The Batfamily responded to an alert that a rogue had gone after one of Gotham's better-off Orphanages, one that housed one Bronwyn Drake. The only people who knew of her residence there were her and her big brother, Timothy Drake.
Gotham's resident Bats got the alert in the middle of a family patrol. Tim was off by himself, a part of the family but not really. He never thought that he fit in much with Bruce's other kids. They all were taken in because Bruce loved them. He was taken in out of a sense of duty and because he couldn't really be Robin with him in an Orphanage. Though, he probably wouldn't be Robin for much longer. Damian Wayne, Bruce's Biological son had just joined the family, and Tim knew that it was only a matter of time before he was replaced. So when they received an alert from Oracle, Tim was already in a bad headspace, but he cleared his mind real quick when he heard what orphanage was being attacked.
Martha Wayne's orphanage was one of the best in the city. Kids that were there were only there because they had come from some form of wealth and mommy and daddy's leftover money was paying for their newly orphaned kid to stay somewhere nice. Tim and Bronwyn were sent there together. Both were picked up from school and dropped off. The public didn't know much about Bronwyn. Her name was never mentioned, she was never brought to galas, never interviewed, nothing. her parents were never fond of her for three reasons. One was a girl. Two she had glasses and was visually impacted. And three, her hearing was impacted. No one wanted to show off the girl who had hearing aids and glasses by the time she was two months old. And Tim never talked about her because his parents had left a lovely threat if he ever so much as breathed a word of his sister, she would be disowned and sent to some random orphanage faster than she or Tim could blink. So Tim never said a word because he loved his sister more than life itself and looked after her from the moment she was born and their parents boarded a plane the next day for South America.
Right now though as Two-Face rounded up all the children that lived with her in the Orphanage, Bronwyn wished more than ever for her brother to come save her. The kids that were gathered outside with her were either crying and clinging to one another or trying to put on a brave face and comfort the little ones. Bronwyn, being only 7, was much more mature than normal kids her age were. Hence the after-effects of having Jack and Janet Drake for parents.
'Hurry Tim' She thought.
Tim was racing across the rooftops, not waiting for any of the other bats. They didn't know about his sister and he intended to keep it that way. If Bruce found out then he might send Tim away to another orphanage as punishment or he could separate them to different cities. Tim paled at the thought. He had to get there and make sure that the 7-year-old secret stayed secret.
Bronwyn watched as Two-Faces goons forced the rounded up kids to the orphanage basement, following along to stay out of trouble. She had a younger girl clinging to her hand, scared out of her mind, and a 2-month-old in her arms. The goons around had guns pointed at all the kids, showing no guilt or remorse for taking a bunch of kids hostage. One of them flipped on a camera and Two-Face emerged from the shadows with his signature coin, he started to flip it as he started the villain speech. Everyone who had ever lived in Gotham had heard different versions of this speech before. Once you've heard one, you've heard them all. Just as Two-Face was wrapping up his "threatening" speech, there was a thump on the roof. Bronwyn smiled to herself knowing that her big brother had come to save her.
Tim landed on the roof of the orphanage, still at least 3 minutes ahead of the other bats. He used his thermal imaging to locate the children being held in the basement. He also found Two-Face down there with the children, and that was not going to work for Tim's big brother instincts. He jumped down onto the fire escape and made his way into the building taking down any of the goons left guarding the halls.
Eventually, he made it to the basement door, when he heard Batman come in over his coms.
NOPE! "Sorry, Batman. Two-Face is holding the kids hostage. I have got him in my sights."
"Robin, wait for us. I repeat w-" Tim turned off his coms.
"Oops. Is that the off button?" Tim was no longer thinking like Tim Drake or even Tim Wayne. But like Robin. he couldn't afford to think about his emotions right now. As much as he wanted to just run down and wrap his sister into a hug and never let go. He quietly opened the door and leaped down the stairs and onto the floor, taking the goons' attention.
"GO! GET OUT OF HERE!" He yelled at the orphanage caretaker, he heard the door open and Batman and Red Hood come to join the fight while Nightwing got the kids out.
But because the world hates Tim, Two-Face had a hostage. Bronwyn and the kids that she was charged with looking after. Later Tim would realize that Bronwyn was putting on a brave face and tried to show no fear, but Tim knew her well enough to know that she was terrified.
Robin tried to negotiate. "Ok. I'm going to put my hands up, just don't hurt the kids. Let them go."
Two-Face just snarled and moved the gun closer to Bronwyn's face. She flinched away as far as she could. "Nah. I think that I will keep them. The older one might make a good little servant. Don't you think Robin?" The smirk on Two-Faces, well face, ticked Tim off. Goodbye acting like Robin! Protective older brother Tim Drake was here and you messed with the wrong sibling duo! Tim lunged forward and moved his hand just in time to move the gun from Bronwyn's face to her shoulder. The cry of his sister would haunt Tim forever but at least she was alive. Tim went to comfort her after giving a good punch to Two-Face's head, rendering him unconscious.
"Hey! Look at me. It's going to be ok alright. The police and paramedics are on the way. I've got you." Tim stayed there until the paramedics arrived and they took Bronwyn and the two other kids either up to the caretaker or to the hospital. The moment that the ambulance left, Tim took off ignoring Batman's yells. He got to the Batcave in record time yet still somehow, Bruce, Jason, and Dick had all managed to beat him.
Tim paid no mind to Bruce's yelling, staying on his one-track mind, to get changed and get to the hospital.
"Timothy Jackson Drake-Wayne you stop right there! What were you thinking.." Bruce continued on until he realized that Tim wasn't even listening. "Robin. Report." That got Tim's attention. Tim stopped, turned around, and glared at Bruce with an equal force of the Bat-Glare.
"Fine! You want a report. I'll give one to you. Even if it means that you will probably never want to see me again, I understand. I got angry tonight because the girl that Two-Face shot is my sister. Bronwyn Drake. She was never really known because Mother and Father didn't like to show her off due to her hearing aids and glasses. They forced me to never tell a living soul about her and I haven't. Even after their death, I am still too afraid to disobey the people that ruled my life with an iron fist. So I understand if you are mad and never want to see me again. I know that you only took me in for convenience and because you couldn't have a Robin that lived in an orphanage. But you have Damian now to be Robin. So don't worry about me. I can explain all of this to the social worker without jeopardizing your night lives." Tim looked to look Bruce in the eyes. "Just know that you were the best family I ever had." And with that, Tim turned and gave the Robin costume to a flabbergasted Damian, then turned and went upstairs, packed a small bag with his things, and snuck out the window, leaving behind the only place that felt like home.
