shot back shutting the door plate in hand of left over breakfast.

Dick sat down at the table Tim coming over to sit beside him. Dinah noted the trace marks of the crying that took place a half hour before they entered the kitchen. She looked at Bruce knowing he too must have seen it. He slid one hand in his pant pocket leaning the other against the counter.

 

Jason had popped the plate into the microwave setting it for a minute and a half. Dinah took in how Jason focused on the task at hand while Tim fidgeted with his robe tie and Dick looked out the window all avoiding eye contact with either of them.

Dinah walked over to the table and pulled out a chair. “Listen, it's true I diagnose mental illnesses but psychiatry does more than that. We help those who are in pain the same as-

Jason pressed the end button on the cycle taking the plate over. “Real doctors do.”

 

Bruce turned to Jason who had taken out cutlery. “She's a certified physician.”

 

Jason wordlessly brought the plate over to the table and placed it in front of Dick. Tim took the cutlery from him and placed it beside the plate.

“I want to help.”

“Thanks, but no thanks.” Jason shot out walking back over to the fridge.

“Is there a reason why you're so reluctant to have me help you?” Dinah asked voice calm.

 

Jason pulled out the orange juice. “I met you like two minutes ago and you expect me to just say yes, ma'am? Yeah, no.”

“Dick.” Tim urged with a tap on his arm. Catching Dinah's attention to watch as the younger pulled a part a piece of bacon and handed it to Dick.

Dick smiled weakly wordlessly taking it pulling off little bits and letting them sit in his mouth. She watched a beat longer.

“Bruce tells me you've been having migraines.”

Dick halted mid chew then raised his eyes over to Bruce who remained quiet and observing. He set down his bacon.

 

“Listen, I get what you're trying to do but we're fine.”

“I find that you have to ask 'How are you doing?' twice, even three times to get the honest answer. It is such an automated response. 'I'm fine.'”

Dick sat back in his chair. Jason came over a glass of orange juice in his hand he offered it to Dick who shook his head. Jason paused than drank a mouthful.

“Let me ask you this,When was the last time you last felt good?” she looked at Jason “Or Great?”

Jason lowered the glass slightly as an image of him play at a play ground whisked passed him. Was he like, what? Five?

Dinah caught the hesitation from him then she looked at Tim. “Or Joy. Real happiness.”

Tim saddened some turning his eyes down to his hands. “I..don't know.”

“I can help you with all this.” Dinah eyes landed on Dick, She reached out across the table.

 

“A hug Or a loving touch-” she was taken a back at the abruptness Dick recoiled his hand away from hers.

 

Dick stood. “I want to sleep.”

Jason set down his cup on the table then followed Dick. Tim looked at the woman across from him then at Bruce his silence palpable as his thinking took over Dinah looked over her shoulder at Bruce then back at him.

“Tim? Is there something you want to say?”

 

Jason and Dick turned to look at him. Tim stood then eyes landed on them. “Maybe...it isn't such a bad idea.”

Jason and Dick shared a look with each other Jason was on the fence as well, looking to Dick for the be the tipping point.

“Dick.”

Dick hated the idea as his demons started roaring in the depths of his brain. Talking..what good would that do? Wouldn't change anything. Or would it? He felt everyone's eyes on him. He closed his briefly before making the decision for them all.

 

“We will..” his heart thudded. “We...”

Dinah saw the struggle in the young man. She stood. “It's hard making a decision like this for a collective. I ask. “What do YOU want?”

 

Dick blues landed on hers. It's been so long since someone asked him that? Somehow feeling that question was fully loaded with much more than what it was meant to be. What did he want?

He broke his stare drifting his focus to the ground. “What I want doesn't matter.”

Dinah waited.

“But.” Dick looked at Tim then at Jason. “If the two of you feel like you should then...do it.”

 

Jason watched as Dick left the kitchen. He was still sitting uncomfortably on that fence, he rubbed the back of his neck.

“I...going to think about it.”

 

Dinah nodded. Jason offered a slight smile before he exited. She looked at Bruce who was uncertain how to feel with this result.

 

“I”

Dinah turned to Tim who still sat a the table his focus on his hands. He still was playing tug of war with his heart and head. He had to choose one. But what he wanted was not easy it wasn't just one thing it was a million things and in the end did was Dick right did it matter?

“Yes, Tim?” Dinah asked softly.

 

Tim glanced at her then looked at Bruce. “I was..wondering if it was ok to bring the plate upstairs in case Dick wanted to eat?”

Bruce shook his head. “You no the rules.”

Of course he did. Tim was good at that. Following rules.

“Right.”

Tim stood making his way to the entrance then froze clenching his fists and unclenching them as he still battled the voice in his head. He took a step forward..then another step.

He still hadn't made his choice. He never had to make one just for himself not without knowing the fallout that could impact Jason and Dick.

Dinah and Bruce waited. Then Tim..

left.

Bruce came to Dinah's side. “They...are closed off at the best of times. I'm sorry it wasn't what you were hoping for.”

“On the contrary.” she looked at Bruce. “With words very few but, in the spaces between it's blown wide open. I have no idea how these kids are functioning as well as they are.”

 

One set of footsteps came back into the room...

 

“I'll talk.”

Chapter Text

“What made you change your mind?”

Dick looked at Dinah sitting across from him, legs crossed on the sectional in Bruce's study. He shrugged but inside he was trying to lower the red flags flapping in his head.

Dinah watched carefully at the young man. She smiled. “I hear you are working to become a police officer, a noble job.”

 

Flashes of a switch blade and hands on his body sent a pang of panic in him he covered up the dismembered memories of his childhood.

“I never thought is as noble, just want to protect those who can't do so for themselves.”

Dinah nodded then saw his hands rub against each other. Back and forth back and forth. “I'm sure you have seen many examples out on the streets.”

 

“Too many.” Dick stated.

“I sure it's not a stretch to say that you haven't experienced it first hand.”

Dick flicked his eyes to her then was greeted once more by gnawing memories of bruising muggings, searching through dumpsters, then sleeping in the streets in the winter almost feeling the bite on his skin. Then hands and rapid breathing and fear and guilt and.

Dick pushed those memories back then met her face. “I'm here not to talk about me, it's not necessary. Jason and Tim ar-”

“Why do you say it's not necessary?”

Dick furrowed his brow. “What?”

 

She leaned forward. “In the kitchen you say it doesn't matter what you want. This is the second time you have pushed yourself out of the circle. I ask why?”

 

“It..why is not important Tim and Jason are younger they need all the help they can get.”

Dinah sat back. “Yes..you have taken care of them for a long time, but you have value, you need help as well.”

Dick rested an arm on the back of the love seat. “It would be a waste of time.”

“Deflection number three. Dick, you-”

“Just drop it. Ok? What matters is my brothers.”

Silence.

“How did you come to care for them, how did you meet?”

 

Dick mind slid to a less aggressive place and into one that brought him peace.

 

“I met Jason when he was eleven..”

 

)))))))))))

Abandon sector Gotham -Four Years ago

 

Dick strolled down the side walk the sun beginning it's decent as orange and red light bloomed behind him. The Gotham skyline silhouetted in the distance. He would come out here to just have silence, once in awhile a dog would bark spotting the air but it was always background noise.

He ignored the rumbling of his stomach the smiling faces of his parents kept him company as he took each step. To say his heart ached was an understatement, his parents were all he loved even more than any performance they did together. They were his life and with them gone, he was gone as well, a shall of what he used to be.

He stopped, then with a snap of his hand his fingers enclosed around a wrist. With probably too much aggression he pushed away his would be assaulter and then froze. Taking in the grey sport pants, green
t-shirt a faded brown stripe across the front. White sneakers that had seen better days going by the duck tape along the ridge of his right foot and up the back of his left.

Dick cautiously watched as the boy before him rubbed his own wrist. “Why are you following me?”

 

The boy turned his lighter shade of blue on Dick's. “I wasn't.”

 

Dick remained where he stood as the other grimaced then dropped his hand down to his side. “Stealing from me is not going to help you any.”

 

The boy pursed his lips then laughed. Earning a glare from Dick. “That is amazing. You should be the poster child.”

Dick frowned. “What?”

“You know, the whole calling the kettle black? You steal from people all the time.”

Dick remained quiet as the other stepped forward. “Besides, I wasn't stealing I was trying to discreetly give you something but back fired.”

Dick watched as the other bent down to pick up what had been dropped in the encounter. He stretched out his offering.

“I stole it from a convenient store, because, well, it's convenient.”

Dick tore his eyes from him to look at the chocolate bar. “Thanks but-”

“C'mon I know you haven't eaten for like twenty-four hours.” He prodded with a wave.

Dick took it. “Thanks.”

“Don't mention it.”

Dick resumed walking sticking the bar in his coat pocket. He blinked turning to see the other following him, he stopped.

“You gave me what you wanted.”

“I know but..I want to hang with you if it's ok?”

Dick thought for a moment then nodded. “I guess it's fine.”

“So what's your name?”

“Dick.”

The other scoffed then shook his head. “My condolences.”

Dick glanced over seeing the other take out pack of cigarettes from a pocket along his leg. “How old are you kid?”

 

“Eleven. And I'm not 'kid' it's Jason.”

“You do know, those are bad right?”

 

“I know, but..” Jason pulled out one from the box and placed it in his mouth puffing out his chest. “Makes me look tough.”

Dick shook his head. “It makes you look like a eleven year old with a cigarette in his mouth.”

Jason released the air pulling the cigarette out of his mouth he looked at it. “I should have pocketed a lighter but two things was good enough in a day. Cops frown upon shoplifters.”

Dick continued down his path. Jason slid the cigarette back in the box and the box into his pocket.

“So, where are you from?” Jason asked trying to lighten the mood with small talk.

 

“No where.” Dick simply answered.

Jason cocked an eye brow. “No where? Seriously, where are you from?”

Dick shrugged. “It used to be everywhere but now...it's no where.”

Jason scratched his head. “Is this a riddle? I hate riddles, they have a whole shop dedicated to it downtown. “They have a cardboard cut out outside their door of a goofy looking guy in green, black question marks all over his suit. 'The Riddler.' Tch, real original. Creeps me out.”

Dick continued to walk in silence. Jason continued right along side him stretching his arms out to the side to balance as he tight walked the line between the road and sidewalk.

“I'm from Gotham.”

 

“My condolences.” Dick stated causing Jason to smirk in amusement.

 

“It could be worse, I could have lived in Bludhaven. I mean,even the sewage drains are nauseated by the smell.”

Dick couldn't help by grin. Jason caught it and smiled widely. “So, the silent one does smile!”

Dick stumbled slightly as Jason wrapped his arm around Dick's side. “Say, can I live with you, everywhere and no where sounds fun.”

“I don't have a home base. The shelter with the best roof wins.”

“Good enough for me.” Jason said hoping back up on the side walk.

 

They walked in silence. Enjoying one another company.

 

)))))))))

Present.

Dinah smiled. “It must have been some comfort to have someone by your side.”

Dick nodded. He could agree to that. “Yeah..it was, but things became difficult.”

 

“More difficult, how?”

Dick saddened. “My headaches became more of a challenge. I tried when it was tolerable but..Jason ended up picking up where I couldn't. Sometimes, Jason tends to rush into things, very fearless but that also leads to trouble. I found him in rough shape once and told myself no matter how bad I felt, I would not leave him to fend on his own.”

 

“You were sick and you were a child yourself. That kind of responsibility would be a lot for an adult let alone a eleven and thirteen year old. It's hard.” Dinah

Dick gave slight scoff casting his eyes down. “Hard. I don't think I knew what hard was until..”

“Until what?” Dinah asked both curious and to encourage.

 

Dick was lost in thought his hands had stopped it's tedious motion as a memory of snow and metal. Even through all that hell he went through he never had seen anything like it. Or met anyone like..

 

“Dick..until what?”

Dick looked back at the concerned eyes staring at him.

“I met Tim.”

 

))))))))))))))

Gotham Northside harbour -3 years ago

 

“Tell you Tyrel is the best.” Jason said sniffing into the bag of Chinese food.

 

“Until I see him myself I will be cautiously optimistic. And close the bag you're letting the hot out.” Dick reminded.

Jason took one more deep in hale before tying the bag shut. “So, how did you get this food? We've picked big pockets but this..this is 'Huge' pockets.”

 

Dick rubbed his hands together to bring warmth back into the his numb hands. “Don't worry about it right now we need to find shelter and away from this water.”

“Copy that.”

The two boys made there way through the early evening air talking as always to keep their minds off of their latest enemy the cold winter bite and the lazy bits of snow drifting to the ground below.

“I think if we ever find shelter that isn't invested with rats or bats or both we would be great.” Jason suggested as he cradled the food inside his coat.

“I'll work on it.” Dick replied with a chuckle bringing his scarf closer to his his face.

 

Jason had gloves and a toque selvage with what was left at any homeless shelter in the dead of November all beds filled in record time as well as any food. They passed a chain link fence the sound of there feet scuffed the side walk.

“Dick, did you do anything for Christmas?”

Dick nodded. “Yeah. It wasn't much but it was great. Mom and dad always tried to make it as special as possible depending where we settled for the winter. Made sand castles on the beach in Florida and ate turkey sandwiches.”

Jason smirked. “Special is one way of putting it.”

Dick caught the teasing look and bumped against Jason. “Cheeky.”

 

“I never did anything. Well, at my foster home did once but it never..it was eventful lets put it that way.” Jason shared. “Did you get presents?”

“Dick?” Jason turned to see the other staring off across the fence. He came forward. “What's up?”

“Listen.”

Jason titled his head. “I don't hear anything.”

“Sshh.” Dick reminded lifting his hand up to emphasize his point.

A moment they stood then a small sound did make it's self known. Jason blinked in surprise. “It sounds like...crackling. Not fire.”

“It's coming from in there.” Dick said

Jason frowned. “It's a junkyard. It could be just animals who knows what's crawling in there.”

Dick ignored and hurled himself over the fence. Jason did so not so graciously landing sloppily on his feet he looked up in time to see Dick disappear behind a pile of Cars.

“Dick.” Jason called running after him.

Dick came to a stop. Listening once more causing Jason to glance around him the sound not making it's appearance.

“Seriously, Dick we have better chance of finding something when it's not-”

“A-choo.”

Dick and Jason turned there eyes to a old brown and beige chevy truck pocketed with rust. Jason moved in close to his brother.

“Huh..did the truck just sneeze at us?”

Dick made his way over to the front of the rusted vehicle and was shocked to see a mop of black hair resting against the passenger door window. Dick observed the shivering form the crackle sound greeting his ears causing Jason and him to share a look.

The head moved peering over his shoulder to see the strangers awe but gawking at him. Startled he cried out scrambling away from the door to sit on the drivers side. Dick held up his hands to show he mean't no harm pointing at the handle on the door. Then slowly he pushed the button popping it open.

“Hey.”

The sea blue eyes scanned Dick up and down, silently, he flinched as Jason peaked over Dick's shoulder. To the older's surprise Dick found himself being yanked back.

“Jason what on-”

“Dick that...remember when you found me in that ally way?”

“Hard to forget. What about it?”

Jason lowered his voice. “That's the kid who rescued me.”

Dick looked back at the boy in front of him. Then Jason gently pushed Dick aside. Taking over.

“Hey, I don't know if you remember me. I was the one.”

“Jason.”

Jason was taken a back by the small voice that acknowledged him. He then smiled. “Yeah, I'm Jason and this.” He waved his hand in the direction of Dick. “This is Dick, he's my brother.”

The boy sniffled then coughed again followed by a sneeze. He shivered the sound of crackling in his coat that was way to big for him. The sleeves reaching to the floor of the truck.

“Hey, why don't you come with us. We'll find better shelter.”

Tim shook his head.

“I won't bite. Can we join you? We have food.” he showed the bag tucked in his coat.

Tim frowned slightly as he thought then he nodded. Jason hopped in followed by Dick closing the door.

“This..is cozy except for the whole in the back window.” Jason noted.

Then to both Dick and Jason's surprise they watched as Tim reached behind the seats and pulled out a stack of news paper and handed it to them.

Jason shared a look with Dick.

 

“Not into the whole reading the newspaper thing.” Jason looked at the date. “Look Dick we can catch up what's happening from 1999.”

 

Tim tapped Jason's shoulder then unzipped his coat to see the culprit for the crackling sound. The other boys stared at the news paper tucked inside.

“Insulation.”

Jason slapped Dick with the back of his hand. “Told you that's what it's used for.”

Dick rolled his eyes. “As if.”

Tim coughed into his hand deep and rattling. Dick saw the flushed cheeks of the other. “Jay I don't like the sound of that cough.”

Jay nodded. “Yeah, I hear it too. Tyrel had a shipment coming in two days ago with medicine could see if he has-”

Tim reached down again to show a small bottle.

“Cough medicine.”

 

Tim set the bottle down then reached up to the eye shield to reveal a flashlight tapped to it. Reaching once more behind the seat he passed them over a blanket.

Jason and Dick couldn't believe it. Tim plunked back against the seat and pointed at the glove compartment. Dick opened it to actually find a pair of mitts and behind it several energy bars.

“You'll get frost bite.” Tim simply said.

Dick welcomed the comfort he smiled his thanks. Jason opened the bag “I am starving shall we?”

Tim got on his hands and knees reaching behind the passenger seat and pulled out a small tin box. Jason and Dick were stunned as Tim opened the lid and passed them a fork each.

 

Jason shook his head in awe. “You are a regular Mary Poppins.”

 

“No. Tim.” Tim answered simply.

After a good meal split three ways. By then the blanket was draped over them; talking mostly between Dick and Jason, after the sun had long set Tim turned the flashlight on and stuck it on the dash board. Filling the dark space in a blue glow.

Tim coughed on and off then to Jason surprise he pressed closer against him. Dick smiled at the sight.

“He feels safe with you.”

Jason remained still staring at Tim as he fell asleep. He pulled Tim closer to him. “He has a fever I'll see Tyrel tomorrow.”

“Good idea.”

“You do realize we have one more mouth to feed right?”

Dick moved closer to Jason. “I'm ok with that.”

Jason thought back to the ally and how Tim had been his knight in shining Armour. He softened at the thought.

“Yeah..me too.”

 

))))))

Present.

 

“He had the resourcefulness that Jason and I didn't. I mean, we used paper for kindling not to keep us warm all winter long. He had been living in that truck and running those streets for four months if not longer.”

“What you all have been through is extraordinary.”

Dick hummed in response. After a beat of silence Dinah leaned forward. “Can I ask you a personal question?”

 

Dick breathed out. “I guess.”

 

“Who hurt you?”

Dick felt his pulse quicken. “No one.”

“I don't believe that. You recoil at any physical interaction and extremely uncomfortable when someone gets close to you.”
Dick felt a shiver down his spine as he was thrown back to the aggressive nature of his abuser and then plunging the blade into flesh. He stood abruptly.

“I'm done for today.”

Dinah didn't have time to respond as she found herself sitting alone. The ticking of the clock filling the space that Dick had left.

Chapter Text

“If at all you feel uncomfortable just let me know.”

 

Tim sat cross legged on the floor. Toying with a loose end on the m hem of his pant leg. Dinah smiled titling her head and bending to catch his attention.

“Dick has told me you are quite the tough cookie.”

Tim met her face then cast his eyes down. “No more than he or Jason are.”

“May I ask how you came to be on the streets?”

