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Crooked Arrows Flown True

Chapter Text

Bruce looks at the file pulled up on his computer. Tim is the most likely candidate, but he’s here in the cave, and not acting remotely interested in what Bruce is doing. Damian knows how to work the computers, but he doesn’t have the history to know what to look for. Jason, then.

He looks at Tim and Damian, playing a card game in the far corner of the cave. He looks up at Dick, who is sitting in the rafters. Jason and Cassandra are out with Alfred. Talia is at the hospital with Athanasia for a routine check-up. Selina is six months pregnant. Four sons. Three daughters, according to the ultrasound. Bruce sighs. He picks up the phone. They only got back from their honeymoon a week ago, and it’s not exactly a standard newlywed activity, but he doesn’t have any better ideas.

“Oliver? Have you ever thought about being a dad?”

-

Bruce, Oliver, and Dinah go in together. He’s never gone into the multiverse with even a second person, let alone a third, and it makes him a little nervous, but they won’t be there long. They’re just going to grab the boy and go.

Roy is very high, and clearly doesn’t understand what’s happening. He says only two coherent things between finding him and getting him back to Ollie’s place, both directed at Oliver: “You kicked me out” and “You look old.”

He’s in his late teens; his counterpart is in his late twenties. Oliver is old, as far as he’s concerned.

Roy Harper was sixteen when his Oliver Queen kicked him out. He’s just barely eighteen now.

“Now what?” Oliver asks, when the kid, mostly unconscious, is deposited in a spare room in his house.

“Rehab?” Dinah suggests.

Bruce shakes his head. “It’s the sensible thing to do in theory, but if he’s already been kicked out by one Oliver, being sent away by another, even for a few weeks, isn’t going to go over well.”

Dinah sighs. “I’ll do some research. It’s heroin, right? Ollie, you get to explain things when he wakes up.”

“We need to alter the records from when you fostered this universe’s Roy,” Bruce says.

“Two kids with the same first name and basic physical appearance is suspicious, even fifteen years apart. I’ll take care of it - call me if you need anything else. My kids will want to meet him when he’s ready.”

-

Bruce makes the rounds when he gets home, checking on his family. Jason and Selina are in the library. Alfred and Damian are in the kitchen. Cassandra’s door is closed, which usually means she’s in her bedroom and doesn’t want to be disturbed. Talia and Athanasia are both asleep in the nursery, Athanasia in her crib and Talia in the arm chair. Dick is a little harder to find; Bruce spots a hot pink sweater he must have taken from Cass first, then his glowing yellow eyes, in the rafters of the cave.

He can’t find Tim.

Dick drops to the ground when Bruce calls him.

“Did you help Jay’s friend?”

“I hope so. Have you seen Tim?”

“He went to therapy.”

Bruce checks his watch; Tim’s appointment ended nearly two hours ago. He calls him, and is somewhat surprised when Tim answers right away.

“You know, I didn’t spend six weeks convincing the board to bring in a group of out-of-state mental health professionals just for you to skip therapy.”

“I didn’t skip,” Tim says. “I just didn’t come home after.”

“And where are you now?”

“Nowhere bad.”

“Timothy.”

He sighs. “In Smallville with Kon.”

Of course he is. “And where is my car?”

“In the clinic parking lot.”

“I want you home in fifteen minutes. We’ll pick up the car later.”

“Kon can’t fly as fast as Clark,” he says.

“Half an hour, then. I mean it, Tim.”

“Fine. We’re leaving now.”

“Is Tim in trouble?” Dick asks when Bruce hangs up.

“He knows he’s not supposed to leave town without telling me.” He’s not even supposed to leave the manor without telling him, but Bruce tries to pick his battles. “Enough about Tim. Have you finished your homework, Dick?”

“Sort of.”

“Why don’t you head upstairs and work your way up to definitely?”

Bruce sits down at his computer, determined to do some more research on Roy before Tim gets home. Someone—maybe Alfred?—has changed his screensaver to pictures of the kids. Tim asleep on the back of a cow, in a blurry photo taken by Kon, fades out, replaced by Jason and Cass with Wonder Woman, then Dick doing a handstand, then Damian holding Athanasia.

He really hopes Ollie is ready for this.

Chapter Text

“An alternate universe,” Roy repeats. “Am I still high? I think I’m still high.”

“You’re not,” Oliver says.

“Maybe you’re high,” Roy suggests.

“You must have noticed I look older.”

“Yeah, I figured being an asshole aged you prematurely.”

Oliver sighs. He really didn’t plan on spending on spending his first few weeks of married life babysitting a junkie who hates him. He hasn’t even seen Dinah today.

“So you’re just naturally old,” Roy says.

“I’m forty one.”

He remembers Roy being cute. Quiet and sad, missing his foster father but friendly. Sweet. He reminds himself that the Roy he fostered for two weeks was a completely different person. He just needs to convince this Roy that he’s also a completely different person from the Oliver Queen who kicked him out just when he most needed his dad.

“You’re still Green Arrow though, right?”

“Right.”

“Good. I want to talk to Robin.”

-

Damian, searching the nursery for spare diapers, reaches absently for his mother’s ringing phone. “Hello?”

There is a long pause before a familiar voice asks, with uncharacteristic hesitance, “Damian?”

“Grandfather.” Damian drops the diapers. It’s deeply unnerving, speaking to Ra’s al Ghul again after the last year of his life.

“Is your mother available?”

“She went shopping with Alfred. Forgot her—” He pauses. Use full sentences, Damian. “She must have forgotten to bring her phone. Sir.”

“I see. Perhaps you could tell her I called?”

“Sure.” Use real words, Damian. “I mean, yes. I will do that for you. Of course.”

He hears a sound on the other end that might be muffled laughter, except he’s never heard Grandfather laugh before unless something terrible was happening.

“Thank you for speaking with me, Damian.”

Ra’s hangs up, and Damian stands there, staring at the phone, until Jason bursts into the room.

“Dami, I need those diapers now. Asia’s not gonna—are you okay? What happened?”

“My grandpa called.”

-

Cassandra glares down at the instruction manual. She’s sure she would be a good driver, if Bruce would just let her try. Better than Damian, who broke the side mirror backing out of the garage last week. But no. She has to learn to read and write. Then she has to read a book. Then she has to memorize a book. Then she has to take a written test about the book, and if she passes the test, then she can drive.

“Okay,” Stephanie says. “So you know the street signs when you see them, right? Stop, yield, green light?”

“I know stop signs.”

“Great. So we just have to match symbols with words. Halfway there. We’ll make flashcards. And you’re fine with numbers, so speed limits aren’t a problem. It’s not that bad, Cass. Really.”

“Okay.”

“Don’t see why Mr. Wayne couldn’t just give you a license, as long as he was forging paperwork.”

Cass shrugs.

“Whatever. Come on, Duke and Tim are waiting for us at the library.”

-

Talia roams the hallways, searching for children. Her own two are wonderful, if stressful; she’s not entirely certain how she feels about being a sort-of parent to the other four. The other five, soon.

She’s the only adult in the house tonight. Alfred took the evening off, Bruce is being Batman, and Selina is visiting old friends, which may or may not be code for doing crime. It’s really none of Talia’s business.

Cassandra is out with friends. Tim isn't in the cave, as he usually is at this time of night; Talia is choosing to assume he’s also out with friends, so she doesn’t have to worry about it. Jason is in the nursery with Athanasia; he’s better with the baby than anyone else, Talia and Alfred included, as long as he isn't having a particularly terrible day and she isn't screaming at him.

She just has to find Dick and Damian, and then she can go to bed.

She knows Damian spoke with her father for the first time today. She doesn’t know how he feels about that—he’s been evasive all afternoon. If he’s upset, he’ll most likely be with Dick.

Dick is more human than not, and a sweet boy. She knows this. But he still makes her uneasy sometimes. He makes her uneasy now, when she lifts the dust ruffle from the edge of his bed and sees his glowing eyes.

“Hi, Talia,” he says, and she forces herself to relax. He won’t be happy if she turns on the lights, so she sits there for a moment, waiting for her eyes to adjust. That Dick has built a nest under his bed is surprising only in that he hasn’t built it in the chandelier.

Though she’s heard Alfred scold him before for bringing his blankets into the chandelier—he says it’s a fire hazard.

“Have you been sleeping down here?” she asks him.

Dick nods. “It’s safer. No one else can fit.”

He’s been having nightmares again, then. She’ll have to tell Bruce.

“Is that the wrapping paper from Christmas?” she asks.

“No, Christmas is in that corner, by Jay’s cat. This is Hanukkah paper.”

Talia sighs. Bruce has a budding hoarder on his hands. She hadn’t even known he was Jewish until this winter—he only celebrates when Kate is in town. “Have you seen Damian, Dickie?”

“He’s on the roof with Tim.”

“Thank you.” She starts to stand.

“Talia?”

“Yes, Dick?”

“Can I come with you?”

“If you like.”

Dick grabs her hand, and they walk together toward Tim’s room, which has the best roof access. (That’s probably why he chose it.)

-

Dick leans in closer to Tim. It’s a little cold on the roof, but not too bad, and Tim is hugging him to keep him warm. Tim is a good brother, but Dick still wishes he brought a blanket.

Damian and Talia are sitting a few feet away, talking. Dick is trying not to hear them, because eavesdropping is rude, but it’s not his fault his ears are strong. It’s the Owls’ fault.

They’re talking about Damian’s grandpa. Damian says he doesn’t seem that bad, but he didn’t seem that bad right before he killed the people taking care of Damian when he was little, either.

Dick stands and grabs Tim’s hand, pulling him toward the window. He doesn’t want to think about grandpas that kill people.

Chapter Text

Roy is pretty sure he believes Ollie about this being an alternate universe. That, or he’s having a really, really weird trip.

But no, he’s sober. Super sober. It’s weird, and he’s not sure how he feels about it.

He’s been here for a few weeks, he thinks. Not in his room. He went and looked at it in the middle of the night once, and it was empty. He doesn’t think Oliver would have even gone to the trouble of throwing out his stuff, the way they left things, so he must be telling the truth.

There are things Roy misses, but he wasn’t ever going home to get them, anyway.

He hasn’t been out much, hasn’t really talked to anyone but Ollie and Dinah. Mostly Dinah—he’s not in the mood to deal with Oliver’s bullshit. Just because he hasn’t seen it in this version doesn’t mean it’s not there. But today Dick is coming.

Only it’s not Dick. Apparently, “I want to see Robin” wasn’t specific enough.

Not-Dick sits on the edge of Roy’s bed—he hasn’t ventured much into the rest of the house yet.

“Do you know who I am?” he asks Roy.

“New Robin. Dick’s baby brother.” He can’t remember the name. It’s been years.

“Way older than I should be, right? Look, I know I’m not what you meant when you asked for Robin. But the Dick Grayson in this universe—actually there are two Dick Graysons in this universe. One is an acrobat civilian who’s currently in Europe with his circus, the other is a zombie child, and neither one has any idea who you are. Sorry.”

It hadn’t really occurred to Roy that his friends wouldn’t know him. He thought they’d know another version of him, at least. He’d thought Oliver was keeping him here because he sucks, not because there was no one else who cared about him.

The idea that Oliver, of all people, might be the only one in this universe who cares about him is pretty terrifying.

“So you’re the first Robin here?” he asks. That name came from Dick’s mom—he doesn’t see how there could be a Robin without him.

“Nah. No one is Robin here. There’s never been a child hero in this world. Except for Billy, but, um. We don’t talk about that. The adults don’t seem to know. I’m from an alternate universe, too. So is zombie Dick, and all our other siblings. I was Robin, in my world. That…ended badly.”

“Badly how?” Roy asks, hoping for some common ground with the first new person he’s met in this universe. He doesn’t ask who Billy is.

“I was literally murdered, I somehow came back to life but with severe brain damage, my dad killed the Joker while I was dead, and then he got killed in an Arkham riot.”

“Oh.”

-

Jason isn't the greatest with people. It makes sense for him to be the first person to meet Roy. Rescuing him was Jay’s idea, they’re about the same age, and he has a fair amount of experience with heroin addicts. But he hasn’t really had friends his age since he was twelve, when Bruce adopted him and suddenly he was too fancy for everyone he grew up with, and not fancy enough for everyone else. He does okay with his siblings, but he has no idea what to say to Roy.

Roy who is, bizarrely, several months younger than him now. And who, as usual, wants Dick, not his kid brother. But Jason’s not anyone’s kid brother anymore, except for Cass, so they’re just going to have to figure this out.

It’s half an hour before he realizes Roy doesn’t know his name. He’s saved from the awkwardness of trying to bring it up now by Dinah, knocking on the open door before she asks, “Jason, are you staying for lunch?”

He shakes his head. “I’m supposed to meet Leslie at the clinic at one—Alfie’s taking me. Should probably head out. Roy, tell Ollie to call Bruce if you—” If you what? Want to awkwardly hang out with nothing to talk about? “Yeah. Um. Bye.”

-

Selina looks up at Tim when he walks into the room, then glances over at the clock. That’s odd—it’s prime patrol time, and usually he has to be dragged kicking and screaming from the cave when Batman is out.

“Joker’s downtown,” he tells her.

Tim’s not allowed in the cave when the Joker is loose, but it’s unlike him to stand down so easily. He must be more afraid of the Joker than he’ll admit. He sits down on the couch—the opposite end of the couch, as far away as possible while still sharing space—and Selina waits patiently to see what he’ll do next. Tim is the only one of Bruce’s children she’s never touched, aside from a very professional handshake at the party where they met. She’s been living here for four months now, which has been plenty of time to develop casually affectionate relationships with all the others.

He reminds her of a particularly anxious stray cat she took in once, early in her career. For the first six months, the cat wouldn’t let Selina within three feet. But she always wanted to be in the same room as her any time Selina was home.

Tim is skittish. But he wants attention. Badly. He doesn’t like being alone.

“I miss being Robin,” he says after several minutes.

“I miss being Catwoman,” Selina says. “But after this baby is born, and after Bruce and I work some things out, I can go back to it.”

“If you’re trying to say I can go back to being Robin someday, you are Bruce are clearly not on the same page.”

“I love Bruce, but sometimes we’re not even in the same book.” Like right now. She was mad at him for running off to patrol in the middle of a fight, but if the Joker is out she probably can’t hold it against him. “Tim, you were really sick for a long time. You’re still recovering. You’ll probably be recovering for years. But you’re really young. You don’t need to give up on what you want just because it’s not attainable any time soon. But you also aren’t doing yourself any favors obsessing over it right now.”

Tim doesn’t answer. Selina wants to turn on the news, make sure Bruce and Kate are holding their own, but Tim came up here to avoid the Joker. She switches to a random sitcom instead. The next time she looks over at Tim, he’s sitting at the center of the couch instead of the far edge.

-

Roy waits until the house is dead quiet to make his way downstairs. He sets up the Playstation, turning the volume way down, then goes to explore the fridge. Most of his activities outside the bedroom occur in the middle of the night—he can’t take Dinah and Oliver staring at him. They’re constantly hovering any time he emerges, and he isn't sure yet if it’s because they’re afraid he’ll cause trouble or just because they have no idea what to do with a teenager.

It’s so weird here. Just little things—like clearly Ollie never had that fling with that interior designer when Roy was fourteen, because all the end tables and paintings and crap are different. There’s not really a place for Roy in this house, and Dinah’s clearly been living here for years, even if they are still getting wedding presents sent to the house occasionally. They were just starting to get serious when Roy got thrown out. Oliver works different hours and wears differently cut suits and talks about Bruce Wayne like he’s a close friend, and Roy doesn’t know how to deal with any of this. He talks to Roy like he did the first few weeks after Brave Bow died, when he had no idea how to handle a mourning kid and was terrified of hurting him. He doesn’t treat him like a junkie or a constant disappointment, or even like an unexpected responsibility dumped on him by Batman in his first few months or marriage. And Roy doesn’t know what to do with that.

He could leave. He’s eighteen—he doesn’t have to be anywhere he doesn’t want to be. But where else would he go? This is a completely unfamiliar universe. And he’s clean for the first time in years; he’s not totally sure how he feels about that but he knows he can’t afford to waste it. He had to go through fucking withdrawal with Ollie Queen watching, again, so he’s going to make his time sober count. Just as soon as he figures out how.

For now, he’ll stick to avoiding Ollie and Dinah, and getting his food and entertainment in while they sleep.

Chapter Text

Bruce was really, really hoping Selina would be asleep when he got home. He should have known better, of course. She’s waiting for him on the couch, Tim asleep beside her, closer than he’d ever get awake. Maybe a sleeping kid will be enough to postpone continuing the argument, but probably not. He’s already recaptured the Joker—isn't that enough fighting for one night?

“I’m inviting them,” Selina says immediately, quiet enough not to disturb Tim.

“We can’t have criminals at our baby shower.”

“Well, who else are we having? The society snobs we both hate?”

“Talia and Kate will be there. Probably Renee.”

“Right. Your ex-girlfriend who lives with us. Your cousin. Your cousin’s girlfriend. What about my friends, Bruce?”

All of those people are also Selina’s friends, but he doubts pointing that out would go over well. “Don’t you have a sister?” This whisper-fight is harder on his throat than the Batman voice.

“Sure, my sister the nun. I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to celebrate how I’m living in sin.”

“You’re not inviting her?”

“Of course I’m inviting her,” she hisses. “That’s not the point, Bruce. I want to have my friends at my baby shower.”

Tim shifts in his sleep, and they both turn to look at him, pausing the argument until it’s clear he’s not waking up.

“And what about Tim? You know what he’s been through with Harley and Ivy. I’m not exposing him to any version of those women again.”

“Well, why do we need teenage boys at a baby shower? Can’t he stay with his boyfriend for the day? Can’t this just be something for us and our friends?”

“Your friends are in prison, Selina.”

“We could—”

She’s interrupted by Athanasia’s cries on the baby monitor. Bruce turns immediately toward the door, intending to get the baby before she wakes Talia.

“I’ll get her,” Selina says. “Put Tim to bed. We’ll finish this in the morning.”

-

Oliver looks across the breakfast table at Roy, noting how the boy stiffens as soon as he realizes he’s being watched. He glances away again quickly. Dinah is gone this morning, dealing with something for the Justice League, which makes everything even more awkward than usual.

He thinks Bruce’s impulsiveness must be contagious. He doesn’t regret taking Roy in, but he should have taken the time to prepare first. He has no idea what to do with a recovering teenage drug addict.

And it doesn’t help that Roy hates him. He doesn’t seem to like either of them, but it’s better with Dinah. He treats her like a stranger he doesn’t want to get to know. He’s actively antagonistic toward Oliver. He avoids both of them as much as possible, picking at food and never making eye contact during meals, spending the rest of his time alone in his room. Oliver would worry more, but he frequently finds things missing from the fridge in the mornings, so at least the kid’s eating. In the middle of the night, apparently.

He hasn’t run away yet, and he hasn’t tried to get more drugs, so that’s something. Oliver risks looking up again—he’s pushing the eggs around on his plate. In another minute or two he’ll take his dishes to the sink and head back upstairs, and Oliver won’t see him until it’s time to talk him into coming down for lunch.

It shouldn’t be this hard. He knows this kid, or a version of him—he’s been checking up on his world’s Roy Harper every few months for fifteen years.

“I have an archery range in the backyard,” he says, just as Roy begins to stand up.

He sits down again, slowly. “I know, Ollie. You’re Green Arrow.”

“I just thought you might like to—I figure it’s been a while since you held a bow.”

Roy smiles for the first time since Ollie’s met him. “Yeah. Yeah, that’d be cool.”

-

Alfred looks down at the sleeping baby. It still astounds him, how small she is. He has no younger siblings, no nieces or nephews, and Bruce was already four when he joined the Wayne household. Athanasia is the first infant he’s ever dealt with.

Bruce is at work for once. Talia, Selina, Kate, and Cassandra have all gone shopping together, a frankly terrifying combination that may well end in bloodshed. This leaves Alfred as the only adult at home for the first time in several weeks.

Athanasia will likely be waking soon, which is problematic as Dick and Jason are both having bad days, both sticking close to him, and both distressed by crying babies.

Dick, in particular, has had a long string of bad days. They aren’t sure why.

“Dick,” he tries, “why don’t you go downstairs and find Tim and Damian?”

He shakes his head. “Wanna stay with you.”

He leans over the edge of the crib, much too close to the baby, jerking back when she suddenly begins to cry. Jason flinches. Alfred isn't sure where his noise-cancelling cowl is—he hasn’t seen it in weeks.

He picks up the baby, trying in vain to comfort her. The other children are perfectly happy to accept Alfred’s care in the place of their parents; Athanasia is not. He carries her downstairs, still crying, and the boys trail unhappily after.

Tim is in the parlor; he stands to leave as soon as they enter the room. He’s uncomfortable being near Athanasia, a problem Alfred suspects is similar to his discomfort with the rest of the family in the early days. His irrational fear that he poses some sort of threat to his baby sister will need to be addressed, but not by Alfred, and not today.

“Tim,” he says, tilting his head toward the other two boys when he looks up. Tim nods.

“Hey, Jay, you wanna come help me find Damian? I think he has your cat.”

Jason peels away from Alfred. If he was a little more present today, he would pick up Dick and bring him along, but Jason is the only one of the children who can carry Dick still. Tim can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do, and he doesn’t want to leave Alfred today.

“Why is she crying?” Dick asks, following Alfred into the kitchen.

“I don’t know, Dick.” He searches the refrigerator for her things. “Maybe she’s hungry.”

“Do you think she misses her parents?”

“Maybe,” Alfred says, shifting Athanasia to his other arm so he can prepare her bottle. “Do you miss your parents?”

Dick nods. “I didn’t used to. I didn’t remember them.”

It’s been a long time since Dick started remembering his pre-Talon life, so Alfred isn't sure what’s sparked this current bout of sadness. “Would you like to hold your sister?” he asks.

“Yes, please.”

“All right. Sit down first.”

Chapter Text

Tim looks up from Bruce’s computer when he hears someone enter the cave, but it’s only Dick. Dick won’t tell on him for tracking a serial killer instead of doing his history homework. He doesn’t go for the rafters, though, which is unusual—Dick only comes into the cave by himself if he wants to climb.

He minimizes a photo of the latest victim. “Hey, Dickie. What’s up?”

“Billy’s getting adopted,” Dick says.

“Okay.”

“And he’s having a party and I’m invited but I can’t go because Bruce can’t know about Captain Marvel.”

“I’ll figure out a way to get you there,” Tim says. “Ask Billy if it’s okay to bring Damian.” Bruce isn't going to know about this, but if he did, he would flip out over Dick being supervised exclusively by adults he’s never met. Dami’s the best to send—he’s the closest to the right age range to also be Billy’s friend.

“Okay,” Dick says. “Hey, Tim?”

“Yeah?”

“Did I get adopted?”

Dick was really, really confused when he first got here. He almost never understood what was happening. So even though he remembers everything that happened, sometimes he has no idea what it meant. Tim gives up on his serial killer case for now, spinning his chair to face Dick fully. Dick climbs up onto the chair, where there really isn't room for him.

“Remember right before Christmas? The first Christmas?”

Dick frowns. Right—he hadn’t had any understand of Christmas back then, either. He’ll just need a little help to make the connection.

“You got your sunglasses and your first heavy blanket? And there was a tree just like this year? I was upstairs, even though I still lived in my cage then?”

He nods.

“Okay. That was Christmas. And right before that, Bruce took you into the city to meet some people, and you had to wear a lot of makeup, and Bruce and Alfred made you practice what to say first?”

“That was getting adopted?”

“That was getting adopted,” Tim confirms.

“That’s why I’m Dick Wayne instead of Talon?”

Technically that’s why he’s Dick Wayne instead of Dick Grayson, but saying “Grayson” still makes him panic sometimes, so that’s not worth getting into.

“Billy is still going to be Billy Batson after he gets adopted.”

“We had to change our names because other people in this world already had those names. Jason didn’t have to go from Jason Todd to Jason Wayne, but he wanted to.”

“Okay,” Dick says.

Tim checks the time on the computer. “Kon’s going to pick me up in half an hour and take me to Smallville. Do you want to come?”

“Will Mr. and Mrs. Kent be there?”

“They live there, Dickie.”

“And the cows?”

“And the cows.”

“Okay. Can Dami come?”

Tim doesn’t answer right away. His afternoon with his boyfriend is spiraling out of control a little. But Jason’s at therapy right now, and Cassandra is next door with Duke and the other Tim—he thinks they’re helping her study for her permit test. So it’s not like Dick can ask to bring anyone else—Talia would totally freak if they flew Athanasia to some farm. Or zeta-tubed her. And if he has both little brothers along, they’ll keep each other—and probably the Kents—busy, and he can just hang with Kon.

“Ask Bruce. And tell Dami to remember the rule about the cows.”

“No cows in the manor ever no matter what,” Dick recites, and then he runs up the stairs.

-

Roy pushes the food around on his plate for exactly five minutes, then stands, drops his dishes in the sink with unnecessary violence, and disappears up the stairs. He hasn’t said a word to anyone.

Oliver sighs deeply.

“All right,” Dinah says. “What happened?” It would be bit of a stretch to say they’d been getting along over the last few days, but they’d certainly been getting along better.

Oliver sighs again. “This morning he asked if Jason could come over again. So I called Bruce. Bruce said no—Jason’s having a bad day. And Roy—didn’t believe me? I guess? He was so suspicious when I wouldn’t put Jason on the phone. But Jason’s not talking today. I couldn’t put him on the phone.”

“Did you explain that to him?”

“I tried, a little. But they only met a week ago, Di. Jason’s issues aren’t really any of Roy’s business.”

“Do you want me to try talking to him?”

“Please.”

Roy’s in his room, reading a magazine she doubts he’s genuinely interested in. He doesn’t look up when she lets herself in.

“So you’re pissed at Oliver,” she says.

He flips a page, still not looking at her. “That’s sort of my natural state of being.”

“Uh huh. So you think, what? He’s lying about Jay not being able to come to the phone? Bruce is lying about Jay not being able to come to the phone? Ollie is lying about calling Bruce in the first place?”

Roy shrugs. “I know I’m a bad influence or whatever. And Batman’s always disapproved of me.”

“Your world’s Batman disapproved of you, Roy. Bruce has only met you once, and that was when we went to get you. It was his idea.” Roy finally looks up from his magazine. “Well, technically it was Jason’s idea, but Bruce is currently expecting kid number seven, so he asked if we’d be interested.”

“Oh.”

“We went to a lot of trouble to get you here. Because we want you here, Roy. Okay? No one here is out to get you. And Jason was sick today, but we’ll invite him over some other time. We like Jason, and Bruce wants him to have more friends.”

“Friends like me?”

“One of his siblings came from Arkham, two came from terrorist organizations, and one was on the run from Interpol when Bruce found her. I think you’re fine. Now will you get over yourself and come back down for dessert?”

Chapter Text

“Okay,” Cassandra says, handing Damian a wrapped box. “Be nice. Don’t talk about Bruce. Remember you are in the city with me. The park without the clowns.”

Damian is really glad that Cass took over from Tim on planning for the adoption party. Tim would not have remembered about a present for Billy.

It’s about three blocks from where the zeta tube drops them off to Billy’s house, and Damian spends the walk getting more and more nervous. He’s never been officially in charge before—one of their other, older siblings is always around. He rings the doorbell and introduces himself and Dick to Billy’s new parents. There are way too many people in this house, and Dick disappears into the crowd almost immediately.

Damian reminds himself that he’s here so they all feel less guilty about lying to Father, not because Dick is actually in danger at a children’s party in the suburbs. Except for maybe in danger of forgetting his fake last name and having to explain to Billy’s family what Bruce Wayne’s kid is doing in Fawcett City. He gets himself a piece of cake and goes to stand in the corner with the fewest people. It’s still too crowded, but it’s nice to have his back against the wall, even though he knows no one is going to stab him here.

-

Jason sits on the porch for a while, talking to Dinah, before he goes inside to see Roy. He doesn’t really know why Roy would want to see him again, but he’s afraid it won’t take very long, and he wants to be away from home for a while.

Dick and Dami are at Billy Batson’s adoption party, and Cass is somewhere in Gotham, probably with Stephanie, pretending to be taking Dick and Damian somewhere. It’s Tim’s job to keep Bruce occupied so he doesn’t get suspicious about anything.

Sometimes Tim isn't good at just admitting that he wants to hang out with his dad, so the rest of them have to come up with reasons why he needs to. If Jason wears out his welcome with Roy after half an hour, it’ll ruin Tim’s day with Bruce.

Also, Jason’s head still feels a little weird today, and talking to Dinah is good for that. Eventually Oliver calls from work though, and she makes him go upstairs to see Roy.

-

It’s a disaster. Everything is a disaster. Roy has only met one non-Oliver-and-Dinah person, one potential friend, since Oliver—rescued him? Kidnapped him? He really isn't sure. Since Oliver brought him here. And he’s definitely not going to meet him again, and also Batman might kill him. Batman doesn’t kill, but he might make an exception for Roy.

Roy’s been trying hard since the last time he came over to remember everything he could about his brief interactions with the Jason in his world. The Jason that was his Dick’s little brother had been around for about two months before shit got really bad. The only times during those two months that Dick didn’t call him Jaybird were when he was generally mad he existed, so Roy just figured Jaybird was, like, what you called him.

Except that when Roy calls this Jason Jaybird, he sort of looks like he’s about to start crying. So Roy has to change the subject. Fast. He says the first thing he can think of. Which is “So why do you have your first initial carved into your cheek?”

“The J stands for Joker, actually.”

“Oh.” Shit.

And then Jason does start crying, suddenly and quietly, and Roy. Just. Doesn’t know what to do? Batman is going to kill him. Batman is so going to kill him.

And he totally deserves to be killed by Batman, because he made Dick’s brother cry.

Fuck.

“Sorry,” Jason says after a minute. “Sorry, I—um.”

And Jason should definitely not be the one apologizing in this situation.

“I shouldn’t have asked,” Roy says, quickly. “Sorry, it wasn’t—I didn’t—sorry. Do you wanna go home?”

