Mrs. Caranfield's voice grated on Tim’s ears, one of the reasons for the steadily increasing migraine he was getting. She hadn’t shut up about how her (severely underpaid) servants had messed up her rose garden by trimming them an inch too short for over twenty minutes now and Tim wanted out . Unfortunately, he was bound by social rules that even 9 years old had to obey and had to nod politely. You wouldn't disrespect the host by not listening to their stories, no matter how boring or entitled.
His mother stood next to him, her hand on his shoulder to keep him from running off, and nodded sympathetically to what the old crone was whining about. Tim could very clearly see his mom was faking it, but Mrs. Caranfield didn’t seem to notice as she continued on.
He didn’t always hate going to galas. In fact, it was sometimes a great opportunity to watch the Waynes from the side, maybe sneak a picture or two, but this was not one of those times. They had yet to show up and he was unable to sneak off away from the crowd.
It was likely Two Face who was causing their tardiness. Dent had broken out a few days ago, and if Tim was any bit the reliable stalker he was, then he knew that they had a strong lead. A lead that concluded Two Face’s attack was scheduled for tonight.
Oh, if only he could go out and follow them! No matter how many times he saw Batman and Robin in action it never failed to leave him overwhelmed with awe. Plus Dick Grayson was in town! He rarely got to see Nightwing in action, since he couldn’t travel to Bludhaven every night, and hadn’t really gotten to see Dick in general since Jason took up Robin.
But nooooo, he just had to be dragged along to this stupid party so his parents could show off what a polite little heir he was right before leaving to Europe in two days for who knows how long!
His mother gripped his shoulder harder and shot him a look. A bit of annoyance must’ve shown on his face then. Oops. He shoved down his emotions and plastered on the most innocent wide eyes and smile he could pull. Janet relaxed her hand.
It was a few minutes later when Tim was miraculously saved from his prison of pure boredom by the very family he had been desperately trying to manifest.
A sheepish looking Bruce Wayne led his sons into the ballroom, shaking hands apologetically. Dick just seemed amused and Jason looked like how Tim felt, like he wanted nothing but to leave.
Everyone’s attention was on the three now, even if most pretended to be indifferent. Mrs. Caranfrield had even stopped talking, thank God.
“Sorry we’re late,” Bruce said quite loudly, Tim would assume on purpose to avoid people asking more than once, “I lost track of the time and then spent almost an hour trying to find my tie! Turns out it had fallen behind my dresser!”
Tim could feel the last shreds of his self control fading away. He just barely stopped himself from fidgeting, knowing his mother would get upset. But, regardless, it was time to resort to drastic measures to get out of there.
“Oh dear,” Mrs. Caranfield tapped her chin in concentration, “Where was I?”
“You were just telling us how you planned to fire the maids and-” Tim cut Janet off by clearing his throat.
She turned to him, wearing the mask of a patient mother, “Yes, Timothy?”
“May I be excused, please?” He sent an apologetic look to the old lady, avoiding his mother’s eyes, “I have to use the restroom.”
“Yes, of course dear!” Mrs. Caranfeild smiled and patted his head, “What a polite little boy! Janet, you should be proud!”
“Of course,” Janet smiled, so fakely it curled his stomach. Tim left as quickly as he could while not seeming like he was rushing away.
It didn’t take long to find his targets. They were always the center of attention wherever they went, in or out of the costume, so usually all he would need to do was find the largest group of people, but Tim knew that they would likely be going for more of a low profile tonight after fighting Two Face.
And he was right, they were in a far corner and luckily being left alone for the most part (probably due to the hostile energy Jason was giving off and how tired Bruce and Dick looked). Tim crawled underneath a table they were standing by and stayed as quiet and as still as possible. He couldn’t see, but he could hear perfectly.
“...We have to keep up appearances, Jason,” Bruce was saying, “I know you’re tired, I'm sorry, we’ll leave within the next hour.”