Tim remembered the last moments he saw his mother. Then shook his head. “I don't remember much, I was young.”

“Where have you been living, was it always the junkyard?”

 

“No...well sort of. I don't know.” Tim fumbled caught between being truthful and keeping his secrets.

 

Dinah eyed him. “What is the earliest memory?”

Tim turned his head to the side as he fought against the fear that encapsulated his heart. How could he mention anything prior to that night? Dick and Jason didn't even know, they didn't know the pain the terror. He had to give the woman in front f him an answer.

“I..mainly stayed in the rail yard. I love trains, you know. Wasn't all that bad, it was fun.”

Dinah eye brows shot up. “Fun? being homeless?”

“Better than..” he cut himself off then back tracked. “Yeah, better to be optimistic than pessimistic.”

 

Silence.

“Alfred, has told me that you had an extreme reaction to a glass breaking on the floor. Can you tell me why?”

Tim turned his eyes back to her. This. Wasn't going to be as easy as he thought, he could be tactical like walking through a verbal mine field. He could do it but with a lot of effort.

“Bruce, has expensive things. You would be upset too if you broke something like that.”

 

“Of course, anyone would feel 'Bad' about it but..panicked? No.”

“I wouldn't say panicked.” Tim defended. A little too quickly.

“Then what would you call it?”

Tim frowned settling back he thought then answered. “Startled or..like you say bad.”

 

Dinah saw the hesitation and the constant grind of the wheels turning in Tim's head. She smiled warmly.

“You know, you can tell me anything. What you say in this room will not go passed the door.”

Tim eyed her then back to his pant leg. “That isn't true.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because I'm a minor. We all are and since Bruce has had us in his care then it would be obvious to share your findings to him as a doctor. Tag you also being his friend, then the probability heightens. I'm not mad at you. It's your job. Nothing more.”

Dinah remained quiet for a moment realizing this boy before her was not like many twelve year old's.

Tim moved his hand up to the string on his hoodie swirling it around his finger. “Is there another question?”

Dinah nodded. “I was going to ask Dick but he ran off, so I will ask you.”

Tim met the gentle hazel staring at him she smiled. “Where are your parents Tim?”

Tim's heart skipped a few beats causing him to turn his jagged feelings to strategic talk back.

“They're away.”

Tim slapped himself in the face causing Dinah to grow concern. “Tim?”

Tim rubbed his cheek. “Sorry, habit.”

“Habit for what?”

Tim shrugged. “Just a weird one. How long have you known Bruce?”

“Awhile, ten years if you must know.” she offered.

“That is awhile. Did you go to the same school. I saw a picture of you and him when you were younger. I thought university or something. Or maybe you were best friends you didn't have a gown but you were wearing his cap. Actually the way you-”

“Tim.”

Tim blinked looking at her.

“You're babbling.”

Tim remained quiet then turned back to his cuff of his pants. Dinah took a breath. “I only ask because..despite how incredibly similar you are to Jason and Dick for looks.No one would ever second guess it if you said it.”

 

“Said what?” Tim muttered.

“That you are brothers.”

Tim stopped his hand. “Well, we are brothers.”

“But not blood.”

Tim felt a surge of anger rise in him. “So, what if we aren't! That doesn't mean we don't care about each other or rely on each other. They are my family!”

Dinah raised her hands up in surrender. “I'm not saying they aren't. I just...trying to solve a mystery. I have some of the pieces but just don't know what the picture is. I'm trying to help you.”

Tim rested deeper into the love seat tipping his head back to look at the ceiling. “..What good would that do.”

Dinah leaned forward. “Tim, everyone needs help. It's as constant as change and just as important as air. There is no shame in it.”

Tim saddened. “No..but if not done right. There is pain.”

 

))))))))

 

Gotham Heights 7-years ago

 

Janet sat to the left of her husband while Tim sat beside her right. The meal in front of them increasingly getting cold as they waited for him to consume his dinner. Janet, in contrast to her immaculate appearance, dawned in a mauve fit and flare formal dress, hair neatly french braided and pinned ornately around her head. Her lips a gentle red. The tell tale signs of distress was the shake of her hands clasped in her lap.

Beside her was Tim dressed equally perfect in a simple grey suit and tie. He was quiet just like his mother but the restraint in a twenty-four year old was nearly not as unstable comparative to a five year old. Tried he may Janet taught him every chance she could, manners and etiquette following the importance of obedience.

While his father taught him punishment and consequence. This. Was one of those evenings. They did not speak, nor touched, or ate. The savory smell of their dinner was ghosted away as the time passed the sound of cutlery against plate filled the dining room. Tim shifted ever so slightly in his seat as his father reached for his wine glass and took a sip. Tim wanted to look at his mother for permission but he was to remain unmoving and silent.

Janet felt her son's increasing desperation. Not only was it passed his meal time it was also passed his bed time. The air was thick and heavy hanging over the table as Jack cut into his salmon and roasted potatoes and suated assortment of veggies that Janet painstakingly made to get everything right. Plate to not have any sign of blemish be it food or cracks. Cutlery polished and wine poured exactly to the right measurement.

It was as if a powder keg had been rigged to the table beneath them. Tim's eyes flicked over to jack as he took another sip of his drink then ina heart stopping moment his arm darted out from his lap. Janet broke her own posture.

“Tim. No.” she quickly warned as his hand clasped around his drink.

Jack moved his eyes to look between the two. “Did I not specifically give you instructions not to SPEAK or move!”

Janet turned to her husband. “He is hungry and thirsty.”

A darkness flashed behind the brown eyes then in a horrifying motion Jack pushed his chair back and stood.

“I will teach him what it means to follow rules in this house.”

“He knows! He knows.” Janet reinforced standing.

Jack eyed her his disdain coating thickly in his voice. “Here you are blatantly defying me. He learns it from his incompetent mother.”

Janet glared gripping her husband by his arm. “Don't you dare touch him.. I will not allow you to-”

She let out a cry as she was back hand against her cheek whipping her head to the right. In that jarring moment Tim jumped in doing so knocked the glass in hand to drop against the table.

Jack stalked over to him watching in disgust as the water spilled along the oak table. Dripping a small stream to the floor below. Tim quickly tried to up right the glass, but in his shaky grip he managed to lift it but ended sending the glass to the floor shattering it.

Janet new what her son did not, she saw the match lit then in a horrifying moment watched as jack snatched the back Tim's chair and slid it harshly away from the table jarring him out to hit the floor. Wide eyed he stared at his father as he shook him.

“You ignorant, stupid boy!” Jack yelled then forcefully made him look at the mess. “You will clean up every shard.”

Janet ran forward pushing passed him as she heard Tim whimper. “Jack enough!”

Jack threw a growl in her direction then pushed Tim to the floor his left palm coming to rest on a thin piece he let out a cry. Janet reached out to him but let out a wail as she was grabbed by the hair of her head roughly being pulled back.

Jack steamed pointing at the shards. “Pick.Up.Your. Mess.”

Tim remained in his spot then jumped as Jack glowered at his son. “NOW! Timothy!”

Tim blinked then doing as he was told picked up each shard put it back on the table. Janet's breath quickened, as she was made to watch, filling the air, as Tim did his task wordlessly. Once it was all done. Jack glared at Tim.

“What do you say?”

Through his shock and tears he remembered the lesson his mother taught him. “I..I'm sorry.”

He released Janet coming over he hooked his hand under Tim's jaw. “I'm sorry.' What?”

Tim shook. “Daddy, I'm sorry.”

Jack released him. “Good boy.”

Then Jack picked up Tim's stake knife Janet screamed as her son did as the blade slashed across his chest.

Janet ran to Tim who burst out crying. “Tim!” she turned to stare daggers at the man behind her as he dropped the knife. “What the hell is wrong with you?! He's only five! HE's FIVE!”

Jack's lack of empathy and regret spoke volumes. “He will learn NOT do this again.”

She turned her attention back to her howling son. She reached up and grabbed te napkin from the table and pressed it the blood staining the pressed white shirt.

“Sweetheart, I have it's ok.” Janet soothed raking her hands through his hair then moved to wipe the tears that spilled down his face. “I'll help you hang on.”

Janet picked up her son without hesitation ran out the room.

 

))))))))))))))))))

 

Present.

Tim dragged his arm across to his face to wipe the tears that had spilled from him. Dinah came over to sit beside Tim.

“Hey, why are you crying?”

Tim didn't answer as his main focus was to not completely break down. He was sick of crying..what his father would say. 'Crying is weakness.' Perhaps it was and that very thought caused fresh tears to fall.

“Sweetheart, it's ok.” Dinah soothed.

Tim hated that he was so weak if he had been stronger or thought faster. He didn't even look at the woman beside him he got up from his spot and ran out of the room. Dinah shook her head walking over to her note bad she wrote.

'Broken'

She dreaded almost what would come next. A knock on the door frame caught her attention, she straightened to see Jason standing in the door way.

“You can't force it out of him. He has a tendency to just shut down and stay that way for days.”

She watched as he walked past her and took a seat in her chair legs resting over the arm. His eyes holding hers.

“So. Shall we begin?”

Chapter Text

“Each one of them opened a piece of themselves up and I am grateful because of it.”

Bruce handed her a cup of tea coming full circle in the kitchen. “How come I feel a 'But.' coming on?”

Dinah couldn't deny it. “Bruce, I have done this job for a long time and I have seen my fair share of patients and all their complexities and it's no exception here. Those boys have been through more than I will ever go through, or I wish to God that we don't.”

“Do I have a hope with any of them?”

 

Bruce took a seat beside her as she blew the steam away before taking a sip of her beverage. “Yes. everyone has hope.”

Bruce took a sample of his own drink then set down his cup. “Lay it on me, I can handle it.”

“Dick. He has been on the street since he was young not sure exactly his age possibly the same as Tim is now. He protects those boys with his life I am sure of it without a second thought about his own. There is more to it than the heroics and even then he doesn't see himself as one. Working on getting him to share about his anxiety and withdrawal to human contact. I have my suspicions, I've seen it before.”

Bruce waited for her to share her thoughts she breathed out through her nose. “All the signs point to abuse, the kind women express when they have been assaulted sexually.”

Bruce looked down at his cup. “I can't say I haven't had that pass through my mind.”

Dinah nodded. “The ugly part of my job. I don't expect him to share openly about it nor do I also with Tim and Jason.”

Bruce wasn't surprised by that either. “Tim, I have noticed scarring on his wrists and arms I wouldn't have known it until he came out of surgery. Lee, did express her own concerns and also for Dick.”

“Tim..he is very perceptive and intellectual far exceeding boys his age. I can't decide if he is raised that way or if he is a genius, possibly both. He..he is very emotional when asked questions of his past again he is reluctant to share his age. Nor his parents.”

Bruce looked at Dinah. “Wouldn't they all share the same mother and father.”

She shook her head. “At first I did but it was made clear that wasn't the case when I talked to Dick. He shared that Jason and him met when Dick was fourteen and Jason twelve. Then a couple years later they found Tim.”

“I could see why they would call themselves brothers, maybe a deception to others around them.”

“Yes, according to Jason it was a tactic that worked in there favor. Strength in numbers, but it was to consider themselves family because they had a commanding thread that they unfortunately could relate to. However, I don't believe they themselves know the full extent of there eachothers lives and what they went through.”

“I have done some digging.” Bruce confessed. “I went to talk with Jim at the GCPD, I hoped to get any missing children info on them photo I.D.”

“And?”

Bruce sighed pushing away his drink and looked at her. “I looked under Jackson all boys that age didn't match.”

Dinah nodded “It's understandable, it is a long shot especially when your no doubt working under a fake alias.”

“I got a hit.”

Dinah couldn't hide her surprise. “Really? On who?”

“Do you remember a few years back of a murder that happened in Gotham Heights?”

Dinah furrowed her brow. “It depends there have been a few. You'll have to refresh my memory.”

“Drake.”

Dinah saddened. “Right, yeah, I remember that one. Why?”

“They had a son. I had only met them a few times in passing at dinner fundraisers. I kicked myself for not seeing it sooner.”

Dinah touched Bruce's arm. “The suspense is not needed just tell me.”

Bruce looked at her. “There son was named Timothy Drake. On file his middle name is Jackson.”

Dinah let out a breath. “Are you telling me that..you have the missing heir to the Drake fortune in your upstairs bedroom?”

 

Bruce shook his head picking up his drink. “I'm probably wrong.”

“Bruce, I know you and when you have a hunch about something you are usually right.”

 

“It fits. Tim is the exact age in the time line.” he stood his chair and walked over to his book bag on the table and pulled out a file. “I had Jim photo copy it, you tell me what you think.”

Dinah took it opening to see the picture. Upon seeing it she flicked her eyes over to Bruce then back at the photo she set it down in front of her.

“...very similar.” she noted

“I had age composition sketch done it's next page over.”

She flipped the page over and her heart stopped. Bruce waited a moment longer. “Do you see what I see.”

“Oh, my god.” she stared at the picture in disbelief. “Bruce..we need to take this to the police.”

Bruce ran a hand through his hair. “I would rather wait.”

Dinah closed the file. “Bruce.”

 

Bruce raised a hand. “Just, hear me out. These children have only been with me for only three months if I had cops come and take Tim away from what he knows. They would not trust anyone ever again. You have seen how they are with each other they operate as unit.”

 

Dinah looked back at the sketch. “I..I get where you are coming from believe me I do but. The Drake murder has been considered a cold case. The GCPD will need Tim to close it.”

Bruce closed his eyes knowing she was right. “I know. I just don't know how to break it to them.”

Dinah closed the file. “It's the right thing to do. I'll help you.”

 

))))

Tim rested against the wall as he processed what he just heard. Biting his lower lips as he rapid fired his thoughts and ideas, there was only one thing that made sense. He pulled away from the wall and set his plan in motion...

 

)))))))))

GOTHAM EASTSIDE -6 years ago

fists pounded against the faded door. With an exhausted breath Jason sat on the dirt floor, cries reduced to whimpers in the small space. Jason looked back at the younger trio huddled together in the old works shed.

“Hey, don't worry.. I'll figure a way out.”

Deep down he knew it was futile they had spent the entire six months living in and out of the shed. All coming down to how much booze the monster and his spawn consumed in a day. Dragging them in for a week to get them all fed and clean and polished like a trinket found in the ground to offer on display when the social workers come.

They get their checks and then the worker would leave. His younger house mates he would make sure would not suffer the vulgar, violent, repulsive, deeds that he had fought through in his earlier years. If he gave himself to the memories that nibbled away at his mind he would be able to still feel the sting of every snap of the leather belt against his body, or the depth of hunger, or the dryness of his mouth after a day and a half of no water. Or the body parts he had touch or the hands that touched him that made him felt stained with something far worse than dirt.

He spent all night at it, this morning he had to say enough is enough. He wanted to dig the ground with a shovel but the handle broke, he tried with a piece of wood no good, he tried with his bare hands it only succeeded in bloody finger nails.

He stared at the door his hair out of place with the three hour long exertion. Ignoring the blisters that pocketed his palm and fingers he went to pry open the door once more.

“Jason..it's no use. Just give up.”

Jason lowered his head with a huff. “Bart, if we give up then we are saying that they win, they have control of us. I'd sooner die than let that happen.”

A girl stood and tugged on Jason's pajama shirt. “We.. could try the roof.”

Jason blinked then looked up at the ceiling. “I thought of that short stack but we don't have enough things in here to try and get at the roof.”

Her face fell but he quickly took the six year olds hand. “Good thinking.”

 

She smiled then went back to sit with her sister. Jason banged on the door. “The thing is if I could just push this door open wide enough then I can get something thin and snap the door open.”

“Like the rake snapped.” she reminded innocently.

Jason looked briefly at the grave yard of garden tools. “Yeah like the rake.”

Heavy footsteps appraoched the door causing everyone toput up there guard. The door rattled as the lock was jimmied free from the loop then sun light flooded in causing everyone to wince.

“Rise and shine brats.” a young man in his late teens stood in a old red t-shirt and washed out jeans. He pointed at Danny. “Father wants you in need of huh massage. Muscles are acting up and all that.”

 

Jason stepped in front of the younger boy preventing him stepping forward. He glared at the other earning a mocking laugh.

“Ha, really Jaybird being a big man.”

Jason gave a knowing smirk. “Well, someone has to you clearly aren't.”

“What did you say you little creep?”

“You heard me, you're nothing then a trained dog panting at your father's feet. I like dogs so I'll change it to vermin. How does that sound?”

The teen gritted his teeth in anger. He stepped forward. “I'll knock your teeth in.”

“You should ask your daddy first, you might break a nail.”

Jason grunted as he was forcefully dragged out into the summer heat ignoring how the sun hurt his eyes.

“He'll teach you 'bout respect.”

Jason fought every step, by the time he was placed in front of his foster father his son pushed him to the floor.

The older man looked between the two. “I said get the younger one. Mike.”

 

Jason didn't move from his spot as the son waved a finger at him. “He needs to be punished for..his smart ass mother. He even insulted you.”

“Not hard.” Jason shot back then looked at the man sitting in the kitchen chair. “You supply plenty of material I can use. With your foul oral hygiene and that rats nest you call your toupee.”

 

“Leave us, mike.”

Jason coughed out as a kick landed in his side by the son before exited. Jason winced then heard the all to familiar clink of a belt.

“How, old are you boy?”

Jason knew where this was going, better him then the younger ones. “You say your the smart one..even then I think that's a stretch. But you figure it out.”

He ignored the leather wrapped tightly in the others hand he bit back a scream as it connected with face.

“Mikey's right, your mouth needs shutting up.”

 

Jason had lost track of time his breath coming out quickly he only hope, his silver lining was knowing the others were ok. He told himself that through the lashing even as he blanked out through faze two as it always involves sexual touching and worse. By the time the rotation ended he sputtered back into the shed.

As the door slammed shut he was aware of his 'cell mates' coming to his aid. Asking if he was ok. Was he alright?

))))))

Present.

Jason forced back the memory as he looked into the mirror of the bathroom. He scoffed at his reflection. Face dripping with water.

He hadn't been alright then and he wasn't ok now..what he wouldn't give to be ok. As reached for the towel to dry his face he heard voices and a door shut.

Right now. He was...

numb.

He tossed the towel into the laundry hamper.

He was ok, with not feeling. Saved him from being hurt, he had had enough of that.

Chapter Text

Tmpt tmpt tmp tmpt

 

Jason ran down the main strip on the lower east side. Back pack in hand. He weaved his way through parked cars diving out of sight as motor cycles sped passed him. He waited for time for his pulse to slow and his breath to even he peaked out before he ran down a ally way climbing up a fire escape and hauled himself to the top of a apartment building.

Ignoring the pull on his bruised ribs on his left side got to his feet and ran the well hidden path each roof and ally way until the harbor came into few smiling he came to a halt sliding down the metal roof of the abandoned food stand and onto the ground coming down the docks and over to a crab boat.

He glanced about him to keep watch for anyone one of the criminals that he stole from. He adjusted the strap of the bag. He hopped onto the boat making his way across the deck glad for the cover the night brought him he walked down the side before knocking on the door.

After a few agonizingly long seconds the door opened. The large man eyed the boy up and down.

“Your sooner than expected.”

Jason coyly smirked. “Naturally, are you going to make me stand out here all night or what?”

The fisher men stepped aside, taking a draw on his cigarette as Jason shut the door behind him. Were you seen?”

