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Fast Friendships

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Tim had never fit in as a child. He was too quiet, too involved in his projects. And, you know, he spent every night skulking around on rooftops with a camera trying to get photos of his heroes. He struggled to make friends, but he had no shortage of enemies. Which leads us to here.

 

“I’m gonna beat the shit outta you, you little fucker.”

 

Tim clutched his book to his chest as Bradley backed him up against the lockers, glancing around to see if there was anyone in the vicinity who would help him. The hallway was devoid of life and Tim felt his stomach sink as Bradley got closer and closer. A fist swung towards him and Tim closed his eyes, preparing himself for the hit.

 

But the hit didn’t come.

 

After several seconds, Tim cracked one eye open to peek and realized that someone had grabbed Bradley’s wrist. The mystery person was a boy a year or two older than Tim, with black hair and a fierce look on his vaguely familiar face. Bradley looked stunned and the boy snarled, “Leave him alone, ya dumb sack of shit.”

 

Bradley sneered and tried to pull his arm free of the boy’s grip, spitting, “Try and make me, freak.”

 

Almost too fast for Tim’s eyes to follow, the boy had Bradley on his knees with his arm twisted behind his back. He pushed Bradley’s arm up, just slightly, and growled, “Don’t tempt me, jackass. Leave the kid alone.”

 

Bradley squirmed and the boy let him up, moving to put himself between Bradley and Tim. Bradley scrambled to his feet and bolted down the hallway, leaving just the boy and Tim. The boy turned to look at Tim with a sharp eye and Tim slunk down further, feeling a blush rise in his cheeks as he realized who had just saved him.

 

Jason Todd.

 

Robin.

 

Jason raised one eyebrow and, voice much gentler than it had been, asked, “You alright, kid? Did he hurt you?”

 

Tim shook his head and managed to squeak, “I’m okay. Thank you.”

 

Tim expected Jason to leave. He did NOT expect Jason to sling an arm around his shoulders and start practically dragging him along, answering, “No need to thank me, kid. I’m Jason, by the way. Where you headed?”

 

Tim squeaked as he was practically dragged along, managing to choke out, “Tim Drake. Library.”

 

Jason nodded approvingly and replied, “Me too. I’ll walk you there. Whatcha reading?”

 

Unable to find words, Tim just shoved his book at Jason, earning a raised eyebrow as Jason asked, “Crime scene investigation, huh?”

 

Tim bobbed his head and Jason absently stated, “That’s cool.”

 

Don’t say it don’t say it don’t say it.

 

“You would know.”

 

“What?”

 

Shut your goddamn mouth Tim, don’t dig yourself any deeper into this hole, just laugh it off.

 

“Well, I mean, you’re Robin, of course you would know.”

 

TIM YOU FUCKING IDIOT! YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT!

 

“What did you just say?”

Chapter Text

“Well, I mean, you’re Robin, of course you would know.”

 

 “What did you just say?”

 

Tim cringed at the tone of Jason’s voice, the tone he heard whenever he managed to get close enough while Robin interrogated criminals. Jason unwrapped his arm from Tim’s shoulders, spinning to face Tim, and Tim flinched back, closing his eyes and expecting to get punched. Several seconds passed without a blow and Tim slowly cracked open one eye. Jason was standing in front of him, looking a mix of concerned and angry as he asked, “Did you seriously think I was about to hit you, kid?”

Tim nodded and curled in on himself, whimpering, “Sorry.”

 

Goddammit, Tim, you’re making a fool of yourself in front of your hero. Way to go.

 

“Fuck’s sake. I’m a hero, remember? I’m not gonna beat the shit out of some random kid without a damn good reason.”

 

Tim curled further, holding his book to his chest like a shield and whispering, “But I know your identity.”

 

Shut up, you idiot, it’s like you want him to punch you.

 

Jason bent down to make eye contact with Tim, stating, “Yeah, and we’re gonna have a nice long chat about that, but chill. I’m not gonna hurt you unless you hurt me.”

 

Suddenly feeling the need to defend himself, Tim blurted, “I wouldn’t do that! You’re my hero!”

 

Wow, way to make yourself sound like a fucking creep, Tim. You’re doing great. Why couldn’t you just keep your damn trap shut?

 

Jason narrowed his eyes and Tim shrunk back awkwardly, feeling like he’d said too much. His charm bracelet flashed in the light, drawing Jason’s eyes, and Jason frowned for a split second as he noticed the camera charm, Batman charm, and Robin charm. His brows furrowed, then his eyes widened with recognition and he whispered, “Holy shit. You’re that kid who’s been following us with the camera. The one that B thought was just my mind playing tricks on me.”

 

Tim opened his mouth to deny it, but Jason cut him off, continuing, “You’re fucking sneaky, kid. How the hell do you even find us? I swear to God, I see you every goddamn night.”

 

Tim blushed at the praise, then stammered, “Y-You follow the same patrol route every night, just starting two streets farther north every night. If someone just pays enough attention, you’re not hard to find. And- And I have a police scanner app that I listen to for anything big, so I can go get photos.”

 

Jason’s eyes grew steadily wider with every word out of Tim’s mouth and, once Tim was finished, Jason hissed, “You’re telling me that you, upon hearing that some serious shit is going down and that you should get the fuck out of the way, run headfirst into it to get pictures? What the fuck, Tim? How are you not dead?”

 

Tim looked down at the floor as the bell rang for the end of the day and Jason grabbed his arm, dragging him through the hallways. Tim, not having that much of a choice, followed Jason out of the school and into the nearby café, where Jason bought him a cup of hot chocolate and led him to a table, ordering, “Start from the beginning. How, when, why?”

Tim clutched his warm drink, wishing it was coffee but not wanting to sound ungrateful, and began talking.

 

“I figured out Dick was Robin because he can do the quadruple somersault, the one that his family was famous for. I was at the last- the last performance of the Flying Graysons. After that, it wasn’t hard to put the pieces together. I started going to take photos on a whim. There was a fight near a field trip I was on, I had my camera, it was too tempting. It never- I never meant for it to go as far as it did. But one thing led to another led to another and suddenly I was perched on a rooftop with my camera taking photos of you fighting Scarecrow at three in the morning. I’ve never told anyone, I swear. Well, except you, but you don’t really count.”

 

Jason looked at Tim incredulously and, in a tone of immense repressed emotion, asked, “You figured out one of the best kept secrets in the world because of a flip? What the fuck, Tim?”

 

Tim slid down in his seat, face flushing, and Jason continued, “How- Fuck’s sake, how old were you?”

 

“I was eight.”

 

“You were-” Jason cut himself off with a strangled noise, then took a deep breath and continued, “You were fucking eight?!? Jesus Christ, kid, how smart are you?”

 

Tim shrugged and whispered, “I’m just curious and observant and- and I like knowing things, and Mother says I’m too nosy and that I should focus more on making friends, but most of the kids at school don’t like me cause I’m younger or I don’t fit in.”

 

Oversharing much, Tim? Christ, and you call yourself a Drake? Pathetic. What would your mother say?

 

Jason took another deep breath, then answered, “Kid, you and I are gonna have to have a long chat about your lack of self-preservation skills. For now, though, you’re gonna drink your drink and chill out, okay?”

 

Tim slunk down further in his chair and, after several seconds of staring at Tim with narrowed eyes, Jason asked, “Do you have any food allergies or whatever?”

 

Tim blinked in surprise, then answered, “I, uh, no? Why?”

 

Jason tipped his head, eyeing Tim in a way that made Tim want to squirm, then answered, “Cause you’re coming over for dinner and eating at least half your bodyweight in food. You’re too damn skinny.”

 

Tim opened his mouth to ask questions, then closed it again upon realizing that he had exactly no clue how to express the sheer amount of WTF he was feeling. Talking never was his strong suit. Jason raised an eyebrow, then asked, “Do you need to call your parents or something to let them know you’re going over to a friend’s house?”

 

Tim scrambled to get his phone from his bag and answered, “I should let Mrs. Cooper know that I won’t be at the house for dinner and that she doesn’t need to come by tonight.”

 

Jason’s eyebrow rose higher as Tim hit Mrs. Cooper’s number and the phone rang once, twice, three times before the elderly housekeeper picked up, greeting, “Timothy, is that you?”

 

Tim fiddled with his charm bracelet and answered, “It’s me, Mrs. Cooper. I’m going over to a friend’s house tonight, so I won’t be at dinner.”

 

Mrs. Cooper made a surprised noise at the word ‘friend’ leaving Tim’s mouth and, though he knew it was justified given that he had never mentioned friends before, it stung just a little. Then she answered, “I’m so glad to see you making friends, Timothy. I’ll see you tomorrow, then?”

 

Tim gave the affirmative and hung up, looking back at Jason, whose brows were almost at his hairline. Jason didn’t say anything, though, and simply stood, stating, “I texted Alfred that you’re coming over. He’s gonna pick us up in a bit.”

 

Tim nodded, trying to ignore the anxiety building in his chest at how quickly everything had spiraled out of his control.

Chapter Text

Before Tim even knew it, he was sitting in the back of a sleek black car across from Robin, fidgeting with the charms on his bracelet and wondering absently if he was just straight up fucking hallucinating. Jason had taken a book from his bag and was reading it, cool as a cucumber. The silence of the car was suffocating and Tim, being Tim, just blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

 

“Batman won’t be mad at me, will he?”

 

Tim, you pathetic idiot! Of course he’ll be mad! You know his identity!

 

Jason looked up from his book, opened his mouth, made a weird face, then closed it again, expression becoming thoughtful. Tim could feel his stomach attempting to phase through the floor and sank down in his seat, muttering, “He’s gonna be so mad, isn’t he? He’s gonna hate me.”

 

Jason narrowed his eyes and answered, “He might be mad, but he’s not going to hate you. Besides, it’ll be more worried anger than actual angry anger. Why do you think he’s gonna hate you?”

 

Tim slunk down further, desperately wishing for the hundredth time that he had just kept his damn mouth shut as he whispered, “Cause I know your identities.”

 

That made Jason bury his face in his hands with a noise of irritation, making Tim want desperately to curl in on himself and hide under his blankets like a child. Then Jason straightened up, took a deep breath, and stated, “Alright, since you clearly can’t get this into that genius brain of yours without me spelling it out for you, here we go. Yes, you know our identities. And yeah, B isn’t gonna be happy. He’s gonna be worried because you’ve been following us and putting yourself at risk. But mostly, he’s gonna be pissed as fuck at himself for the fact that you were even able to figure it out. He’s not gonna hate you for being smart.”

 

Tim nodded and Jason’s face softened slightly, adding, “If anything, he’ll be impressed. Fuck knows I am.”

 

That made Tim light up like a bulb and he straightened, the idea of Batman and Robin being impressed with him making his organs do a funny little dance inside of him. A smirk pulled at Jason’s mouth and, sounding amused, he teased, “Boy, that perked you right up, didn’t it, Timbit? Like giving a puppy a bone.”

 

Tim, you cringy fucker. God, calm down already. It’s pathetic. Your mother would be ashamed if she could see you now.

 

Tim blushed and tried to tamp down on his excitement, only to receive a gentle kick to the ankle as Jason scolded, “Hey, no, don’t stop it. That wasn’t an insult. It’s cute.”

 

Tim felt more blood rushing to his cheeks and slunk down in his seat, wanting hide as his organs did another little dance in his abdomen at being called cute by Robin.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

When they arrived at Wayne Manor, Jason led Tim into the entry hall, then cupped his hands around his mouth and, at the top of his lungs, shouted, “BRUCE! COME DOWNSTAIRS! I INVITED A FRIEND OVER!”

 

Tim flinched back at the yell, then nearly jumped out of his skin as Alfred scolded, “Master Jason! What have I told you about yelling in the house?”

Jason had the decency to look abashed as he answered, “Sorry, Alfie.”

 

Moments later, Bruce Wayne himself descended from the upper levels of the house, dressed in a comfortable-looking black turtleneck and black pants with a cheerful grin on his face that gave Tim the urge to hide behind Jason. Jason slung his arm around Tim’s shoulders and introduced, “Bruce, this is Tim Drake. Tim, pretty sure you know who Bruce is.”

 

Tim nodded weakly and managed to squeak, “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Wayne.”

 

Bruce held out one hand, greeting, “You too, Tim. Drake, huh? I thought Jack and Janet were in France? Or are you a different Tim Drake?”

 

Tim shook Bruce’s hand, a little freaked out at the way the man’s hand absolutely dwarfed his own, then answered, “They didn’t want to pull me out of school in the middle of the year, so I stayed home.”

 

Something akin to concern flashed across Bruce’s features, but was quickly hidden behind the cheerful mask again as Jason stated, “Tim’s having dinner with us. I already checked with Alfie and he said it’s fine.”

 

Bruce clapped Tim on the shoulder, nearly making Tim’s knees buckle from the force, then started to turn away, starting, “I have a call to get back to, but-”

 

“Tim knows about us.”

 

Tim’s lungs did a funny little thing where they decided to try being empty for a moment at the sudden statement and he wheezed, trying to refill them despite their unwillingness. Bruce froze, then turned back to face them, a needle-sharp look in his eyes as he asked carefully, “What was that, Jay-lad?”

 

Jason straightened up and repeated calmly, “Tim knows about us. He’s the one who’s been following us with the camera. I wasn’t crazy.”

 

Bruce’s face did a weird twitch thing that made Tim stumble a few steps back and consider hiding behind Jason as his lungs spasmed in his chest. Then, voice like the calm before the storm, Bruce queried, “Is that true, Tim?”

Tim gave another pathetic wheeze, whole body shaking as he struggled to get oxygen, and the world started going black around the edges. Visions of an enraged Jack Drake standing over him with a broken bottle overlapped Bruce’s stonily furious face and Tim felt his knees start to buckle. Hot tears filled his eyes and he tried desperately to force them back, Jack’s voice shouting at him in his head for being a coward and failure as he felt his knees hit the cold tile of the entry hall floor. Then everything went black and Tim passed out.

Chapter Text

Tim woke up slowly, head throbbing. He was in a soft bed, the blankets tucked around him, and, as he opened his eyes, he noticed Jason sitting beside him, looking distinctly worried. Tim pushed himself to sit up, but froze as the movement made his head spin like he was on Joker’s death-carousel. Jason reached out to touch him, but stopped as Tim shied away. Jason’s face was a mask of concern and he pulled his hands back, apologizing, “Sorry. I’m so sorry. I should’ve given you some time to prepare yourself before just telling Bruce with no warning. How are you feeling?”

 

Tim slowly sat up, ignoring the way his head spun, and curled into a ball, whispering, “I’m okay. Sorry.”

 

Jason moved to sit at the foot of the bed, asking, “Any idea what triggered the panic attack so we can try to avoid that?”

