Damian, full in his Batman regalia, was quickly heading down to the Zeta-beam. Fortunately, there was no talk about new threat or any suspicious activity during the just-finished JLA meeting, giving him more time to concentrate on his cases.
Or more accurately – one case. League of Assassins. Ra’s Al Ghul. Normally he hears from him more than he wants, not counting all the trips he makes to Gotham for more legal business. But the last few months? Zero. The amount of ninja trailing after him and other members of his family stayed the same – but it’s probably cover. To show that nothing’s wrong. And other mercenaries to busy them more often than not.
It was getting on Damian’s nerves and with Batman’s usual work, JLA and Wayne Enterprises he was stretched thin. Father at least helped with some detective work – as much as his body let him. His siblings and Batman’s associates had eyes and ears open for anything strange.
Damian had enough of this waiting. He wished for a breakthrough.
Just as the last doors, which were separating him from the Zeta-beam, were sliding open, he felt someone grabbing his shoulder.
Not for long.
“Fuck! Calm down, will you?” Conner shouted, only super-speed saving him from getting maimed. “I just have to talk to you!”
Damian, realizing that there was no immediate treat, slowly relaxed and retreated his blade. He looked disinterested, maybe little annoyed, at Conner.
“Clone.” Damian greeted him as courtesy demanded. Not so long ago Conner Kent resigned from his position of Superman, only to give the title to Jon, thus not giving Damian other option to call him besides Kent.
“To what do I owe the pleasure? Don’t tell me you’re going to confess your feeling to me.” One day he will kill Colin for making him watch those damn rom-coms. “Whatever it is, I assure you that I don’t feel the same.”
“What?” Kon was clearly confused. “Fuck, no. Look. I need to talk to you. It’s about Tim.”
That got Damian to pause in his joking.
“What about him?”
“You are not going to like this…” Kon grabbed his phone and started looking through photographs in it. “At some point during my travels I’ve thought I heard a familiar voice – I know that I retired, but still from time to time I listen to know that you guys are alright, just fyi. – anyway, I thought that one belonged to Tim and it couldn’t, right?”
Damian gritted his teeth at the reminder. He was the one who threw Timothy’s ashes around the world. He was sure as hell that whatever the Clone was insinuating wasn’t possible.
“Right!” Conner agreed a little desperate, looking at Damian for a moment but ignoring or not seeing Batman’s glare. “And I ignored it the first time, but the thing was that it wasn’t only once!” He stopped looking through his phone and grimacing, looking Damian in the eyes. “So, I went to check that voice and…” he sighed loudly “Fuck. Damn it, I can’t say this. Just look at them.” He gave his phone to Damian.
Damian took the phone slightly cautions. This conversation triggered some red flags in his head and made his detective instinct scream that whatever he will see will give him answers, but also a lot of new problems.
The photos were taken in various places in the world. The clearer ones were taken in more populated areas, like cities or towns (which made sense for Kent to be nearer to take the photo with phone camera). Each of them thought, shared one element – one person, clearly shorter than the rest (possible a child, maybe teenager). Only few pictures showed the head and/or face of that person – young face (a child, boy), short black hair (sometimes a little longer), not showing emotion. Sometimes he carried a weapon, sometimes nothing. If yes, then mostly it was a staff.
There was another figure on most of the pictures, accompanying the child. Older male. Damian had no problem recognizing him.
Of course. Grandfather. Like for fucking once that man couldn’t leave his family alone.
Damian gave back the phone, not trying to stay calm. “Come to the Cave with me. I have to call the rest of the family.”
He knew he wasn’t going to like those calls.
Chapter in which I'm taking some liberties with Kon's powers. If you want to discuss scientific explanation for some superpowers then do it! Let's talk science!
And then bullshit them while writing fanfiction, because if comic authors can then why not we?
“…I could just get him” muttered Kon, frustrated at the lack of ideas. They were discussing how to save Tim.
“Tempting, but no.” replied Damian–annoyed just as him. “I hate to say, but you’ll be caught before getting near to him.”
They both were waiting in the one of the Manor’s dining rooms–the one rarely used by the family. Alfred was brining food and drinks, while Damian, Conner and Bruce waited for others to arrive. Unfortunately not all of them could arrive for his call.
“…Oh! So that’s where you were hiding!” a woman shouted.
Three of them turned to look at the newcomers.
Stephanie, Jason and Dick walked behind Alfred and joined the others besides the table.
“So?” Jason started grabbing a chair. “What’s the reason we sittin’ here instead of down there.” He pointed at the floor below.
“Could be bugged.” Damian answered non-pulsed.
“And? It could always have been bugged–didn’t really stop us before.” Stephanie pointed out, mostly to see B frown in annoyance. There was a short moment of silence during which everyone started thinking about how much they could be sure of the Cave and Manor security. Bruce’s frown deepened as plans went through his head. Dick wasn’t better–and the glances they exchanged with each other promised more talks.
Jason and Stephanie left those worries for them, only taking note for themselves to be included in the later talks. For now, considering how quickly Damian wanted them to arrive, the matter of general security could wait.
Damian stopped drinking his tea and put the cup down on the saucer. Although it wasn’t seen at first, Stephanie’s comment made him more agitated. His eyes scanned the room slowly, looking if by chance they could be heard also here.
Conner stopped him by putting a hand on Damian’s shoulder. “There’s nothing here. Trust me.”
Rest of the room turned to Super in question, but Jason was the only one to voice it.
“And you’re so sure because…?”
Kon pointed to his ears.
“Can’t here anything. If it’s electronics then there’s always some kind of small buzz, meaning it’s working–electricity moving, white noise, etc.”
Dick pointed up, at the lamp above them. Conner shook his head.
“This” he also pointed at the lamp “has it’s own sound. Quite strong in comparison, but not enough to deafen other sounds. And I can pinpoint where cables are going based on that sound. Bugs sound a little different–because they send a signal? So, the sound also travels differently.”
Dick and Jason whistled impressed.
“And you are sure based on the sound alone?” Batman asked. Kon grinned in response before answering.
“No. So after listening I look for them with my eyes. Quite often they are camouflaged with something, not necessarily lead, so I can’t see them even if I pinpoint, but hey–it doesn’t mean I can’t touch them and later crush them.”
Damian looked thoughtful for a while before muttering something about training John.
Before the guys started discussing the other kryptonian abilities, Stephanie decided to get them back on track.
She leaned forward in Damian’s direction, joined her hands together and in conspiratorial tone (but loud enough so everyone could hear her) asked Damian. “So, why did you called us here?”
Damian’s face suddenly turned solemn. At first he didn’t answer her, looking straight ahead. Conner’s face darkened, but he was also silent, waiting for Damian to speak first.
Steph looked at others in question. Jason and Dick were as lost as her. Alfred put the tray he was holding on the table and sat with them. Alfred’s action only told them that whatever was going on was important. And probably family-only matter. His face didn’t show anything besides worry.
Bruce also didn’t know what was going on–if his piercing glare in Damian’s and Conner’s direction was anything to go by.
Damian still seemed to ignore everyones looks. Even, when he finally started talking, his gaze was focused at the wall in front of him.
“We have reason to belief that Gra–Ra’s Al Ghul–have brought back to life Timothy. Or someone who’s at least connected to him.”
Outrage was instantaneous.
Damian ignored them and held out a hand, asking for silence. When others stopped he turned to Conner, so he could explain.
Kon grabbed his phone as he started explaining.
“You might have heard that, despite my retirement, I listen if anyone I care about is in danger, right?“ He took a shaky breath. “Ok, so the thing is that one day–about month ago–I heard Tim’s voice. Wait, let me finish!” Others stopped, letting him. “I thought I was crazy too–and for good reason. I mean, besides the obvious, that voice belonged to a kid. A living kid with a heartbeat, so I put it as an illusion or something. But after the fourth or fifth time I heard the kid I decided to look for him and…”
Conner slided his phone to the center of the table, so everyone could look through the photographs.
“Try to tell me that this doesn’t look suspicious at all.” he remarked.
Bruce took the phone in his hands ignoring the protests. Alfred sat beside him and looked through photos with him. Steph, Jason and Dick soon joined them.
“What have you heard the kid say?” asked Jason sounding calm, despite how angered he looked.
Kon shrugged “Nothing special. Mostly relating to whatever he was doing–probably that was training–and besides that nothing much. As in ‘understood’, 'yes, Master’, 'I’ll not fail you’, etc. Like a robot. Besides, the first time I’ve heard him, there was one more moment when he sounded like an actual child. I don’t remember the exact words, but he was annoyed that he can’t go out to play somewhere or that he has more training to complete before that. Something like that.” He thought more about that for a moment. “Sorry, but I don’t remember the details,” he added moment later.
Bruce nodded and muttered something to Alfred. The butler nodded acknowledging, stood up and exited the room. Some time later he came back with the paper map of the world and little bag with buttons and thread.
Bruce turned to Conner.
“Show us every place where you heard and saw him.” he did as asked.
No-one was talking, when Kon was pointing places on the map and remembering where the kid–Tim–has been. On each pointed place a button was placed. The exact locations that Kon remembered where noted on Steph’s phone. The general area, for cases he heard him, but wasn’t sure about where, were traced with a pieces of thread.
No-one was talking aloud, but muttered comments and curses where clearly heard.
When finished, everyone took a moment to study the finished map.
Jason, who stood up from his place for the better look at the map, released a shaky breath.
“I’ll damned,” he broke the silence. “But that looks way too familiar.”
“What do you mean?” Dick asked confused. But before Jason had time to answer Damian spoke.
“Todd’s right. It’s too familiar. It lacks few places but it works for us.” Jason laughed.
“Ok, I’m confused. Who’s also confused?” Steph said. “Alfie?”
Alfred turned to Bruce–who looked like he was already planning something. “Master Bruce?”
“Ra’s a prideful man.” Bruce started, not looking up from the map. “And as any prideful man, when he decided he perfected something, there is a very slight chance that he will change that.”
Rest of them seemed to understood what Bruce was implying.
“And those locations are what? His bases?” Still, Dick asked to be sure.
“Training grounds. Not all of them his. Some are just locations where certain associates of his live.”
“Wait!” Conner cut in. “Just so we clear–you are saying that Tim…”
“A child–we are still not sure it might be Tim.”
“A kid! Is moving according to some perfected training regime of Ra’s?”
Bruce looked at him. “Yes.” he glanced at others. “And that give us advantage–of course we still need a plan in case Ra’s is expecting us, but first let’s narrow the number of places he might be.” he took out his own phone and choose notes app. He gave the phone to Jason. “Write all the places you think aren’t here–even if your training was Talia’s modified version of her father’s. We need all places. Damian–you next.”
Jason nodded and already started jotting few places.
“Conner.” Bruce said, making the Kryptonian look at him. “Can you pinpoint where he might currently be?”
“Probably not.” he started. And continued before letting Bruce to say something and probably change plans. “If I’m to stay here, then, at best I can give you general area. Still, I would need silence to concentrate.”