He met his social worker at the hospital and explained what happened and told her that Bruce didn't realize what a challenge he would be and painfully said that Bruce wanted to give him back. The social worker just sighed and told him to go be with his sister while she got a room set up for him back at a new orphanage, that was out of Gotham and away from the only family he knew. The only good thing was that his sister was going with him. He paid her a handsome amount of his family's leftover money to make sure that it happened. He sat with Bronwyn in her hospital room and stroked her black hair. They looked exactly the same. They both had this black hair that was always a bit too long for their mother's liking. And they had these striking Blue eyes that seemed to stare into your very being. They looked a lot like Bruce and his kids. But Tim wasn't one of Bruce's kids anymore. It made him sad to suddenly realize that he would never see Alfred again. Never fight with Jason about books vs. movies. Watch Disney with Dick and listen to him belt out all the words to every Disney song. And he will never get to introduce Damian to Star Wars like they were going to the upcoming weekend. He allowed himself those 5 minutes to mourn the family that he left and then focused on what was happening in the now with his sister.
Bronwyn was moved to a new hospital in Bludhaven. Just far enough away that Tim didn't have to worry about Bruce finding him to punish him. He moved his and Bronwyn's things into their shared room in the new orphanage. It was very small and not enough food to go around, Tim shared as much money as he was given each month, as he still had an allowance set up as part of his parent's final will. And even though the additional $70 dollars every month was great, it still didn't provide much extra when you are serving over 24 kids in a tiny 15 room building that lived at the edge of the city. The walls had watermarks and mouse holes in the walls. There was always a distinct smell of mold and bleach in the rundown building. But as long as Bronwyn and he were together, Tim didn't care.
After Bronwyn was released from the hospital they settled into a quiet routine, staying out of the new caretaker's way, and caring for the other kids. Tim was the oldest at only 13 and the new caretaker, Mr. Bedlam had told the state that Tim was being homeschooled with a private tutor since apparently, he had too much trauma at being dismissed by Mr. Wayne to go back to school. But in reality, Mr. Bedlam was using him as a worker. Tim cooked, Cleaned, cared for the other children, helped them with homework, everything. But Tim didn't care. As long as he was with Bronwyn and they were together, then Tim would wash clothes and cook dinner for 24 kids every day if it meant that they stayed together.
The sibling Duo was in the orphanage for 6 months and 23 days before the orphanage got a surprise guest. Bronwyn was off at school with all the other kids, and Tim stayed behind to clean the floors since he was apparently homeschooled. The chore was made especially painful since he hadn't eaten more than a few bites of stale bread within the last three days and yesterday Mr. Bedlam kicked a few of his ribs for not cleaning fast enough, so now the task of cleaning was made especially painful.
As Tim was scrubbing with the harsh chemicals that burned his hands as he was not allowed gloves and brought tears to his eyes, the surprise guest knocked on the orphanage door. Mr. Bedlam motioned to Tim to move out of viewpoint and keep cleaning. Mr. Bedlam opened the door to reveal the surprise guests. Because in the doorway stood Mr. Wayne, Mr. Grayson, Mr. Todd, and Mr. Wayne. They didn't see Tim as he was hidden behind the hallway wall but he could see them. The new arrivals talked to Mr. Bedlam before Mr. Bedlam moved to the side and welcomed the group into the house. The Wayne's sat down on the old couches and Mr. Bedlam walked over to where Tim was hiding.
"Get in the closet. And not one word out of you. I know that they are the old family that tossed you away like the trash that you are. Now stay here and stay quiet. Or you won't be the only one getting punished tonight." And with that Tim was thrown into the tiny closet. It wasn't big enough for the boy to lay down in but he did what he could and leaned against the wall. He could hear muffled talking and then the front door squeaked open as the kids arrived home from school.
'Crap!' Though Tim. School got out when I was still cleaning. They must have just gotten off the bus. Tim could do nothing as he heard the kids walk into the house and the silence that followed as they eyed the unfamiliar people in the living room. He heard Mr. Bedlam get up and introduce the Wayne's to the kids and the kids one by one started to introduce themselves. Tim knew that they were there looking for him so they could punish him. And the next thing Tim knew the closet door was opening and he was grabbed by his arm and thrown out. He briefly noticed that the Wayne's had left.
"You piece of trash orphan brat! You made too much noise! Wayne asked if there was anyone here. Said that he could hear someone moving around." Tim gulped and looked around without moving his head and just his eyes. Mr. Bedlam had made all the little ones stay behind for his punishment. Tim just dissociated and curled in on himself as boots and fists made their way onto his skin. "No food tonight! Now make dinner and finish the chores. Get out of my sight." Tim scrambled up and ran to get dinner started. After dinner was finished and the house was cleaned again, Tim made his way to bed.
Just as Tim had climbed onto the thin, worn-out foam that was his mattress, Bronwyn came and checked on him. "Timmy? Are you ok? That's stupid, You probably aren't. Can you sit up so I can check your ribs?" Tim vaguely remembers sitting up and the familiar feeling of his little sister running her hands over his stomach as he taught her for the first time that he got hit hard in the ribs. "Nothing feels wrong but I can't really tell. Tim, we can't stay here. You are going to get hurt one day and I can't lose you too! Please we need to leave."
"WHY?" Bronwyn whisper-screamed. They had had this argument multiply times now, and every time Tim convinced her that this was for the best.
"Mr. Bedlam will report to us. The police find us and we just get sent either back here or were separated. That can't happen. I'll be ok." And with that Tim drifted off to sleep, His little sister curled next to him protectively.