Jason shakes his head. “Can’t. It’s Tim’s day with Bruce. I’ll ruin it if I get back too soon.”

“Tim’s your brother?” Roy asks. That seems safer than his last subject change. And he didn’t actually say he didn’t want to go home. Just that he couldn’t.

“Yeah.” Jason looks a little less upset now, and his voice is a little less shaky. “The next youngest. Sort of? Our ages are pretty fucked up. Like, technically I’m turning nineteen in a couple weeks, but the last birthday I actually remember is fifteen.”

And Dick’s kid brother is older than him here. Great. Also, he’s totally not touching the fucked up ages after he asked about the scar—that sounds like another big trauma thing. “How many siblings do you have?”

“Three brothers, three sisters—well, three sisters soon. Bruce’s girlfriend is pregnant. I only had Dick before. And, well, he’s a lot different now. It’s—it’s weird. You kind of forget, sometimes. That you’re in a whole different universe. And then—it’s little stuff, you know? Like when I woke up here, Bruce kept calling me Jason. He only ever called me that when I was in trouble, before. He had, like, twenty different nicknames for me, and it just—he usually calls me Jay now. Here. No one’s called me Jaybird since—since before.”

“Sorry,” Roy says, again. It’s been a while—he is really not excelling at this whole making friends thing. But Jason seems pretty okay now, actually. Rambling, a little nervous maybe? Or embarrassed? But okay. Maybe Batman won’t kill him.

“It’s fine. It’s—I missed it.”

Dinah appears in the hallway, knocking on the door frame, before Roy can answer. He can’t quite decide if he wishes she’d checked up on them twenty minutes ago, or if he’s really glad she didn’t. “You boys doing all right?”

“Fine, Di,” Jason says. “Thanks.”

She glances over at Roy; he nods, and she leaves again. Which was a lot easier than he expected—Jason still looks a little like he was crying recently. Maybe she’ll question him about it later. For now, he asks Jason more questions about this world’s version of the Bat family, since that seems like a pretty safe subject.

Batman probably isn't going to kill him. Maybe he’ll even let Jason come over again.

-

Dick says goodbye to Billy, and to Freddie, who he met once before because he knows about Captain Marvel, and to a few other people he met today. They haven’t been here for very long, but he thinks Damian needs to go home now.

Damian doesn’t like crowds. Neither does Jason. Tim is okay with being in crowds as long as he doesn’t have to talk to the other people in the crowd. Dami is in charge of Dick today, but Dick has to make sure Dami is okay, too. And Dami is standing in a corner with an empty plate and he’s holding his plastic fork too tight, so probably they should leave.

They’ve probably been here for long enough for Tim to have time with Bruce.

When they get to the zeta tube Damian texts Cass so they can figure out how to get home together. Then they wait—Cass doesn’t read very fast. Dick doesn’t either—that’s why Dami does the texting.

-

“Are you going to talk to your grandpa again?” Dick asks while they wait at the zeta tube.

Damian shrugs. “I don’t know yet. Mother says he’s nice. But she also says I don’t have to.”

“My grandpa killed me,” he says casually.

“What?”

“Or maybe he was my uncle?” he adds, like that’s the important part of what he’s just said.

“Dickie. He—he killed you?”

“Uh huh. It was usually him. Sometimes other people.”

“Does Father know about this?”

“I dunno.”

Damian remembers watching Dick slice his arm open in the first few weeks he was here, remembers watching it stitch itself up again. Sometimes other people. Sometimes other people killed him? This is—this is bad. This is way beyond what Damian is qualified to deal with. And Dick looks exactly like he always looks, wearing a coat most people would be too hot in, swinging his arms a little because he can never hold still. Completely unconcerned.

“All right. When’s your next therapy appointment?”

“Friday,” Dick says.

Today is Saturday. “We need to talk to Father. Now.”

Chapter Text

“What was his name, Dick?” Bruce asks.

Dick tilts his head, thinking. “Talon?”

Bruce sighs. It was a really nice day until Dick and Damian came home and unearthed new Talon trauma—four hours alone with Tim, and Bruce had managed to keep him from doing anything Batman-related the whole time. They’d gone out onto the grounds to take pictures.

Tim walks in just then, camera still swinging from his neck. “What’s up?”

Bruce never did get around to reading the Talon files as thoroughly as he’s planned—Tim did. “Do you know anything about a relative of Dick’s that killed him?”

“Yeah. William Cobb, I think. Great-grandpa or something.”

“He killed him,” Bruce says again. Dick is sitting in his chair, swinging his legs. He doesn’t seem upset—apparently this only came up because he was trying to sympathize with Damian about unpleasant relatives.

“Yeah?” Tim says. “Bruce, you know about his healing factor. We’ve seen it in action.”

“I knew he had a healing factor. I didn’t know he’d actually been murdered and brought back.”

“Mostly only at the beginning,” Dick says. “Before I really knew how to be a Talon.”

“How many times, Dickie?”

“Um. At least thirty? I used to try to count, but it was too hard. Everything was too hard.”

He begins to look bothered for the first time since coming home, and Bruce picks him up. “All right, Dickie. We don’t have to talk about it right now.” He looks around the room. “Weren’t you out with Cassandra? Where is she?”

The three boys glance back and forth at each other. Damian swears quietly in Arabic. “We weren’t actually with Cassandra,” he says. “We went to a party in Fawcett City.”

“Fawcett City? Who do you know in Fawcett City?”

They don’t answer.

“Well?”

“Captain Marvel,” Dick says.

“And why were you at a party with Captain Marvel?”

Dick and Damian both look to Tim. He doesn’t answer right away, probably trying to think of a lie, but apparently he can’t come up with anything. “Because he’s actually twelve.”

“All right.” There is nothing all right about this. Cass knows, clearly, because she lied to Bruce about the plan for the day. There’s no way Jason doesn’t know, too. Bruce sets Dick down. “This entire family is grounded. Dick, Damian, upstairs. Tim, explain.”

-

“Captain Marvel is a twelve year old,” Kate repeats, incredulous.

Bruce nods. It’s a slow night; they’re sitting on top of a building in Crime Alley, waiting for something to happen.

“He does not look twelve.”

“Magic,” Bruce says.

“And the kids have kept it a secret for all this time?”

The police scanner comes to life before he can answer—robbery three blocks south.

“Dibs,” Kate says. She’s back twenty minutes later. “So how long did you ground them for?”

“Just until Jay’s birthday.”

“That’s less than a week, Bruce!”

“So?”

“So, if six days of grounding is your idea of a good punishment for maybe a year of lying to you, the babies are going to grow up so spoiled.”

Bruce shrugs. “It’s fine. They were just trying to protect their friend.”

“And you never had any idea. I guess you can’t be the world’s greatest detective and the world’s greatest dad.”

“I’m definitely not the world’s greatest dad.”

“Maybe not, but you’re prioritizing dadding over detectiving—that must be worth something.”

“I suppose.” He stands for a better view of the street below. It looks like a mugging—before he can interfere the woman knees the mugger in the groin, takes back her purse, and runs. Bruce sits back down. “I told the rest of the League. We talked about it a little, but Captain Marvel’s been part of the Justice League for two or three years now—they can’t just make him stop.”

“Is Tim using this to push for Robin again? Now that the secret’s out?”

“Not yet. Is Renee still mad?”

Kate grimaces. “We’re…talking.” Telling her girlfriend that she was Batwoman had not gone well.

“The kids all like her,” Bruce says. “If you wanted to convince her to come to Jay’s party with you.”

“Isn’t that a little manipulative?”

“And waiting until you’d dated for a year to tell her your secret identity wasn’t?”

Kate sighs. “I’ll invite her.”

-

Damian waits until the middle of the night. He tells himself that this is because of the time difference, not because of the grounding. But he doesn’t really believe himself.

Last time Damian was in trouble, it had been…painful. The grounding isn’t bad. And he understands why Father is upset. He feels bad about violating the rules of the grounding, which include no phone use. But he’s been thinking about this for days, and he’s afraid that if he waits he’ll lose his courage.

Alfred is downstairs. Mother is out impersonating Catwoman—she goes out in the costume for about half an hour once a week, to make sure no one makes the connection between Catwoman disappearing and Selina Kyle being pregnant. She complains about it, but Damian doesn’t think she really minds—if she did she wouldn’t do it.

There isn’t room for a cell phone in the cat suit. Alfred won’t come upstairs unless he hears Athanasia on the baby monitor, and she’s sound asleep. Now is the perfect time.

Ra’s al Ghul is number one on his mother’s speed dial. The phone rings three times, and then there’s his grandfather’s voice, saying, “Talia? Are you all right? It must be 2am there.”

“Grandfather.”

“Damian,” he says. It’s the pleased, surprised tone he used to use when Damian had been especially efficient or vicious in an assassination. “Is something wrong?”

“No. I, um. I wanted to talk to you. Sir.”

“At two in the morning.”

“Yes.”

“I see.” There’s a short pause—having accomplished his mission of calling, Damian is unsure how to actually maintain a conversation. “I believe your mother said you were grounded?”

Oh. Oh no. Of course Mother would have told him—why didn’t Damian think of that? Now Grandfather will tell Father he disobeyed, and—

And everything will be fine. Damian takes a deep breath and tries to relax. It doesn’t matter what Grandfather tells Father, because Father, not Grandfather, is still the one in charge. The worst thing that might happen is he’ll be grounded for longer than his siblings.

“Damian? Are you still there?”

“Yes, Grandfather.”

“Good. I suppose I wouldn’t be much of a super villain if I didn’t at least encourage Batman’s children to misbehave on occasion.”

-

Roy finishes his lunch quickly, resisting the temptation to flee as soon as he’s done. He really doesn’t want to spend any more time with Oliver. He really, really doesn’t want to ask him for anything. But Dinah’s at work, so he doesn’t have much choice.

“Ollie.”

He looks up, surprised; usually Roy goes out of his way to avoid conversation. “What’s up?”

“I need to go shopping.”

“Shopping,” Oliver repeats.

“Yeah. Um. I have one friend in this entire universe, apparently, and his birthday is tomorrow.”

Roy doesn’t know what Ollie’s so happy about, but he seems really enthusiastic about the whole shopping thing. Roy just tries to keep ignoring him while they drive to the mall. He’s not sure Ollie would trust him to go out on his own anyway, but since he doesn’t have a driver’s license in this universe, it’s sort of a moot point. At least Ollie’s music taste doesn’t totally suck, and he’s smart enough to shut up and let Roy think.

He’s only met Jason twice, spent maybe a total of three or four hours with him. Honestly he’s not quite sure if he likes him as much as he thinks he does, or if it’s just such a relief to be around someone other than Oliver and Dinah. He definitely doesn’t know him well enough to know what kind of present to get. But Dinah mentioned something about a party this morning, and birthday parties usually require presents. Plus the other day Roy accidentally brought up a bunch of traumatic shit and made him cry, so probably he owes him or something.

It’s weird, being in Star City again. It’s especially weird knowing this Star City is ten years in the future from the one he left. He’s busy enough taking stock of the changes that he manages not to think about Oliver until he’s suddenly being dragged into conversation by some unfamiliar woman asking, “And who is this young man?” in almost exactly the same tone everyone used to use when he was a kid, and Ollie and Star City were new for the first time.

“This is Dinah’s cousin Roy,” Ollie lies smoothly. “He’s staying with us for a while.”

“Dinah’s cousin?” Roy asks when the woman leaves.

“Well, you’re too old to be a ward, and I figured you wouldn’t want to be related to me.”

“Yeah, good call.”

Oliver is, Roy admits reluctantly to himself about twenty minutes later, remarkably patient. He’s been ignoring him or brushing him off any time he isn’t outright hostile, and Ollie is still jogging to keep up with him, apparently in a good mood.

“Dinah would really be better for this,” he says. “She’s spent more time with Jason. I know he’s got a pet cat no one seems to know the name of—pretty little thing, all the kids love her. Um. He reads a lot. He’s the only one of the kids who consistently calls Bruce dad. He likes Wonder Woman—Diana thinks he’s adorable.”

Roy resists the urge to say something sarcastic. Oliver is only trying to help. Trying to help seems to be all this Oliver ever does. It’s unnerving.

-

Bruce trips over a mass of fur in the dark at the top of the stairs. Swearing quietly, he bends down to check that the dog is all right; Ace whines and stands up, walking away. It’s been a brutal night for Batman, and it’s very late. Ace sleeps in Dick’s room every night, but not until all the other residents of the house are where he feels they ought to be. Titus will have been in bed with Damian hours ago.

He finds Cassandra on the couch; she wakes up as soon as he touches her shoulder.

“Cassie, honey, why are you sleeping on the couch?”

She sits up, yawning. “Mushroom had babies in my bed.”

“Mushroom? Is that one of Selina’s cats?” She brought at least half a dozen with her when she moved in—Bruce can’t even begin to keep track. It’s hard enough, keeping up with all the humans in the house. He can tell Jason’s cat from the rest, but anything else is beyond him.

Cass nods.

“All right, come back upstairs. We’ll make up a bed for you in one of the spare rooms for now.”

“You know how to make a bed?”

“I’m sure between the two of us we can work it out.”

Chapter Text

Talia collects the baby from Jason, then reaches out absently to straighten his collar. She catches herself halfway through and takes a step back, feeling awkward.

Jason smiles at her. “Naptime?”

Talia nods—if she doesn’t get Athanasia upstairs now, before guests arrive, she’ll spend the next several hours being passed constantly from person to person.

“Okay. Bye, Asia.”

She’s too late; Alfred is just letting Kate and Renee in when she comes through the hall. They both look tense—evidently the Batwoman issue has not yet been resolved.

“Oh!” Renee says. “Is that the baby? I haven’t seen her yet.”

Kate looks pleadingly over at Talia, and she sighs, resigning herself to more human interaction before naptime. “Would you like to hold her?” she asks Renee.

-

Jason glances around the crowded room. Bruce wanted him to have a party since he’s missed milestone birthdays—dead for sixteen, catatonic for eighteen. It’s kind of nice, but it’s also kind of too much. At least everyone Jason knows—everyone at the party—knows about Batman and the multiverse. (Well, Renee might not know about the multiverse yet.) Dick had a few gymnastics friends over a couple weeks ago, and that had been stressful for everyone. So many secrets to hide.

Kate and Renee are here, and Leslie, Diana, and Dinah. Dinah apologized about Roy being in a mood and not wanting to come—Jason is still trying to figure out how to explain to everyone that as weird as the multiverse stuff is in general, it’s different for him and Roy and Tim. Being lost and alone for long, and finally getting to come home, except you also haven’t come home at all, and you’ll never come home again. Dick and Cass and Dami got to start over in this world—they didn’t have that luxury, and it’s sort of hard to stop being in a bad mood about it.

Kon is here, and Vic, Steph, and Duke. After a moment of consideration, Jason sits on the couch near Duke. “So did your Tim actually have something going on today, or did he just not want to make things weird with our Tim?”

“Mostly the second one,” Duke admits.

They both look over at the Tim who’s here; he’s sitting on a cabinet Alfred definitely doesn’t want him sitting on, leaning close to Kon, laughing. He wouldn’t be having this much fun if the other Tim was here—seeing himself always makes him uncomfortable.

“They’re dating, right?” Duke asks.

“That’s what they call it.”

“Yeah, that’s a Tim thing. Drove Steph nuts when we were kids. She thought he just didn’t actually like her.”

There’s a slight commotion at the door—Clark is here, and he picked up Billy on the way. There are advantages, apparently, to the secret being out.

“So how old are you?” Duke asks, when Dick and Billy have run off, and Clark is talking awkwardly with Selina.

“Um. Nineteen?” The number was displayed pretty prominently on Alfred’s cake.

“Yeah. But, like, Cass said you were younger really?”

“Oh. That.” Jason thinks about it for a minute. “I guess I feel like I should be turning seventeen?”

“Two years. That’s not too bad.”

“No,” Jason agrees. “Not too bad.”

-

Cass looks around the room. The party is going well, she thinks. Jason is talking to Duke, Dick and Billy are playing a game in the corner, and Tim and Kon are not quite touching the ground. It’s okay—maybe not everybody here knows he’s Superboy, but there’s no one they’re hiding it from.

The adults are gathered in little groups, and everyone is getting along. That’s good—she wasn’t sure if Selina and Talia would get along with the superheroes. And Renee doesn’t look as upset as when she got here. Meeting Wonder Woman probably helped.

“Cass,” Steph says, “your brothers are fine. Come help me.”

Cass turns around. “Help with what?”

“I’m getting an apartment in the fall. Gotta pick one.”

“Okay.” Cass scoots closer so she can see Steph’s phone screen. “Show me.”

Chapter Text

Oliver wakes up late and alone. He’d been with the League until five in the morning, dealing with a minor alien invasion. Dinah had stayed to help with clean-up—he’d come back home so Roy wouldn’t be alone. She must still be at the Watchtower; she probably decided to sleep for a few hours there before heading home.

He goes to collect Roy for breakfast, and finds his bedroom empty.

Well, it’s late. Probably he already got himself breakfast and is somewhere else in the house.

But he isn't. He isn't anywhere.

It’s fine. It’s fine. Roy is an adult. He can take care of himself. Granted, his track record for taking care of himself isn't great. And he doesn’t have any money. Or paperwork. And this isn't his Star City.

It might not be fine.

He finds him eventually, in the backyard. He’s shooting arrows at one of the targets, and he looks like he’s been at it for hours.

He’s doing well, for someone who didn’t touch a bow for two years, and also treated his body very badly during that time.

Oliver knows he wants to be doing significantly better.

“You know, I didn’t bring you here to be—um. Speedy, was it?”

Roy must not have heard him coming; he jolts, and his shot goes wide. “Shit!” He turns around. “Not good for much else, am I?”

“I’m sure you’re good for lots of things. Come on, take a break. There must be twenty arrows in that target.”

“Yeah, and only half of them are in the center.”

Oliver manages to convince him to come inside for breakfast. Or possibly it’s lunch.

“Where’s Dinah?”

“At the Watchtower. We had a small alien invasion.”

“Oh. No one told me.”

“You were asleep.”

He shrugs. “Yeah, I get that. It’s just…weird, here. Too quiet. Should be a bunch of gossipy teenagers waking me up when this happens.”

“I have more of you?” Bruce did not mention any other teenagers alternate Olivers might have had. He doesn’t think he can handle any more.

“What? No. I just meant Dick or Wally or someone would have texted me.”

“Oh. Good.”

They’re quiet for a few minutes, eating.

“You replaced me,” Roy says suddenly.

“I’m sorry,” Oliver says, even though technically he didn’t.

“No. I mean, yeah, it fucking sucked. But I meant—I don’t know who she was. Only saw video footage, after I left. She looked Asian, about my age. I don’t know who she was to you, outside of the crime fighting. But you looked at her like you—you looked at her like you loved her. So maybe one more kid. I dunno.”

“Huh. Maybe I’ll ask Bruce about it sometime—he seems to know everything about the multiverse. “ He’s probably not going to ask Bruce about it any time soon—he’s already slightly overwhelmed just with Roy, and if this girl was his age in his world, she’s in her late twenties here, and fully capable of taking care of herself. Oliver’s not interested in any more inter-dimensional adoption right now.

“Yeah. Hey. So. Dinah owns that, like, flower store here, right?”

“Right.”

“I was thinking maybe I could tag along sometime next week? I’m sick of sitting around the house, and no offense, but I really don’t want to spend a day at the office with you.”

“I’m sure she’d like that.”

Chapter Text

Dinah is glad that Roy is developing an interest in spending time with them, but she’s not quite sure how she feels about having him in the flower shop. It can’t possibly be as bad as when Oliver comes to visit her at work, at least—the man is constantly underfoot.

Roy is helpful, though, when he’s not distracting her employees. Stacy, who works in the back and is forty six, thinks he’s cute. Jess, who works the register and is nineteen, also thinks he’s cute. Dinah’s a little worried about that, but Roy doesn’t seem interested.

He’s more cheerful than she’s seen him before, and she thinks maybe they should have worked harder to get him out of the house before.

She sends him to the back to wait for the delivery truck, and then there’s a rush, and she doesn’t see him for an hour.

He’s completely unloaded the truck and marked down all the inventory, which is more than she’d asked him to do—really she just needed the delivery signed for while she was caught up with customers, but then she hadn’t been able to get back for the unloading.

“Everything here?” she asks.

Roy nods without looking up; she takes a few steps closer and sees that he’s brushing aphids off a plant, into a plastic cup. He glances at her briefly, then turns his attention back to his task. “Yeah—there were a bunch of bugs on these ones over here. Almost got them all—gonna take them outside in a minute.”

“Thanks, Roy.” She’s going to have to call the supplier about that—there should not be aphids. “Ollie texted a while ago. Jason might not be coming over tonight. He’s sick again.”

“He’s sick a lot, isn't he?”

“Not as much as he used to be. Finish up with those bugs and get your coat; Oliver is meeting us across the street for lunch.”

-

Jason isn't having a good day, but he is very insistent about still going to see Roy. Fortunately, Bruce is prepared for this. He asked Jason weeks ago how he would feel about Roy seeing him on a bad day, and Jason said he didn’t care. Bruce got the impression that he did actually care, at least a little, but what it came down to was that it was going to be hard to live his life if he was hiding part of himself from anyone new he met.

But Bruce isn't about to let him go over there alone when he’s this out of it. (Also, Athanasia has colic, or something, and has been screaming at Bruce for four hours straight. Talia just got home, it is her turn now, and he wants to be out of hearing distance.)

Jason is a little clingy, the way he often is on bad days, so he stays glued to Bruce’s side even when Dinah tells him Roy is upstairs. Bruce talks to Oliver for a few minutes, leaving Dinah to draw Jason out—she’s turned out to be remarkably good at that over the last several months.

-

Dinah comes to get Roy ten minutes after Jason was supposed to get here.

“Why don’t you come downstairs,” she says, “and you and Jason can watch a movie?”

“Um, okay. Sure, I guess.”

Jason is already on the couch when Roy follows Dinah downstairs, and he doesn’t look up until Roy says, “Hey, Jaybird.”

He smiles and looks over, but his eyes don’t quite make it to Roy’s face, and there’s a weird pause before he says, “Hi.”

“Okay,” Dinah says. “Jason’s not feeling great today, so be nice.”

“I’m always nice.”

“Sure you are. I’ll be in the living room with Bruce and Ollie if you boys need anything.”

Roy sits down. “What do you wanna watch?”

There’s another weird pause before Jason shrugs.

“All right, I’m putting on Robin Hood. Are you okay?”

He nods. “Bad day.”

“Oh, is this, like, the brain damage thing you mentioned?”

He nods again.

“Okay, cool. I mean, not cool, but, yeah. I’m gonna start the movie. Tell me if you’re hungry or anything—we haven’t eaten yet.”

-

Damian waits until Mother is busy with Athanasia and Father is gone with Jason to call Grandfather again. He’s not sure why he’s hiding it, except for maybe because of how much he knows Mother wants him here, even if she won’t say anything about it. He wants to be more comfortable with Grandfather before Mother gets excited.

“Hello, Damian.”

“Hi, Grandfather.” He thinks maybe he’d like to call him Grandpa or something, something different, to help keep him separate in his head from the Ra’s al Ghul who raised him. But calling him Grandpa feels weird in the same way as calling Mother and Father Mom and Dad would. He should probably talk to his therapist about it—Cassandra and the therapist are the only ones he’s told they’re talking. (Cassandra said “If he is mean to you I will hurt him,” and that made him feel better, even though he’s not sure if even Cassandra could hurt Ra’s al Ghul.)

“How has your day been?” Grandfather asks.

“Good. I practiced driving with Mother this morning, then Tim and I went to the art museum.”

“And how is your driving coming?”

“I’m really, really bad at it.”

Chapter Text

The multiverse equipment is sitting in a back corner of the cave, gathering dust. Bruce’s own world has been plenty busy, these last several months. So he’s surprised and a little concerned when it starts making noises.

A Jason and a Dick appear a moment later.

“Hey, B,” Jason says. “Remember when I said I’d talk to Tim’s Dick?”

“Six months ago?”

“Yeah, well, I’m not running a fucking interdimensional postal service, here. Said I’d talk to him if I found him. After I—I tried to go home for a while. See if maybe—but you were out of town. There was a…misunderstanding with Batwoman and Nightwing, and I spent some time in Blackgate.”

“I’m sorry, Jason.”

He shrugs. “Tim broke me out. Kid’s growing on me. So I started travelling again. Found this guy a few weeks later.” He gestures to Dick. “Couldn’t take my word for it—wanted to see Tim for himself.”

Dick has, throughout this conversation, been staring silently at Bruce—his version is dead. It must be like seeing a ghost. But he’s not inclined to be particularly sympathetic, considering the condition he found Tim in.

Bruce doesn’t know how he’s going to tell Tim about this. The reaction will probably not be good. He glances over at the computer next to his, where Damian was sitting a minute ago, telling him about the book he was reading for his online English class.

Damian is gone. Which means the whole family probably knows by now that alternate universe Jason is back, and he brought a Dick with him.

Sure enough, all of the kids are coming down the stairs seconds later, before he has any idea how to handle the situation.

Bruce’s Jason hangs back, probably still not sure about his other self. Bruce’s Dick latches himself to Bruce immediately, likely for the same reason. Tim skids to a stop at the foot of the stairs, Damian and Cassandra behind him.

“Dick?”

“Tim,” he says. “Holy shit, Tim, you’re okay.”

“Dick,” he says again, then he turns around and runs back up the stairs.

The older Dick takes a few steps forward; the older Jason grabs him by the back of the shirt and hauls him back. “Give the kid some space.”

“Cass?” Bruce asks.

She hesitates, glancing up the stairs; everything probably happened too quickly for her to get a good read on the situation. After a moment she nods—Tim will probably need some privacy.

“All right,” Bruce says. “Dick, sit down and explain yourself. Jason, Alfred is upstairs; I’m sure he’d be happy to see you.”

Dick sits down. Jason turns to Damian. “Okay, kid. Where’s your sister? I have been through some shit, and I deserve to hold a baby.”

Damian and the older Jason leave the cave; Bruce’s Jason follows. Cassandra sits at the foot of the stairs, even though there are chairs available, eyes fixed on Tim’s Dick. Their Dick detaches himself from Bruce and disappears into the rafters.

“All right,” Bruce says. “Why the hell did I find your brother alone in a mental institution?”

-

Tim needs—he needs—he needs to be—not here. He doesn’t—why is Dick here? What if he wants Tim to come back with him?

What if he doesn’t?

What if Bruce wants him to—he needs to not be here. He needs to be somewhere no one will look for him.

He picks up his phone and dials an old, familiar number. “Hey, Tim? It’s Tim. Can I come over?”

-

“I was twenty two years old, Bruce, and I found out from channel twelve. I didn’t even know Tim was missing—it was Jason all over again. Eating breakfast, watching the news, and suddenly my dad is dead and my brother killed him. They were just getting into our secret identities when the doorbell rang. I was waiting for my partner to pick me up for work—my car was in the shop—and I thought, ‘thank God I don’t have to go through this alone,’ but she was there to read me my rights, because vigilante justice is a crime.

“I had to run—had money and supplies and fake paperwork at a safe house, so that was fine, but all my photos, everything personal—gone. Probably in an evidence locker somewhere. Babs was out of the game by then, at school halfway across the country. Cass was out of the country, and she went so far to ground when our covers were blown, I couldn’t contact her for over a year. Jason was dead then. I still don’t know what happened to Kate and Alfred. I lost everything. Everything. And I was focused on staying alive and free. By the time I could get to Tim, he was beyond my ability to help him.”

“But you tried?” Bruce asks.

“As much as I could.”

“It wasn’t much.”

Dick sighs, running a hand through his hair. “No. It wasn’t. I was on the run. From cops, from bounty hunters, from super villains. If I’d tried to get to Tim right away, I would have gotten him killed. And then in Arkham—well, they said his parents were coming for him. But they died. And then—he was safe in Arkham. Had 24/7 care. It was more than I could do for him. More than anyone in the Justice League could have—at least anyone who was willing, after you—after Bruce died. And it wasn’t just losing Batman, it was—you—he was 95% of the League’s funding. They fell apart.

“By the time I thought it was safe to go to Tim—by the time most of the people out for my blood had lost the trail or lost interest—well. It took me months to break in, with all the security updates, and without Bruce or Babs to help. I visited him three times. He didn’t recognize me. At all. He was so far gone—the last time I convinced J’onn to come with me, take a look. He said Tim’s head was the worst mess he’d ever seen, and there was nothing he could do. I’m—I only saw him for a minute, but I can’t believe—he seemed like himself again.”

“His blood stream was over a quarter Joker venom when I got him,” Bruce says. “And then all the drugs Arkham pumped into him. Maybe they helped counteract the Joker venom—I don’t know. But they didn’t help his overall health. They never gave him an antidote. It helped, getting all the chemicals out of him. He’s still weak physically, and he’s still more traumatized than he wants to admit. But he’s doing well.”

“I should have tried harder.”

“Probably,” Bruce agrees, because this Dick isn't his son, and he isn't concerned, in light of everything Tim’s been through, about sparing his feelings.

“But I was going to—a few weeks before he disappeared. Cass had finally reached out. Jason is—somehow he’s alive, and he’s sort of always in a bad mood, and a lot more violent than he used to be, but he—he’s alive. Cass found him. And he has insane amounts of money that he won’t tell me where he got. All the resources I lost when you died. We were going to set up a new life somewhere far, far away, get our covers established and everything, and then we were gonna break Tim out. Bring him home. But he just—he disappeared.

“I thought—I hoped that Harley and Ivy had him. But when I tracked them down—Harley is pissed at Ivy for convincing her he’d be better off in Arkham. Pissed at me for leaving him there. She—she really loves him, I guess. Texts me every couple days for updates, but I never have anything. She’ll be so relieved when I tell her.”

-

Cass watches carefully. She doesn’t like that this Dick is here, upsetting Tim, upsetting the whole balance of their family. She isn't sure she should have let Tim run off alone, but it’s too late now.