 

Tim curled into a tighter ball and, after several moments of internal debate over whether or not to tell Jason the real reason, whispered, “I don’t… I don’t like people being mad at me. Especially people bigger than me.”

 

Jason nodded and, to Tim’s surprise, didn’t press the issue, instead asking, “Are you hungry? Alfie made chicken and we can warm some up for you.”

 

Tim glanced at the clock on the bedside table, then did a double-take as he realized that it was 9:45 PM. Jason tilted his head curiously and Tim felt anxiety building in his chest again as he realized that he had been passed out for three hours. Silence permeated the room and Tim curled tighter, then jerked in surprise as Jason nudged his ankle, soothing, “Hey, hey, you’re okay. Deep breaths, Timbo.”

 

Tim took a deep breath and closed his eyes, breathing out and whispering, “Sorry I keep freaking out.”

 

He opened an eye in time to see Jason shrug, answering offhandedly, “Eh, we’ve all been there. Fuck knows I’ve had my fair share of panic attacks.”

 

Tim slowly uncurled and Jason gave him a crooked smile, adding, “Bruce isn’t mad at you, by the way. He’s worried as all hell, but he’s not mad.”

 

Tim felt the knot of anxiety in his chest start to loosen and he managed to give Jason a small smile. That earned Tim a warm grin and Jason nudged his ankle again, suggesting, “Let’s get you some food, Tiny Tim. You’re too skinny.”

 

Jason slid off the bed and helped Tim to his feet, making Tim blush at the contact as Jason held him around the waist. Jason was warm, very, very, very warm and Tim had the urge to just curl up against Jason and use him as a space-heater.

 

Jesus, Tim, you absolute creep. What the Hell is wrong with you? Calm down.

 

Jason wrapped his arm around Tim’s shoulders, making the knot of anxiety loosen further, and half-dragged Tim out of the bedroom, down the stairs, and into the kitchen, where Alfred was sitting at the table with a cup of tea and a book. Alfred gave Tim a small smile, greeting, “Master Timothy, I am glad to see you up and walking. Master Bruce was quite worried. Are you feeling alright?”

 

Tim nodded and Jason gently shooed him towards the counter, retrieving a plate from the fridge and putting it in the microwave. Tim stood awkwardly, fidgeting with the charms on his bracelet, and Jason commented, “That’s a pretty bracelet. Though I’m a little surprised you only have the three charms. You seem like someone who would have a ton of them.”

 

Tim blushed and looked down, murmuring, “Thanks. I want more charms, but it’s hard to buy them without my parents noticing.”

 

Jason quirked an eyebrow and Tim shuffled his feet, rambling despite himself, “They’d freak out if they knew I was wearing jewelry. But I really, really like it and I know it’s weird, but-”

 

For the love of god, Tim, shut up! He doesn’t give a shit and you know it!

 

Tim snapped his mouth shut and chanced a glance at Jason, who just smirked as the microwave beeped and stated, “So what I’m hearing is that I should get you bracelet charms for Christmas. Good to know.”

 

Tim looked back down, then jumped as a plate was offered to him. The baked chicken smelled amazing and Tim’s mouth instantly began watering as he took the plate. Jason handed him a fork, then shooed him towards the table, where Tim dug in, the warm meal helping melt away the last of his anxiety. When he finished, however, he looked up to see Jason staring at him oddly, a cute little half-smirk on his lips. Tim immediately blushed and looked back down. There was a beat of silence, then Alfred queried, “Do you need to be getting home, Master Timothy? It is rather late, after all.”

 

Tim fidgeted with his charms, the familiar motion helping soothe the anxiety in his chest at the idea of going back to his house, and hedged, “Well, I mean, my parents are out of town, and Mrs. Cooper knows I’m at a friend’s house, so it’s no hurry. If you want me to go, though, I-”

 

“You can sleep over here, right, Alfie? There’s no point in taking you all the way home if I’m just gonna come get you tomorrow to hang out.”

 

Tim looked up, eyes wide, and Alfred raised an eyebrow at Jason, answering, “That is up to Master Bruce, I believe. I doubt he will take issue with it, though.”

 

Jason grinned and hopped up, chirping, “We’ll go ask him. C’mon, Timbourine.”

 

Tim followed Jason out of the kitchen and up the stairs, then down the hall to a half-open door. Jason knocked on the door, then walked in without awaiting an answer, an action that made the anxiety in Tim’s chest go through the roof as he remembered what had happened to him the last time he had walked into Jack’s office without permission. He still had scars on his back where Jack’s belt had cut him. The sound of Jason’s voice calling his name snapped Tim out of his daze and he blinked the memories back, focusing on Jason’s concerned face peering into his own. A hot blush rose in his throat as he realized that he was sitting on the squishy couch in the office with no memory of how he got there and Jason worriedly asked, “You okay, Tim? You were swaying like you were gonna pass out again.”

 

Tim blinked back the tears that immediately sprung to his eyes at Jason’s gentle tone and Jason looked alarmed, soothing, “Hey, hey, woah, don’t cry, please don’t cry, I didn’t mean to upset you.”

 

Tim scrubbed at his watery eyes with one sleeve of his baggy hoodie and answered, “I’m okay. Sorry.”

 

As he looked back up, he noticed Bruce had moved to stand behind Jason with a distinctly concerned look. Tim tried to give him a smile, but, judging from the looks on Jason’s and Bruce’s faces, it didn’t come out quite right. The concern in their gazes was so different from the usual disdain he got from Jack and Janet when he cried and it just made his eyes water more, a few hot tears starting to spill over and run down his cheeks. Jason reached out, then stilled and, voice soft and gentle and all the other things that Tim had never gotten before, he asked, “Tim, is it alright if I hug you?”

 

That was the dynamite that blew up the dam. The tears started pouring down Tim’s cheeks and he nodded, curling into Jason as Jason carefully hugged him. Jason gently petted Tim’s hair, murmuring soothingly until Tim managed to rein his tears in and stop crying like a baby. Finally, he pulled back from Jason, whispering, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to lose it like that.”

 

Jason gently ruffled Tim’s hair and answered easily, “Don’t worry about it, Tim-Tam. We’ve all been there. Sometimes you just need to cry.”

 

Tim nodded and scrubbed at his face with his sleeve. Jason, apparently getting the message that Tim needed a minute to compose himself, rounded on Bruce and asked, “So, B, can Tim stay the night?”

 

Bruce tore his eyes away from Tim, helping ease the knot of anxiety in Tim’s chest, and answered, “Of course he can, though he doesn’t have any extra clothes with him, does he?”

 

“He can borrow some of my pajamas. And Alfred is doing laundry tonight anyway, he can put Tim’s stuff in with it.”

Chapter Text

Before Tim could really do much more than pinch himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming, he was standing Jason’s bedroom, watching as Jason fished a pair of pajamas out of his dresser for Tim to wear. The room was clean and tidy, but still felt lived-in in a way that Tim’s house never seemed to, like it was actually a person’s room and not a showroom. Tim was pulled free of his musings by a pair of pajamas being held out to him. He took them and Jason showed him to the bathroom so he could change. Tim slunk into the bathroom, the worn cotton pajamas soft against his skin. As he unfolded the pajamas, he realized that the pajamas were shorts, which was an absolute no. He didn’t want anyone seeing the scars on his legs, especially not people who would definitely recognize them for what they were. Anxiety bubbled in Tim’s chest as he thought about asking Jason for a pair of pants instead, but he reminded himself of how nice Jason had been and braced himself, cracking the bathroom door open a tiny sliver and squeaking, “Uh, Jason, do you have any pajamas pants?”

 

The was shuffling for a few moments, then Jason answered, “Yeah, sure thing.”

 

A pair of sweatpants was held up to Tim’s face and he opened the door just enough to take them, choking out, “Thanks.”

 

Then he closed the door and sagged against it with a relieved breath, taking a few moments to calm his racing heart before undressing and pulling the pajamas on. They were comically big on Tim, the shirt looking more like a dress and the several inches of the sweatpants dragging on the ground. Tim couldn’t help but giggle a little to himself as he rolled the legs of the pants up an almost absurd amount, but he also couldn’t help but notice the way they made him feel. They made him feel safe, and protected and secure in a way he hadn’t felt in his memory.

 

They made him feel loved.

 

Jesus fucking Christ, you desperate idiot. You’re making a fool of yourself.

 

A blush rose in his cheeks at the thought and he rubbed his hands over his face, trying to shove the idea out of his head. Failing that, he took a deep breath and opened the bathroom door. Jason looked over from where he was reading and Tim blushed darker at the fond, amused smirk Jason gave him, fidgeting with the charms on his bracelet. Then Jason stood and suggested, “Wanna go watch a movie?”

 

Tim nodded awkwardly and Jason wrapped an arm around his shoulders, leading him down through the house to a smallish screening room. Tim tried desperately to not melt into Jason’s touch, but was pretty sure he didn’t succeed in that, given the amused look Jason gave him. They settled in on one of the couches and Tim sat on the opposite end of the couch from Jason, gratefully accepting the end of the long, shared blanket that was offered to him to combat the chill of the room. However, despite his resolve to not sit next to Jason to avoid any of the weird squirmy things that happened in his chest whenever Jason showed him even the slightest bit of affection, Tim soon found himself scooting closer and closer to Jason as Jason revealed his true nature as an insatiable blanket hog. Before the movie was even halfway through, Tim was practically hip to hip with a movie-engrossed Jason, wondering if it was even worth it or if he should just give up and be cold. As Jason shifted, tugging just that much more of the blanket away from Tim, Tim sighed and gave up, pushing the last bit of blanket that Jason hadn’t gotten to yet onto the older boy. Jason startled at that and turned to look at Tim, then down at the blanket, then back up at Tim as he blushed and unwrapped the blanket some so Tim had more than three inches of blanket. Tim curled into the blanket, but, by the halfway mark of the movie, Tim found himself back in the original situation. Tim sighed as he found himself nearly touching Jason, then nearly jumped out of his skin as Jason wrapped an arm around him, draping the blanket over him and stating, “Sorry I’m such a blanket hog.”

 

Tim gave a pathetic squeak as his entire digestive system decided to give dissolving into butterflies a try, but leaned into Jason nonetheless, appreciating the warmth. The pair watched the movie in comfortable silence, despite the fact that Tim was acutely aware of everywhere he was touching Jason, and, when it ended, Jason yawned and asked, “Ready to go to bed? Cause I was up until 5 AM last night and I’m exhausted.”

 

Tim nodded, but made no move to get up, unwilling to lose Jason’s warmth. Jason gave him a fond look that made Tim’s heart trip over itself and slowly got up, holding out a hand to Tim. Tim blushed and took Jason’s hand, allowing him to pull Tim to his feet. Jason, however, apparently overestimated how much Tim weighed and ended up sending Tim crashing into his chest, knocking both of them to the floor like in a cheesy anime. Tim’s face felt like it was about to catch fire and anxiety spiked in his chest as he realized that Jason was shaking. Lifting his head slowly, though, he realized that Jason was laughing so hard he wasn’t making any noise, face almost as red as Tim’s. After several minutes, Jason finally managed to wheeze, “I’m so sorry, Tim, I didn’t mean to do that. You okay?”

 

Aside from the fact that he was fairly certain his heart had fucking exploded, Tim was unharmed. He slowly got to his feet, trying to ignore the way his knees felt like Jell-O, then held out a hand to help Jason up. Jason took it and Tim pulled him up, thankfully not accidently pulling Jason on top of himself. The duo headed upstairs and Tim thought the rest of the night would go without a hitch.

 

But of course it fucking didn’t.

 

“Hell no, Tim. You’re the guest, you’re not sleeping on the floor. I’m Robin, remember? I can handle hardwood for a night.”

 

Tim frowned and crossed his arms, arguing, “Yeah, but this is your bed, Jason! I’m not kicking you out of your bed! Besides, I’ve slept on the floor before, it’s not that bad!”

 

The argument continued in much the same vein for a solid twenty minutes before Jason gave up and exclaimed, “Fine! Since both of us are stubborn and unwilling to budge on this issue, we can share the bed! It’s big enough!”

 

Tim, dear, sweet, stubborn Tim, didn’t even consider the implications before agreeing.

 

Which is why, an hour later, he found himself in bed with a sleeping Jason Todd, staring at the ceiling and having a bit of a crisis because he had always had a little bit of a hero-worship-infatuation-crush on Jason that he had mostly managed to smother by keeping his distance. Now that he had actually spent time with Jason, however, that hero-worship-infatuation-crush had made a vengeful comeback, making Tim simultaneously want to curl up next to Jason and also fling himself out the window because fuck, Jason was so nice and caring but also fuck, Jason was probably straight and Tim was definitely not Jason’s type one way or another.

Chapter Text

Tim, unsurprisingly, didn’t get much sleep. He drifted off for a bit at around midnight, then woke up again with Jason curled around him, having shifted in his sleep. Obviously, that didn’t do much to help Tim sleep as his heart apparently couldn’t figure out if it wanted to speed up or stop completely, but he managed to drift back to sleep eventually, only to wake up again to Jason poking him in the shoulder, urging, “Up and at ‘em, Timbo, we gotta go.”

 

Tim groaned despite himself, but slowly sat up, running a hand through his hair and absently wondering what Jason was talking about. Jason looked harried, sending a spike of anxiety coursing through Tim’s veins. Before either of them could move, however, the bedroom door opened and in burst Dick Grayson, chirping excitedly, “Little Wing! Are you ready for- Oh.”

 

Jason buried his face in his hands and groaned dramatically, then sighed, “Dickwing, meet Tim Drake. Tim, pretty sure you don’t need me to introduce Dick.”

 

Dick’s surprised expression morphed into a cheerful smile and he cooed, “Awww, Jay, did you have a sleepover? That’s so cute!”

 

Jason flipped him off without hesitation and Dick huffed, then strutted over to the bed and flopped down on it without hesitation, barely missing Tim, who flinched away on instinct. Propping his head on his arms, Dick asked, “So, Tim, how’d you meet Jay?”

 

Tim glanced at Jason uncertainly and Jason huffed, grumbling, “Quit harassing my friend, you douche. I’d like to keep this one.”

 

Dick pouted and whined, “Aw, c’mon, Jay! I wanna know! You never tell me anything!”

 

Then Dick rolled onto his back, flopping his limbs around in a way that made Tim flinch pretty obviously. Jason clearly noticed and, voice soft, asked, “You alright, Tim?”

 

Tim scooted out of reach of Dick’s flailing limbs and nodded, not quite trusting himself to speak. Dick rolled back onto his stomach, looking at Tim, and Tim felt a blush start rising in his cheeks at Dick’s intense gaze. He fidgeted with his charms uncomfortably and Jason held up a pile of folded clothes, stating, “Got your clothes, Tim Thumb. If you go get changed, we can head out.”

 

Tim tipped his head curiously and, finally trusting himself to speak, asked, “Where are we going?”