Bruce nodded. “Do it then.”
Conner stood up and went to the window to open it.
“I’ll be on the rooftop or higher. Call if anything.” He said and flew where he said he would be.
As he was flying higher and higher he thought about Tim and how he was different after Kon died and came back. He thought how Tim’s death struck him and wondered what changes Tim’s return will bring.
Because no matter if Tim is a kid now or anything else–they will save him and bring him back.
This is one of the chapters the tags are for. Spoiler alert - not all tags this time. Only violence. And killing. Tim's assassin in training after all here.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Everywhere he looked there was white.
Just mere minutes ago the wind stopped, letting Timothy see without obtrusion. Storm was far away now. Sun raised up two hours ago, but he could see only gray clouds everywhere on the sky.
Timothy raised his hand to his comm unit. “R1 here. Roger.”
“According to plan. Storm arrived after I reached position.”
“Can you complete the mission?”
“Continue with the mission. H1 out.”
Timothy closed the link. He kinda lied. There was too much snow to move freely (at least for anyone as small as him) but he wasn't going to admit needing help. Like anyone would help him, anyway. He quickly made sure his gear was in place and started to move.
Stupid judging ninja.
Mission objective was to take down five of his Master's enemy–group of second-rate annoying mercenaries who, instead of joining League of Shadows, decided to take their clients. And did it for months.
They were taken now not because they could hide well (they really couldn't; not before Timothy's Master), but because Ra's thought that it was great training exercise for him.
So here he was now. Sneaking towards the old miners-cottage. Mine was closed for years, but there was still a remotely-safe path to the other side of mountains and of country borders. Cottage made for nice rendezvous point, he could give them that.
Cottage wasn't big and consisted of probably only one room with everything in it. On one wall was chimney, opposite to that wall–door with one window besides it on both sides. Side walls didn't have windows. With possibility of fire being started in the chimney, the only safe entrance for Timothy was the front wall.
Timothy grumbled in his mind, not for the first time since he got the mission. It all could go faster if he used snow from mountains behind cottage to trap everyone. Or just use bazooka. But, because Ra's like to make Timothy's life harder (all in the name of training), the cottage had to stay (it would be nice to be able to use it later, he even said). Besides, he had to bring his Master's all five heads of those men as some old-fashioned proof of accomplishment (like he can carry that much ballast at once). He hoped he would find a net or something for that.
Too bad his teammates for this mission are only here to judge Timothy–and shoot down anyone who tries to run away.
He moved towards cottage, avoiding the front side. He stopped besides one of the side wall, somewhere in the middle of it. Slowly he moved toward front to see if anyone went out (to the parked in front car, or just out), but he didn't change the wall he stood near. Two of supposedly five men total were probably observing through the windows.
Timothy sighed, hiding from sight. He had to think of a way to kill them all at once, without destroying the cottage (stupid rules). Or of a way to get inside and not get killed instantly. Or somehow luring them out so he could kill them separately. Anyway, he had to make sure everyone was there before attacking, only to not be surprised from the outside.
For short moment he considered asking H1 on comm if he can see everyone inside, but decided against it. They might be here to make sure he didn't die and mercenaries do, but they were reporting straight to his Master later. He doesn't need them spreading lies, like he can't do simple missions alone, thanks but no thanks.
That left luring them out and hoping for the best. Maybe he could not destroy cottage that way? Besides, Timothy might have thought out the plan–half arsed but still something.
First of all he needed to take a position–away from the house, not too far and still on the same side. And not further to the front than the end of the side wall–he couldn't be seen by the guys besides the windows. Climbing the trees was out–the branches were to high for him. Fortunately he could hide nicely between trees and bushes.
From his new place he had even better view of the car and front of the cottage. Timothy smiled mentally. He took one specially modified smoke-bomb from one pouch and from the other pouch on the tight he took out slingshot, he specially made for certain kind of covert mission (It was annoying not having enough strength to throw things far. But at least no-one questioned when a kid like him had one in hand). He didn't expect he would be using it today.
He checked the wind one last time and put in a smoke-bomb as ammunition. Aimed and released. Suddenly white smoke was coming out from the broken front window of the car.
After all, no-one said the car had to stay intact.
Timothy quickly hid behind the bush, kneeling and taking the gun out.
“What the-?!” he heard one man say with raspy voice.
Someone opened the door and two people came out, based on their voices. None of them matched the first, so that would make three. But what about the other two…?
We will see in the moment, he thought and stood up very quickly aiming and shooting at the two. Both in the chest. Then as quickly he hid back and moved to the side and back towards forest and his first post, using bushes, trees and everything to stay hidden.
As he guessed, the others didn't get out to take their fallen comrades. That meant he needed other tactic to lure them out.
When he was far enough from the cottage Timothy broke into the run. At his last post he left his snowmobile. He needed it now to make a diversion.
“R1! Did you forget the plan?!” H1 screamed in his ear.
What fucking plan?! Timothy thought, running to the snowmobile. He clenched his teeth. The only plan he got was about getting to cottage, then–he guessed–he was supposed to be left to his own devices.
Fuck. He cursed in his head. If I had to obtain from H1 and rest their stupid plan…
Timothy heard someone shout above as he got to the motor. He looked up as he sat on a seat.
Meta, was his first thought. Then his eyes widened in shock as he saw the S-shield. …Superman?
The guy smiled happily at Timothy and waved.
Fuck. Timothy cursed and sped through towards cottage.
“R1 to H1! We have a third party!”
After gathering all the possible locations as well as current general Tim's location, they knew now where to look.
They quickly discarded current one–Conner wasn't able to pinpoint it and what he heard make him think that Tim would soon move. That left only three options–still too much, but manageable.
They couldn't ask others–and it wasn't matter of Bat pride, but of resources. For most of Damian's years as Batman Justice League interference was needed more often in the world than when Dick or his father wore the cowl. It hasn't changed. Currently, most of the heroes were off-planet or were already dealing with something.
Previously, Damian put it under his inadequacy, not being able to stop that much crime, pushing himself to be stronger. Faster. But with recent revelation he wasn't afraid of making a wild-guess as for why that was really happening. Adding it to what he observed about League of Assassins actions during the same time, it stopped being a guess.
It was more of a resigned acceptance of an option they never planned to consider, but which was always was somewhere in the back of their heads. Buried in fear of what it implicated and what emotions it would wake.
But now, it's too late now, isn't it?
Damian, as well as the rest of them, tried hard to not let emotions get control of the planning stage. But, besides the burning anger he felt at the thought of someone hurting his family, there was another ugly feeling he hadn't had in a long time.
He hated being made a fool. Being lead by the nose for years. Adding to that the fear for his brother, was what pushed Damian to make additional plans which his family (and surely part–if not–all of the League) would oppose. But he wasn't in hurry to reveal it.
There wasn't much to plan, besides how to minimize (even better, prevail) body-count. They had to grab Tim and run and it was too obvious to say that Ra's has been expecting them to come at some point. That meant heavy guard around the kid, especially in Ra's bases. There's chance for less people around him during missions, but better to be prepared for worse.
The bigger problem was 'what should they do next?'. No-one in the Family fooled themselves that Ra's would leave them alone after they get Tim back. Not after him stealing Tim's body from them, before they get a chance to cremate him.
That left another question–was that really their Tim, whom they cremated?
He left those questions for later. There were more important matters for now.
Get Tim back first. Then few favors from Zatanna and Martian Manhunter. Then get back to Gotham with Tim. Simple as that.
“Are we there yet?” Clone.
Damian glared at the road ahead.
“No,” he replied his companion. They were flying the bat-plane as fast as they could and he really didn't care that Kon-El could fly faster. “Are you always so impatient?”
“You mean, you aren't? Soon we will see Tim!”
Damian rolled his eyes at Kent's behavior. “It's not guaranteed that we are at the right location. Other teams might find him first.”
“Nah-huh” Conner disagreed, while waving his index finger. “I know you, Bats. You wouldn't call dibs on that locations first, if you didn't know he will be there.” Damian gritted his teeth at that.
“I still don't know. I guessed,” he retorted. “It was a hunch, you goddamn idiot, there was no proof that based it. Stop being so damn hopeful.”
Conner, thankfully for Damian, stopped talking. Their flight was spent in silence until they were getting near (presumably) Tim's location.
Damian stopped the plane on relatively smooth area, kilometers from where they expected Tim to be.
Kon got out from the plane to use his super-hearing. Damian went after him and waited for the verdict.
As the silence stretched for too long, Damian asked annoyed.
“You are sure you can hear him?”
“I can give you one better.” Kon replied pointing somewhere far away for Damian to see, on the right. “I can see him.”
“He's with someone?”
“I see one dude dressed like Tim, two dead bodies, two other guys… wait. Tim is running away from them.”
Damian pushed the button for jet to open. “Go after him. I'll distract them as planned.”
Before Kon flew away, he turned to Damian one last time.
“You sure, I should leave you alone with the rest of them?” he asked and Damian could hear Conner's worry in his tone.
Damian waved his hand as dismissing those worries.
Kon flew after Tim.
Timothy was driving away, getting the meta as far as he could from his team. They were engaged with other third-party members. And considering meta's infatuations with him, he was chosen to buy time.
He didn't know why the Superman-wannabe was flying after him, not giving him a chance to take a break, but he sure as hell wasn't going to get caught.
“I've got new mission for you.” he suddenly heard his Master's voice in his comm.
Timothy turned drastically towards less open area and accelerated. He was far from cottage and his mission, but getting the guy away from him took precedence.
“Yes, Master?” he replied back, as soon as he made sure he lost the guy. For now.
“Get captured. The invading party are, ah, your predecessor 'family'.”
Timothy scrunched his nose. What now? He expected few more years before meeting them.
“Should I implement the plan? Or is there other objective?” he asked.
“The plan. There's no reason to make them wait, Timothy.”
“My previous mission?”
“I count on that problem being taken care of.”
“Yes, Master. R1 out.” Timothy disconnected.
Ok, you have to get caught, he thought to himself, as he made another turn, this time in the cottage direction. Remember to not make it too obvious.
With one hand he took out the little lead box, hidden somewhere in his clothing, getting ready for opportunity, while he steered with the other. No-one said previous mission is now canceled. Maybe he would have a chance to finish those guys off, before next mission. And if he doesn't finish it, his teammates surely are capable of finishing it for him.
Just don't disappoint Master. He thought. You can do it, Tim.
Conner cursed, flying after Tim. The kid really was making the chase very irritating, making him fly through forests and ducking last moment before he hit branches.
Impenetrable skin is one thing. Branches in your eyes are other. He should have invested in goggles before going.
The kid turned suddenly, hiding behind the mountain. Kon hated harsh turns like that. He slowed to not get dumped in a tree, but in that time he lost sight of Tim.
Thankfully, not for long.
He didn't caught the conversation Tim had on the comm–only some scraps at the end–but he hoped it wasn't important.
On the other hand, he almost caught Tim! Before he flashed kryptonite before his eyes.
He REALLY should have invested in some goggles.
