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Lay Me Down

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Tim would be the first to admit that he had issues when it came to getting a good night’s rest. That sort of thing came hand in hand with the whole vigilante business, especially for those who worked primarily at night. This of course was compounded by Tim’s lifelong struggle with insomnia, so instead of a sleep ‘schedule, Tim had more of a ‘consciousness continuum’, where sleep existed at one end and wakefulness at the other and Tim slid on the scale depending on his workload and how much coffee he’d consumed. He could function on most levels of exhaustion until he just straight up passed out, at which point he would sleep like the dead for many hours. It wasn't uncommon to find a completely passed out Tim in odd places, such as curled up on an armchair in the library, slumped in front of the computer in the Cave, sprawled across the bottom of the stairs, and on a rollercoaster that one time.

It wasn't as though Tim was deliberately sabotaging his own sleeping habits. He wanted to sleep, but there was always something else that needed doing, something more important than Tim’s own comfort and well-being. He could always sleep later, so he pushed it and pushed it until his body physically couldn’t handle it anymore and decided for him to get some rest.

Tim was currently working on paperwork for Wayne Enterprises, mostly legal forms that for projects and a few patent forms, all of which needed to be filed as soon as possible. Trying to focus his eyes, Tim signed a few more pages once he was finished reading them. He had to finish them before he went in to work tomorrow.

Signed the last paper and sat back, his whole body aching with fatigue. Now that he was finished this, he needed to go down to the Cave and train with Dick like he’d promised he would. They had slowly been rebuilding their old relationship after everything that had happened between them, and this would be the first time they’d trained together in several weeks. Dick had been too excited for Tim to even think of letting him down.

Groaning, Tim pulled himself up off the couch and headed for the Cave. His limbs felt like dead weights, but he couldn't disappoint Dick. Moving slowly, Tim found his way to the stairs leading down to the Cave, trying to keep his eyes focused so he didn't trip and break his neck.

“Tim!” Dick called when he saw his brother enter the Cave, “Come on! I’ve already got everything set up.”

“I’ll be right over,” Tim said, “Just need to change.”

Dick gave him a thumbs up and Tim went to the locker room to get into something more comfortable for sparring. As he was pulling on a shirt he felt the world tilt sideways for a second before he righted himself, putting a hand on the nearest locker to keep steady. After a moment the world put itself back together and Tim went out to meet Dick on the training matts.

“Hey kiddo,” Dick greeted him, “Ready for an ass kicking?”

“Yeah, yours.” Tim grinned and dropped into a fighting stance, trying to keep his balance.

Dick raised an eyebrow, “You okay Tim? You’re looking a little pale.”

“I’m fine, quit stalling,” Tim said, even as his vision blurred.

Dick eyed him critically, but dropped into stance as well. They circled each other for a bit before Dick struck out. Tim narrowly avoided him and they began to spar. After a minute or two however, Tim was already breathing hard and starting to lose his focus. Dick stopped coming after Tim and stood straight.

“Tim? Are you okay?” he asked, stepping towards Tim, concern on his face.

“Fine,” Tim gasped, even as his vision split. Suddenly everything sounded very far away and Tim felt his world spin around again. The last thing he heard before he pitched into darkness was Dick calling his name.

Tim awoke some hours later, tucked into his bed. Sighing, he looked around groggily and tried to place what happened to him. It was dark out, well past the time he should have been patrolling.

“Shit,” he cursed starting to sit up.

“Lie down and rest,” came an order from the corner of Tim’s room, nearly giving him a heart attack. Bruce was sitting in a chair, hands folded in front of him as he watched over Tim like a silent guardian.

Tim stilled, but didn't lie down, “What happened?” he asked, still groggy.

“You passed out from exhaustion,” Bruce said, and he didn’t look mad, but he certainly didn't look pleased either, “You’re not sick or injured, you just haven’t been sleeping.”

“I’ve been busy,” Tim said, rubbing his eyes, “We should be patrolling by now.”

You should be sleeping,” Bruce corrected. His face melted into one of concern, “Tim, you need to take care of yourself.”

“I’m fine,” Tim insisted, “There are more important things to do.”

Bruce’s frown deepened and he got up. For a second, Tim expected him to leave, but instead he came over to Tim and sat next to him on the bed, staring at him intently.

“Not to me,” Bruce said softly.

Tim’s eyes widened and suddenly he felt the full force of his exhaustion. His shoulders sagged and he slumped over. Bruce caught him before he could fall and rested him against his chest, gently stroking Tim’s hair. Tim stayed there for a while listening to Bruce’s breathing and heartbeat under his ear.

“Stay?” Tim asked, and he sounded so small, even to himself. A part of him resisted this, resisted the idea that he was barely more than a child, that he was vulnerable and needed affection and protection. The rest of him was too damn tired to care.

Bruce said nothing, but situated himself with Tim on the bed, covering them both with the heavy blankets and sheets. The darkness settled around them contentedly, and Tim breathed deeply, cuddling into Bruce’s chest. He still had too much to do, and tomorrow he would need to get back to work, but right now all Tim felt like he needed to do was sleep, safely tucked into the arms of his dad. Before he fell back into blissful unconsciousness, Tim was completely certain he felt the gentle press of lips on his forehead. With a small smile, he finally fell asleep.