 

That earned Tim the classic mischievous Robin smirk, which made Tim’s knees feel distinctly weak despite the fact that he was sitting down, and the cryptic answer of, “You’ll see, Timbit. Now go change.”

 

Tim obediently got out of the bed and took his clothes from Jason, retreating into the bathroom. As he changed, he could hear Jason talking to Dick and, without even meaning to, he listened in.

 

“Dick, I get that you are the human form of those inflatable things outside car dealerships, but if you don’t stop flailing like a fucking maniac around Tim, I will kick you in the balls.”

 

“Jeez, Little Wing, what’s the big deal?”

 

“The big deal, you oblivious dick, is that Tim is already nervous and jumpy enough without you flailing around and making him think you’re gonna hit him. Now knock it off.”

 

The pair fell silent as Tim pulled his Gotham Academy sweater on over his t-shirt and Tim chanced a glance in the mirror just long enough to arrange his shaggy hair into something a bit more presentable, then took a deep breath and opened the door. Jason smiled, dressed in jeans and a dark green hoodie, then asked, “Ready? We’ll get breakfast on the way.”

 

Tim nodded and grabbed his phone from the bedside table, checking it. There were a couple of news updates, an email notification, and a text from his mother, which immediately made Tim feel anxious. Jason apparently caught Tim’s anxiety and quirked an eyebrow, silently asking if Tim was okay. Tim braced himself, then opened the text.

 

“Timothy. Mrs. Cooper has called to inform us that she will be retiring at the end of the month. Your father and I have elected to give you the opportunity to prove to us that you are capable of taking care of yourself and, as such, will not be hiring a new housekeeper. Our trip has been extended through the end of January.”

 

Tim felt a sigh of relief escape him and sent back a text apologizing for not responding sooner, as well as an acknowledgement of the fact that he was going to basically be living alone for three months. Then he looked up at Jason, who had a curious look, and stated, “My mother texted.”

 

Jason nodded as Tim shoved his phone into his pocket, then poked Dick and asked, “Well, you coming, Dickhead?”

 

Dick got off the bed and the trio headed down the stairs and into the garage. They piled into one of Bruce’s many cars, Dick in the drivers seat with Jason and Tim in the back, and Jason directed Dick to a diner in downtown Gotham, not far from the Gotham Science Museum, one of Tim’s favorite places to go when he had a free afternoon. The trio ate a quick breakfast, then Jason wrapped an arm around Tim and led him down the street as Dick trailed behind them. Tim soon found himself standing on the familiar steps to the Gotham Science Museum, much to his surprise. He glanced over at Jason, who shrugged and casually stated, “I used to come here when I was still on the streets, especially in winter. Free entry, it’s heated, plus I can learn stuff and it’s relatively easy to get food from the cafeteria when people aren’t paying attention. I figured a science museum would appeal to you, too.”

 

Tim nodded and they walked through the entrance. The museum wasn’t overly crowded in the early morning and Tim felt his shoulders relax at the familiar, comforting setting. They wandered around the museum for hours, nerding out over different exhibits. Finally, at about noon, Jason’s stomach began grumbling and he asked, “You ready to go get lunch?”

 

Tim nodded and Jason ruffled his hair, stating, “I’ll be right back, then we can head out.”

 

Then Jason walked away, leaving Tim and Dick standing awkwardly. They hadn’t spoken much, between Jason hogging Tim’s attention and Tim’s own anxiety at the idea of talking to the first Robin, and Dick took Jason’s absence to rectify that. Tim nearly jumped out of his skin as Dick set a hand on his shoulder, looking up at him as Dick asked, “So, Tim, how long have you known Jay?”

 

Dick raised an eyebrow at the way Tim tried to pull away almost subconsciously, but didn’t try to stop him, merely giving him an odd look as Tim fiddled with his bracelet. Then Tim stated, “I met him yesterday.”

 

Dick laughed, but, upon noticing the blush rising in Tim’s cheeks, stopped and asked, “Wait, seriously?”

 

Tim nodded and Dick whistled lowly, lapsing back into silence for a few minutes. Tim stared at the exhibit, a display of some Wayne Enterprises tech that Tim would kill to get a closer look at, and Dick finally stated, “Sorry if I made you uncomfortable this morning. Jason mentioned that you don’t like sudden movements.”

 

Tim fidgeted with his charms, then whispered, “It’s okay. You didn’t know.”

 

The pair lapsed back into awkward silence as Jason returned, wrapping his arm around Tim without a second thought and leading them out.

 

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The day passed in a blur and Tim soon found himself in Dick’s car, pulling up in front of his own house. Dread bubbled in Tim’s gut at the prospect of silent, hospital-clean halls and the stifling feel of his parents’ expectations, but he put on a brave face, thanking Dick and Jason for the day out and heading towards the front door, fishing his key out of his bag. Dick waited in the driveway until Tim had the door open, then pulled out and left, leaving Tim to face the big, empty house and his own mind.

Chapter Text

By the time the sun set and Mrs. Cooper left for her own home, Tim felt like he was gonna lose his mind. He was jittery and anxious, the silent shadows of the house and his parents expectations making him want nothing more than to haul ass to where he knew Batman and Robin were going to be patrolling. And so, he gathered up his hoodie, his camera, and his keys, then grabbed his bike and started pedaling. He made it to central Gotham in record time and padlocked his bike to a dumpster, then clambered up the fire escape to his favorite rooftop vantage point, just across from the Gotham Art Museum that Batman and Robin like to stop in on and take a break. He settled down with his camera, hood up to conceal his face in case anyone saw him, and peered through the lens, letting the familiar routine help to soothe the anxiety roaring in his gut. Right on time, Batman swung onto the museum roof, followed by the brightly clad Robin. Tim’s heart did funny things at the sight of Robin, then nearly stopped as the familiar voice of Dick Grayson, Nightwing, asked, “What the Hell? What are you doing up here? Who are you?”

 

Tim flinched, tucking his camera against his chest like the precious treasure that it was. Then Nightwing was trying to grab the camera away from him. Tim scuttled back, anxiety sending his heart-rate rocketing, and Nightwing frowned, ordering, “Give me that. Why are you taking pictures of Batman and Robin?”

 

Tim shook his head and Nightwing frowned further, reaching out again to try to take the camera. Tim flinched back, eyes starting to prickle with panicked tears, and Nightwing straightened, voice cold and threatening as he growled, “Give me the camera, unless you want this to turn nasty.”

 

The ice in his voice made visions of Jack dance in Tim’s head, but he forced himself to ignore them, clutching his camera closer and shaking his head again. Nightwing pulled an escrima stick free and Tim flinched back, reminded of the time Jack had used a stick to beat him, but curled around his camera to protect it, hoping and praying that Batman or Robin would intervene. Then Nightwing stated, “B, R, we’ve got a situation. Roof right across from the museum.”

 

There were several beats of silence, then a gloved hand grabbed his wrist and Tim jerked his arm back as hard as he could, trying to get free as his brain pulled up the memories of Janet forcing him to hold a heated curling iron, holding his hand closed as he cried and screamed in punishment for interrupting her while she was getting ready for a gala. His elbow slammed into the stone chimney behind him and he gave a strangled yelp, lungs struggling to get oxygen past his growing panic. The hand didn’t release his wrist, pulling his arm away from his body, and Tim kicked out, trying to get the person, presumably Nightwing, to let go. His vision was blurring as tears started spilling from his eyes and he flinched as Nightwing squeezed his wrist tighter. Tim wrapped his free arm around his camera, finally managing to choke out, “Let- Let go!”

 

The hand on his arm released and Tim scrambled away, slamming his back into the chimney. He felt a sharp shard of the brick cut through his hoodie and carve a slash into his back, but the pain barely registered in Tim’s swimming head as he did everything he could to not pass out. Nightwing started to advance, but a blur of bright colors stopped him and Tim let out a relieved sob at Robin's presence , then slumped backwards as the world went black.

 

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Tim came to laying in a bed that smelled like a hospital, feeling surprisingly good. Sure, his body felt heavy and sluggish and it was hard to think or focus, but nothing hurt for the first time in his memory and the anxiety that usually latched onto his every thought was nowhere to be felt. He pried his heavy eyelids open, realizing distantly that he wasn’t wearing a shirt and that he should probably feel worried about that for some reason but also too out of it to think of what that reason was. Then Jason’s face was leaning over his, asking, “Tim? You awake?”

 

Tim stared blankly at Jason for several long seconds, then mumbled, “Wha’ happened?”

 

Jason let out a relieved sigh and answered, “You passed out. When we brought you back here, we saw you had cut your back open pretty bad. You needed stitches. We’ve got you on painkillers and a sedative right now, since you wouldn’t stop fighting us when we were putting the stitches in. It shouldn’t scar too badly. Speaking of scars, though…”

 

Tim’s brain finally managed to struggle through the haze of the drugs to drop a single mental image in Tim’s lap, sending Tim’s anxiety into a desperate bid for dominance over the drugs as the memory of the scars covering his back glared in Tim’s brain. The scars where Jack’s belt had cut him, where Janet had slashed him with a broken perfume bottle, where both of them had put out their cigarettes on his skin. Jason reached out, hand stopping a few inches from Tim’s bare shoulder, and soothed, “Hey, woah, take it easy, Tim. Deep breaths.”

 

Jason’s voice and the drugs eventually won out against the anxiety and Tim managed to take a few deep breaths, trying to stem the flow of tears he hadn’t even noticed starting to fall. Jason’s face moved out of his sight line for a moment, then the back of the bed angled upwards and the side of the bed sank down as Jason sat down on it, asking, “Wanna tell me who did that to you?”

 

Tim fidgeted with his bracelet and looked down at his lap. On the one hand, he knew that what his parents were doing was wrong and that Jason would be able to make sure it didn’t happen anymore, but on the other, they were the only family he had and if they got arrested, he’d end up in Gotham’s foster care system, which wasn’t known for its friendliness to anyone who’s out of the ordinary. And, with how often his parents were out of Gotham in recent years, he only saw them for a few days a year.

 

And you deserve it. If you weren’t such a freak, they wouldn’t have to discipline you so much.

 

Tim steeled himself, then shook his head, bracing himself for Jason’s anger. Instead, Jason just sighed softly, looking sad and worried. He scooted to sit next to Tim, back against the mattress and body so close to Tim’s own that Tim could feel his body heat. The warmth made Tim want to scoot closer to fight off the chill of the infirmary-esque room he was in, but Tim squished that urge down, reminding himself that he was just a problem that Jason was trying to deal with. After several minutes of silence that made Tim want to peel his skin off from how uncomfortable he was, Jason quietly stated, “Willis, my biological dad, he used to beat me. But he had a job, so I never told anyone, ‘cause Mom and I would starve if he got arrested. Look, I don’t- I don’t know what’s going on in your life, Tim, and I won’t push if you don't want to tell me, but just- If you need someone to talk to, I’m always willing to listen. And if you want to tell me something that you want me to keep to myself, I promise that I won’t tell anyone, not even Bruce. And if you need help, with anything, I promise that I'll do everything I can.”

 

Tim pulled his knees to his chest, noticing absently that there was an IV line in his arm, then nodded, hiding his face in his knees as he nodded. He felt Jason move slightly, then Jason asked, “Is it alright if I hug you, Tim.”

 

Tim nodded again and Jason’s arms wrapped around him, making Tim feel safe and protected and warm. Tim leaned into the hug despite himself, burying his face in Jason’s shirt as tears started dripping down his cheeks again. Jason brought one hand up to gently stroke Tim’s hair, murmuring soothingly as Tim broke down. He just let himself cry for a while, letting out all the things he had been holding back until he fell asleep in Jason’s warm hold.

Chapter Text

Tim woke up cradled in Jason’s arms, warm and safe and feeling more relaxed than he ever thought possible even as his face turned red at being so close to his crush. Jason was fast asleep, head resting against Tim’s, and Tim curled closer, moving his head slightly to rest on Jason’s shoulder more comfortably. Jason’s grip tightened slightly and Tim blushed brighter, then nearly jumped out of his skin when Bruce fucking Wayne stated from behind him, “You’re the first person Jason has ever voluntarily cuddled with while I’ve known him.”

 

His movement jostled Jason, who grumbled and tucked Tim tighter to his chest, mumbling, “Fuck off, B. Timbo needs sleep.”

 

Bruce gave a small laugh and that and Tim pried one eye open to see Bruce run his fingers through Jason’s hair, answering, “He’s not the only one, Jay-lad. But I think that both of you will sleep better in an actual bed.”

 

Jason bitched and grumbled at having to move, but sighed and slowly released Tim anyway, blinking sleepily as he clambered out of the bed. Tim shivered at the loss of Jason’s heat as Bruce gently removed the IV needle from Tim’s arm and Jason frowned slightly, then stripped out of his hoodie and plopped it in Tim’s lap, stating, “You can wear this. You look like you’re freezing.”

 

Tim gratefully pulled the hoodie on and Jason helped him up, steadying Tim as he swayed from the drugs still in his veins. He felt sleepy and sluggish as he wobbled on his feet and Jason laughed quietly, tucking Tim against his side and announcing, “Time for bed, Timmy-boy, before you pass out.”

 

Tim nodded, struggling to keep his eyes open, and allowed Jason to lead him into an elevator, then, after going up a few floors, out of the elevator and into Jason’s room. Jason led Tim to the edge of the bed, then grabbed a pair of folded pajama pants from the laundry basket and held them out to Tim. Tim took them, trying desperately to keep his eyes open as he staggered to his feet and stumbled into the bathroom to change. As soon as he had his jeans off and the pajamas on, he returned to Jason’s bed, too tired to do anything else. Jason smiled at the sight of Tim in his pajama pants and hoodie, then helped him into the bed, tucking him under the blankets and grabbing his own pajamas before disappearing into the bathroom. Tim nestled into the blankets, curling up in a sleepy ball, and let his eyes flutter shut, sleep’s grasping fingers tugging at him. He distantly noticed the glare of the lamp shining through his eyelids go black, then the bed sank down and Jason settled against his back, murmuring, “Goodnight, Tim.”

 

Tim was pretty sure he mumbled something back, but what he mumbled was a mystery to him as his brain descended into a peaceful black nothingness.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tim woke up slowly, ensconced in warmth and with his ever-present anxiety barely a faint hint of concern. His brain seemed to be running at half-power, but Tim still felt an icy jolt of fear go down his spine as he realized that his phone was buzzing on the bedside table. He had no memory of bringing his phone with him when he left his house, causing his heartrate to nearly triple for several long seconds at the idea of one of the Waynes going to his house to get it before his sleepy brain caught up and he realized that the phone was Jason’s. Jason, who was curled against his back and sleepily mumbling, “Fuck whichever asshole is callin’. I ain’t answerin’ that shit.”