“Yeah ok,” Jason grumbled, but was resigned, sounding too sleepy to really argue. Two Face must’ve been tough tonight. There was some shuffling around and Tim wished he could see, but was content enough with the eavesdropping.
“And you’ll be staying in the Manor again tonight, Dick,” At the beginning of a protest, Bruce continued, “It’s too late to go back to Bludhaven and you’re too tired.”
Dick sighed, “Yeah, ok. I’ll have to call in sick for work though…”
It was silent for a few, kinda awkward moments, then Bruce cleared his throat, “Thank you for coming. It’s been awhile.”
“Aw, I missed you too, B!” Dick laughed and Jason joined in. Tim smiled through the sharp jealousy he was suddenly stabbed with, genuinely happy for the family, just wishing more than anything to be a part of it himself.
Though, through the next hour of watching Bruce Wayne fuss over his kids and Dick and Jason’s brotherly ragging formed that bubble of emotion he had felt so many times over the years into a thought. An idea.
As Tim saw them leave all he could think of was how his own family were going to leave soon and that he was going to be alone for weeks on end again. So he decided, why not get a new family?
He woke up the next day to an empty house. His mother and father had only said a half hearted goodnight last night, and hadn’t even said goodbye that morning, leaving without a word. It sucked like usual, but Tim was actually glad for this opportunity. No one was around to stop his plans.
There were workers who frequented the Drake Manor for regular upkeep and cleanup, but they left him alone. And he hadn’t been assigned a nanny since his 8th birthday so no worries there.
Usually all this free time would be spent on online school or stalking Batman and Robin, but this time he had a plan to form and then enact. Operation: “Get Batman to Adopt Me” was a go!
First he had to actually sit down and figure out how he’d go about doing that of course. The man was so busy it was highly unlikely that he even knew Tim existed beyond his family name. Then he had to give him a solid reason. Once Tim solved these two problems everything would fall into place.
Tim decided to focus on the ‘How’ first. There were a few different ways he could go about this. For example, did he want to talk to Batman or Bruce Wayne? Which would be easier? He was leaning towards Batman, because while Bruce would probably be easier, Tim doubted he would be taken as seriously and he really wanted to make a grand first impression.
So what would get The Batman’s attention? Tim could actually approach him for once during a patrol, but he’d probably just be dismissed and told to go home. But, now that he was thinking about it, what was the #1 guaranteed way to get a superhero's attention? Commit a crime. And for Batman? Robin.
Tim would never hurt Jason, but he was willing to kidnap him.
To be honest, Tim was actually really proud of himself for once. It had only been a few days and he had come up with the most genius plan and was very close to finishing setting up.
Knowing that Tim was going to reveal himself anyway, he decided it would take place in Drake Manor. There was this unused wine cellar underground (not because his parents didn’t drink, just more that they were never around to drink in the house) that would be perfect.
He knew restraining Jason would be almost impossible with his bat training and Tim’s lack of, but if he took away all his gear then used zip ties...Well he'll make it work. And maybe his presentation would work on Jason too and he won’t want to leave without Tim!
He had obviously memorized Batman and Robin’s typical patrol schedule and, while Jason was rarely away from his mentor's side, there was one point closer to the upper ends of Gotham (like middle class, not too much violent crime) where they split for a few blocks. Tim would use this separation to lure Jason away where he would then be knocked out by some gas pellets that Tim had stolen from the aftermath of crime scenes.
How would he lure him in? Well…
It was around 11 pm and Tim was crouching behind an office building, waiting. Any minute now Jason would appear and Tim was ready. And just like predicted, there the Boy Wonder was! He was crossing the roofs of the building across the street from Tim and was, like always, completely unaware of him. Not for long.
Tim took out his camera and took a quick shot of his soon to be brother, but didn’t take the flash off like usual, so of course he was noticed. Robin’s eyes immediately shifted to Tim’s position and he grappled over.
Tim didn’t bother hiding and even walked up to meet him. Robin just looked at him in confusion.