She thinks Dick did his best. She thinks he really loves Tim, is really worried about him. She thinks he was young and terrified and alone. He has a confusing jumble of feelings for Bruce, who is and isn't his dead dad, who made his little brother disappear and made him better. There’s love and relief and resentment, and it doesn’t help that Bruce isn't really being nice to him.

Bruce is mad. He’s also scared. Cass thinks he might be worried about losing Tim. But she isn't sure Tim will ever really be okay with Dick again, even if everything he did made sense. Tim is hurt too much.

She really isn't sure she should have let him run off. He wanted to be alone. That doesn’t always mean he should be.

Chapter Text

“Hey, Roy,” Oliver says, “how old were you when I kicked you out?”

Roy looks up at him, wary. “Sixteen.”

“Great! Did you have your license?”

“I had my permit.”

Oliver thinks this over. “Were you a good driver?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Good enough.”

“Oliver. What’s up?”

“We’re getting your paperwork together. I’m going to give you a drivers’ license.”

“Cool.”

“Yeah. Dinah’s family wants to meet their new fake cousin, by the way.”

“Really? I never met the Lances before—you guys weren’t that serious yet.”

“You’re in, then?”

“Um, yeah, I guess. I mean, it won’t be weird, will it?”

“I’m never going to kick you out, Roy. You’re here for as long as you want to be; it makes sense to get to know your family.”

Roy smiles at him. “Okay, yeah. I’m in.”

Chapter Text

Tim is pretty sure Bruce wouldn’t send him away. But maybe things would be better if he did—he’s also pretty sure he’s 95% of the problems in this family. He’s the only one still freaked out about Talia al Ghul living in their house. He’s the reason Selina can’t have her friends at her baby shower. He’s not a good brother for Athanasia, and he won’t be a good brother for Selina’s baby, either. He’s the only one who doesn’t help with the baby. He hates holding her—she makes him nervous. Too small and breakable.

The family would work better if he wasn’t a part of it.

-

“I know I wasn’t there for Tim,” Dick says. “I know I didn’t do enough. But there was nothing in my power to do that would have been enough. I got to see my baby brother again for all of twenty seconds, and now I have to be the bad guy.”

“Bad guy?” Bruce asks.

Dick shrugs. “He’s staying with you. Obviously. And I’m going home. If we asked him about it, he’d choose to stay here, and he’d be conflicted about it for the rest of his life. If you tell him he’s staying here, he’ll resent you for making that decision, even if it’s what he wants. So I get to tell him he’s not invited to come home with me. I get to abandon him again, on purpose this time.” He sighs. “I had to see—when this other Jason appeared and said—I couldn’t just take his word for it. But maybe I shouldn’t have come.”

“No. You owed it to Tim to come. He deserves to know what happened, even if it’s hard for both of you.”

Bruce glances over at Cass for confirmation and finds her place on the stairs empty—his observation skills are not at their best today. Things have been very stressful, in a way fighting crime just isn't.

“Let’s go upstairs,” he says to Dick. “You need to talk to Tim.”

His oldest children meet them at the top of the stairs.

“Tim is missing,” Cass says.

“Left his phone upstairs,” Jason adds. “Damian is checking the cameras still, but it looks like he’s not in the house or on the grounds. And he didn’t take a car.”

This day just keeps getting better and better.

-

Kon checks his phone one more time, then goes to hide behind some trees before taking off. Tim was supposed to meet him here an hour ago, and he’s not answering his phone.

Alfred answers when Kon knocks on the door. “Is Tim around? He was supposed to meet me at the park.”

Alfred lets him in and leads him down the hall. “We’ve, ah…lost track of him, I’m afraid. We were hoping he was with you.”

The rest of the family is gathered in the library, along with two extra people—one of them looks like an older Jason and one of them looks like an older Dick, except more human and sort of miserable. Bruce looks super stressed.

“Is that—”

“Tim’s brother from his home world? Yes.”

“Shit. Okay, I’ll find him. Just gotta follow the weird-ass heartbeat.”

-

“He called and asked to come over,” Tim says, “and now he’s just been sitting here, not talking to me, for an hour.”

The younger Tim—Cass’ little brother—is sitting in the same corner of the bedroom her Tim likes to sit in when he’s upset, looking miserable. Steph pulls out her phone and takes a picture.

“What are you doing?”

“Little you is cute when he’s grumpy.” Cass says they never have enough pictures of Tim, because he’s usually the one taking the pictures.

“This is serious, Steph. He won’t talk to me. He won’t listen to me. My mom will be home any minute. She’s going to notice if there’s two of me.”

“Well, maybe we could—”

There’s a knock on the window—Steph and Tim look over. Little Tim’s boyfriend is there. Floating.

Of course he is. Why wouldn’t Tim have a floating boyfriend? His dad is Batman.

Steph opens the window, and the kid flies in. “Your dad is freaking out,” he says, ignoring her. “You left your phone at home.”

Little Tim looks up at him, which is the first sign of life he’s shown since Steph got here. “Yeah, that was on purpose. Did you see him?”

“Dick? Yeah. Asshole.”

“What if he—I don’t know what he wants. What if Bruce sends me home with him?”

“If Bruce sends you away you’ll come live in Smallville. Obviously. But he won’t—he’s a good dad.”

“I know.”

“Come on, then—I said I’d bring you home.”

A door swings shut downstairs; Steph turns to her Tim in alarm. Janet really doesn’t need a chance to learn about the multiverse.

“Mom’s home. Take the window—hurry!”

They do. Little Tim turns back halfway over the windowsill. “Thanks for letting me hide out.”

Janet knocks on the bedroom door a moment later, letting herself in without waiting for an answer. “Timothy, I thought I heard voices—oh, hello, Stephanie.”

“Hi, Mrs. Drake.”

-

As soon as Tim and Kon come into the room through the large bay window, Bruce steps forward to hug his son. Tim crumples in his arms, which is the first time Bruce realizes how scared he is—he’d known he was confused and hurt and angry about the appearance of Dick, but he hadn’t thought about him being afraid. It has been increasingly easy to forget, over these last few months of mostly happy, healthy children, how very badly they’ve been hurt.

“Everything will be okay, Tim,” he promises, hoping it’s a promise he can keep.

Tim pulls away from Bruce and turns to face his brother. Most of the rest of the family has cleared out—Cassandra and Selina are still in the room, and so is Kon. That’s fine; Bruce doubts Tim wants to be alone with Dick right now.

“Why didn’t you come for me?” he asks.

“You blew my cover, Tim.”

He flinches. Kon and Cass both take a step forward; Bruce doesn’t realize he’s done the same until Selina puts a hand on his shoulder.

Dick rushes to explain. “Hey, it wasn’t your fault, okay? It absolutely was not your fault, but I had to be on the run for a long time, and it wouldn’t have been safe for you to be with me. By the time it was—you were so far gone, Tim. I didn’t know how to help you.”

“Oh.”

“I fucked up. I should have tried harder.”

“Oh,” Tim says again. Dick does not, Bruce notices, mention how he, Cass, and Jason had been in the process of preparing a safe place for Tim when Bruce took him.

“I missed you,” Dick says. “And I’m really, really glad you’re doing so well here. Maybe before I go home, Bruce and Jason could help rig something up for us to stay in touch.”

Tim hesitates, looking first and Bruce, then at Cass. “Okay,” he says. “Maybe—maybe that would be okay.”

Dick smiles for the first time since appearing in the cave.

“What about Harley?” Tim asks.

“Harley loves you so much. She’s going to be so happy to hear you’re okay. Maybe we can set it up so you can talk to her, too.”

Bruce isn't sure he likes the idea of Tim reopening communication with the woman who kidnapped him. But Cass, who has a much better view of Tim’s face, is nodding at him encouragingly, so maybe it’s at least worth discussing with Dick.

Cass jerks her head toward the door; Selina understands before Bruce, and steps forward to steer Tim gently out of the room. “Let’s go find your brothers.”

Kon and Cass follow a moment later, leaving Bruce alone with Dick again. Dick tries to smile; it’s less sincere this time. “Should we find Jay and get started, then? I get the feeling Tim doesn’t really want me to stick around.”

Jason seems much more comfortable than last time he was here—he’s talking to Talia and his younger self, and hands Athanasia reluctantly over to Jay when Bruce asks him to come downstairs.

Chapter Text

Roy is mostly relieved when Oliver calls to say he and Dinah won’t be back in time for dinner. He said he was cool with meeting Dinah’s family, and he mostly meant it. But if some criminal activity gives him a little extra time to prepare himself, he’s not going to complain.

He’s just not quite sure where he stands. This multiverse thing is weird. Dinah is okay—he probably knows her better here now than he ever did at home. Ollie is—he’s not exactly Roy’s dad, the way he was at home. But that’s probably a good thing, considering how it ended. It’s hard to stay mad at this Oliver, which is also probably a good thing, since he hasn’t done anything wrong.

Meeting Dinah’s coworkers wasn’t a big deal, and he likes Jason. Bruce was fine the other day, but Bruce is just his friend’s dad, in this world and his old one. He knows he doesn’t want to meet Hal or Dick yet—he doesn’t know how many of his other friends are even an option, but he doesn’t want to meet them either. He isn't ready to be a stranger to people he loves.

Dinah’s family, though. It isn't that he doesn’t want to meet them. He actually thinks it could be pretty cool. Her mom was the Black Canary before she was. And there won’t be that weird, I-know-you-but-you-don’t-know-me thing. When Ollie kicked him out, he wasn’t nearly close enough to Dinah yet to introduce his sort-of kid to her parents.

It’s just. He doesn’t know what it means. Or what they’re supposed to be to him. Are they his grandparents? He’s never had grandparents before. But Dinah and Oliver aren’t exactly his parents, and he doesn’t exactly want them to be. He’s getting used to the idea of Ollie and Dinah as family. He isn't sure Ollie as dad is a road he wants to go down again.

“You could go without us,” Ollie says.

“I don’t have my license yet,” Roy reminds him.

“Right. We’ll, um, we’ll have to—shit, that thing should not be—I gotta go, Roy. We’ll reschedule.”

There’s an explosion in the background, and Ollie hangs up. Roy goes to turn on the TV—he needs to make sure no one he knows just got blown up.

Chapter Text

It takes about three hours for Bruce, Dick, and Jason to set up Dick’s phone so he can maintain communication across dimensions. Then they do the same to Bruce and Jason’s phones before Bruce goes to find Tim.

He’s in his bedroom with Kon; they’re sitting facing each other on the bed. Bruce isn't sure if maybe he should tell them to keep the door open—they seem to still be in the handholding stage of their relationship, so it’s probably fine.

“Is Dick still here?” Tim asks as soon as Bruce steps in.

“Yes. We’ll have him home soon, though. Are you all right?”

Tim nods. “I gotta—um. I gotta say goodbye to him. Before he leaves.”

“I’ll make sure he knows. Can I take your cell phone? They’re going to help get it set up for multiverse calls.”

Tim pulls it out of his pocket and tosses it across the room; Bruce catches it.

“Thanks, Bruce.”

“You’re welcome.” He hesitates for a moment in the doorway. Tim still looks shaken. “I love you, Tim.”

He smiles. “Love you too.”

-

Roy watches until the fight is mostly over, then turns off the TV and goes outside. His arms are kind of wrecked, but he’s going to be an awesome archer again. It’ll just take a lot of practice.

Clean-up after the fight must have been easier than usual, because Dinah and Ollie are home only half an hour later.

“You guys win?” Roy asks, even though he knows they did.

“We always do,” Oliver says. “You eat yet?”

Roy shakes his head.

“Great. Let’s go out. Pizza?”

“Pizza,” Roy agrees.

-

Dick walks down to the cave with his envelope, careful not to bend it. Bruce and big him are arguing about someone named Harley, but they stop when he comes down. Big Jason isn't in the cave anymore. He’s probably holding the baby again.

“I have a thing,” he announces. “For big Dick. Alfie helped me.”

“Okay,” Bruce says. “What is it?”

Big Dick is staring at him—probably no one told him about Talons yet. Dick gives him the envelope.

“You can only have it if you don’t make Tim sad anymore,” he says.

“I’ll try.”

That’s good enough, Dick decides. He goes to stand next to Bruce. Other him makes him nervous.

He pulls the first picture out of the envelope, then his face goes blank and he drops it.

It’s the family picture from when he was little—the regular picture, not the circus picture.

“I didn’t have any pictures either, but the other Dick who lives here gave me some. Alfie helped me copy them. They’re only from when we were little, though.”

Big Dick bends down to pick up the picture. “This is—this is amazing. Thank you so much.”

Mission accomplished, Dick runs back upstairs—two of him in the same room feels weird.

-

Bruce follows Dick upstairs, assuming his older counterpart will want some privacy to go through the photos. He’s a little worried about the older Dick, now that he’s realized there’s no reason to feel threatened by him. He has a Cassandra and a Jason waiting for him at home now, but they’re all so young, and they’ve been through so much.

He isn't sure he should even invite Dick to spend the night, though; Tim is obviously still on edge. He and Kon have come back downstairs now, and they’re in the library with the other kids, but Tim keeps casting nervous glances at the clock that leads into the cave. He doesn’t look like he wants to talk about it right now; Bruce will wait to have a real conversation until they’re alone.

Older Jason has finally given up the baby—Talia must have put her down for a nap.

Bruce would very much like Jason to stay for a few days, at least; last time he went home his family put him in prison. He thinks Jason would agree if he asked him to stay a while, this time, but it’s going to be awkward if he can’t invite Dick, too. And he feels bad enough about the whole Dick situation already.

Jason—Bruce’s Jason—is sitting on the floor next to Damian, leaning against a bookshelf. Bruce goes to check on him; last time the other Jason was here it was a little upsetting. Dick seemed uneasy about his older self, too, but he look happy and animated now, talking to Cass and the older Jay.

Bruce sits down on the floor in front of Jason and Damian. “All right?” he asks.

Jay nods. “Roy texted—are you missing out on some big Justice League thing?”

“Just a standard super villain. This is more important.”

“Okay. Talia went upstairs to check on Asia—she’s gonna take us to the mall when she comes down.”

“Is that Dick going to be okay?” Damian asks.

“I hope so. He has other family at home, and he’s not in as much danger as he was when Tim was first taken.”

“Okay. Good.”

Jason and Damian taken care of, Bruce goes to sit on the couch with Selina. He’ll give the older Dick a few more minutes of privacy before going back downstairs to finish the phones.

-

Dick comes upstairs to say goodbye to everyone just less than twelve hours after his appearance in the cave. He, Bruce, and the older Jason go back down to the cave to calibrate the multiverse gear; Tim and Dickie follow them down.

Dickie goes right for the rafters. Tim watches them closely, but makes sure to stay several feet from Dick at all times. Dick keeps glancing back at him, making Bruce feel worse each time. He doesn’t speak to Tim until they’re ready to leave.

“Okay, Tim,” he says. “You have my number; you can call or text me whenever you feel ready; I’ll answer anytime I’m not, like, fighting for my life. I’ll tell Harley you’re okay. You and your dad can talk about what else to do there.”

“Okay,” Tim says. “Bye, Dick.”

He smiles, strained. “Bye, Tim.”

Tim darts forward to hug him, then turns and runs back up the stairs before Dick can even react.

“Okay,” Dick says after a moment. “Okay, we’d better get going. Thanks, Bruce. It was really nice to see you again. A version of you. Whatever.”

“Bye, big me,” Dick calls from the ceiling.

He smiles again, more genuinely this time. “Bye, little me.”

Bruce goes upstairs to check on Tim as soon as they leave. He’s sitting out on the roof, alone—Kon must have gone home. Bruce sits down beside him.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Tim says.

“That’s okay. Do you want to be alone?”

“No.”

“All right.” They sit together on the roof in silence for the next hour.

-

When Bruce comes inside he finds the older Jason has come back after bringing Dick home.

“Is it okay if I hang out for a few days?” he asks. “Just until my Bruce gets home. I can explain the whole Blackgate thing, but I’d rather explain it to Bruce than everyone else, you know?”

“Of course, Jay.”

“Thanks.”

He stays for three days, and Athanasia is even more horribly spoiled than usual.

Chapter Text

Roy gets as far as “hi,” before he realizes he has no idea what he’s doing. What does he even call these people? Larry and Dinah? Mr. and Mrs. Lance? Grandpa and Grandpa? Dinah’s mom and Dinah’s dad? He decides to leave it at “hi.”

“So, Roy,” Dinah’s dad says, “Dinah tells us you grew up on a Navajo reservation?”

“Um, yeah.” Roy is surprised; he wasn’t expecting a topic of conversation he was actually comfortable with.

Dinah’s parents are really nice. They don’t say anything about his drug addiction. He doesn’t say anything about their alternate son-in-law’s major parenting fail. The highlight of the evening, though, is when Dinah’s mom mentions casually that Dinah was in a band in high school.

“Really? So was I. Before—” He cuts himself off abruptly, not wanting to go there on a good night. “You know.”

“What did you play?” Oliver asks immediately. “We’ll buy an instrument. Hell, we’ll buy all the instruments. Make a band. Back-up night job if this vigilante deal goes south.”

“Ollie, honey,” Dinah’s mom says, “you’re tone deaf.”

“I am not.”

“You kind of are,” Dinah says.

“My old Oliver sure was,” Roy agrees.

“Fine,” Ollie says, laughing. “I’ll buy the instruments—you play them.”

-

“Hello, Damian,” Ra’s says.

“Hi,” he says on the other end of the line. There’s a short pause before he adds, hesitantly, “Grandpa. I’m going to call you Grandpa now. Because I already have a Grandfather, and I—I don’t like him very much. I’d like to like you.”

“All right. I’d like you to like me, too.”

“Cool,” Damian says.

“How has your week been?” It’s been eight days since Damian last called him, and he’d begun to worry. He knows Damian is still wary of him; he’d been afraid he wouldn’t call again.

“Pretty good. Weird. We had a couple people from different universes visit. One of them was from Tim’s, so he had a rough week. We’ve all been trying to keep him busy.”

“Is he all right?” Talia and Damian both talk constantly about Bruce Wayne’s other children, and Ra’s is beginning to feel attached.

“I think so. Father made him go to therapy an extra time this week. And he’s been spending a lot of time with his boyfriend in Kansas. They’ve got a farm, with a bunch of cows and stuff. Father gets really weird about cows sometimes. I think it’s a multiverse thing.”

-

Oliver tried to be patient. He really did. But Dinah left insanely early this morning to help Diana with something—a girl thing, not a super villain thing, she said. She found the envelope on their doorstep on the way out.

He tried to be patient. But Roy has been in an awful mood for no reason for three days, and Oliver is pretty sure this will fix that. He make it an hour after Dinah leaves before caving and going up to Roy’s room.

“What the fuck, Ollie,” Roy says as soon as he turns on the light. “It’s the middle of the night.”

“The sun came up ten minutes ago.”

“The middle of the night,” Roy repeats.

Oliver holds up his envelope. “You exist.”

“Good to know. Will I still exist in three hours?”

“You have a license.”

Roy sits up. “Oh, hey, look. It’s morning.”

Oliver laughs. “Get dressed and meet me in the garage, okay?”

It takes Roy less than five minutes to get ready and catch up with him. He takes his license, picks a car, and backs out of the garage.

Oliver has second thoughts as soon as the car is out of sight. This is a different Star City, and Roy hasn’t been out much. He’s never been out alone. What if he gets lost? What if he gets drugs? What if he just decides not to come back?

Before he can decide if he should—or can—do anything about this, Roy is pulling back into the driveway and rolling down the window.

“Okay, so. Um. I haven’t actually, technically driven in about two years? And I don’t really want to get pulled over in my first half hour of license-having.”

“You want me to come along?” Oliver checks.

“Yeah. Please.”

Oliver’s not sure he’s ever been so relieved to get into a passenger seat.

-

“Are you sure this is legal?” Damian asks. “I don’t think this is legal.”

Tim turns away from the road to look at all three of his brothers in the back seat. “I have my license.”

“Yeah,” Jason says, “aren’t you not supposed to drive a bunch of other minors unless you have a licensed adult in the car?”

“You and Cass are adults.”

“They don’t have licenses!” Damian says.

“Whatever. Alfred was busy, and we can’t have Bruce and Selina take us to get a present for their baby shower.”

“And we can’t ask Talia because you’re scared of her,” Dick says.

“I am not scared of Talia.”

“You’re kind of scared of Talia,” Jason says.

“Scared,” Cass agrees from the passenger seat.

“Mother didn’t have a baby shower,” Damian points out.

“Exactly!” Tim says. “Thank you, Damian. Talia can’t drive us because we also have to get a late present for her and Athanasia.”

“If you say so.”

Chapter Text

“I just don’t understand,” Jason says, “why the new baby needs clothes. Can’t she just wear Asia’s old stuff?”

“Rich people don’t really do hand-me-downs,” Tim says.

Cass puts tiny sweaters into their cart. “You’re wearing Damian’s jeans right now.”

Tim looks down at his legs. “Huh. Well. Selina wanted clothes. So the baby gets clothes.”

“Can we get her this one?” Dick asks, holding up a onesie with dinosaurs on it.

“Sure,” Jay says. “Why not?”

He puts it in the cart and wanders down the aisle, pulling a few more things off the shelf as he goes.

“Do you think she needs shoes?” Damian asks. “Athanasia never wears shoes.”

Tim pulls out the registry list and looks it over. “No shoes. Let’s go to the toy store next.”

“What is a newborn going to do with toys?”

“I don’t know. Save them for later? Dickie’s getting bored here—the toy store will keep him busy for a while.”

“Where is Dickie?”

They all glance around the store.

“Shit,” Tim says.

“He can take care of himself, right?” Damian asks. “No one could have grabbed him? He just wandered off?”

“He can defend himself,” Cass says, “but probably he wouldn’t? Hurting people. Not allowed.”

“Shit,” Tim says again.

“We could have them make an announcement,” Jason says. “To tell him to come back to us? But if everyone hears, and he did just wander off—we were always at high risk for kidnapping, in my old world.”

“We definitely don’t want to announce that Bruce Wayne’s kid is in the mall unattended,” Tim agrees.

“He’d know better that to leave the store, right?” Damian asks.

“Probably,” Jason says. “I dunno. I thought he knew better than to leave us in the first place. Okay. Me and Cass are going to search the store. Tim, Dami, break into the security office and look for him on the cameras.”

A frantic half hour later, Tim texts to say that Dick is probably in the vents above the women’s dressing room. Jason stands watch while Cass climbs up.

-

Cassandra is very worried. She didn’t even notice that Dick was missing until he was, well. Missing. She knew he was getting bored, but she didn’t think he was bored enough to leave. She unscrews the vent cover with the pocket knife in her purse, grabs the edges, and pulls herself up.

The first thing she sees is Dick’s glowing eyes.

“Dickie! You are okay?”

His eyes move up and down like he is nodding in the dark, and Cass drops down onto the bench in the changing room. Dick comes down a moment later, falling into her lap and throwing his arms around her.

“I wanted to find more things for the baby, and there were socks that were tiny and cute, and there was a hat that was tiny and cute, and then everyone was gone, and then there was an Owl, so I hid.”

“An Owl?”

Dick nods.

“Okay. We need to talk to Jason.”

He is waiting right outside the changing rooms, and Dick runs for him right away. Jason picks up Dick, and Cass picks up the tiny socks and hat that he drops.

“Hey, are you okay? What happened, Dickie?”

“He saw an Owl,” Cass reports.

“I thought Bruce and Kate—”

“I know.”

“Okay. I’ll call Tim and Damian. Let’s pay for this shit and get out of here.”

“We’re leaving?” Dick asks.

“Yeah, buddy. How about you and me go out into the mall, and Cass will catch up with us in a minute, okay?”

“Cass can beat the Owl.”

“Yeah, Cass can beat anyone.”

-

They all meet in the security office.

“I don’t think Father would want us to do this,” Damian says.

“We can’t just let there be an Owl out there,” Jason says. “All we’re going to do is search the store footage until Dick sees her again, take a photo, and let Dad handle it later.”

“Okay. I guess.”

“The security guards are going to come back eventually,” Tim says. “Someone needs to be on watch and distraction.”

“I can do it,” Cass says. “How do I distract?”

“I don’t know. Flirt?”

Cass frowns. “I do not know how to do that.”

“I’ll help,” Jason says. “Not with the flirting. Just the distracting.”

Ten minutes later, the fire alarm goes off.

“I’m guessing the distracting didn’t go well,” Tim says.

“What if it’s a real fire?”

“It’s not a real fire, Dami. Cass and Jay would grab us before evacuating.”

“That’s her! That’s the Owl!”

Tim pauses the video feed and pulls out his phone.

“I thought you were going to take a picture,” Damian says a minute later.

“I did.”

“Yeah, so why are we still here?”

“I downloaded the Bat computer onto my phone.”

“Father doesn’t want us to—”

“Would you chill? I’m just getting a name and address.”

“My ears hurt,” Dick says. The fire alarm is still going off.

“Fine.” Tim stands and slides his phone back into his pocket. “Let’s find Cass and Jay and get out of here.” He opens the door slowly.

“Wha—hey, Sam, there’s a bunch of kids in here!”

“Crap. Time to run, guys!”

-

“We never went to the toy store,” Damian says as they peel out of the parking lot.

“We were going to go to a toy store?” Dick asks.

“Yeah, well, I think we’re banned from the mall now,” Jason says. “Plus they’re still looking for a nonexistent fire.”

Tim glances back. “There’s a toy store in Bludhaven.”

“Please?” Dick says.

“Fine. But only if Tim can keep his eyes on the road.”

-

Dinah comes home to find that Ollie is working late and the fridge is empty. “Roy? You wanna go out for dinner?”

She runs him through the plan as they wait for their orders. Things have been going well, but tomorrow is a lot of new things at once—meeting this world’s version of someone he knew, babysitting, and driving around town without her or Oliver.

“So you’ll come with us to the zeta tube. Ollie and I will leave, Jason and Dick will come through, and you’ll drive them home. I’ll text you when it’s time to pick us up and send the boys home.”

“I know, Dinah.”

“Our Dick isn’t like the one you knew before.”

“I know, Dinah.”

“Before Bruce found him, he was—”

“Dinah, I know, okay? I’ve got it.” He glances nervously around the restaurant for the third time since sitting down.

“All right. What’s wrong?”

“Guy at the bar. I went to high school with him.”

“It’s fine. He won’t recognize you.”

“I know, it’s not that. It’s just, I went, you know, other places with him, too. Um, with the…”

“With the what?”

“With the drugs, okay? Can we just stop talking about it?”

“Sorry. Do you want to leave?”

Roy deflates a little. “I’m gonna see people, right? Might as well start now.”

“Or we could start tomorrow. Come on. We’ll get it to go. Grab something for Ollie, too.”

“Thanks, Di.”

Chapter Text

“Selina,” Bruce says, looking out the window, “do you know why Harley Quinn and Pamela Isley are on our porch?”

They’d talked about this—Selina had agreed that people who were currently in prison wouldn’t be invited to the baby shower.

“What?” Selina joins him at the window. “I have no idea. We decided—” Her phone dings, and she looks down. “Tim hopes I have fun with my friends. They were discharged this morning—he hacked into the Arkham servers and falsified their records. I’m supposed to let him know when they leave because he doesn’t want to see them.”

Bruce sighs. “That sounds like Tim. Well. Apparently we have two more guests for the shower.”

“I’ll let Talia know, in case she wants to get Athanasia out of the house.”

“They’re an assassin family—I’m sure it will be fine.”

“She should still know.” She leaves; Bruce stays at the window and watches as Alfred lets two criminals into their house, handling the situation as calmly as he handles everything.

The boys are all gone for the day, Dick and Jay in Star City, Tim and Damian in Smallville. Bruce is going to need to talk to Tim when they get home tonight. About this thing with Harley and Ivy, but also about the Owl the kids apparently found at the mall yesterday.

When they mentioned it to Bruce last night, Tim already had a name, address, and basic history for the woman. He hadn’t found any recent crimes that looked like they’d been committed by the Court, so Bruce had decided to leave it until after the baby shower. But if he puts it off any longer, Tim might decide to do more than research.

(Bruce thinks Tim knows better than to take on an Owl. But you can never be sure with Tim.)

-

Roy waits around for about fifteen minutes after Dinah and Ollie go through the zeta tube. He’s not sure what’s taking Dick and Jay so long—he hopes Jay isn't having a bad day. Normally it wouldn’t make much difference, but Roy’s sort of counting on him to take point on the babysitting thing.

He doesn’t actually know a lot about this Dick—Dinah tried to tell him more yesterday, but he sort of blew her off. Jason doesn’t talk as much about Dick as his other siblings, probably because he can tell Roy feels a little weird about it.

He knows something really bad happened to Dick in his own world. He knows he’s fifteen, but the way Jay talks about him makes him sound much younger.

He should have paid more attention to Dinah last night. If Jay isn't in a condition to help, he’s not going to know what to do with a tiny traumatized version of his childhood best friend.

When they finally come through, Dick comes first, walking backwards to face Jason, talking and gesturing wildly. He seems just like Roy’s Dick, only smaller. And then he turns around.

There’s a difficult moment where Roy thinks he should be doing something, saying something; the silence stretches on as he processes a Robin with a strong resemblance to a well-preserved corpse.

“You have cat eyes,” he says, because he needs to say something before it gets weird.

Tiny Dick glances back at Jason. “I like cats,” he says. “They’re better than owls.”

“Definitely,” Jason says. “Dickie, this is my friend Roy. He was friends with an older you in his old world.”

“Okay. Hi, Roy.”

“Hi, Dick. You guys ready to go?”

-

Cass sits in the back of the room and watches. She is at the baby shower because she is an adult. Athanasia is at the baby shower because she is a baby. All of their brothers had to leave for the day.

There are two criminals here, and Bruce has that “Tim did something he shouldn’t have” look. (Bruce has that look a lot.) Cass doesn’t think they’ll cause trouble, though. They love Selina and are excited for her. They aren’t very impressed with Bruce, but are being nice because Selina is dating him.

Bruce, Kate, and Renee are all a little worried about them, though. Talia doesn’t seem like she minds much, but she is holding Athanasia a little tighter than normal, maybe. Sometimes Talia is hard to read.

“Can I take her?” she asks, because Cass hasn’t held her sister yet today.