Kon wasn't deterred by this. He didn't want to destroy anything before that, but if that is what will help him grab Tim, then he isn't sorry.
Closing his eyes he concentrated on the sounds and flew after the loudest one. To defend himself from the branches he put a layer of TTK around him–at the same time, accidentally cutting down few trees while flying after Tim.
At some point he didn't hear the echo of the motor, sounds going further and further away and he didn't feel his TTK hitting anything. He opened his eyes to see the open area as he expected.
And Tim speeding his motor towards the edge.
Kon sped and caught Tim mid-fly, where ground was far under them. The snowmobile was falling down towards the cottage and finally crashing at the trees quite a distance from it.
Conner hugged Tim tighter as he looked at the fire now below them. He, thankfully, saw Damian far away from it–he was still fighting with the other assassins, obviously stalling for time.
Then he remembered to let Damian know.
“Hey, I got him!” He said, using one hand to turn on the comm. “…Yeah, I'm not putting him down. Going according to plan.” He disconnected the line.
Kid struggled to get free, but Kon only made sure his TTK is keeping him in place. Then he flew with him towards Gotham.
Holy shit. He thought–happiness slowly taking place of shock. Tim's alive!
“Hey, I got him!” Damian suddenly heard in his comm.
“Good. Don't let him run away.” He replied punching another of Ra's men.
“Yeah, I'm not putting him down. Going according to plan.” he heard the line being disconnected.
Conversation finished, news received and Damian felt the tension leaving his body. He observed as the assassins changed tactics, starting from surrounding him.
One, two, three, four… Four. Only four of them, no help. How cute. Now he could finish this like he wanted to.
Damian retook his stance. He felt himself smiling as he shouted for all of them to hear “Oy! Imbeciles!”
He caught the gaze of one of them, recognizing apprehension in their moves. That surprised Damian. There was no reason for them to be afraid, after all, he wasn't going to kill them (not like Todd).
“Bring it on.”
“Mission status.” Ra's said through the comm.
“Two of five men killed. Rest run away. We were ambushed, before we could stop them. They abducted R1. Should we go after R1, Master?” H1 asked, knowing full well who his Master was prioritizing more.
Ra's didn't give them a chance to make amends. “I'll take care of it,” he replied, annoyed at their failure. “Finish your mission. You failed me once and I don't want to see the repeat of it.”
“Yes, Master! I sincerely apolo–“ Ra's disconnected, not waiting to hear the rest.
He knew that they weren't match for his grandson, no matter the training. Still, it didn't stop him from irritation at the incompetence of his own men. They should have last longer than that. Clearly, he had to make a visit to his training facilities, audit was in order.
“Are we following them?” Talia asked from behind him, stopping him from his musings.
Her father frowned, confused. It lasted a moment, before he turned towards exit.
“Why should we?” He asked in nonchalant tone, as if everything went perfectly according to his plan. And knowing Ra's, it went. “We know perfectly well were they will be in the end.”
Link to fanart of The First Meeting Between Kon and Timmy (in the middle of the fic) by nanadrawsrobins on tumblr.
1. Thank You, Capes&Coffee discord users for encouragement and some help!
2. I don't know when the next chapter will be. I really don't
3. I decided to stop crossposting this on tumblr, so rest of the chapters is going to be only here.
(5. God I need sleep. Should I sleep if I have a meeting in a few hours?)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Whoa! Calm down, Tim!” Kon shouted, stopping the kid from moving with his hands – he tried to limit the use of his TTK, not knowing how it will affect the test.
The boy tried to escape despite the strong grip on his arms. At least he could glare freely.
“M'gann? Could you?”
M'gann ignored Conner plea, instead answering the boy's – Tim – glare with her own uninterested gaze.
As much as she was happy to see her friend alive, she didn't fully trust the boy before her. Someone had to. When there's too many people emotionally involved in the case, someone had to keep clear mind about it. That's what their Tim would want from her.
She relaxed her body, knowing the tension might hinder her abilities. It only took two steps forward and she was already kneeling before the boy, gently taking his head in her hands. He was moving, trying to get away, clearly panicking, but between her and Conner it was futile.
The realization how that whole situation looked, made her feel sick.
Quickly she whispered an apology (even if it didn't lessen her guilt), before getting to work.
“Don't worry, I'll only quickly look through your memories…”
“So, according to you both, the boy's mind is blocked?”
M'gann and Zatanna nodded.
“There's no trace of mind magic, so I don't believe it was involved, but it doesn't change the fact that I can't see his memories.” She brushed her hair back, irritated. “Or rather, I can and I know how to get to them, but it will involve pain and possibly turning the boy into a vegetable.”
“Same,” she replied. It was clear how she was tense over the whole situation. ”His memories are there, but we can't look through them without possible consequences.”
She looked down to the floor, breaking the eye contact, and took a shaky breath to try and calm her nerves. “I'm sorry,“ she added, her voice breaking in the end. “It's all my fault!”
“It is! If I hadn't triggered something, he wouldn't end up like that!”
“M'gann,” Bruce said calmly, but with a hint of authoritative tone, “look at me.”
Miss Martian did as he asked, the feeling of déjà vu hitting her suddenly. For a moment, she tried to remember the last time the Batman reprimanded her and her teammates. Was it Titans ' mission? Or was it when Tim asked her to impersonate him…?
She didn't register she was crying, until she felt strong arms embracing her and heard little reassurances muttered into her hair.
“Shhh… You did nothing wrong…”
Dick didn't even react at Bruce sudden question or appearance.
He turned lazily at his father and gestured toward gardens, where the boy was playing with Steph, Jason and Damian, throwing the ball between them for the dogs to catch. “Physically he is fine, as you can see.”
Dick shrugged, observing the play. “He doesn't remember anything since he woke up. Total amnesia. Surprisingly, he was quite trusting. Didn't need much convincing to eat something.” He turned to Bruce. “On your end?”
His father didn't look up from the play. “Miss Martian somehow triggered something, during her mind reading, resulting in blocking the boy's memories. They don't know what might have been the trigger and according to Zatanna no mind magic was involved.”
“Mind magic? What about the other kind?”
Bruce gaze darkened.
“Only one kind.” he answered, clearly not liking the answer. “She recognized the faint magical aura that was encompassing the boy non-stop and classified it as coming from the water from Lazarus Pits.”
Dick tensed at the information. “…How sure she is?”
“Very. Apparently everyone who had contact with it has the same aura, differentiating in intensity.”
“Meaning Jason and Cass…?”
“And Damian, all emit the same aura.”
“Small, almost nonexistent, for the boy. Then Damian, having slightly more, and then high jump to Jason and Cassie. According to Zatanna, Jason's and Cassie's are the most intense because they were revived with it.”
“That would make sense. Damian didn't have that much contact, besides the fact that he is Ra's grandson.” Bruce nodded.
“So, whoever the boy is, we can assume that he wasn't dumped into the pit and revived.” Dick said what both of them were thinking. He let the silence fall between them for a while, before “What your other tests say?”
“According to DNA's tests…” Bruce didn't finish his sentence, his gaze wandering towards his playing children.
His eldest punched him with an elbow. Bruce flinched and glared at him.
“According to tests…?” Dick prompted, worried.
His father didn't answer immediately, but before Dick was ready to interrogate the answer from him, he started talking again.
“The Boy’s DNA has about 85% match with Tim’s DNA. Last 15% have the highest, but not full match with Damian. I also checked how it relates to mine, but it doesn’t fully matches.”
Dick felt as if he got punched in the gut.
“...What are you thinking?”
Bruce sighed exhausted. “…That the boy wasn’t born, but made.”
Dick was silent, all energy visibly leaving him. His eyes were sad as he spoke to Bruce. “You think that’s why Ra’s took Tim’s body?”
His father looked back at his siblings playing in the yard, silent. For a while they both watched the play in silence, observing as the boy, the Tim-look-alike, laughed. Titus was trying to lick him, while the other players were laughing instead of helping.
Steph and Jason glanced in their direction, gauging the situation. As answer Dick waved to them, letting them not to worry now, but Bruce ignored them – his eyes not leaving the youngest boy.
Suddenly Bruce turned on his heel and went inside the Manor without a word. Dick was surprised at the motion, but didn’t let it show. He waved one last time to his siblings, before going after Bruce – this time only Damian saw his departure and waved back.
Dick made few fast steps before he was walking right besides his father. “B?” He asked, worried, seeing the frown on his face. “Something’s wrong?”
“You think that it’s all some kind of trap?” He asked, not daring to face his eldest.
Dick faced him instead.
“We took him from Ra’s, so it may be, as well as it may be not. Why are you asking? Are you suspecting one?”
“No, I…” Bruce looked at Dick. “I would like for it to be a second chance, son. With Tim. We got one with Jason after all and I hoped…”
Dick grabbed his father in one-armed hug. “We all hope so, dad…”
“Damian? Who’s he?” the boy asked, hiding behind Damian.
Damian sidestepped then grabbed Timothy by the shoulder, not letting him hide again. Immobilized, kid decided to face the floor, too scared to look at the guest.
“Um, maybe I should came some other time…?”
“Nonsense, Kent. Sooner or later you both would meet anyway, and besides he needs to stop hiding from the guests,” the last words Damian said looking directly at the boy.
Timothy flinched, then glared at Damian. Still, he didn’t dare to look at the third person.
“Timothy – Conner Kent. Kent – Timothy. I will leave you two to talk.”
After saying that Damian went toward the exit, leaving not only the boy but also Kent slightly distressed.
Conner crouched down, so he would be on the same level as the boy. He took out his hand for a handshake. “So… hi? I’m Conner. You can call me Kon if you want.”
The boy didn’t take out his arm. However he was observing Kon’s every move. Clearly he was scared, apprehensive.
Kon was thinking what to do. It wasn’t how he expected the meeting to go. Hell, he didn’t expect the meeting to go wonderfully and him and the kid talking like nothing happened, like with Tim all those years ago... – after all he was debriefed of the amnesia. He knew the kid was a blank slate, yet he couldn’t help but hope…
“Wha-what do you want from me? Mister…?” Timothy asked, visibly shaking and Kon felt like shit.
He took his hand back, aware now that his handshake won’t be reciprocated and sat on the floor. He tried to relax and smile at the kid but stopped as soon as he saw the kid shake even more.
“So, you see… I don’t know how much you remember, but…” He scratched his head in thought.
Timothy was silent, waiting for him to finish.
Kon tried again. “I… I was part of the team who rescued you? I’m aware that you might not remember me – hell-heck! I meant, heck… Goddamnit, what am I doing…”
He sighed deeply. That conversation was more stressful that he expected it be.
“I’m aware that you might not remember me,” he started again. “I don’t know if you even remembered – known me – before that whole rescue, but you… You are… You were…”
Jesus, how do you say to your best friend’s maybe-clone that he couldn’t leave him to the bad men because the kid is his best friend’s maybe-clone…? That sounded suspicious even for Kon.
“You are important to me, you understand kid?” He finished, saying the most accurate description in his mind.