 

The phone stopped buzzing and Jason made a pleased noise, then groaned loudly as it started buzzing again. He reached over Tim to grab the phone, then hit speaker and flopped on his back, stating grumpily, “You’ve reached Jason, I can’t be fucked to deal with you right now. Please go fuck yourself at the tone. Beep.”

 

Tim covered his mouth to muffle his laugh and Jason gave him a sleepy smile that made Tim’s face do an impression of a tomato as an unimpressed woman’s voice answered, “Well, hello to you too, Jason. Looks like someone’s not in a good mood this morning. Who pissed in your orange juice?”

 

Jason groaned, but admitted, “You woke me up. Sorry, Barbie.”

 

“Don’t call me Barbie. And it’s like noon, why were you still asleep?”

 

Jason gave the phone a dirty look and shot back, “Sorry, Barbara. I had a late night. Dickbag will tell you all about it.”

 

The woman, who Tim realized with a jolt was Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, whistled lowly and replied, “So that’s who pissed in your orange juice, huh? Do I wanna know?”

 

Jason gave the phone another look as he slowly sat up, then looked at Tim, taking the phone off speaker and covering the microphone as he asked, “Are you okay with Babs knowing?”

 

Tim hesitated, but realized that he really didn’t mind and nodded. Jason smiled softly, making Tim’s organs do a funny little dance as Jason put the phone back on speaker and started from the beginning. As he talked, Tim slowly sat up and stretched, his chest feeling warm and fuzzy. When Jason got to the part about Dick grabbing him as Nightwing, Tim shuddered and looked at his arm, where he could see faint bruising in the shape of Dick’s fingers, then jumped as Jason touched his fingers. Tim looked up to see Jason looking at him with a concerned look, mouthing “You okay?” Tim nodded and Jason gave him another smile, then returned to his conversation with Barbara. The conversation lasted another few minutes, during which time Tim slipped into the bathroom and put on his jeans, and Jason finally hung up, suggesting, “Hey, Timbit, wanna go see a movie?”

 

Tim looked down at his outfit, consisting of jeans with a bloodstain on the back of them and a hoodie that was several sizes too large, then answered slowly, “That sounds fun, but, uh, I’m not- I’m not sure this is really the most appropriate outfit?”

 

Jason looked him up and down, clearly trying really hard not to smile and failing miserably, then replied, “Yeah, that’s fair. We could always stop by your house so you can grab some clothes?”

 

Tim fidgeted with his bracelet for a moment, glad it hadn’t broken when Dick had grabbed him, then nodded.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Half an hour later, Tim walked into the foyer of his house with Jason beside him. The feeling of safety he associated with Jason and the feeling of fear he associated with the house gave him a weird sort of vertigo and he played with his bracelet anxiously, catching the odd look on Jason’s face as they walked up the stairs and to Tim’s room. Jason plopped down in Tim’s desk chair, looking around at the bedroom, and Tim became acutely aware of how meticulously organized his room was, every possession he owned in its place. Even his closet and dresser were organized by color, which never failed to drive Tim just a little crazy. He dug through the closet for a solid two minutes, trying to find a comfortable shirt, and, upon finding it, turned to dig through his dresser, wondering aloud, “Do you think these jeans are salvageable?”

 

Jason hummed thoughtfully, then answered, “We could always ask Alfred how to get blood out of jeans. He’s pretty magic.”

 

Tim nodded, then pulled out a clean pair of jeans and boxers and retreated into the bathroom. He took a quick shower, then got dressed and emerged from the bathroom to find Jason idly looking at the photo album he had left open on his desk. Tim blushed as he realized it was the album he had made of photos he had taken of Jason as Robin, then blushed brighter as Jason stated, “These are really fucking good, Timbo. I’m impressed.”

 

The praise made Tim want to curl into a ball of delighted squealing, but he resisted the urge and even managed to choke out a strangled “Thank you” as he held out Jason’s hoodie. Jason took the hoodie and stood, suggesting, “You should grab a jacket, it’s pretty chilly out.”

 

Tim glanced at his closet, where the only jackets he owned, a suit jacket that was horribly uncomfortable and his school sweater, were hanging, then sighed internally and pulled out his school sweater. Jason raised an eyebrow and Tim awkwardly shrugged, half-heartedly explaining, “My hoodie was the only other one I have.”

 

Jason responded by plucking the sweater from Tim’s hands and replacing it with his own hoodie, promising, “I’ll buy you a new hoodie while we’re out. It’s our fault yours got ruined, after all.”

 

Tim started to protest, but Jason just patted his shoulder and stated, “Yeah, that won’t help. I’m buying you a new hoodie one way or another. Can’t have you freezing, after all.”

 

Tim blushed, but closed his mouth and pulled Jason’s hoodie on, then turned his lights off and led Jason back to the driveway, where Alfred was waiting with the car. They slid into the backseat and Alfred gave them both a small smile, then started driving.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After looking at the list of movies at the theater in the Gotham Mall and coming to the conclusion that every movie they had showing sucked, Jason and Tim decided to just wander the mall until Jason got back from grocery shopping. They wandered in and out of stores, chatting about some of the books both of them had read, until Jason suddenly went silent, a manic grin sliding across his face as he looked over Tim’s left shoulder. The grin made Tim a bit anxious and he turned to look, instantly noticing what was making Jason grin. The rack of Robin hoodies stood out against the black Batman hoodies and before Tim could even fully process it, Jason was walking him over to the rack and holding up sizes to figure out which size would fit Tim. Tim gave a noise of surprise and Jason raised an eyebrow, asking, “Are you a small or an extra small?”

 

Tim opened and closed his mouth like a fish for several long seconds before finally squeaking, “I- I think I’m a small?”

 

Jason nodded and tucked one of the hoodies under his arm, putting the other back on the rack before turning to look at the Batman hoodies and asking, “Whaddaya think the odds of B wearing a Batman hoodie are? I bet I could get him to wear it.”

 

Tim just stared blankly at him, brain reeling, and Jason mumbled to himself, selecting a Batman hoodie from the rack, then paused as he noticed the racks of Batgirl hoodies. He flitted over to them, choosing one, and finally wrapped his free arm around Tim again and led Tim over to the checkout, where he purchased all three hoodies. Once paid, Jason checked his phone and stated, “Oh, Alfie’s here. You ready to go?”

 

Tim nodded and they headed down to the parking lot. As they walked, however, a large group of people managed to separate Tim from Jason and he ended up caught in the middle of them, half-dragged this way and that. Tim felt his anxiety bubbling up with every second that he couldn’t find Jason and he let out a sigh of relief when a hand grabbed his shoulder, assuming it was Jason. Then a needle was jabbed into the side of his neck and Tim’s vision started blurring as he was picked up.

Chapter Text

Tim woke up with a pounding headache, his cheek throbbing, and his arms bound tightly behind him with what felt like plastic zip-ties. A strip of fabric was tied over his eyes and a dirty-tasting rag was shoved in his mouth, covering his tongue with the horrible flavor of motor oil, and he could hear someone pacing beside him. Then the footsteps circled in front of him and a hand slapped him across the face. Tim jerked and a from his left voice snarled, “Finally, the stupid little shit is fucking awake.”

 

Tim instinctively turned to look and received another slap across his face for the efforts. Hunching in on himself, Tim tried to fight back the tears that started prickling in his eyes, praying that Jason would find him. The kidnapper in front of him grabbed his chin and wrenched his head up, stating, “Kid’s kinda cute. Sure hope his parents pay up. It’d be a shame to fuck his face up.”

 

The second kidnapper scoffed and answered, “Course the kid’s folks’ll pay. They’re rich socialite shitheads, they wouldn’t want their precious little darling angel getting the shit beat out of him.”

 

There was sound of a phone ringing, then Janet greeted coldly, “Timothy, you know I do not appreciate being called out of meetings.”

 

Tim tried to hide his flinch at Janet’s voice and the second kidnapper cooed, “Ooh, sorry Mrs. Drake, little Timmy can’t come to the phone right now. He’s a bit tied up.”

 

There was a moment of silence, then Janet asked, “Am I correct in assuming that this is a ransom demand, then?”

 

The kidnapper laughed cruelly and answered, “Indeed you are, Mrs. Drake. You’re just as smart as they say you are. So, here’s how this is gonna go. You are going to transfer two million dollars into a bank account, nice and easy, and little Timmy-boy here gets to go home safe and sound, with all his bits attached. It’s simple. Got it?”

 

Another beat of silence, then Janet asked, “Can I get proof that Timothy is still alive?”

 

The kidnapper in front of Tim pulled the rag out of Tim’s mouth and Tim opened his mouth, then snapped it shut as the cold barrel of a gun was pressed to his forehead. The kidnapper chuckled coldly, then mocked, “Better say hi, Timmy-boy. We’d hate for Mommy to worry, now wouldn’t we.”

 

Tim opened his mouth, then closed it again, hope and fear clogging his throat in equal measure as he tried to get the words out. Hope that Janet would actually pay, fear because he knew she wouldn’t. The kidnapper pressed the gun against his forehead harder, snarling, “Say hello, you stupid piece of shit, before I put a bullet in you.”

 

Tim managed a strangled squeak, then flinched as the kidnapper slapped him again. Finally, Tim managed to choke out, “Mother, I’m so-”

 

His apology was cut off by the rag being shoved back into his mouth as the kidnapper stated, “There you go, Mrs. Drake. Your little boy is still alive and breathing and if you want him to stay that way, you know what to do.”

 

There was another few moments of silence, then Janet replied, “I see.”

 

Then the call cut out, just like Tim knew it would. What little hope had blossomed when Janet had asked for proof of life died a quiet death inside Tim’s chest and his head sagged down, hot tears welling up. Tim tried to force them back, reminding himself that Jason would come for him, Jason would find him, Jason would save him. The kidnapper in front of him grabbed his hair, dragging his head back up and ripping the rag back out, snarling, “What the fuck was that, you piece of shit?”

 

Tim gave a pathetic sob before gasping out, “Family… doesn’t deal with kidnappers.”

 

His revelation was met with a sharp slap across the face, then his head was wrenched back farther and the kidnapper who had been on the phone growled, “Maybe they will if we rough you up a little, then.”

***

The rag was shoved back into his mouth, then he was pulled to his feet and dragged across the room. He was shoved down to the floor, then a foot made contact with his ribs. Tim yelped through the rag and curled in on himself, trying to protect himself as kicks kept raining down. It went on for what felt like forever as Tim sobbed, but finally slowed and then stopped. Then there were footsteps leaving and the door slammed shut, leaving Tim alone in the room. He began fiddling with his bindings, then zip-ties loose enough to give him some leverage, and felt around the cold concrete behind him, praying for something he could use to break the ties. His fingers landed on a chip of concrete that had been broken up at some point and he grabbed in, using it to saw at his bindings. The thin plastic soon snapped and Tim scrambled to pull his blindfold and gag away, looking around the room. It appeared to be the office of a disused warehouse and Tim hurried to the door, wrenching it open and bolting towards the warehouse door. His luck, however, appeared to have run out as a pair of broad arms seized him around the waist and hauled him into the air, the first kidnapper’s voice growling, “Thought you could escape, huh, you slippery little shit? We’ll make sure you can’t try that again.”

 

Tim fought and struggled, but it did nothing as he was hauled back to the office and thrown to the floor. The first kidnapper, a man with greasy brown hair, then put his boot-clad foot on Tim’s ankle and stepped down until the bone broke with a sickening snap, making Tim scream as the second kidnapper closed and locked the office door. Then Tim was being rolled onto his stomach and his hands were bound with several sets of zip-ties. The first kidnapper grabbed Tim’s non-broken ankle, then ripped his shoe off and pulled a pocketknife from his pocket, snarling, “Try running with this, you stupid piece of shit.”

 

Then the blade was digging into the sole of Tim’s foot and Tim was screaming, screaming, screaming until he couldn’t breathe and everything went black.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

***

Tim woke up to the sound of Jason calling his name, feeling Jason’s knee brush his head as Jason knelt down. Tim gave a pathetic, pained whimper and a pair of gloved hands gently cradled his face as Jason soothed, “Hey, hey, it’ll be okay, Tim, I promise, it’ll be okay, you’ll be okay.”

 

The rag was gently pulled free of Tim’s mouth and Tim felt hot tears start sliding down his cheeks as he openly sobbed, too scared to open his eyes. Jason’s gloved hands gently brushed the tears away as he murmured, “You’re safe now, Tim, I promise. We’ve got you, you’re gonna be just fine.”

 

Tim gave a pathetic whine and Jason tapped his cheek lightly, requesting, “Can you open your eyes for me, Tim? I need to check your pupils.”

 

Tim tried to force himself to stop crying as he pried his eyes open, but the tears still kept streaming down his cheeks as a bright light was shone into each of his eyes, first left, then right. Then the light was gone and Tim could make out the hazy outline of Jason’s face through his teary eyes. Jason ran his hand through Tim’s hair, then softly asked, “Is it alright if I pick you up, Tim? We need to get you back to the Cave.”

 

Tim nodded, trying to stifle his quiet sobs, and Jason moved, gently picking Tim up and cradling him to his chest like a child. His ankle protested the motion quite painfully and Tim gave a pained cry, then buried his face in Jason’s shoulder, too tired and scared and relieved and hurt and desperate for comfort to give a shit. Jason murmured soothingly as he carried Tim and Tim gave up trying to stop crying, just letting the tears fall until Jason settled him on smooth, soft leather and gently tapped Tim’s cheek, stating, “I have some painkillers, if you want them. They’re pretty strong, they should help.”

 

Tim sniffled, feeling like the biggest baby in the world in front of his hero, and forced himself to open his eyes to look at Jason as he whimpered, “I’m okay. I’m alright.”

 

Jason tipped his head, then, looking concerned, asked, “Are you sure, Timbo?”

 

Tim steeled himself and nodded, making Jason’s expression become even more concerned even as he acquiesced softly, “If you’re certain.”

 

Then he moved to sit beside Tim, closing the door as the car began moving. It raced through the streets and Tim slumped against Jason, unable to hold his aching, battered body up. Jason wrapped an arm around Tim, then, quietly, out of the blue, whispered, “We have your bracelet at the house. The clasp got broken, but Alfred fixed it up, good as new, and it's not damaged except for that. I can go grab it when we get back to the Cave, if you want?”

 

Tim shook his head, too tired to feel ashamed for wanting Jason to stay close. Jason tucked Tim a little closer to his side, offering, “Or, if you’d prefer, I could have Babs go grab it. She’s back at the Cave right now, I can text her to grab it and meet us when we get there.”

 

Tim nodded, the idea of having his bracelet back doing a surprising amount to help him relax. Jason shifted slightly and Tim pried open one eye to see Jason typing on a cell phone, then closed his eye again. The car slowed down, then stopped completely. Then the car door opened and the vaguely familiar voice of Barbara Gordon stated, “I have the bracelet.”