“Be careful,” Talia says, like she hasn’t in months. Definitely worried.

“I will keep her safe.”

Athanasia is mostly sleeping. Cass shifts her carefully and goes to find Alfred. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are early; things will be more interesting later, when other people come. They are expecting Selina’s sister, Dinah and Ollie, Diana, and Leslie. More people, too, but it was a long list, and she got bored. Making her practice reading with names is cheating, anyway—she doesn’t need to read names for driving.

“We have criminals at our party,” she tells Alfred. Officially Selina is a criminal, too, but that’s different.

“Yes, I saw.”

“They seem nice.”

“Well, if you think so, I’m sure they are.”

He turns around to put some dishes away, and Cass grabs a cookie with her free hand.

“Cassandra! Those are for the guests.”

“I’m a guest.”

“You’re also a resident. And they’re for later.”

She eats the cookie, then switches the sleeping baby to her other arm. “I am going back to the party. Do you want help carrying things?”

“I think you have your hands full at the moment. Just let me know if there’s any trouble.”

-

Kon really likes living with his grandparents, instead of in an apartment by himself. He also really likes all of Tim’s siblings. But if he could just get a minute alone with Tim today, that would be great.

For the entire hour since Tim and Damian got here, it’s been interruptions every five minutes. “Tim, come see what Mr. Kent did!” “Kon, could you come help me with the tractor?” “Are you boys hungry?” “Remember to leave the door open, Kon.”

He’s about ready to leave Damian here and fly off somewhere with Tim for the day, even if he might get in trouble for it. Tim has been quiet and tense all morning—a flight would probably be good for him. And it would take Kon far, far away from broken tractors. He hates fixing tractors.

“Are you still worried about the Owl thing?” he asks the next time they have a minute to themselves. Tim had texted him about it last night.

“I promised Bruce I wouldn’t do anything about it today,” Tim says. Which isn't actually an answer.

“Do you think she’ll do something really bad before tomorrow?”

“I haven’t found any evidence that she’s done anything bad yet.”

“So probably not. Did you—”

Damian bursts into the room. Kon sighs. It never ends.

“Mr. Kent had to go into town to get new parts for the tractor, and Mrs. Kent is going to visit a neighbor, and she said we could come along. I’m going. Do you want to come, or do you want to stay here alone?”

“What do you think?” Tim asks.

“Right. Have fun; see you later. I’ll text when we’re headed back.” Damian leaves again, closing the door behind him.

“Finally,” Kon says. “Let’s get out of here.”

-

“I would have invited you,” Selina assures her friends, “but you were in Arkham.”

“The invitations were with our things when we were discharged this morning. Harley’s had a sticky note on it—said “Congrats on your early release!—T.”

Well. There goes any chance of not bringing Tim into this. Selina wishes she and Bruce could have talked more before this conversation. “Bruce’s son Tim is—um. A little impulsive, and very good with computers.” That’s a lie; Tim likely spent weeks planning this. “I think this is meant to be his present for the baby shower.”

Pam and Selina are sitting on the couch; Harley is on the floor below, playing with Ace. She tilts her head back to look at them. “Do you think we’ll have to go back?”

Selina shrugs. That’s another thing she hasn’t had time to discuss with Bruce—not that Pam and Harley can know she has any hope of influencing Batman about their imprisonment. “It would probably help if you behaved yourselves.”

“Oh, and I suppose you’ve been behaving yourself, too?”

Selina leans down to pet a passing cat. “I’m not running across rooftops while pregnant, if that’s what you mean.”

“Not that you need to anymore.” Harley glances around the room, then slides up onto the couch between them. “Do you love him?”

“I do.”

“Good. That’s okay, then.”

“And he’s really not involved with that other woman?” Pam asks.

“He’s really not.” Selina looks over at Talia, who’s talking to Maggie and Wonder Woman. Maggie has Athanasia sleeping in her lap, and looks absolutely delighted—she’ll be a good aunt.

“Good,” Harley says again. “Unless it was a threesome thing. It would be okay if it was a threesome thing.”

“It’s not a threesome thing.”

“You’re no fun.”

“Yeah? You and the Joker having a lot of threesomes?”

Harley looks down. “I think we might break up.”

“Really? Why?” Selina exchanges glances with Pam, careful to keep the excitement out of her voice.

“Just, you know. If we’re discharged for real. And if we can stay out—getting discharged is different from escaping. Kinda feel like it’s worth trying, I guess? And I don’t think he’s ever getting discharged.”

“You’re probably right,” Pam says. “Weren’t you going to ask Selina something?”

“Right!” Harley turns to face her. “Do you think your boyfriend could help me get an exotic pet license for the hyenas? Exotic pets are a rich people thing, right? I figure if I’m gonna stay out of Arkham, I gotta have ‘em legal.”

Chapter Text

Dick likes Roy. He thinks it makes sense that they would be friends if Roy wasn’t so much older, but mostly he likes how much fun Jason is having.

Jason doesn’t like people very much. Dick and Cass and Damian have friends. Sort of. Dick and Cass have friends. But when Dami is in a good mood he’ll do things with Dick’s friends or Cass’ friends. (Dami should have his own friends, too, instead of borrowing theirs. Dick will find him a friend.) Tim and Jason don’t, usually. But Tim has Kon. So Dick is glad Jason has someone to have fun with, too.

He’s trying not to worry about the Owl, but he isn't doing a good job. He is very tired—last night was lots of nightmares, and not lots of sleeping. His brain is tired, but his body wants to be busy. He has his pencil sharpener—that keeps his hands busy. Jay said no gymnastics and climbing on the furniture in other people’s houses, so the rest of him has to hold still for now. (Roy said it was okay to break all of Oliver’s furniture, but Roy is not in charge of Dick—Jason is.)

He was scared when he saw the Owl. But he was mad when he saw her, too. Very mad. He doesn’t think he’s ever been so mad before.

Cass promised no Owl would ever find him here, but he’s not mad at Cass, just the Owl. He doesn’t want there to be Owls anymore. He doesn’t want to be a Talon anymore. He doesn’t want to even think about being a Talon anymore.

Jason comes to sit next to him where he is wrapped in a blanket on the couch. “You okay, Dickie?”

He nods.

“Okay. You want lunch?”

He shrugs, and Jason frowns. Probably because he is not talking, but he is too tired to talk.

“Roy’s gonna order a pizza; I’ll come get you when it’s here.”

-

Renee is trying. She really is. She’s totally fine with Batman. In theory. But Batwoman and Batman being her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s cousin was—well. It’s just a lot.

She loves Kate. The Batwoman thing is—it’s okay. But things haven’t gone back to normal. And they aren’t going to. She’s pretty sure half the people at this baby shower are superheroes. And she knows Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are supposed to be in Arkham right now. Kate says she doesn’t know anything about that, and Renee believes her. But this wasn’t something she wanted to deal with. The Bats being a mysterious presence in the city that the Commissioner talked to on the rooftops—that system was fine with Renee. She’s not sure she likes being personally involved in all this.

It’ll be fine. This is just a big adjustment.

She glances around the room. Bruce is talking to someone she sort of recognizes—maybe from a tabloid or something? They’re the only men here, except for Alfred. Renee hasn’t been at a lot of baby showers, but she doesn’t think the father is typically present. Bruce likes to be involved in everything, though. And she supposes it makes sense—you miss a lot of milestones, adopting teenagers. He won’t want to miss anything with the babies.

Harley Quinn drops down on the couch beside her. “Brucie’s not-girlfriend won’t let me hold her baby.”

“Does that surprise you?”

Harley takes a moment to think this over. “No,” she admits. “But, hey! You’re a cop, right? I’ve seen you arrest Jon and Eddie before. You know I’ve never hurt a kid—you tell her!”

“Talia has the right to decide who can and can’t hold her baby, Harley.”

Harley sighs. “Fine. Why does Selina have cops at her party, anyway?”

“I’m dating Bruce’s cousin. Why does Selina have criminals at her party?”

“Brucie’s kid invited us.”

Renee thinks over what Kate’s told her about the kids. “Tim?”

“Yeah. Tim.”

-

“Okay,” Tim says when they land. “Where are we?”

“Um. Topeka, I think?”

“Why Topeka?”

“Because we didn’t get permission to leave, my speed-flying isn't great, and I don’t want to be in trouble if they beat us home.”

They head out of the alley Kon landed in—they’re both a little windswept, but anyone who notices will probably think they were just making out or something. (Tim’s never done any making out, but he’s pretty sure it can’t beat flying.)

“What do you think about school?” he asks. Kon mentioned earlier this morning that the Kents want him to go to the Smallville high school in the fall.

“It’ll probably be okay. That’s months off, still. And it’s only for senior year. Hey, you ready for lunch? This place looks good.”

Tim follows him into the restaurant. He’s really glad he isn't going back to school. Bruce wants to send Dick and Damian next year—Tim’s overheard him talking to Talia and Selina about it. He could send Tim, too—Tim and Kon are the same age—but he hasn’t said anything, and he has to know how much Tim would hate that.

He thinks he’s fine now, mostly. He knows he isn't going to go crazy and kill someone, or anything like that. But he doesn’t think he’d handle school well.

“Lex called last night,” Kon says abruptly.

Tim drops the bag of food he’s holding—Kon catches it. He hasn’t even mentioned Lex in months.

“Yeah? How come?”

“Guess he finally noticed the lease was up on my apartment.”

“What did he say?”

“Nothing, really. He mostly lost interest in me before I even met you.”

“He didn’t ask where you’ve been living or anything?”

Kon shrugs. “Just told me to have fun. I think he likes not paying for me.”

“Sorry.”

He shrugs again. “So I have a shitty dad. My grandparents are awesome. And things are getting better with Clark all the time.”

“Still.”

“Whatever. How pissed do you think Bruce is gonna be about the Arkham thing?”

Tim laughs. “So pissed. But Selina will have a great baby shower.”

-

Talia has no idea how she wound up in a conversation with a plant-themed super villain about Asian versus European farming techniques, but that’s the way her life is going right now. There’s a moment of panic when she glances over and realizes Kate is no longer holding the baby, but it’s all right—Bruce has her, feeding her from a bottle while he talks to his doctor friend.

“This is ridiculous,” she says to the plant woman—Pam, she thinks she heard someone call her Pam. She has a lap full of large, pink, plastic safety pins. She doubts they’re sharp enough to pin anything. She has no idea what they’re for.

“I think it’s traditional for baby showers.”

Talia looks across the room at Selina, who seems exactly as baffled by her variety of useless pink trinkets as she is. “I think Bruce bought out the entire baby section of a party store without bothering to find out what we were supposed to do with it.”

Pam picks up a tiny, naked plastic baby, frowning. She shrugs. Talia stands, spilling her pile of plastic pins, and goes to check her phone, left across the room this morning. She has four texts from Damian—three are pictures of barn cats, and the fourth is a picture of a pig.

She’s glad he’s having fun. She’s also glad Alfred does his laundry.

Chapter Text

Damian sets his box down carefully in the barn and goes to find Tim. He and Mrs. Kent just got back; Mr. Kent is still gone. He thought Tim and Kon would probably fly off somewhere when everyone else left, so he made sure to text Tim before they headed back, so he and Kon could beat them home.

They’re both back in Kon’s room. Damian hesitates a little at the door. He’s not entirely sure Tim is going to appreciate this.

“Dami? What’s up?”

He steps into the room. “Okay. So. Do you remember when the rest of us got pets, and you said that you didn’t need one now, but you would get one later?”

“Yes,” he says warily.

“And then you never got one?”

“Damian, I swear, if you got a cow—”

Really? Tim too? “Why would I get you a cow? Why is it always cows? Where, in our mansion, would we keep a cow?”

“So. Not a cow, then.”

“Would you just come down to the barn with me?”

He does, Kon hovering behind them. Damian watches as Tim carefully lifts off the lid of the crate, revealing a small, fluffy, black chicken.

“Oh,” he says softly, reaching to pick it up. “I kind of like it.”

“She’s a silkie chicken,” Damian explains.

“I like her,” Tim says again. Kon comes forward to pet her, and Damian goes inside, leaving them there.

-

Dick is in a good mood when they get to Star City, and he seems to like Roy. He keeps leaning way forward in the car to talk about the last time they were here, and Jason has to keep reminding him to sit down and buckle his seat belt. (Dad thinks Dick is like this because of the Talon thing, but Dad doesn’t know Nightwing. Jason is pretty sure Dick Grayson is just inherently reckless. He was a trapeze artist without a safety net in elementary school—why would he care about seatbelts?)

Jay isn't surprised when Dick crashes almost as soon as they get to Ollie’s house, though. Last night was rough—he’s pretty sure Dad spent the whole time on his couch. (They each have a couch or an armchair or a cot or something in their rooms, so they don’t have to be alone when they have bad nights. Just going to sleep in Dad’s room after nightmares wasn’t really working anymore once it was also Selina’s room.)

He’s got a backpack full of stuff to keep Dick occupied—stim toys and fidgets, his headphones, a blanket, and his phone. Dick picks his pencil sharpener and curls up on the couch with his blanket—it’s the one with elephants on it, which is his favorite after the weighted ones. Jason figures he’ll fall asleep soon. He and Roy go into the next room to play video games, with the volume turned down so it won’t bug him.

“So what’s up with him?” Roy asks.

“I guess he’s sort of a zombie? It’s weird. No one can figure out his blood work. He grew an inch over the winter, so he’s not totally undead. He’s having kind of a rough day—we saw someone from his old world yesterday.”

“Someone awful?” Roy guesses.

“Yeah. Really awful.”

“So did I. Sucks.”

They get lunch, and Dick wanders away from his blanket for long enough to eat a slice of pizza, then follows them around the house and the yard for a couple hours. Roy finds the smallest bow Ollie owns and lets Dick shoot a target a couple times—his aim is bad, and he loses interest quickly. They go back inside, and Dick goes back to the couch, bringing the entire backpack with him.

He comes back about an hour later. “I’m bored.”

“Okay. Well, you can hang with us if you want.”

“I’m out of pencils.”

“You could play with something else. You’ve got your tangle along, and your silly putty and your spinner. Or there’s all those games on your phone.”

Dick just looks at him. Jason sighs. Dickie’s usually pretty easy to keep entertained, but he had a really bad night. And he wants to use his pencil sharpener.

“Ollie probably has some pencils in his office,” Roy says. “Hang on; I’ll go check.”

He leaves, and Dick sits down next to Jason. “I’m tired,” he says.

“I know, Dickie.”

“I can’t sleep because the Owl is living inside my eyelids.”

“I’m sorry. It’ll be okay, though. Dad will make sure she never hurts anyone again. Especially you.”

“I know.” He leans in, and Jason wraps an arm around him. They sit there for about fifteen minutes.

“Okay, it does not take this long to get pencils. I’m gonna go find Roy, okay, Dickie?”

“Okay.”

Roy is sitting at a desk, staring down at an open drawer.

“You okay, Roy?”

He slams the drawer shut and spins around in the desk chair. “What? Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. Couldn’t find any pencils, though. Hey, you said he likes heights, right? Let’s go outside. Climb a tree or something.”

“Um, okay. Sure.”

-

The guests leave and the children come home. Alfred goes to the kitchen to clean up, and Bruce and Selina work on the room where the party was held. Talia goes upstairs to check on Athanasia.

“Did you know Harley is Jewish?” Bruce asks, bending down to pick up some trash.

“Of course,” Selina says.

“Why didn’t I know?”

“Because it’s not relevant to her criminal activity? Is there a problem, Bruce?”

“Kate invited her to Hanukah.”

“So? You don’t have to go if you don’t like it; you told me you don’t always anyway.”

“That was before the kids. I can’t have them celebrating different holidays every year.”

“All right. But I’m pretty sure we already missed Purim.”

“There was an alien invasion!”

Talia comes down and starts to help with clean-up. “Asia’s asleep. Are you still worried about Harley, Bruce? Kate wasn’t thinking about Tim, obviously. We’ll come up with a way to explain the situation without telling her too much—Hanukah is still months away.”

“Fine. But we still have to decide what to do with her now—both of them. You know they didn’t earn that Arkham discharge.”

“They shouldn’t have been discharged,” Talia says, “but they were. They didn’t escape. It would be cruel to send them back.”

Bruce sighs. He was expecting this argument from Selina—they’re ganging up on him. “As soon as they cause trouble—”

“Give them a chance, Bruce. Talia and I both have a history of criminal activity, and so do most of the kids. Tim as recently as this morning.”

“At least no one knows it was him. I checked the records—it was some brilliantly done hacking.”

“Um. Actually. Harley and Pam both know, because he left a note. And Renee knows, because Harley told her.”

“Harley told a police officer that our seventeen year old committed a felony?”

“It’s Renee,” Talia says. “I’m sure it will be fine. But what on earth possessed him to leave a note?”

Bruce considers this. “It’s possible he’s angrier than I thought about not being allowed to contact the Harley from his old world.”

“And why would he bring home a chicken?” Talia continues. “We have a great Dane, a German shepherd, and a dozen cats. The poor thing is going to be eaten.”

“It was Damian’s idea, apparently. And is it really only a dozen cats?”

“The new kittens don’t count. I’m in the process of finding good homes for them. Which reminds me, you need to get an exotic pet license for Harley. But we could have kept one if Tim wanted a pet.”

“I need to get a what?”

“For her hyenas.”

“Of course. All right. Athanasia is down for the night, and the house is clean-ish. I’m going to go break up an arms deal, have a talk with Harley and Ivy, put them up in an apartment in that complex we own downtown, get Harley her license, have a talk with Tim, and get to the bottom of this Owl thing.”

“You also need to sleep, Bruce,” Talia says.

“No time.”

“Make time,” Selina says. Ganging up on him again. “Arms deal, apartment, bed, talk to Tim, Owl. And you’re getting the license as Bruce, not Batman. Or Harley will put things together.”

“Fine. I’ll sleep. After I—” His phone buzzes , and he pulls it out of his pocket. It’s one of the alarms in the cave. “Someone just used the zeta tube.”

Chapter Text

After Dick and Jason come through the zeta tube, Dinah and Oliver spend a few more minutes talking before they head home.

Roy isn't waiting for them on the other side. The car is gone, too. Oliver calls and goes to voicemail three times. Then Dinah calls, in case he’s avoiding Ollie for some reason—voicemail again. They wait for nearly an hour before calling a cab.

The house is empty.

“Well,” Dinah says, picking up Roy’s phone from a table in the entryway, “now we know why he wasn’t answering.”

“He knew he was supposed to drive us home, right?”

“We talked about it last night—drop us off and pick up the kids in the morning, drop off the kids and pick us up in the evening. I don’t see how he could have forgotten. We left Bruce’s—what, ten minutes after they came through? Jay said he was acting weird—maybe he’s mad at us?”

“At least we know he went wherever he went under his own power, or the car wouldn’t be missing too.”

They wait another hour, Oliver getting more and more concerned. Dinah looks fine, but she’s good at that.

“I’m going to go look for him,” she says, finally. “You stay here in case he comes home. I’m—I’m sure it’s fine. He’s an adult. We’ll worry if he’s not home by morning.”

“I’m worried now.”

“So am I. But calling for reinforcements after a couple hours unattended isn't going to make him any fonder of us.”

Dinah leaves. Oliver settles in to wait. It’s almost two hours before he hears the door open. He makes himself stay on the couch, eyes fixed on the TV. Roy can be touchy, and he doesn’t want to crowd him. He waits until Roy stomps into the room and drops the car keys on the coffee table next to his phone.

“Hey,” Oliver says. “Where’ve you been?”

“You lied to me.”

“About what?”

“You said you’d never send me away. But you have half-filled-out adoption papers for Roy Harper in your desk, dated fifteen years ago. So clearly you already have.”

Oh. Shit. Dinah keeps telling him he needs to clean out his desk. “Okay. I can see why that would be upsetting. Do you want to sit down so we can talk about it?”

“No.”

This isn't going to go well. Oliver does his best, anyway. “I was twenty five, Roy, and I was thinking ‘sidekick,’ not ‘son.’ Which I suspect is what went wrong with you and your Oliver. It took me a week to realize I was completely unprepared to be a parent. And I made sure he ended up with someone much better than me.”

Roy stands there for a minute, scowling, then he picks up his phone and the car keys. “I’m going out.”

“You just got in.”

“Don’t follow me.”

The front door slams a moment later. Oliver calls Dinah.

-

When Roy comes through the zeta tube, he stands there and waits, in case the cave is booby trapped. You never know with Batman.

It only takes a minute for him to come down, along with two women who must be Talia and Selina—Jay talks about them a lot.

“Roy? What happened? Are you all right?” Bruce looks like he actually cares if he’s all right or not. Roy hasn’t seen him look this worried since Dick broke his leg when they were fourteen.

“I—um. I had a fight with Ollie. Can I stay here for a while? You’re kind of the only people in the world I know.”

“Of course. I was just about to head out—Talia, Selina, can you help Roy find Jason?”

Roy follows them upstairs. He knows Bruce is going to call Ollie, but that’s fine, as long as he doesn’t make him go back yet. He doesn’t want to be around Ollie right now, but he doesn’t really want to worry him, either. He’s not sure it’s fair to be mad—he barely gave Oliver the chance to explain, and what he did say sounded reasonable. It’s just—he didn’t like Roy enough to keep him, the first time around. And he’s only doing it now because Batman asked him to.

Jason isn't far from the cave entrance. He’s holding a baby, watching TV with the volume turned way down.

“Jay,” one of the women says. The not-pregnant one. Talia, he thinks. The one whose baby Jason is holding.

He looks up. “Roy? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, Jaybird,” he says, which means “nothing I want to discuss in front of your sort-of moms who I met five minutes ago.”

Jay nods. “C’mere. Meet Asia.”

Roy sits on the couch to get a better look at the baby. She blinks up at him. Two cats run by, followed by a huge dog, then a boy. The baby starts crying. Jason hands her to Talia, and Selina takes off after the animals.

“Well?” Jason asks a moment later, when they’re alone.

“Did you know I was his second Roy?”

“He didn’t tell you?”

Roy shakes his head.

“Shit. I’m sorry. Let’s go find Alfie. He’ll set up a room for you.”

Chapter Text

“It’ll be fine, Oliver. He just needs some time. I have a couple situations to handle here, but I’ll talk to him in the morning. He’s with the kids now, and they all like you.”

“Your kids like me?”

“Of course they do. Look, I need to work out a living situation for a woman with two pet hyenas. I’ll call you tomorrow, okay? He’ll come around, and at least for now you know he’s safe.”

-

“You’ll be cleaning up after it.”

“I know,” Tim says.

“And you’ll need to keep it away from the other pets.”

“I know, Alfred.”

“Do you know what it eats?”

“Um. Not yet.”

“Then I suggest you find out before it gets hungry. I need to check on your siblings.”

When Tim and Damian came home with a chicken, all Bruce had to say about it was “At least it’s not a cow. Or a hyena.” Alfred is very tired. Though not, he supposes, as tired as he would be if there was a hyena in the house.

Talia has Athanasia, Cassandra’s door is closed, Dick is in the chandelier, and Bruce has undoubtedly gone out for the evening. He’ll need to coax Dick out of the chandelier and put him to bed, but that could be difficult given his current mood; he’ll find Jason and Damian first.

Damian and Selina are in the dining room; Damian is sitting on the table, which Alfred has told him at least a dozen times not to do. There are also two cats on the table, but he’s given up entirely on controlling them.

“Damian,” Alfred says, and he slides off the table into a chair, looking guilty.

Selina looks over at Alfred. “Roy Harper is spending the night. He had a fight with Oliver.”

“Roy’s here? I want to meet him.”

Damian runs off, and Selina stands, sweeping both cats off the table. “Come on; I’ll help you set up a room for him.”

-

Damian wanders in to introduce himself to Roy, and to tell them Alfred is already on top of the bed situation. He leaves again pretty quick—Dami’s not great in emotional situations, at least with people he’s not close to, and he can probably tell Roy’s upset.

Jason takes Roy upstairs to meet everyone else. They need to talk more about Oliver, but Cass and Tim will get curious and come interrupt them if they don’t handle the introductions first.

They run into Dick on the way; he’s sitting in the chandelier, and waves when Jay tells him Roy is here. They continue up the stairs, and Jay knocks on Tim’s door.

“Come in,” he says, sounding a little frantic.

Tim is balanced precariously on the back of his wheeled desk chair, trying to reach his new chicken on the top of his bookshelf. There are books and papers scattered all over his floor.

“You okay?”

“Fine,” Tim says. “I just—” He reaches out, just missing the chicken, and the chair moves. He flails and falls back; Jason catches him and sets him down on his bed.

“You sure you want a pet?”

“She was a gift from Damian. You know, in some universes, Damian is trying to kill me? So are you, actually. Why does everyone want me dead?” He sits up and swings around to face them. “Oh! Hi! I’m Tim.”

“Roy.”

“No one here wants you dead, Tim.”

“I know. But Damian could want me dead, and instead he wants me to have a pet. So. Plus she’s really soft. She’ll come down eventually. Probably.”

“Uh huh. Good luck with that. You seen Cass?”

“In her room. Door closed.”

Cass doesn’t close her door unless she wants to be alone, so that’ll have to wait until later. “You wanna watch a movie?”

-

Roy ends up spending the night in Jason’s room. Alfred set up a bedroom for him, which was really nice of him, but it ended up being Dick’s bedroom at home, and that just felt weird. He didn’t want to ask Alfred to set up another room—he has more than enough work to do.

He’s met all of the Wayne kids now—Cassandra wandered in about halfway through the movie, and Damian came back about the same time. Roy hasn’t seen Dick again; he might still be in the chandelier. They all seem nice. Cass was pretty quiet, but apparently that’s normal.

Everyone’s gone to bed now. Except for Bruce—he’s probably still out as Batman. It’s weird, thinking of him out there without Robin. He’s had plenty of time to get used to the idea of Green Arrow without Speedy.

Roy is on a pullout couch in Jason’s room. It’s basically a sleepover, which he hasn’t had in years, and he’s not sure what to do with himself.

“Ollie didn’t agree to taking you in right away,” Jason says into the dark.

“That doesn’t really make me feel better.”

“No. Like, he—you would have wound up in this world no matter what. It’s not like the manor doesn’t have room for one more kid. But Ollie was worried that he was just destined to be a bad dad. So we did research—me and Tim. We must have looked at thirty different Oliver Queens. And yours was the weird one. You got the one genuinely shitty Oliver in the multiverse. I thought—I thought you should know he doesn’t usually suck. And this Ollie was really worried about not being good enough for you.”

“You mean I don’t—I’m not usually—”

“Most versions of you have the drug problem. But most Olivers don’t kick you out over it. There are a lot of big fights, and sometimes you quit or move out. But you’re usually at least eighteen when it happens. There were I think two other times you left before you were a legal adult? And both times it was you running away after the big fight, not him kicking you out. He worked really, really hard to find you and bring you home.”

“So what was wrong with my Oliver?”

“I don’t know. Just bad luck, I guess. But this Ollie—I bet he feels really bad about what happened.”

“I’m going to bed,” Roy says. He doesn’t really want to think about how Oliver feels right now.

-

Bruce slides into bed next to Selina, and she rolls over to face him. “You get everything sorted?”

“Pam and Harley are in one of the apartments for now; Harley’s agreed to leave the hyenas where they are until they have a more permanent living situation. The kids are all asleep, Roy included. I’ll deal with Tim and the Owl in the morning.”

“All right. Good night, Bruce.”

Chapter Text

Roy wakes up to a text from Ollie, apologizing and telling him to come home whenever he feels ready. He doesn’t answer, but he figures he’ll probably leave sometime after lunch. He’s still upset, but he knows he needs to talk to Oliver. Just, after he’s eaten something Alfred’s cooked, maybe.

Jay is pretty out of it this morning, the way he gets sometimes, and Roy isn't sure what to do. Jason’s not talking, he doesn’t know if they have a morning routine or anything, and he doesn’t really want to just go wandering around someone else’s house. He’s still trying to decide what to do when Damian opens the bedroom door without knocking.

“You guys are missing breakfast.”

“We’re coming. Right, Jaybird?”

Jason nods, standing slowly, and they both follow Damian down the hall.

“After breakfast Father is finally going to research the Owl.”

“The Owl?” Roy asks.

Damian glances back at him. “One of the people who tortured Dick in his old world. We saw her at the mall before the baby shower.”

They continue in silence for a few feet, then Damian turns around again. “Could you teach me how to—um, I’m not sure if—how to arch? Grandfather tried when I was younger, but I didn’t learn fast enough, and he’s not—he wasn’t—very patient.”

“Sure, I could do that sometime.”

Damian smiles at him. “Cool.”

-

Cassandra watches the breakfast table. She saw Roy last night, but she didn’t pay much attention to him—he got here late, and it was a long day.

Roy is only the second person she’s met, after Talia, that she knew before coming to this world. He is so small. Not on the outside—she thinks he’s finished growing. But he feels smaller because he is so much younger. The Roy she knew was a grown-up.

She knows he didn’t always get along with his Oliver Queen, but they loved each other. She hopes this littler Roy knows Oliver loves him, too.

Tim is grumpy because Bruce grounded him this morning for breaking people out of prison—she overheard them talking about it earlier. Dick is bouncing in his chair, but it’s his anxious, I-don’t-want-to-be-here bounce, not his happy bounce. Bruce doesn’t want to be here either, but he’s hiding it better. Alfred told them the Owl could keep until after breakfast, especially since they have company. Cass thinks this was a good idea, because Bruce is probably going to put on the Batsuit and catch her as soon as he finds proof she’s an Owl, and you shouldn’t fight crime without breakfast.

Cass goes with Bruce and Dick down to the cave after eating. Tim and Damian come too, but everyone else stays upstairs. Jay would want to come if he was more here today, but he has a friend to entertain, anyway, so leaving him here is fine.

Tim did a little research right when they saw the Owl, but not a lot, because he isn't supposed to have the cave computers downloaded onto his phone.

He and Dami help Bruce—they have to check everything ever to see if she’s committed any crimes, and why she hasn’t if she hasn’t, and if she knows anyone else who might be an Owl. They can’t get much information on her by spying on Dick’s old world, because there’s no Batman there whose stuff they can use. So they have to find other worlds with Owls and Batman to compare her to.