Jason snorted at the insult. “Tyrell, c'mon you know me better than that.”

Tyrell sat back in a open chair at a desk. “In this line of business you can never be too cautious. Did you get a good haul?”

Jason tossed the back pack over sliding across the floor to smack against the fisherman's feet. Tyrell let the cigarette hang in the corner of his mouth as he picked it up and unzipped the main compartment.

He pulled out the wad of cash taking out a bill. He let out a whistle “A hundred dollars.”

Jason crossed his arms adjusting his ragged leather jacket. Taking out a lighter as he placed his own cigarette in his mouth.

“About five good stacks. Five grand give or take.” he said as he flicked his thumb over the switch on the metal box bring up a flame.

Tyrell opened a second compartment and pulled out twelve zip lock bags full of street drugs. He lowered the bag onto his lap.

Jason took a couple big draws on the cigarette letting out a puff of smoke to dance in the air in front of him.

“Oxy, marjuana, a few other prescription pills all marked. Worth it's weight in gold.”

Tyrell zipped up the bag. “You are everything you said you were.”

Jason looked out of the corner of his eyes and shrugged. “I'm a straight shooter, what's the good at running drugs if you can't trust me.”

“Fair enough, not many fourteen year olds running drugs back and forth on the scum streets like Gotham. I know you've been doing it since you were ten but a lot more dangerous monsters lurking in the dark.” Tyrell stated as he stood reaching under the desk to pull away a stack of his own prize.

“As promised.” he held it up in the air. “Luthor isn't as understanding as me. You late he'll have my head and also yours if you aien't careful.”

Jason took another draw on his cigarette letting out another puff before he walked over and took the stack if credit cards. He cocked an eyebrow.

“With all the money he has, why would he need this.”

“I don't ask questions, you run'em and catch the haul. Clear.”

Jason stuffed the cards in his coat pocket. “Where's the drop?”

“He said to meet him outside one of those fancy clubs on main street. “The Ivy rose.”

Jason nodded. Tyrell looked him up and down earning a irritated huff. “What?”

“You're looking a bit on the thin side smoke'n those cigarettes aren't helping you either.”

Jason shook his head. “Quit your clucking. It's bad enough Dick is watching me like I'm going to keel any given moment.”

“He's right too. How's he doing these days.”

“Bad month, said I'd try and get him the medicine for his headaches.”

“Shame, he in to see a doctor yet?”

Jason removed the cigarette from his mouth walking over to an ash tray on the desk his edge softening.

“No..are faces are popping up on every fucking post light billbaord, even in a bank window. So, sitting in waiting rooms for hours at a time is stupid.”

Tyrell added his cigarette to the ash tray. “Shipment is in at the end of the week. Do you think he can last till then.”

“Dick's tough, he's accustom to it anyway.”

“You told him what you do, yet?”

Jason laughed at that. “Yeah, right he'd blow his stack if he found out”

“I would to if I were him, but I lost my saint hood a long time ago. I want you to recruit him to the cause, I thought you said he was great at runn'n.”

 

Silence fell in the small space. “Hit a snag...We have another mouth to feed.”

brief shock flashed over the man's face. “How old?”

 

“He's Ten.”

Tyrell sat back down in his chair. “Can't decide if you have heart of gold or you crazy taking on another kid. Where did you find him?”

“Junkyard, middle of a brutal cold snap. I didn't plan on it.” Jason flicked back to the ally. “..He saved my life.”

“Really? That's the kid who saved you when you got the snot beat outta yeah? Maybe, you have gained an ally.”

“Yeah, maybe. Listen, I better head back before Dick starts searching for me.”

“Right, remember.”

“Smart and safe.” Jason finished as he walked over to the door. He stopped and looked at his client. “If you have time I want you to meet Dick, he's...suspicious and that's the last thing we need.”

“Yeah, I'm down. We'll keep in touch.” Tyrell concluded as Jason acknowledged him one last time before he left him.

 

))))))))))))

Present.

 

Jason walked down the hallway passed the closed door of Tim's bedroom to see Dick step out pulling on a blue turtle neck. He smiled. “Hey.”

Dick turned running hand through his hair. “Hey, how did your session go?”

 

Jason shrugged. “It went.”

Dick nodded falling in step with him. “Yeah, same.”

“Tim, seemed shaken. Don't know what exactly she asked him, but he was crying so I'd say it was one worse.”

 

“Yeah. He's sleeping no doubt. Stressful digging up the past.”

Both stopped at the top of the stairs to see Bruce saying good bye to his friend a hug and a peck on the cheek was exchanged between the two causing both boys to look at each other.

“Love interest?” Jason threw out.

“Maybe.”

Bruce shut the door turning back and stepping out of the hall he smiled as he saw his house guests.

“Hi, boys are you hungry?”

“We could eat.” Jason answered as both he and Dick descended the staircase

Bruce laughed lightly. “Good, I had Alfred and Damien go out and by some things for dinner. How does steak and roasted potatoes sound?”

Dick slid his hands into his front jean pocket. “Sounds good.”

Just then the door opened. “I'm telling you Alfred I made the right choice.”

Alfred chuckled. “We shall see master, Damien.”

Bruce walked over to his son giving him a hug. “Game discussion again?”

“I have a better chance at darts then bridge.” Damien noted matter a factly.

“You should know that Alfred was a dart champion in his younger days.” Bruce said giving a wink at Alfred.

“Lost the element of surprise master Bruce, I shall go prepare dinner sir.” Alfred concluded taking the bags in his arms to the kitchen.

Damien took sight of Jason and Dick, he walked over. And tossed them each a package. They stared down at it.

“For outside. Snow pants and all. We can build forts or something.”

Dick glanced over at Jason then cleared his throat. Jason tucked the package under is arm. “Thanks.”

Damien held up the third package. “Got one for Tim too.”

 

Jason took it. “He's in his room, I'll go give it too him.”

Dick clapped a hand on Jason's shoulder as a thank you then turned back to Damien. “Thank you, you didn't have to do that.”

“Of course I didn't have too, I wanted to. C'mon I'll show you what we bought for dinner.”

Dick smiled knowly. “Steak and potatoes.”

Damien stopped turning he crossed his arms. “Father told you.”

“Shortly before you walked through the door.”

“Tt, told him it was going to be a surprise.”

Dick came forward. “It will be great, I think watching how you cook it is-”

 

Foot steps pounded down the hall Jason coming to the landing. “Dick!”

 

Dick felt his pulse quickened at the serious tone from Jason. He faced him. “Jason, what-”

“Tim is gone not in his room.”

Damien lowered his arms. “Relax he's probably in the game room or library-”

Jason made his way quickly down the stairs and handed a folded piece of paper. “He left us a note.”

Dick looked at Jason then opened the folds.

 

'By the time you find this letter I'll be gone. Please, don't be mad or feel guilt, I did this to keep you safe. You have each other survive on that. The police is the last thing you need, we've come this far. Don't worry, I am prepared like I always am.

I'll miss you both and I can't express to you how grateful and thankful I am for what you have done for me. I'll never forget you. And please don't fight..waste of energy.

I'm sure we'll see each other again.

Much love,

Tim.'

 

Dick handed Jason the letter and stormed his way into the kitchen Jason right behind him. Where Bruce and Alfred were preparing the meal.

“What did you do?”

Bruce lowered the knife to look at Dick. “Sorry?”

Dick was at Bruce's side. Grabbing him roughly by his shirt he slammed him against the counter stunning the older man.

“You called the cops! I thought you were on our side!”

“I would do no such thing, you know that.”

Dick glared at him. “LIAR!”

Bruce took hold of Dick's hands. “Why don't you back track and tell me what is going on?”

Jason walked over. Showing Bruce the letter. “Tim has run away. He said that the police were coming for him. Tim is NOT a liar.”

Bruce thought back to Dinah and his discussion, he closed his eyes at what must have happened. “He heard it.”

“Heard. What? Dick growled out.

“W-Will you just let me go so I can explain?” Bruce suggested.

Dick released his hold. “Start talking.”

“It's better that I show you.” Bruce stated walking over to the table.

Dick came up beside Jason as Damien joined Alfred. Bruce pulled out the file. Walking back he handed it over to Dick.

“This is why it was suggested I go to the cops.”

Dick opened the file so Jason could read it as well. Dick furrowed his brow. “So, you found out he's a missing child. We know the three of us are, who cares, doesn't give you the right to stab us in the back.”

“I wasn't trying to. I was hoping to get answers to your pasts so I could help you, I didn't expect find out that Tim.”

Jason crossed his arms. “That Tim. What?”

Bruce sighed. “Tim is a Drake.”

“That is supposed to mean something.” Jason shot back.

“Yes, the Drake murder case was international news. The Drakes were the second most powerful wealthy family in Gotham. Believed that there son was kidnapped or murdered and buried somewhere, it was speculation. Knowing Tim is alive, makes him the last surviving member of the Drake family, I didn't want to take the info to the police without talking with any of you first. I wouldn't do that.”

Dick closed the file. “I don't get it. Why would Tim be opposed to the idea of taking on his family legacy?”

“Maybe it's overwhelming for him. He's only twelve.” Jason added

“He shouldn't have run away, he could have talked to us about it.” Dick stated setting the file down on the counter. “How much money Does the Drake name hold?”

“12 Billion.” Jason and Bruce answer in unison.

Dick and Bruce looked at the teen who shrugged.

“I read the newspapers , sue me,ok, found one in the junkyard looking for sheeting to patch the roof of our humble home.

Dick sighed rubbing the back of his neck. “We should go back there, catch up with him or the train yard.”

“Tim is smart. He won't go to the familiar places. All we can do is wait.” Jason concluded.

))))

As soon as he was in the shelter of his room. Jason paced the floor then slammed a fist against his dresser top.

 

))))))

Gotham Heights Park - 2 years ago

“You can tell Luthor if he wants to make a deal he better not pull a stunt like he did in the media could have blown apart this whole operation.”

Tyrel watched the man pace back and forth in front of him. “Listen, Dale you can trust me. I have never lead you a stray have I?”

“N-No.”

“Then just chill alright. Everything will be alright.”

Dale turned his head to look at Jason leaning against a tree. He looked between Tyrel and Jason. “Whose the kid?”

Tyrell looked over his shoulder then lit a cigarette. “He's the runner. He's been doing it for five solid years man. He's cool.”

Movement caught all of their attention. Two men approached them from the shadows, Dale pipped up.

 

“Well, what did Luthor say? Do we have the deal or not?”

In a shocking moment one of the two men pulled out a gun delivering a head shot. Even though the barrel had a silencer the action was clear causing Jason to pull away from the tree and Tyrell to stand his ground.

“No deal, I take it.” Tyrell threw out.

“Luthor is not one to take orders, he wanted to make it clear where he stands.” The gun was pointed at Tyrell. “The Wayne's were iron clad shut, the deal fell through because you lead him to believe you had it handled.”

Tyrell raised his hands. “I organize the drop offs and keep track of the containers that fill Gotham's ports, whatever Dale comprised was not of my knowledge or doing.”

“The Wayne fortune is no longer an option dealers need payment and Luthor will not fish his own money around in the illegal pool. Too easy to get caught but people are dying because of the fall out. You're a loose end.”

 

“You can still get the payment.”

All three men turned their attention to Jason who stepped forward. The man with the gun laughed.

“Kid, we're talking millions of dollars at a time. Wayne was our best shot.”

“I happen to know where you can get that kind of cash.” Jason shot back.

“Have my interest, where?”

“Drake fortune.”

A beat of silence then laughter filled the air. “Your behind the times kid. Fortune is lost, hauled up in who knows where. Drakes are dead. Clients are demanding payments now.”

“I have the answer to the fortune.” Jason stated boldly earning the attention of all three men.

The second man stepped closer. “Where's the key.”

“Oh, it's better than a key. I know there son.”

All three men were stunned and unbelieving. “If you are toying with us kid.”

“I don't lie. I'm sure you can still make payments with the stock pile, a valuable container is hitting the docks tonight that will make your clients happy. Give me time, I bond with him and I can hand him over to you when the time is right. Then Luthor will have about 12 billion dollars at his disposal.”

“You sure this is the kid?”

“A thousand percent. Tell Luthor best things come to those who waits. Soon as he's eighteen I can easily get him to sign the contract.”

 

Tyrell smiled secretly proud of Jason. He looked at the others. “We will wait for Luthor's reply.”

He turned his eyes to the corpse. “Best clean up your mess before you go. We'll be in touch.”

 

))))))))))

 

Present.

Jason breathed in and out. He had to get Tim back without him the deal is dead.

 

He along with it.

Chapter Text

Tim ignored the bite of cold that openly mouthed at his bare skin. He didn't have much, then again that was nothing new. He has survived on far less than a back pack filled with a extra sweater and gloves bag of trail mix that Alfred gave him and of course his flashlight that he now held in his hand.

He wasn't running away, he wasn't being a coward. He had repeated in his head so many times by the time he got to the end of the block he knew his mother would not be proud of this...He was a Drake we face our problems head on.

He stood. A thought. And then found himself back to his last destination, he will be yelled at...and he deserved it. He hated it, the rock and a hard place was tiresome carved out by his father. He didn't know if it was the cold or the very thought of his father that sent a shiver through his body either way it was uncomfortable.

He sat down on the stoop outside the door placing the flash light down beside him. Resting his head in his hands. More than anything, he wish he could just be something more than his father's name sake.

Besides, he would be homesick without Dick and Jason. He laughed at himself at the thought, but it was true. Dick was a hero to him, sure no medals dawned his clothes but his heart was good enough, but Jason. He could trust, Jason had his back religiously ever since the first day they met.

Now, Bruce and Alfred were an extension of his family. Damien it depended on what mood he was in. All had been kind in the end. And they genuinely did want to help.

Tim sank back against the door. They know who he is, how mad are they going to be when he lied for so long?

))))))))

Dick ran to the door slipping on his coat in the process. “I'm going to not just leave him out there.”

Jason was right behind him. “I'm coming with you.”

Dick turned to Jason. “No, you stay here just in case he comes back.”

Jason settled reluctantly to that idea. Dick gave reassuring smile turning the door handle he pulled the door open.

))))))))

 

Tim cried out as he spilled backwards into the manor. Groaning he looked up to see Dick, surprise washing over his face.

“Tim?! What are you doing out here?”

Tim took note of Jason peering over Dick's shoulder relief predominant in his eyes. Tim sheepishly frowned.

“I'm just chill'n.” he answered.

Dick glared then helped Tim to his feet pulling him inside. Shutting the door. “...What on earth were you thinking?”

 

Jason smiled. “You know T.J if your going to run away let us know in advance. A note is so cliché.”

 

Tim sighed. “I know, I know it was stupid but I panicked. Then guilt set in I just wouldn't live with myself knowing I would have caused you trouble. I'm sorry. I didn't tell you who I was, I just..it's complicated.”

Dick breathed out relieved and grateful to have his brother safe. He gave Tim a hug. “You are never trouble. Just to reenforce it through that skull of yours. You can come to me or Jay for anything we always got your back.”

Jason shifted his posture slightly then cleared his throat. “So, tell Alfred to set your plate out.”

Tim grinned. “Alfred, would any.”

Dick led him back into the main hall and took his back pack. Cocking an eyebrow at how light it was. “How exactly did you think you were going to survive out there?”

Tim nearly laughed. “Dick, I've survived on nothing for a long time.”

“That's the true problem.” Bruce stated as he entered the space. “You shouldn't have been surviving but living life.”

 

Tim shrugged. “Aren't we all surviving in the end battling our own demons and such.”

Jason ruffled Tim's head. “You a philosopher now, go up stairs and put on at least a heavier sweater so I don't think you'll be dying of pneumonia.”

Tim smirked. “Ok, ok.”

Dick breathed walking over to sit on the steps of the nearest stairway. Bruce approached. “Glad he had the sense to come back.”

“Me too.” Jason added.

A beat of silence passed. Bruce cleared his throat. “listen, after dinner I'd like to sit down with all three of you.”

“Why?” Dick asked suspiciously.

Bruce smiled. “So, I can actually talk. These last few months have been a whirlwind between Wayne Enterprises and well, life I haven't had the chance to. If that's ok?”

 

“Yeah, it is.” Dick said surprising himself to be willing to talk.

 

Bruce nodded. “Dinners in an hour. Try not to run off or anything like that.”

 

Both boys watched as Bruce left. Jason turned to Dick. “...So, Drake.”

Dick rested his arms on his knees loking at his fingers. “I think it's the answer that Tim needs.”

Jason furrowed his brow. “How do you mean?”

“He hasn't a home and now he has-”

“I'll stop you right there. Tim, ran away from his home and everything that goes with it. There is a reason for that and obviously not a good one for him to leave heavy money like that behind him.”

“I'm not saying he should go back home..not that he could. However, when he turns eighteen he has direct access to the Drake name. For the first time in a long while I see a solid future, at least for him.”

“Gee, thanks.” Jason shot back dryly.

Dick narrowed his eyes at him. “You know what I mean. It's a weight off my shoulders to actually know that, we make our future. I will be a cop.”

Tim wrapped his arms around Dick startling then made him laugh. “The best cop ever.”

“Not sure about that, but it's a job.”

“You're pretty chipper for someone, you know, is dying.” Jason whispered the last part.

Tim saddened, while Dick gave an exasperated breath through his nose. “Have you thought about what
you wanted to do Debbie?”

“As in downer.” Tim explained.

Jason rolled his eyes. “Yeah, got it Tim. I..will be a renegade or a PI then really be a royal pain in the butt as Dick tries to stop crimes.”

Dick laughed. “A huge gap between those two sketchy profession choices.”

“Whatever.”

“I think you'd be a lawyer or something.” Damien added as he joined them.

Jason threw his thumb over at the younger child. “I like how he rides, shoots big and all that. Lawyer, no, but I'll think of something.”

Damien grinned. “On another note...do you guys have Thanksgiving traditions and all that jazz?”

Jason rested against the bannister. “Fetching hot meals back in the day. So, I didn't starve.”

Tim came sat down beside Dick. “I got to help mom prep the dishes.”

 

Damien gaped slightly then scoffed. “Wow, real winners. You better round this out Dick.”

Dick shrugged “Sort of. Not really.”

Dick stood he smiled. “Sorry, not a 'Martha Stewart Thanksgiving' feel in this group. I'll see if I can help with dinner, Jason, Tim behave.”

Dick moved his way passed them. Once he was out of sight Damien turned his eyes back to the two in his presence.

“Father, holds a Ball if you will. It's good fun.”

Jason swirled his pointer finger in a circle toward the wayne heir. “There, right there, is where I hate you.”

 

Tim smirked. “A ball..as in like Cinderella?”

“Not a fairy tale Tim..it's much better. Then we have a family picture taken.”

Jason made a gagging motion while Tim rolled his eyes suppressing a laugh. “ignore him Damien, he hates being 'proper'. So, that's like what? Next week? That does sound like fun.”

“No it doesn't.” Jason shot out.

Damien smiled. “I have a tux that would fit you, we're practically the same size.” Damien turned to Jason. “Alfred I'm sure can dig one out from fathers from way back.”

Jason stepped forward. “There is no way, no how, on this mucked up earth that I would be dressing up in a penguin suit. And that's final!”

 

One week Later.

Jason tugged at the white collar. “Kill me now.”

