Tim considered his options. On one hand, Jason had a history of nearly beating the life out of him. On the other hand, Jason probably didn’t remember him. That would mean he didn’t remember that he once promised to beat the life out of anyone who messed with him. The two versions of Jason that he had in his head didn’t line up, but that was why he needed to talk to him. That was why he needed to make a decision.
One proven fact was that the Robin costume is a trigger for Jason. Tim did not doubt that. The obvious solution to this was to talk to him without wearing his Robin costume. The idea of finding a heavily armed and armored Red Hood without so much as a bulletproof vest seemed like a poor idea in theory, but his other ideas seemed worse. If Tim’s calculations were right, this plan had a sixty percent chance of him getting the shit beat out of him, and a ten percent chance of him getting murdered. His best odds really, if he compared them to wearing the Robin suit, or showing up heavily armed.
Tim glanced down at the street below him. It marked the edge of Crime Alley. He could leave now, and no one would ever know what a complete idiot he was. He could stay here and hope Jason came across him. Unlikely, considering Red Hood and the Bats currently avoided this area in an extremely tenuous cease-fire. Alternatively, he could wander into Crime Alley, and eventually trip over Jason, who would probably be pissed that Tim was in his territory despite the extremely tenuous cease-fire. These days Jason had a habit of kneecapping people who pissed him off rather than outright killing them. It seemed like a marked improvement up until Tim considered his chances of being kneecapped. Now it was just terrifying.
Another point to consider was that Tim hadn’t shown his face in Crime Alley in five months. Ever since Jason visited him in San Francisco, Tim had been on lockdown. Now, however, all the casts were long gone, Bruce was out on Wayne industries business with Alfred, and Nightwing was in Bludhaven. There were people in Crime Alley who were probably wondering what happened to him. Tim liked to think that he would be missed, but the people there had survived long before his aid and would survive long after. They were way tougher than him, or Batman, or anyone else he knew besides maybe Jason.
Screw it, Tim was gonna go in. He didn’t have his grappling hook, so he turned toward the fire escape and- Tim did not squeak. The sight of the fully armed and armored Red Hood, three feet behind him did not make him squeak.
“Hey there, replacement.” Red Hood’s terrifying mechanical voice rang through the silent air with false casualness.
“Uhhh, hi J-Hood.” Tim stuttered, he was not mentally prepared yet to die. He was expecting to have at least a couple more minutes.
“Last I heard, daddy-bats was outta town.” Red Hood replied slowly and Tim eyed the gun in his hand, the gun that would probably shatter his kneecap and prevent him from ever being Robin again.
“Yeah? I mean he is, that’s kind of why I came out tonight. I mean, I wanted to talk to you, but I’m not in your territory, because I know I’m not welcome there, and I uh, didn’t have your phone number or anything and didn’t really know how to contact you so I came here and I uhhh yeah.” Tim was rambling, why were words so hard? He was supposed to be the clever one.
“Ya know, I don’t think you get to tell me where my territory is. If I say it ends there,” He pointed to the other side of the building Tim was standing on. “Then it ends there. And that would put you in my territory. Do you know what happens to little birdies who stray into my territory?” It was official, Tim was going to die.
“Wait! I just- I wanted to show you something! Please don’t shoot me!” Tim stammered and dropped his backpack in front of him. Hood had automatically raised his weapon at the sudden movement. Tim froze and very slowly reached into the bag.
“I don’t care about whatever you have to-” Red Hood stopped mid-sentence as Tim pulled out his camera. Praying that it wouldn’t get smashed, he gingerly set it down on the grimy concrete roof, piling the bright red and yellow camera strap on top of it. Next, he pulled out a small nondescript brown paper bag about the size of his fist and set that on the concrete. Red Hood had gone utterly still, but his gun had dropped slightly. To seal the deal, Tim very slowly pulled an old, threadbare red hoodie out of his backpack and sat on the concrete, he wasn’t about to let this touch the ground so he set it in his lap. Tim looked up at Red Hood hopefully.
“I didn’t think that you remembered me. Cause the whole, attempted murder thing. But I was hoping that maybe if you realized who I was, that you would maybe let me back into Crime Alley? I don’t want them to think-” Tim cut off as Jason spoke.