The next day, Tim woke up sick. The chemicals from the cleaning had made his hands dry and itchy and it hurt to move them. His head felt like it was stuffed with cotton balls and his body felt like one giant bruise. Tim knew that he was dehydrated and his throat felt like it was lined with sharp, rusty nails. But Tim got up because the punishment for not getting up was not worth the present comfort, no matter how little that comfort was. Tim made the rounds and got all the kids up so that way while they were getting ready for school, he could start on their breakfast. He sighed as he opened the pantry doors and found just a few loaves of bread and a jar of peanut butter. Mr. Bedlam forgot to go shopping again. Grabbing the bread Tin made quick PB sandwiches and got the kids out the door just in time for the bus to arrive. He closed the door and started on his morning chores before Mr. Bedlam woke up in a few hours.
At school, Bronwyn made it through the day. Getting her free school lunch, sleeping during class, and doing her homework instead of listening so she could help the others with theirs later. She got off the bus at four and started the trek home with the other kids. Waiting a ways up the road from the bus stop, stood someone that Bronwyn had only seen in pictures and on the news. Bruce Wayne. He noticed her and ran to greet her.
"Hello," He said as he squatted down to her height. "I'm Bruce Wayne. Your Bronwyn Drake, right?" She hesitantly nodded a yes. "I'm looking for your brother, and if I'm right, you know where he is." He smiled at her.
Wow, he sucked at talking to kids. He sounded like a mob boss. Dick Grayson got out of the car shaking his head, followed by Jason Todd and Damian Wayne. All of the other kids had stayed behind her, unsure of what to do. She told them to get home quickly so they didn't get in trouble and they took off like someone had lit their pants on fire. Mr. Grayson was the one to try speaking to her next.
"Sorry about Bruce. He kinda sucks at talking to anyone younger than him. But stay and listen to us. Please. We know that you are Bronwyn Drake. That your Brother is Tim Drake. We didn't want him to go and we just wanted him to come back home. We want to bring you both home. I'm going to give you our phone numbers so you can call us if you want. Just please tell Tim that we miss him." Mr. Grayson smiled at her and handed her a small piece of paper with 5 different numbers on it. One for each of them and one for their Butler Mr. Pennyworth.
"I'll talk to Tim. But please go. You'll just get us in more trouble. Tim can't last much longer and you being here will only make it worse." She looked up from the ground and her worn-out shoes that were days away from falling apart. "Tim thinks that you are mad at him and want to hurt him, Mr. Wayne. That's why we're here and Tim hasn't contacted you before." She heard someone yelling her name. "I have to go. Just please don't come back. It only brings trouble for us." She nodded her thanks and nodded to each one to say goodbye. "Mr. Wayne, Mr. Grayson, Mr. Todd, Mr. Wayne." She rushed past leaving the shocked family in the dust.
When she got home, Tim was on the floor being kicked again. Apparently, he had passed out while scrubbing the windows. Once Tim woke up, Bronwyn helped Tim get to their room and tended to his injuries.
Luckily the next day was Saturday, so Bronwyn recruited a group of kids to finish Tim's chores and make something for dinner for Mr. Bedlam. He still hadn't gone shopping. Tim's fever hadn't gone down since that morning and Bronwyn was starting to get worried. The list of phone numbers burning a hole in her pocket. She ended up staying up all Friday night to monitor her big brother. He started to get delusional in his sleep due to the fever and pain-induced dreams. She didn't know what they were about but she knew they were bad due to the amount of tossing and turning and moaning Tim was doing in his sleep.
Saturday morning came and Tim hadn't regained consciousness yet and Bronwyn was starting to worry more and more. She didn't have a phone to call for help so she had to get one of the kids to sneak it off of Mr. Bedlam's body once he was home and passed out on the couch with a hangover. Around Noon the kids in the orphanage were all asking for food and she had to be the bearer of bad news to tell them that they had nothing to eat. Bronwyn knew that Tim hadn't eaten much the last few days. His sunken cheeks and the fact that she could see his ribs were evident that Tim had not been eating near enough. The paper in her pocket was tempting her more and more, the only thing holding her back is that the group of kids she sent to retrieve the phone had not yet returned because Mr. Bedlam had not yet returned from the bars. Later that night the group of kids returned with the phone. At this point, Bronwyn had memorized the phone numbers trying to take her mind off Tim.
Speaking of Tim, he had taken a turn for the worst. Not even recognizing who she was or where he was. The burns were infected and they were causing Tim a great deal of pain. Bronwyn had a small bowl of water next to her with a washrag that she used to wipe the sweat off of Tim's shivering body. After one final glance at her brother, Bronwyn dialed the first number on the paper. Mr. Grayson's.
The phone rang once.
And on the third ring, he answered. "Hello?"
Bronwyn just about cried with relief and quickly placed her call. She spared him the details and just said that they needed help and they had to come by. She threw in a quick please and hung up just as Tim started to shake with fever once again.
She didn't have to wait long for her heroes to arrive. They woke up Mr. Bedlam with knocking and every kid froze knowing that waking the sleeping beast was a bad thing. But upon seeing who was at the door, Mr. Bedlam smiled and welcomed them in. Bronwyn crept to the edge of the door frame to hear the exchange.
"Welcome back Mr. Wayne! I didn't think that we would be seeing you again."
"Well, I wanted to take another look at the kids that you house here. I understood from one of the local agencies that you had an older kid. They must not have been here when we were here two days ago." You could hear the smirk in Mr. Wayne's voice and hear the blood draining from Mr. Bedlams.
"Well yes. I-I do. He is upstairs right now. I think the kids told me he was sick. I've been letting him rest. Maybe if you come back tomorrow..."
'No!' Thought Bronwyn.
"Nonsense. I would like to meet the boy now. We have to head home tomorrow morning for a gala I'm hosting."
"Right. Umm. KIDS!" The Wayne family flinched at his yell. "GET DOWN HERE! ALL OF YOU! INCLUDING THE BOY!! One moment please."
Bronwyn had some taller kids come and help her get Tim up. Because you do not argue with Mr. Bedlam. Not even if you are sick. Tim moaned and cried in protest of being moved. "Sorry, Timmy. It's for your own good." Slowly Bronwyn and the other kids moved the sick Tim downstairs.
Tim had never been tall so Bronwyn was only about 5 inches shorter and moving him downstairs wasn't all that difficult. Upon seeing Tim, Mr. Wayne and Mr. Grayson jumped up to help the sick boy.