Cass isn't good with computers, so she tries to keep Dick busy. This is not easy. They get unhelpful updates every few minutes—“She got a parking ticket when she was nineteen.” “She works in an elementary school—I don’t like that.” “Oh, hey, she’s married in this other universe. Dickie, do you know if she was married?”

Dick shrugs, then burrows himself further into Cass’ side. She wraps an arm around his shoulders.

Finally Bruce says, “It’s all about the husband. He’s wealthy and influential—he was her connection to the Court. She never married him here because he died when we were kids. He was a few years older than me; I remember people talking about what a tragedy it was.”

“So she’s not a bad guy here?” Cass checks.

“She’s not a bad guy,” Bruce confirms.

Cassandra feels Dick stiffen against her before he pulls away.

“She laughed. I was only barely a Talon yet, and I died two times already that day, with all the Owls watching, and he was going to kill me again and I just wanted to stay dead but they never let me stay dead—they never even let me stay dead when I was frozen, they made me be awake, and he was killing me again and she laughed. I hate her.”

He bursts into tears, and Bruce rushes over to pick him up. Damian runs upstairs, probably to get Ace for Dick. Dami thinks pets can make everything better, and he’s right at least half the time. Cass stays sitting on the floor, panicking a little about a woman who laughed about dying eight year olds in one world working with them all day in this one. That sounds—bad. She looks over at Tim, and he nods. They are on the same page, and it is a page where they pay very close attention to this woman from now on. (Bruce is probably also on this page, but he’s a little busy right now.)

-

Bruce carries Dick upstairs. He’s stopped crying now, and is sitting limp and silent in Bruce’s arms. He has his favorite blanket, his stuffed elephant, and his noise cancelling headphones. Ace and Titus have both been by to nose anxiously at his feet. Nothing seems to be making him feel better, although it’s hard to be sure when he won’t say anything. He doesn’t seem to want to be put down, though, and he seems less anxious when Bruce is moving around. It’s been a long time, and he’s not quite as small as he used to be; he’s getting difficult to carry.

Bruce knew the Owl would be a setback. Dick seemed to be handling it well, though, before they got to the actual research. He was nervous about it, he had nightmares, but it’s not as if he hasn’t had worse days for no reason at all. Now, though—Bruce wishes he had somehow missed an Owl. He wishes she’d been running around committing crimes, so he could do something to her and make his son feel better.

Dick likes high places, and he’s not interested in letting go of Bruce right now, which rules out his usual favorites like the rafters and the chandelier. Bruce would like to get him onto the roof, but he’s not completely confident in his ability to carry a child through the window, especially a child with zero self-preservation instinct, who won’t necessarily make an effort to hang on tightly.

It’s really a two person job, and there aren’t many people in the house who can help him with it, but Jason is still strong enough to carry Dick. Except Jason, Bruce remembers when he finds him in the library with Roy, is having a bad day. And he probably should have checked on him earlier—checked on both of them, and talked to Roy like he told Oliver he would—but he’s very worried about Dick, who hasn’t gone this long without talking or moving while awake since he shook off most of his Talon training.

Well. Roy is about the same size as Jason, and can probably also lift Dick.

“Roy, can you help me with something?”

He and Jason are sitting on the floor—he looks up. “Sure. Be right back, Jay.”

They go to the window with the best roof access, and Bruce pulls down Dick’s headphones, then explains, “I just need you to hold him for a minute while I go through the window, then pass him back to me—he doesn’t want to be put down.”

“Okay. Hey, Dick, you wanna c’mere a sec?”

Dick turns his head away, into Bruce’s shoulder, and Bruce tells him, even though he’s been here for the conversation, “Roy’s just going to help us get onto the roof, Dickie.”

“You know,” Roy says, “in my world you think I’m way cooler than this guy.”

Dick peeks out at him.

“Just for a second, okay?”

Dick nods slightly, and Bruce hands him over. He climbs through the window and looks out at the yard and the street—Jack Drake is watching him from his driveway. Fantastic. Bruce kind of preferred it when the neighbors were gone for several months.

Roy hands Dick back over.

“Thank you, Roy.”

“Sure.”

“How are you doing?” Bruce asks, adjusting his grip on Dick as he leans back through the window. Not the best time for it, but he did say he’d talk to Roy.

“Okay, I guess. Ollie texted me this morning. I figure I’ll go home in a few hours. I just needed space, you know?”

Bruce nods. “Let me know if you need anything, okay? I think I’ll be out here for a while.”

“Okay. Thanks, Bruce.”

Chapter Text

Dick leans out over the edge of the roof. Bruce is holding on to the back of his shirt, which is dumb. He never falls, he’s a Tal—

It isn't fair.

He thought she wouldn’t be an Owl here and it would be fine, but it’s worse. If she was an Owl Bruce would make her go away. But she’s just some lady, and that means she’ll always be here.

“Dick,” Bruce says. He turns around and scoots away from the edge. “Are you feeling any better?”

“No.” He looks back out at the yard. “I wish I wasn’t a Talon.”

“You’re not a Talon anymore, Dick,” Bruce says, very patient, like he always does, but it isn't true. His skin is wrong, his eyes are wrong, his blood is wrong, his brain is wrong. He’s less like a Talon than any other Talon he’s ever heard of, but he’s never going to really not be a Talon.

“It isn't fair.”

“I know, Dick. I know.”

-

By lunchtime Bruce and Dick are back inside, though Dick is still miserable and withdrawn. Jay is much more present than he was this morning, but he looks miserable, too. Everyone does, even Roy. Athanasia was so fussy Talia put her down for her nap over an hour early. No one is happy when Dick’s unhappy—he’s the kind of person who has such big emotions they tend to radiate and infect everyone in the vicinity. It’s really nice when he’s in a good mood.

“Okay,” Tim says. “We need to do something to cheer Dick up.”

Dick looks up briefly from the food he’s pushing across his plate with his fork.

“Zoo?” Jason suggests.

“It’s closed on Sundays,” Damian says, because of course Damian has the zoo hours memorized.

But Dick really likes the zoo. “That means we won’t run into anyone we don’t want to,” Tim points out.

“Break into the zoo?” Cass asks.

“No,” Bruce says. “I’ll make some calls. Roy, would you like to join us before going home?”

-

Father gets a zookeeper to come and give them a private tour. Which probably means they’ll be in the tabloids tomorrow, for the second time this weekend. (Selina said she was going to frame the front-page story about their mall adventure.)

Mother, Selina, and Alfred didn’t want to come, and Mother kept Asia at home, too, so it’s them and Father, just like old times. Plus Roy.

It’s a very casual tour—they’re mostly just wandering with supervision. Tim is interrogating the zookeeper about chicken care. Jason and Roy are hanging back a little. Jay is definitely feeling better than he was this morning, but he’s still not doing very well. He’s walking slower, and his limp, which you can mostly forget about, is more pronounced than on good days, and Roy has that sort of careful look on his face that people sometimes get with Jason.

Dick is still a lot quieter than normal, but at least he wants to move again. He finally let Father set him down, and now he’s holding Cassandra’s hand. Father takes a picture of them with his phone, then walks over to Damian.

“Okay?” he asks.

“Fine,” Damian lies. He was thinking about asking his grandpa (he’s still getting used to calling him that) to send someone to take care of the not-Owl. But that would probably be wrong. Father definitely wouldn’t like it.

“I won’t let her hurt anyone.”

“I know.”

“Good. What animals do you want to see next?”

Damian considers this. “Giraffes.”

“All right. Let’s go see some giraffes.”

-

Dinah gets a text from Roy just as night begins to fall. It says “Zeta tubing now. Come pick me up?”

“Roy’s ready,” she tells Ollie.

“Yeah? Should I—”

“Did he ever text you back this morning?”

“No.”

“Better stay here, then—he’s probably still upset. We’ll talk a little, maybe grab something to eat.”

“All right.”

“It’ll be fine, Oliver,” Dinah says, fairly certain she’s telling the truth. Bruce told them that when Jason ran away he didn’t come back for three days. And they’re getting along great now.

She doesn’t see Roy at first—he’s sitting on the fire escape across the street from the zeta tube. She has to wait a few minutes for the streets to clear so no one notices her climbing up to join him.

“Did you have a good time with the Waynes?” she asks.

Roy doesn’t answer right away. When he does, all he says is “Tell me about him?”

Dinah takes a moment to gather her thoughts. “Oliver adored you—him. He just wasn’t ready to be a parent. He wasn’t mature enough. He didn’t have the patience. He wasn’t always making good decisions for himself, and he wouldn’t have known how to for a child, either. It was so long ago, Roy. Fifteen years ago, there was no Justice League. We’d only known each other for a few months, and only as Green Arrow and Black Canary—it was over a year before we exchanged real names.

“Any time we worked together he talked about you. He was planning for about a month before you came to live with him, and then he had you for a week or two. He had such big plans. He wanted you as a sidekick, but it wasn’t—it wasn’t because he didn’t care about you as a person. He was young, and stupid, and thinking all about the fun of what we do, and not at all about the danger.

“But once you were actually living with him—your father had just died, and you were trying to adjust to a completely different culture. And he realized he couldn’t give you what you needed.”

“So where did I go?” Roy asks.

“Ollie worked very hard to find a family that would adopt you, not just foster you. It’s hard to get adopted as a twelve year old. He also managed to find a family where the mother was Navajo, so the culture shock wasn’t as bad. You ended up halfway across the country, but he checked on you frequently—he still does. You’re happy and healthy. You have a good job and a beautiful, four year old daughter named Lian.”

“Did he only keep me, this time, because Bruce asked him to?”

“No. It was Bruce’s idea—well, technically Jason’s. But we love you. And Ollie is so glad to have a second chance at being a part of your life, now that he’s ready to do a better job at it.”

“Okay,” Roy says after a minute. “I guess we can go home now.”

-

Roy and Dinah come home less than an hour after Dinah leaves. Oliver stands in the hallway, awkward, as they walk in; he has no idea where he stands with Roy right now.

“Hi,” Roy says.

“Hi.”

“I—um. I thought I was doing a pretty good job trusting you. But I guess I’m not there yet.”

“That’s okay. We’ll figure it out.”

“Cool.”

“Cool,” Oliver repeats. “You want dinner?”

Chapter Text

Jason wakes up from a nightmare about his dad being killed in an Arkham riot. Which—well. His dad was killed in an Arkham riot. But he’s got another dad down the hall, and he figures he’ll feel better if he just makes sure that one is in bed where he belongs.

He’s not.

And it’s not like it’s unusual for Batman to keep weird hours, but Selina’s not in bed either, and she usually is at this time of night, ever since she got too pregnant to go out as Catwoman.

Jason goes downstairs. There’s a light on in the kitchen—Tim is sitting on the counter eating a bagel.

“Where’s Bruce and Selina?”

Tim looks up. “Hospital. She went into labor an hour ago.”

Oh. That’s not good. “She’s early.”

“Does two weeks even count as early?”

“It does when Alfred’s gone for the next four days.” He’d wanted a vacation before the house got even crazier than usual.

“Oh,” Tim says. “Right. Guess Talia’s gonna have a busy couple days.”

Jason goes to the fridge. His stomach is never great after nightmares, but he might have some juice or something. “Did they wake you up when they left?”

Tim shakes his head. “I was already down here.”

“Do you ever sleep?”

“I had a nightmare.”

“Sorry. Me too.” Jason pours a glass of juice and joins Tim on the counter.

“Joker or cemetery?” Tim asks.

“Dad dying. You?”

“It’s always the Joker.”

“Sorry,” Jason says again.

Tim shrugs. “Selina says Harley dumped him. By mail, since he’s still in Arkham.”

“They let former inmates send mail?”

“Apparently,” Tim says. “So how long do you think it’ll be before we have to go to their house so Dami can meet the hyenas?”

“At least a couple weeks. Until the baby excitement dies down. You ready to see her?”

“Not yet. Maybe after Bruce lets me talk to my Harley. He says I have to get it approved by my therapist.”

“You ask her?”

“I’m still trying to figure out how to explain the situation without the whole Batman’s sidekick from another dimension thing.”

“And you’re afraid she’ll say no,” Jason guesses. Dad said they could tell their therapists about Batman and the multiverse if they felt like they needed to. They’ve all signed, like, ten million nondisclosure agreements, anyway.

“And I’m afraid she’ll say no,” Tim agrees. He hops off the counter. “I’m gonna try to sleep for a few more hours. Don’t wanna miss Talia’s reaction when she hears she’s the only parent in the house.”

-

Talia looks around the room at the children. They were all up and waiting for her when she woke, Jason feeding Athanasia. (He’s a wonderful brother and she seems very fond of him; Talia hopes the arrival of a newer, smaller sister won’t displace her in his affections.)

It had been unnerving, coming downstairs to all of them. Tim, who never interacts with her if he can avoid it, had been bouncing on his toes as he informed her that Bruce and Selina had gone to the hospital and would likely be away until tomorrow at least. He probably thinks her attempts to manage them in the meantime will be entertaining. He’s probably correct—she’s never been the only parent in the house for more than a few hours, and never when all six of them are awake. The only ones she feels really confident in her ability to handle are Damian, who adores her, and Cassandra, who is twenty one and essentially self-sufficient. Even for Athanasia, she’s not usually the only adult in the house. If Asia cries when Talia’s hands are full, there’s always someone else to grab her.

She wants to be angry with Bruce and Selina for not even telling her themselves that they were leaving, but knows that isn't fair. Athanasia had been very fussy last night, and Gotham apparently more crime-ridden than usual. Bruce had gotten home after two in the morning, and had immediately sent Talia to bed and taken his turn with the baby. By Tim’s account it was less than two hours later that they left for the hospital. It’s understandable that he wouldn’t think of her, between the excitement and the exhaustion; it’s equally possible that he didn’t forget, but thought it would be kinder to let her sleep. And Talia’s never gone through labor herself, but suspects it would be unreasonable to expect Selina to think of her in the midst of it.

“I suppose,” she says slowly, “that I should make you breakfast.”

“No,” Jason says firmly. “I should make breakfast. You should change Asia’s diaper.”

Jason feels strongly that he, Alfred, and Selina should be the only members of the household permitted to cook without supervision. Jason also doesn’t like changing diapers. Talia accepts the baby and the change of plans, and the children disperse a little. Jason goes to the kitchen. Damian runs off, presumably to feed the pets; Cassandra picks a feather from the back of Tim’s shirt before following. Tim has been sitting on the back of the couch. He drops backward and closes his eyes, apparently deciding Talia won’t be doing anything interesting in the near future. She takes Athanasia upstairs, and Dick follows her.

He’s been clingy, since the incident with the Owl, but Talia is not usually one of his first choices to cling to. She doesn’t mind—she’s long since gotten over her discomfort with him, though she is still, occasionally, nearly overwhelmed with rage when the light catches his eyes just so. If that woman had been an Owl, Talia would have killed her without hesitation, damn Bruce and all his rules. No one who would do such a thing to a child deserves to live.

“Would you like to hold her while I find a clean diaper?” she asks. Dick launches himself into the nearest chair in response—he’s only allowed to hold her when he’s sitting down.

Bruce calls shortly before lunch (which Jason is preparing, with carefully monitored help from Damian. Cassandra is setting the table.)

“It’s a girl,” he tells her.

“You knew that from the ultrasound, Bruce.”

“Her name is Helena. She’s amazing.”

“I’m sure she is,” Talia says.

“We shouldn’t have left without waking you. And I should have called sooner.”

“It’s fine.”

“We should be home sometime tomorrow. The following morning at the latest. You can call Kate if you need help with—”

“It’s fine, Bruce. I can handle a few kids for a few days.”

“If you say so.”

“I’ll call Kate if I need her. Would you like to talk to the children?”

“Just for a minute, if they’re not busy. I need to get back to Selina.”

Tim is still lying on the couch a few feet away, but Talia is fairly certain he’s awake. She holds out the phone, and he reaches up to take it.

“Hi, Bruce. No, I went back to bed after. I dunno, a couple hours? Whatever. How’s Selina?”

Talia leaves them to their conversation.

The rest of the day goes well. The children really aren’t difficult on an average day—Tim disappears into his room, Dick into the chandelier, and Damian onto the grounds with the dogs. Talia puts Athanasia in her playpen, and Jason sits nearby with a book. Cassandra comes and goes throughout the day, probably spreading her time between brothers.

By dinnertime Jason seems just a little less present than usual, enough so that Talia isn't entirely comfortable letting him work with knives and heating elements. He doesn’t object when she orders in their dinner.

Talia doesn’t realize until the following morning, when she goes to check on him and he vomits on her shoes, that Jason is ill, not having a bad day. Within half an hour, Damian is sick as well.

This, of course, is exactly what she needs today.

She tries to make lunch, and somehow sets off the smoke detector. Dick has been sitting on the fridge; he slides down and runs out of the room. Athanasia, in her playpen in the next room, begins crying. Talia isn't sure where Cassandra’s gone—checking on Jay and Damian, maybe. Tim is sitting at the kitchen table with his laptop.

“Tim, could you get your sister?”

He hesitates, and Asia screams again. The smoke alarm keeps blaring.

“Timothy!” she snaps, and regrets it immediately. He already doesn’t like her—yelling won’t help that.

But he stands and walks toward the playpen. Talia throws open a few windows and goes to turn off the alarm. When she turns back to Tim he’s sitting at the table again, holding Athanasia carefully.

“I’m sorry I shouted. Would you like me to take her?”

“No,” he says. “No, I think I’m good, actually.”

Halfway through lunch, Dick throws up. Which is, in some ways, a good thing—like growth spurts, illnesses don’t happen to someone who isn't at least partly human. Talia cleans up—again—sends Dick to bed, and calls Bruce and Selina. If they leave the hospital today they’ll have to go to the penthouse. They can’t have a newborn in a house full of stomach flu.

It ends up being a twenty four hour bug, which she, Tim, and Athanasia never catch, though it does hit Cassandra about an hour after Talia speaks to Bruce. They keep Helena at the penthouse an extra day, just in case. Bruce offers to leave her with Selina and come home to help Talia with the other children—she refuses.

This is overwhelming, and disgusting, and beneath her. It’s also part of being a mother, and a part she’s determined to do correctly. Besides, she’s gotten Tim to spend most of a day in the same room as her, and to hold Athanasia. She suspects he’s mostly staying nearby because he’s lonely, with most of his siblings ill and his boyfriend spending the weekend in Metropolis, but it’s still progress.

Chapter Text

Oliver gets the text in the middle of lunch.

“Selina had her baby. Bruce wants me to cover his shift at the Watchtower.”

He looks across the table at Roy. Things have been—not bad, exactly, but a little uncomfortable, since he found out about the other Roy a couple weeks ago. He’s back to practicing his archery with a single-minded focus. Ollie is worried this is about the discovery that he did want Roy as a sidekick at some point, but he keeps saying he just hates being out of practice.

“Do you want to come along?” he asks. “Barry has the shift before, and Hal has the shift after.”

Roy looks up at him. “Um, okay. I—I guess that would be cool.”

“You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” Dinah says.

“No. I want to.”

-

They rely more on zeta tubes here than at home. Roy thinks it’s probably because the Justice League members are better friends here. His Batman would never have allowed a zeta tube in his cave, but he never would have wanted the other League members in his house—or even his city—either.

If there had been a zeta tube halfway across town, the night Ollie kicked him out, that he could have taken to Dick or Wally or Donna—zeta tubes were for going to the Watchtower. And for coming back from the Watchtower, so if he’d taken the Star City zeta to the Watchtower, he probably could have taken the Watchtower zeta just about anywhere else. But he hadn’t been thinking that clearly then—the whole reason Ollie’d kicked him out was that he’d come home to find him high as fuck.

He probably wouldn’t have gone to Dick or Wally or Donna, anyway. He’d thought about finding Hal, but then he’d remembered Hal was off-world, and he doesn’t really remember making plans after that. He should have tried harder to get a hold of somebody—the entire Justice League and all their kids couldn’t have been okay with Green Arrow beating up a sixteen year old and throwing him out on the streets.

He wonders what Ollie told them all. Probably that he ran away.

“Roy? You ready to go?”

He looks over at this Ollie, standing next to the zeta tube, looking concerned.

“Yeah. Let’s do this.”

They get to the Watchtower about half an hour early. Roy is glad the schedule worked out this way—meeting a new Barry isn't quite as big a deal as meeting a new Hal, and he’ll have a few hours after meeting Barry to prepare himself for that.

He’s nervous. Apparently the Ollie in his old world was just a record-breaking asshole among Ollies. And he never spent much time with Bruce before, but Dick was always talking about him, and Roy is pretty sure he was terrible, too. Definitely not as good as this Bruce.

But Barry and Hal were both always really nice to him. He’s glad Bruce and Ollie are different. He doesn’t want Barry and Hal to be. And meeting them is a bigger deal than anything else he’s done in this world after meeting Ollie. He never knew Dinah and Bruce and Jason that well in his old world, and he knew going in that Dick wouldn’t really be anything like the one he knew before.

Barry is in his uniform when they walk in, sitting at the monitors with his back to them. Ollie’s in uniform too, and Roy feels weird and naked in his jeans and t-shirt. Barry spins around in his chair and smiles; Oliver must have told him Roy was coming, because he doesn’t look surprised.

“Hey,” he says, holding out a hand. “You must be Roy—Oliver’s told me a lot about you.”

That doesn’t—well, there’s not much good to say about him. But Barry is smiling, so. Whatever. This Ollie is weird. Roy shakes Barry’s hand. “He hasn’t really told me anything about you, but I knew alternate you when I was a kid.”

“Weird.”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Well. We can skip all the boring get-to-know-you stuff, then. Let’s leave the boring crap to Ollie, check out the Watchtower. I know you’ve seen it before, but it’s been a couple years, right? And it’s not exactly the same Watchtower.”

-

Barry and Roy are gone for about half an hour, and Roy eventually comes back alone. He’s quiet but smiling, so Ollie figures they must have had a good time. Roy sits down in the chair next to his, spinning around a couple times before he asks, “So, is there anything specific we’re keeping an eye out for, or just general watch shift shit?”

“General shit. Should be a quiet night.”

“Cool.”

They sit in silence for a while. Ollie doesn’t think it’s uncomfortable; they just don’t have much to talk about. It’s over an hour later that Roy takes a deep breath and turns to face him.

“You punched me,” he says, “right before you kicked me out. You—not you, I know. He. I didn’t realize he’d broken my nose until I came down a little. Then I figured I’d better numb up again before I popped it back into place. Got so high I hardly felt it. Turned out pretty good, all things considered. I tried to call Hal, but he was off-world. I didn’t have the numbers for any other adults, and I didn’t—I didn’t want my friends to know. A week later I sold my phone for food money, and then I couldn’t call anybody. Didn’t think to write down the numbers or anything first.”

“Roy.”

“I just—I wasn’t thinking clearly at all, but especially over the first couple weeks. I should have stayed in town, or at least gone to a town where somebody knew me. You couldn’t—he, sorry, he couldn’t—he must have lied to everyone. I was a minor. I should have tried harder to—to—I shouldn’t have—”

“Roy,” Oliver says. “It doesn’t matter what you could have done differently. It wasn’t your fault. You were a kid, and it was his job to take care of you.”

“Some of it was my fault.”

“Most of it was his.”

Oliver’s not sure what’s prompted this sudden opening-up about Roy’s past. Maybe meeting Barry, or the prospect of meeting Hal. Maybe just the several hours alone.

“Are you okay?” he asks.

“Fine. Just thinking. I’m glad I’m here, you know.”

“I’m glad you’re here, too.”

They sit in silence again for a while, Oliver watching the monitors, Roy playing on his phone.

“Hey,” Roy says after a few minutes, “um. Do you know—I shoulda asked Barry when he was here. Do you know anything about Wally West?”

“That’s Barry’s nephew, right? I think he’s a scientist or something.”

“He’s doing good?”

“As far as I know. We could ask Barry about it.”

“Maybe later. Um. How about Donna Troy?”

“I’m not sure who that is. Sorry.”

“It’s fine.” He goes back to his phone.

Over the next hour Roy gets more and more fidgety, spinning in his chair then stopping abruptly, drumming his fingers on the table, taking his phone out and putting it away again. Oliver asks him if he’s all right several times, and he says he’s fine.

“I can’t—I can’t do this,” he says suddenly. “I’m not ready to meet Hal. I’m—I’m gonna go back to Star City, okay? I’ll wait for you in the car.”

He stands and walks toward to door.

“Roy, are you—”

The door slams behind him. Well. There’s twenty minutes left on his shift. They’ll talk when Hal takes over. It’s not really a surprise he’s changed his mind. Hal was important to him. Dinah said she was worried about him not being ready, and she’s better at reading Roy than he is.

Chapter Text

Roy and Oliver get home fifteen minutes after the watch shift ends, and Roy disappears into his bedroom immediately.

“I broke his nose,” Oliver tells Dinah.

She spins around to face him. “You did what?”

“The other Oliver.”

“Shit. When?”

“The night he kicked him out.”

“Shit,” Dinah says again. “Well, it was probably an isolated incident, at least. He’s around you all the time, and he doesn’t act like he’s expecting you to hit him. He didn’t, even in the first couple weeks, when he was still confused.”

Oliver sighs. “I would love to know what the fuck was wrong with me over there.”

Dinah shrugs. She would too, but there’s not much they can do about it now. “Did things go badly with Hal? You’re back sooner than I expected.”

“Roy changed his mind. He seemed to have a good time with Barry, though. And we talked. Well, he talked—I listened. But it was good, I think. He opened up a lot.”

“Good,” Dinah says. “I worry about him. He’s alone all day and half the night while we’re at work, and even when we’re home—I’m not sure he likes us that much.”

“I think he does. You, at least. And he told me tonight that he’s glad he’s here.”

“Really?”

Ollie nods.

“Well, that’s great. But he still needs someone other than us.”

“He’s got Jason.”

“Ollie, I love Jason, but he is an extremely traumatized teenager, and he is absolutely not equipped to be the majority of someone’s support system.”

“Well, he’s got his license. He could go into town while we’re at work. Do things, meet people.”

“He’s a recovering heroin addict a few months out from a clumsy, do-it-yourself rehab—do we really want him out by himself in a city where he has no emotional connections but remembers all the places to buy drugs?”

“I guess not.”

“I’ll talk to him tomorrow. We’ll figure something out.”

-

It’s been nice having Helena and Selina to himself, but Bruce is very glad to be home. He hasn’t gone this long without seeing the boys since taking Cassandra to the ballet. He’s never gone this long without seeing his girls—even when Asia was in the hospital he visited her every day.

It’s only been three days. The kids haven’t missed him as much as he missed them; they’re much more interested in the new baby. Tim and Talia, holding Athanasia, hang back as the rest of the family crowds around Selina and Helena. (Talia texted him a photo of Tim holding Athanasia yesterday. He’s going to print it out, frame it, and put it in his office.)

Bruce wraps an arm around Tim’s shoulder. “Missed you guys.”

“It was three days, B.”

“It was a long three days. Do you want to hold your new sister?”

“I think I’m gonna quit while I’m ahead on the baby-holding front. You saw, right?”

“I saw. Talia takes much better photos than your siblings.” He lets go of Tim and turns to her. “You survived.”

“I did. Here, take your daughter.”

He does. “Hi, sweetheart. Missed you.”

“Ga,” Asia says.

Talia joins the crowd around Selina and Helena, and Tim comes to stand next to Bruce. “Is the new one as cute as Asia?”

“Exactly as cute. They are of equal cuteness.”

“Uh huh. Kon got back from Metropolis yesterday morning, so I was thinking maybe he could come pick me up after lunch?”

“Did you wait a day to go see your boyfriend so you could help Talia yesterday?”

Tim turns slightly red. “She had four sick kids and a baby.”

“Yes, Tim. You can go see Kon. Spend the night if you want. Now come meet Helena. You don’t have to hold her.”

-

Between the gang activity and the huge rush order at the flower shop, it’s a few days before Dinah can have the conversation she wants to with Roy. When things finally slow down, she leaves work a few hours early. Roy is, unsurprisingly, in the backyard shooting things.

He stops when he sees her, dropping the bow and jogging over. “Hey, Di, you’re—oh, you look serious. What’s up?”

Dinah walks over and sits on the ancient swing set, left over from Oliver’s childhood, and Roy follows.

“You told Ollie the other day that he hit you. Did that happen a lot?”

“Just the one time.” He frowns. “Well, just the one time on purpose.”

“On purpose?”

“Yeah, well, you know, sometimes when we were training he’d forget to pull his punches, but—”

“Did he forget to pull his punches when he was mad at you?”

Roy looks down at his feet. “Can we, um, can we not talk about this right now?”

“Sure. There was another thing I was wanting to discuss, though.”

“Yeah?” Roy says, looking wary.

“You’re a good archer, Roy. But you can’t actually spend all your time playing with bows and arrows.”

“And instead you think I should be doing what, exactly?”

“You could come to work with me again. You could go to work with Ollie. You could get your own job, you could finish high school, you could go to therapy, you could go to narcotics anonymous, you could be in a band again, you could get any hobby that involved doing anything other than shooting things and playing video games alone all day.”

He still looks a little suspicious. “How many of those things do I have to do?”

“You don’t have to do any of them. But you should consider doing some of them. We worry about you, you know. We want you to enjoy your life. And I’m not sure you are right now.”

“Well, I’m not going back to school. I’d be in tenth grade still, and there’s no way I’m having classes with kids two years younger than me.”

“The Wayne kids are all going to school online. I’m sure Bruce could tell us what program they use.”

“Maybe. But I’m gonna be Speedy—not Speedy. I’m over that. Jay says in some worlds I call myself Arsenal, and in some I’m Red Arrow. But I’m gonna be somebody again. That’s a hobby.”

“That’s a nighttime hobby, Roy. You need something to do with your civilian life, too.”

“Fine. I’ll think about it.”

“Good. Now what do you want to do with the rest of your afternoon? We have at least two hours until Oliver comes home, and I’m not going to spend it watching you make perfect shots then complain they’re not good enough.”