“Uh, nice camera, kid,” He raised an eyebrow, “but it’s best not to be out this time of night. It can be dangerous!”
“Oh wow! Robin!” Tim put on his best innocent child act, but didn’t need to fake his awe at actually talking to Jason for the first time, “I’m sorry I’m just a big fan!”
Jason nodded, “I can see. Thanks, but time to go home. Can you call anyone to pick you up…?”
“Oh, but I can’t go until I show you my other pictures! I have this really cool one of Batman…” Tim reached into his backpack.
Looking even more concerned, Jason stepped forward and asked, “Other pictures? How often do you do this, kid?”
“Oh, just enough…” And before Robin could react, Tim pulled out and threw the gas pellet on the floor. Tim was able to put on a gas mask before he could breathe any gas in, but Jason was caught by such surprise he didn’t react fast enough to get one on himself. It wasn’t long before he was laying out cold on the floor.
Tim went through his backpack again and this time pulled out an old shoe box of his. It was locked with the code DRAKE so no one wandering around could open before Batman found it. Taped on top of the box was the note, ‘~From Your Neighbor TD~’ and the inside were some of his favorite shots of both Batman and Robin and the Waynes. He was sure this was enough for Batman to know where to find him and Jason.
Now the hardest part, dragging an older kid all the way back to his house. He brought a bicycle with a basket attached at the back that was big enough to hold Robin, but it would take quite a bit of pedaling effort on Tim’s part, unfortunately. But he was proud to say he was pretty strong from his time following Gotham’s heroes.
Luckily Jason did not wake up by the time they were at Drake Manor, nor did he wake up while Tim was removing his belt, gloves, and shoes, or when he tied him up in the corner. His mask was still on, but that was because Tim knew he’d feel more comfortable like that. He finally woke up while Tim was setting up the projector.
Jason groaned, shifting and blinking open his eyes, “What…? Where am I?” He spotted Tim, “You! What the hell!”
Tim smiled, but Jason didn’t seem very reassured, so he said, “Don’t worry.”
“Seriously?” Jason’s eyes rolled behind his mask (you could tell), “That's the best you got? Ok, why am I here, huh?”
Tim went back to fiddling with the projector. He was good with technology, but this was old so it was a bit harder, “I need you here to get Batman’s attention.” He answered simply.
“Oh great! So we have a baby supervillain on our hands now! Why am I even surprised?!”
“Well, I’m only playing the super villain part for now,” Tim explained, “If this all goes as planned then I won’t need to afterwards.”
“What’s the plan then, brat?” Jason was struggling with his bonds, but without his gear getting out of zipties would be basically impossible by himself.
Tim didn’t have to answer because it was then the projector flared to life and lit up the wall they were both facing. It was showing off his powerpoint, titled appropriately ‘WHY BATMAN SHOULD ADOPT ME by Tim Drake’.
Jason’s jaw dropped, “Are you kidding me? Kid, what the fuck?”
Tim frowned, “Hey, don’t judge me yet! You haven’t even been given the presentation. I worked pretty hard on it!”
It looked like Jason’s brain was short-circuiting for a moment until he said, “Where are your parents?”
“In like Italy or Spain or something. I don’t know.” Tim shrugged, “They don’t usually tell me before leaving.”
“ Jesus Christ ,” Jason mumbled, then was silent for a few moments, “Ok, who watches you when they're gone then?”
“I used to have a nanny, but they stopped hiring her last year. They said I was old enough to take care of myself. Which is fine, I guess, but I was starting to get lonely….so I made a powerpoint.” Tim gestured to it.
“ Oh my god ...Why Batman then? Why not someone who you didn’t need to kidnap me to talk with?”
“Well, I mean it wouldn’t be super weird for Bruce Wayne to take in his neighbor's kid right?”
Jason’s jaw dropped, he stuttered, “B-bruce Wayne? You think Bruce Wayne is Batman! That’s ridiculous!”