“That they were forgotten.” Jason finished for him. The arm holding the weapon had dropped to his side and he stared at Tim in silence for what seemed like a lifetime. Then, the gun clattered to the ground and Jason was yanking his helmet off and turning his back on Tim. Tim winced when Jason managed a couple of steps away from him before losing his dinner. He waited patiently, not moving or repacking his backpack while Jason dry heaved.
“Um, are you okay?” Tim asked when he seemed to be done.
At his words, Jason spun, his face read beyond furious, but the following retort eased his sudden need to flee. “Am I okay? What the fuck replacement? The hell are you asking me that? I beat the shit out of you! You can’t be worried about me after what I did!” Jason all but hissed, his masked face contorting.
“But- I mean, I sort of am?” Tim’s answer was more of a question. Jason seemed way more upset than he did before, but the hostility thankfully didn’t seem to be aimed at him.
“I nearly killed you!” Jason snarled, jabbing a finger in his direction.
“It happens sometimes?” Tim replied, hoping that this new anger wasn’t a sign of his imminent demise.
“No! It really doesn’t! What the fuck replacement! You saved my goddamn life and I nearly killed you!” Jason growled furiously.
“Uuuh does that mean you’re not going to try again?” Tim asked slowly, hoping he wasn’t pushing his luck too much.
“Of fucking course it does! What the fuck? Do you really think that I woulda beat the shit outta ya if I knew it was you?” Jason’s accent was becoming even stronger with his agitation.
“I mean? It was kind of justified? I stole Robin from you. I mean, I didn’t know you were alive, or else I swear I never would have done it, but there needed to be a Robin, and I swear I went to San Francisco and asked Dick to come back, but he wouldn’t. And B didn’t want another Robin, he swore that there would never be another one after you, but you didn’t see what it was like without you here. So I made him take me, I swear he didn’t just replace you, I stole the Robin costume and followed him into Scarecrow’s lair and told him that if he didn’t train me, I’d follow him anyway. It was all me! I stole the costume, I made him take me with, and I never intended to replace you.” Tim was rambling now, but he needed Jason to know that Bruce didn’t just replace him.
Jason tried to speak and choked. He cleared his throat, took a deep breath, and tried again. His voice came out a weak whisper of the shout that it was before.
“You think what I did was justified? What the fuck?” Jason looked like he was going to be sick again.
“Uuuum, no?” Tim’s attempt to make him less upset seemed to backfire magnificently.
“You’re fucking guessing. Holy fucking shit, are you seriously trying to tell me what you think I want to hear? What the fuck, Tim?” Jason said his name. Tim tried not to get too excited by that change in address. Something on his face must have shown, because Jason’s expression suddenly shut down completely.
“Fuck. I should go. I don’t- You shouldn’t be around someone like me.” Jason scooped up his gun that he dropped earlier and tucked it back in its holster. He had his helmet back on and was pulling out his grappling gun before Tim even registered what he was saying.
“Wait!” Tim still had something else in his backpack that he’d planned to give Jason if he survived the encounter without dying. Jason paused and glanced back expectantly.
“I um, I have something to show you, I know you’re super busy with the um, drug empire and all, but if you have the time, I was wondering if we could talk somewhere more private?” Tim asked nervously, as he quickly repacked his bag and stumbled to his feet. The white eye plates stared at him emotionlessly for a brief second, before his posture sagged.
“Sure Tim, I have a safe house nearby. Follow me?” Jason’s mechanized voice hid his emotions much better, and he turned to shoot his grappling gun. Tim stopped him a second time.
“I don’t have my grappling gun, so I kind of can’t?” Tim really hoped he didn’t just ruin everything. Jason stared again.
“How the fuck did you get here then?” Jason asked.
“I took the bus?” Tim wasn’t sure why this was important in the grand scheme of things.
“What the fuck!” Jason was saying that a lot.
“So, if you tell me where we’re going I could meet you there in a couple minutes? I walked this far, I can get there.” Tim offered, hoping that Jason wouldn’t just leave.
“Jesus Christ kid. I can take you on mine.” Jason offered, holding out an arm. Tim’s brain to mouth filter failed spectacularly, and he replied without thinking.
“Can it handle that much weight?”
Jason paused. “Did you just call me fat?” Even with the voice modulator, the offense was there.
“No! I mean-” Tim tried, he really did, but his brain always betrayed him at the worst possible moment.