Alfred smiled taking a light brush to swipe any blemishes away on the black material. “Now, now master Jason there are far worst things than trying on a tux. It is what makes a man.”

“Did you take that line from the etiquette and Chivalry book of seventeen seventy-eight?”

“I would prefer the lack of sarcasm, master, Jason.” Alfred simply said unamused by the boy in front of him.

Jason looked at himself in the mirror. “And I'd prefer a hand gun.” he reached up and patted his hair. “Ugh, and less hair gel.”

A knock sounded on the door.

Damien approached. “Hello, Pennyworth, how is are subject doing?”

Alfred stepped to the side adjusting the collar once more, to jason's disliking. “He is..acceptable.”

Damien came forward holding a square of cloth in his hand. This didn't go unnoticed by the other boy who eyed it in dread then back at Damien.

“What is that?”

Damien playfully smirked. “Why, it's a handkerchief.”

Jason stepped away from both. “Hell, no.”

Alfred drew jason back t the marked spot. “Please, remain still master Jason So I know where to draw in the loose areas.

Jason did as told but stared daggers at Damien. “You know how I hated you last week?”

Damien folded the fabric in a neat square. “Yes.”

“It's rapidly grown to 'Despise'”

Damien walked forward. Sliding the square in the front pocket of the tux; he stood beside Jason as he looked in the mirror.

“Hmm, good work Pennyworth.” Damien praised. “I just think he needs a good trim on the back of his head.”

Jason glared at Damien who gave a mocking grin holding up a note. “Here I was told to give you this.”

“What is it?” Jason asked taking the folded paper.

“Prince Charming sent it, better hurry up and read it before midnight. Cinderella.” Damien insulted patting the pocket square on Jason's chest before bolting out of the room

 

Jason eyes darkened. The paper crumpled in his clenched fist.“YOU”RE DEAD!”

“Master Da.” Alfred began to reprimand but found in surprising speed was alone.

 

)))))))))

“I was surprised that Damien wanted to have a ball, haven't had one in a few years.”

Bruce stated as he took out the tux suit jacket. Dick adjusted the white dress shirt sleeves.

“Tim, said it was a Wayne tradition.”

Bruce chuckled. “Maybe in my grand fathers time. Arms.”

 

Dick drew his arms back as Bruce slid the jacket on coming forward in front of him. “Perfect fit. Take a look.”

Dick followed Bruce out of the change room and to the mirror on the wall across from him. He eyed himself from the polished black shoes to the top of his head.

“Hardly, recognize myself.”

“You look very much like me when I was this age. For height and build.” Bruce noted as he ran his hands down the front of the suit. “To be honest, you could be a male model.”

Dick snorted at that and shook his head. “No I couldn't.”

Bruce smiled. “Ladies would think differently, heck, I'm sure straight men would actually contemplate switching to the other side.”

 

Dick laughed. “Not sure about that.”

Bruce turned to walk over to a tie he left on the hanger. “It could be an exaggeration to some but I don't think so.”

“I never gave thought to my dating life.”

Bruce came over. “You never had a girlfriend in school?”

“No, wasn't there type.” Dick said as raised a hand to his head patiently waiting as Bruce finished.

“Find that hard to believe.” Bruce said as he in memorized skill applied the tie and sliding it in place.

 

“I'm broken, no one wants to take the time and energy to care for someone who is dying.”

Dick didn't realize his blunder until it was too late, hoping it was actually a thought in the privacy of his mind than words he spoke out loud. Going by how Bruce hands didn't move from the tie and the stillness between them he knew it was the latter.

Neither moved Bruce processing what he heard and Dick waiting for the floor to swallow him up but the stillness was interrupted by the hurried footsteps coming down the hall followed by angered voices and yelling.

 

It wasn't what Dick wished for but it was enough for him to part from Bruce with a quick thanks and disappeared around the corner.

Chapter Text

Bruce moved to stop Dick. That was what he told himself to do but the word dying had seized his brain there for making all other movements of his body sluggish. The sound of his son's pained yell snapped him out of his stupor, this he could handle at least.

He hurried out of his bedroom to see his son pinned against the floor Jason successfully applying a choke hold.

“What earth are you two boys doing?”

“I'm demonstrating the art of pain that could lead to a very,very, very slow death.”

Bruce crossed his arms. “Damian, you need to finish the dishes down stairs and Jason return to Alfred so he can finish fitting your tux. As in this very second.”

Jason released his arm from Damian and made his way back to his room not before shooting a warning glare at his victim. Damian clamored up from his spot brushing his hands down his pant legs.

“Thought I could beat him this time.” he breathed out.

“Damian, you need to stop antagonizing Jason.”

“Why, it's fun.” Damian answered.

Bruce stepped forward. “I will rephrase. You WILL stop it.”

Damian looked at his father. “Oh, that's right they're your new boys now.”

“Excuse, me.” Bruce stated firmly causing Damian to rethink his next words.

“Can you tell me that I am wrong? Has the last week been washed out of your mind?”

bruce brought his hand up to rub against his forehead. “Damian, I'm not replacing you if that's where you're going with this.”

Damian laughed. “I can never be replaced father, but know that if you think I'm going to go easy on them. I won't. Besides, they're are worse people in this world they have come across than me. Now, I believe the dinner wear has my name on it in the kitchen.”

Bruce watched his son walk the length of the hall and out of sight. His mind taking him back a week ago...

 

)))))

 

Jason leaned against the recliner while Dick sat in it and Tim on the floor by his feet. Bruce sat across from them in a matching chair.

Tim broke the silence. “Did we do something wrong?”

Bruce smiled hoping to off set the nervousness settling in his body. So, silly it wasn't like he was proposing to his fiancee but it was a proposal none the less.

“No, Tim you have done nothing wrong.”

“Then just spill it.” Jason shot out.

Dick glanced a warning look at Jason who shrugged. “What is it?”

 

Bruce took a breath. Here goes nothing. “You have been in this manor for three months and I'd like to think you feel like this is home.”

“Home is a stretch.” Jason stated.

Dick brought to fingers up and flicked it against Jason's arm nearest to him. “Let him talk.”

Bruce cleared his throat. “I can't in good conscience just let you back out to live on the streets, of course I can't make you stay but I would very much like you to permanently.”

Tim frowned. “Like...adoption?”

“Well that would be up to you three but another option is...wards. You'd keep your last names but at the same time be under my care.”

Bruce watched as the boys exchanged looks with each other. Ever since he met them he had to make them realize that they can make decisions as individuals. Then again he had to be patient it's with very good reason why they made choices together no doubt for protection from those who have done them wrong.

He leaned forward bracing his arms on his knees. “You can trust me.”

Dick answered for them. “We know that Bruce. Can you give us the rest of the evening to discuss it in private?”

 

Bruce nodded.

Dick tapped Tim on the shoulder who moved so he could stand. “Let you know in the morning.”

Tim got up from the floor giving a small smile before following Dick Jason taking the rear.

 

It was eleven at night when a knock sounded on Bruce's bedroom door. He didn't remove his eyes from the laptop in front of him his fingers consistently moving.

“Damian, I told you to go to bed.”

Bruce glanced over expecting to see his son when he saw Tim instead clad in simply light blue pjama's. Out of all of the boys Tim kept the rules of the house, so much so that Bruce worried.

“Tim, is everything al-”

Bruce was taken a back as his personal space was filled. Blinking, taking a few moments as how incredibly fast someone could move a cross a space with strong intent he then became away of the static breath against his neck and collar of his business shirt.

“Hey.” he gently pulled away from Tim to indeed see a fleeting moment of tears escape from the blue orbs before Tim ceremoniously ran his arm across. Bruce reached out and swiped the pad of his thumb over Tim's cheek bone feeling the dampness there. “What's wrong?”

Tim closed his eyes as if giving himself the time to gather himself together or find the right words to answer the question. Bruce waited when Tim open them again he stared a beat or two more before he once more wrapped his arms around Bruce again.

A breath then Tim simply said.

 

“Thank you.”

Bruce softened. Smiling against Tim's head before gave a quick kiss tapping him on the shoulder. “No problem.”

Bruce gave a gentle smile meeting Tim's eyes once more. “Now, off to bed.”

 

Tim nodded then ran across the space he paused in the door way. He looked at Bruce one last time. “I won't let you down, promise.”

 

Bruce opened his mouth but was met with Tim's back around the corner.

)))

The next morning as Bruce was waiting for the last of his morning routine to finish he was met with Jason who walked over to a cupboard and took out a couple tea cookies placing one small pack in between his teeth the other in his back pack.

As, Alfred handed Bruce his thermos Jason walked over to the fridge and took out a strip of bacon.

“myanswerisyesorwhateveritisyouwantmetosay. so...yeaah.” Jason threw out as he blew passed them a lazy salute before he disappeared into the hall.

Bruce looked at the empty entrance then back at Alfred who handed him his satchel. “Two down one to go, sir.”

Bruce gave his thanks before he bid farewell.

It wasn't t'ill the weekend when he found Dick in the privacy of his room looking out the window from the built in window seat. Maybe it was the anticipation that had Bruce hunt him down or just the impatience that nagged in the back of his mind.

“I think we'll have a good snow fall for Christmas this year.”

Dick didn't remove his gaze from the window. “Maybe..we shall see.”

Bruce took a few steps closer. “How are you feeling?”

“Ok.”

Bruce nodded his head even though Dick didn't see it. “Alfred, is happy to have extra hands and opinions for the tree this year.”

This brought Dick to briefly look at him. “Tim has an eye for detail, Jason has the muscle so Alfred probably won't have an issues with them pitching in. Can't say we've had a christmas tree before, maybe Tim. Jason not sure.”

 

“And you?” Bruce asked.

“Didn't have the space.” Dick simply stated.

“At the trailer.” Bruce reminded himself.

 

“Haly...mom and dad was good with taking me to see the biggest tree lit in the area we happened to be. Took me to see the lighting ceremony in New York once. Magic.”

Bruce titled his head in intrigue this was the first time he heard Dick ever mention his parents. Dick watched the snow flow to the ground.

“I think you're right..keep snowing like this. Get a white Christmas instead of a damp sleet filled one.”

Bruce smiled. “look forward to it.”

 

Dick hummed his response. Leaving Bruce to re think his approach finally deciding on the respectful one.

“Well, I'm here if you need anything.” bruce reminded before he turned to exit the room.

“I've never been to a ball before.”

Bruce turned back. Dick gave him his full attention. “I...don't have a tux nor exactly how to exactly how to wear one 'properly' as Alfred put it. His idea and my idea I suspect are two very different things. If it isn't too much of me..but I'd appreciate your help.”

Bruce smiled. “Of course.”

“Thanks.” Dick got up from the window seat. “better check on the other Damian has got it in his head to make Jason his experiment. He fails to realize he is messing with a cobra if he doesn't handle himself right it will be painful.”

 

Bruce huffed shaking his head. “Damian learns the hard way.”

“I noticed.” Dick answered letting Bruce take the lead.

As, Bruce walked the hallway he wasn't sure if this was a definite answer but it was a step forward in the yes department so it gave him hope. Hope was good.

 

)))))))

 

Present.

 

Bruce's hope was dampened significantly. Dying...Lee didn't say anything to him about Dick's health being that dire. It was not easy getting medical history for Dick; Bruce looked at his watch. Two-twenty in the afternoon he had to know for his own sanity and Dick's morality.

He made his way down the hall glancing in Tim's room was he walked passed he stopped then back tracked to see Tim standing in the middle of the room. Hands holding the black tie in draped in his palms, staring down at it like it was a foreign object.

Bruce entered. “Tim?”

A slight gasp escaped Tim's mouth as he was startled out of his thoughts. His surprise left his eyes as they landed on the other. “Oh, it's you.”

Bruce chuckled. “Don't let me disappoint you.”

“Not disappointed.” Tim answered then looked back at the tie. “Relieved.”

Bruce furrowed his brow faintly his eyes drifting over to the tux laying across Tim's bed safely in the garment bag.

“Have you tried it on?”

Tim glanced back at the bed. “Not yet.”

Bruce stepped closer as Tim seemed to drift back to a place far away in his mind. Bruce placed a hand on Tim's shoulder.

“Are you alright?”

Tim pulled away walking back to the bag unzipping it he carefully put it back in it's spot. “I'm fine.”

Bruce saw a slight shake in Tim's hands as he drew the zipper up picking the tux up he walked over to the walk-in closet and hung it on it's separate wrung.

Tim exited and gave Bruce a smile. “I better go thank Damian, before I forget.”

 

He didn't expect Tim to be the reluctant one to try on a tux. Bruce had still so much to learn about the newest members of the family. He underestimated the depths each of them had how many levels it went down he didn't know.

But he had to start. The first is.

Dick. He would simply not accept that a young man would be dying, he needed a second opinion and the truth.

They weren't street kids. They are family. They are his sons.

Chapter Text

Chatter rose from the ballroom filling the evening air. Jason watched from the stairs as Damien mingled with the large crowd that gathered. He didn't want to admit his nervousness as he paced back into the shelter of the hall. This was a prime example of polar opposites he could get at least he managed to convince Alfred to go without hair gel he stood to look at himself in the hall mirror.
Turning his head from side to side. He raked both hands in his hair to make the strands feel more him, but his hair always had it's own zip code. He let out a huff.

“Jason.”

Jason turned to look at Tim, for the first time he saw the glimpse of a young man. He eyed Tim up and down. Jason then had a whole other level of self destine as he realized a twelve year old could rock a three piece tux better than him it was even annoying that Tim's hair was neatly combed and in place a slight wave at the crown of his forehead the kind tween girls would giggle and preen themselves over. No gel to boot.

Tim beamed. “You look amazing.”

Jason frowned at Tim then looked at the face in the mirror. What did Tim see in him that he could not? It wasn't just this evening but it was every single day. Jason looked at the collar.

“I look stupid.” Jason muttered.

“Here.” Tim grabbed hold of Jason's hand surprising the older. “Your tie is crooked.”

Jason bent his feet in and out his eyes watching as Tim's hands expertly fixed the imperfection with surprising skill for a kid. Jason felt vulnerable somehow the edge he always held was gone when Tim's eyes met his he swallowed clearing his throat.

“Th-Thanks.”

Tim stepped back. “No problem. You really are quite handsome.”

Jason was not sure how to respond to that. He simply stood then reminded himself that he was tough even the street dirt admired it, but some how he just felt himself reach out and pick the air along Tim's right shoulder.

“You brush up not to bad yourself.”

Tim lost a bit of shine to his smile then titled his head. “Sounds like a real crowd.”

“Ode de joy.” Jason flatly stated.

 

Tim gave a empathetic look at his brother. “I know this isn't your cup of tea but I hope you can find away to enjoy yourself.”

Jason snorted. “I think I can manage, it's not like you're any better off.”

Tim leaned against the wall hands behind his back. “I..came from this world. I may have been on the young side but I do know how to hold myself.”

“Did you enjoy it then?” Jason asked slipping a hand in his pant pocket.

Tim shrugged. “I was six so..most likely not.”

Jason took note. Tim was adult stuck in a kids body this was one of those times..or maybe it was the tux.

Foot steps drew there attention to look down the hall. Causing both to be stunned as Dick approached
them adjusting his tux jacket his attention to the cuff of his sleeves. Jason slid his other hand in the empty pocket while Tim pulled away from the wall.

Dick finally turned his attention in front of him and was suddenly self conscious at the eyes staring at him. Jason turned to Tim.

“I look stupid.”

Tim stepped forward in awe. “Dick you are like 007.”

 

Jason grinned. “You better prepare yourself for the boat load of fawning coming your way.”

Dick ran his hand down the front of his chest his anxiety kicking in. “I am so nervous.”

Jason threw his arm in the air. “If your nervous, I'm screwed.”

Dick softened. “Jason, you will be fine.”

“And you won't?” Jason challenged.

Tim adjusted his collar one more time. “We all will be. Now, take a deep breath and when in doubt smile and if you can't do that. Find away to be charming.”

Dick and Jason shared a look as Tim took the first step on the stairs. He gave an encouraging smile over his shoulder at them before he descended the stair case.

Dick followed then Jason. Each followed guests toward the ballroom Alfred standing at the door entrance he smiled as he saw them.

“Young sirs.” Alfred greeted.

“Hey, Alfred.” Tim said adjusting his tie once more. “How is it in there?”

“Boisterous gathering of Gotham's elite engaging in riveting conversations to tease the mind and appetizers and drinks to wet the pallet as period music fills in the elegant space that lies before you.”

All three stood staring at the stoic butler a playful glint to his eyes. Jason looked uncertain turning to look at Dick.

“Is that good?” he looked back at Alfred. “That's good?”

Alfred warmly smiled and bowed. “Enjoy the evening.”

Tim broke the threshold first upon seeing the grandeur of the tall tile ceilings wood floor french doors on either side an entire wall of floor to ceiling arched windows and two large chandeliers glittered like stars in the sky.

A singer stood off to the side by the grand piano. Her rose gold dress challenging the chandeliers above her.

Bruce was immersed in his guests causing all three to feel incredibly out of place. Jason stepped forward beside Tim to take in the sight more closely as if it wasn't real.

“How much money in this room right now is...wow.”

Tim nodded his eyes drinking in every ornate elaborate detail. “Yeah, wow.”

 

“I guess we better mingle.” Dick took hold of both of them gently. “If any of you want to tap out at anytime let me know then I can give Bruce a cover story as to why.”

 

Jason caught sight of a food tray walking by. “Will do.”

Tim smiled as Jason went after his prey he looked at Dick. “Trust him to find food first.-”

“Tim.”

Tim turned to see Damian approach him then take him by the arm. “I want you to come meet my friends.”

Tim looked at Dick. 'friends?' he mouthed causing Dick to give an amused grin shrugging as Tim was led away.

Dick scanned over the room once more. “Wow.”

))))))))

The evening went on as conversations flowed effortlessly pausing ever once in awhile to applaud the music that accompanied them. Jason downed a mouthful of his ginger ale wishing it to be the real thing he tipped the glass back and forth in the air. He picked out the ideal spot where he was close enough to be noticed by a waiter/waitress and far enough from being sucked in the vortex of conversations not without it's struggles as guests reached out for content but he'd always point to his mouth that happened to be filled with either his drink or whatever food he could reach. Canceling out any human contact.

He sighed as he drummed his fingers against his glass.

“Would you like a egg roll?” a waiter offered.

Jason smiled. “Sur-”

His arm was halted by a clean white gloved hand.

“Master, Jason. A word.”

Jason knew when Alfred asks for a word he had no choice but to say yes. This time around it was topped with the physical motion of being dragged away from his spot. His precious,precious well planned spot.

Jason adjusted his tux sleeve. “You rang?”

 

Alfred ignored the sass remark. Clasping his hands in front of him. “Master, Jason. In tally this last forty five minutes you have effectively consumed. Two ham and cheese sliders, six stuffed mushrooms, four glasses of ginger ale and that would have been your third egg roll.”

Jason felt his cheeks grow warm diverting his eyes down in food shame as he rubbed his neck. “I..I'm sorry Alfred. It's just this whole thing has got me feeling shaky.”

Jason held up his hands to see the shake that he felt but was disappointed to see nothing. He huffed.

“Well, I feel shaky.”

“It could possibly be the high levels of sugar running through your system.” Alfred suggested.