The kid wasn’t as shaky as before, but he still wasn’t doing much besides observing him.
And Conner couldn’t help but notice how much the kid reminded him of his best friend. Damn, how many years was it since Rob was gone? Twelve? Thirteen?
Kon blinked, going back to reality. “Wha-what?”
The kid pouted, pouted!, and Conner tried not to coo or snicker at him.
“Why am I important to you? Why would I not know you from before? Why I needed rescuing? From who I was resc-”
“Woa-woa! Ok! Ok. One question at the time. But first – no-one told you anything?”
Timothy shook his head. And Kon had an ominous feeling.
“Ok, fu-fudge. Fudge. How do I start…” He scratched his head. He hated Bats and their secrecy. “Have you asked…?”
Little Tim nodded, looking at him in expectation for answers with those big bambi eyes only little kids could do.
Kon took a deep breath and exhaled.
He was a weak man.
“Ok. Come on kid, I’ll tell you a story about one awesome guy – who was my best friend – and his mortal… immortal? Whatever – enemy, who couldn’t leave my bestie simply be…”
“Kent. You are going to die by my hands. Now.”
“Shi-! Damian!” Kon tried to evade Batman’s attack. “You are overreacting, squirt!”
Damian – taking the name-calling to heart and ignoring that at his current age he was as tall as Bruce in his prime Batman years – attacked again with new-found fervor.
On the other side of the Cave, little Tim was sitting on Bruce’s lap, talking with the older man.
“…Do you understand now, Tim?” Bruce asked calmly the boy.
The boy nodded, facing him. “You were afraid for my well-being. And the bad guy who had me wanted to kill me? Previous me? Your son to whom I’m strangely similar?”
Bruce huffed. The question of who was the little boy on his lap was still uncertain, especially if Ra’s al Ghul was involved. They didn’t have enough data to determine which possibility was the fact. Was he a clone? Their Tim but experimented on?
Something entirely else?
Damian told him, that he was contacting with his League’s informants. Bruce was guessing he meant his mother and was worried. For all she loved Damian, he wasn’t sure she would be fully truthful about what she knows.
Especially the time Ra’s stole Tim’s body before cremating – they didn’t know the full extent of what Ra’s planned to do with it.
They shouldn’t let it happened in the first place, he thought remembering that awful time.
Bruce breathed out, slowly, trying to calm his nerves.
With next exhale he uncurled his fist. With one now lax hand he ruffled boy’s hair. The kid was looking worriedly at him.
“…For now, let’s leave at ‘you’.” Bruce tried to smile, reassuring him. At least they had some clues now as to what happened with the body. “Now, you mentioned something about wanting to solve cases?”
Kid’s eyes shone. “…Like Sherlock Holmes?”
And shit, Bruce now understood Kon-El’s moment of weakness. He prompted the kid to the Batcomputer and opened few, already solved cases, he prepared years ago by hiding some information in them.
Despite the jokes, it wasn’t like that that he knew that little Tim would one day solve criminal cases for fun. Bruce simply prepared them for the day his grandchildren would want to spend time with him. Some Grandpa-grandchild fun time. Now also was suitable time for them.
Young Timothy has been living in the Manor two months now.
During that time, there was no sign of Ra’s going after the boy. However, Damian and rest of his family were monitoring the actions of the League as best as they could. The wait for the other shoe to drop was making them nervous.
In the meantime Timothy was getting well acquainted with Manor and Gotham in general.
He was hidden for the media for two reasons mainly – first, they didn’t know how to explain kid’s obvious similarity to Tim, and second, no-one knew what to expect from Ra’s and when, but their intuition said to expect something.
For this, when walking around Gotham (because they couldn’t keep him all the time in the Manor) mostly Duke or Stephanie were his primary babysitters. Sometimes, if they were in the city, Cass or Jason took their place.
Conner and other Tim’s friends visited once in a while but not often – be it because they are all adults with their own lives now, or because seeing the boy would remind them too much of their Tim. However, for as rare as they all were, Conner, Cassie and Bart (who often visited together) made it up in the quality time they spend with Timothy.
And the boy’s name ended up to be Timothy – not because they boy remembered something (he still couldn’t remember anything from the time spend at Ra’s, but muscle memory said different story), but because, embarrassingly, each member of their family mistakenly called the boy “Tim” in his presence, despite their best efforts not to do so. They refined from calling him Tim, in memory of their sibling/son, but the full name still stuck.
Two months went and in that time Timothy was well acquainted with most of the Manor. At first he wasn’t to be left alone, so he was in most used rooms, including Batcave and one of the old guest rooms, changed to his bedroom (and fully bugged). As the time went on he was allowed to walk freely around Manor and it’s grounds and soon little Timothy has memorized in his head the best, in his opinion, hidey-holes.
Yet, there was one place he didn’t yet visited – Tim’s room.
It wasn’t because he wasn’t allowed to (he could, if he didn’t touch anything), but because it didn’t felt right for him to be there.
But one day boredom had overtaken him. Or it taken him long time ago – after two months with clear schedule but confined to one place he might have seen everything the mighty Wayne Manor had to offer.
Sans one certain room of course.
So one day, he squished the weird feeling in his chest he got from this room and decided to explore it.
Little Timothy didn’t know if lack of anyone on his way there was to be considered blessing or not. Maybe they actually wanted him to go there, but for him to be his own decision and not by force. Or maybe they themselves weren’t sure if Timothy’s – Tim’s clone and usurper practically – presence in place that belonged solely to Tim, betrayed some old trust they had to their dead brother and son.
Still, that didn’t stop little Timothy to grab the door handle and open the room. He went inside and closed the door behind him, not yet ready to show and share with each passersby what he was doing.
Ignoring the fact that cameras in this room are probably still active, little Timothy shyly went around the room, taking everything in but not yet daring to touch anything.
First thing that became obvious to him was that someone actually was there and cleaned after Tim’s death. Visible floor and lack of clothes and nick-knacks laying on almost every surface gave quite different image to what he heard about the original Tim.
‘Original’ suggested that Timothy wasn’t real, was fake and… and…
No. Backward. Let’s say first. The first Tim. That sounded way better.
Timothy preferred being called 2nd than fake.
Excluding thin layer of dust laying everywhere, the room looked quite clean. And Timothy was betting it was also regularly cleaned by Alfred.
He sat on the bed and lay down. One deep breath proved his theory. There was no mistaking the smell of softener.
Laying on a bad he lazily looked around the room, not knowing exactly what he was looking for. Shelves full of books only told him about Tim’s vast interest in detective stories.
There were pictures above the desk, so, driven by curiosity, Timothy went to examine them. Most of those pictures showed other people than the ori- first Tim.
It was easily to recognize Kon (who didn’t look that much different from now) – and so two people who were mostly with him had to be Bart Allen (current Flash) and Cassie Sandsmark (2nd Wonder Woman), although those two looked way younger than currently.
Besides those three, majority of pictures showed various members of the Wayne Family. Spotting Dick Grayson or Jason Todd – in their suits or without – wasn’t that hard, as they didn’t changed as much. The same was with girls, Timothy noted, as he matched two smiling girls to Black Bat and Batwoman.
There weren’t much pictures of Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne, but those few he found were enough to see how time wasn’t kind for those two. Currently Alfred had hard time standing still and had to resort to using cane. Still the aura of importance emitting from the man on the picture wasn’t lost on the butler even now, but also slightly changed, giving the man more grandfatherly image than he wore previously.
Bruce Wayne, upon comparing with his younger self on the pictures, got older, but at the same time not exactly. Timothy recalled the gray hair, wrinkles on face and hands he spotted when talking with the eldest Wayne, but those things didn’t do much in way of forcibly describing Bruce as elderly.
When looking at younger Bruce Wayne it was easy to recognize the physique of Batman there. Younger Bruce was massive man with eyes that seemed to pierce directly through your soul demanding answers to your secrets. The Bruce that Timothy met was still those things, but his gaze seemed to mellow when speaking directly to Timothy.
The biggest surprise however was Damian. Not only, because Damian that Timothy knew was taller than Bruce and almost as tall as Jason, while the pictures showed him as a kid and as a teenager. But also, because Damian on the pictures clearly didn’t want to be there. It seemed that younger Damian was happy only whenever he wasn’t aware that the picture was taken in the first place, and when he was he was seething.
Maybe not so visibly, mostly hidden in a gaze, but Timothy was fairly sure what that face usually showed – and that was some kind of anger directed at whoever was taking the photographs.
Timothy glanced at the bookcase, one shelf at particular, where few cameras and their additions were displayed proudly. Apparently Damian hated Tim’s guts. But on the other hand, current Damian seemed to be gentle with Timothy. Not as gentle as Bruce or Alfred or girls or Dick – Damian acted annoyed but it was easy to see he was acting with Timothy first in mind. He acted more…afraid, as if he feared that he would somehow wrong Timothy.
Deciding to not worry right now about Damian and whatever he was thinking lately, Timothy took step back from the pictures and looked more around the room.
There was no more interesting things putting on display that could help him learn a little more about Tim. Desk didn’t have any cool hidden compartments inside and drawers didn’t have anything unusual or out-of-place in them.
He could fairly guess that in the closet and under the bed there was also nothing interesting. Besides, he thought to himself, looking at the collection of books, he probably shouldn’t snoop in dead kid’s room.
As the last thing to search before walking out of this room, Timothy decided to maybe try and see if he still shared first Tim taste in books.
Most of the fiction that was on the shelves, were – unfortunately – the same books that he read in Manor’s library or bought in the bookshop on those rare occasions. He took two of Agatha's Christie books that he didn’t recognize the titles of and looked on other shelves.
The bottom ones were stacked with thick atlases – on ancient history from certain time periods, botany, animals, photography albums… On a whim, he pulled on of those, collected work of some photographers with ‘city’ as the theme of this collection.
Timothy sat on the floor and started leafing through that album taking in every picture. Sometimes he could see notes written on the margins – be it first Tim owns comments on a work, some unrelated comments probably connected to the case (if “Doesn’t this look like Falcone’s?” by the black-and-white picture of one of New York’s restaurant, or “Mad Hatter. Rabbits.” and address below was any indication).
After that album, he took another book – this one being general atlas on art and home decor worldwide.
At first Timothy expected boring subject with made some nice pictures. Some comments at least.
What he didn’t expect was to find cut pages in the middle, to made compartment for some key, note and flash-drive.
Talia made a step towards her son with her arms open.
Batman made a step back.
Talia frowned and stopped, her arms hanging loose now besides her. “That’s not how you should greet your mother. Especially when she worked hard to help you.”
Damian ‘tts-ed’, despite how he tried to get rid of this reflex since he donned Batman’s cowl. His glare however was Batman’s worth.
“Worked hard on maintaining your position and manipulating your own son’s life, maybe. I‘m not in the mood to listen how you think usurping Grandfather's position is what I need and have to do.”
Talia’s gaze was annoyed, but her posture said calm. She didn’t look happy with her son’s stance on the topic, but looked at it as irritating quirk of his. Little children defiance. As if Damian still believed that if he said ‘please’ world would be kinder to him.