“You did! That was kinda rude Timmy. I thought Alfie woulda raised you better than that.” Jason stepped forward in what Tim hoped was mock menacing. But Jason was wearing the helmet, and found himself floundering
“I meant you’re tall! And- you have lots of body armor! I didn’t-” Tim stuttered, Jason continued his approach.
“Well then, since you’re short and have no body armor, it shouldn’t be a problem.” Tim tried to protest, but Jason lunged. Tim dodged, but Jason was prepared for it, and then- Tim yelped as the air in his lungs was forcefully expelled. Sudden contact between his diaphragm and Jason’s shoulder tends to do that.
“Jason!” Tim wheezed, from his position, thrown over Jason’s shoulder like he weighed nothing at all. Which was rude honestly. He worked hard for those pounds, or at least, Alfred did. He had put on a ton of weight since he met the Waynes and did not appreciate Alfred’s effort being ignored so completely.
“I’d stop struggling if I were you, it’d be a tragedy if I dropped you.” Tim glanced at the concrete, some six feet down, and went limp.
“Why’d you have to get so tall?” This time, Tim couldn’t even deny the defeated whine. Even through the voice modulator, Jason’s cackle was apparent.
“Hold on.” Was all the warning he got before the grapple was deployed, and they were flying. Tim bit back the protest. While there was something truly exhilarating about flying under your own power, there was something equally terrifying about flying under someone else’s power. Especially when he was flying under someone else’s power and a grappling gun that was probably being pushed past its weight capacity. After about three minutes of honestly petrifying travel, Jason touched down on a rooftop and let go. Thankfully, he’d dropped him just right, that his feet were below him. The sheer unexpectedness of it, had him stumbling, but his bat-honed reflexes prevented him from actually falling.
“Please don’t do that again.” Tim bit out and sent Jason his fiercest glare.
“Then don’t call people who can kick your ass fat.” Jason snorted and was already walking toward the roof access door.
“I didn’t mean it like that!” Tim protested, following him, as he punched a code into the locked door and led him down into an apartment complex. Unsurprisingly, Jason’s door had six locks and two traps that needed to be disabled before they made their way inside. Jason waved him off and disappeared into another room as soon as they entered.
Tim was left to stand awkwardly in the living room. There was a window, but it was covered in cardboard, newspapers, and trapped to high hell. An old couch covered in more stains than Tim could count sat a short distance away with a cracked coffee table in front of it. There was no TV, but books, bullets, and gun parts sat abandoned on the little table, indicating what he did with his free time. To his left was a small kitchenette. Despite its crumbling appearance, it was well cleaned, only some permanent discoloration remained of whatever stains had once haunted the laminate countertops. There were also some new hinges standing out amongst the cracked old cabinets, suggesting that he put the most effort into making this space liveable on the kitchen.
Tim shrugged off his backpack and pulled out the small book he made. Unbidden, a memory of the last time he gave someone a homemade gift popped into his head. Way back before even Jason was Robin, Tim had compiled two large photo books for his parents. He’d had a pond and several bird feeders installed amongst the garden behind their house and where he’d spent all summer capturing shots of native wildlife. To make an equally impressive book for his mother, Tim also went to several car museums and compiled a photo book of all his best shots for his parents. The result consisted of his parents giving him a tight smile, flipping through the books quickly, and telling him it was nice. What had followed was an interrogation about when he had time to take all these photos when he should have been devoting his time to studying and extracurriculars that would look good on college applications. Tim never showed them his photos after that, and only posted his photos anonymously. People like his photos more when they don’t know he’s the one who took them.
Jason however, would know that he took those photos. Jason was there when they were taken after all. Tim really hoped that Jason would like his gift, and that it wouldn’t be dredging up memories that he wanted to forget. The idea of Jason wanting to forget about these moments was terrifying, part of Tim’s faith in Robin came from the fact that Robin didn’t forget people. Before he could entirely lose his nerve, Jason re-emerged from what was probably his bedroom, sans Red Hood armor. Bare feet, sweatpants, and a wonder woman T-shirt really changed his image.
“So what did you need to show me?” Jason asked, raising an eyebrow at him. Tim glanced around awkwardly.
“I- um wanted to give you this.” Tim held out the book nervously and found himself babbling.
“I put together some of the old photos I took. I kind of thought that since you haven’t been back to the manor to get any of your old stuff, that maybe you’d want this. So, I, uh, yeah.” Tim finished lamely. Almost suspiciously, Jason stepped into his space and accepted the book.