"What's wrong with him?!" Asked Mr. Wayne in a hurry, laying the boy on the couch to get a better look at what was wrong. Mr. Bedlam had gone whiter in the face, realizing that he was completely and utterly screwed.
"I don't know." Sobbed Bronwyn, finally releasing her pent-up stress. "The burns from the cleaning chemicals are infected I think. His ribs are bruised from punishment and I don't think he has eaten in a few days." Mr. Wayne reached down and started to tend to her injured brother.
Out of everything Bruce was expecting when Dick told him they needed to get to the orphanage quickly, he was not expecting Tim to be sick out of his mind and badly injured from a serious beating to his ribs. Bronwyn started to cry as she told him what was ailing the boy and Dick scooped her up into a hug. Jason started to call 911 because there was no way they could move Tim in his condition. Bruce's heart ached at seeing his second youngest this way. Well third youngest, since he had already mentally adopted Bronwyn. And he couldn't help but feel guilty too. He was the one that made Tim so scared that he ran. It was all his fault his boy was in this mess.
911 arrived and took in the scene, instantly ordering someone to call the police and the kid's social workers. Four people crowded around Tim, blocking Bruce from his son, and started to work on getting him ready to move.
One turned to Bruce and started to question him. "What's his blood type?"
"When was the last time he ate or drank anything?"
"We don't know."
"Are you his father?"
This one caught Bruce off guard. Oh well! Better to ask for forgiveness than permission. "YES!"
"Ok. We are going to Bludhaven General. You and your sons can meet us there." And with that Tim was loaded into the back of an ambulance and taken away. Instantly Bruce turned to Bronwyn and asked if she wanted to come. Too busy crying, she nodded and clung to Dick even tighter. Not that Dick seemed to mind. They all moved into the large car that they brought with Jason taking the passenger seat to direct Alfred while Damian, Bruce, Dick, and Bronwyn sat in the back. It was a tense ride. Only noise made by the GPS up front directing them to Tim and Bronwyn's crying.
Once they got to the hospital they were told they had to wait for any answers, much to Brue's annoyance they ignored the 'I am Bruce Wayne' card. As they sat there and waited Bronwyn had finally stopped crying in time for their social worker to arrive with the police so she could relay what had happened. The things that Bronwyn said made Bruce sick to think of his kids, because mentally he had already adopted Bronwyn and he was pretty sure everyone else in the family did too, had gone through all that. After Bronwyn retold all the events of the past 6 months, the social worker moved to take her to her new foster home. That backfired. Epically. She screamed and yelled and cried begging to not leave Tim. And because Bruce had a big mouth he offered to be her new foster home. He already was an emergency foster parent and was authorized to take her in. That caused both the social worker and Bronwyn to freeze. After a moment of silence, the social worker gave and allowed permission for Bronwyn to stay.
Bronwyn didn't know what to think. Mr. Wayne had just taken her in and he was now her foster parent. But if Tim had a reason to be scared of Mr. Wayne then maybe she should too. She curled away from him much to the surprise of her social worker and Mr. Wayne.
"Thank you, Mr. Wayne. I promise that I'll be good. I'll stay out of the way and be what you want me to be." She said in a very quiet voice.
Mr. Wayne crouched down to her and smiled. "Are you worried that I am going to hurt you?"
"Umm." Apparently, her silence was enough because Mr. Wayne continued to talk.
"I will never hurt you. You can ask any of the boys out there, they will all tell you that I would never hurt them. You can even spend time with them if you are more comfortable with it. I will never hurt you though. I swear on my parents' graves." Bronwyn's eyes shot up! Everyone in Gotham knew about Mr. Wayne's parents and knew that he only swore on their graves when talking to one of his children. For him, it was a sign of sincere honesty. Bronwyn couldn't believe what she was hearing.
“Ok.” She looked up and met him in the eyes. Blue eyes that almost matched hers looked down at her, and for a moment, all Bronwyn felt was peace. In Bruce’s eyes, she could tell that he was telling the truth and that he would not let anything happen to her. They stayed in that private hospital waiting room a bit longer until she was comfortable with going back to the waiting room. Once they got back to the main room, there was a nurse waiting to talk to Mr. Wayne. He motioned for her to go sit down with the others while he went to discuss what was happening with Tim.
Bruce walked over to the Head Nurse. He rapidly started to ask questions until she held up her hand and motioned for him to stop talking so he could get a word in.
“Mr. Wayne, please hold your questions for a moment. Tim is fine for right now but honestly if he makes it through these next 24 hours then we will truly know if he will make it. His ribs were cracked and one of them punctured the lung so we had to insert a chest tube to help with his breathing and thankfully we managed to get that back under control. Now for the burns on his hands, they were definitely caused by chemicals and they were very infected. We managed to get them cleaned and wrapped but that is going to be a very painful recovery. And then there was the fact that he was extremely malnourished and dehydrated. We started him on two IVs for hydration and nutrients and another for IV for heavy duty antibiotics. We won’t know more until later. But for now, you and your family are more than welcome to go sit with him in his room. But I know that he is also extremely exhausted from fighting off the fever and the infection and that he hasn’t seemed to have a decent night's sleep in a very long time. While you are here though, we would like to check out Bronwyn.
"Ok. Let me go get her and we can get her checked out." The two walked over to the group where Bronwyn was clinging to Dick, who ended up going with Bronwyn to get the checkup while Bruce, Alfred, Jason, and Damian went to Tim's room.
Tim's room was big enough for the whole family but it became crowded once everyone was in. Dick and Bronwyn met them in Tim's room after her checkup. The glasses that Bronwyn were wearing when they first met yesterday were loose and on the verge of falling apart. Now they were tightened and cleaned and her hearing aids were replaced with some new temporary state-issued ones, that Bruce could tell were helping the girl. Once Bronwyn caught sight of Tim she ran up to his bed and curled up on his bed, minding the wires and tubes that seemed to come from everywhere.
Now the only thing the newly reunited family could do was wait.