“If they were actually perfect, they would be good enough.”

“Roy.”

“Okay. What if, instead of waiting around for Ollie to come home, we went and bothered him at work?”

Dinah takes a moment to consider this. “Yeah, that sounds like fun. Let’s go.”

-

Jason finishes his homework and goes back downstairs. The house is pretty quiet—Alfred won’t be back until tomorrow, Tim is in Smallville, and Selina drove Damian to therapy. She said after the hospital and the penthouse she was sick of being cooped up.

Talia is downstairs, holding Helena, talking on the phone. Jason hears the word “Father.” She wouldn’t usually talk to Ra’s out in the open, but with Dami gone it’s probably fine.

Jason likes Talia, but he’s not sure about her dad. Ra’s al Ghul is, like, a terrorist.

She sees him standing in the doorway, and tells Ra’s she’ll call him back later. Jason comes to sit next to her on the couch. “Where’s Asia?”

“Your father has her.”

“They’re on the roof,” Cass offers as she walks by, carrying a large bucket of water and a long, narrow tube.

“The roof?” Talia repeats.

“What are you doing?” Jason asks at the same time.

“He’s looking for Dick. He’s wearing that—um—the thing. The backpack to hold babies? She won’t fall. I’m cleaning the tank for my fish.”

“My baby is on the roof.” Talia stands, handing Helena to Jason; she blinks a few times and immediately falls back asleep. “Excuse me—I need to have a conversation with Bruce.”

“Dick isn't even on the roof,” Cass says. “He’s in the cave.”

She continues toward the stairs with her bucket and her tube, and Jason adjusts his grip on Helena.

She’s so small. Not as small as Asia was when Talia first got her, but smaller than Asia was by the time she came home and Talia let everyone hold her. Helena is small and red and wrinkly and new, and for the six hours she’s been home she’s mostly slept.

Jason’s cat wanders over, placing a paw on his knee and making a soft, inquisitive sound. After a moment she hops onto the couch, sniffing at the baby a little before she settles against his leg, using his free hand as a pillow. Well. It looks like he’s trapped here for the foreseeable future. That’s okay—between a sleeping cat and a sleeping baby isn't a bad place to be.

Chapter Text

Dinah leans up against the reception desk, smiling. She has a smudge of dirt on her cheek, and Roy’s jeans have holes in both knees. They look horribly out of place in Ollie’s lobby, but Ollie’s not his parents, and the company has had a lot of time to get used to less dignified visitors.

“Hi, Deb. Ollie around?”

“Mrs. Queen. He should be in his office; I’ll let him know you’re here. Does your friend need a visitor pass?”

Several months into marriage, Dinah’s still not used to her new name; she went back and forth for ages on whether to change it, and isn't entirely confident in her decision yet. “This is my cousin Roy. He’ll be around a lot—you can interrogate him later.”

Roy smiles at Deb, but doesn’t say anything. He’s been a little on edge since they came in.

They meet Oliver halfway down the hall, coming to meet them. He’s probably excited to see them; he’s invited Roy to the office at least twice now.

He kisses Dinah on the cheek. “I am so glad you’re here. This is the most boring day. Roy, we’ve been working on something really cool in the basement—come see?”

“What is it?” Roy asks.

“Um. They don’t know yet. Want to help us figure it out?”

“Sure.”

They take off down the hall, and Dinah follows more slowly. She had a feeling Roy would like the labs.

-

Selina sets her daughter down carefully in the crib. It’s been a full hour since Athanasia fell asleep, which means she was right about the separate rooms. They’d talked first about having Helena in their bedroom, but Selina and Bruce are both in and out of bed at such strange hours, between their night jobs and the kids having nightmares. Then they’d considered putting the babies in a room together, but they would only have woken each other up.

It’s Helena’s first night at home, and after several hours of sleeping downstairs, first with Selina, then with Talia, then with Jason, then Bruce, then Cass, she seems fairly convinced that it’s morning. Hopefully she’ll stay down for at least an hour or so.

Bruce lets himself into the room quietly, wrapping an arm around her waist from behind. “How is she?”

“Asleep, for the moment. How’s Gotham?”

“Quiet. Just a few burglaries. All sorted now. I can watch her a while, if you want to go to bed.”

“I’m not sure you’re allowed to hold babies right now.” Talia had been very angry to find him on the roof with Athanasia.

“I said I was sorry,” Bruce says.

“Did you.” Selina steps away, arms crossed.

“And I promised never to do it again. And I got yelled at. By multiple people.”

“Multiple people?”

“Right before Talia found us Janet Drake saw from her driveway. She was…not impressed.”

“Well, of course she wasn’t,” Selina says. “You had an infant on the roof.”

“She was perfectly safe! And I’m sure I’ll get yelled at by Alfred when he comes home tomorrow, too.”

“Fine. Let’s both go to bed—you’re manning the baby monitor.”

-

Damian follows his mother down the sidewalk. They’ve just had lunch, and now they’re going to the museum. This is nice; he’s glad she gets along well with all of his siblings, but it’s been a while since he’s had her to himself for more than a few minutes. Alfred is officially in charge of Athanasia while they’re out—she’s still mad at Father about the roof incident.

“Your father and I have been talking,” Mother says as they start in the modern art section, “and we think it would be a good idea for you to go to a school for a few years.”

“Oh. “ He isn't quite sure how he feels about that. “Um. Just me?”

“You and Dick. He’s going to talk to Dick about it today. Jason and Cassandra are too old, and Tim is almost too old.”

“And he would freak out if you tried to make him.”

“He probably would. Especially if I tried to make him.”

“He’s getting used to you, I think. But, um, about me and Dickie—we couldn’t be in the same grade, could we?”

They move on to the next room, where there’s a bench in front of one of Damian’s favorite paintings, and sit down.

“No. Your reading level is a lot higher than Dick’s. And on paper he’s almost as old as you, but we think he’ll probably fit in better with the younger kids. You’ll be in the same school, though; your father did a lot of research, and his favorite covers sixth through twelfth grade.”

“I’d be in tenth? Eleventh?”

“Your father and Selina think tenth; they know more about the American school system than I do. But I believe there’s a test you have to take to confirm it? Dick will probably be in sixth.”

“Do I have to?” Damian asks.

“You don’t have to.”

“Do I have to decide right now?”

“No. You have a few weeks to think it over.”

“All right. I’ll let you know. See what Dickie thinks.”

They get up and go through the rest of the museum; Damian’s never brought her before, and has several favorite pieces he’s been meaning to show her. He loves Asia, but she does take up a lot of their mother’s time and attention.

He waits until they’ve finished at the museum and are walking down the street again to bring up the other thing. It’s nice, being out with Mother instead of Father. People always try to take pictures when he’s with Father, but apparently he and Mother aren’t recognizable on their own.

He spends several minutes trying to think of a good way to start the conversation before giving up and just saying, “I’ve been talking to my grandpa.”

Mother stops abruptly on the sidewalk and turns to face him.

“I didn’t want to tell you, in case I hated him. But I don’t. He’s—it’s really weird, but he’s nice. And I thought—I was talking to my therapist about it, and to Cass—I only told Cass, not anyone else. But it’s going well, so I thought you should know.”

“That’s wonderful, Damian.”

“Yeah. Yeah, it kind of is.”

-

Dick sits on Tim’s bed, staring at the chicken. He spooked her earlier, throwing himself suddenly onto the bed, so now he’s waiting for her to come to him. Tim doubts his patience will hold that long—she doesn’t mind being held or petted, but she doesn’t really approach people asking for it. In another minute or two Dick is going to get sick of waiting and pick her up.

Tim was trying to get some work done. Before Dick came in, he was trying to solve one of Bruce’s cases for him. But Bruce is in the office, Talia and Damian are out, Selina is busy with Helena, Jason is watching Asia, and Alfred is trying to teach Cass to bake. Which means Tim was the perfect person to bug when Dick got bored and lonely. And Dick is sometimes a tattletale, though not really on purpose, so Tim had to switch to homework when he appeared. Only it’s hard to focus when Dick’s around. Usually because he won’t stop talking, but right now because he’s not talking at all, and with Dickie that’s weird enough to be worth monitoring.

“You okay, Dickie?” he checks.

“Uh huh.” He leans forward slowly and runs one finger down the chicken’s back. “Bat-Bird is my favorite bird.”

Tim gives up entirely on his homework, closing his laptop and moving from the desk to the bed. Dick scoots over to make room for him. “Chickens are pretty cool. Almost as cool as robins.”

“You’re not supposed to talk about Robin. It makes Bruce worried.”

“I can talk about whatever I want. Just can’t do anything.”

He picks up the chicken and drops her in Dick’s lap. She flaps her wings a couple times, but settles down pretty quickly. Dick starts petting her again.

“You okay?” Tim asks. “You’re quiet today.”

Dick nods, leaning into Tim’s side. “Tired. Helena cries a lot.” His room is right across from the new nursery.

“Babies do that. If she keeps keeping you up Bruce’ll put her in a different room.”

“Okay. I’m gonna sleep now.”

“Sounds good, Dickie.” Tim leans over to grab his laptop from the desk, figuring he’ll be stuck here for a while as Dick’s pillow.

Chapter Text

“I dunno, Jaybird.”

“Why not? You said it was fun. And you like building shit.”

Roy sighs. Ollie asked him to come by the lab again—Jason thinks it’s a great idea. Everyone seems to, except for Roy. (Everyone being, in this case, Ollie, Dinah, and Jason, since they’re basically the only people he talks to, but still.) “He can’t hire me—I haven’t finished high school. And I am not providing free labor for Ollie fucking Queen.”

That’s not really it, at all, but he doesn’t know how to articulate the actual problem. Especially to Jason, who calls Batman Dad, and talks about Robin like it was a sport he played in high school, instead of the thing that defines him.

“How is it any different from Speedy?” Jason asks.

“It ‘s just—it just is, okay? I don’t—I was his partner, not his son. I don’t want to pretend to be some kid with an internship at his rich dad’s company.”

“I mean, technically you’re pretending to be his cousin-in-law, but it’s not like—”

They’ve been lying on their backs in the yard; Roy sits up. “No, Jay, it’s not—you don’t get it. Hanging out at the house, in the Watchtower, even going out to eat or shopping—that’s all stuff I’ve done before. That’s normal. Hanging out at the company is, like, family shit. Like, public family shit.”

Jason sits up too. “Well, what’s wrong with family shit? He’s better than your old Ollie.”

“It’s not about the multiverse. It’s not, like, exchanging a shitty dad for a good one—I lived with him for four years, and we were never family. And that was fine. It was what I wanted. I was twelve, and I’d just been orphaned for the second time. I wasn’t in the market for another dad to lose. I was never Ollie’s kid, or even his foster kid—I was his ward. I was his partner. It was all about Green Arrow and Speedy.”

“That’s kind of awful.”

“It’s not even a shitty Oliver thing—it’s just how shit was. Dick and I were the only kids that actually lived with the heroes we worked with, and Bruce wasn’t—I mean, Dick had a trust fund or whatever, but Bruce wouldn’t have, like, shown him how to do shit at his day job. Multibillion dollar corporations are places to let your kids fuck around, sure. But not your wards.”

“That doesn’t make it okay, Roy. That just means Bruce was shitty too.”

“I guess,” Roy says. “You know, Dinah said she was worried about me being home alone all day, and I need to get a hobby? It’s so fucking weird having people try to parent you when you’ve been basically taking care of yourself for six years.”

Jay frowns. “Yeah, I guess it was pretty weird when I first moved in with Dad, after taking care of Mom and living on the streets. But I was twelve, so not that weird.”

They sit quietly for a few minutes, then Jason says, “You should talk to Tim.”

“Tim? Why?”

“I think he’d—I think his relationship with his Bruce was probably more like yours with Ollie. I mean, I don’t think Bruce was such an asshole, but—whenever he talks about before, it’s always Batman and Robin. Never Bruce and Tim. Except for when—well. I think the guilt sort of amplifies Bruce’s dad-ness in his memory. He wasn’t a good dad, objectively.”

“What did he do?”

“I dunno if he did anything bad—Tim doesn’t talk about it a lot. But I know what he didn’t do. The kidnapping—Tim was missing for three weeks, and Bruce never even told Dick. I got kidnapped by the Riddler when I was thirteen, and Dad didn’t even wait two hours after my comms went offline to tell Gordon. He had half the GCPD tearing the city apart looking for me. I was missing maybe four hours, and Riddler had to go to the hospital before he could go back to Arkham. If he hadn’t found me by morning Dad wouldn’t have just called Dick. He’d have called Superman, and had the whole Justice League in Gotham looking for me.”

“How the hell did the Joker get you?” Roy asks, then regrets it immediately. Maybe Jason doesn’t want to go over the details of his own murder.

But he just shrugs, apparently unbothered. “Foreign country, there as civilians, and I wandered off on my own to start with, following Sheila. Plus the Joker works fast. He probably had me for less time than the Riddler—I was just dead at the end of it.”

“Shit, Jaybird.”

He shrugs again. “Talk to Tim. He can probably relate better than I can.”

-

Alfred and Cassandra are doing laundry. Dick is helping, as he has managed to get an unprecedented amount of mud onto his clothing. (Bruce and Damian are upstairs washing the dogs, who are in a similar state after a very exciting walk this morning.)

Dick is not good at laundry.

Alfred confiscates the bleach, handing it to Cassandra. She stands on her toes, returning it to its place on the shelf.

“I thought bleach made stains go away,” Dick says.

“It also makes colors go away. And we’re washing reds.”

“Oh,” Dick says. “Okay.” He sits on the dryer, swinging his legs, while Cassandra folds the clean clothes and Alfred scrubs at a filthy pair of jeans.

He came home on Wednesday to a larger household than he left, and in the four days since, no one has gotten a good night of sleep—it’s amazing the difference one small child can make in an already large family.

“I talked to Beth from gymnastics about school,” Dick says. “She says some people I know go there, but none of them will be in the same grade as me.”

“Maybe you can make new friends at the party,” Cass says.

In two weeks there’s a benefit for the local orphanages. Given the number of orphans in Gotham, there will probably be several dozen potential friends there.

“I can’t make friends at the party,” Dick says. “I’ll be busy.”

“Busy with what?” Alfred asks.

Cass hops onto the dryer beside her brother. “Dickie has a plan.”

He nods solemnly. “I’m gonna find a friend for Dami.”

“I see. Does Damian know about this plan?”

“He does not,” Cass says. “It’s a surprise.”

-

Bruce gets in late enough that he hopes the rest of the family is in bed. Both of the baby monitors, sitting beside his computer, are quiet. Finding Tim half asleep on the couch just outside the cave is a surprise only because he told Bruce he was going to bed and logged off the comms over an hour ago.

“Tim.”

He sits up slowly. “Oh, good. You’re back.”

“I thought you went to bed.”

“Was gonna. Changed my mind.” He scoots over to the corner of the couch, which from Tim, is an invitation to sit down; Bruce does.

“I talked to my therapist about talking to Harley, and she said to talk to you.”

“But I told you to talk to her.”

“No, I mean—she doesn’t want me to talk to you about Harley, she wants me to talk to you about you. Um, about when you first brought me here.”

“Oh.”

Bruce has come a long way in the two years or so he’s been a parent. He doesn’t really like thinking about where he started.

“I’m surprised you told her about that,” he says, then regrets it immediately—he doesn’t want Tim thinking Bruce doesn’t want him to open up to his therapist. “I mean, it’s good that you did. I just didn’t expect you to—um. To actually communicate with her.”

Tim is both very stubborn and very reluctant to talk about his past, and Bruce hadn’t been sure if he was getting anything out of therapy at all. He’d insisted Tim get the therapist’s permission to talk to Harley mostly because he doubted Tim would mention Harley at all on his own.

“I didn’t tell her about the cage in the basement. Not really interested in a conversation with CPS, you know? But she knows it was harder with me than the others. She knows you didn’t want me as much.”

“Tim…”

“It’s not—it doesn’t matter. It’s fine. But she said I had to talk to you and tell her about it next week, and you said I wasn’t allowed to lie to my therapist outside of, like, cover stories, so.”

“It’s not fine,” Bruce says, and doesn’t know what to say next. Because he adores Tim. And he’s fairly certain Tim knows he adores him. Now. But everything in the beginning was a disaster. He’d had no idea what he was doing, and had often been afraid of Tim, especially when Jason was in the house as well.

He’s thought a lot about what he’d do differently, given another chance. He shouldn’t have kept Tim locked up. He should have recognized that a lot of his more violent threats were an attempt to stay locked up due to fear and misplaced guilt. Tim was dangerous and untrustworthy in the beginning. So Bruce should have sent Alfred to the penthouse if he was worried about his safety. He should have taken a sabbatical from work, even from Batman, to stay with Tim until it was safe to leave him unsupervised. He shouldn’t have brought anyone new into the house, especially more vulnerable children, until Tim was better. And he should have called Leslie sooner. Not drugging Tim was about the only thing he did right.

“It was better than Arkham.”

“That’s a pretty low bar, Tim.”

“It was a lot better than Arkham?”

“It was grossly incompetent parenting.”

“You’re the best parent I’ve ever had.”

“Still not a high bar,” Bruce says.

“It’s okay, though. It sucked, but it’s okay now.”

“I love you,” Bruce says, “and I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Tim says again. “Did you catch Two-Face?”

And apparently their serious conversation is over. “I spent four hours chasing that man all over Gotham, and when I caught up, he flipped that damn coin and decided to turn himself in.”

Tim laughs. “See, that’s why I love this world. My Two-Face would have flipped it to decide whether he was going to shoot to maim or to kill before escaping. Have you talked to him about the masking tech yet?”

Bruce has not—he’d completely forgotten about that. “Arkham policy is to suspend visitation rights for twenty days after escape and recapture. Remind me again in a couple weeks?”

“Sure.”

“All right, let’s get you to bed. It’s the middle of the night.”

Chapter Text

“Everyone is coming to the party,” Bruce says firmly.

“Ah,” Athanasia says from her place on Jason’s lap.

“Everyone except for the babies, “Bruce amends. “And Alfred.”

“Is Talia coming?” Tim asks, clearly searching for a loophole.

“Yes, but she’s coming separately. She has a date.”

“Who?” Dick asks.

“I don’t know. She won’t tell me.”

“I know,” Damian says, “but I’m not allowed to tell.”

“Can I bring a date?” Cass asks.

“Who?”

“Duke?”

“Are you two dating?” Bruce asks, a little alarmed that he might have missed that.

“No. Tim brings Steph. So I bring Duke, and we can all hang out.”

“That’s fine; I’ll let the hosts know. Tim, do you want to bring Kon?”

“I care way too much about Kon to subject him to the torture of a Gotham high society fundraising gala.”

“All right. Just Cass’ plus one, then.”

-

Roy follows Dinah to work again, since she’s worried about him being alone. Flowers aren’t really his thing, but he likes Dinah. He likes Ollie too, here, but it’s complicated.

His Oliver’s favorite thing about him doesn’t matter to this one at all, and it makes him feel weird and off-balance, especially now that he knows this Ollie wanted him for his archery once, too.

Ollie hasn’t forbidden him to fight crime like Bruce has with his kids, but he doesn’t seem to care that Roy isn't ready, doesn’t seem like he would care if Roy was never ready.

Only Roy needs to be ready, soon, because all he really has is archery and heroin, and he can’t have heroin anymore. He doesn’t quite know who he is without a bow in his hands, and he’s pretty sick of feeling lost and confused.

Working with Dinah is easy and kind of relaxing. For him, at least, in the back room where he never has to see a customer. It’s probably less relaxing on the floor. Dinah comes to check on him whenever things are slow.

He’s been thinking about the long list of things she’d suggested he try, and he isn't sure about most of it, but he should probably finish high school. And maybe Jay is right and he should talk to Tim, too. But later—Jay says Tim is stressed right now because he finally got permission to call the lady who kidnapped him.

Hearing about Jason’s siblings makes Roy feel really well-adjusted.

-

Tim glares down at his phone. He’s sitting on the roof, because his room felt too cramped—Tim’s spent a lot of time locked up in small rooms, and he doesn’t usually get claustrophobic, but this is already stressful, and the walls were closing in on him. Plus, he’s less likely to be interrupted by his siblings up here.

He just wanted to talk to Harley. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard. But first he had to convince Bruce, and then there was the therapist. And before she would agree he had to actually tell her about Harley, which sucked, and somehow that led to telling her more about Bruce than he wanted to, and then he had to have that stupid conversation with Bruce, and it’s still not over. Because he doesn’t know Harley’s number, and her phone isn't set up for interdimensional calls, anyway. So now he has to talk to Dick.

It would be so easy to just call and ask him to go get Harley, but it would also be mean, probably, especially since Dick might have to do a lot of travelling to get to Harley. Dick’s gonna be sad if Tim is only using him to get to Harley. And things are never going to be the same between Tim and Dick, after everything, but Dick is still his brother, and he doesn’t want to hurt his feelings.

He just also doesn’t really want to talk to him. He’s already had multiple hard conversations this week, and he doesn’t expect things to be exactly easy with Harley, either.

He dials, then panics and hangs up, three times. The fourth time, Dick picks up halfway through the first ring.

“Tim?”

“Yeah, it’s me. Hey, Dick.”

“I’m so glad you called. Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, it’s—things are fine. Selina had her baby. And Dickie and Damian are going to school in the fall. Oh, and I got a pet chicken.”

“Awesome,” Dick says. “Tell me about it.”

“Um, Dami—Damian got her for me, from one of the Kents’ neighbors.”

“Cool. You’re dating Conner Kent, right?”

“Kon. He doesn’t like to be called Conner. He was—he didn’t have a name at all here, when I met him. Just Superboy.”

It’s easier to talk to Dick when he can’t see him. Still hard, though. It’s better when Dick steers the conversation away from Tim, and starts telling him what he, Cass, and Jason have been doing. It’s easy to listen—Dick’s always been good at filling the silence.

Tim’s been trying for fifteen minutes to figure out how to bring up Harley without being a jerk when he hears a low voice that sounds like Jason’s on the other end of the line; he can’t make out any words.

“Now, Jay? Really?” Tim waits while they argue quietly. “Okay, Timmy, I gotta deal with a situation here. You wanna talk to Cass? Hang on, I’ll switch you to video.”

And suddenly, before he has a chance to even think about how he feels about it, Tim’s looking at his sister. It’s been so long. He doesn’t know how to—what to—he settles for something easy. “Don’t you have to help with whatever’s going on?”

She holds up her arm; her wrist is wrapped in blue tape. “Benched. Very strict. Jay says,” she drops her voice half an octave in imitation, “stay safe, or get the fuck out of my house and die on someone else’s watch.”

“Will they be okay?”

“Yeah. Just int—just bad people, sneaking around the yard. Happens a lot. Tell me about your new family.”

Her speech is better than he remembers, but that’s—that shouldn’t be a surprise. They haven’t spoken in well over four years.

It’s his turn to talk now; Cass is terrible at filling silences. Tim tells her about most of the family. He avoids talking about her, because that’s awkward, and about Bruce, because, well. It’s not fair. He’s the one that took Bruce away from them, and he’s the only one who gets to have him back.

Maybe he could find them a new one. There’s probably a lost, lonely Bruce somewhere in the multiverse who wouldn’t mind relocating.

Or maybe his Bruce is a terrible influence, and he should stop that train of thought before he does something he’ll regret.

Dick appears suddenly beside Cass, and it’s jarring for a moment, how he looks like himself instead of like his…other self. Cass just looks like Cass.

“That’s dealt with,” Dick says. “Jay’s a little concussed, but he didn’t kill or maim anyone, so. Progress!”

Cass ducks out of frame for a moment, then reappears holding a first aid kit. “I’ll check on him. Bye, Timmy. Love you.”

“So,” Dick says when she’s gone, “Why did you call?”

“Um. Bruce said I could talk to Harley.”

“Okay. There was an incident at a Botanical Garden last month, and she and Ivy have been pretty quiet since, but last I heard they were halfway across the world. Give me a few days to track them down, okay?”

“Sure.”

“I’ll call you when I have something. Love you, Tim.”

Dick hangs up before he has to answer. Tim stays on the roof until Jay comes to find him.

Chapter Text

They take the limo, because there are some occasions for which a minivan is not appropriate. Bruce drives, since Alfred is home with the babies, with Selina beside him and all the kids, plus Duke Thomas, in the back.

It’s been a long time since he’s had them all at a social event, and he’s not nearly as nervous as he was the last time. Dick blends in with the other kids—not perfectly, but well enough not to alarm anyone. Jason doesn’t like crowds, regardless of the state he’s in, so he’ll stick close to family. The Drakes will be there, but their Tim knows to keep them out of the way of his.

His Tim didn’t want to come to this party. But Bruce Wayne is famously an orphan, who has famously adopted several more orphans, and donated billions of dollars to the organizations represented here tonight—it would have been very odd if they hadn’t all come. But in his attempts to get out of attending, Tim never brought up the Drakes.

He never talks about his parents. He knows they’re dead in his world, knows how they died, knows they were planning to check him out of Arkham. But he doesn’t even avoid the topic, the way he does for so many things—he genuinely seems not to think about them at all. Bruce isn't sure if that’s for the best, or if it’s an issue he’ll need to address at some point, but he’s not about to suggest another reason for Tim to try to get out of the party tonight.

As soon as they get inside, Cass and Duke go to find Tim Drake and Stephanie, and Dick disappears into a crowd of children at the other end of the room. Bruce and Selina are quickly trapped in a conversation with the president of the Gotham City Orphanage, who would like to know why, if Bruce was in the market for orphans, he didn’t come look at his orphans, instead of finding his own on the streets.

Bruce doesn’t particularly like the president of the Gotham City Orphanage.

“Dad,” Jason says. “Dad, Talia is here, and I think you’re gonna want to see her date.”

Bruce looks up at the door. Ra’s al Ghul is here.

“Shit,” Tim says quietly. The president looks mildly scandalized.

“It’s okay,” Damian says. “I invited him.”

He crosses the room to meet Ra’s and Talia. Bruce sighs. Damian’s comfort is his biggest concern, but certainly not his only concern about having the head of an ancient organization of assassins visiting unexpectedly. Bruce doesn’t want to make a scene—he’ll be having a conversation with them later.

-

Selina wanders around the ballroom, checking on the kids. Bruce is stuck in an incredibly boring conversation with some business man, and Talia is probably busy with her father. Damian is with them—he’s smiling, and it looks genuine. Cassandra and Dick are together, with a large group of people she doesn’t know. Tim and Jason are near the buffet table; she pauses to talk to them. Jason is a little spaced out, in the particular way that usually means he has a bad headache. Selina digs in her purse for his medication.

She checks her phone again—this is the longest she’s ever been away from Helena, and she trusts Alfred, of course, but it’s still nerve-wracking. He’s sent her a photo of both babies, sleeping.

With all seven children accounted for, and no more excuses to put it off, Selina goes to introduce herself to Ra’s al Ghul.

-

Alfred checks again that both babies are asleep, then goes to strip the sheets from the children’s beds. He can’t remember the last time the house was this empty for more than an hour or two—it must have been close to two years ago.

He loves his family, but it’s very nice to work uninterrupted for once. He should really vacuum, but he doesn’t want to risk waking the babies, so after the bedding goes into the laundry, he starts cleaning the boys’ rooms. Cass takes care of her own space, and Alfred draws the line at a room shared with a chicken, but that still leaves Dick, Damian, and Jason’s rooms.

Damian is fairly tidy, and cleaning up after Jason consists mostly of picking things up off of the floor and putting them back on shelves, but Dick’s room is a disaster. He has a nest of sorts under his bed, where, tonight, Alfred finds gift wrap, tissue, empty candy wrappers, pencil shavings, chicken feathers, and a half eaten sandwich. He probably left it there because he intends to eat it later, but Alfred hasn’t made sandwiches in three days, and he doesn’t particularly care to see what Talon healing will do about spoiled meat.

He would feel guilty about dismantling the nest entirely, but Dick seems to enjoy rebuilding it on occasion, and it has been well over a month since Alfred has thoroughly cleaned under the bed. He goes downstairs to start on the dishes, and finds he’s gotten a text from Jason—photo of a man it takes him a moment to place as Ra’s al Ghul. Time to prepare another guest room, then, and to lock up the cave.

-

Cassandra watches Ra’s. He makes her nervous—she knows Damian’s been talking to him for weeks, knows Damian and Talia both trust him, but he’s still Ra’s. He’s probably murdered more people than she’s ever met.

She’s always had a hard time reading him, which even her dad—her first dad—never blamed her for. He’s had hundreds of years to perfect hiding his feelings.

He doesn’t look like he’s planning to kill them all, but he doesn’t exactly look like he’s not planning to kill them all, either. Cass focuses on the people around him, instead. Talia looks a little nervous but mostly happy. Damian looks a little happy but mostly nervous. That’s probably okay.

“Cass,” Steph says. “Cass, you gotta see this.”

She’ll worry about Ra’s later. For now she is going to be with her friends.

-

Damian is enjoying seeing his grandpa. Mostly. It’s weird. He’s wearing a modern, American, 3-piece suit instead of fancy ancient robes, and he’s shaved, done something different with his hair. It’s clearly an attempt to distance himself from the grandfather that raised Damian, and he appreciates it. It’s still weird.

Meeting him in public was a good idea, but he knows Mother didn’t suggest it only for his benefit—it was also so that Father couldn’t confront him until he’s had a few hours to calm down about it. Damian hopes that will work, but he also feels sort of guilty.

He feels awkward and shy, even though they’ve talked before, lots of times. Mostly he just watches while Grandpa and Mother talk; they try a few times to pull him into conversation, but after a while they let him be.

Mother looks so happy, louder and more expressive than she ever is in public. She hasn’t seen her father in nearly a year. Damian has kept her from her father for nearly a year.

He hopes his father isn't too mad about this—he likes Mother happy.

Dick comes to find them after an hour or two. He runs over much too quickly, skidding to a stop right in front of Damian, then turns to study Grandpa.

“Hi,” he says.

“Hello.”

“Are you Dami’s grandpa?”

“I am.”

“Are you gonna be nice to him?”

“I am.”

“Okay. I’m Dick. I need to borrow Damian.”