“Is this what I think it is?” Jason asked, voice taking on an odd tone, as he opened it. At the first sight of the image, Jason went entirely still. His whole body started to tremble slightly, and Tim instantly knew that this was a horrible idea. Jason very calmly closed the book, not even flipping past the first page, and glanced back up at Tim. Before Tim could stammer out an apology, Jason was crushing him. Wait no- Jason was hugging him.
“I am so sorry, Tim.” Jason muttered, not releasing him, or letting him breathe. Even so, it was kind of nice. Dick was out of town, and other than his infrequent hugs, he didn’t tend to get this kind of human contact very often. All too soon, Jason wordlessly released him. Before Tim could even mourn the loss, he was pulled over to the couch. He found himself seated with Jason with Jason's arm wrapped around him, keeping him so close that Tim was entirely pressed up against his side. Then Jason reopened the book.
On the first page, there was a photo of Jason when he was barely eleven years old, before he met Bruce. He was standing next to a teenage boy maybe three years older than him, standing over a roaring trash fire. They’d managed to contain the flames to the large can, and were trying fruitlessly to warm themselves. The bright light from the fire was just enough to illuminate their gaunt and time-worn faces with a warm glow. Tim had been welcomed into their hideout after helping Mark, the other boy in the photo. Neither of the boys had any money to spare, and Mark didn’t feel safe reaching out to any of the organizations in the area that offered free resources to the homeless population. After learning about the problem, Tim had gone out and bought Mark pads and Tylenol to help with his monthly problem.
Mark died two months after that photo had been taken, but Tim had never stopped making his rounds twice a month to hand out brown paper bags filled with travel boxes of medicine, feminine hygiene products, and sandwiches out to the people who needed them. Over time he had expanded his collection of offerings to include anything from hand warmers, to food vouchers, to toothbrushes and water bottles.
The next two photos were black and white portraits of Melanie and Dulce, two women who worked the street corners near Jason’s old haunts. They’d kept an eye on Jason and the other kids who’d lived around those parts and helped them out whenever they could. Melanie vanished maybe three months after Jason became Robin, and Dulce refused to ever tell Tim what happened to her.
The following three photos were of groups of kids from ages six to nineteen who formed some of the kid gangs in crime alley. Jason had always refused to join any of them, which meant that none of the gangs as a whole liked him very much. Still, by not joining one particular group, he was allowed to tentatively remain on speaking terms with all the groups and pass through their territories with relative ease when he needed to. While he didn’t necessarily get along with all of the kids in these pictures, there were one or two kids in each that Tim knew Jason had been close to. Jason’s hands hadn’t stopped trembling since the first photo, but Tim didn’t dare look up at Jason’s face.
Over his years stalking Batman, Tim had met many people who lived in the impoverished areas of Gotham. These people had nothing, and Tim had found himself more and more invested in documenting their existence over the years. They didn’t deserve to be consumed by Gotham and forgotten by the world. Some time ago, he had begun posting these photos anonymously online. Somewhere along the line, his photos began to be appreciated by the larger world and started earning awards. August Robinson was becoming a fairly recognizable name in some circles for capturing Gotham’s underbelly on film. Beyond the black and white portraits, broken down architecture, and desolate slums, Tim tried to show others that real living people existed here, and should be remembered.
Tim could still remember the day he had first turned his camera away from the skyline. His parents had forgotten him at a gala, which they’d brought him to as a way to celebrate his belated birthday, which they had also forgotten about until they returned. He’d gone out that night, hoping they would notice that he wasn’t in his bedroom. It was the first time he’d stayed out all night.
In the early hours of the morning, he’d found a woman dead in an alley, left in a pile of trash to rot. Tim didn’t know her name, who she was, or if anyone was even missing her, but the idea that no one besides Tim would remember her, shattered something in his young soul. Tim glanced down at the camera in his small hands. Back when his father was trying to support all of his hobbies, he’d gotten Tim a book on old photos taken during World War II. That book had contained pictures with grainy mutilated corpses. They were meant to shock and horrify the media back in the states, part of the photographer’s job was to show people the reality of what was happening. Something about it had bothered Tim: the idea that these human beings had their entire existence whittled down to this one photo. A photo that used their death as some sort of statistic. These human beings lost their privilege to be remembered as such, instead being immortalized as a symbol of what violence breeds, of what someone else did to them. Tim couldn’t photograph her like this. She deserved to be remembered by someone, but not like this. Not by him.