They waited for two days for Tim to wake up. The first 24 hours passed with heavy sighs of relief and after 48 hours hopes were rising. Tim's fever was slowly dropping and eventually, he was taken off the sedatives and all that was left was for Tim to wake up on his own. And wait they did. Bruce swore that time slowed down once they took Time off of the sedatives. Seconds felt like they had turned to minutes and minutes felt like they had turned to hours. Tim finally awoke around 8 hours after they took him off the sedative.
The reunion was NOT what Bruce was expecting. Tim started to wake up slowly and everyone crowded around once they began to realize that. Once Tim was awake enough to start to open his eyes, Bruce motioned for everyone except him and Bronwyn to back off so they didn't overwhelm him. Bruce was not expecting Tim to wake up and realize where he was and for the monitors to start going crazy and for Tim to back up as much as his weak and injured body would allow before nurses and orderlies rushed in to figure out what was making the machines go haywire. Needless to say, the Wayne's were kicked out. No one could comfort the sobbing Bronwyn who thought that she had done something wrong and was huddled in a ball in a corner of the private room, sobbing and begging not to be punished. Bruce made sure that he stayed on the other side of the room and made sure that Dick, who was the only one she was comfortable with, was the only one to go near her. When the doctors came back they had solemn looks on their faces that made Bruce's heart skip a few beats.
Before anyone could get a word out, Dr. Marshall, who was Tim's doctor, started to explain. "Tim is fine. I know already that you were going to ask. What happened was a panic attack. Mr. Wayne, did you know that the reason the boy left your home in the first place was that he was scared you were going to kick him out and separate him from his sister? That for some reason thinks that you are here only to punish him. I know that you would never hurt your kids in any way, shape, or form, because the press keeps such a close eye on you, if you were to hurt your kids they would have been removed before you could bat an eye. I do not believe that you would hurt Tim, but he doesn't know any better. He thinks that you will hurt him. So for now I am not going to let you into his room. He is comfortable with everyone it seems but you. And Bronwyn is more than welcome to go see him. He hasn't stopped asking for you since he was able to remember what happened." Bruce watched as Bronwyn's bright blue eyes lit up and she practically leaped off the floor running out of the room, dragging a very happy Dick Grayson with her. Bruce couldn't help but feel a bit of jealousy at Dick for getting to Tim.
Bronwyn was so excited! Tim was awake and she was allowed to see him! She couldn't run fast enough down the hall to the room where her brother was waiting.
"Come on Mr. Grayson! Timmy is waiting." Mr. Grayson obliged and picked up the pace, running faster, and eventually, they arrived at Tim's room.
Dick smiled and ran faster with Bronwyn. Once they arrived, he pushed open the door and Dick felt his heartbreak at the sight of his babybird laying on the hospital bed, looking the worst that Dick had ever seen. Bronwyn instantly let go of his hand and ran to hug her brother. Tim was laying down but the bed was raised a bit so he was able to look around. Once Tim felt Bronwyn he opened his eyes and started to cry as he held her. Dick could see that Tim was shaking from the sobs and from being so weak. Dick waited in the way while the brother and sister reunited. It made Dick so happy that Tim was with his sister. Even from his spot away from the two, Dick could see how much they loved each other.
Eventually Tim looked up and saw Dick standing there. The smile on his face instantly disappeared and he hung onto his sister as tight as he could. Sensing the tension, Bronwyn looked up and saw where Tim was looking. She wiggled out of Tim's arms and jumped down from the bed to drag Dick over to Tim.
"Tim, it's Mr. Grayson! He helped me rescue you!" Tim looked shyly up at Dick and Dick could see how much pain Tim was in. His cheeks were sunken in and Tim's whole body looked like a skeleton that someone had draped skin over. He was painfully thin, evident of the abuse that had been going on for the past 6 months. Dick couldn't help but feel a sense of guilt. Guilt for not being fast enough, guilt for not stopping Tim from leaving, guilt because he felt like it was his fault that Tim was laying in that hospital bed, barely strong enough to sit up with support.
Tim looked back down to look his sister in the eye. "Yeah. It is Mr. Grayson." It was at that moment when Tim called him Mr. Grayson instead of Dick, that Dick broke down.
Tim looked so uncomfortable and shocked at the same time as Dick broke down in front of him, which made Dick feel even more guilt for putting him in such an uncomfortable situation.
"I'm so sorry Timmy. I feel so bad! For everything! You wouldn't be laying in that bed calling me Mr. Grayson if I had just been a better big brother and stopped you from leaving. I'm so sorry and I hope that you will someday forgive me, but please know that you will always be my little brother." Dick didn't realize that he was on his knees until he opened his eyes to look at Tim and realized that he was looking at the floor. Before he could stand up though, a small, bony, bandaged hand reached over and grabbed one of his hands that was clinging onto the bed rails. Dick looked up and saw that Tim was sitting up with the help of Bronwyn, and it was his bandaged hand that was touching Dick's.
"Dick.." Spoke Tim in a raspy voice that made Dick break down once again. And never once did Tim move his hand. Once Dick had recovered enough to stand up again, Tim pulled him weakly but enough to get the point across onto the small hospital bed.
Tim cleared his throat once again and spoke. "Mr. Grayson, I forgive you. But please know that it wasn't your fault. It was my stupid, idiotic brain."
Tim started to hit his head with a small, injured fist and Dick lunged forward to grab Tim's wrist so he didn't hurt himself anymore. Tim quickly looked up when Dick grabbed his hand and Dick mentally scolded himself. Of course, Tim would be wary of touch. The only touch he's had in the last 6 months was hurtful touch. But instead of flinching away, Tim melted into the touch and Dick scooted closer and pulled Tim into a hug. Finally, Tim released his emotions and he started to whimper which then turned into a wail that shook Dick to the core.
"It's ok Timmy. I've got you now."
Dick lost track of time, too focused on holding his brother and making up for the last 6 months of lost hugs. And 7 years of hugs with Bronwyn which she was not protesting and instead nuzzled closer like Tim did when he first got a hug from Dick. It wasn't until he saw Bruce waiting outside with Jason, Damian, and Alfred that he realized that he had spent the past 3 and a half hours holding his brother and new sister.
'WOW,' Dick thought. 'I have a baby sister.'
"Hey, Timmy. You awake Babybird?"
"Mmhmmm." Came a sleepy reply.