“I worked for your future, son. As mothers do,” she repeated it yet again. Calmly. Not so kindly. One day her son would understand those sacrifices. “As you are aware, your Grandfather doesn’t have much time. You should finally-”
“Did you get what I asked for?”
Talia stopped talking and send reprimanding glare at Damian. Her son didn’t seem to acknowledge it at all, which made her more annoyed. He was so impatient.
“I’m working on it,” she answered him, her tone not at all kind.
“You said, you would find it fast.”
“Patience, child of mine. I’m working on all loose ends. After all it was precious project of your Grandfather.”
Damian gritted his teeth, holding back from commenting how he they too were once’s Ra’s projects.
He took a deep breath and exhaled through nose.
“Can you give me some time when you might have it?”
She shook her head. “I might have some power, but I have to work through Ra’s most loyal. It would take time.
Damian understood and guessed enough. However he didn’t believed her entirely right now.
“Is there something you could tell me at least?” He tried different angle. Almost pleading. “Something I could work on?” In case Grandfather finds you?
Talia hummed, thinking.
“Your Grandfather is dying,” she said after the long pause.
“I know that!”
“Hush! I’m not finished. Tell me Damian, do you know why we are sure of that?”
Damian wasn’t sure. The rumor of Demon’s Head last decades were circulating since he was a child – and with them everybody’s expectation that he will become new vessel for their god. He never got explanation nor actively looked for it. He was only aware that it would happened during his lifetime.
“I guess, he’s getting more and more senile with time.”
“He is, you are right. That’s why you should strike soon before someone else get’s to it.”
“Don’t tell me Ra’s considered Drake to be next vessel. If I remember correctly the results of his experiment on compatibility to Lasarus Pit’s waters, they didn’t seem to bring much hope. That’s why I was the prime candidate.”
“You’re forgetting the newest project of his, Damian. And right now the only thing I know is that he seem to wait with collecting him back.”
“Who knows?” she answers. “But you must remember one thing: he’s going to collect him sooner or later. And he wont hold back. Do you really want to threaten your family, by protecting that caricature of human being?”
Damian didn’t answer her.
He still didn’t answer, as he observed her walk away.
On his way back his main thought was how he already failed his family once.
To be honest I don't really like this ending. If I'd change it, I will inform you with the next chapter.
Sixteen years ago
Tim turned, surprised to see Damian in Robin’s gear standing on his balcony right before patrol.
“…Robin,” he nodded in acknowledgment, but still wary. At first glance the brat seemed to come in peace – there was no visible anger towards his person that Damian usually tended to have.
But that didn't help Tim relax. Damian still seemed tense and his eyes didn’t leave him for a moment.
“Weren’t you supposed to patrol with B today?”
Damian jolted a little, Tim noted. He was definitely nervous.
“I’ll join Father in a moment. I have… important matter to talk with you.”
Tim waited a little longer for explanation. When none came, still wary, he welcomed Damian inside. The kid (teenager now, really) went in, glancing around.
Tim started to worry about what might have been the reason behind this visit. There aren’t many things that would change Damian like this. Even less things, that he would share with Tim – and all were something Tim didn't want to deal with in the first place.
Obviously, the whole situation made him nervous. His instinct were as good as screaming in his head – but when they weren’t when it involved Damian? With years gone their relationship didn’t really got better. They both learned to hold back from time to time when it was needed, yes. Could even work together on a case if there was someone leading the mission – pecking order was practically trained in them. But all of that didn’t mean they tolerated each others presence.
But to be fair, they didn’t even actively worked on their relationship either.
Damian was standing in the middle of Tim’s safe-house. Nervously looking around, as if waiting for him to say something.
Tim was waiting for him to say something first. In the meantime he went back to preparing for patrol. Just to be sure, he started with checking his weapons first, while still observing Damian.
The silence, however stretched for far too long in his opinion.
“So, what’s the matter?” Tim finally asked first. He was wary of Damian, but tried to be nonchalant, as he packed his 2nd bo-staff.
Damian glared at him and Tim was stopping himself from rolling his eyes. God, the brat was so annoying.
If he didn’t accidentally saw Damian happy few times, he would’ve thought Damian had his face just stuck like that.
Probably he has, but only when interacting with him.
“When the time comes, I want you to kill me, Drake.”
Tim stopped whatever he was doing.
“Care to repeat that?”
“You heard me.”
Yeah, and that was the problem.
“What you said made absolutely no sense, Dames. What the fuck?!”
Damian exhaled as he usually did when arguing with Tim. It was his ‘I’m-really-tired-with-your-idiocy-Drake’ sigh, Tim was sure of that. He heard it too many times after all.
“I’m sure you are aware that my Grandfather started to being… more active, let’s say.”
“…Yeah? All those latest assassinations certainly looked unprofessional. Sloppy,” Tim agreed, still not understanding how does it connect to Damian’s request. “You think, Ra’s finally getting senile? Trying to get everything from his bucket list?”
Damian didn’t reply at first.
“Yes” he finally said, when Tim turned around to grab rest of his suit. Clearly, Tim mused, he could stop ‘Damian’s surveillance’ for a moment.
“And getting my body to switch is more likely also on that list.”
Tim put down the suit he just grabbed and turned towards Damian.
“Are you…? Are you suggesting that everything he does now… is to give us some sense of false security and lower our guard so he could… snatch you?”
Damian only started straight at him as his reply.
Tim wasn’t finished.
“Damian, you know we won’t Ra’s let him get you, right?”
Fuck, he didn’t like that situation at all. Damian was looking too calm with this and Tim couldn’t understand why. Why is Damian looking so defeated? Why is he going to him with this all? What about Bruce, and Dick, and Alfred, and-
“What about your mother?” Tim finally asked, while his thoughts and questions were still racing in his head.
Damian shrugged, still looking at him.
“I suspect that right now my Mother tries to get League in her hands, while Grandfather isn’t looking. She want’s me to inherit the League – not as Grandfather’s vessel, but as me.”
At least Talia was with them on not giving Damian to Ra’s plan. Good to know.
Tim’s mind already started working on making plans.
“How much time do we have before Ra’s will kick the bucket? Or more likely will try to take you.”
“Maybe five, ten years at most. I remember some talk, when I still lived with the League, that by the time I am at my prime, it would be preferable for grandfather to switch bodies.”
“Where you planning to talk this with Bruce? With Dick?”
“After… After I talk this over with you.”
Tim couldn’t help but notice a crack in Damian's calm demeanor. It made him pause in his planning, pulling at his heartstrings and reminding that the brat in front of him was still his younger brother and more importantly – in Tim’s eyes – a kid.
However, the next moment, he was back to working over plans in his head. He didn’t like Robin’s answer in the slightest, after all.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” he answered harshly, making damian flinch a little. “Killing you before he catches you is illogical, considering he might just dump you in the Pit.”
“No, not before. But… But if.” Damian stilled.
Understanding fallen on Tim and his became solemn.
If it will be too late, was left unsaid.
“…Why me?” Tim asked quietly.
Damian looked at him unsure, as if he was considering if he made the right choice talking it with Tim of all people.
Tim wanted to reasure him – because for all their constant animosity, he couldn’t see an option in which he wouldn’t help Damian. Surely, Damian knew this too?
He couldn't help but wonder briefly: was their relationship really so bad?
“You don’t like me,” Damian started bluntly. And before Tim could object he continued. “Opposite to all the others members of our family, the relationship between us two isn’t good and we both know it, despite what other may think. At best we only ignore each other so we don’t have to see each other and more likely also fight again. Because we only fight. That’s how we communicate.”
Tim grimaced. Everything what Damian was saying was true, but to kill him. His family? Damian was still family, in Tim’s heart. Even if he hated the brat.
“You are also the only one besides me and Father to know how Ra’s will act. You go against him constantly and thus, you might have gained some insight to how he thinks. Plus, my Grandfather, for some convoluted reason likes you which probably would conclude to you being somewhere besides him – and thus giving him opportunities he usually prepares for.”
“Besides, Timothy… I… I really don’t think anyone but you could do the deed. It’s not the matter of capability, but of completing the task despite hating every second of it. I know we hate each other, but please try to understand that it’s not me trying to anger you. It’s me trying to shield everyone else.”
Damian finished his reasoning, not looking at Tim in the end.
Tim however, had to sat down and close his eyes. He didn’t even get out to patrol, yet he was already bone-tired.
After what felt like an eternity, he answered softly “…I’ll do it.”
Damian nodded, his face solemn.
Tim didn’t move as Damian left him to patrol with Batman. Didn’t move to prepare when he finally was alone again and already late for the meeting with Red Hood. Head hanging low, he was mulling over the conversation with Damian again and again, because it didn’t sit right with him.
He wondered if this was a trap. A clue to something bigger. A message for which he didn’t yet know the context for. Because Damian acting vulnerable like this… unsettled him. He wasn’t used to seeing the brat being scared yet ready for death row like this. It wasn’t Damian. His younger brother was an annoying brat with holier than thou attitude, who takes vicious pleasure in showing how he is more capable than him. Damian wasn’t… this. Tim refused to acknowledge it.
So he sat down, head hanging low and thinking. Because like hell he was going to kill Damian.
And if it meant getting rid of Ra’s he had to start planning now.
His comm beeped and moment later Tim could hear Jason demanding to know where the fuck are ya, Replacement?
Tim replied simply with getting ready, not willing to share the contents of his conversation with Damian.
His planning would have to start after his patrol with Red Hood.
Hope you don't mind a little shorter chapter this time?
One day I'll go through previous chapters and edit them. One day. Perhaps after I'll finish the story, who knows?
Key, flashdrive and piece of paper with note on it. Those items were as good as screaming at him to solve the meaning behind them, but Timothy didn’t start on the puzzle right away.
First, he gathered the books, putting the items back in them, and went straight to kitchen. Alfred was sure to finish preparing for dinner, and that would be improper (and suspicious) for little Timothy to not be on time.
Dinner wasn’t usually served in the kitchen, however today no-one was to join Timothy – thus making Alfred the only company for him.
Before sitting besides the table, Timothy put the stack of books he was caring on a chair besides his. Said stack included: three atlases: one he already saw, beneath that the one with pocket-hole and under that one another photography album but this one on fauna and flora of North America. On top of that lied two Agatha Christie books he haven’t read yet.
In comparison to other stacks of books Timothy tended to move, that one wasn’t as huge or heavy.
Alfred turned towards him. Timothy was just on time, as he was just setting the table – slowly, and with aid of trolley, because even he had to admit his age wasn’t kind for him.
Timothy offered to help (as everyone when they saw Alfred working now), but old butler kindly refused his help.
Having nothing to do, Timothy waited patiently while staring on of those Detective Stories. So lost he was in the story of Hercules that he didn’t heard Alfred’s comment the first time.
“I see you found yourself to late Master’s Tim’s room.”
Timothy looked sheepish. “If I wasn’t supposed to take anything from it, I could go now and put it all back,” he said patting the book stack.