Not of what she had become, rather than of who she was.
He called the police from a nearby phone booth and stayed with her until the police arrived. It may have had to do with the fact that they were in Crime Alley, but they took an awfully long time to arrive. Tim left her when he finally heard the sirens approaching. Observing from a rooftop across the street, Tim found himself focusing his camera on how the flashing lights broke through the darkness. He captured one particular photo of an officer in uniform near the scene. The bright red and blue flashes of light illuminated his silhouette to create a striking scene. The next night, Tim started taking photos of Gotham’s people in earnest.
Jason flipped the page, and choked at the sight of the Ramirez-Santos sisters. The younger one, Callie, had two heavily scarred, foggy eyes after an ‘accident’ with their last foster family. In the two years Tim knew them, Callie had never spoken a single word, her older sister Marie had threatened to stab Tim for his camera the first time they met. Jason was the only person Marie had ever trusted to keep an eye on Callie when she needed to go out for work. Before Jason’s mom passed on, they were neighbors. Marie would return the favor by checking in on Jason’s mom when he was out getting them food, and “finding” money to pay the rent. Tim had never met Jason’s mom, but he’d met the pair. They left Gotham after getting in contact with an Aunt in Texas. Tim had exchanged texts with Marie for a few months after they left, and last he heard, Callie had been re-enrolled in school. He really hoped that they were doing alright now. Tim said nothing as Jason traced gently traced his hand over their faces.
Jason steadily revealed face after face, some of whom had died, left, or simply vanished in the night. Each one, he examined reverently, even smiling when he came across a photo of someone much older than he remembered, evidence that they lived on after Jason died. Finally, he came to the end of the photos, the last one, he wasn’t sure if he should include, but did it anyway. This photo was taken a month before Jason met Batman, Jason had stolen Tim’s camera from him and taken the photo.
The photo was of Tim, Jason’s oversized red hoodie peeking out from under the much much better fitting black jacket, with a faded Knights ball cap and scarf obscuring his face. The ripped faded jeans, and crumbling sneakers had done their job well, allowing him to fade into the background of Crime Alley. Jason had snapped it while a group of three children even younger than him had crowded around demanding chocolate. Those particular kids had conditioned Tim to bring a chocolate bar every time he came through, and break it into thirds for the three of them to share.
Jason cracked a smile at that photo. While he was by no means Tim’s best friend back in those days, he had seen Jason once or twice a month continuously throughout his first year of escapades in Crime Alley. When Jason became Robin, he stopped seeing Tim as much, but still caught him taking photos on occasion. Ironically enough, Jason never caught Tim when he was actually following the Bats, but instead when Tim thought he was alone taking shots of Gotham’s skyline, or architecture from high above. Tim had never told Jason his full name, and Jason had never met him without his ballcap, or scarf, and certainly never met him under the light of day.
It wasn’t until Jason made it clear that he hadn’t recognized Tim, that Tim realized how much he needed Jason to remember him. Jason clearly remembered the little photographer who begged him and Mark for a picture, and every person that Tim had captured on film. Whatever fear of Jason he had before this encounter drained away, leaving behind overwhelming relief. This relief, coupled with the tears forming in the corners of Jason’s eyes, bolstered Tim’s confidence to move onto the other two items in his backpack.
“I um, had a couple other photos for you, but I wasn’t sure that you’d want them so I didn’t put them in the book. Actually, I have those, and one more that I kind of framed because I thought you’d really want it. Sorry if that was presumptuous of me, but uh, here.” Tim cursed his inability to string together a sentence and pulled the framed picture first. Jason sucked in a hard breath at the sight.
Several years ago, shortly before Jason stole the tires off the batmobile, a particularly disastrous team-up between Dr. Freeze and Killer Croc had left half of Gotham flooded. In the aftermath of the water damage to literally everything, Tim spread the word that if anyone had some photos that got wrecked, he would try to restore them. Several people took him up on that including Jason, who brought a single ruined picture of him and his mom celebrating what looked to be a much younger Jason’s birthday. After quite a bit of work on Tim’s end, he had a fairly good replica of what it once was and returned both the original, and digitally redone photo to Jason, who had thanked him profusely. It had taken a bit of searching through the hundreds of restored photo files on his computer to find the one of Jason. Being several years older and more proficient with both photography and computers, Tim had touched it up further, making it nearly identical to the original before the water damage. Now Tim had reprinted that photo and framed it in a simple, but durable metal frame.