“Probably. Alfred some of these people have the serious case of the grab hands. The old ladies bless their wrinkled hearts, but it's like I'm some kind of taffy wrapped in menthol foil and what other 'old people crap' they enjoy. It's just ugh.'

Alfred gave a simple chuckle then smiled. “If you like to spare yourself the formalities you're welcome to join me by the door.”

Jason welcomed the idea. “Like the bouncer outside of Poison Ivy's. Except classier.”

Alfred shifted his posture at the comparison but wordlessly ushered Jason to the door.

 

Bruce caught sight of Dick parting from a young couple signaling him to come over. Dick approached planting on a smile.

“Dick, I'd like you to meet a old friend of mine.” Bruce smiled. “This is James Gordon, he just made police commissioner.”

Dick shook the other's hand. “Congrats.”

James smiled. “Thank you. Bruce tells me you have made it into the academy. The GCPD need young men like you in the force.”

“I'm not sure about that yet. We shall see.”

James flicked his eyes over at Bruce than back at Dick. “I have no doubts you'd be a good one. My daughter is in her second year. I shall introduce you to her.”

Dick looked at Bruce as James turned to motion to someone across the room. He turned to Dick. “She could give you some insight as to what you could expect.”

Dick gave a quick smile before raising his drink to his mouth. Then looking to see where Jason and Tim were at.

“Dad.”

“Ah, Barbara. This was the young man I was telling you about.”

Bruce placed a pressured hand on Dick's back bringing dick's attention back in front of him. Expecting to see James but instead was met with a woman dressed in a blue halter dress her red hair hang in soft waves in half up and half down do. Her green eyes landing on his contrast to alabaster skin, faint freckles graced her nose and cheek bones.

She looked between Bruce and her father than finally meeting the piercing blue of the young man in front of her. A moment passed between them before she smiled.

“Of, course. Heard many good things down the line. Richard Grayson has been a dorm room name.”

Dick felt the jolt run through him made only noticeable through the glass in his hand shattering to the floor between them. He blinked out of his horror filled mind.

“I am sorry, I didn't mean.”

She stepped back away from the shards of glass and it's contents pooling across the floor. “It's alright.”

Dick moved to pick it up but Bruce stopped him instead signaled to Alfred. “Alfred will tend to it.”

Dick shook his head offering an apologetic hand. “I really am sorry.”

Barbara smiled then to Dick's surprise walked over and slipped her arm through his. “Don't cry of spilled milk or in this case sparkling drink. C'mon we'll hunt down another.”

 

)))))))))

“We share the same geology classes together. Mike's father own's some of the world's well known high end cars.”

“Interesting.” Tim noted.

Damian flicked his fingers together. “Oh, I see Terry just came in. You k here?”

Tim opened his mouth but Damian was already weaving his way through the guests. He smiled then took a sip of his drink.

“Hey, Tim”

Tim turned to see three of Damian's previously introduced classmates. He smiled at the blond that had been the topic of the ten minute conversation before hand.

 

“Hey, Mike. Damian was just telling me about your father's car investments. Impressive.”

“He's got the Royce outside do you want to see it? It's one of my favorites.”

Tim looked back to see Damian still engaged with his new arrival, he really did have a lot of friends. Jason and Alfred immersed in conversation by the door and Dick with a very attractive woman on his right arm. Damian owed Jason ten bucks. He looked back at the three in front of him and smiled.

 

“Sure, why not.”

Moments, later he was outside standing back to look at the manor the lights illuminating the property in sections. He turned back to the elegant car in front of him.

 

“My father gifted me one last year for my thirteenth. Instead of this awful cream color mine is silver.” the boy bragged.

Tim shrugged. “Some gift.”

“It is. Only the best of the best own cars like this.”

Tim frowned sliding his hands in his pockets to warm them from the cold. “What makes someone the best at something isn't necessarily what a man owns but what he does.”

Mike shrugged as he lead Tim to his friends car. “Danny's folks, have a Bentley. Want to look.”

Tim stopped. “No, actually. I better head back pretty chilly out with no coat.”

Mike nodded in agreement. Giving a devious nodded over his shoulder at his friend to put the plan in motion. Opening the front car door.

Tim manage a couple steps forward before Mike and Danny turned the opposite way hooking there arms underneath Tim's and man handled him over to the popped trunk.

Tim fought against the hold than cried out as he was tossed inside. Stunned Tim shook his head then was met with the mocking faces looking down at him.

“better luck next time Drake.”

 

“Nonnono, wait!” Tim pleaded before he was knocked back by the slamming of the trunk. “hey, let me out!”

A bang against the hood answered him then a jeering voice. “Hope you don't get too chilly, after all you have no coat.”

Tim threw his fists against the roof of the hood. “Let me out! Please, let me out!!”

He breathed and listened and heard nothing. Panic began to settle in his chest images flying out one after another. He fought harder kicking at the sides then banged his fists against the roof.

“Dick!' Jay! Help! Dick! Jay! Anybody!” he screamed.

In the end he knew it was no use. His brain had already calculated distance and voice carry no one could hear him. No one would know because no one would be made known of what had just happened. His heart hammered in his chest the rapid thumping keeping him unnerving company, he wouldn't give up.

If he did then it would not end well, but deep down he knew. In darkness?

It never did.

Chapter Text

“How did you know?”

Barbara titled her head slightly at the question as they slowly swayed to the music. She then got it.

“My father's the police commissioner he knows all when it comes to GCPD including those who have graduated or have just entered the academy.”

Dick remained quiet as he focused on leading awkwardly through the box step she had taught him minutes ago. She watched him.

“You are upset?”

Dick shook his head. “No, I knew deep down somewhere my identity would be found out.”

“Why the secrecy?”

Dick focused where is feet were bring it to memory the sequence of where they should go. “I have my reasons.”

Barbara gently lifted Dick's head so he looked at her. “They are attached to you, just lead and I will follow.”

Dick saw genuine kindness coming from her. He couldn't decide what made her beautiful but as she smiled at him she decided it was her eyes. For now.

“I just want to make sure I don't step on your toes.” he explained.

She laughed. “I've been through worse. I danced with my dad, love him to pieces but his coordination is better applied to his gun then a waltz.”

Dick laughed. “Not sure which I would fear more.”

He watched as she eyed him. She blushed then cleared her throat. “You are probably the most gorgeous person I've laid eyes on.”

 

“I was thinking the same thing.” Dick stated then realized how that came across. “I meant..you you're stunning.”

 

“I know.” she stated with a coy smile but it lost it's edge as she took in every feature. “Women are known for it, men are known to be handsome and hot and what have you but..gorgeous rarely. May I ask what nationality you are?”

Dick thought for a moment. “Not sure. Romanian was thrown about a few times but it was more speculation and guess work. My dad had black hair and my mom had the blue eyes.”

Barbara smiled. “Where are your parents?”

Dick saddened. “They died.”

“I'm so sorry. I lost my mom when I was born. So, I only know her through stories and pictures.”

“It's better than nothing I guess.”

“true, but not as good as the real thing.”

“I can agree to that.”

Barbara breathed. “Different subject.”

Dick smiled. “What is it like? The academy.”

 

“It's like most schools filled with the usual drama and such but the work is harder. So..highschool but better goal choices. I know Bruce and my dad arranged this little meeting and I..think my dad is also hoping for something more.”

Dick didn't know how to respond to that just simply glad for the music to end. The room applauded once more Barbara leaned forward.

“I love her she's has beautiful voice.”

Dick looked at the singer. “Who is she?”

“Biggest voice in Gotham. Harley Quinn, I have her picture on my wall in my dorm room a bit obsessed.”

“Never heard of her. Then again I was more focused on my trapeze work than who the up and coming lounge singer was.”

A new song started causing him to turn his attention back to his partner holding out his hand. “Shall we , I think I got it this time.”

She stared at him causing him to lower his hand at her silence. “Or not.”

 

“You are THAT Grayson.”

Dick stood somber as she raised both hands to rest against her temples as she coped with the revelation.

“I don't believe it. I don't-” she looked back him dropping her hands. “Richard Grayson as in The flying Graysons, as in...wow.”

This would be the fawning part Jason warned him about but not because of his current presence but for his past. He furrwoed his brow.

“I think I better go.” he said turning from her.

“No!” she reached out then in a quieter voice she lead him away from any potential listening ears. “I'm sorry, some detective I'm going to be. I...I saw you perform of course I was like ten but and it was in the very back row but I was there. You were incredible!”

Dick pocketed his hands taking a deep breath she noticed the change of his behavior. She settled.

“I didn't mean to offend you.”

“I'm not offended by you.” he answered then gave a small smile. “it was a long time ago. I just don't like-”

Barbra held up her hand. “No need to say more. Forget the conversation.”

Dick couldn't help but grin as she wiggled the fingers of her left. “One more dance?”

 

Dick looked at her hand then back at this pouted lip. She batted her eyes. “Pweez.”

He laughed taking her hand. “I do think I got it down this time.”

He drew her in managing a few steps before stumbling she broke out in a giggle. “Yes, I see you are very consistent.”

Dick huffed but laughed with her. “Key word was think.”

 

)))))))

Jason laughed as Alfred shared few charming details of the most flamboyant guests. Jason peered out to see the couple.

“Ah, yeah.” he turned back to Alfred. “Seriously, that's his father's toupee?”

 

“It's been passed down from generation to the next.” Alfred noted.

Jason cracked up. “Family heirloom best burnt.”

“Indeed.”

Jason's laughter faltered as he enjoyed the older mans company. “Thanks Alfred, for making this evening lighter, you're awesome.”

“In every sense of the word master, Jason.” Alfred stated giving his warmest smile.

Jason smirked patting him on the arm. “I'll be back just going to the kitchen to get a glass of water.”

“Will be here sir.”

)))))))

Tim stomped his foot against the floor of the trunk in frustration pressing the heel of his hands against his eyes. Sweat collected on his skin do to the exertion and the panicked stress.

“Help! Jay!” he called but found his voice was hoarse.

He breathed in and out. He had felt every part of the trunk looking for weak points he knew where they would be, the tail lights, but he had nothing to open with, well, not true, he had a tire iron but he couldn't get the leverage to hammer at it.

He lowered a hand to his chest willing his heart to just slow down. He removed his tie and managed to undo a couple buttons of his shirt collar. The cold wasn't anything new but it was growing increasingly unpleasant as the minutes went by.

He gave several more attempts to make a sound either with his foot or hands his voice simply not helping.

He wouldn't give up. He became quiet and thought, the only thing that would get him free of darkness was truth or an angel (his mom) would rescue him. He furrowed his brow as he thought. What had he done wrong...what had he done wrong. So he could apologize for it. .. the thing was he couldn't.

 

)))))))))

Jason stepped out of the kitchen glass in hand into the main hall when he heard laughter. Cocking an eyebrow he made his way into a dimly lit area coming from Bruce's study. Jason titled his head as bits of the conversation peaked through.

“...He's such a wannabe. Did you see him at school? Always a book in hand and giving answers like he knows everything.”

 

“He's mooching off the Wayne fortune. They all are.”

Jason pressed himself against the wall spying into the study to see. Mike and Danny and Damian gathered in the space. Drinks in hand that were a far cry from ginger ale.

“I think your father is an idiot for taking them in, Damian.”

 

“It's just a publicity stunt, give it after Christmas he will tire of them. I know I have.” Damien confessed as he took a sip of his drink. Wincing at the taste.

Jason's shock turned into a anger. He processed what he heard, was this actually a show? Bruce, Alfred? He was brought out of his thoughts.

“Jason, just has very little in that brain of his only thing he is good at is stuffing his face.” Danny said

“Made evident tonight. And did you see Dick, heard he's some low life circus freak.” Mike laughed.

Jason's grip on his glass tightened. Dick was the strongest, all around good guy. Freak? Freak, no hell no!

“Hey, boys.”

All three were startled to see Jason before them. Stillness fell then melted to tension as they felt the cold anger shooting at them.

“So. Let the true colors fly.”

Damien set down his glass. “What are you doing here Jason?”

“Yeah, you aren't part of us.”

Jason glared. “Nor would I want to.”

“I see you're wearing a second hand tux. Pity that you don't realize it.” Mike smugly noted.

Jason stared passively at him. “Pity.”

 

“Dirt can never be clean. As much as one tries to make it so, but dirt is meant to be swept away.”

Damian felt the sting of those words even though it wasn't directed to him. He looked between the two seeing a side to Jason that sent shivers down his spine.

“Mike, simmer.” Damian warned.

Mike laughed throwing his head towards Jason. “You know I'm right, but as much as it sickens me to have him in the same room. Nothing is more filthy than Tim.”

Jason smashed his glass against the floor. He grabbed the smaller boy by the front of his tux drawing him so close to his eyes he saw Mike saw the deep hatred churning in the sea blue glare at him.

“You say one more thing against my family I will punch your mouth in.”

Danny scoffed causing Jason to turn his sights on the other. “He's a Drake, that name is as vile as they come knowing that scum like that has a off spring he deserves worse than-”

“Danny don't.” Mike cut off.

Jason released Mike. “Yes, Danny. do.”

Damian remained silent as he watched Jason knock the drink out of the boys hand. “Worse. than. What?”

Danny shook as Jason towered over him inches apart. Then let out a cry out in fear as he was yanked and slammed into the hutch.

“I don't care how old you are I won't hesitate to break every arrogant bone in your body!”

Mike feared for his friend. “He's in the car.”

Damian felt his heart stop. “You guys didn't.”

Jason growled. “what did you do? Answer!”

Danny found his voice. “He..he's in the trunk of my father's Bentley.”

Jason eyes widened in shock underneath horror. Mike then threw a punch that landed in the side of Jason's skull earning a pained grunt.

Mike and Danny ran out of the room Jason went to go after them but Damian came forward and grabbed his arm but it was met with a snarl.

“Jason, wait!” Damian called out before gritting his teeth and chased after Jason.

))))))))))

“It is really wonderful what you are doing for those boys, Bruce.” James admired looking out at the people dancing on the floor.

 

“I think I'm in over my head but I just couldn't turn my back on them.”

James smiled as he saw Barbra and Dick. “It's the first time in awhile I have seen her enjoy herself. I think parenting will always be a yo yo of emotions but when I look at those two. I think we've done something right.”

 

Bruce smiled softly as his eyes landed on them. “I have rarely seen him laugh. They all have had struggles far beyond I could ever imagine, but this last week has gone smoothly the only road from here is up.”

“MOM DAD help!”

 

Everyone in the room was abruptly interrupted as Mike and Danny bolted into the room in a panic. Jason ignoring the shocked faces as he weaved his way through the group in some cases just pushing passed both man and woman. Snatching at his prey.

“Jason stop!”

)))))))))))

 

Dick and barbara followed the destructive path the boys took with stunned eyes. Then Dick broke away from Barbra and chased after Jason.

“Jason! Jason!”

Danny fell on knees scrambling to cling to his mother's side. “Mom save me save me!”

 

“Danny what on earth?!”

“I will grind you into dust you little worm!” Jason snapped clawing out at the frightened child.

Jason felt arms hold him back. “Let me go!”

Dick yanked him away. “Jason, cool it! What is going on?”

“That is what we would like to know?”

“He just attacked me out f no where mother.” Danny whimpered.

 

Jason's eyes widened at the lie then darkened once more as he launched at him. “You lying piece of-”

 

“Jason! Enough.” Dick stepped in between the child and his brother. “Look at me and tell me what's going on?”

Jason threw his arm out. “I need the keys to his parents Bentley and they won't give it to me.”

Dick furrowed his brow in confusion. “What?”

“We will do no such thing young man.” Mike's father pipped in.

 

Jason fumed pushing against Dick's arm. “You will or I will tear your face off to get them!”

Bruce broke through the crowd as well as James. Dick planted both his hands on Jason's shoulders.

“Jason, calm down and just tell me why.”

Jason's face was mixture of anger and worry. “Dick, they locked Tim in the trunk of their car.”

 

Dick lowered his hands turning back to look at the trio in front of him. Danny's mother clutched her child closer shaking her head in disgust.

“How dare you accuse my child of such a thing!”

“They are uncivilized sweetheart. We would expect nothing less than that.”

Dick's anger pooled in his fists then without hesitation snatched the man in front of him. “Keys.Now. Before I show you how to wipe you against the floor.”

The room was silent as everyone waited in tension. James step forward.

 

Dick grip tightened. “Give me the damn keys now!!”

The man shook his head. “I-I don't have them. Honest.”

Jason stepped forward. “Dick it's true. One of these maggots has it hence the chase.”

He looked to Danny. “Cough it up, cup cake.”

“I don't have them.”

Jason menacingly stepped forward. “You liar.”

“I'm not I don't have them...Damian does.”

 

Everyone's attention landed on the young Wayne standing a few feet away; shamefully pulled the keys from his pocket.

“I was trying to give them back. Jason.”

Dick kicked into survival mode. Roughly releasing the older man he ran over to Damian snatching the keys from his hand.

“Jason.”

Jason glared at Danny before following Dick's lead and ran out of the room.

 

Bruce glare honed in on his son. “This party is done. All involved in this stunt is to stay, as for everyone else. Leave.”

 

The room dispersed in hushed whispers and worried looks at the demand. Not having to be asked twice.

Damian turned to leave.

“Damian.”

 

Damian cringed looking back at his father. This was a missile he would not be able to dodge.

 

))))))))

 

Jason and Dick made there way around back. Scanning the cars Jason spotted it. “Dick!”

Both ran making it in record time.

“Tim! Hang on!” Dick encouraged as he placed the key in the slot.

As son as the lid was open Jason pulled it up to full height. “Tim, hey.”

Tim blinked then let out a scream causing Dick to quickly reach in. “It's alright, Tim it's us.”

Tim shook slightly groaning. Dick stepped back and removed his tux jacket placing it over Tim. “It's alright, your safe.”

Tim didn't answer but with the help of Jason Dick eased him out of the trunk. He managed a few steps before Dick swooped him up in his arms.

“Dick!”

Jason and Dick turned to see Barbra running toward them. Sympathetic, she came over to see Tim held against Dick's chest.

“Is he ok?”

“No. he's not.” Dick stated as he ran back to the manor.

Jason and Barbra on his heels.

In the warmth of the manor Dick quickly settled Tim against against him sitting on the tile floor of the kitchen.

“Slow, Tim, breathe.” Dick soothed as Tim's quickened breath filled the air.

Dick rested a hand on Tim's chest feeling his heart pound against his palm. He leaned his head against Tim speaking into his ear.

“Feel my breathing. Breath in, hold, one..two..three...out, one..two..three.”

 

Jason looked on somberly as his youngest brother struggled through the breathing exercise. Even though it was frigid out he looked like he just finished a marathon the contrast from the start of the evening. Jason saw just a boy completely wrecked. His anger surged in him as he thought about the bullies as much as he wanted to send them to the hospital his focus was on Tim. “I'm going to get a blanket.”

Barbra hurried over to the sink grabbing a glass of water. She made her way back kneeling down beside Dick Tim's breathing hitching back to a normal pace his shaking still persistent.

Tim became aware of the warm body against him. He knew who it was just by the feel of the strong but gentle embrace. Tears stung his eyes as he brought up his shaking hands to grip Dick's forearm bracketed on his chest.

Dick ran his hand through the damp strands hair. “it's ok, your safe. I'm here.”

 

Jason re-entered the kitchen. He came on the opposite side of Dick and laid the brown blanket around Tim.

“Hey, TJ. Something to keep you warm.”