“Nonsense, young Master,” Alfred replied. “We shouldn’t use this room as museum after all. That wouldn’t be what late Master Tim would want from us,” he added, the tone of his voice getting slightly sad.
“Please, put those back when you finish reading.”
“Of course, Alfred.”
Timothy smiled and soon later ate dinner with Alfred as company. They talked about the plots of the books Timothy brought with him, but the topic of Tim’s room (or Tim himself) was never mentioned again.
Bruce and Damian were to be later – something WE related, and the rest of the family was supposed to visit tomorrow at earliest.
So, Timothy thought to himself after finishing dinner, he might have this afternoon without any surveillance to crack the code.
Timothy, unfortunately, found only that the code wasn’t a code. Or perhaps it was, but he knew absolutely nothing to guess what first Tim meant by this.
Apologize to Conner – that’s what the piece of paper said. Nothing else. For what he had to apologize, he had no clue.
And Timothy wasn’t sure if that really was supposed to be code or actually reminded for Tim. Both options seemed likely.
The key looked simple. Standard silver-looking metal door key, which didn’t do much. It looked like one of the stack of keys each of his new siblings had, which included keys to their massive numbers of hidey-holes.
With anything better to do Timothy put the flashdrive into the laptop he got recently.
And – despite what he expected – the flashdrive didn’t need password. However, it also didn’t had much on it. Just some pictures of first Tim with three other people – Kon, Bart and Cassie – first Tim’s friends.
Most of them didn’t look as professional as those that Timothy saw in that bedroom. They were more likely taken with someone’s phone, without taking into account things like shading or composition. Heck, few were even blurry, or had people cut out of frame.
While Tim with his three friends seemed to be constant theme for those photographs (pictures from vacations? They certainly looked relaxed and happy), there were few that included additional person.
The mentioned person was woman. There were actually two differet women on three different pictures. One light skinned blonde and one dark skinned brunette. Timothy wasn’t sure if he saw them before on any other picture, but considering how casual they seemed to be on those photos, Kon might know them very well.
However there was one picture that seemed off for Timothy. On it, Cassie, Tim and Kon were sitting on some stone bench, Tim between the two. Tim and Cassie were leaning on each other and Kon were leaning a little towards them, but not touching. Which, considering there was also the wider space between Tim and Kon than between Tim and Cassie, it wouldn’t be enough for Kon to lean on them comfortably. The space looked as if it were for someone here.
Was it Bart? But didn’t Bart took the picture then – it would certainly explain why it was a little blurry, as in other blurry pictures with lack of Bart.
Timothy looked through rest of the photos. He found a bunch that might have been from the same place – some little town, village, whatever. Few he understood – three people on pic, so the fourth friend had to take the picture. But there were also few pics on which all of them were on. Who took those picture then? Some tourist? Local? There didn’t seem to be anyone walking in the background.
He looked back at the pictures with three people in it, looking for anything strange.
It wasn’t as visible, however now that he had some clue, some odd things in those were little more prominent.
There were spaces for someone, Timothy concluded.
In one picture they could have huddled closer to each other, but there was some space. In another Bart was leaning forward. He might have been pushed from behind, but the other two didn’t seem near enough to do this. Kon might have been using his TTK? But they were clearly trying to be civilian, no shows with their respective powers besides Bart’s constant fidgeting that resulted in blurriness.
If Timothy wasn’t imaging things, then there was someone else with them – someone that they clearly saw or felt, but no camera registered.
That might have been clue that Timothy was looking for, but it wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t. He couldn’t learn anything more without talking about it with Conner.
Resigned, that Timothy couldn’t do anything now with what he gathered, he put them back inside the book. If he wanted any answers, he clearly had to talk with Conner about his and Tim’s past – but how to arrange the meeting with him? Those meeting tended to be spontaneous – Conner didn’t have much time after all. So, how to meet with Conner, and not have the whole family looking for them?
Timothy paused and changed his train of thoughts.
Did he wanted the Waynes to know about what he found in the first place? How would they react if they learned about those pictures?
Would Conner tell them if he knew? Probably. Maybe. But did he have a choice of not telling him this?
The Bats might have helped Timothy in solving this, but currently they were thinking how to take care of the bad guy that took – made – Timothy in the first place.
Surely, Timothy shouldn’t annoy them in the meantime.
He didn’t know if he was happy if they take care of the bad guy, or not. He still didn’t remember his life before he woke up in the Manor and Damian didn’t know what had happened. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know, based what they have told him about the bad guy...
No, the Wayne family were nice, but Timothy shouldn’t bother them when they were clearly busy and stressed from the whole ordeal (even if they tried to hide it from him).
Besides that, deep down he just knew he would love to solve this by himself. Even to have something to do. Plus, it didn’t seem as if anyone else recognized the books Tim was caring now everywhere with him or gave any indication of those things being placed there. And who knows, maybe Timothy would end up helping them somehow?
Maybe they would stop looking at Timothy and think about anyone else but him now…?
Anyway. Contacting Conner.
The obvious route would be asking someone from the Waynes for contact – but, couldn’t Tim just yell and hope Conner would be listening?
They might also hear it and, if he does shout for him at normal volume, Kon might not want any secret escapades and act like actual adult instead, so… Nope. That would not be the plan.
Maybe just ‘wanting to talk with Conner’ would be enough of an excuse for the Waynes? For asking for a number or something. Or arranging a meeting.
After gathering his courage Timothy went, where he hoped, he would find Damian or Bruce or anybody from this family. And by that he meant to the Cave.
He went through standard door behind grandfather clock and downstairs.
However, not through the fourth of the stairs, he hears snippets of heated conversation.
Timothy crouched down, trying to stay not visible and at the same time going lower and lower to hear more.
The heated conversation turned to be heated argument – without physical violence thankfully – between Bruce and Damian. They were talking about Tim’s – first Tim’s – plans and arguing about something Damian did regarding them.
Apparently before his death first Tim left rest of his family plans for how to deal with Ra’s al Ghul.
Still, even first Tim didn’t expect for Timothy to be created and be with contact with Ra’s. But it wasn’t the first time they were using one of the numerous plans Red Robin prepared for them, so maybe they had some merit. In this case, it just happened that Ra’s was that much of the hard opponent.
Normally Timothy would go right in – it wasn’t the first time they were discussing this somewhere around when he could hear them, and while they didn’t talk about specifics with him personally, they didn’t bother with hiding absolutely everything related with Ra’s from him.
Perhaps they were hoping he would remember something. Unfortunately this still wasn’t the case.
However Timothy didn’t want to go right in and stop them. Not this time.
Now they were shouting. Something about contacting Damian’s mother, Timothy couldn’t understand the gist of it. Bruce was mad and upset with Damian. Damian tried to explain they needed to contact her.
Carefully Timothy stepped down. Step by step.
When he was around the middle of the staircase, both men noticed him and promptly shut up. They were still glaring at each other – still communicating their displeasure and opinions, but no more voices could be heard echoing through the cave.
“Timothy,” Damian greeted. “You wanted something?”
Timothy didn’t answer, as he stared back at him. His question forgotten in the midst of the whole scene he witnessed.
“I’ll look trough my other contacts,” Bruce said, his tone level, as he stood up from his chair and went towards the elevator. “And I don’t want you to be in contact with her, Damian. I mean it.”
Damian didn’t answer him – or he did, if the glare at the Bruce’s back could be considered an answer.
As soon as they were alone, Damian repeated his question.
“You wanted help with something, Timothy?”
Timothy bit his lip, not sure if he should say his request. Damian still seemed mad and he didn’t want to anger even more the man in front of him.
Feeling his anxiety, Damian tried to relax more. His anger towards his father and his stubbornness shouldn’t be turned at little Timothy.
He crouched down, so he could be at the kid’s level and reassured him. Said that he wasn’t mad at him. And that he’s ready to hear whatever he has to say.
“Contacting Kent?” Damian repeated surprised.
Timothy nodded, a little nervous.
“It is doable, but why if I may ask?”
Kid mumbled something inaudible for Damian.
Damian exhaled, trying to relax more and seem nonthreatening before saying “Louder, Timothy!”
“I said!” Timothy repeated louder this time “I wanted to ask him about the pictures. I – Tim – please, don’t kill me Damian – I went to Tim’s room because none of you told me I couldn’t go, and I was looking through his things – mostly books to look for something to read later – but he has a lot of pictures in his room! And I could recognize most of people in them! But there were few with Conner there and people I have no idea who they were and I thought that he might tell me more about them...”
“You wanted to learn more about Drake.”
“Yes, I – Is it wrong? Shouldn’t I?”
“No, no. It’s perfectly normal. Come on, let’s go upstairs. Pennyworth would probably soon call us for supper, and before that I would contact clone for you.”
Damian didn’t look much at the kid’s face during the whole exchange. However, when he glanced at Timothy before prompting him upstairs, he couldn’t help feeling a little proud.
He didn’t regret making little Timothy smile.
Conner met with little Timothy few days later. At first the meeting was to be held in the Manor, however, considering no movement from Ra’s for months now, Alfred suggested to the rest of family to let little Master Timothy to fly with Master Conner for a while.
Master Conner was, after all, trained superhero – in case of danger, he would think of protecting Timothy first.
So, that was how Conner flew with Timothy a little, first to Hawaii, then San Fran and few other places Tim visited with his Titans and Young Justice teams.
“...But that’s not really what you wanted to know, right kiddo?” Conner asked, after they already visited few places.
Timothy bit his lower lip anxiously.
After they landed, somewhere on their way back to Gotham, Timothy grabbed his backpack and pulled out a package from it.
“I thought you might answer me something about those…?”
Kon took the package and pulled out it’s contents. His eyes widened at first, surprising at seeing the photos, however soon he was reminiscing that time spend then.
“Where did you get those from?” he asked, curious.
“...From Tim’s room. But Alfred didn’t mind!”
Conner didn’t comment, but also didn’t seem to be angry, so Timothy thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask his question. He took photos from Conner.
“On those ones – there was someone else with you, right? Not only you four?”
“We – yeah… We had teammate in our Young Justice days. Back then she was kind of a ghost, but few missions before we stopped being a team she got a body back through… ah.. godlike-magical means I guess?”
“Please, don’t ask about specifics. It was a weird time.”
“I guess you wanted to know, why she isn’t seen here, right?” Timothy nodded.
“Well, I don’t really know either. It’s something we never tried to do, and so never realized. And by ‘something to do’, I meant taking pictures of her. Because she’s quite real now. I think Tim was talking about this sometime after our trip – as something we should check with Greta – said friend – but we didn’t really had time as superheroing does that to you and then Tim was...”
They didn’t talk for a moment, as mentioning first Tim’s death usually did, for the people Timothy knew.
Timothy never really knew if it appropriate to break the silence, so he never was the first to try. Conner seemed to be lost in thought, looking through photos.
“Hey, mind answering now my question?”
“Where did you find those photos? They are printed on a normal paper – you found them on his computer or where?”