"Now you can totally say no if you don't want to, but do you want to see the others? You don't even have to see Bruce if you don't want to." Dick could feel Tim tense up at the mention of their father. Dick just continued to talk. "Just know that Bruce will never hurt, ever hurt you. He never hurt me. You can ask Jason and Damian too if you want. But he would never hurt you. Alfred raised him better than that." Dick finished up and glanced out of the door window to the waiting family and gave a small look that could be read as not yet.
"They can come in. Mr. Wayne too." Dick's heart broke that Tim thought he had to call Bruce Mr. Wayne. It was something that Tim used to do when he first joined the bats and the Wayne's. It took them months to get him to call them by the first name. And many more after that to get him to stop using a Mister in front of everyone's name. Tim looked up at Dick with hopeful eyes but eyes that held so much hurt and pain.
Dick motioned for the others to come on in. Bruce waited in the doorway unsure if he was welcome or not but Dick just smiled and invited him in. Tim seemed unsure of what to do and he just buried his head into Dick's shoulder, hiding his face from his family. It couldn't have been comfy with the chest tube and the bruised ribs but he was hidden nonetheless.
Dick looked at the waiting family and lightly nudged Tim to look up.
The skittish movements did not go unnoticed with a family of detectives but they made no comment. Tim still refused to look them all in the eyes, but the fact that he wasn't hiding was huge.
Jason broke the silence. "How are you feeling Babybird?"
"Fine. Thank you for asking Mr. Todd." If Jason's eyebrows could have they would have left his face with how shocked he was to get a reply like that. Bruce looked up and Dick could see his heartbreak at realizing what was happening.
"Timmy. Sweetheart. Can you look at me? If you can't then it is ok. I won't get mad. I will never hurt you." Tim didn't look up but that did not stop Bruce from talking. "You do not have to call any of us Mister. Ok?" Bruce's face was the kindest Dick had ever seen it. It was comforting.
"Ok, sir." Dick could tell that Bruce wanted to sigh, but didn't for fear of making Tim think that he had done something wrong. Dick just smiled sadly and kissed Tim's forehead, minding the bruises on Tim's face.
The next few days consisted of Tim either sleeping or being awake to exchange a few quiet words with Bronwyn or Dick. Occasionally he would talk to Jason or Damian. Sometimes Alfred when he was there, but never Bruce. In fact, Tim wouldn't even look Bruce in the eye. It all changed one night though after Tim had a nightmare.
Bruce woke to the sound of mumbling and a panicking voice. He woke up and looked around to find Tim in the hands of a nightmare. He kept mumbling, but Bruce couldn't make out what it was until he got closer.
"D-dad. Please. I'm sorry. Please come save me! Bruce! Dad, I'm sorry!" Bruce's heart broke at the sight of Tim begging for him in his sleep. Against his better judgment, Bruce reached down and woke up the scared boy. Glazed eyes glanced up at him before Time was shooting up and hugging Bruce. Bruce didn't know what to think at first before wrapping his arms around Tim, cringing when he felt Tim's spine. "D-Dad. You came." Tim sounded so surprised that Bruce just hugged the boy harder and whispered affirmations to him.
"Of course. I'll always come for you. You are my son. My wonderful, bright, genius son." Father and son stayed there until early morning when Tim managed to fall back to sleep in his fathers' arms. Alfred was the first to wake but he said nothing except smile and look Bruce in the eye and raise a curious eyebrow. No one mentioned the late-night cuddles between Tim and Bruce. But the two grew closer after that night. Tim still called Bruce Mr. Wayne and sir, but over time, Tim started to call him Mr. Bruce. Though it took almost 3 more weeks for that to happen, it happened eventually. The weeks spent in the hospital were tense, to say the least. Tim was still wary to be around Bruce and then there were the other times that Tim was in so much pain he begged for Bruce by calling him, dad.
Those were the worst days. The ones when the nurses had to strap down Tim to a bed with padded restraints when his fever spiked and Tim wouldn't let anyone touch him, thinking that they were either Mr. Bedlam or Jack and Janet Drake. The other days were the ones where the nurses had to clean the cuts on Tim's hands. The screams and crying haunted the whole family.
Tim was done with the hospital. He wanted to leave and stop having to bear the pitting stares of the nurses and staff. But mostly he wanted Mr. Bruce to go. He knew that Mr. Bruce didn't want him, so Tim couldn't understand why they were staying with him at the hospital. Finally, Tim's curiosity got the better of him and he asked.
"Umm, Mr. Bruce?"
At the mention of his name Mr. Bruce looked up at Tim and smiled nodding at him to ask his question.
"I was just wondering sir, when are you dropping us off? I don't mean to be rude, it's just confusing me why you have stayed this long sir." Tim looked down at his hands before forcing himself to look up, fearing he would be slapped for not looking the older man in the eye.
Bruce was confused. He thought that Tim knew that he had taken both of them on as foster kids. Bruce paled. Did he forget to tell Tim that he was fostering him and his sister? Alfred was going to wring his neck later.
Before Bruce could reply Bronwyn spoke for him. "Mr. Bruce is our new foster parent Timmy! He is letting us stay together and we get to go back to Gotham!" Bronwyn was so happy to be with Tim that she didn't even notice how still her brother had gone.
"Yo-you are our new foster parent?" Tim asked breathlessly. Bruce just sighed. This wasn't how he had planned to tell him.
"Yes. I hadn't told you yet because I wasn't sure how you would react. I mean you still aren't a fan of me being around, so I wasn't going to tell you until later. And then I forgot to tell you. Which is all my fault, not yours." Bruce was expecting arguing and possibly some scared tears, but not the grin that spread throughout Tim's whole face.
"You actually want to foster me again? After all the trouble I caused?" If Bruce could, he would go back in time and slap some sense into his past self so none of this would have happened.
Bruce sat down on the edge of the hospital bed and grabbed Tim's bandaged hands on his own. "You. Timothy Jackson Drake-Wayne are never a bother or trouble. I would be thrilled to have you come live with us again. I want you and Bronwyn to have a place in my home. And if the time comes when you are happy with being my kids, I will be ready to adopt you and make you legally my son again," Bruce turned to look at Bronwyn. "And you, my legal daughter."