 

Tim felt Jason moving, then he was being carefully picked up and moved onto a bed. Jason said something that Tim was too exhausted to understand, then his left hand was being gently picked up and an IV needle was being inserted. Moments later, Tim felt the familiar, soothing weight of his bracelet around his left wrist, making Tim feel safer by a surprising amount. Tim’s head started to feel fuzzy from whatever medicine was in the IV and he blindly grasped for Jason, wanting to know that he was there. Jason’s warm hand grabbed his, the gloves he had been wearing nowhere to be felt, and Tim relaxed into the drug induced sleep as Jason murmured, “It’s okay, Tim. I’ll be right here when you wake up.”

Chapter Text

Tim woke up for the second time in as many days in a bed that smelled like a hospital, feeling surprisingly good considering what had happened to him. The fingers of his right hand were weirdly warm and, prying his gummy-feeling eyes open, Tim realized that Jason was slumped over in a chair beside the bed, his head resting on Tim’s fingers. Tim couldn’t help but smile dopily, then gently pulled his fingers free, wanting to touch Jason’s hair. Tim gently rubbed a lock between his fingers, marveling at how soft the black curls were, then jumped a little and pulled his hand back as Jason lifted his head. Jason gave Tim a warm smile and, before Tim’s brain had even given its input, Tim mouth was running.

 

“You’re really pretty. And you have amazing hair. And-”

 

The look of amused, flattered surprise on Jason’s face almost made up for the wave of skin-melting embarrassment that washed over Tim. Almost being the key word there. Tim felt blood rushing to his face and brought his right hand up to cover his face, but Jason gently grabbed his wrist before he could and, sounding amused but sincere, stated, “You’re very pretty, too, Timbit.”

 

Tim distantly heard himself give a pathetic squeak, but his brain was too busy repeating Jason’s words to really care. He was finally snapped out of his mental loop by Jason squeezing his hand gently, asking, “You okay in there, Timbo?”

 

Tim jolted slightly, but nodded. Jason raised an eyebrow, the corner of his mouth twitching like he was trying not to laugh, and Tim tried to will himself to just sink through the floor and descend into the flaming core of the Earth. However, given his lack of phasing abilities, Tim ended up just laying pathetically on the thin mattress as Jason silently laughed at him. Finally, Jason patted Tim’s shoulder and suggested, “Let’s get you upstairs, Timbit. The beds down here suck.”

 

Tim nodded and pushed himself to sit up, breath hissing through his teeth as spikes of pain shot through his ribs. In an instant, Jason had his arms around Tim and was helping him sit up as he scolded, “Hey, woah, don’t hurt yourself.”

 

Tim leaned into Jason as a wave of dizziness washed over him and Jason gently petted his hair, stating, “You’ve got two cracked ribs, a fractured tibia, and 16 stitches along the bottom of your foot, not to mention all the bruising. You’ll heal just fine, though the guys who did it to you might not if Dick has his way. He’s got a mean streak when it comes to people who fuck with the people he likes.”

 

The dizziness ebbed and Tim hesitantly asked, “Dick likes me?”

 

“‘Course he does. We all do. How can anyone not?”

 

Tim’s blush, which had just started to fade, decided to give an encore and Tim started to open his mouth to give reasons, but Jason suddenly stated, “Wait, don’t answer that. Dumb people piss me off and I guarantee that anyone who doesn’t like you is an idiot.”

 

Tim was honestly starting to wonder if his face was just going to permanently resemble a tomato at this point. Jason patted his head gently, then took his left hand and carefully removed the IV, explaining, “Alfie set up the room next to mine for you, since your parents are out of town and we don’t really want you to be alone while injured as badly as you are. Especially since you can’t even walk right now, with how messed up your foot and ankle are.”

 

Tim nodded, beginning to wonder if he was just hallucinating things, and Jason gently guided Tim to swing his legs over the edge of the bed. Then he was picking Tim up piggyback-style, with Tim’s chin resting on his shoulder, and carrying Tim into the elevator again. Tim’s eyes began feeling heavy from Jason’s warmth and the drugs still in his veins and he closed them, leaning his head against Jason’s without even thinking about it as Jason began walking again. Then Tim was being lowered to sit on the edge of a mattress and Jason was tapping his non-bruised cheek lightly, calling with a hint of amusement, “Wakey-wakey, Baby Birdie! It’s time for you to put on some pajamas!”

 

Tim pried his eyes open and gave Jason a look of incredulous amusement, laughter slipping through as he repeated, “Baby Birdie?”

 

Jason replied with a smug grin and a set of soft, fuzzy pajamas. Then he turned around to give Tim some privacy as he changed out of his second pair of destroyed jeans in as many days. The pajamas were almost offensively comfortable and, as soon as they were on, Tim scooted up in the bed and slipped under the covers, mumbling, “You can turn around now.”

 

Jason smirked and walked over to tuck the blankets around Tim, teasing lightly, “Don’t you look comfy, Baby Bird? Don’t worry, it’s a good look on you.”

 

Even as Tim blushed, he asked, “Baby Bird? Really? That’s the one you’re going with?”

 

Jason laughed and straightened, answering, “It was the first one to get a laugh out of you, so you’re stuck with it, Baby Bird. Now, I can tell that you’re about to pass out, so I’ll turn the lights off and let you get some sleep. Your phone is on the bedside table and Babs put all of our numbers in it, so just text if you need anything, okay?”

 

Tim nodded and, before Jason had even reached the light switch, he was asleep.

 

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Tim woke up screaming, flashes of a cold and empty warehouse and a man with greasy brown hair mingling with visions of Jack and Janet. His panic wasn’t helped by the dark bedroom that wasn’t his own and, for a moment, he thought he had been kidnapped again before he remembered where he was just as the door burst open and Jason rushed in, hurrying over to where Tim had curled into a shivering ball under the blankets, tears trickling down his face. In a heartbeat, Jason had moved to sit beside Tim on the bed, asking, “Is it okay if I touch you, Baby Bird?”

 

The ridiculous nickname startled a strangled laugh out of Tim as he nodded and Jason smirked victoriously, laying down and pulling Tim against his warm chest as he teased, “I hope you know that you’re never gonna outgrow that nickname now that you’ve laughed at it twice, Baby Bird. You could end up the size of the Empire State Building and I’m still gonna be callin’ you Baby Bird.”

 

Tim slowly relaxed at Jason’s warmth and voice, curling into him. Jason began gently playing with Tim’s hair, making Tim press his head into Jason’s hand as his eyelids started getting heavy again. Jason rested his chin on the top of Tim’s head and closed his own eyes, stating, “You are the perfect size for cuddling, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim laughed sleepily, but didn’t respond as he drifted off to sleep.

 

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Tim woke up from nightmares several more times over the next few hours and was met each time by Jason cuddling him close, murmuring soothingly until Tim was able to fall back asleep. When he finally woke up the final time, not from a nightmare but from whatever he was laying on shaking, he found himself practically laying in Jason’s lap, curled up in a ball. Jason suddenly started shaking again and Tim looked up in concern, only to see Jason red-faced and with one hand clamped over his mouth to muffle his laughter. Tim made a face at Jason, slightly annoyed at having been woken up, and Jason doubled over, making a sound like air being slowly let out of a balloon as his eyes welled up with tears of mirth. In response, Tim gave a huff and flopped his head back against Jason’s knee, which seemed to be the breaking point, as Jason immediately dissolved into helpless, uncontrollable laughter, flopping partially on top of Tim. Finally, after what felt like hours but was probably closer to ten minutes, Jason managed to wheeze, “You look like a pissed-off kitten, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim made another face at Jason, who had finally managed to get himself under control and was wiping the tears from his cheeks. Jason responded by lightly tapping Tim’s nose, making Tim go cross-eyed trying to look at it, and stating, “Alfie brought up lunch, Baby Bird, so it’s time for you to sit up and eat.”

 

Tim’s stomach chimed in its agreement and Tim slowly sat up and moved out of Jason’s lap, ignoring the protesting of his ribs in favor of eating. Jason passed him a plate with several sandwiches and some fruit, then, as Tim began eating, stated faux-casually, “Y’know, Bruce ran a blood test on you last night, to see if they had given you anything we needed to be worried about. He thought they had drugged you, with how non-responsive you were from just a little blood-loss. What he found was actually worse.”

 

Tim paused mid-bite and looked at Jason curiously, wondering what the Hell Jason was talking about. Jason turned to stare Tim in the eyes, finishing, “Wanna tell me why you’re even more malnourished than I was when I first came here?”

 

Tim started to slink down, but Jason gave him a serious look and ordered, “No hiding until you finish eating, Baby Bird. You’re gonna eat every sandwich on that plate, got it?”

 

Tim nodded meekly and continued eating, trying to avoid Jason’s gaze. His attempted evasion was unsuccessful and he squirmed, Jason’s serious, worried gaze making him feel nauseous, like he had disappointed him. His chewing slowed and he forced himself to swallow, the bite of sandwich feeling like he was trying to swallow a hunk of concrete. His stomach protested violently and he set the sandwich down, bringing one hand up to cover his mouth as bile rose in his throat. Jason’s eyes widened and he scrambled out of the bed, grabbing a trashcan from the floor and holding it out to Tim. Tim took it, hunching over it as he lost the battle and vomited. His eyes burned with tears and he vaguely registered Jason rubbing his back and murmuring softly. When he finally managed to stop retching and coughing up bile, Jason took the trashcan and handed Tim a bottle of water, disappearing into the bathroom to rinse the can out. Tim scrubbed at his face with the sleeve of the pajama shirt he was wearing and Jason returned with a damp washcloth, settling down on the edge of the bed and holding the cloth out to Tim. Tim accepted it, wiping the few tears that had slipped out away, and Jason moved to pull Tim into a hug, murmuring, “I’m sorry. I don’t know if it was something I said or did, but please tell me if it was.”

 

Tim nodded against Jason’s shoulder, stomach settling as his brain processed that Jason was worried, not disappointed, and, as an excuse because he didn’t want to make Jason worry more, admitted, “Some medicines make me sick.”

 

Jason nodded and reached to grab his phone without releasing Tim, asking, “What kinds? I’ll make a file in case something like this happens again.”

 

Tim rattled off the couple of medicines Jack or Janet had given him that had made him really, really sick, plus a few that he had taken of his own volition to empty his stomach, and felt Jason’s grip on him tighten as Jason asked tensely, “Why have you taken ketamine, Tim?”

 

Tim leaned into Jason and whispered, “Mother was annoyed with me at a party because I was all jittery and anxious.”

 

Jason let out a sharp breath and pulled Tim tighter, murmuring, “Promise me that you won’t ever take it again, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim nodded without hesitation and Jason gave a relieved breath, stating, “Good. Good. We’d never give you most of those, but I’ll make sure to note that you don’t react well to high doses of acetaminophen or to benzodiazepine.”

 

Tim closed his eyes against the tears that started to well up in his eyes at how caring Jason was and murmured, “I’m sorry I worried you.”

 

Jason was silent for a second, then answered, “It’s not your fault, Tim. Think you’ll be able to eat the sandwiches? If not, I can go grab you some soup.”

 

Tim straightened up and answered, “I think I’m okay.”

 

Jason nodded and pulled away, stating, “I’ll grab the trashcan, just to be safe.”

 

Tim nodded and grabbed the plate as Jason walked into the bathroom, deciding to start with the fruit to test his stomach. The grapes went down easily enough and Tim moved on to the half-eaten sandwich, taking small bites and praying that his stomach would accept it. Luckily for Tim, his stomach deemed the sandwich acceptable and didn’t throw a tantrum as Tim ate the first three. When he got to the last sandwich, however, his stomach reacted violently and Tim set it back down, drawing his knees to his chest. Jason rubbed his back gently and quietly asked, “Stomach sayin’ no to the last one?”

 

Tim nodded and set his chin on his knee, whispering, “Sorry. I know you wanted you wanted me to eat all of them.”

 

Jason shrugged and stated, “Hey, three’s not bad. I’d rather you eat three and keep them all down than eat four and puke them all up.”

 

Tim nodded again, the motion sending pain spiking through his ankle as his chin pushed down on his knee, and Jason grabbed the pill bottle from the bedside table, looking at the label and asking, “Ever had any issues with ibuprofen?”

 

Tim shook his head and Jason passed him two pills and the water bottle. Tim took the pills, washing them down, then scooted to sit against the headboard, asking, “Am I gonna be able to go to classes tomorrow?”

 

Jason gave a grimace, answering, “Today. It’s Monday. And definitely not, not for at least two weeks. Don’t worry, Alfie forged a note from your doctor that you have mono. He’s gonna pick up work for you so you can keep up with classwork.”

 

Tim nodded, fidgeting with his bracelet, and Jason suggested, “Wanna play cards? I can teach you to play poker.”

Chapter Text

The first day of Tim’s bedrest went quickly as he played (and subsequently kicked Jason’s ass at) poker and chess with Jason for a few hours before switching to watching Netflix on Jason’s laptop.

 

Well.

 

Jason watched Netflix.

 

Tim, on the other hand, had an internal meltdown because he had somehow wound up in Jason’s lap, with Jason’s arms around his waist and Jason’s chin resting on the top of his head, making him feel safe and relaxed and also a little like his heart was about to erupt out of his chest like the alien thing in that one movie he had come across while looking for something interesting. Jason seemed perfectly oblivious to Tim’s meltdown, thankfully, until he shifted his arm and asked, “Uh, Baby Bird, you good? Cause your pulse is going fuckin’ nuts.”

 

Tim instantly blushed and squeaked, “I’m fine. I’m okay. Don’t worry about it.”

 

Jason hummed disbelievingly, but accepted the excuse and tucked Tim closer, answering, “If you say so, Baby Bird. Just let me know if something bothers you, alright?”

 

Tim nodded, melting into Jason without even really thinking about it. His eyelids started getting heavy again and he soon found himself struggling to keep them open, slumping back against Jason. Jason tugged the blankets up to tuck them tighter around Tim and Tim distantly felt himself getting moved to lay down against the pillows as the background noise of the Netflix show stopped. Then Jason’s hand ran through Tim’s hair and Jason murmured, “Sleep tight, Baby Bird.”

 

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Tim woke up again to Jason gently shaking his shoulder. Opening his eyes blearily, Tim blinked up at Jason, who had a look on his face that reminded Tim distinctly of a very smug cat. Then Jason announced, “Alfie has excused me from the gala tonight so that I can keep you company.”

 

Tim smiled at that and slowly sat up, then stopped as Dick slunk in, a prominent bruise on his cheekbone, and whined, “Aww, c’mon! That’s not fair! I’m gonna be alone at the gala now! How could you abandon me like this, Jay!”

 

Jason raised a judgmental eyebrow at his older brother, then answered, “Are you forgetting that your girlfriend is going to be there? Besides, you were the asshole who told me that galas were fun before the first one.”