Tim welcomed the comfort, his body resting. He went to look at Jason to thank him but it was never made known as he passed out.”

Barbra was alarmed. “He should go to the hospital.”

“He'll be fine. Just..too much for him, he needs to just lay down.” Dick stated coolly getting to his feet he lifted Tim into his arms. “Jason.”

Jason brushed passed Barbra, as she straightened from her spot on the floor she was given no further acknowledgment as they left the room.

 

))))))))))

Damian stood with his classmates in silence. The anvil that hung over them swung back and forth as Bruce tended to each of their parents.

Damian didn't know. He was just given the keys to hold onto nothing more, but now here he was on trial for a crime that he didn't commit. But how could he ever prove his innocence to his father when in fact he felt a strong sense of guilt.

Maybe it won't be that bad. That is what he told himself for the last ten minutes of silence, it won't be that bad as each of his friends were ushered out by their parents off to their individual scolding.

 

It won't be that bad. Damian thought, it was a large room with only two bodies in it. The anvil stilled above his head as Bruce full attention was directed at him and him only. Damian adjusted his posture but it was hard to feel strong when a barrel of a gun was aimed at you. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

Finally he crumpled giving a frown. “Why are you staring at me?”

Bruce. Was quiet a moment longer when he did speak it was with all the gentleness of a brewing storm.

“I'm trying to see my son.”

 

Damian furrowed his brow. “ I am.”

Bruce didn't break his focus mouth in a thin line. “I don't think so. What I see..is a monster.”

Chapter Text

“Start talking.”

 

Damian stood rubbing his fingers ever so slightly as he tried to figure out what to say. He avoided eye contact.

“Damian Alexander.” Bruce commanded.

Damian wrinkled his nose at the mention of his middle name. “I don't know where.”

“The truth is a good a place as any.”

“It's not that simple.”

“Lying rarely is.”

Damian fumed. “I am NOT a liar.”

 

Bruce took a slow even breath. “Did you or did you not have a hand in what took part tonight.”

Damian couldn't dispute it. “Yes and no.”

“It can't be both.” Bruce stated.

Damian gritted his teeth. “Yes, but it's not how you think.”

“Than explain it to me.” Bruce bit out.

Damian briefly raised his eyes to meet his fathers face and immediately regretted it as he saw the daggers responsible for being pushed in his soul.

“It wasn't supposed to happen that way. It was just.. a suggestion.”

Bruce shook his head. “Suggestion. By whom?”

 

Damian titled his head down to the side. Giving away his answer, Bruce eye brows shot up. “by you?”

“It started at school, it came up in discussion. I didn't think they would actually do it.”

Bruce bowed his head bringing his hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose reminding himself to stay calm.

“So, please tell me what compelled you to 'suggest' such a thing?”

Damian hated being treated like a criminal. He faced his father. “It's obvious. He's a Drake, he deserves worse than that.”

Bruce opened his eyes raising his head to glare at his son. It was increasingly coming clear how the Black widow spider could actually devour their children. Damian continued as his father remained silent.

 

“Everyone knows what they did to this community and to innocent people. I won't apologize for standing for what's-”

“Are you seriously, going to stand there and try and justify what you did?”

Damian narrowed his eyes. He didn't do anything..wrong. He just didn't. He clenched his fists.

 

“Master, Bruce.”

“Yes, Alfred.” Bruce answered his eyes never leaving his son.

Alfred ceremoniously placed his hands behind his back as he stood in the door way. “All guests have left sir, and the boys are upstairs been reassured master, Tim will be fine.”

“Thank you, Alfred.” Bruce flatly acknowledged.

Alfred simply turned and left.

Damian turned to leave managing a few steps as he still felt his fathers eyes on him.

“I did not say you could leave.” Bruce stated with all the kindness of a venomous snake.

Damian anger bubbled and burst, fists clenched tight, he spun around, glare rivaling his fathers. He pointed in the direction where his classmates had last been seen.

“Why are you not ripping them apart?! They-”

 

Blue eyes darkened as the storm that had been churning silently thundered forth. Bruce took a step forward putting Damian in place.

“I don't care about them! They are nothing to me!! YOU ARE MY SON! You are an extension of ME, YOU. HOLD MY NAME!”

Damian fell silent eyes staring at the floor as Bruce closed his eyes and breathed, running his hands through his hair as he turned resting them on the back of his neck.

Silence hung heavy between them. Bruce lowered his hands to rest on his waist. He turned back the storm lowering some. He seethed.

“Not only was it incredibly idiotic and reckless. It was 'Dangerous.' He could have died, Damian.”

 

'That is an exaggeration.' Damian thought. Wouldn't dare say it out loud, he'd like to live to see tomorrow.

 

“How long would you have waited? When were you going to say anything?!” Bruce demanded.

 

“I didn't know.” Damian answered ignoring the question entirely.

“How. Long. Damian?” Bruce asked again.

Damian's nostrils flared in and out as he breathed in frustration. Raising his hands to emphasize each word. “I. Did. Not. Know.”

Bruce blinked, eying his son. One thing Damian was not was a liar. He then crossed his arms along his chest as another question rose.

“Why did you have the keys?”

Damian lowered his hands. “What?”

“You had the key's to the car in your pocket.”

Damian huffed. “Danny gave them to me.”

“So, you just accepted them. You didn't think it was odd to be given the keys to his father's car.” Bruce voice rose at the stupidity. “You never once questioned why on earth they would give you those keys?”

“No, I didn't because we were just hanging out, talking, in the study and-” Damian trialed off.

Another level of anger rested on Bruce's face slow and observing like a hawk. “What were you doing in my study? You know that you're not allowed in there.”

Damian shrugged. “I don't know.”

So much for his son not being a liar. Bruce titled his head in disbelief then gave an exasperated sigh resting his hand against his forehead.

“I'll find out in time.” he said more to himself than Damian. “Where did I go wrong?”

 

Damian felt tears sting his eyes. “...You hate me.”

Bruce slid his hands in his pockets of his pants. “No, you're not doing this.”

Damian was confused. “Not doing what?”

“Feeling sorry for yourself.”

Damian laughed slightly at that. “Your so full of it, if your disappointed then you should be disappointed in yourself.”

 

“Excuse me?”

“It's true, the only reason that you took in those three street kids is because you wanted to make up for your own fails with me. You were never there for me. Ever.”

“How dare you. You have a roof over your head, food to eat and everything in between. From where I am-”

“Those are material things! You were Never Here. You were either at work or across the world! You spent more time with them, then you ever did with me.”

 

“Don't use them as an excuse, you have been acting on this destructive path long before Dick, Jason, and Tim arrived. The fact is Damian, you screwed up and you need to own your mistakes.”

 

“And you have to own yours!!” Damian screamed. Then fell silent

Tension was an understatement.

 

“I'd think very careful on what you say next.” Bruce clenched his jaw. After a moment he focused on his next move. “If my father were here he would turn you over his knee for this behavior and I have half a mind to do the same.”

Damian swiped a hand over his nose.

 

He could yell for another few hours if he let himself but not all of his anger was completely on his only blood son. He would be lying if he said he was free of all Damian pointed out so boldly and perhaps
near sighted. He rested taking in hidden under all that anger was hurt. Hurt he caused him not intentionally, but he none the less. He looked at his watch. Ten to eleven.

 

“This is what is going to happen. You are grounded until the New Year starts. You will sweep this entire floor. Then you will go to your room and stay there until I tell you to come out. You will write individual letter of apology to all three boys and you will do everyone's chores until I tell you not to. If you are part of anything like this again you will be kicked out of this house. Is that clear?”

“Yeah” Damian muttered.

“Damian.”

“Yes, father.” Damian answered firmly.

Bruce nodded. “Get started.”

 

Damian stood; As Bruce's foot steps echoed in the ballroom as he left.

Chapter Text

Jason sat in the chair in Dick's bedroom. Dimly lit by a bedside lamp, left arm draped over one side while he ran his right thumb under his bottom lip. One leg out stretched eyes distant as he mulled over the conversation he had over heard. How could they have been so careless? Serves them right for trusting in powerful people, they never normally would, but one thing lead to another. As soon as Tim was healed from the operation they needed to leave.

His eyes landed on Tim's sleeping form in the bed while Dick sat up beside him. Also, distant lost in his own thoughts. Then there was Dick who wasn't exactly healthy either, but this was life that he hated, what they all hated. Sure, the streets were rough and down right miserable; but they could trust people out there, it was home.

He lowered his thumb drifting his attention to Dick. He looked worn, no doubt the stress of everything did not do wonders for him. His tie and tux jacket lay over the end of the bed along with Tim's suit, he had never seen Dick angry before tonight and it was oddly admirable and threatening at the same time.

Alfred, was the only decent one in Jason's book. Daddy Wayne and his spawn was enough to turn his stomach after tonight, but how could he tell Dick and Tim without crushing them. Random punks in school uniforms were one thing but Bruce and Damian were another. Heck, Tim had a friend in Damian, his only friend and that one stabbed him in the back without him even knowing it.

 

Then there was Tyrel and the dealings. Hard to be running the streets when the streets were not as close as they once were. Sure, he did it but it took time and time was a valuable commodity in the line of work he was in. Deadlines had to be met and to do it in secret from five people instead of two was a royal pain in the ass.

Dick raised a hand to rest against the side of his head. Surpassing a grimace with a yawn. Jason softened his thoughts straightening his knees he bent forward.

“Hey, Dick.”

Dick turned his head, eyes slightly glazed. “Hm?”

Jason opened his mouth. Not tonight. “You should go to bed.”

Dick shook his head then regretted it as sharp jab hit his eyes. “You know how he is after an episode.”

Jason got up from his chair, walking over, looking at the bedside clock. “It's pushing elven thirty. I know you take it on you to watch over both of us but...you won't be functioning very well as it is to take care of yourself after tonight. Let me take the first night.”

Dick looked at Tim pressed against his body. He didn't have energy to debate, his head was not his friend tonight and new deep down Jason was right.

“Ok.”

Jason watched as Dick as he carefully removed himself so Jason took his spot. Tim shifted giving a moan but not waking as Jason gently draped his arms around Tim's shoulders.

“Let me-”

Jason reached out with his right hand to touch Dicks. “It's alright. I got this. You can have my room,get some shut eye.””

 

Dick leaned over planting a kiss against Tim's head. Then squeezing Jason on the shoulder. “Thanks, Good night.”

Jason settled in a comfortable position as Dick quietly slipped out of the room. Tim breathed evenly against Jason's chest he ran his finger tips lightly over Tim's eyes forehead to keep the stubborn strands of hair to rest out of his eyes. His memory of tonight threatened to come back causing a flash of resentment to rest on his face then he focused on something lighter. He smiled at the past memory that played in his head.

 

Gotham Abandon sector 4 2 years ago

 

“Did you see that cop just gawk at us as we scaled that bridge.” Jason laughed as he pushed the grocery cart along the cracked pavement.

 

Tim sat in the cart. The summer breeze blowing gently, Tim snickered flapping his hands against the side of his head to mimic fins. “Like a goldfish.”

“Exactly, a goldfish.” Jason beamed.

Tim lowered his hands as he thought. “Jason?”

 

“Yeah, T.J?”

“Do you ever get lonely?”

Jason bit his bottom lip as he pushed up a incline. “Sometimes, I don't really think on it. The more you think your lonely, the more lonelier you feel and then it just is depressing.”

“Fair.” Tim noted.

Jason titled the cart causing Tim to clutch on the sides. “Can I ask you another question?”

“S-sure.” Jason answered with a huff as he made it up the last hump flattening out.

“Do you have regrets?”

Jason weaved the cart around a turn over oil drum. “I think everyone does. If they said they don't, they're lying.”
Tim pursed his lips as he thought. “I have another question.”

Jason chuckled pressing his foot down on the back of the cart popping the front wheels up over a large crack then lifting the back wheels up . “Of, course you do. Shoot.”

“Do good people get punished worse when they do bad things then when bad people get punished for doing bad things? Or is it the same.”

Jason furrowed his brow. “I..what?”

“I have another question.”

Jason slowed the cart as he frowned. “Tim, you do realize this is like the tenth one right.”

“I know it's the last one, promise.”

Jason grinned. “Ok, last one.”

“Do kids go to hell?”

Jason stopped the cart completely. “What...kind a question is that?!”

“I know good people go to heaven that's what my mom said and bad people go to hell. But my dad says that I'm bad and I do bad things and. I don't want to burn it's just I never meant to be bad I always tried to be good.. I really did.”

 

“Whoa,whoa whoa. Whoa.” Jason interrupted coming in front of the cart. “Tim, this has gone far south from where we started with 'what's your favorite color' to fire and Brimstone.”

Tim held a deep sense of worry Jason had seen from a ten year old in awhile. Thoughts of the shed greeted his mind but he pushed it back and gave a smile.

“Listen, I don't know really. No one taught me anything about spiritual stuff, I was too busy trying, ironically not to die. The only time I've been in a church was to steal from the offering plate, which I did feel guilty about. So, I guess there is still something to be said for that.”

Tim smirked. “You stole out of an offering plate.

“Yeah, but I drank holy water so. All is good.” Jason brushed off with a flick of his wrist.

“Jason!” Tim chided. Crossing his arms. “That isn't for drinking.”

 

“Well, they should really mark the thing, with the thing. Because if it's like a dish with water in it and certain people are parched from running and it's in thirty plus degree weather. It can happen.”

“Was it at the entrance of the building or in the front of the pulpit?”

Jason blinked then walked back to the front of the cart. “Lets not dwell on the details. I would sooner go to a place of light that doesn't burn you like egg on a side walk.”

“Same.” Tim stated as Jason pushed the cart into a old skate park.

The clink and clank of the cart filled the air as neither spoke. Jason eyes focused on Tim's neck what kind of kid asks serious questions like that? Maybe kids just naturally do without thinking but Tim always has a reason for every question, constantly thinking. Tim just was not a typical kid, having deep emotions and feelings. Jason hated feelings, too complicated but he had to say something to change Tim's mind. He stopped the cart again coming back to him.

“Tim, you are a good person. I've seen it first hand, heck you're my guardian angel. So, don't stress over the heavy stuff.”

Tim bit his bottom lip brows knitted tight together, Jason huffed seeing the wheels work. Tim's eyes landed on Jason opening his mouth.

“Aht, it's final Tim. You're good, good than I'll ever be. So, no ands if,s or monkey butts.”

 

Tim laughed. Jason smirked. “There it is.”

Jason went back around to the cart. Pushing it back on it's path but stopped as he saw a pit a couple yards away. Turning the cart Tim looked behind him.

“Jason, what are you doing?”

“Fun, Tim.”

 

Tim frowned as they came to the ledge of the pit. “Jason...it's not safe in this rusty thing.”

“It's a risk, but it will be worth it promise.” Jason answered preparing himself.

Tim gripped the cart tighter. “What if I fall?”

Jason leaned forward. “You won't and if you do. I will be here to catch you.”

 

Tim adjusted himself in the cart better leverage. “Ok.”

“Here, we go!” Jason announced.

Tim let out a slight scream as the cart tipped forward and followed the dip of the pit. Jason ran the cart up one side than pulling back around swerving the cart to run it the length. Both laughed than to Jason's surprise, Tim released the edges of the cart holding his arms out to the side.

“Faster!”

Jason picked up speed letting out a loud whoop! Then to be expected one of the wheels seized mid way through a turn. Tim let out whoa! And both spilled down the short length to the bottom laughter dying out as their eyes focused on the blue sky white clouds crawling across the expanse. Settling in silence.

 

“You're a good person to Jason Todd.”

Jason was taken aback as he looked back at the boy beside him. “That's not my last name.”

“Well, you said that you didn't have one. Having a last name is important.”

Jason looked back at the sky. The breeze joined them once more reminding them it was still there.

“Why Todd?”

Tim chuckled. “As in sweeny.”

Jason gave an incredulous look at him. “The demon barber of-”

“Fleet Street!” Tim finished with a dramatic few notes. Conducting his hands in the air Than broke out laughing.”

Jason blinked wide then fell content. This kid was one heck of an onion. He smiled then Tim shifted resting his head against Jason's shoulder a moment as Jason wrapped his arm around his shoulders.

“We better head back, Dick will be turning over the city looking for us.” Jason looked at the cart. “Broken.”

Tim sat up as Jason got to his feet holding out his hand. Hauling Tim back to his feet, he turned his back to him kneeling on one knee.

“Hop on.”

Tim smiled widely and jumped on a little to hard, Jason grunted with a laugh. Then hooked his hands to his side as Tim slipped his legs around his waist.

“Fast?” Tim asked.

Jason smirked. “Hold on!”

Jason picked up speed zig-zagging a path towards home. Tim let out whoop holding his arms out to the side once more.

 

)))))

 

Present.

Jason was brought back out of his memory as Tim jerked hand clutching up to fists the white shirt at the height of his heart. Jason comforted Tim resting his cheek against Tim's head.

“It's ok. I'll make sure, you will never be hurt again.” he whispered. “Tomorrow, I'll make things right.”

 

Tyrel will just have to suck it up.

Chapter Text

Dick had kept quiet about his own night afflictions, normally being able to wake himself up before he made noise to wake up his brothers. He didn't have to worry, but it seems to be worse. Perhaps, it was stress maybe it was just not him coping with it as well as he should.

He bolted upright eyes wide the only sound in the silence was his quickened breath. Settling he raised a hand to his head then turned to look at the bedside clock, two forty-five am. His mouth and throat were dry a sure way to say he was sleeping with his mouth open he slowly removed himself from the bed and made his way to the door. The sound of a clock made it's self known as he padded down the stairs and into the kitchen. He flicked on the light then flinched at the brightness, groaning, he rubbed his eyes; startled to see Damian sitting at the counter looking also deer in the head lights.

Dick pinched the bridge of his nose. “Didn't see you there.”

“Happens when one sits in the dark. “you're still in your tux.”” Damian answered nursing a glass of water of his own.

 

“Zonked out, before I could change out of the rest of it.”

Dick walked over to the cupboard taking out a glass. He filled it up taking a few good mouthfuls then looked at the fridge freezer.

“Is there anything in the freezer that no one would miss?”

Damian shrugged. “Peas.”

Dick set down the glass and made his way to open the freezer and spied the bag. Damian watched him as he placed the bag on the back of his neck and sighed.

“Do you get headaches often?”

 

Dick winced. “Yeah.”

Damian frowned. “Bummer.”

Dick leaned on the counter for support as drank in the numbing effect the sound of paper greeted his ears he turned to see a sheet in front of him attached at the top was Damian's fingers. He picked up the sheet as Damian removed his hand.

“What's this?” Dick inquired as his eyes weren't really in for reading.

Damian rested his arms on the counter top. “It's an apology letter. One of three I have to write. Of course it's a draft, I'll write a better one tomorrow morning.”

Dick looked down at the 'To Dick' at the top at first glance the kid had good writing. He focused back on Damian.

“Hate to break it to you it is morning.” Dick mentioned. “Why the letter?”

“It's part of my orders I have to fill out. Father has made sure to exact detail that each punishment is to be handled with much care.”

Dick set down the paper. “Remind me not to get on your fathers bad side.”

 

Damian sat straighter. “He really doesn't like me very much, he enjoys punishing me.”

Dick recognized hurt when he saw it. He set down the peas. “I think what you mistake as punishment is ..discipline.”