Tim couldn't believe his ears! Mr. Bruce wanted him! Before he could stop himself, Tim moved forward and hugged Mr. Bruce, happy tears running down his face. "Thank you, dad." Tim could feel Bronwyn wrap her hands around Mr. Bruce as well and for that moment all was right in the world.
"I love hearing you call me dad. No more calling any of us mister. OK? You are my son and daughter, there is no need for the formalities. You can call me whatever you want. B, Bruce, old man, dad, whatever." Bruce told both kids with a smile.
"Ok Dad" Both kids happily replied.
Tim was discharged four weeks and five days after he was first admitted to the hospital. The whole family was there to escort him out to the car, waiting to take him and Bronwyn back home. Back to Gotham.
Bruce helped get Tim into the car. Jason had gone in first to help get Timmy into the back seat. Tim was still extremely weak and skinny due to six months of not eating enough. But they were going home altogether. Tim was alive. Skinny and weak but on a fast track to recovery and on a meal plan to get him back up to a normal weight. Bronwyn had taken to Dick's hugs like a fish to water and you could often find her wrapped around Dick in a constant hug. No one knew that the newly united Wayne family was returning to Gotham that day except for the really close family and friends so they were luckily not bombarded with press waiting at the front gate. The sight of home made Bruce so happy. He could tell that his boys were happy to be home. Tim and Bronwyn were both asleep even though it was only about an hour-long drive.
Bruce just chuckled and carried the sleeping Tim into the house with Jason followed close behind with a sleeping Bronwyn.
Jason couldn't believe that he now had a younger sister. He had always wanted to have a sister, but his mother was never able, and then he died before he could make his wishes known to a certain bat and cat. It was well known among the Batboys that Selina and Bruce had always been "Secretly" dating. As in everyone in the family knew but Bruce and Selina thought that no one knew. Anyway, Jason was so happy carrying his new sister up to Tim's room. The two had not been away from each other for the last six months so Jason made sure that they were sharing a room until they were comfortable with having their own space.
Dick and Damian followed behind them into Tim's room where Alfred was already waiting with fresh new sheets. No one had touched a thing in Tim's room since he left. Jason had never really noticed Tim's room until recently. How it was an organized mess but with photos hanging from every available wall space. Alfred had turned down the bedsheets and was waiting for the sleeping kids. Unsurprisingly, Selina was waiting with Alfred. She can come to visit them a few times at the hospital, her and Bruce always running out for a few minutes, for Bruce to return alone with small lipstick smudges on his cheeks and a lovesick look plastered on his face.
Once Tim and Bronwyn were snuggled up in the bed, the family finally sat down and relaxed. Selina and Bruce sat on the small couch in Tim's room, cuddled up until they fell asleep. Alfred retired for the night leaving strict instructions to come get him if anything changed. Damian took residence in a small wingback chair and rested his feet on the edge of the bed. Jason sat next to Tim, running his fingers through his hair whenever the nightmares started back up. Dick waited beside Bronwyn, doing the same thing as Jason.
Morning came and Jason realized that sometime during the night, he had crashed on Tim's bed.
Dick had somehow managed to fall off of the bed and sprawl out on the floor.
Jason took the quiet with everyone asleep his advantage to get a good look at Tim. His cheeks were still sunken and his hands were still badly hurt. Most of the time wrapped in bandages, but occasionally Tim would unwrap them for a few minutes and Jason could see the terrible peeling, scaring skin on Tim's hands. Tim was still so thin, but with some of Alfie's food in him, he would be right as rain within a few weeks. The physical scars would heal, but the mental ones would never fully leave. Jason vowed right then and there to be a better big brother than he had been in the past.
The family all woke up soon after Jason woke up. Bronwyn was actually the last to wake with Tim waking up about ten minutes before her.
Tim woke up slowly, taking note of where he was and what was happening. Jason recognized the actions from years of doing it himself. It was obvious to the trained detective when Tim was fully awake and aware of where he was due to the small sigh of relief that escaped through Tim's nose and the way that the tension, which seemed to be a constant presence in Tim, bled away to reveal a relaxed young boy. It was at that moment that Tim opened his eyes and looked sluggishly around the room.
"Mornin' sleeping beauty." Tim just stuck his tongue out, attempting to flip him off, but forgetting about the bandages and wincing when the burns rubbed harshly against the coarse bandages. Jason just sighed and reached down to help remove Tim's bandages.
Tim relaxed at the cool air that surrounded his skin as the bandages were pulled off. He hated having his hands stuck in the stark, white fabric that always bugged his burns. But it was better than looking at the scars left on his hands. The chemicals had left harsh burns all over Tim's dorsal side and palmer side. The scars were ugly, making Tim look away once he saw them. He knew that the action didn't go unnoticed by his family, but he didn't care. The scares were red and the skin looked marbled. The skin was wrinkled and still hurt to move and touch. Tim desperately wished to remove his skin and never have to look at the scars again.
Bruce watched as Jason removed the bandages from Tim's hands and watched as Tim took one look and turned away. Bronwyn was starting to stir and without her knowledge, burrowed into Tim's bruised side not realizing how much pain it was putting Time in. Bruce reached over to move her but Tim just raised his eyes and shook his head, and Bruce backed away. Tim still refused to look down at his hands.
Bruce reached over and grabbed Tim's hands loosely on his own doing his best to avoid the first and second-degree burn areas.
"Tim." Bruce tried and failed to get the boy to respond to him. Drastic measures were taken. "Timmy. Babybird. Sweetheart. little bird. Timbo. Timbuktu. If you don't answer me I am not going to stop Dick from giving you an octopus hug." That managed to get a smile out of the boy and Tim slowly raised his eyes. "There are those bright blue eyes that I missed so much. What's on your mind sweetheart? And before you tell me it's nothing, I know something is bothering you. I have a hunch it includes some hands of yours." Tim simply nodded.
"Can you tell me what about them is bothering you?"
Honestly, Bruce was not expecting him to answer. "They are ugly. And I don't blame anyone but myself because I was a stupid idiot who ran away. I just wished they weren't so ugly. I see you stare at them when they aren't wrapped. I know you think they're ugly too."
"Am I ugly?" Jason spoke before he even could register the words that were exiting his mouth. Babybird just looked confused.