 

Dick whined and tried to move in for a hug, but Jason sidestepped him and stated, “Hug me and I’ll tell Alfie where your stash of cereal is.”

 

That sent Dick retreating, presumably to go protect his cereal. Jason rolled his eyes and flopped face-down on the bed, whispering conspiratorially, “I’ve been wanting to get out of this stupid fuckin’ gala since I found out about it. It’s some Wayne Enterprises bullshit and it’s nothing but rich fucks who talk shit about me ‘cause I’m not one of them.”

 

Tim nodded along and Jason rolled onto his back, draping one arm across Tim’s legs and dramatically continuing, “And there’s all those old ladies who like pinching my cheeks and telling me how handsome I’ve grown up to be. I nearly bit one of them the first time.”

 

Tim couldn’t help the snort of laughter that escaped him at the mental image and Jason shot him a smirk, continuing, “You would like hanging with us during galas, I think. Dick and Babs are all gross and lovey, but it’s entertaining messing with people.”

Tim opened his mouth, then closed it, mulling the statement over. Then he answered, “That sounds interesting.”

 

Jason poked Tim’s knee, then asked, “So, whatcha wanna do?”

 

An idea fluttered through Tim’s mind and he nearly ignored it, but his mind flashed back to Jason looking through his photo album, the look of flattered surprise at the photos, and Tim steeled himself for the worst, asking, “What happened to my camera after the rooftop?”

 

Surprise flashed across Jason’s face and he slipped off the bed, answering, “It’s in my room. I’ll go grab it for you. There’s a small dent in the casing, but it’s fine. Still works and everything.”

 

Tim gave a relieved breath and Jason left the room, returning moments later with his camera. He handed it over to Tim, who cradled his precious treasure close and checked it over carefully, finding the dent Jason had mentioned and running his finger over it. The dent was tiny, barely noticeable, and Tim let out a contented noise as he turned the camera on and scrolled through the photos. The familiar action soothed a part of Tim that he hadn’t realized was irritated and he cradled the camera to his chest like a safety blanket. Jason smiled at him and, without even thinking about it, Tim lifted his camera and took a picture. Jason responded by climbing into the bed beside Tim and asking, “Can I see?”

 

Tim blushed, but showed the picture to Jason. Jason examined the photo, then requested, “Can you send that to me?”

 

Tim nodded and, before he could talk himself out of it, blurted, “Would you like to see some of my other photos?”

 

Jason practically lit up, answering, “Hell yeah! I’d love to!”

 

That made Tim’s chest go all fuzzy and warm and he scrolled through his photos, showing them to Jason and giving bits of backstory and fun facts about each one. As he scrolled back through the favorites he had saved on his camera, Jason suddenly sat straight up and exclaimed, “Wait, wait, go back one.”

 

Tim complied and Jason leaned in to look at the photo, then exclaimed, “I saw you take this one! That was when you were up on the second floor of the building across from the chem building at the old college campus, right? The night back last October when we were fighting Scarecrow? I saw you up there, but the only distinctive thing I could make out was your bracelet. And then I got gassed and Bruce told me I had hallucinated you.”

 

Tim blushed and Jason shook his head, laughing, “Man, I spent fucking months thinking I had hallucinated you, and then I saw your skinny ass again, during the thing with Hatter when he broke into the zoo. You were up on top of the reptile house. How’d you even get up there?”

 

Tim blushed brighter, confessing, “I picked the lock on the door. It wasn’t hard, and there’s a staircase inside that has roof access because all the cooling units and stuff are up there.”

 

Jason gave Tim an incredulous look and Tim slunk down, silently cursing himself for speaking up until Jason laughed again, breaking the tension as he joked, “Jeez, we should put a mask on you and teach you to fight. You could be Gotham’s newest baby hero.”

 

Tim couldn’t help but laugh even as he replied, “Right. Me, a hero.”

 

Jason bumped his shoulder against Tim’s, stating sincerely, “I’m serious, Tim. We should teach you self-defense. Even if you don’t want to put on a mask, self-defense is a useful skill to have.”

 

Tim hesitated, the idea of having someone swing or grab at him, even someone he knew wouldn’t hurt him, making his pulse rise. Jason apparently noticed Tim’s internal panic and soothed, “Hey, whoa, it’s just an idea. If you’re not comfortable with it, I won’t push it.”

 

Tim fidgeted with his bracelet, rubbing the smooth charms between his fingers until his pulse settled and his anxiety abated, then whispered, “Can I take some time to think about it?”

 

“’Course you can, Baby Bird. Take all the time you need. Even if you decide against it, the offer will remain open. And if you decide to do it and it ends up being too much or making you uncomfortable or any other reason, you can stop at any time.”

 

Tim nodded and settled back against Jason’s side as Jason clicked to the next photo. They went through the photos for a few hours, then ate dinner that Alfred brought up, then watched Netflix for another few hours. Tim’s eyelids got heavy a while later and he slowly sank down, eyes closing. Jason gently tucked him under the covers and, as Tim curled into the blankets and drifted off to sleep, he felt Jason press a quick kiss to the side of his head, murmuring, “Night, Baby Bird. Sleep well.”

Chapter Text

Tim woke up from a deep, peaceful sleep to his pillow shaking. Still mostly asleep, he batted at it weakly, trying to get it to stop, and distantly heard Jason laughing. Then a hand was in his hair and Jason called, “Sorry to disturb you, Baby Bird, but I gotta get up.”

 

Tim grumbled, curling closer to his pillow and mumbling, “Stop messing with my pillow.”

 

That made Jason laugh harder and made Tim’s pillow shake more. Tim whined sleepily, trying to resist waking up, and a finger tapped the tip of his nose, making him wrinkle it as Jason answered, “I’d love to, Baby Bird, but I gotta get up.”

 

Tim rolled to bury his face in his pillow, whining, “So?”

 

That made Tim’s pillow shake harder as he vaguely realized that it smelled like Jason. Then Jason answered, “So, Baby Bird, I need you to move your head.”

 

That earned another sleepy whine from Tim and he pressed his face harder into his pillow, griping, “Don’t wanna. I like this pillow. ‘s warm.”

 

His pillow started shaking enough to make Tim finally lift his head slightly, cracking one open to glare at the white fabric with a faded picture of Wonder Woman’s symbol on it. Somewhere in Tim’s sleepy brain, it registered that the sheets on his bed were blue, not white, and he traced the fabric with his eyes, brain connecting several rather embarrassing dots as Jason’s smug, amused voice answered, “I’m flattered, Baby Bird, but, given that you’re using me as a pillow, you’re gonna have to.”

 

Tim immediately sat up, face resembling an overripe tomato, and nearly toppled right back over as the sudden shift made his head spin. Jason steadied him, still laughing, then patted Tim’s head and teasing, “You’re adorable, Baby Bird, absolutely adorable.”

 

Tim’s face somehow managed to flush darker and he briefly wondered if it was possible to die from embarrassment. Jason poked his nose again, then climbed out of the bed and stated, “I’ll be back at 4ish.”

 

Tim nodded dumbly and Jason gently pushed him to lay down, tucking the blankets around him and ordering, “Go back to sleep, Baby Bird. You’ll heal faster if you do.”

 

Tim didn’t hesitate to pull the blankets up over his head, hiding his flushed face as Jason left the room. The door closed and Tim closed his eyes, then jumped as his phone buzzed. Tim reached out to grab it, pulse racing as he realized that it was Janet calling, then took a deep breath and answered it, greeting, “Good morn-”.

 

“Why are you hanging around with Bruce Wayne’s street rat? The tabloids are filled with photos of you with him at the science museum.”

 

Tim grimaced at Janet’s abrasiveness and at her insulting Jason, then opened his mouth to answer honestly. Then he paused, realized that answering honestly was the worst idea on the planet, and instead lied through his teeth.

 

“You said you wanted Drake Industries to partner with Wayne Enterprises at some point in the future. I thought- I thought that if I could get in their good graces, it would help you achieve that goal. And since Jason is the closest to my age and goes to my school, I thought it would go best with him.”

 

The idea of using Jason like that made Tim feel sick to his stomach, but he hoped Jason would understand that he was trying to stay safe from Jack’s and Janet’s wrath. His voice squeaked partway through, a clear tell that he was lying, but Janet either didn’t notice or didn’t care as she replied, “I see. It is good to see you aren’t quite as useless as I had feared.”

 

Then the call ended and Tim was left feeling unsettled and uncomfortable, hands shaking as he set his phone back on the bedside table. He began playing with the charms on his bracelet, rubbing the three between his trembling fingers, then paused as an unfamiliar fourth charm touched his pinky. Lifting his wrist, Tim realized in surprise that a small silver atom model charm had been added at some point. Tim knew the charm from somewhere, then, with a jolt, recognized that it was from the Gotham Science Museum gift shop. His mind flicked back to the day at the museum with Jason and Dick, how Jason had left him with Dick for a few minutes. Tim had assumed Jason was going to the bathroom, but now… It felt safe to assume that Jason had bought the charm for him. Tim ran his fingers over the charm, his heart racing, not with fear, but with excitement. His chest felt warm and fuzzy and his face flushed red as he clutched his wrist to his chest, rubbing the charm between his fingers. After several minutes, Tim slowly laid down, closing his eyes and curling into a ball under the blankets to bask in the feeling of being loved and cared for that he had wanted but been denied for so long. His eyes eventually fluttered closed and he drifted off to sleep, wrist tucked close to his chest and a smile on his face.

 

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Tim woke up again to someone tapping his shoulder. Feeling surprisingly well-rested, he opened his eyes to see Dick, dressed in a t-shirt and sweatpants with a tray of food. Dick set the tray on the bedside table as Tim sat up, then glanced at Tim and asked, “Your wrist feeling alright? I noticed you were holding it like it hurt.”

 

Tim stretched, then answered, “It’s fine.”

 

Dick nodded and settled on the mattress beside Tim, stating, “Good. Listen, there’s something I need to talk to you about while you eat. Jason was supposed to talk to you about it last night, but he said you went to sleep before he could.”

 

Tim felt fear rise in his chest and ran his fingers over his bracelet as Dick passed him a plate of pancakes and grapes. Tim looked down at the plate, feeling like he’d be sick if he ate it, but forced himself to pick up a grape and put it in his mouth. Then Dick continued, “Bruce wants you to stay here until your parents get back.”

 

Almost as soon as the words left Dick’s mouth, Tim choked on his grape, coughing and wheezing. Dick’s expression shifted from serious to alarmed in an instant and he reached out to help, but stopped as Tim held up a hand. Tim hacked and coughed until his lungs stopped spasming and settled, then wheezed, “What?”

 

“Bruce wants you to stay here until your parents get back from their trip.”

 

Tim stared blankly at Dick, then asked with a mix of incredulity and sincerity, “Why?”

 

Dick seemed thrown off by the question and a look that Tim thought seemed almost pitying flashed across Dick’s face for a second before it morphed into a kicked-puppy expression as Dick answered, “Because he doesn’t want you to be alone. Besides, you’re pretty much the first person who Jason has really bonded with and I think Bruce is planning on unofficially adopting you. Black hair, blue eyes, smart, stubborn, makes questionable choices, little to no self-preservation, et cetera. You fit in perfectly and Bruce is something of a serial adopter.”

 

Tim gaped openly at Dick, not even trying to hide his disbelief, and Dick added, “You don’t have to, if you’re not comfortable with it, but I think Bruce is hoping that you will. Jay and I are, too. We like you.”

 

Tim blushed and he fidgeted with his bracelet, requesting, “Can I- Can I think about it for a bit?”

 

Dick grinned, answering, “Yeah, definitely. Take as much time as you need, Timbo.”

 

Then he nudged Tim’s plate and suggested, “You should eat.”

 

Tim obediently ate everything on the plate. Dick ate with him, surprisingly comfortable silence filling the room, and took Tim’s plate when he finished, asking, “How’s everything feeling? Think you need any pain medicine?”

 

Tim ran a mental check on his body, then shook his head.

 

“I’m okay.”

 

Dick nodded and clambered off the bed, stating, “I’ll go grab the med kit so I can check your stitches and make sure they’re healing properly and that they’re not getting infected.”

 

Tim nodded and Dick ducked into the bathroom, returning with a red plastic box. He opened it and settled on the bed again, requesting, “May I see your foot, please?”

 

Tim untangled himself from the blankets and moved so Dick could see his bandaged foot. Dick reached out to touch it, glancing at Tim for permission, and Tim nodded. Dick carefully unwrapped the bandages, dropping them in the trashcan, then began checking the stitches. Once he deemed them fine, he pulled a jar of brownish cream and a roll of bandages from the box. He started to open the jar, but paused as Tim asked, “What’s that?”

 

Dick looked up in surprise, then held out the jar for Tim to take, explaining, “It’s to help promote faster healing and limit scarring. It smells nasty, but it works really well.”

 

Tim opened the jar and wrinkled his nose at the pungent smell. It reminded him of the locker rooms at school and he quickly put the lid back on, handing the jar back to Dick. Laughing, Dick took the jar back and opened it, smearing it on Tim’s stitches as he stated, “Told you so. It smells so gross.”

 

Tim nodded his agreement and Dick closed the jar, wrapping the new bandages around Tim’s foot. Once he was done, he left the room, returning with a folder of schoolwork Tim had missed, and left Tim to do it.

Chapter Text

Tim’s convalescence seemed to last fucking forever, to the point that, upon receiving crutches and Alfred’s permission to start moving around to places other than the bed and bathroom on Day Nine, Tim very nearly cried tears of joy. His teachers had sent all of his work for his two week absence in on Day Three and Tim, who had finished all of it by Day Four, was losing his fucking mind from boredom. He mentioned this to Jason on Day Five, to which Jason had told him to just enjoy his time off. Tim had tried, he really had, but Tim was, as a person, extremely bad at being unproductive for any real length of time. By Day Six, Tim had taught himself the basics of Spanish using his phone and read all three of the novels Jason had suggested to him.

 

Which was why, on the morning of Day Seven, Jason prodded Tim awake and, once Tim had sat up properly, plopped an open laptop in his lap and stated, “B thought you might have fun with these.”

 

Tim squinted at the screen blearily, brain still processing being awake, then snapped his head up to stare at Jason with wide eyes as he realized what he was looking at, squeaking, “Are these-?”

 

Jason laughed, answering, “Yes, Nerdy Birdy, those are B’s cold cases. He wants to see if you can make anything of them. Said that we may as well put that big brain of yours to use, since you seem to be about as skilled at shutting it off as the Bat himself.”

 

Tim, being Tim, made a few excited, incomprehensible squeaks and turned completely red at A) Being allowed to look at Batman’s case files and B) Being compared to Batman, even if it was in a teasing way. Jason shook his head, a smirk playing at his lips, and stated, “I’m gonna go grab some food for us. Want anything in particular?”