Damian gave a unamused look. “Is there really a difference?”

 

“Tim, seems to think so.”

Damian saddened even more as his thoughts went back to the previous evening. “I'm so sorry. I never meant to...I would never have done anything like that to Tim.”

“I don't blame you, Damian.” Dick smiled.

 

“You don't?” Damian asked not sure if he heard right.

“Everyone makes mistakes and I know you would never be that cruel.”

Damian lowered his head. “That was what I was trying to get through to my dad, but he was really angry.”

“Yeah, going by the fair amount f yelling I heard.” Dick picked up the peas again placing it on the back of his head.

After a moment of silence Damian spoke. “I think...he's hurt and I'm the same. I've been trying to figure it out.”

Dick furrowed his brow. “Figure what out?”

 

“Why my mom left.”

Dick looked him sympathy held in his eyes. “I noticed no one talks about her.”

“because, it's painful for father and I think I am a reminder of her and it just makes him angry. I don't mean to be.”

“He loves you Damian. I've seen how he raises you.”

To dick's surprise he saw a tear roll down the side of the boys face.

“I don't see how, I don't love me and my mother doesn't I'm damaged. I wish I could just ask her why?”

Dick came over to sit beside Damian. Taking his hand in his own. “Why, is a hard question because the answer is unpredictable, it can be gentle and give you clarity and other times it brings confusion and hurt. I don't know your mother it could be many things that just factor in, it could simply she left because it was a better choice in her mind. In her sense of love she knew Bruce could provide the care that she felt overwhelmed with.”

 

Damian sniffed blinking he looked at Dick and saw kindness and genuine concern. “What about your parents, where are they?”

 

Dick lost his brightness. “They died, freak accident.”

“I'm sorry.” Damian lowered his eyes.

Dick winced moving the bag to the left side of his head. “Me too.”

 

“How old were you?”

“Eight.”

Damian looked back at him. “Do you remember them?”

 

“Sometimes...I feel guilty that I do forget them, but then I dream of them and it brings me to remember their love and how lucky I was to have them in my life. Their protection. It's like a fog in the morning and then it just fades.”

Damian nodded. “I don't think I could ever be father, the idea one day of taking on his business and making him proud of me is monumental.”

“No one can be someone else. 'like.' maybe, but..I think the world would be lost without a Damian Wayne. Be you and carve your own path. My father drilled that in my brain your father is proud of you and if he isn't then do something to make him proud. I faith you can.”

Damian smiled. “You're good at this. Making people feel better.”

Dick weakly smiled. “Had practice.”

Damian looked at the clock. “I better get going, if my father catches me I won't be able to do anything if he kills me.”

Dick got up from his seat. Then found arms wrapped around his waste. “Thank you.”

Dick gave a half hug back. “Anytime.”
Damian exited out of the kitchen. Dick saw the glass on the counter letting out a breath as he picked it up washing it out in the sink and placed it in the dish rack. Taking the peas with him back upstairs.

 

))))))))))

 

Jason rocked back and forth on his heels as he waited in the new drop zone. Under a turnpike linking Bludhaven and Gotham City. He looked behind him then back in front of him. The winter air biting his skin. It was hard to leave Tim but it wouldn't be long, he snuck out the farthest exit in Manor so no one saw or heard him.

“Jason.”

Jason saw Tyrel approach stopping a few feet away.

 

Jason titled his head at a man beside him then back at Tyrel. “Who's the new guy?”

Tyrel lit a cigarette. “A lot of dubious people this end of town doesn't hurt to have back up. Never know who can trust.” he let out shivery breath. “Got your message, sounded important.”

Jason scrapped his foot against the ground looking at the path it took than back at the other. “I can't run for you anymore.”

Tyrel sniffed speaking around his smoke. “If it's pay you know things are tight right now.”

“I don't care about the pay.” Jason shot out.

Tyrel looked at the boy in front of him. “What are you saying?”

“I'm saying I'm done. I'm not running for you or anyone else.”

Tyrel removed the cigarette holding it between his fingers letting out a puff of smoke to mingle with his breath into the early morning air.

“Where is this coming from?”

Jason shook his head. “Things..are different.”

Tyrel scoffed. “Right, living with the Waynes is quite cushy compared to that dump of a bus you were living in.”

Jason narrowed his eyes. “C'mon, I got the in-tel you wanted, giving the contacts. I ate so much food to cover up the amount of material in my back pack. I've missed school for weeks because I committed to the streets. The Waynes mean nothing to me but my brothers do.”

Tyrel looked at Jason out of the corner of his eye. “Let me guess, Dick?”

Jason shook his head. “Neither Dick or Tim know of this. You have everything you need to make your clients happy.”

Tyrel laughed at that. “Luthor is never happy and the so called information you gave me is null and void.”

Jason gave a disbelieving glare. “You can't be serious. You have Wayne Enterprises golden key. Bank records, scheduling, vault combinations.”

“And you know that it is all traceable.”

“I'm sure Luthor and many more have tech support. He's a big boy he'll figure it out.”

“Luthor Corp is not the only ones willing to cross those waters.” Tyrel reminded.

“Not my problem.” Jason shot back coolly. “I'm. Done.”

 

“Jason.” Tyrel firmly called back causing Jason to look at him. “You sure this is what you want?”

 

Jason thought of his happiest memories. He smiled. Then looked back at his employer. “Yeah, it is. I promise you don't have to worry about me sharing info. I want to focus on finishing my schooling and just being there for Dick and Tim. I hope you understand.”

Tyrel nodded. “I understand.”

Jason smiled. “Thank you. For everything.”

“It was my pleasure.” Tyrel replied back. Tossing his cigarette on the ground.

 

Jason smiled contently at the weight lifted off his shoulders. He turned to leave, then fell to the ground, his mind briefly thought he his foot hit a patch of ice his vision blurred he must have struck his head how..

Hands flying to his leg then reality screamed forth as did his agonized scream.

Tyrel stepped forward kneeling down beside him. Eying his shaky form. “I'm truly sorry, Jason. I never mean't to hurt you, you're a good kid.”

Jason forced his eyes to look at the fisherman. “Y..you don't hurt kids. That's nng.”

Tyrel smiled slightly. “Me, it's true I don't. My friend however.”

Jason followed Tyrel's line of vision at the man who remained silent as the gun in his gloved hand

The agonizing haze Jason manage to form words. “I..said I.”

Tyrel clicked his tongue. “I know what you 'Said' but I can't listen to yours words Jason when the act of your betrayal drowns out any credibility. Whose to say you won't turn around and run to men like Luthor to offer your talents or even run for Mr. Bruce Wayne himself.”

“I..” Jason lost his words throw a pained wail as Tyrel pressed on his wound.

“Best not waste energy. That's a nasty wound I heard you put pressure on injuries like that.” Tyrel removed his hand. “It's too bad, I hope you understand, but you know how they say 'if not an Asset.'”

 

Tyrel straightened. “I wish you the best Jason, I really do. I like the suit at least they won't have to change you.”

 

Jason gasped watching the blood pour from his leg. He tried to clutch at it with as much is failing strength would let him. His thoughts flitting between pain and confusion. He heard foot steps leave, this..this wasn't how tonight was supposed to end. He knew that much.

He bit back a scream as he tried to sit up, he needed help. Dick..Dick would come for him he always did and Tim. He collapsed back against the ground. Foot steps approached him, gingerly he turned his head in hope seeing who it was but found himself looking at a pair of boots.

He mustered up as much threat as he could. Glaring up at his assailant who coldly returned his stare. Jason gasping mouth fell into a straight line as the gloved hand raised the barrel of his gun...

 

Then fired.

 

)))))))))

In the quietness of Dick's room a note sat on the cushion of the chair.

 

Hey, Guys

'Don't worry about me, be back soon. Will, explain when I get back, save a spot for me at the table.'

 

Jason.

Chapter Text

10 Years Later-Wayne Enterprises

 

The elevator doors opened releasing the handful of workers to disperse into their designated cubicles a pair of legs hurried toward a office opening the door to a board meeting nearing it's end.

“Miss,Brown. Nice of you to join us.”

 

“My apologies Mr. Wayne. Marketing meeting ran over time.” she breathed out plunking down in her seat and drawing it closer to the table.

“Now, I trust you did get the memo for later this afternoon?”

 

She nodded. “Yes, I will have all marketing plans prepared for the conference call at two.”

“Good and I trust finance will also be prepared?”

All eyes turned to a young man sitting at the end of the table. His focus poured into the tablet in front
of him. He waved his hand in the air towards the voice.

“Yeah, yeah, all good.”

 

A cleared throat caused him to pry his eyes from the screen to glance at the quizzical faces at the table finally landing on the green piercing at him, an unamused glare his way. The young man set down the tablet clearing his throat being more present in the room.

“huh..yes, right, the financial numbers will.” he cleared his throat. “Counted and..charted.

Stephanie stifled a laugh rendering it a snort as she pressed her mouth in to her hand. She flicked her eyes back to the front.

“Good. That will be all, thank you.”

 

“Mr. 'Finance' a moment if you will.” the room emptied. Stephanie waited a moment longer offering a knowing smile before she closed the door behind her.

“Tim, would it be too much to ask if you could give me your full attention at any of these meetings? just once, all I ask.”

Tim scratched the back of his head. “Sure.”

“Good, it's bad enough people think I'm a joke. I was given this as a trial basis and I'd like not to fail and to be seen like I can command a room.”

Tim grinned.
“It's cute how you worry.” he then shook his head with a slight grin at the dirty look thrown his way. “Damian, relax. You are doing amazing. I'm in finance I would know when you screw up. Which happened to be last month.”

Damian furrowed his brow than groaned holding his head in his hands. “Not my intention.”

 

Tim patted him on the shoulder. “You'll be fine. Bruce is pleased with what you are doing so far. Keep it up and you'll go places kid.”

Damian lifted his head. Tim giving a smile but it never ever reached his eyes, not like it used too. He hadn't been the same since that day and it grew worse as the years went by.

The ring of his cell phone broke his thoughts. He reached in. “Father.”

Tim gave him a thumbs up. “You got this.”

Damian returned a quick smile answering his phone. “Hey, ya just finished up...”

 

)))))

Tim rounded the corner then gasped as a hand gripped him by the arm. Then was pressed up against the wall, blinking at the soft blue eyes staring at him.

“Ste-” he was cut off by her lips pressing against him. He breathed glancing around before smirking at her. “We're at work.”

“I know, but we haven't-” she kissed him again. Then whispered in his ear causing him to blush slightly then with a final tug she lead him down the hall.

She went over to a storage closet. “It will be quick..”

Tim shook his head. “I have a better idea.”

She glanced behind her then giggled as he hurried around several more turns. He entered an office shutting the door behind them. She removed his suit jacket running her hands up and down his chest as he fumbled to turn the blinds down.

He kissed her back fervently parting to catch air. “How was your week?”

 

Stephanie snorted looking at him playfully a huff of irritation at the question. “Tim, on the clock.”

“Oh, right.” Tim kissed her back as he raised her leg up to his thigh. He parted again as she planted kisses along his jaw. “No need to worry. I calculated the time for each body on this floor and factored in their breaks. So..we're good.”

Stephanie reached down tugging at his belt. Pulling him forward against her. He got the hint lifting her up so she wrapped her legs around his waist. Dancing along the floor to bump against the desk. He laid her on top.

She rolled her eyes giving a flirtatious smile. “Such a office cliché.”

Tim smiled against her kiss. “I can do that trick pony thing for you.”

She pulled back giving a amused chuckle. “You mean magic Mike?”

 

Tim blinked then furrowed his brow. “Isn't that what you women crazy for, or..something?”

“And men. I have male friends who dig it.” she undid his belt. “I don't think this desk could handle it anyway.”

Tim ran his fingers up the back of her neck. Kissing her deeply before he loosened his tie. “This is not your typical desk. This is a Wayne Enterprises quality desk. It can hold both our body weight.”

She watched him as he undid the button on each of his sleeves rolling them up to his elbows. She raised her hands.

“Wait. Let me get in proper position.”

Stephanie undid the buttons on her shirt to reveal a hint of blue lace throwing one arm elegantly behind her head and then cocking her legs up to a seductive curve turning her head to the side peering at him through half lidded eyes.

“Ok. All yours.” she stated in a sultry voice.

Tim ran both hands through his hair giving a two step causing her to laugh. “What are you doing?”

Tim continued on path to his left and to his right. “Cowboys.”

She shook her head bringing a hand up to mute her laugh. “You have no idea what magic mike is about do you?”

Tim bracketed himself on each side of her body giving her a flirtatious devious flick of his eyes. “Oh, I know. Goes something like this.”

She watched as hoisted himself on the desk. Leaning forward to kiss her once more. “Tim, clock.”

Tim cleared his throat. “Right.”

 

She watched as he braced himself. Then proceeded to do the signature move.

 

The door opened as Bruce walked in ending the execution of the act with Stephanie bolting upright in a startled gasp while Tim let out a surprised scream tumbling off and crashing onto the hard floor below. Stephanie brought her hands up to clutch her blouse shut with one hand sliding off the desk. As she brought the other to smooth out her hair. “M-Mr.Wayne I..”

Tim groaned as he grabbed the edge of the desk. “Steph, It fine. Right Dami-”

 

Tim faltered as his eyes landed on the CEO. He scrambled up on his feet hands flying to his belt. As both he and Stephanie sported impressions as if children with hands in the cookie jar by their parents. Except much,much worse.

 

“When you two are straightened. A word.” Was all Bruce ordered before he turned and left.

“Yes, Mr Wayne. “ Stephanie answered as Tim came up beside her avoiding eye contact with the older man.

The door clicked shut. A pause of silence as Stephanie turned into Tim as she groaned in embarrassment then laughed.

“I failed to factor in the unknowns.” Tim breathed out in his own amusement.

 

)))))))))))

 

Moments later Bruce sat down at his desk. While his employees stood presentably in front of him, each waiting in awkward silence as he finished filling out a few notes and signing his signature on some documents. He turned to his secretary and handed it back to her.

 

“Thank you, close the door on the way out.”

“Yes, Mr. Wayne.” she concluded giving a curious glance at her colleagues before exiting.

Bruce full attention was directly on the couple in front of him. “Stephanie, I have been informed that you have been doing an excellent job, your marketing skills have not gone unnoticed by our foreign customers. WE obviously has benefited with your talents.”

Stephanie cleared her throat hands clasped in front of her. “Thank you, sir.”

Bruce turned his eyes to Tim who couldn't hold on the others gaze for long. “Tim, I received your report evidence shows you do tight and efficient work.”

Tim gave a nod. “...Thank you.”

“However.”

There it is.

“If I catch you two doing something like this ever again. You will be Fired. Is that clear.”

“Yes, Mr. Wayne.” Both answered in unison.

Bruce gave a curt nodded. “Good. You may leave..Stephanie.”

Steph looked sympathetically at mouthing a 'Sorry.' before exiting as well..

A moment of silence.

“Really, my office.” Bruce shot out.

Bruce stared at Tim who simply swallowed, stepping forward. “Mr. Wayne..Bruce, I just want to let you know that.. you see ever since our engagement we haven't really had time to celebrate.Steph and I have barely had alone time this past month and Unknownst to me-”

“Engagement?”

Tim smiled sheepishly. Rubbing the back of his neck “Yeah, I was going to tell. Planned on telling everyone tonight.”

Bruce stood rounding to the front of the desk crossing his arms along his chest as he eyed Tim then gave a smile.

“Tim.” Tim was surprised as he was given a hug. “Congratulations, I'm happy for you both.”

Tim returned the hug. “Thank you.”

parting Bruce rested a hand on Tim's shoulder a moment longer. “Have you told Dick?”

Tim remained quiet, causing Bruce to soften. “You should tell him, Tim. He'll want to know.”

“I'll think about it.” Tim looked at his watch. “I better get back to work.”

“Alfred has something for you at the Manor to pick-up. Drop by?”

Tim nodded. “Sure, seven ok?”

“Will let him know.”

Tim gave one last smile before opening the door and made his way down the hall and around the corner. Bruce once more sat at his desk sitting back in his chair it been a god two years since communication stopped between the two brothers. It saddened to see the close bound fray and break altogether, hoping this good news would bring the connection back together.

 

Then again it was hard, to wish that for them when he himself has barely had contact with his oldest son. All he could do was hope and be patient.

 

 

)))))))))

 

Gotham City- GCPD Headquarters

 

“So, here is where you are hiding.”

A man in his late twenties looked over his shoulder at the red head approaching him. He turned back to the file in his hand.

“I'm not hiding.” He answered his eyes focused on the file in his hands.

 

She leaned against the old desk. “Looks like hiding to me, Amy called said you needed to have someone hall you upstairs.”

“It's quieter down here.” he answered matter -a -factly.

 

“Uh-huh.” she turned her eyes to the file in his hands. Dick, I'm sure whatever it is it can wait.”

Dick didn't answer, causing her to pull away from the desk. Coming over and closing the file and placed it back in it's designated spot.

“This coming from the commissioner. 'Take him by the scruff of his neck and get his handsome face to the bullpin.' end quote.

Dick ran a hand through his raven hair. “Can't they just send me the bars and a plaque. Cheaper.”

Barbra laughed. “Dick, it's not a high school grad. It's a promotion. You've earned it.”

A sadness clouded his heart. “I'm not sure about that, but if it will have people to get off my ass then fine I'll go.”

Barbra turned him away from the shelf and forcefully lead him up the stairs. “That's the spirit.”

Dick was geered around the corner and was taken a back at the surprise thrown loudly his way. He blinked then tturned to Barbra as the room was filled with applause.

“Was this you?”
Amy stepped forward a congrats stash in hand. “Party is so called for. Grayson.”

Another officer pipped up. “It's a good excuse to have cake. Gives us energy.”

Dick pointed at the half chocolate cake sitting on a table with coffee. “See, you beat me to the cutting.”

“Trial run another threw out around a mouthful.”

Amy walked over placing the sash around him. “Can't blame them, cake-avors they are.”

Dick stepped back pointing at the plastic cone. “Sash is plenty.”

Amy shrugged. “But you are so cute.”

“So, cute.” Barbra echoed. “Have cake and then we should go want to get there in time.”

Dick gave a curios look. “Where?”

Barbra held out her phone. “Got a message from Bruce 'A surprise party for Tim at Manor.' Seven o'clock.'” she beamed at Dick. “He and Stephanie are engaged.”

Dick shook his head solemnly. “Not going.”

 

Barbra lowered her phone slightly. “C'mon, Dick. It's-”

Dick removed the sash. “I said I am not going, the end of it.”

 

Barbra and Amy watched as he stormed off towards the locker room. Amy rested her hands on her waist.

“Still nursing that grudge.”

Barbra shook her head. “It's not a grudge, more like a fallout. They both care about each other, I know that.”

“It's a shame he hasn't told me much about it.”

 

Barbra solemnly looked at her phone then back at Dick. “I think if he says it out loud, it will make it real. He's not ready to except it. I know I wouldn't. He just needs time...Just give him time.”

Chapter Text

Bludhaven

 

“BPD! Get on the ground now!” Amy commanded as they entered the warehouse.

 

The half dozen men were startled from the tables. Some reaching for their guns but found themselves out numbered surrendering.

Dick eyed the tables, the spread of narcotics weapons and counter fit money on display. “Quite the illegal smorgasbord.”