“You still had this?” Jason murmured in awe, tearing up slightly at the image.
“I uh, have a couple more, but I don’t think you’re gonna like these as much so feel free to tell me to like screw off or something if I’m overstepping, or something.” Tim started to reach into his bag, but Jason wrapped both his arms around Tim, and pulled him closer.
“Tim. I have been nothing but an ungrateful ass to you since I came back and you’ve been nothing but the sort of good that I definitely don’t deserve. I am so sorry that I hurt you. I will never hurt you again. Nothing you can do will be overstepping.” Jason said seriously, and squeezed him one more time before releasing him, so that Tim could pull out a thick envelope. He hadn’t planned on giving these to Jason, but he was pretty sure that Jason wouldn’t shoot him for it anymore. Tim nervously handed it off to Jason, watching his response carefully.
Curiously, Jason pulled out the small stack of photos and glared at the first one. It was a photo of Robin and Batman sitting on a skyscraper, with their feet dangling off the edge, eating burgers. Jason was laughing at something B had said, and despite the distance, Tim had managed to capture Bruce’s lips quirked up in a small smile. Scowling, Jason looked at the next photo. This one actually drew out a surprised chuckle. Robin was sitting on Nightwing’s shoulders several hundred feet up, balancing his way across a highline strung between two skyscrapers. Batman was nowhere in sight. Jason had bet Catwoman that Nightwing could do it, and if he succeeded, she would hypothetically return the gems she allegedly stole from the auction in the diamond district. Batman had not been impressed when he found out how they returned the gems without fighting anyone.
The next photo was of him and Batgirl, doing handstands for a group of kidnapped children while they waited for police to arrive. The photos continued, and only the ones with Batman seemed to annoy him, but there were only a couple of those. The last photo was one he probably shouldn’t have included in that stack. It would be revealing if anyone other than Jason got their hands on the stack. It was of Alfred, in the kitchen, giving the camera a long-suffering smile while he was photographed in a messy apron with a ladle in his hand, standing over some sort of soup.
“Why did you bring me these?” Jason whispered, after a long moment.
“Because I needed to make sure you knew that I remembered you.” Tim replied softly, and I needed to make sure that you remembered them.
. . .
After finishing up with the pictures, Jason decided that Tim didn’t need to return to an empty manor immediately. Tim wasn’t quite ready to leave either, so Jason brought out a laptop and the pair had spent the better part of the night watching pirated movies and talking about the people in the photo book. It had to be getting fairly late (or early) at this point, and it occurred to Tim that he would need to time his arrival at the bus stop just right if he wanted to avoid the wrong kind of attention. Tim glanced around Jason’s apartment for a clock, before pulling his phone out of his backpack to check the time. To his surprise, there were nine missed calls and fifteen texts from Dick. The first was a simple ‘where r u?’ that escalated into more panicked questions demanding to know where he was and why he left all of his trackers behind, and why he had the GPS in his phone disabled.
“What the hell?” Tim muttered, baffled.
“What’s wrong?” Jason asked from where he was starting to doze off next to him.
“Dick’s supposed to be in Bludhaven. How does he know I’m not in the manor?” Tim replied, feeling dread start to creep in. While he stared. The phone lit up, silently informing him that he had an incoming call from Dick Grayson. Panicking, Tim smashed the decline and to his horror, the phone answered the call.
“Tim?” Dick’s voice permeated the silent room, Jason gave him a ‘what the fuck’s wrong with you’ face, and Tim honestly didn’t know.
“Heeeey Dick, sorry I just checked my phone. Are you in Gotham right now? I thought that you were gonna be in Bludhaven this week.” Tim answered, letting a relaxed smile enter his voice. Tim lies to Batman, he can lie to Dick Grayson.
“Actually yes I am, I thought I’d surprise you with a movie night.” Dick’s strained voice was not doing a good job at withholding his outrage.
“Sorry about that, I didn’t think that anyone would be home tonight, so Kon flew me over to his house. I helped him with his homework and we’re having a video game night. If I knew you were coming, I swear that I’d be there.” Tim nailed the mournful apologetic tone so perfectly that even Jason looked impressed.