 

Tim lifted his eyes from the laptop for a moment, then, mouth running away from him, answered, “Coffee, please.”

 

Then the casefiles dragged him back in and Tim was in The Zone, typing out notes and running through scenarios in his head.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Tim was jerked out of The Zone by the smell of that life-giving bean juice, that precious elixir of functionality, coffee. He lifted his head, wondering how long it had been when his neck gave a sharp spike of pain in protest to the action, and found himself face to face with Jason, who had a mug and an amused look. Jason handed him the mug and, sounding like he was about to burst out laughing, stated, “I’m a little offended, Baby Bird, that you responded to the smell of coffee but not to me calling your name and poking you for an hour and a half trying to get you to eat.”

 

Tim blinked in confusion and Jason poked his nose gently, making Tim wrinkle his nose and bring his free hand up to rub it. Jason took the opportunity to snatch the laptop away, announcing, “You can have this back once you eat, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim pouted, but accepted the plate Jason handed him, wolfing down the pancakes so fast that he didn’t even realize that they had gone cold. Jason snorted and set the laptop back in front of Tim, teasing, “Note to self: Bribery and taking hostages are effective methods to get you to eat. I’ll keep that in mind.”

 

Tim made a face and gulped down about half of his coffee, then refocused on the laptop, letting himself sink back into the files.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Tim was dragged out of The Zone once again by the smell of coffee. Lifting his head again, Tim blinked, surprised to see a sandwich in front of his face. Sounding amused, Jason commented, “Told ya, old man. He’s you, just smaller and cuter. And nicer.”

 

Tim reached up to move the sandwich that had been moved to take over his entire field of vision, only to get it pushed into his hands as Jason ordered, “Eat. Then you can have the coffee,.”

 

Tim took the sandwich and took a bite, then nearly choked as he noticed Bruce standing behind Jason. Bruce gave Tim a tiny smile, then asked, “So, Tim, how have you been doing with the cold cases?”

 

Tim lit up immediately and swallowed his bite, then started to set the sandwich aside. Jason poked his arm, scolding, “Nuh-uh. Food first, then work. Bruce can wait.”

 

Tim pouted, but scarfed his sandwich down as quickly as possible before turning his attention to Bruce. Bruce sat down across from Tim and Jason settled beside Tim, handing Tim the mug of coffee and peering at Tim’s notes as Tim started explaining what he had found.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Tim talked through 11 of the 12 cases Bruce had given him, anxiety and nerves building as Bruce’s eyebrows rose higher and higher. Once he had finished talking, however, Jason gave a snort of laughter and teased, “Jeez, Baby Bird, just put on a mask and start jumping between buildings already.”

 

Tim blushed and Bruce requested, “Is it alright if I bring you a few other cases that I could use a fresh set of eyes on?”

 

Tim straightened up, feeling the blush in his cheeks darkening at the implied praise, and squeaked, “I’d love to help.”

 

He felt Jason move beside him and looked over to see Jason pinching the bridge of his nose as he sighed, “I’m putting restrictions on that laptop so you don’t forget to eat and sleep, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim made a face and Jason raised an eyebrow at him, challenging, “Can you honestly say that you’ll remember to eat and sleep if I don’t put restrictions on the laptop?”

Tim opened his mouth to defend himself, then closed it again, grumbling, “No.”

 

Jason nodded approvingly and patted Tim’s head, then stole the laptop from Tim’s lap and stated, “It’s time for me and you to do something a bit less serious before I have to leave for patrol.”

 

Tim pouted, but didn’t complain aloud. Jason quickly switched to Netflix, pulling up a movie and stating, “You can go now, Bruce. You’ve gotten Tim’s brain all day. It’s time for him to watch a dumb movie with me and relax.”

 

Bruce smiled slightly, then got up and walked out, leaving Tim and Jason to their movie watching. The movie did little to capture Tim’s interest, not that he minded, and he soon found himself laying on his back with his head in Jason’s lap, thinking through the 12th case as Jason watched the movie. He could distantly feel Jason playing with his hair, but he tuned it out. Then he sat bolt upright, exclaiming, “The neighbor! The neighbor is the one you guys need to go back and question!”

 

Jason startled at Tim’s sudden motion, then laughed and tugged Tim’s shoulder until Tim laid back down, teasing, “Man, your brain just does not stop, does it?”

 

Tim started to curl in on himself, but a poke to his forehead from Jason made him stop, staring up at Jason with wide, innocent eyes. Jason smirked, adding, “Don’t worry, Baby Bird, it’s cute. At least, it is when you do it.”

 

Tim blushed and Jason started playing with his hair again, lulling Tim towards sleep. Before he could drift off, though, Tim made it a point to ask, “Promise you’ll tell Bruce about the neighbor?”

 

Jason scraped his fingernails along the top of Tim’s head, making Tim’s eyelids flutter closed as he gave a pleased noise. Then he forced his eyes open to peer at Jason, awaiting Jason’s reply. Jason ran his fingernails over Tim’s scalp again, answering, “I promise, Baby Bird. Now give that big brain of yours a break so you can solve more cases tomorrow.”

 

Tim nodded sleepily, rolling onto his side and curling into a ball as Jason continued playing with his hair. The touch worked like a sedative, helping Tim sink into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

Tim woke up to the sound of something being set on his bedside table. He started to roll over to look, still half-asleep, but a set of warm, familiar hands stopped him and Jason’s voice murmured, “Just me, Baby Bird. Go back to sleep.”

 

Tim gave a sleepy, incomprehensible mumble and rolled to press his face into his pillow, drifting back towards sleep as Jason played with his hair. Then Tim’s phone started blasting Jack’s ringtone and Tim tensed, then sat up to grab his phone. Jason raised an eyebrow at Tim and Tim answered the phone, greeting, “Good morni-”

 

As per usual for his parents, Jack cut off Tim’s greeting, stating coldly, “Your mother and I received an invite to the Wayne Enterprises holiday gala. We will be arriving in Gotham on the 19th for it. You will be joining us.”

 

Tim barely managed to hold back the squeak of fear that wanted to escape him and took a deep, steadying breath, asking, “Do you know how long you’ll be staying in Gotham? I thought Mother had said your trip had been extended through January.”

 

Jack made a derisive noise, answering, “We will be leaving on the 21st to continue our trip.”

 

Then Jack hung up, leaving Tim with anxiety bubbling in his chest. He dropped his phone back on the bedside table and pulled his knees to his chest, fidgeting with his bracelet and trying to fight back the building panic. The more he thought about his parents coming home, though, the harder it got to breathe and the more his eyes watered. His lungs spasmed in his chest, trying to draw in oxygen unsuccessfully, and Tim nearly jumped out of his skin when a warm hand touched his shoulder. Tim turned to stare at Jason with wide, teary eyes as Jason said something that Tim’s panicky brain couldn’t make out and Jason gently took Tim’s hand, placing it against his own chest and breathing deeply, saying something else that Tim didn’t process. Jason’s steady heartbeat against his palm, however, helped snap Tim out of his spiral of panic as he closed his eyes and reminded himself that he was safe, that Jason was there and that he was going to be okay. Once his breathing had slowed and steadied, Tim opened his eyes and pulled his hand away from Jason’s chest, wiping his unshed tears away and whispering, “Sorry I keep freaking out.”

 

Jason patted his knee gently, answering, “I get it, Baby Bird. Wanna talk about it?”

 

Tim rested his chin on his knees, fingers finding the charms of his bracelet, and admitted, “My parents are gonna be home for the Wayne Enterprises holiday gala. Apparently they got an invite.”

 

Jason looked surprised, brows furrowing, and stated, “That’s weird. I thought B said he wasn’t planning to… Unless…”

 

Jason seemed to drift into his own thoughts and Tim fidgeted with his charms, counting them mentally as he rubbed them between his fingers. Bat symbol, Robin symbol, camera, atomic model, unfamiliar cylindrical charm.

 

 

Wait a second…

 

Tim lifted his wrist to look at his bracelet, eyes locking onto the new coffee cup charm that had been added at some point. Jason was still off in his own little world as Tim examined the charm carefully, rubbing the smooth enamel between his fingers as color rose in his cheeks. Then Jason’s voice broke through his reverie, sounding embarrassed as he stated, “Oh, you noticed it. Sorry if it’s weird to put charms on your bracelet while you’re not paying attention, I just didn’t wanna put you on the spot by making a production out of it and-”

 

Tim didn’t even think about it before he was wrapping his arms around Jason, pulling him into a hug. Jason gave a surprised little squeak, but hugged Tim back as Tim whispered, “Thank you.”

 

The touching moment was soon interrupted by a knock at Tim’s bedroom door and Dick’s voice calling, “Little Wing, you’re gonna be late.”

 

Jason grumbled, but got up once Tim pulled away, sighing, “Yay, I get to go sit in classes with a bunch of snobby rich kids. Fuck, I can’t wait for this semester to end. Maybe a few of the douchier douches won’t be in my classes next semester.”

 

Tim hesitated for a second, then asked, “Who are they? The people you’ve been having issues with, I mean?”

 

Jason gave a dry laugh and stretched, grabbing his phone from the bedside table and answering, “At this point? Open the yearbook, cross off your name, and there we go.”

 

Tim took a moment to think through his plan, then queried in a very poor faux-casual tone, “Are there any who are worse than others?”

 

Jason tipped his head, narrowing his eyes at Tim like he suspected Tim was up to something (damn his perceptiveness and Tim’s own lack of skill for acting), then answered, “I’ll text you their names. Just promise me that you won’t get caught in whatever you’re plotting, alright, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim blushed, but lied, “I’m not plotting anything!”

 

His voice squeaked and Tim took a moment to curse his lack of lying abilities, then, at Jason’s raised eyebrow, added, “Not anything you can prove, at least.”

 

“If you say so, Baby Bird.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Hacking into the Gotham Academy servers was almost worryingly easy and Tim made a mental note to give them an anonymous tip to upgrade their firewall once he was done. The list Jason had texted him, along with another warning to “Please don’t get caught, juvie isn’t fun” was open on Tim’s phone and he quickly found the student schedules for second semester. Then he got to work, moving the students on the list to different periods and teachers so that they weren’t with Jason. As he did, he noticed that Jason had the same math and gym classes as him, just in opposite periods. He nibbled at his lip for a second, considering it, then, before he could wuss out, swapped his schedule so he had them in the same periods as Jason and hit save. Then he exited the program and wiped any trace of his being there except the changed schedules. A rush of exhilaration shot through Tim, making him feel alive in a way that he usually associated with getting good photos of Batman and Robin, and he picked up his phone, typing out and sending a text to Jason before he could talk himself out of it.

 

“You don’t have to worry about them next semester.”

 

Moments later, Tim received a reply.

 

“Well, that’s not suspicious at all. Should I be concerned?”

 

Tim smiled at the text, sending back, “Probably not. Have a good day.”

 

Jason replied with a selfie, clearly taken with his phone hidden under the desk, of himself looking disgusted. The caption read, “I’m in Hell, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim laughed, then, after a moment of hesitation, took a selfie of himself smiling and sent it with the caption, “Well, have a good day in Hell.”

 

There was no reply for several minutes, during which Tim vacillated between Oh no, he thought that was dumb and Oh, he must have put his phone away. In those few minutes, Tim started reading through the cases Bruce had uploaded to the laptop for him to look at, making notes and puzzling over scenarios. One of the cases, about several people with no visible commonality who had gone missing following PTSD treatment at Gotham General, made something in the back of Tim’s brain itch and he soon found himself hacking into Gotham General’s database and looking through the patient files for each of the missing people. Different doctors, ages, ethnicities, genders, nothing that would make an obvious link.

 

Then Tim stumbled across the typed-up notes from one of the doctors, Dr. Lara Pullman, who had 5 of the 18 missing patients.

 

All 5 of her patients had been the Scarecrow’s victims the previous October.

 

Tim began scribbling down his notes and his theory, then nearly jumped out of his skin when his phone buzzed with a text. He scrabbled to grab it, noticing a new text from Jason stating that he had started laughing and nearly gotten caught with his phone out, then dropped it back on the mattress and returned to The Zone, trawling through the rest of the patient files and finding typed notes for 11 of the 18, confirming that 11 of the 18 had been Scarecrow victims from the previous October and solidifying Tim’s mental theory that they were taken because of it, even if Scarecrow was still in Arkham. Upon realizing the connection, Tim, being Tim, decided to take some initiative and hack into the Gotham Police Department databases, to see if he could find any more potential victims. Their database had a much sturdier firewall, which made for an interesting challenge, but Tim was bound and determined, digging his way in until he found the list he needed. He made quick work of scribbling down the names to compare with the victim list, then nearly had a heart attack when the semi-familiar voice of Barbara Gordon stated from right fucking next to him, “You’re quite the hacker, Tim.”

 

Tim slammed the laptop, snapping his head up to look at Barbara with wide eyes, and Barbara gave a snort of laughter, patting his shoulder and adding, “I’m impressed. It took you, what, 16 minutes to get through the GPD firewall? If you ever wanna lend your hand down in the Cave, I’ll put in a good word with B.”

 

Tim squeaked, face apparently deciding that it wanted to try matching Barbara’s fiery red hair, and Barbara laughed again, teasing lightly, “Y’know, when Jason said you blush easily, I thought he was exaggerating.”

 

Tim blushed deeper and Barbara gave him another pat on the shoulder, then asked, “Mind if I watch you work? Jason said it’s quite… impressive.”

 

Tim raised an eyebrow and Barbara smiled mischievously, stage-whispering, “Actually, I believe the phrases he used were ‘fucking mind-blowing’ and ‘so cute that it almost hurts to watch’, but I digress.”

 

Tim blushed deeper even as he nodded, opening the laptop again and continuing working, overly aware of Barbara watching him curiously. Finally, Barbara spoke up, stating, “He was right. It is impressive to watch your mind work. I gotta head to class, but remember, if you ever wanna give the Cave a go, let me know. I’ll vouch for your skills.”

 

Tim nodded silently and Barbara made her way out of the room, leaving Tim both stunned and flattered.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

By the time Jason slouched into Tim’s room and flopped on the bed, Tim had gotten through five of the eight active cases and was busily working on case six, ignoring his pounding headache from staring at the overly bright screen for nearly 8 hours straight. He was so focused, in fact, that he barely registered Jason’s presence until the laptop was being plucked away from him and Jason was going through the tabs, saving and exiting them while holding the laptop out of Tim’s reach. Tim complained and tried to get the laptop back, but Jason used his height and the fact that Tim still had a broken ankle to his advantage, hopping off the bed and setting the laptop on the desk, where Tim couldn’t get to it. Then he returned to the bed, sighing, “Sorry, Baby Bird, but it’s for the best. How bad is the headache?”