Timothy flushed red from embarrassment. Now probably Kon would be mad at him for snooping around his best friend’s room.
“...not exactly? I found the flash-drive in his room and it was there?”
“That must have been quite interesting flash-drive if you have checked what’s on it. I’m pretty sure Tim’s got tons of those with pictures on them lying around.”
Timothy looked at the ground even more embarrassed at being caught red-handed.
Conner didn’t seemed to be mad at him. He was still curiously looking through the pictures, waiting patiently for Timothy to tell him more.
“...Well it was hidden in boring books. And there was also a note and key besides it...”
Kon smiled at the fact that what seemed to take kid’s interest was mystery – in typical Tim’s fashion.
“And what the note said? Don’t touch it?”
Timothy looked him in the eyes. Still embarrassed, but also determined.
“I’ll tell you, bot only if you promise to help me solve this.”
Conner didn’t know why little Timothy seemed so determined to solve this. For him, it might be some of the multitude notes Tim might have left for himself – yes, even those hidden in the books. But for him it wasn’t anything ordinary. That’s what he got for having detective-novels fan as best friend. Code and mysteries were used for the most mundane thing to spice up his life, as Tim used to say.
Key might have been to case with more flash-drives. Or just closet with his skateboard with it – hidden so Damian wouldn’t get to them. Or to where he put birthday presents for friends and family, with note as a reminder.
So, not thinking much about this, Conner agreed.
Timothy lighted up, and quickly rummaged his backpack to take out the mentioned key and note.
Kon took those things from him. He didn’t recognize the key – it didn’t look special, but the note…
“You know why he was apologizing to you?” Timothy asked suddenly.
Kon frowned. Not because he didn’t know why.
“Not really. Sorry kiddo,” he ruffled Timothy’s hair, making it even bigger mess.
While the kid was trying to make sense of his hair, Kon hid the note and key in his pocket and gave photos to the kid to pack.
Before the kid had time to protest, Conner grabbed him and together they flew the rest way towards the Manor.
It was Cass that greeted them.
“Yeah, didn’t want to make him late for dinner,” Conner replied, putting Timothy down.
Cass raised her eyebrows, questioning him. Kon sighed.
“Okey, yeah yeah… And suddenly I remembered about one thing I had to do. Thought it was good time as any to fly him back.”
Kon mirrored the smile.
“And when I’m not? Bye Cass, bye kiddo!”
They both watched as he flew away towards Smalville. As soon as they couldn’t see him on the sky, Timothy turned to Cassandra.
“I think I made him mad.”
Cass didn’t know what it might have been about, but she was quite sure that the boy was wrong.
She hugged him tightly and held him up all the way towards kitchen. Timothy didn’t protest.
“Nuh-uh” she negated his fears. “I think you helped him somehow.”
Kon landed softly in front of little cozy house on the outskirts of one of the European villages. He didn’t go to knock on the door, but instead waited leisurely. He could hear the owner slowly coming this way.
“Conner!” Greta shouted suddenly.
She got from her bike, leaning it besides her house and went to hug her friend.
Kon hugged her just as tightly and spun them around.
“What are you doing here?” she asked happily, as soon as Kon put her down. “Are others joining us soon?”
“No, sorry, Suz. I thought you might answer some questions for me instead..?”
“I’m always willing to help you guys, you know that!” she mentioned for him to go with her inside.
“What do you need help with it?” she asked, putting the groceries in the kitchen.”
“Say… were you helping Tim with something before his death?”
Ok, quick important note: You guys remember that time Tim tried to clone Conner? There's going to be some talk about this including (TRIGGER WARNING) mentions of Tim almost succeeding. Almost bc said clone(s) died and was/were buried.
Other triggers warnings: disrespecting certain ways of burial (in a sense?)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“…All of it aside, I’m still worried what Ra’s next move might be.”
“As do I, father, but isn’t this why we go all over those plans?”
“You are right...” Bruce sighed. “You sure, we shouldn’t include Justice League with this?”
“You mean more people than Timothy’s friends? Father, as much as I would love to mobilize more people, you are aware as I, that Ra’s has way more numbers than we can utilize. Taking Earth’s heroes for personal reasons would only doom us faster.”
“And here I thought I would end up stopping you from that idea.”
“And I thought that I actually learned how to pick my battles in those twenty or more years, Father.”
Bruce smiled tiredly. “You did, Damian.”
For a moment they let the silence finish the conversation. Soon Damian would have to leave for patrol, and unfortunately, Gotham’s new and old evil did not care that they have more dangerous enemies for whose attack they have to prepare to. His father faced the main computer, going once more oven the plans Tim left for them. There might had been incredible number of them at the beginning, especially for such esteemed foe as Ra’s Al Ghul, however with time most were already used and others were deemed unusable with the current situation.
Of course , there were none in case of finding little Timothy. What Bruce and the others found as a proof that even their son and brother wasn’t prepared for such turn of events.
Before Damian could go and change, his father stopped him.
“There was another thing I wanted to talk with you about, Damian.”
The mood shifted.
“Why were you contacting Talia?”
“She contacted me, Father. Like usual.”
Bruce crossed his arms. His son held his head higher.
“What she wants from you, Damian? It wasn’t the first time you both were meeting without my knowledge.”
“So, what if we did? I need to rely you of every meeting with my own mother? You know perfectly well, she isn’t going to hurt me.”
“And you know perfectly well how manipulative she can be!”
“I can take care of myself!”
“This isn’t what I wanted to say!”
“Then what? That you don’t trust me?!”
“That I’m worried about you! Especially if Talia was involved in Tim’s death!”
Silence became too heavy between them.
Damian clenched his fists. If Bruce were looking at them, he might have noticed and maybe even wonder why Damian had said reaction and what triggered it exactly. However he didn’t, because him and Damian were stuck in the glaring match, both too agitated and angered but restraining themselves at the mention of Tim’s death.
Bruce sighed. He was feeling his age.
Before he could say more, he noticed someone going down the stairs.
“We will discuss this later” he said, before they both were turning towards their guest.
Sixteen years ago
His patrol with Red Hood wasn’t spectacular, as Damian’s revelation made his thoughts somewhat occupied.
However, Jason didn’t pressure that much what was going on, and saying ‘ other time consuming case ’ usually tended to shut him up.
A nd anger . But angry Red Hood was something Tim was used to.
Damian didn’t seem to speak about this to anyone else. And no-one seemed to have learned about the conversation between him and Robin, considering he never heard any chit-chat about this from anyone. That silence from the rest only punctuated that Damian practically relied on him and trusted him to help.
Unfortunately, as most things in his life tended to be, it also didn’t help his pressure and sleeping patterns. But Tim refused to give up on this – on Damian.
Tim forgone wondering what could that mean on his relationship with Damian, and if it was really as irreparable as people around them (and mostly themselves) claimed it to be. Now he had to use all the time he had to plan how to save Damian from Ra’s – and no matter what he really thought of the demon brat, Tim didn’t want him to die.
That was all the motivation he needed, truly.
Despite the rumors, he didn’t had any plans against Ra’s. Whatever they were, they were more of a reactions to whatever Ra’s challenged him with made on a spot, than earlier well-thought strategy. But now he needed some proper plan.
As for any proper plan (and Tim was working only on proper ones) this one also needed research. The more the better, but he couldn’t spend too much on this. Not specified deadline (besides ‘ ideally for yesterday’ ) made things harder. It wasn’t something Tim wasn’t used to before, however. The only difference was to have some general plans now and only adjust the details as soon as he learns about those.
Manageable. Although a little annoying.
One of the major questions was, if he should have to rely on the rest of the Bats to help them. Logic dictated that to be quite favorable move in many aspects.
He guessed that Ra’s (who, if he didn’t already heard, was expecting some resistance from Damian), might have been counting on Tim seemingly gradual closing off from the rest of the family, and thus not informing about the problem. Because having to think about everything himself would certainly damage him in the long run.
It was always psychological warfare with this creep.
And so, he planed to inform Bruce that his son is in danger. Even if Damian would hate him later for spilling the secret.
Problem started, when he was thinking what would happened after he told the rest.
Bruce would make sure that Damian stays supervised. That there would be no chance Ra’s people might surprise them. And they would wait long before something happens, because assassin would wait for the opportunity to strike. And so, during the whole waiting Damian, in all his eighteen year old glory, would get annoyed and fight with Bruce about not being left alone. There would be huge possibility that he would somehow sneak away “for a hour or so”, and that’s when assassins would strike. And fast forward they would have to fight Ra’s and might end up too late…
Tim had to stop himself right here and there. There might be also chance that B might try utilize Justice League. Truthfully, Bruce would like to utilize JL whenever any of them is in possible danger, which is always. Everyone knew that. Even Bruce himself, but he was also aware of the potential consequences such action might bring.
So, in the end, Bruce couldn’t and wouldn’t hire other heroes as bodyguards. That left only surveillance between the Bats and Damian’s team. But it wouldn’t stop B from completely from trying to control every aspect of Damian’s live. Then he would try to also be in charge of all the planning against Ra’s and wouldn’t dream of leaving JL and Gotham alone, so he would also be Batman-ing in between.
After a week or something he would agree that he needs help, but the only help he would agree to would be Dick as Batman for Gotham. To which Dick would be opposed to, but wouldn’t say anything till he too would be emotionally exhausted. He wouldn’t ask Jason to help as long as Jason would use guns – and he wouldn’t stop using the damn guns!
Damian would be off the table. He wouldn’t ask Cass to be Batman, but he would ask her to watch Damian and Tim didn’t know how well was relation between Damian and Cass. Would Damian be mad? Would Cass be the first to be annoyed with Damian? With Bruce? Or the situation in general?
Bruce wouldn’t even think about asking Stephanie, and he would be left in charge of the WE mostly.
As much as his dad was a goddamn good strategist, he has such issues with controlling that those might end up horribly for them. The reason why Damian apparently hasn’t still said anything, was perhaps because he could also see how that would end.
However, not saying anything to their family might end up somehow destroying their plans and helping the enemy. And saying anything to their siblings first would end up in Bruce controlling everything sooner or later without a chance to make him listen to them.
Tim had to plan for their family. Introduce them to some beneficial ideas which would help them in the long run, without showing the full extent of the situation for them to not make them fully panic.
Maybe if him and Damian would loudly announce that they are going to patrol together now? Shock of them agreeing to work together will made rest aware of the changes and Damian would benefit of some kind of back up, if that buddy system were to be picked up by the rest.
Plus if they would patrol together for few times, as a way to make others believe they are serious, it would help him and Damian to somehow inconspicuously being in contact for their other time sensitive case.
Anyway, it was something he had to talk with Damian, better sooner than later.
W hat in case family learns about the whole situation? Thankfully by then, Tim would have much batter plans to make Bruce listen to his advice.
Tim dreaded that moment. Bruce tended to not listen to others when such situations arise. And his worry for them only worsen his need for control.