“Why?” Damian asks.

“You gotta meet Sam and Colin and Theo. They’ll be in your grade at our school.”

Damian hesitates. He does prefer meeting new people with Dick as a buffer, but tonight—

“Go on,” Grandpa says. “We’ll talk more later.”

-

Tim is a little on edge. It’s weird that Ra’s al Ghul is here. He’s pretty much okay with Talia—he has a hard time warming up to people, but that’s not her fault. She’s nice. But now he has to handle Ra’s al Ghul?

And it’s an orphan themed party, which means that people for some reason feel entitled to come ask him, a teenager they’ve never met, about his dead parents. He doesn’t want to talk about any of his several dead parents, not the three real ones or the two fictional ones he and Bruce made up for the social workers.

He was hanging out with Jason, and he should have been paying more attention, because it became clear about twenty minutes ago that “I’m going to the bathroom,” meant “I’m going to hide until we can go home,” not “I need to pee,” and Tim really should have gone hiding with him. Bruce and Selina do not look like they’re having fun, and he’s not about to hang out with Ra’s al Ghul, so his options are to hang out with Cass and her friends, which isn't super appealing because her friends include him, or to find Dick and Damian somewhere in the huge crowd of kids here to guilt trip the rich people into dropping money.

Or maybe he could text Jason? Find out where he’s hiding and join him. Or maybe he could text Kon and get out of here. Bruce wouldn’t like that, but probably he’s going to be too busy being mad at Talia about Ra’s to be mad at Tim about ditching the party, and—

He runs into a woman, distracted, and steps back, apologizing before he looks up at her.

It’s his mom.

“You look just like my son,” Janet says.

This isn't true—he’s shorter and thinner than her son. All his features are sharper, and he wears his hair longer.

He’s wondered, before, if her general lack of familiarity with her own kid would make her more likely to get the two of them confused, or to not notice the resemblance at all. Then he remembered this Janet actually cares about her son.

“And your name is Tim?” she asks. Because of course she knows that; she lives next door.

“Um. I need to go.”

He turns to leave, and she catches his arm. “Tim. How on earth—”

Shit. “Mom,” he says, mostly by accident, and she drops his arm.

“Tim? What—how are you—”

Bruce and other Tim finally arrive, from opposite sides of the room, before he has to figure out how to answer that question. He doesn’t have a contingency plan for his parents—they don’t care about him. They don’t pay attention to him. He never thought they’d figure out—

The other Tim takes Janet’s arm, talking quickly and quietly. She’s still staring at Tim; he turns to Bruce, who’s probably overheard enough to know how much he’s screwed up.

“Bruce,” Tim says. “Bruce, I can’t—I need—I can’t do this.”

“Okay,” Bruce says. “It’s okay, Tim. We’ll handle it. You can ask Kon to come get you, or you can get the keys for the other car from Talia and go home. It’ll be okay.”

Tim nods, even though he’s pretty sure Bruce is lying to him—this is not okay. He could—it would be good to be with Kon, but he doesn’t want to leave Gotham right now. He knows exactly where Talia is; he hasn’t wanted to let Ra’s out of sight.

“Tim? What’s wrong?”

He carefully avoids looking at Ra’s, trying not to think about how he’s really not the kind of person you want to show weakness in front of.

“I have—I met, um—my parents are, and I can’t—” He’s panicking, a little—maybe a lot—and he can’t decide what he wants to say or how to say it. “I need to be—not here. Can I have the keys?”

“Of course.” She reaches into her purse. “I’m not sure where it’s parked; the valet—are you going to be all right alone? Do you need—”

“I’m fine,” he lies. “Thanks, Talia.”

-

Bruce watches Tim go to Talia, then turns to face this new disaster. He wasn’t paying attention. He should have noticed Janet before she noticed Tim. He shouldn’t have been on the opposite end of the room.

“We’re going to grab Dad and meet you in the study,” Tim—the other Tim—says. “You know where that is?”

Bruce nods. He’s been to dozens of parties at this house. Twenty years ago, when teenagers lived here, the study was where kids went to get high in the middle of boring parties. He hopes they don’t still do that; he doesn’t want to try clearing them out for this conversation.

He makes eye contact with Selina, still halfway across the room, and jerks his head toward the study. Selina nods; she’ll keep an eye on the kids while he’s gone.

Chapter Text

Bruce enters the room—mercifully free of stoned teenagers—just in time to hear Jack Drake say, “Bruce Wayne? Our idiot neighbor who always has his kids on the roof?”

“That’s me.”

“Oh. Um. Hello, Bruce.”

He decides to cut to the chase. “Tim is from an alternate universe. You’re both dead there.”

Janet frowns. “Why is he—”

“Batman found him. Didn’t mention details. He needed a family, I was adopting kids, and you weren’t in the country.”

Bruce’s phone buzzes, and he pulls it out of his pocket—this isn't the best time to be taking calls, but it might be Tim.

It’s not. It’s a text from Alfred.

“I need to go. We can discuss this tomorrow—you know where to find me.”

Selina is about where he left her; she excuses herself from a conversation and goes to him.

“Arkham breakout,” he tells her.

“Fuck. We can’t—”

“Kate’s out of town for the weekend.”

“The police—”

“Are twitchy when it’s Arkham—you know that. I’m not going to let a bunch of sick people get shot because I want a night off. I have a spare suit in the limo.”

“Of course you do. I’ll take the kids home. Should be fun—I’ve never driven a limo before. How pissed are the Drakes?”

“Didn’t stick around to find out. We didn’t get into specifics yet.”

“Okay. Be careful.”

-

Talia hasn’t seen Bruce since he disappeared shortly after she spoke to Tim. Nearly two hours ago. She spots Selina standing alone, and hurries to catch her before she gets pulled into another conversation.

“Where’s Bruce?”

“His night job.”

“Fantastic. I’m a little sick of this. Think I’ll head out.”

Jason appears out of nowhere, because apparently all he uses his vigilante training for is hiding at parties—Talia hasn’t seen him all night. “Can I come?”

“Of course. We’ll need a cab; Tim took my car.”

Jay shakes his head. “He texted me a while ago. He’s just sitting in the parking lot. Didn’t want to drive. Um. Is your dad coming home with us?”

“We’ll drop him off. Selina, are you good with the rest of them?”

“I’ll bring Dick and Dami home. Cass will probably spend the night with friends.”

Talia grabs her father on her way out, Jason trailing behind. He keeps casting nervous glances at Ra’s, but doesn’t speak to him. None of the kids seem thrilled about this development, except for Damian. She would love to bring her father home with her, but she can only push Bruce so far. Especially with this new Tim situation, and whatever criminal activity was pressing enough to make him leave in the middle of the Tim situation.

It takes a few minutes to find where the valet parked her car. Tim is asleep in the back seat—he opens his eyes slowly when Talia says his name.

“Do you want to go home?” she asks.

“With you?”

He likes her more than he used to. That does not, she reminds herself, actually mean that he likes her. “I’m taking Jason home now. Selina is staying with the others—you can wait and ride with her if you’d like.”

He sits up and reaches for the seatbelt. “I mean we’re going back to our—I’m being dumb. I wanna go home. Is Ra’s coming?”

“We’re dropping him off at the penthouse.”

“Good.”

Talia steps aside so that Jason can slide in next to Tim. It’s a short, tense drive to the penthouse. The kids don’t speak until she’s dropped her father off, kissing him on the cheek and promising to call in the morning.

“Did Bruce work things out with my parents?” Tim asks.

“I don’t know. There was a Batman situation.”

“Oh.”

“I’m sure it will be fine.”

“Yeah, okay.”

He doesn’t sound convinced, and Talia doesn’t feel qualified to convince him; she focuses on the road while Jason distracts him with the details of the party after he left. She hopes Bruce won’t be out too late, so he can reassure Tim. She also hopes he will be out late, so they can put off the inevitable fight about her father for a few more hours.

-

Roy likes building things, fixing things, figuring things out. But he won’t come to work with Oliver, where he could hang out in the basement doing it all day. That’s okay. Ollie can work with that.

He has a lot of cars. He and Dinah each have a car and a motorcycle. Then there’s the Lamborghini for when he needs to be flashy, and the crappy nineties Ford for when he needs to blend in on Arrow work. And his dad’s old car, which he never drives, but can never bring himself to get rid of, either.

After a few minutes of consideration, he opens up the Lamborghini and pulls out everything he can get a hold of. Then he goes upstairs.

“Hey, Roy. You wanna help me fix a car?”

Roy follows him downstairs, looking less suspicious than he would have a few months ago. He stops when he reaches the wreckage.

“You did this on purpose.”

Oliver shrugs.

“Wow, you’re an idiot,” he says, but he’s smiling. “Grab me a wrench?”

-

Tim sits on the couch, watching his parents pace the living room.

“But what should we do?” Jack asks.

“Nothing,” Tim says. “Why would you do anything?”

“He’s our kid.”

“He’s Bruce’s kid. And he’s better off that way. I love you guys, but you were not there when I was small and vulnerable enough to actually need you.”

“Children are just so sticky,” Janet says apologetically. “And loud.”

“Then maybe you shouldn’t have had one,” Tim snaps, then regrets it immediately. That wasn’t fair—he’s already had that conversation with his parents, and they’ve apologized, and done better since. He sighs. “Look. Tim is a traumatized kid who needs a level of parenting you don’t have the patience to provide. His versions of you are dead, and enough bad things happened around that time that I doubt he’s processed it properly.”

“All right,” Jack says, “but shouldn’t we at least—”

“When I found out about him I asked if he wanted to see you. He said no.”

“Oh,” Jack says.

Janet recovers from this piece of information more quickly. “We still ought to—”

“Mom. If I know Tim—and I do, because he’s me—he is freaking out right now. He probably does want to see you, but he also probably hasn’t admitted it to himself yet. So if you’re going to interact with him, you have to do it on his terms. Or he’ll probably just call his flying boyfriend and run away to Kansas.”

“Flying boyfriend?” Jack asks.

Tim nods. “Flying boyfriend. Bet Steph sounds pretty great now, huh?”

His parents don’t disapprove of Steph, exactly. They just don’t approve of her quite as much as he feels she deserves.

He goes up to his room as they start arguing about whether they owe the other Tim a trust fund, not bothering to point out that Bruce is significantly richer than them. His mom comes up to find him about half an hour later.

“Tim,” she says, leaning against the doorframe.

“Mom.”

“That phase you went through in middle school. The one where you snuck around taking pictures of Batman.”

“Yeah?”

“Is Bruce Wayne…”

“Yeah. He is.”

She sighs.

“He didn’t outgrow that phase. He became Batman’s sidekick. It ended badly.”

“How badly?” Janet asks.

“Badly enough that it’s none of my business. I haven’t asked. You shouldn’t, either.”

“Just, it wasn’t this Batman. Was it?”

“No. Bruce takes care of him.”

“Good.”

She leaves, closing the door behind her, and Tim pulls out his phone. Cass spent the night with Steph; she should probably get home soon. He thinks her brother is going to need her.

-

Bruce wakes up and makes his way downstairs just in time to see Alfred let Ra’s in. Great. Bruce looks at Ra’s, and then at Tim, who’s just appeared at the foot of the stairs, looking small and anxious. He hasn’t spoken to his son since the encounter with Janet Drake.

He’d rounded up Catman, Calendar Man, and Condiment King before Polka-Dot Man had turned himself in, confirming that going out was the right choice—the police weren’t always very discerning, and none of those men deserved to be shot.

All the kids had been asleep by the time he got home, Jason in the recliner in Tim’s room, which didn’t suggest good things about the night Tim had had.

Bruce turns back to Ra’s. “I don’t have time for this right now. Don’t kill anyone in my city. Don’t have anyone killed. In fact, just avoid all murder-related activities while you’re here. Most of the kids have had bad experiences with some version of you. You can stay here if they all agree—until then you’ll be in the penthouse. Deal?”

“Deal,” Ra’s says.

“Good. Go meet your granddaughter.”

Talia appears behind Tim, and he steps out of the stairway to make room for Ra’s.

“Are you all right?” Bruce asks him, when Talia and Ra’s are both gone.

“I don’t know.”

Bruce herds him over to the couch. “I’ll need to call them sometime today. We didn’t get a lot of time to talk last night.”

“Right,” Jason says, throwing himself down on Tim’s other side. “Because you had to protect the city from Mister Polka Dot.”

“I had to protect Mister Polka Dot,” Bruce corrects him, “from trigger-happy cops.”

“Oh.”

“I miss Harley,” Tim says quietly, and Bruce and Jason both forget about polka-dot themed villains. “I don’t—I never really missed—they weren’t home for my thirteenth birthday. They must have called—they always called on my birthday, but I can’t remember it. I haven’t seen them since I was twelve. And it was fine. I’ve got you. It’s—it was like, they were just the neighbors, and then she touched me, and suddenly she was my mom again.”

“Do you want to talk to her?” Bruce asks.

“I don’t know.”

“That’s okay. You don’t have to decide anything right now.”

“Okay.”

“Do you want to see Kon?” Bruce asks next.

Kon is often a calming influence. Bruce suspects it has a lot to do with his telekinesis. Tim likes physical affection. It also makes him anxious. He’s probably not going to be comfortable being sandwiched between Bruce and Jay on the couch for much longer. But it’s easier with Kon, probably because he can have the comfort of touch while also seeing that there aren’t actually any hands on him.

“I don’t want to leave Gotham,” Tim says. Which isn't an answer.

“He could come here.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll get your phone,” Jason offers. “After I get dressed. I know this Ra’s is, like, less evil, but I’m not ready for him to see me in my pajamas.”

Jay starts to leave, then turns back. “I’m meeting Roy at the tubes in an hour. Think I’ll take Dami with me. You know, in case your conversation with Ra’s gets loud.”

“Thanks, Jay. Just get permission from the Queens first, okay?”

He nods, then disappears up the stairs. Tim leans against Bruce, more comfortable now that he isn't surrounded.

Chapter Text

Ra’s stares down at the baby in his arms. It’s been a few years since he’s held a baby.

He’s an old man. He’s had many children. Most of them sons. Most of them dead. (He never meant for any of his children to die. What was the point of a Lazarus Pit if you didn’t use it on the people you loved? But he heard about their deaths too late. Or they were broken into too many pieces to reassemble. Or they said things like “You’re a monster, and I would rather die than take that swim and come out like you,” and he respected their wishes.)

Nyssa had been different. It was the first time he was a single parent, the first time he’d been heavily involved in a child’s upbringing from infancy, the first time he’d been involved in a daughter’s upbringing at all. Her mother hadn’t been interested. By the time he found a nurse he could trust, he’d gotten attached enough to decide no nurse could be trusted, actually, and he was going to handle it himself.

Nyssa had adored him until she’d met that man—that Russian pacifist—when she was twenty two. They’d had a huge fight, she’d left, and they hadn’t spoken for four years.

And then the war. Ra’s had minded his own business during the war—he didn’t much care for Nazis, but he wasn’t in the business of rescuing people, either. Nyssa had sent him a few messages, which he’d ignored, still angry at how they’d parted. Until the last, frantic message, panicked and largely incoherent, and mostly in Russian, as if it had been written by her husband instead of Nyssa.

By the time his spies had tracked her down to a concentration camp in Germany, she’d been dead, along with her husband and both the children she’d sent him pictures of last summer.

She and her husband were whole. The children had been experimented on. Ra’s had killed the Nazis, left their victims to fend for themselves, and taken his daughter home.

Two days later she killed herself, still half mad from the Pit, as much out of spite as sorrow—if she couldn’t have her children (and she really couldn’t; there were some things the human body couldn’t come back from), then Ra’s wouldn’t have his child, either.

He didn’t try a second time. Just laid her to rest with the family she’d chosen, and all the siblings who’d come before her.

Nyssa’s death hit him harder than most. He’d been in a bad place for a long time after that. He blames it for the incident in Argentina, for Woodstock, for the concert in Vegas where he met Talia’s mother.

He’d grown sick of Melisande quickly, but he’d wanted the baby. So he’d stayed in her apartment, paid her bills, played along. And then, before she was discharged from the hospital, he’d taken their child and returned home.

It had been cruel. He doesn’t regret it.

Ra’s had been more careful, more thoughtful, more gentle, with Talia than any other child. It hadn’t stopped her from being more difficult than most of the others put together, rebellious, uncooperative, and always, always pushing. But she always stayed.

There’d been a time he was terrified she’d run away with Bruce Wayne. But Ra’s had resisted the temptation—narrowly—to kill him, and it had passed. Bruce had gone, and Talia had stayed.

Until Damian, but she’s in her thirties now, and at least she’s not sleeping with Bruce Wayne. (He likes Bruce. He does. But Talia can do better.)

It’s been nearly two hundred years since Ra’s has seen a grandchild. The version of him who raised Damian—who abused Damian—had obviously never stood in Nazi Germany holding the broken body of a grandson he never got to meet.

Ra’s stares down at the baby in his arms. Dick stares at Ra’s. The boy seems to have appointed himself tour guide. He’s unnerving, outside of the disguise he wears in public, but Talia and Damian both trust him, and Ra’s refuses to be intimidated by a child wearing fleece pajamas and elephant slippers.

“I met you,” Dick says suddenly. “Not met you, really. That was before I was a person—Talons don’t get introduced. But they showed me to you. I didn’t remember at first, because your hair is different. You called me an abomination, and then you tried to leave, and the Owls tried to stop you, so you killed one of the bigger Talons and left anyway. Really, permanently killed him. They could never figure out how you did it. I wanted to ask you to do it to me, but you were already gone.”

Ra’s doesn’t know where Talia’s gone. He wishes she would come back. “I am not in the habit of murdering children,” he tells the boy.

“That’s okay. I don’t need to be killed anymore.”

Athanasia makes a small, unhappy sound, and Ra’s looks back down at her.

“That means she’s hungry,” Dick says. “I’ll show you where the food is.”

In the kitchen, Athanasia sits in a high chair with a bowl of cereal, most of which finds its way to the floor. Dick has climbed onto the fridge, and continues watching from there. Talia rejoins them eventually, along with Bruce’s butler, who Ra’s has seen before, but never been formally introduced to.

Selina Kyle appears a few minutes later, with a screaming infant smaller than Athanasia, looking decidedly less put-together than she had last night. She hands the baby to the butler, throws open the fridge, and locates a bottle. She begins warming the milk, then runs a hand through her hair and turns around, smiling—a little stiffly, he thinks—when she notices Ra’s.

“Oh! Good morning. Have you met my daughter?”

“I have not. May I?”

The butler looks to Selina, who nods slightly, before handing over the child. Ra’s bounces her a little, and the crying stops.

“Helena likes you,” Dick says from on top of the fridge. Selina looks slightly shocked.

-

Kon is here. Jason and Damian are gone. Ra’s is somewhere upstairs, but while the rest of the city may or may not be fair game, Bruce is positive he won’t hurt his family. He’s just trying to decide what step to take next in the Drake issue when his phone rings.

The caller ID says Richard Grayson, which is odd because his son’s name in his phone is Dickie Wayne—it takes him a minute to remember he’s set up for multiverse calls.

“Dick? Is everything all right?”

“Yeah. Hey, Bruce. So I’m here with Harley, and I know you said Tim could talk to her, but I thought you might want t talk to her first.”

“That’s a great idea,” Bruce says. “Um. Did you have to travel far to get to her?”

“Yeah, but it’s not a big deal. We all came down, and we’re headed to Gotham after this.”

“Is that safe?” Dick and Cass, at least, are fugitives.

“No. I was hoping you could help me with that, actually. Tim told Cass about the Court of Owls the other day, and she and Jason have decided taking them out sounds like fun.”

“I’ll send you everything I have on them. Would you mind staying with Harley for a couple days? Tim’s parents recognized him last night, and I just don’t think him talking to her today, on top of everything else, is such a good idea.”

“Sure,” Dick says. “We’re gonna have a hard time dragging Jason out of here anyway—Pam’s teaching him about poisons. Do you still want to talk to Harley now?”

Chapter Text

Roy takes the Lamborghini to pick up Jason and Damian; he figures he deserves a drive after reassembling the whole thing. Dinah told him right before she left for work that Jay was bringing Damian—something about his grandpa? Roy thinks Damian is the one with the evil grandpa, but he can’t always keep track of Jason’s siblings; he’s only met most of them once.

Jay’s quiet today. He looks tired. Damian seems quiet too, and kind of shy, until they get to where he parked the car, and then he perks up a lot. He ends up sitting in front, rambling about his grandpa and some kid named Colin and how cool the car is.

Roy takes them out back right away, to the archery range. He offered to teach Damian last time, but also he doesn’t think he’ll get a chance to actually talk to Jason until he gets the kid distracted a little. Jay sits and watches for about twenty minutes while Roy coaches Damian, then he goes to sit with him on the grass while Damian practices.

“Everything okay?”

Jason nods. “Late night. Tim was having nightmares, and Bruce was out, so I sat up with him.”

“Okay. So, um. Damian’s grandpa. Isn’t he, like…”

“A terrorist? Yeah. But a sort of nice terrorist, I guess? I never met him in my old world; Dad kept me mostly in Gotham, and Ra’s mostly stayed out of Gotham, so. He hasn’t done anything bad since he got in last night, and Dad doesn’t seem too freaked out about it. He’s been a little distracted, but I think if Ra’s was a problem he’d have handled it right away.”

“You’re still worried about it, though.”

“I guess. Not, like, the physical danger. I just don’t want Dami to get hurt.”

They watch him for a while; he’s never going to be a Speedy or Green Arrow level archer, but he’s not bad. It’s probably the first time he’s held a weapon since coming to this world—Roy knows how overprotective Bruce gets about the Robin thing. He doesn’t think it’ll be a problem. If he was likely to want to go back to fighting, Jay probably would have tried to stop the lesson.

“I’m going back to school,” Roy says. “Not really back, I guess—just online classes. I wanted to wait until fall to start, though. Like real school.”

“That’s good.”

“Yeah, only Ollie’s been a little weird since I told him. Not sure why—I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t want me to graduate.”

“Does he seem mad?”

“No. Just kinda—I don’t know. Like he’s planning something, maybe? Sorta busy and secretive.”

“Jay!” Damian yells from across the yard. “Jay, I did it! Did you see?”

They both look over at the range. Damian’s gotten an arrow exactly in the center of his target.

“Good job, Dami,” Jason says. “Show me again?”

-

“Hi, Batman,” Harley says.

“You can call me Bruce.”

There’s a long silence on the other end of the phone. “Okay,” she says eventually. “Is Tim really okay?”

Bruce decides that the current situation with the Drakes is none of her business. “He is. He’s upstairs right now, with his boyfriend.”

“Timmy has a boyfriend? That’s so exciting! Is he a nice boy? Are they being safe?”

“He’s a very nice boy. Superman’s son. The flying is a little stressful to watch, but Tim assures me it’s completely safe.”

If that wasn’t the kind of safety she meant, Harley doesn’t say anything about it. “Is he eighteen yet? I’m awful with dates.”

“His birthday is in two weeks.” His real birthday is in two weeks, the birthday on his fake birth certificate is in two months, and both are too close. Bruce is worried Tim will try to push the Robin issue again when he’s a legal adult.

“I’ll get him a present. You can use your weird multiverse shit to pick it up. You’re taking good care of him, yeah? He’s really doing better?”

“Much better than when I got him out of Arkham. And than when he was checked into Arkham, with two broken bones, a black eye, and a bloodstream full of toxins.”

“Good.”

“You drugged him, Harley,” Bruce says. “Repeatedly.” Tim may think everything is fine with Harley; Bruce still isn’t pleased.

“Yeah,” she says. “I did. I know I’m not the best parental figure around.”

She sounds remorseful, and unusually calm and put-together, even more so than at Selina’s baby shower, when she was on her best behavior. But then, this Harley hasn’t interacted with the Joker in over four years. That probably has something to do with it.

“Why did you do it?” he asks her.

“There are different kinds of mad scientists, and I’m a psychologist, not a chemist. That was him. I knew how to make all his shit, because he taught me. He never taught me antidotes. All the antidotes were in Gotham, and I couldn’t take him back there. It was a police state with you dead. He was just a kid, and no one really wanted to—when Pam convinced me to take him to Arkham so his family could pick him up, that was fine, or it should have been. He was in a controlled situation, and he wasn’t supposed to be there for long. He was unconscious when we left him there, so there was no excuse to hurt him. But taking him with me to break into some medical facility and steal their supplies—if the new cops that came into Gotham after you died had caught us, they wouldn’t have hesitated to open fire on a traumatized kid. And he wasn’t in the sort of shape where I could leave him alone and get the supplies myself.”

“It was that bad?”

“It was that bad,” she confirms. “Dick wouldn’t have told you, because you’re kind of the ghost of his dad, and he doesn’t want you to feel guilty for things that aren’t your fault. But they killed the Riddler and the Mad Hatter and freaking Kite Man, and the reason they didn’t have any breakouts for years is that if anyone wandered out of their rooms they shot to kill. Nothing was worth bringing Tim into that, and if I’d known Dick wasn’t able to get him out, nothing would have been worth leaving him there.

“We didn’t know, then, quite how bad it was inside Arkham. We thought it was just out on the streets. We didn’t know they were killing everyone who tried to escape—we figured they just weren’t advertising the escapes. Pam and I, we assumed Dick had come and got Tim and they’d just kept it out of the papers. We had no idea he was still in Arkham until the newspapers said he was the first breakout in years.”

“Is it still that bad? Do I need to do something?”

She sighs. “You can save the world, Batman, but you can’t save every world you find. Your kids have some kind of plan now—something about owls? And things are getting better. It’s been years. The new cops aren’t as scared or as trigger-happy as they used to be, and Tim was always in more danger from them than any other messed up teenager. He’s the kid who killed Batman.”

“You’ll let me know, if there’s anything I can do to help.”

“Sure,” Harley says, not sounding particularly sincere. “But we’re talking about Timmy. I couldn’t get the antidote, so it seemed better to keep him on the stuff than leave him in that nasty, halfway place where it sort of wears off, but not really. That’s the place where suicides happen.”

“I know,” Bruce says. “They never gave him an antidote in Arkham, either, and they don’t have the excuse you do.”

“And I never hurt him like—like he did. Never hurt him. Not on purpose. I got him hurt sometimes. I took him with me to commit crimes, and bad stuff happened, and I wasn’t careful enough with him. I tried to be, but I wasn’t—he got hurt. I never hurt him.” She hesitates. “Except—”

“Except?” Bruce repeats.

“He had seizures for a couple months after. From the electrocution, probably. The first time—I knew what to do about seizures, we learned that in school, but I’d never seen one in person, and it was Tim, and I panicked. I tried to hold him down when I shouldn’t have, and he dislocated a shoulder.”

That is not nearly as bad as anything Bruce was expecting. It’s not as if he hasn’t hurt Tim on accident, too; the poor kid seems doomed to a long series of largely incompetent parents.

“Batman?” Harley asks, and he realizes he’s been silent for too long. “Bruce?”

“It’s fine. You didn’t mean to hurt him.”

“So I can talk to him?”

“Not today. I have too much going to today. But soon.”

“Before Dick and the kids leave?”

“Yes. I’ll call back in a few days.”

-

“I don’t want to see them,” Tim says. “I’m almost eighteen; they can’t make me do anything. And I don’t want to see them.”

Kon got here an hour ago, and they’ve been sitting together on Tim’s bed, not talking. Kon’s good at being quiet when Tim needs quiet. Cass came up to check on them a while ago, but otherwise they’ve been left alone. Bruce doesn’t mind them being alone with the door shut; Tim doesn’t know if that’s because Bruce knows him better than the Kents do, or just because he’s a less experienced parent. Maybe both.

“No one’s gonna make you do anything.”

“I know,” Tim says, even though he doesn’t. Bruce won’t make him do anything. Not unless someone else makes Bruce make him. But he doesn’t—he doesn’t know these versions of his parents, and he doesn’t know what to expect from them, and he hates that they care about their version of him, that they might care about him, too, that they might have cared about him all along and just not been able to tell him so because they were dead, dead on a flight they would never have taken if they weren’t trying to get back to him, and all his dead parents are all his fault.

“You’re hyperventilating, Tim.”

“Sorry.” He leans back against Kon’s chest and tries to match his breathing.

“You gotta stop apologizing for panic attacks.”

Tim doesn’t answer. He waits until he feels as calm as he’s probably going to get today, then turns to face Kon again.

“I don’t hate them. I spent a lot of time pretending to. I spent a lot of time pretending to hate Bruce, too. I believed myself sometimes. But I don’t. It would be easier if I hated them.”

“Sometimes I wish I hated Clark.”

“Is he still being shitty? I thought it was better—you had that weekend at his place.”

“Lois likes me. And Jon really likes me. And I’m living with his parents, so, you know, they make him be nice. But I think he’s still freaked out by the concept of me. He never wants to be alone with me, and he pretty much lets whoever else is around do the talking. He’s never gonna be my dad. I don’t think I want him to be, really. But he’s—maybe I wish he wanted to be? I don’t know.”

“I bet Bruce would beat him up for you if we asked. He has kryptonite.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. Should I be concerned that my boyfriend’s dad has the only thing that can kill me?”

“He had it before I met you,” Tim says. Though he’s not sure that makes it better. He pulls reluctantly away from Kon, sliding into his desk chair. “I’m going to write them a letter. I’m going to tell them what happened to me, and I’m going to tell them how great Bruce is, and I’m going to tell them to leave me alone until I’m ready.”

“You think you’ll ever be ready?”

“I don’t—I don’t know. I didn’t—I didn’t need this. I was fine without them. I didn’t need more people to love and hate and miss and be confused about. I just—things were getting easier. I’m okay with everyone here. I’m even good with Talia. And things aren’t so bad with Dick, and I even talked to Cass. And I’m going to talk to Harley. Ra’s is—Ra’s is weird, and it was kind of a nasty surprise, but even that isn’t—I mean, no one expects me to be best friends with my brother’s serial killer grandpa, you know? They don’t—they won’t take me away from Bruce. I know they won’t—I’m too old to make me do anything, they already have their own Tim so they don’t need me as an heir, and he’ll have told them I’m too high maintenance. I just need—I just need them to leave me alone for a while. Until I’m—until I know what to do.”