“Oh that’s a relief, I was so worried.” Dick’s tone was off, it sounded more annoyed than relieved.
“I was so worried in fact, that I called Conner to see if you were with him. Funny story there, he didn’t know where you were.” Oh shit. Tim was going to die today after all. His ten percent calculation that Jason would kill him, did not account for the 99 percent chance that Dick would kill him if he found out that Tim went anywhere near Crime Alley. Tim let out an easy, sheepish laugh.
“Okay, you caught me, I was doing some recon. Nothing dangerous, just a stakeout in the diamond district.” Tim replied, watching Jason’s impressed look grow at his save.
“You went on a stakeout. Without suiting up.” Dick’s flat unimpressed voice replied stonily.
“Yup, I was trying to keep a low profile. It’s fine though, I have one of those industrial tasers that B and I made.”
“Tim you’re not allowed to go out by yourself right now. Especially without B or me in the area for backup.” Dick’s voice took on a slightly shrill tone.
“Dick I need some me time. You know full well how stifling B can be, especially when he’s being worried and overprotective. You know me, I’m always careful. Can’t you just trust me?” Tim pulled out all the stops here, taking on a pleading tone.
“Of course I trust you, Tim. I’m not going to make you go back to the manor. Where are you? I’m already suited up in Diamond district. I may have panicked a little when I couldn’t find you. Since I’m out, I may as well join you. I haven’t seen you in fooooorever.” Dick whined dramatically at the last part. Tim shared an alarmed look with Jason. Somehow, Dick sensed his hesitation, and kept going before Tim could reply.
“You are in the Diamond District, right?” Dick was starting to sound suspicious again.
“Of course, I was just really looking forward to a quiet night by myself.” Tim replied sadly. Normally at this point, Dick would give in, but he was already on alert.
“I suppose I can leave you to it, after you tell me where you are, and I see that you’re actually there.” Dick was sounding more and more suspicious as he spoke. Tim decided to play his final card.
“Oh my god, I can’t believe you don’t trust me! Do you even realize how much you sound like Bruce right now?” Even Jason winced at that. Dick spluttered for several counts before formulating a response.
“You’re not in Diamond District are you?” Tim’s eyes widened.
“Dick how dare yo-” Tim started to reply, voice filled with righteous teenage fury, when Barbara freaking Gordon joined the call.
“Hi Tim. Hi Dick. I’m going to start by saying that I had a standing request to trace your call. Dick is totally right. Tim is lying to you all the way from Crime Alley.” There was a short pause as that sunk in.
“I can’t believe you’d betray me like this, Babs!” Tim exclaimed at the same time Dick shouted.
“What the hell, Tim!” They both paused again.
“I’m coming to get you.” Dick declared.
“You can’t come into Crime Alley while you’re suited up Dick, that’ll piss off Hood when he finds out.” Tim retorted.
“Oh my god. Tim, you went into Crime Alley. In your civvies. With only a taser to defend yourself.” Dick sounded more horrified and outraged with every word.
“I’m fine, Dick.” Tim rolled his eyes.
“I don’t care if Hood finds out I was there. I’m coming to get you. If Hood finds out that you are literally in his territory, I don’t even want to think about what he’d do.”
“Relax, Dick, I was very careful not to draw attention to myself. I never even saw Red Hood, I was in sneaky stealth mode, he has no idea I’m here. I’ll meet you on twelfth street, outside of his territory. Honestly, Dick, I’m not crazy, I was very careful to avoid him. I never saw him once, scout’s honor.” Tim promised as sincerely as he could manage, Jason looked delighted.
“You aren’t a boy scout, Tim.” Dick replied, still sounding annoyed.
“I totally was, Dad enrolled me once when I was eight. I went to meetings for the whole month that he was home.” Tim replied smugly.
“That’s not the point Tim.” Dick was exasperated now.
“I gotta head over, see you in a couple minutes?” Tim decided now was a perfectly good time to end this conversation.
“We’re not done talking about this, Tim.” Dick tried to sound menacing.
“Sure, Dick. Bye.” Tim hung up and glanced at Jason.
“You were a boy scout?” Jason asked.
“Of course not, I lied.” Tim huffed, Jason threw his head back and cackled.