Amy cuffed her guy. “You were right, nat-”

The sound of footsteps broke through the air. Catching their attention.

“We got a runner!” Amy announced.

“I got it!” Dick stated taking off after the criminal.

“Grayson!” Amy called out cursing under her breath as her hands were full.

 

Dick burst out the back door in pursuit of the criminal. “BPD! Stop!”

He followed the weaving path the perpetrator made Dick swooped up a piece of two by four and flung it in the guys back, Sending him sprawling on the pavement. Dick raised his gun.

“Hands on your head. Hands on your head now!”

He did what he was told. Dick holstered his weapon and took out his cuffs. “No offense, but a man your size really should start off slow. Walking twenty minutes a day does wonders can't just full scale sprint.”

The man grunted as the cuffs were locked in place and was hauled to his feet. “I aien't telling you anything.”

“Fair, really don't need to. Enough evidence to lock you up for a VERY long time.” Dick answered making his way back inside the warehouse. “Got him.”

Amy crossed her arms as Dick made his way over to his police car. He frowned slightly at the disapproval coming his way.

“What?”

Amy rolled her eyes. “Is this some kind of high you love to chase?”

 

“Watch your head.” he stated shutting the door. He turned to his partner.“Not following.”

“Grayson, I'm your partner. As in Duo, going after a guy solo. Is not only reckless, but stupid.”

“Noted.” Dick answered walking to the driver side door and slid in the drivers seat.

Amy did the same in the passenger seat clicking her seat belt in place. She had been with her partner for one and a half years and she actually didn't know a great deal about him. Sure, bits and pieces but never really any back story. Unlike her who was a leaky faucet of information in attempts to crack open the impenetrable can of worms inside his body.

He wasn't a bad partner. He was a fantastic one but also an Achilles heel. Her thoughts turned to last night, Tim was his brother but he had a picture on his desk of a different one the one he never spoke of but was never gone, like a weight on every ounce of his body he carried and with it a boat load of stuff life naturally piles on.

She would say he wasn't a brooder because always smiled and laughed talkative but then there were times that his silence was so palatable that she could nearly suffocate in it. Driven to the extreme an instinct to survive. Sure, every cop had that but Dick had layers to it that it would years to get through all of them.

“Spill.”

Amy blinked coming out of her thoughts to look at her partner then back at the highway. She chewed her bottom lip.

“I don't-”

 

“You were quiet for five minutes. That, for you, is like an eternity.” Dick stated.

 

“I'm not sure if that's supposed to be insulting or funny.” she dryly shot back.

 

“Everything has the power of a chameleon with the power of perception.” Dick quoted earning a 'where the heck did you get that?' look from his partner.

He glanced over then simply explained.“My brothers handbook of life.”

“That's deep man.” the collar behind him pipped up.

“Yeah..don't think it was meant to be when it was written down.” Dick threw out.

Amy caught a wisp of something that would actually be a genuine heartfelt emotion and what she saw was not of happiness. She had to finally take a sledgehammer instead of a drill.

 

“How old was your brother when he died?”

Amy saw a ripple of emotion this time he turned his blue eyes slice at her. Catching her off guard a bit, she watched him release out a slow even breath through his nose. When he spoke it was all the flare of automated computer.

“She told you.”

 

Amy furrowed her brow. “Sorry?”

“Barbra, she asked you to talk to me.”

“Whose Barbra?” the man asked scooting forward.

“Shut-up. Before I make you.” Amy snarled at him. Then looked at Dick. “No, Barbra didn't ask me to talk to you. I couldn't help but notice that you Never talk about your brother and if you do it's vague. I figured he died because you go in the archives any free time you get.”

“My brother isn't dead.” Dick stated firmly.

“Bar-” Amy cut off as those striking blue came her way again. Reminding herself to go back to the drill. “She did say she met them at a ball once.”

Dick softened another layer that Amy saw that was perhaps compassion and possibly glad? Gawd, this man was complex. There is sensitive and emotional but he wasn't the vampire swan romance that claimed three years of peoples lives. He built a fortress around him for the emotional part, perhaps to keep people out or perhaps to keep himself in.

“Jason.”

Amy blinked. Ok, not what she thought. “That's a nice name.”

She then snickered earning a raised eyebrow from Dick. “Oh, It's just. Jason Grayson. Reminds it's funny.”

 

A laugh from the back punched through to the front. “That is funny.”

 

“Shut-up.” Both cops shot back.

 

A moment of silence.

“How old was he?”

Dick struggled internally then with another breath. “Fifteen.”

“Shame, you know I'm more than happy to help you look for bread crumbs. Maybe your parents could.”

 

“Stop.” Dick firmly ordered.

 

She frowned. “Stop what?”

 

He laughed slightly. “This is what you do, you have a normal conversation but at the same time fish for answers to the questions that are lurking in your mind. I've been with you enough to recognize your pattern, it's brilliant but I ask you to not pull it on me.”

 

“In all fairness, that is my point, I barely know you Grayson. Sure all the females are content just marveling you as eye candy. With your black hair, and hypnotic blue eyes. Not to mention your heart. But that isn't enough for me. Just I have one more question and I'll leave it be.” she stated.

 

“..Shoot.” he answered reluctantly.

 

“Why the fallout between you and Tim?”

 

Dick memories flashed in his mind. Hating himself with each image, the grip on his wheel tightened causing Amy to become more invested in him. When he spoke it was a thick covering of resentment... towards himself.

“I..lied.”

her eyebrows shot up in disbelief. “I struggle with that. You're a good cop, what did you lie about to warrant such harsh punishment?”

 

“It's complicated.”

 

She found the conversation abruptly ending as he pulled into the station. “I'm taking him to booking.”

 

She exited the vehicle but found him to have taken the perp and exiting the bay in a pace that left her with more questions with the few answers she did receive.

 

)))))))))

Wayne Manor- Ten years ago

The sound of cutlery against plates filled the air at the kitchen table, the dinner pocketed with small talk among the select few original members of the house hold. Dick focused on forcing the meal in front of him down his throat, three days turned into two weeks, two weeks turned into four. since Jason's disappearance. He turned his eyes over to Tim who had barely touched his food. Eyes honed in on the empty spot across from him, the setting of the dinnerware was a ritual for Tim that he himself wasn't aware of.

Alfred was talking to Bruce about the next days schedule. When with a angered growl erupted from Tim as he slammed his cutlery in his hands against the hard wood surface. Grinding his chair back he ran out of the room.

“Tim!”

Dick called out running after him. He was surprised at how fast Tim ran when motivated, he could see the emotion driving him. Dick caught his arm just outside his bedroom door.

“Tim, please.”

“I'm going out there!” Tim fired back pushing Dick away. “He's out there, I just know he is.”

Dick came in front of Tim, holding him with a gentle but firm grip on the boys arms. “Tim, you have to let this go.”

 

A flash of hurt and confusion swirled with anger. “Dick, we can't-”

“Tim, just..I will not allow you to go looking for him.” he couldn't lose him to and even worse that if something bad did happen to Jason he didn't want Tim finding him.

Tim pulled back. “I can handle myself fine, I don't need you protecting me!”

Dick's heart broke as he saw the hurt flow out of Tim mixing with his own. He had to make Tim see, that it wasn't worth looking for Jason.

“Tim, he made the choice, for whatever reason. You have to accept that.”

 

Tim let out a snarl then ran down the hall to his own room. “I'm going out there!”

Dick ran stopping the door slamming shut. Tim held up the note. “It could be code, it-”

 

Dick snatched the note out of Tim's hands. “This! Means nothing. He played us for fools.”

 

Tim's anger swept through the room as he watched Dick ball the piece of paper in his fist and tossed it in the trash can by the door. Tim clenched his fists stepping forward.

“NO! You're wrong!”

Dick remained silent mainly if he let himself feel his own hurt would show. Tim didn't know, he had been out every. Single. night. Looking for Jason. Convincing Bruce, Alfred and even Damian to keep Tim from searching.

He watched as Tim sunk to the floor wiping fiercely at his eyes to keep the tears from showing. Quiet settled but it was hardly pleasant as Tim finally spoke his voice cracking.

“How..How could he leave us like that? I don't understand.” he whispered.

Dick knelt down. “I know, I..don't get it either.”

 

Tim cried as the betrayal sat heavy on him. His eyes glistening with tears as he looked at Dick.

“You..don't get it..Jason is gone.”

Dick squeezed Tim's shoulder in comfort feeling him shake. “Then soon you will be too. Y..you're dying and that means, I'm..alone.”

Dick released Tim's shoulder. Sitting back on his heels as he watched the boy in front of him break piece by piece. He closed his eyes as he couldn't take the feelings in him nor seeing his brother in emotional anguish.

 

“No you won't be alone.” Dick answered.

Tim fought to keep the sorrow in his heart at bay. He stared at the hands against his legs. “They aren't you or Jason.”

Dick reached out taking Tim's hands in his own taking a breath. “Tim...I will be here for you.”

Tim furrowed his brow in confusion staring at Dick. “..What are you saying.”

Dick held his gaze solemnly. “I'm not dying...I never was.”

 

)))))))))))

 

Present

 

Tim stared at the contact list on his phone. 'Grayson.' in bold letters hung under his thumb, he should stop being so stubborn. As much as he wanted to forget he couldn't. The hypocrisy of his own actions were in his face.

He turned off his phone. And turned his eyes back to the computer screen at least work made sense.

It was something he always got right.

Chapter Text

It was five in the morning when Bruce stepped out of his room. Synching his robe tighter as he saw the pale light stretching out into the darkness. He descended the stairs and made his way to the lounge, he paused to observe his adoptive son, raise a cup to his mouth, typing with the fingers of his left hand on the key board in front of him. Never missing a beat as he set the cup down and let his right add to the rhythmic typing.

Bruce concern deepened as he took in the suit pants and white shirt the tie hanging loosely on the young man neck the collar left open a few buttons down. The jacket to his suit resting behind him, his hair disheveled in places do to the routine of hands running through the locks. Wayne Enterprises had a golden asset, an employee that was dedicated and hard working and brilliant in every sense of the world but..as his father. It tore him up inside.

Tim felt a presence causing him to glance over at the door way. Upon seeing who it was he paused but only a moment.

“I hope I didn't wake you.”

Bruce shook his head entering the room. “No, you didn't.”

 

Tim hummed his response. His attention locked in on the several dozen tabs open on his screen, Bruce walked over.

“Did you even go to bed?”

Tim knew it was a rhetorical question and his clothes answered it for him. “I need to have this finished by the time I go to work. “

Bruce reached out and closed the laptop. Earning a disapproving furrow from Tim at the idea someone would just end his work in a rude way.

“I'm not finished.” Tim stated as Bruce pushed the laptop out of reach.

 

“You are.”

Tim shook his head reaching out once more to the device but felt gentle hands encase his own. He turned his attention to Bruce.

 

“You do realize Japan, china and Germany are wanting-”

“Tim, if you do not stop now. You will be in a hospital, your burn out point was a long time ago.”

“I'm fine Bruce, really.” Tim stood from his chair than supporting his opponents argument teetered than sat back down. Raising a hand to his head as he waited the drained feeling to go away. He lowered his hand.

“Sleep is the logical choice.” Tim admitted.
Bruce smiled. “I would say so. You are taking the day off, spend it with your fiancee.”

Tim smiled, turning his focus to Bruce. “Thank, you. Also, for the celebration last night, you didn't have to do it.”

“An engagement is worth celebrating, you are my family Tim, a son.”

Tim smile faded some as his brothers greeted his mind. Bruce concern deepened bring a hand up to rest on Tim's shoulder.

“You alright?”

“Have..have you heard from Dick?”

Bruce lowered his hand. “No..not in awhile, not directly. He contacts Alfred, sort of a bridge between his world and ours.”

“I was going to call him but decided to text but...that seems wrong.” Tim ran both hands down his face. “Maybe it's best I just leave it alone.”

“Dick wouldn't contact Alfred if he didn't care on some level.” Bruce reminded.

 

“...I said some pretty awful things to him. I don't blame him if he..”

“It went both ways. You two were hit with a loss at a time when life was not your easiest and..you both were young.”

“Old enough to know words hurt. I should have known better, I promise I wouldn't become him.”

“Like Dick?”

Tim shook his head then yawned. “No one..just. I think I'll crash here if that's ok. Driving across town seems like a huge pain at this time of morning.”

“Of course. I'll let Alfred know you'll be here for lunch.” Bruce stated putting emphasis on the lunch part.

Tim stood from his chair. “Alfred, already knows. knowing him. Like the wizard of Oz.”

Tim gave him a pat on his arm before he left the room.

Bruce watched as Tim left. Eyes returning to the laptop then drifting over to a framed picture on the mantle of the fireplace. Walking over he picked up the picture the only full picture of the boys he had, it was Halloween and it was the first time for them to experience a carnival, well that's what he thought.

))))))

Old Haley Circus Grounds-ten years ago
“You're lucky you just squeaked in on the height requirements Tim.” Damian looked over as the protective bars were pulled forward

Tim smiled then looked at him. “Right back at you.”

Damian huffed. “Yeah, they made a mistake I am older than you.”

“Jury is still out on that.” Jason shot out tugging slightly on the bar.

 

Damian gave a teasing sneer. “Are you nervous Nancy?”

 

Jason sent a glare at the younger boy then melted into a frown as he looked at the track ahead of him.

“No..of course not.” he answered hiding his anxiety with a laugh which gave him away.

Tim gave an encouraging smile as the coaster moved upward. “It will be fine Jason. It will all be over in a few moments just enjoy it instead of fear.”

 

“I'm. Not. Afraid. Tim.” Jason re-enforced

Damian snorted. “Yeah, right. This thing isn't called the 'Scarecrow' for nothing. It's turning you into a big chicken, and it hasn't even happened yet.”

 

Jason narrowed his eyes at Damian. “Better watch it or I'll feed you my homemade crow, fistful of seasoning, about the size of your face.”

Tim gripped his bar tighter as they crested the first hill. “Stop fighting. This is going to be fun.”

All three stared at the beast in front of them. Jason gripped his bar tighter as he felt gravity suddenly become his enemy.

“Tim what part of this is fuaaaaah!” Jason screamed

Followed by Tim and Damian.

 

The coaster sent them on a path of air pin turns, bends, throwing them into tunnels filled with flashing lights and horrifying screams, only to be swallowed up into darkness and spat back out on the other end into the designated slot sending them forward then back into their seats as it came to a stop. Wide eyed and white knuckled mouths hung open as they sat in silence.

“Thank you, for riding the scarecrow. I hope you had a chilling good time.” an employee of the carnival concluded in a monotone voice.

As soon as the safety bar was lifted Jason hopped out. Pointing at the ride as if it was a devil after his soul. “Th-Th-That thing is...people need to be. “Who on this earth would want to ride that deathtrap?!”

 

Dick was suddenly gripping his shoulders. “That was AMAZING! Lets go again!”

Tim grinned holding his hand out at Dick. “Him.”

“Nah, I'm good.” Damian admitted earning a mocking glance his way from Jason. “I wasn't scared..just bored.”

Dick turned to Tim. “Up for it?”

 

Tim shook his head. “I want to actually try the Joker drop. If that's ok?”

 

Dick nodded. “Sure, Jason keep an eye.”

Jason groaned. “If I have the brain capacity to remind me to do so.”

Tim tapped Jason on the arm and lead them out of the entry to the ride. Dick made his way to the back of the long line. Hands in his jacket he looked around to see Bruce talking with his date, a very beautiful woman that according to Damian was Selina Kyle his father's true love interest. Bruce did brighten and laugh when she was in his company.

Another ride through later, Dick looked up to see his brothers on the launcher, couldn't help but feel for Jason, no doubt having a heart attack. He kept an eye out for Bruce but found him lost to the crowd of people no doubt enjoying his date.

He vendor shop then came to a booth of shoot the pumpkin. He handed over the money and took up the toy gun and took aim. Found he was not a very good marksman grinning at the lousy result.

 

“Want another go?” the jack'o lantern dressed booth owner asked. “No one gets it on the first try.”

“I'm good thanks.” Dick bid as he resumed his walk through the grounds.

He purchased a candied apple along the way. Hoping it would give Jason a sense of reward when he gave it too him.

“Dick, how was the coaster.” Bruce greeted.

Dick smiled. “great Jason would fiercely debate my claim. The boys are experiencing the 'Joker drop' might try it later if you want to join me.”

Bruce laughed holding up his hands. “I don't think my heart could take it.”

“Fair.” Dick looked over Bruce's shoulder to see Selina talking to a friend. Then gave a knowing smile. “I heard through the grapevine you and Selina are quite the item.”

Bruce turned to watch her. “She is quite something, Damian did approve so I will go forth before he changes his mind. I can introduce you, if you'd like.”

Something hit the ground by his foot he blinked and looked down to see a broken candy apple by his feet. His eyes turned to Dick..

 

Dick eyes scanned the crowd once more for his brothers but then he landed on a face that sent his heart to palpate. Then the blood in him run cold than pool into his feet, he was semi-aware of a sinking feeling. His vision hazy someone was talking to him, this much he knew he couldn't process anything rendered in a catatonic state. Legs and arms feeling like lead..then numb sent a wave of panic in him that sent his breathing to quicken.

))))

Bruce barely had time to catch Dick as he suddenly was falling to the ground. He knelt down beside him.

“Dick, are you ok?” his worry washed over. Waving his hand in front of Dick's eyes, was met with a subtle movement of his eyes. Not speaking. This could be a seizure. Bruce mind had made up that was what it was until. Dick suddenly shifted into a panic.

“Dick! Dick, hey it's ok.” Bruce quickly reached out to grab his arm. “it's-”

“Get away from me!” Dick yelled then scrambled on to his feet raising a hand to his chest as his breathing didn't stabilize.

Bruce quickly ushered Dick away from eyes focused on them. “I got you. C'mon, it's alright.”

 

Dick stumbled unsteady on his feet. He was eased down onto the ground in a more secluded area. He rocked back and forth caught in between wanting to scream and cry. Bruce squatted down in front of him.

“Breath, Dick..slow and easy.”

Dick kicked his brain to follow the order, he had done this so many Times with Tim...his shaky breath slowed after a few repetitions of the breathing exercise. After this panic eased away he wept, hating himself for showing his weakness. Bruce rubbed soothing circles on his arms causing him to cringe back.

“I..want to go home.” he whispered.

Bruce didn't press on it further. Taking out his cell from the pocket. “Ok. I'll text Damian to meet us at the car.”

Dick reached out and caught Bruce on his forearm. “Don't...don't tell them what happened please. Please don't.”

 

Bruce squeezed Dick's hand doubting that Dick didn't recognize how desperate he sounded. “I won't I promise. It's getting late anyway.”

The car ride back was filled with chatter from Tim, Damian, and Jason in the back seat. sharing their opinions and experience of the carnival. Dick remained silent in the front lost in a place filled with shadow and fear. Bruce had seen a glimpse of Dick's demons that first night he stayed at the manor..after tonight he saw it was more than just a broken glass, it was the shelve it was sitting on. Dick was broken.

))))

Present

 

Bruce set the photo back down. After all these years he realized that is goal of fixing what was broken was never feasible. Healing had to come with in.

Tim stayed. That had to count for something.

Even then...it was hard. To always be falling apart. He will be there after all the one thing that hasn't changed in Bruce's mind.

They are worth it. He only wish they would see it.