"Am. I. Ugly? I have scars all over my body. The 'J' from the Joker's brand is on my cheek. The few scars from my childhood remain on my face. The scars on my hands from when I tried to shield the blast from Joker's bomb and climbing out of my grave ruined my hands enough that even the Lazarus pit couldn't fix them. So I ask, ‘Am I ugly?"
Tim looked shocked. "No! Your scars show how strong you are."
"And yours don't?" Jason was sitting on Tim's bed, opposite of his younger brother so he could look Tim in the eyes. He had his hands open to show the scars that remained. Tim looked down once more at Jason's scars and then his own.
"No. Mine exists because I was stupid. Mother always told me that I never was smart enough to plan ahead. I should have just listened to her.”
“Ok. We are coming back to that. But my scars are from stupid mistakes too. I wanted to meet my birth mom when I should have taken a hint that she didn't want me since she left me with Willis. But no, I was stupid and that got me killed. Your scars may be from a mistake, but they do not make you ugly. And they do NOT make you weak." Jason was finally playing the role of big brother. And he loved it.
Bruce felt his chest swell up with pride. His boy, his little wing, was acting like a big brother. Never in all of his days did Bruce think the day would come. It was hard for Jason to talk about his scars and the fact that he is openly talking about them to comfort his little brother was making Bruce feel so proud. He could see the pride all over Dick's face too. Dick had been trying to get Jason to play an active role as big brother for years. Tim took another look at his hands and then started to shake. Jason moved forward, being the closest to him in case something was wrong. Turns out Tim learned from an early age how to cry quietly. Another thing they were coming back to.
Jason's heart broke at the sight of Tim quietly crying. He didn't know if it was good or bad that Tim was finally crying. Jason was hoping it was a good cry. A good cry means that one haw recognized what has happened to them and accepts it but it is still painful. Before Jason realized what he was doing, he had moved forward and carefully enveloped Babybird in a hug. Wrapping up Bronwyn too once she started to wake and protest not being included in the hug.
Tim still cried silently. It made Jason want to resurrect the Drakes from the dead and tear them apart limb from limb. Then fix them up and drop them off at the police with evidence of child abuse and neglect.
Jason smiled to himself at that fantasy.
Talia did owe him a favor...
NO! Not now.
With Dickybirds and Demon Spawn's help, he was sure they could be easily swayed into his plan.
For now, though he would hug his little brother and tell him that it was ok to cry. To remind him that he would not be punished for crying. To remind him that crying wasn't a weakness. And to remind him that Jason and all of the other crazy family would always be there for him.
Eventually, Tim's crying tapered off into small hiccups and he flushed with embarrassment when his stomach rumbled. Now that Tim was finally getting real food again, his body had started to crave more and more. Tim glanced up sheepishly and smiled. Alfred just chuckled. "Breakfast is ready for all you young masters if you are ready for Breakfast. Or should it be brunch at this point?" Jason finally looked at the digital clock on Tim's bedside table and realized that it was indeed, 10:33 AM.
"Opps." Jason and Dick said at the same time. Getting a small laugh out of Bronwyn. Jason helped get Tim up and out of bed and into the wheelchair that had been tucked into the corner, away from Tim's line of sight.
'Out of sight, out of mind' Jason thought to himself as he wheeled Tim out of the room followed by Bronwyn who stuck to either Tim or Dick's side like glue. Damian had conned Dick into giving him a piggyback ride and Dick was running ahead and jumping around, throwing the laughing boy all over the place. It made Jason happy to see Damian learning to accept love and attention and learn to act like a child his age.
Alfred and Bruce took up the rear with Selina linking her arm through Bruce's, watching happily as the Wayne children were at peace for once.
Breakfast was a momentous occasion that morning. Jason remembers that specifically. For once, everyone was sitting together, eating as a family. Tim was still struggling with his hands but either Jason or Bruce would lean over and help cut Tim's food into smaller pieces that Tim could stab with an oversized fork that was easier to grip. The family was finally all together again.
Tim smiled the first real smile in months. It was so nice to be home.
"Timothy." Damian had recently started to call him by his first name rather than his last after he had become aware of the terrible things Janet and Jack Drake had done.
"Yeah Dami? What's up?" They were sitting in the living room, spending more time together as a family. It had been about a week now since Tim and Bronwyn had moved into the manor, and since then Tim had gotten stronger, though still really weak. Bronwyn had become close with all of the family and Selina had finally moved her stuff in after Bruce had asked her to marry him. Currently, Tim was on one of the big couches reading a book off his phone, watching Bronwyn learn fighting moves from Jason and flips from Dick. Damian was up next to teach her how to throw a knife. And no, Bruce was not aware that knife throwing lessons were occurring that day. But right now, Damian had come up to Tim and sat next to him.
Tim froze. He was not expecting this. "For what?"
"I was a terrible brother. I hurt you so much and wanted you dead. I never realized what was happening when you went back to that manor or what was happening before you moved in. I understand if you don't forgive-'' Tim stopped him right there.
"Damian Wayne. Yes, you may not have been the best little brother at first, but I never stopped loving you. I understood what it was like to be raised to be taught something that turned out to be a lie. To be raised to take out your enemies or suffer the consequences. But know this, I forgave you a long time ago. I love you, little brother."
Damian looked Tim in the eyes and smiled. "I love you too." And with that, the moment was over. Done. Finished. Probably won't ever happen again. But Tim and Damian both know that it happened and that was enough for them. Tim watched as Dick called Damian over to teach Bronwyn about knives and the best ways to throw them, and he watched as Bruce finally registered what he was hearing only to shoot up and try to protect his little girl. Selina and Tim only laughed. Bruce had taken a fond liking to have a little girl and could often be found having Royal Tea parties with the seven-year-old and her stuffed animals.
Selina came over and sat with him and together they watched as Bruce's veins popped out and he freaked out when the last knife Damian threw as an example got a little too close to Bronwyn for Bruce's comfort.
"Is it nice to be back?" Asked Selina after a few minutes of watching Bruce's hair go greyer by the minute.
"Ya. It is nice to be back here." Tim looked over and smiled at her, leaning into her touch when she hugged him. "It really is nice to be home."