“You don’t need to deny it, Jason. I won’t tell anyone.” Tim smiled, “That would be counterproductive! Plus I’ve kept the secret for years now, you don’t need to worry.”
“ Years ?!”
“How long exactly?” A voice came from the cellar entrance and Batman stepped from the shadows, “How did you know?” He was holding the shoe box, the lock on it missing. Batman had obviously seen the photos and figured it all out. Man, he was so cool.
Pushing down his inner fanboy, he cleared his throat, “Since Dick Grayson was Robin, sir.”
Bruce’s eyes flickered toward the powerpoint under his cowl. He frowned and sat on the chair Tim set out for him, right next to a still tied up and grumpy Jason. Tim took this as an indication to start.
He donned all the polite, etiquette manners he had learned and talked very formally. And he did mean it when he said he was proud of his work. Here were the main points (each followed by very detailed explanations):
WHY BATMAN SHOULD ADOPT ME by Tim Drake
- I already know his secret identity and have proven trustworthy by not revealing it
- I am a competent detective and can assist in cases that involve detective work
- I have experience in high society etiquette so will not need to be taught/will good for the image of the family
- I am small so I won’t take up too much space or food
- I am quiet and won’t be a bother/ you’ll barely notice I’m there
- My parents won’t mind or probably even notice so there won’t be legal trouble that I’m aware of
After he was done, all he was getting were blank stares from his audience. His face blushed bright red and he mumbled “There’s also an essay if you need more…”
“No,” Batman stood, “That’s enough. Thank you, Tim.” He walked over to Jason and cut his binds. Jason rubbed his wrists, got up, and stretched. Tim just stood there awkwardly, feeling less sure of himself than before.
But then Batman walked up to him and crouched to his eye level. He pulled down his cowl, Bruce Wayne meeting Tim’s eyes, “You can stay the night at Wayne Manor if you want? We can talk about this more in the morning.”
Tim’s eyes started watering and he nodded, unable to speak. He was suddenly very aware of how tired he was. All the adrenaline keeping him going was quickly fading and he started to sway.
He almost didn’t notice Bruce picking him up and being carried all the way to Wayne Manor. It took a second for him to remember what happened when he woke up in an unfamiliar bedroom, but when he did he barely believed it.
He raced downstairs to the dining room and found Bruce, Dick, and Jason all talking in hushed tones. They noticed him walking in before he could hide and eavesdrop, unfortunately.
Dick smiled at him and Jason looked at him unreadabely. Bruce cleared his throat and said, “Good morning, Tim. Come in.”
Tim nervously walked towards a seat, intending to sit a few chairs away from the others, but being pulled into the one next to Dick.
“Guess you’re my new little brother, huh?” Dick nudged him playfully.
“W-what?” Tim’s eyes widened, “Really?” He was talking to the first Robin!
“I called your parents last night,” Bruce interjected, “I told they you’re going to be apprenticing under me. They think it’s a good business opportunity.”
“Oh,” That made sense. Tim would be useful working for Wayne Enterprises and his parents would like the experience it gave him if he would one day inherit the Drake legacy. But some little part of Tim was disappointed, though he didn’t dare hope for more than what Bruce was already graciously giving.
“ Bruce ,” Jason hissed at his father. Dick rolled his eyes.
The man suddenly looked embarrassed and continued speaking, “That isn’t why I brought you here though, Tim. I liked your presentation and thought your points were, interesting , but you shouldn’t need to justify your own use in order to get parental affection. That’s why I’m agreeing to your plans.”
Tim sniffled and tears started to come down his cheeks. From his side, Dick pulled him into a hug and rubbed his back reassuringly.
“Just please don’t continue the supervillain shtick,” Jason smiled playfully across the table, “I wouldn’t want to arrest my new brother.”
“But I was planning on taking over all of Gotham next,” Tim joked even though he was still wiping his eyes, “I made a spreadsheet and everything!”
The family, even Bruce, laughed. Tim would hold off on his plans for world domination for now, but he wouldn’t make any long term promises.