He finds his notebook and a pen, then wonders if maybe his laptop would be better—is a handwritten letter too personal? They don’t know him. He doesn’t know them. He never really did know them. He never had the chance to know them, because he got them killed when he was fourteen.

“You’re freaking out again,” Kon says. Probably listening to his heartbeat. “Grab your paper and come back up here. Everything’s going to be fine. I’ll proofread for you.”

“Your spelling is terrible.”

“Yeah, well, your handwriting is terrible.”

He makes a good point. Tim reaches for the laptop again, and Kon tugs him back toward the bed. “It’s the same terrible handwriting their version of you has probably had for almost twenty years. They’re your long lost parents; you’re not going to email them a Leave Me Alone note.”

“Fine. Help me figure out what to say?”

“Of course.”

Chapter Text

Bruce enters the kitchen a little before noon, putting all the parental figures in the same place for the first time since last night. Time for the inevitable confrontation, then. He bends to kiss Asia on the forehead, then turns to Talia’s father.

“May I have my daughter?”

Ra’s hands Helena over.

“Thank you. Tim wrote his parents a letter and had Cass deliver it. She says they’ll call me with any further questions. Dick, buddy, why don’t you see if the dogs need to go out?”

“Okay.” He jumps off the fridge, pausing on his way out of the room to explain to Ra’s, “That means go away so I can yell at people.”

Bruce sits down at the kitchen table, Helena in his lap. “You should have told me before bringing him here. He’s a fucking terrorist, Talia.”

“So am I, if you want to be technical about it. Selina’s a thief, half the kids are assassins, and vigilante justice isn't exactly legal.”

“You still should have warned me, instead of springing him on me at a party.”

“This is the same damn fight we had over Athanasia. If I’d told you, you would have stopped me.”

“And I would have had a good reason to!”

Athanasia starts to cry, and Alfred picks her up out of the high chair, then takes Helena from Bruce, carrying them both out of the room.

“It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission with you, Bruce,” Selina says. “And it’s not as if you asked anyone’s permission to bring all the kids into this world.”

“I asked permission for Damian.”

“Because Alfred, Cass, and I made you. Talia’s dad isn't going to hurt anyone, Bruce.”

“I’m really not,” Ra’s offers mildly.

“If there was going to be a problem,” Talia says, “it would have been with Dick. He’s been alone with a Talon for two hours, and there was no trouble. Dickie seems to like him.”

“And why, exactly, was he alone with Dick for two hours?”

Well, she knew Bruce would be mad about that. It was a calculated risk. “I asked Dick to spend some time with him. I was never more than a room away. They spent most of their time in Asia’s room, and I had the baby monitor. It was fine.”

“What if it hadn’t been?”

Talia doesn’t point out that Dick is fully capable of defending himself, partly because she’s not sure Dick actually would defend himself, regardless of capability, and partly because she knows if she does, her father will bring up that disturbing exchange she overheard, derailing the conversation completely. She will tell Bruce about that. Just not right now. “I was watching them, Bruce. It was always going to be fine. You could trust me for once.”

“I do trust you. I don’t trust him.”

“If you really trusted me you would trust my judgment about him!”

“Bruce,” Selina says. “Talia.”

She’d forgotten Selina and her father were still there.

“I think it’s fine,” Selina says. “The kids will tell us if they’re uncomfortable. I know you’re uncomfortable, Bruce, but you’re an adult. You can handle it. Can’t you?”

Bruce sighs. “How long are you staying?”

“Two weeks,” Ra’s says.

“Fine. Next time you want to come for a visit you tell me first. If you upset anyone in my house, you’re gone. If you hurt anyone in my city, you’re gone. I need to go put together some information on the Court of Owls so Tim’s siblings don’t get themselves killed. Can someone tell Alfred Kon is staying for lunch? Maybe dinner, too. I haven’t asked Tim yet.”

-

“Roy?” Dinah asks. “Do you want to help me with dinner?”

“Sure.” Roy goes to the sink to wash his hands—he’s still muddy from helping her at work earlier. “Ollie still at the office?”

“Some meeting with from some out of town investor. He said not to wait up for him, but I’m not working tomorrow, so I figured why not? You don’t mind, do you?”

“No, that’s fine. I didn’t even see him yesterday. You, either.”

“Yeah, sorry. Justice League stuff. He called you, right? He said he’d call you.”

“He left a message. It was before Jay and Dami left, so.”

It was a crazy day at work; she’s hardly had a chance to talk to him even though he was there. “Did you guys have a good time? I know Damian was a surprise; I hope he didn’t wreck your plans.”

“No, it was fine. I’ve been meaning to show him some stuff anyway. What are we making?”

“You decide. I’m not sure what we’ve got in the fridge—haven’t been shopping in a while.”

Roy opens the fridge. “Maybe chicken? I’ll come with you to the grocery store tomorrow.”

-

Jason sees Ra’s out of the corner of his eye. He doesn’t look up from his book. It’s been three days, and he and Tim are the only hold-outs on Ra’s. Dami’s been talking to him for months, apparently, and Dick likes everyone. Cass sat down and stared at Ra’s for eight and a half minutes yesterday—Jay counted—then went over and officially introduced herself, and she’s been fine with him since then.

Honestly, Jay is mostly holding out for Tim’s sake. What he remembers Dad telling him about Ra’s, before, was terrifying, but all things considered, he doesn’t see much point in judging people based on who they are in other universes.

Dad isn't happy about Ra’s being here either, but if he actually thought he was dangerous to them he would make him go away. Jay just figures Tim needs someone on his side right now—he shouldn’t have to feel like a jerk for not wanting a terrorist in his house. He doesn’t think Tim knows Dad is on his side, because Dad is trying to be polite, and Tim isn't as observant as usual.

He’s kind of a mess right now. Jittery, unfocused. It’s maybe a little about Ra’s, but mostly about his parents, even though he hasn’t seeing or talked to them since running into his mom at the party. And then there’s Harley—Dad said he could talk to her later today, and now that it’s actually happening he’s getting anxious about it.

Jay sees Ra’s moving, and lowers the book a little in case he has to talk to him. He doesn’t; Ra’s disappears through the doorway a second later. He’s pretty good about not interacting with people who don’t want to be interacted with.

Jason gives up on his book anyway. He has therapy in half an hour, and he’s worried about Tim, and it’s hard to focus on much else, even a book he’s read before and likes. He thinks maybe it would be helpful for Tim if Dad was a little less polite about Ra’s being here—he’ll mention it, if Dad’s the one to drive him to therapy today.

He would really like to be able to drive himself to therapy. To anywhere. He would really like it if Dad wasn’t technically still his legal guardian. Not because he wants to move out or anything, but he’s nineteen, and it would be nice to have some independence, even if he doesn’t use it for anything. When Tim turns eighteen in a few weeks, he’ll actually be an adult, even if he’s also living with his dad and working through years of missed high school.

Cass can’t drive yet, either, but she has friends in Gotham who can. She goes where she wants and she does what she wants and it’s fine.

Jason had his permit when he died. He’d already taken his behind-the-wheel lessons. He knows he could pass his permit test again, and he doesn’t think it would take much practice before he could pass the license test, too. But it doesn’t matter if he could pass the test today, because tomorrow he might space out, run a red light, and kill ten people.

And the stupid thing is that he doesn’t want the bad days to go away completely. If he loses the days when he’s not quite himself, he also loses the days when his dad isn't quite dead.

He loves Bruce. He does. But the fact that his new dad and his old dad are technically the same person doesn’t mean he didn’t lose a dad. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss him. And when everything’s a little hazy the differences aren’t as clear, and he can forget for a while that he lost everything, even if he kind of got most of it back.

So. He’s not completely sure he wants to get completely better. But it would be cool to drive.

Chapter Text

Tim calls Dick as soon as Bruce says he can, and endures five whole minutes of small talk before Dick hands Harley the phone.

“Tim,” she says, and he’s so, so relieved, because it didn’t occur to him until about ten seconds ago, much too late, that he didn’t know what she would call him. He doesn’t remember her ever calling him Tim. Though now that he’s thinking about it, he doesn’t think she called him JJ or Junior very often, either. Even when the Joker was around, calling him that all the time. She called him Robin a few times, after the Joker was gone, but he hadn’t really liked that, then. Mostly she had an endless supply of pet names.

“Hi, Harley.”

“Tim,” she says again. “You’re really okay, right? Dick wasn’t just saying that so I’d stop being mad?”

“I’m really okay,” he says, then doesn’t know what to say next. Harley doesn’t seem to, either, which is weird—the only time he’s ever seen her at a loss for words was when the Joker brought out the—no, not thinking about that right now. Absolutely not.

“Tell me about your boyfriend,” Harley says, finally.

“His name’s Kon. He’s a superhero, technically, but his grandparents want him to focus on being a teenager. We go flying a lot.”

“Your boyfriend flies?”

“Yeah. And he kissed me the other day.” He hasn’t told Bruce that yet. He hasn’t told anyone—he would mention it to his therapist tomorrow, normally, but he thinks he’ll have a lot of other things to tell her this week. It was just for a second, right before he left the day after the party. They haven’t talked about it, and they’ve been texting a lot the last few days.

It was…nice, he thinks. If this is the stage in their relationship where they reach quick pecks, he’s gonna be like twenty before he has to—no. There are too many things to worry about right now. This isn't something he needs to worry about. He can talk to Kon about stuff. Later.

He can tell Harley about his siblings. They’re easy to talk about, without the potential awkwardness of all his current parental figures. Once they’re talking again it’s easy—Harley loves to talk, and Tim has a lot of things to catch her up on.

He gets excited enough to be talking to her, after a while, that he forgets to be careful, and ends up describing the party. And the brief encounter with his mom.

“Cass said they were gonna wait until I was ready to talk to them, but I don’t want to be ready. I don’t want to deal them. Ever.”

“The newspapers said they were gonna come get you outta Arkham.”

“Yeah, they were gonna get me, and then they were gonna hire a bunch of people to take care of me, probably people that used to be Arkham staff, and six months later they would have been gone again, and I’d have had the same shit care in a nicer house. They were worse parents that you, and you’re—you know.”

“I know.” Harley sighs. “That’s sweet, Timmy, but it’s not exactly true.”

“You were the best.”

“Uh huh. Did your parents ever bring you along on bank robberies?”

“No.”

“Did they ever do drugs with you?”

“Okay, it’s not like it was heroin; it was—”

“No, it was just a highly toxic chemical compound that—never mind. Did they ever bash in a man’s skull in front of you with a comically large mallet, getting brain matter all over your shirt?”

“That was self defense!”

“Tim. Honey.”

“Okay, fine, you were an objectively terrible parent. But you tried harder in those ten months than they did in thirteen years.”

“It sounds like they’re trying now?”

“I haven’t talked to them since the party.”

“You said you asked them not to. It sounded like they were pretty worked up—I bet if you hadn’t asked to be left alone, they’d be bugging you and Batman all the time about the multiverse and shit.”

“I guess.”

“You have a lotta reasons to be mad at me. It’s cool that you’re not. But you don’t need—you don’t have to convince yourself I was something I wasn’t so you feel less guilty about being mad at them. You’re allowed to feel how you feel. But you’re not allowed to make shit up to justify it. I was a shit parent. So were they. We just had different ways to being shitty.”

She’s right; she usually is when she’s not completely nuts. “When Bruce said we had to do therapy, I tried to tell him it should be you.”

“That sounds like a conflict of interests. Plus I’m pretty sure I had my license revoked on account of criminal insanity.”

“Yeah.”

There’s another silence, but not like at the beginning of the conversation. It’s nice, just knowing she’s on the other side of the phone.

“You know,” he says after a minute, “you have plenty of reason to be mad at me, too. I did murder your boyfriend.”

“Tim, that was—he’d done bad things before, but what I saw him do to you—I was terrified of him by then. Terrified enough to contact Batman to collect you, knowing I’d go back to Arkham. I used to tell myself he did what he did because he was sick. But you were sick. I was sick. He was—something else.”

“Evil,” Tim suggests.

“Yeah. He was evil. I’m sorry it had to be you, but you did the world a favor.”

“There’s an immortal assassin down the hall right now who’s killed probably millions of people, and he’s kinda creepy, but I’m not half as scared of him as I was of the Joker.”

“Is he still around in that world?”

“Yeah, but he’s not so bad. I mean he’s bad, but not like—and you dumped him, anyway.”

“Good. You be careful, yeah? Don’t let him notice you again.”

“Not a chance. Bruce won’t even let me be Robin here.”

“Good,” she says again. “That’s caused a lot of trouble. You know, the second Robin is downstairs right now—the one he killed? He’s a little fucked up.”

“Yeah, um. It’s what Robin does, apparently. But I still miss it.”

“I miss a lot of things that aren’t good for me. Look, Timmy, Dick’s phone is about to die, and I don’t know where he packed the charger. I have a birthday present for you, okay? I told Batman about it, and I’m gonna arrange for him to get it to you. I’ll talk to you again if I can—maybe Dick can set up my phone for the multiverse if your dad approves it. I love you, Tim. I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Love you too, Harley. Bye.”

She hangs up. Tim checks the hallway to make sure Bruce isn't hovering, coaxes Bat-Bird off the top of his bookshelf, sits down on his bed, and cries.

Chapter Text

Bruce finds Tim on the roof.

“If you’re avoiding Ra’s you can come inside now. He took Damian and Talia into town for dinner.”

Tim looks over at him. His eyes are red. “Not hiding. I just needed some air.”

“Yeah? How was your talk with Harley?”

“Good. It was, um. It was kind of a lot. But it was nice.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not yet. Maybe in a few days.”

“All right. Do you want to come inside before your mom sees us and I get another angry email?”

“She’s not my legal guardian—she can’t keep me grounded.”

That’s fine; Bruce didn’t actually expect to get Tim off the roof. He can handle Janet. He sits with Tim for a while—it’s an unusually quiet day. Helena and Selina are both asleep, and Cass and Dick are playing with Asia. He’s a little worried about Jason, who’s been quiet and withdrawn all day, but he didn’t want to talk about it on the way to or from therapy, and now he’s locked himself in his room. Bruce is going to give it some time, and try again before patrol.

“Kon kissed me,” Tim says suddenly.

“Oh? How do you feel about that?”

“Okay, I think. It wasn’t, like, a kiss-kiss. I mean, it didn’t feel any different from a kiss on the cheek or the forehead.”

“How did you expect it to feel?”

“I dunno. Gross? Slimy?”

“Well, I’m glad it wasn’t gross and slimy.”

“Uh huh.” Tim stands up. “Okay, I’m ready to go inside now. Can I go to Smallville after therapy tomorrow?”

“As long as the Kents don’t mind.”

“They won’t.” Tim pauses halfway through the window. “I’m glad I’m here. I miss Harley, but I’m glad I’m here.”

“I’m glad you’re here too,” Bruce says.

-

Roy’s met Dinah’s parents a few times now, but he’s still not really sure what to call them. Mr. and Mrs. Lance sounds too formal, and nothing else sounds formal enough.

It’s him and Dinah’s mom tonight—Ollie and Dinah are on a date, and her dad is out with some friends. It’s been a good night so far. Currently they’re sitting on the floor in the hallway outside the attic, surrounded by cardboard boxes, eating Indian food off paper plates.

He’d wanted to know more about the band Dinah was in during high school, but the photos were in one of the very bottom boxes, so now they’ve got everything out.

“Oh, you’ll like this one,” Dinah’s mom says. “These are the Black Canary pictures.”

She hands him the first one.

“Is this Dinah?”

“It is.”

“She looks twelve.”

“Eleven. First time she wore the costume. It was for Halloween, and her dad made her go back upstairs and put on pants before she went out. He loved me in the fishnets. Di, not so much.”

There’s a picture of Dinah’s actual first day on the job, then several Polaroids of her parents, apparently having a date night on the clock, since she has her suit on and he has his uniform. There’s a large stack of newspaper clippings at the bottom of the box. Roy pulls out a black and white photo of Black Canary and Green Arrow kissing, “Vigilante Romance!” printed in huge letters underneath.

“That reminds me,” Dinah’s mom says, looking over his shoulder, “we had Ollie bring a bunch of photos over to make a slideshow for the wedding—I don’t think I ever gave those back.”

She moves a few boxes around until she finds what she’s looking for. “We only used the cute ones in the wedding, but Ollie had an awkward stage in middle school that I really think you’ll enjoy.”

Roy pulls the box into his lap. “You,” he tells her, “are my favorite person.”

-

“This one,” Damian says, leaning over his grandpa’s shoulder to look at the computer. “This one to carry around in your wallet—do you have a wallet? Whatever. You can show us off to your ninjas and your victims and everyone. And the one, um, three back? That one to blow up big and hang in your bedroom.”

Ra’s goes back to the other picture. “Hm. I think you’re right.”

“Of course I’m right. That one’s perfect.”

“Your brother is good with a camera.”

Tim still doesn’t like Damian’s grandpa. But he said next time he visits he can stay in the manor instead of the penthouse. And he volunteered to help when Ra’s wanted family photos.

That had escalated, and gotten a bit awkward. They have photos of the whole family now, lots of them, in lots of different combinations. It was the combinations that got awkward—figuring out who to put in which pictures and trying to make sure no one felt left out. It all took a long time, and Dickie got very impatient. But Alfred found an old tripod in the attic, and made Tim put the camera on a timer so he could be in the pictures too.

Damian’s favorite pictures are the ones with all of them—Mother and Father and Alfred and Selina and Grandpa and all his siblings. (They got some with the pets, but none with all the pets and all the people. They couldn’t even find half the cats—it’s a big house with lots of hiding places.) But Ra’s al Ghul doesn’t need photos of the whole family.

Damian is feeling a little possessive of his grandpa, maybe, but also he’s not sure everyone in the family would appreciate having their pictures on display at a ninja compound. They’re picking out pictures of them, Mother, and Asia to print out before he goes home tomorrow.

He says he’ll visit again sometime. He also said Damian could come visit him, maybe over spring break. He can bring one of his siblings if he wants—probably Cass or Dick. Damian’s not sure he’s ready for that now, but maybe by springtime he will be.

The really stressful thing about Grandpa leaving is that Mother is also leaving. Not permanently—she said probably three to five days, a week at the absolute most. She left in a hurry, when Father told her about Damian, and she has loose ends to tie up, things she would have packed if she’d planned to be gone forever, stuff like that. So she’s going to fly back with Grandpa, then come home a few days later.

Damian’s still nervous about it. (His therapist says he has abandonment issues. Damian thought it wasn’t really fair to call it abandonment when people left him because they were brutally murdered, but she said that wasn’t the point.)

(He’s been wondering lately if Mother’s friends who took care of him after she died are the same friends she has here. The problem is that he was really little when he lived with them, and he remembers faces and voices and experiences more than actual names. Maybe he could have Mother take pictures while she’s gone.)

“Shall we go out for lunch?” Grandpa asks.

“Just us?”

“Just us. I have another few days with your mother.”

“Okay, just let me talk to Tim quick. Tell him which photos to develop.”

-

Bruce dusts off his multiverse equipment, untouched since Red Hood Jason and Tim’s Dick came to visit, and goes to the coordinates Dick sent to pick up Tim’s birthday present. Dick is alone, holding a large, messily wrapped box and a small gift bag.

“Hey, Bruce. Just me. Harley’s, um. A little scared of you. And I didn’t think it would be good for Cass and Jay to see you. The big one’s from us—Cass and Jay and me. The bag is Harley’s. It’ a flash drive—you can check it first if you don’t trust her, but I helped with everything.”

Bruce takes the box and the bag. “I’m sure it’s fine. What’s on it?”

“Joker kidnapped him as Robin, and Harley kept the suit. He had a camera on there, and a small computer, and it was connected to the cave. We were able, when Harley showed us—a lot of stuff in the cave was taken or destroyed by the FBI, but we were able to get some files back through Tim’s set-up, without risking trying to break back in. And he had pictures—a lot of pictures. Of us, his friends, cool stuff he saw while he was on patrol. Bruce probably wouldn’t have approved of him wasting so much memory space on useless stuff like that, but, well. The flash drive is pictures from the suit’s camera, files I thought he’d want, a couple pictures Harley took on her phone when she had him. It was—Harley threw the suit in a washing machine at some laundromat while they were on the run, but there were a lot of rips and stains. It’s obviously an outfit someone was—we thought extracting the data and trashing the suit was for the best.”

“You’re probably right. I’m sure he’ll appreciate this.” Bruce pulls another flash drive out of his pocket and hands it to Dick. “I’ve got some more information on the Court of Owls for you—Tim helped. He wanted me to tell you to be careful.”

“We will be. I was gonna see if you could set up Harley for multiverse calls, but I forgot to bring her phone. We’ll come back here when we’re done in Gotham, check in with Harley and Ivy—they’ve sort of adopted us as extensions of Tim, and they worry. Anyway, um. Maybe we could talk more about Harley’s phone then?”

“We can talk about it.” Bruce is fine with Tim talking to Harley, but he likes the way the limited number of multiverse phones means he knows exactly when they’ll be talking and can be prepared for any problems. On the other hand, it’s not really fair to ask Dick to travel across the world every time Tim and Harley want to talk.

He suspects he’ll end up caving, but it will be nice to have a few days to worry about it.

“Be careful, Dick.”

“I will. Say hi to Tim for me.”

Chapter Text

Bruce comes home from work to find a frankly insane number of children in his living room. Well, some of them are young adults. There are—he does a quick head count—eighteen of them. That’s eleven children that don’t belong to him. Three he doesn’t recognize at all, and one of them he recognizes but has never met—he doubts Superman knows his five year old is currently in Gotham.

The babies are in the playpen. Helena appears to be asleep, and Asia is crawling around; she’ll probably start walking soon. Jon Kent is leaning over the edge of the playpen, watching them.

Tim and Kon are in one arm chair, and Roy Harper is in the other; Jason is sitting on one of the arms and Victor Stone is leaning over the back. Billy Batson and a boy Bruce doesn’t know are sitting on the floor, talking to Dick, who’s on the coffee table.

Cass, other Tim, Stephanie Brown, and Duke Thomas are all crammed onto the couch, along with a blue-haired girl Bruce has never seen before. Damian, the dogs, several cats, and another unfamiliar boy are all in the back corner of the room.

Tim—Bruce’s Tim—notices him first. “Hey, B! Good day at work?”

“It was all right. What’s going on here?”

“We’re having friends over,” Dick tells him, turning around on the glass coffee table.

“I can see that. Why don’t you get down from there before it breaks?”

“Kay.” Dick slides down, and Bruce turns back to Tim.

“Where’s Alfred?”

“Grocery store.”

“Where’s Selina?”

“Harley and Pam’s.”

“Talia?”

“Also Harley and Pam’s.”

“I see. And who, exactly, are your friends?”

“I’m babysitting Jon.” Kon offers.

“Do Lois and Clark know you’re babysitting him here?”

“They never said we had to stay at the apartment.”

“Billy brought his brother Freddie,” Tim says, pointing, “and Dami’s new friend is Colin.”

“I’m Harper,” the blue-haired girl says. “I’ll be rooming with Steph and Cass in the fall.”

“Oh.” That’s the first Bruce has heard of this. “Cass, could I get a minute?”

She extracts herself from the crowded couch and follows him to the kitchen.

“I didn’t say that,” she tells him. “I said I’d think about it.”

“Think about what, Cass?”

“Steph wants me to get an apartment with her.”

Bruce reminds himself that she’s twenty one—he’s only had her for so little time, but this is a normal age for her to leave. “Do you want to get an apartment?” he asks her.

“Not really.”

Oh, thank God. “Did you tell Steph that?”

“Not really.”

“Is Steph expecting you to be there, splitting the rent?”

“Um, not really?”

Bruce sighs. They’ll come back to that. “Why didn’t you tell Steph that you don’t want to get an apartment with her?”

“She is my first friend. I don’t want to make her sad or mad at me.”

“Okay. Why don’t you want to live with her?”

“I want to be here. With you and the boys and the babies.”

“I’m sure if you explained that she would understand.”

Cass shrugs. Bruce changes the subject—they’ll discuss this further when there’s a little less chaos. “Do the new kids know everything?”

“Freddie does. Harper and Colin don’t. We thought it was okay—Dick had gymnastics friends here before. But you are not happy?”

“It’s not about what they know so much as how many of them there are—eleven is an awful lot of houseguests, especially when none of the parents were consulted.”

“Oh. We did not plan to have eleven. It was a—” She pauses, frowning.

“Coincidence?” Bruce suggests.

Cass nods. “Yes. Coincidence. Except for Colin. That was a plan—Talia picked him up before she left.”

And didn’t tell him. That’s fine; he never remembers to run things by her, either. Their co-parenting could use some work.

A few days ago he decided to take Asia to the office with him for the morning, and hadn’t remembered to tell anyone. Talia had called him, frantic, in the middle of a board meeting, to tell him Asia was missing. The rest of the family was combing the house, while Tim and Damian checked all the cameras.

That had been bad. An unexpected houseguest in manageable.

Bruce follows Cass back into the room; she rejoins her friends on the couch, and he crouches down in front of the playpen. Asia reaches out, and he picks her up.

“Hi, sweetheart.”

He looks over at Jon Kent. “Hi. My name is Bruce. I work with your dad.”

“At the newspaper?”

“At his other job.”

“Okay. Can I hold the baby?”

“If you sit down.”

Jon rushes around the playpen, maybe a little faster than he should, but no one seems to notice. He sits down on the floor, and Bruce puts Asia in his lap, since Helena is still asleep in the playpen. He takes a picture to send to Clark. Jon gets bored quickly, and Asia gets fussy. Bruce returns her to the playpen, climbing in with her to play for a few minutes. Helena’s woken up by then, and he carries her with him when he goes to meet the rest of his guests.

He checks the coffee table for cracks before sitting down on the floor next to Dick—it’s fine, but he should really discourage sitting on glass furniture. He does not want to call Leslie over to pick shards of glass out of his kid.

“Hi, Mr. Wayne,” Billy says. “This is my brother Freddie.”

Bruce is always a little uncomfortable around Billy Batson. Captain Marvel is a powerful hero who’s been part of the Justice League for years, and Bruce had a relationship with him as a fellow Justice League member before finding out he was actually a child. He doesn’t really know how to interact with a thirteen year old boy who is both a colleague and one of his son’s best friends.

Billy calls him Batman in the Watchtower and Mr. Wayne at the manor, even though he’s told him to call him Bruce, in both places. Bruce thinks it’s good for him, having the secret of his age out, awkwardness aside. He’s a lot less stilted than he used to be as Captain Marvel, when he was trying to act like an adult.

It makes Bruce so fucking scared, having a thirteen year old in the middle of battles with aliens. He tries not to think about it—Billy’s fought more aliens than Bruce has.

He lets Dick ramble for a while about his day and his friends, goes to the kitchen to get Helena a bottle, and comes back to check on Jason.

Jay hugs him. Vic nods, and Roy looks up, smiling. “Hey, Bruce. You wanna see what Ollie looked like when he was thirteen?”

“I remember what Ollie looked like when he was thirteen.”

“Oh. Right. Hey, Vic, did you find any more yet?”

“Any more what?” Bruce asks.

“He’s looking for embarrassing pictures of the rest of the Justice League,” Jason says.

“The plan,” Vic says, “is to blackmail my way out of the most boring Watchtower shifts.”

“I see. You find any bad pictures of me yet?”

“Not yet.”

“Well, keep looking. I’m sure they’re out there.”

He hands Helena over to Jason before heading to the back of the room; there’s enough chaos over there without bringing a baby into the mix. Damian is sitting on the floor, leaning against Titus, with a cat in his lap, listening as the other kid talks rapidly, maybe a little nervously, while he pets Ace.

“Father!” Damian says. “This is Colin. We’ll be in school together next month.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Colin.”

The kid ducks his head, petting Ace again. “Hi, Mr. Wayne.”

“You can call me Bruce. Did you guys meet at the gala?”

Colin nods.

“Dick spent all night trying to find friends for me. And Tim hacked into the school’s system last night to make sure we’ll have classes together.”

Bruce sighs. “Of course he did.” He glances over at Tim and Kon, crammed into a chair together, looking at Tim’s laptop.

“He looks weird,” Kon says.

“He looks like you. Exactly like you. You’re the same person.” They must be looking at Harley’s birthday present.

“Not exactly the same person.”

“Yeah,” Tim says softly, “not exactly the same.”

It’s then that Asia starts crying. “It was nice to meet you, Colin,” Bruce says before running to get her. It’s about naptime; he takes her upstairs, then goes back down for Helena.

When he gets back Cass and Step have disappeared, and Vic is on the couch with Duke, Harper, and other Tim. Roy is still in the armchair, holding Helena, Jason hovering just to the side. Jon has inserted himself between Tim and Kon, and Tim is laughing.

Tim hardly ever laughs. Over two years after bringing him home, most of the laughter Bruce has heard from him has still been during Joker-induced fits in the early days.

He hasn’t told Bruce much about the conversation with Harley yet. Bruce hasn’t told him that Harley’s phone can take inter-dimensional calls yet—he needs to do that soon.

It’s good to hear his son’s real laugh.

-

Cass takes Steph up to her room to talk.

“I know I am old enough to leave home. But I just got here. I’ve only had a good family for two years, and I am not ready to not see them every day.”

“That makes sense,” Steph says. “That’s why Tim is still living at home, you know. He just got to where he has a solid relationship with his parents, and he doesn’t want to miss anything.”

“Do you need me for the—to pay for part of the apartment?”

“Nah, your dad’s got that covered. Harper’s got a Wayne scholarship, full-ride. If she doesn’t want campus housing she can use the same amount of money for off-campus housing. And dorms are expensive, so. But Cass, you have got to get your license so you can come see me whenever you want. Tim can drive you—I guess either Tim could drive you—but sometimes I wanna hang out with just my best friend or just my boyfriend, you know? Not both of you at once.”

“I’m your best friend?”

“Obviously. Come on, let’s go find Harper and the boys. They’ll just be here for, like, another hour, and we can go over your driving flashcards again when they leave.”