After he got back from patrol with Hood, he found bugs in his apartment. There were more around Manor and in the cave, and while the constant surveillance from Ra’s (because who’s else they could be) weren’t usually as something screaming alarms for the Bats (Bugs from League at this point were something of commodity in their lives and almost everybody got spies in the League as retaliation.) Damian’s current situation wasn’t the best one to have Ra’s listening in.
That explained why Damian ambushed him in his newest safe house , Tim mused, despite that this move might have arous ed questions from the rest of family.
And also, Ra’s was forgetting that – for all he called him Detective – Tim was nothing like Bruce and actually had friends he could go ask for help.
That was what Tim was doing flying and then driving all the way to some unnamed family dinner on the way to Metropolis.
Contacting Anita was easier, considering their annual old team meetings. Meeting with her in guise of her starting work with WE was also easy and required a little sleight of hand to hide a note with an address in her pocket in case someone was observing them.
“Mind telling me, why the need for secrecy, Rob?” she asked. Her eyes judging him, while she tended to her shake. “I thought we were all past that, mon?”
Tim smiled broadly.
“Ninjas,” he replied in answer before sliding to opposite seat to reveal the rest of the story.
Anita was one of the few people that could tell him about magic and death – two components Tim was sure, the Lazarus Pits were made of.
Because while he could hide Damian all his life, there was no guarantee, that Ra’s would win someday. Same if he just went to fight with the whole Justice League. No one gets to be leader of worldwide assassin organization for 800 years or more and not being prepared for most of frontal attacks.
If he wanted to get rid of the problem – problem being: as long as Ra’s alive Damian is in danger, basically – he had to make sure that: a) Ra’s dead, and b) he stays dead for good.
So learning everything about cursed waters from Lazarus Pits was one of the major points in his plans.
Learning about their locations wasn’t the hardest thing, although it was a challenging aspect. And for that he needed someone from the League – someone besides Pru.
That was how he contacted Talia. Or rather, he made Damian contact his mother, because Tim or Red Robin directly contacting with Talia Al Ghul, without going to each others throat raised too many red flags.
As he and Damian expected, Talia didn’t want her son to became new host for Ra’s. Easily she agreed to work with them. However there was a question how much he was willing to reveal of his plans to her and how much she was willing to help them.
She gave them locations for Lazarus Pits – probably not all, but many enough. Majority of those were in places Tim was thinking they might be – which was good, because that mean he could roughly extrapolate in which environments those waters tended to resurface, which helped pinpointing were the rest could be (or start to form).
What also Talia handed to them – and what Tim wasn’t expecting at all – was League’s, Ra’s , scripts and research regarding said Pits.
Her answer, for his question about those, was that she was perfectly aware that closing entrance to Pits or burying them would result in nothing in the end.
Tim guessed that she expected him to work on something to neutralize those waters completely – something he was already working on and something the future heads of Al Ghul family would love to have knowledge for themselves.
Tim was willing to share it with Damian. Only if Bruce would also have access to it – to which Damian agreed.
Talia would have to get it from his cold dead hands by her-damn-self.
Research notes from Ra’s (or mostly likely the copies of those) ended up being a huge help. Mainly because that old creep even in his first lifetime was one hell of researcher for his time. The amount of detail – from color, smell, consistency, and everything that he could describe or measure about the water to each and every detail of the environment around it, completely with date, place and geographical and astronomical changes at that time. As the years went by, the more detailed the research became, making Tim wonder if Ra’s didn’t know already everything possibly about that substance.
Until he read one of the older notes.
Based on it, there was a chance that mystical power of Lazarus Pits wasn’t from generated Earth’s magical points amplified by placements of the planets, or some ancient God dying, as Ra’s at the beginning hypothesized, but by alien substance of all the things. The fragment of meteorite Ra’s has found apparently dissolved during one Ra’s lifetime in Earth atmosphere, which, considering it was around few hundred years ago, explained why there was no more research in this direction. However (as everything Ra’s did at that time) the meteorite with bits of alien substance was almost described in full.
Considering all this, Tim did the only obvious thing – brought the research to one of the Green Lanterns, saying truthfully, that they might have a way to get rid of Ra’s.
Oh, and to give the research to him, of course . Batman is already so busy , and Tim is way deep in the research to get him up to date if need arises.
If they happened to mention it to Batman by chance, then at least Tim would had some good points for Bruce to listen to him.
That was how Tim spend his last ten months – in between patrolling, working for WE and working with the Titans. Planning and preparing.
And he still wasn’t yet done.
Without considering for now the worst case scenario – in which they would not only have to kill Ra’s, but do it while Ra’s would use Damian’s body – there were weak points in his general plan that needed back-up plans.
Like, for example, that all interested parties were aware (or guessing) that Tim was doing most of the planning. Thus, Ra’s would have an advantage if Tim would end up dead.
And he wasn’t kidding himself, knowing full well that if Ra’s wanted him dead – he will be.
Updating his will was the easiest thing to do – and something he was doing quite regularly already, considering his lifestyle.
What wasn’t easy was planning against Ra’s moves. Would that old coot attack them? Should they attack first? When would he finally try his chance at catching Damian and would it be frontal attack or would he be a sneaky little shit about it.
In conclusion, Tim was spending each day thinking as he got no time. Damian could be taken any moment and the only thing he could do was work on the long term plan, blackmail others to bodyguard Damian and pray he would have enough time to finish everything.
After few months of Tim’s and Damian’s “we are patrolling together now” and other Tim’s backhanded suggestion of “Damian should be watched out for” Bruce finally seemed to take some action.
With Cassie flying him oversees to where Greta currently lived, Tim thought he could feel a little less stressed, knowing that Bruce and rest of their family are looking out for Damian even more. Especially with the increased sightings of hired mercenaries and unusual amount of cases to take their family apart.
At least his and Damian’s monthly suggestion to start working together somehow started paying off. (Tim wondered briefly what rest of the family thought at seeing them agreeing over something.)
As soon as Cassie flew back, Tim told Greta about the current situation.
The thing was, the analysis he got from Green Lantern was very promising and based on it he tried to synthesize something to neutralize Lazarus Pits effects. He did the tests on the Pit deep under the Manor and found the amount needed to neutralize the whole Pit. What was the best, he had enough to – let’s say – neutralize more (if not all) of them. And with Anita’s help, he made sure they would stay that way.
But he needed Greta for different matter.
He told Cassie, he wanted to ask Greta about old thing she helped him with. He was sure WG wouldn’t ask him more questions, considering that she was the one to send him to their mutual friend and the nature of that matter.
He needed Greta to help him hide his research. Chance it being somewhere his family and most friends would find easily is as good chance Ra’s agents would also find it.
But Greta wasn’t someone he visited often. More than that, she was someone easily forgettable and didn’t stood out – which is all he needed from her to hide the results of his experiments for him.
She didn’t comment when he suggest hiding this case with research in the same place as before. But, thankfully, she was there for him, when he was hiding it in the ground. And when they were waiting for Cassie to pick him up.
He squeezed her hand. She hugged him.
“What about when someone would need it?” Greta asked, not pulling back. “And you or I wouldn’t be available to pick it up?”
“I left them clues. I trust they wouldn’t be to hard for my family.”
“You sure you want to hear about it?”
Greta asks him back and while she was now quite confident, she seemed quite unsure at Kon’s request.
Greta put her cup of tea down and motioned her friend to go after her.
She lead him some distance behind neighboring parcel. There was a little cemetery with some stone-platted graves and few graves which had only a wooden cross as indication.
She stopped in front of one of those graves with wooden cross. There was nothing to indicate who was laying there, opposite to other graves there.
Kon looked confused at Greta.
She bit her lip. Sighed and bit her lip again, trying to gather her thoughts.
“...Did Tim ever told you what happened, when you were dead?”
Many important things happened during that time, apparently, but Conner only heard rumors about most.
Tim was really adamant about putting things in the past, despite Conner’s nagging.
“...it’s about cloning?” he guessed, based on what he heard.
“So you heard?”
“Only rumors that he tried. Not from Tim directly.”
“I guess, he wouldn’t want to...” she frowned.
She shook her head, clearing her thoughts and started her explanation again.
“Before Tim’s death, he asked me to hide something for him. That was the place we hid said thing.”
“In your grave?”
She smiled, surprised. And the atmosphere became lighter.
“My? Oh, no silly. Kon, you know I was cremated at first, right?”
Kon mirrored her smile. After all, between them the topic of death wasn’t any reason to turn solemn. Especially for someone like Greta with her interesting view on death-related matters.
“Yeah, but you also told me about grieving your own death,” Kon replied, “and when others plan their houses you were invited us to talk about your new grave.”
“Urn. It was urn and is standing at my mantelpiece.”
Kon racked his mind, trying to remember if he has seen anything resembling urn on the mantelpiece. “ Are we talking about the d ecoupage d jar with glitter inside?”
“I made it myself. And I think it turned lovely.”
Kon snorted. Greta had some weird quirks regarding death, but considering the state in which they all met her, her laid back attitude now towards the topic was something they were well accustomed to.
But he came here with an intention.
“So, who’s that one?” he asked, turning the discussion back to it’s first topic.
Greta’s smile looked pained. She was silent.
Fun was over.
“Does it matter?” she asked back, after a moment.
“Greta… You asked about something from that year specifically. Who’s that grave?”
“You sure, it’s where you want to hide this?” she asked, worried. Last time they were here was the first and only time she thought he would be here.
“Yeah,” he replied her instantly, but his mind were million miles away. “It’s good place. Not many people would dare to look here. And I have you to tell me if something wrong goes here, right?”
She hugged him from behind. Slowly. Tenderly. Wishing she could help him relinquish a little of the pain he was now feeling.
He didn’t react.
“Of course,” she replied. “Of course I would tell you. You can count on me, Rob.”
He caught her hand in his and she didn’t comment how strongly he was holding it. She let him have this moment.
After all, seeing the casket of clone of Kon’s he almost succeeded in creating, wasn’t something easy for him.
“...he asked me to hide something for him. That was the place we hid said thing.”
“In your grave?”
Two out of seven members of his team turned to him waiting for orders.
He turned to another one asking for localization. He got thumbs up in return.
He made the call.
“Master. We have localized the object. Should we retrieve it now? … Understood.”
He sighed before addressing his whole team.
“Get ready. We’re about to take a package from one angry alien.”
Now we are (almost) getting to good shit! YEAH!
And by good shit I meant the part I wrote first, when I first decided that fic is going to be a multichapter. My favourite part <3
Honest question: what do you guys think about sudden jumps between "now" and "present" (more similar to Greta's retrospection than Tim's POV). At first I was thinking about writing future chapters this way, but I don't know if it isn't to jarring? I could do half-half or another chapter only for past events. What do you think?
If you want to read something more, I wrote few takes at some not-really-spoilery scenes that take place in the past. Mainly confrontation between Tim and Ra's, and few conversations between little Timothy and Ra's. Some I'll use in the future chapters (after I edit them of course) and some would end up as outtaked. Here's the link to post on my tumblr where it is.
Next chapter probably after New Year. Happy Holidays! \o/