 

Tim made a face at Jason, both grateful and confused, then answered, “I’ve had worse.”

 

Instead of making Jason laugh like he wanted, that just made Jason look worried. Then Tim was being pulled into a warm hug and Jason was replying, “Doesn’t matter. Want some medicine for it?”

 

Tim blushed, but curled into the hug and answered, “I’m fine. Probably just need to turn the brightness down. I got a bit sucked into the cases and couldn’t bother to.”

 

Jason hummed thoughtfully, then flopped onto his side, gently pulling Tim with him and announcing, “I’m taking a nap before patrol and you, Baby Bird, are joining me.”

 

Tim squeaked as he was tucked against Jason’s chest gently, then let himself relax into the hold as Jason rested his chin against the top of Tim’s head.

Chapter Text

The two weeks passed quickly and before Tim knew it, he found himself sitting in the corner of the Gotham Academy cafeteria, alone, reading through a book about computers. Nothing new there, that was how it always was, but it felt acutely lonely after two weeks of companionship. Then there was a thud and Tim looked up to see Jason sitting across from him, despite having a different lunch period as far as Tim knew. Jason smirked at whatever Tim’s face was doing, then, in lieu of a greeting, stated smugly, “I punched that kid who was picking on you in the face. He tattled to the administrators, but they didn’t want to piss B off, so they switched me into this lunch for the rest of the year.”

 

Tim stared wordlessly, mind reeling, then squeaked, “Oh. Okay. Are you okay?”

 

Jason laughed, answering, “I’m fantastic, Baby Bird. I was getting lonely eating alone.”

 

Tim blushed and put his bookmark in his book, asking, “What class do you have after this?”

 

Jason made a face, answering, “Health. Nothing quite like looking at pictures of STD-infected genitals right after eating.”

 

Tim laughed, earning a warm smile from Jason, and Jason leaned over to peer at the cover of his book, then commented, “I should show you some of B’s tech sometime. You’d love it. A nerd like you would have a field day.”

 

Tim couldn’t help but light up at the idea and Jason laughed, reaching over to ruffle Tim’s hair and stating, “I’ll take that as a yes.”

 

Tim nodded eagerly, squeaking, “That sounds so cool!”

 

They lapsed into comfortable silence for a few minutes, then Jason nudged Tim with his foot and asked, “You gonna eat at any point, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim blushed and opened the lunchbox that Alfred had handed him that morning, pulling out the sandwich inside and taking a bite. As he ate, Jason started rambling to Tim about his patrol the previous night, opening his own lunch and eating chips between every few sentences. Tim, so enraptured in Jason’s dramatic retellings of even the most mundane-seeming events, entirely failed to notice that, for every grape he ate, Jason snuck two of his own into the little plastic box. In fact, it wasn’t until Jason ran out of grapes and started sneaking strawberries into the container that Tim noticed something was off. He looked down at the container, noticing that it contained two strawberries where it had previously contained zero, then narrowed his eyes at Jason and asked, “Jason, did you put strawberries in my container?”

 

Jason, being Jason, stated remorselessly, “Yep. Now eat them.”

 

Tim made an annoyed face, but ate the strawberries regardless, grumbling, “You could just offer them to me instead of sneaking them in, you know. I like strawberries.”

 

Jason nodded understandingly, then, making direct eye contact with Tim the whole time, picked up his entire container of strawberries and set it in front of Tim. Tim rolled his eyes, but tugged the container closer and ate them without a word, earning a smug look from Jason. In response, Tim made a face and stated, “I like most fruits and berries. Except pineapples. Pineapples are disgusting.”

Jason raised an eyebrow, then pulled a container of blueberries from his lunchbox and pushed it towards Tim. Tim narrowed his eyes at Jason, then asked, “Are you trying to fatten me up, Jason?”

 

Jason smirked, making Tim’s stomach do a little dance, then leaned forward, answering, “You caught me, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim rolled his eyes even as he pried the lid off of the container and began eating the blueberries. Jason looked smug, an expression that Tim found both endearing and annoying, and Tim made a face at him as the bell signaling the end of lunch rang.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

December 19th came far, far, far too quickly if you were to ask Tim. But, before he could properly brace himself, Tim found himself standing in the private sector of the airport with Matteo, the chauffer his parents had hired. Tim, trying to alleviate the anxiety bubbling in his stomach, fidgeted with a stray thread in his sleeve and tried to remember some of the breathing exercises Jason had shown him, wishing that he was wearing his bracelet. His bracelet, however, was safely hidden under the false bottom of his camera bag, where his parents wouldn’t be able to find it. As Tim fidgeted, Matteo suddenly straightened up, cluing Tim in that his parents were coming. Sure enough, moments later, Jack and Janet approached, both looking annoyed and frustrated. Tim swallowed back the fear clogging his throat and greeted politely, “Good afternoon, Mother, Father.”

 

Janet shot Tim a venomous look and scoffed, “I see you have failed to get a haircut, Timothy. Disgraceful.”

 

Tim swallowed back the immediate ‘Fuck yourself’ that popped into his mind (there is the slight possibility that Jason was rubbing off on him), instead answering, “Sorry, Mother.”

 

Janet rolled her eyes, then stalked towards the car, snapping, “It will have to do, I suppose. I expected better from you, Timothy.”

 

 

Jack followed closely behind Janet, reading on his phone, and Tim chased after them, sending out a silent prayer to the universe that Jack and Janet would leave him alone.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Tim stood in the corner of the Wayne Manor ballroom, trying to ignore the stinging pain of the welts and cuts on his back from Jack’s belt as he watched the room with careful eyes. The noise of it all was starting to make his head throb and he considered sneaking into the kitchen to hide, but the brief thought of what Janet would do to him if he got caught was enough to nip that idea at the bud. Instead, he pushed himself onto his tiptoes, trying to keep an eye on where Bruce and his parents were, as well as hoping he could spot Jason. Bruce had swooped in almost as soon as the Drakes had arrived, easily separating Tim from Jack and Janet by talking about a possible project together and sending Tim to go find Jason. Tim, wanting to spend as little time with his parents as he could, immediately took the out without even thinking to actually listen to where Bruce said Jason was. Upon realizing that he had no fucking clue where Jason was, Tim had retreated into a corner and resorted to hoping he could spot Jason, despite the fact that he couldn’t really see anything due to his height (or, more accurately, lack thereof). The ballroom was too crowded and Tim was too short, but he tried regardless until the position made his legs ache and he was forced to drop off of his toes, shoulders sagging in disappointment.

 

“Lookin’ for me, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim nearly jumped out of his skin at Jason’s sudden words an inch from his ear and whipped his head around to stare at him, mind blue-screening at how close Jason was. Jason grinned and, voice amused, apologized, “Sorry, Baby Bird. Didn’t mean to spook you.”

 

Tim smiled despite the adrenaline racing in his veins and answered with a hint of snark, “Of course not.”

 

Jason laughed brightly, making Tim’s heart trip over itself, then wrapped an arm around Tim and asked, “Wanna go hide in the kitchen and gorge yourself on pastries with me?”

 

Tim glanced in the direction of his parents, answering slowly, “I don’t know…”

 

Jason seemed to catch Tim’s train of thought and suggested, “We could go out to the balcony instead? There’s hardly anyone out there.”

 

Tim nodded and Jason led him through the ballroom quickly, opening the balcony door and stepping out. Tim followed quickly, shivering at the shock of the cold air, and Jason led him over to the railing, asking, “Wanna borrow my jacket?”

 

The cold air helped numb the pain of his back, so Tim shook his head, staring out over the snowy grounds. They stood in comfortable silence for a minute before Jason quietly asked, “Wanna tell me what happened to your back?”

 

Tim flinched at the question and turned to stare, wide-eyed, at Jason, squeaking, “What- How- I- How did you know?”

 

Jason continued staring out at the backyard, stating quietly, “You’re standing differently. It’s subtle, but it’s the same way you stood after the whole rooftop fiasco, after your back got cut open.”

 

Tim’s eyes prickled with tears at the fact that Jason noticed, a feeling of something that almost felt like love washing over him, and Tim tugged at the end of his tie, whispering, “I accidentally spilled food on myself during dinner.”

 

Jason turned to look at him and Tim squirmed under the scrutiny. Finally, Jason sighed, “I won’t press you, Tim, but just- How bad is it?”

 

Tim fiddled with his tie, looking down at his shoes, and answered, “I’ve had worse.”

 

Jason sighed softly and Tim curled in on himself, feeling like he had disappointed Jason. Then Jason gently pulled him into a hug, whispering, “Promise you’re okay?”

 

Tim leaned into the hug and closed his eyes against the tears that rushed to them, answering softly, “I promise.”

Chapter Text

Tim and Jason stayed on the balcony for most of the night, long after Tim could no longer feel his fingers, until Dick came out and frowned at them, scolding, “What are you guys doing out here! You’ll freeze! Come inside!”

 

Jason gave a scoff, then wrapped his arm around Tim and answered, “Alright, jeez, calm down, mother hen. We’re coming.”

 

They headed inside and, once they were in the improved lighting, Jason asked, “Tim, why are your fingertips blue?”

 

Tim looked down at his hands, which were indeed turning blue at the tips, then immediately stuffed them in his pockets. Jason made a noise of disbelief and asked, “Tim. Baby Bird. Do you honestly think that shoving them in your pockets is going to make me forget about the fact that your fingers are literally turning blue? Why didn’t you say something earlier?”

 

Tim curled in on himself and whispered, “It was nice outside. I didn’t want to come back in.”

 

Jason hummed, narrowing his eyes at Tim pressingly, then turned to Dick and requested, “Hey, Dick, can you go grab us some tea? Baby Bird needs some warming up.”

 

Dick immediately disappeared into the crowd and Jason led Tim through the ballroom to a smallish seating area tucked into a corner. Tim started towards one of the squishy armchairs, but Jason steered him to the loveseat, pointing up at the heating vent directly above it in response to Tim’s curious look. Tim settled onto the soft couch and Jason plopped down beside him as Dick approached, three mugs and a plate balanced in his hands. He passed the plate and two mugs off to Jason, then flopped into the armchair, cradling the third mug in his own hands as Jason handed one of the mugs, a bright red mug with the Robin symbol on it, to Tim. Tim accepted the mug gratefully, wrapping his frozen hands around it and humming contentedly at the warmth radiating from it. He took a careful sip, the sweet taste of hibiscus tea mixing with the bitterness of chamomile, and, as Jason handed him a cookie and made a joke about feeding him like a mama bird if he didn’t start eating more, Tim honestly couldn’t tell if the warmth suffusing through him was from the tea or from love.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The gala ended far too soon after Tim and Jason came inside. Tim had only just managed to finish his tea and start to fall asleep on Jason’s shoulder when he was being gently prodded awake and Jason was calling, “Wakey wakey, Baby Bird. There’s only a few minutes left before it’s the end of the gala and I suspect your parents are gonna come looking for you soon, now that Bruce has stopped talking to them. Pretty sure they got the full ‘Brucie’ treatment.”

 

Tim blinked in confusion and lifted his head off of Jason’s shoulder, asking, “They what?”

 

Jason snorted and stood, helping pull Tim to his feet as he explained, “The full ‘Brucie’ treatment. Y’know, when B pretends to be the biggest idiot on the fucking planet? It always drives people nuts and I’m pretty sure he’s pissed at your parents for the whole ‘leaving you alone while they went gallivanting off across the world’ thing. The less he likes a person, the dumber he acts.”

 

Tim cringed a little at the knowledge that his parents were gonna be in a bad mood and Jason added, “He also mentioned bringing up a possible business deal with your parents once Dick and I pointed out that his assholery would piss them off and that they might take it out on you, though, so they should be in an okay mood.”

 

Tim relaxed, stating quietly, “Thank you. Both of you.”

 

Jason shot him a smile and answered, “Hey, we got your back, Baby Bird.”

 

Then Dick was resting a hand on Tim’s shoulder, chirping, “Robins protect their own, after all.”

 

Tim blushed at the implication that he was a Robin, but squeaked out a ‘Thanks’ and wrote it off as poor phrasing. Dick gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze, then swanned off, leaving Tim and Jason relatively alone. Jason pulled Tim into a gentle hug, whispering, “Promise me you’ll call if anything happens?”

 

Tim hesitated, then lied, “I promise.”

 

Jason seemed to believe him and released Tim, stating, “I’ll see you later, Baby Bird. Stay safe.”

 

Tim blushed and nodded, answering, “You too, Jason.”

 

Then he wove through the slowly thinning crowd of party-goers, locating Jack and Janet near the doors. Both seemed to be in an okay mood and, as they got into the car, Jack stated, “Bruce Wayne seems quite fond of you, Timothy. He has proposed a possible collaboration project between Drake Industries and Wayne Enterprises.”

 

Tim tried to hide the wave of relief that went through him and Janet cut in, continuing, “It appears that your befriending of Wayne’s street rat worked as intended. So long as you continue to keep the relationship amicable, I expect the project to happen. I approve of your new drive for forwarding the interests of Drake Industries.”

 

Tim swallowed back the anger and nauseous guilt that filled him at Janet’s insulting of Jason and the thought of using Jason like a pawn to further business interests, then answered, “Thank you.”

 

The car lapsed into silence and Tim silently reminded himself that Jason wanted him to be safe and would probably forgive Tim not defending him to his parents, but the guilt gnawed at him nonetheless, driving him to fidget with his tie and bite his tongue to keep his mouth shut.

 

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The next morning, Tim walked into the dining room for breakfast and was met with the society column of the newspaper being thrust at him. Tim gave a tiny squeak and Janet’s icy voice snarled, “Would you care to explain this, Timothy?”

 

Tim stared down at the article, fear rising in his throat as he took in the grainy picture of Jason hugging him and the headline speculating, “Blooming Romance Between the Drake Heir and Wayne’s Newest Son?”

***

Tim looked up at Janet, who was practically shaking with rage, and opened his mouth to answer. Before he could say a word, Janet slapped him, spitting, “Don’t say a word, Timothy. Of all the people, it had to be that filthy degenerate street rat, didn’t it, you pathetic brat. It wasn’t enough to bring shame to our family by being a fucking queer, no, you had to go and be a faggot with some piece of trash off the streets.”

 

The guilt that had been gnawing at Tim all night reared its head and, before his brain had processed the words, Tim blurted, “Don’t call him trash! He’s not trash!”

 

As soon as the words escaped him, Tim wished he had just kept his mouth shut. A hand grabbed his hair, then Jack’s voice growled, “Don’t you fucking talk back to your mother, you pathetic piece of shit.”

 

Then he was being dragged by his hair to the corner and shoved roughly as Jack snarled, “Stay there until your mother and I decide what to do with you.”

 

Tim closed his eyes, trying not to cry as he listened to Jack and Janet talk quietly. His scalp ached and he could feel a bruise forming on his cheek, but he knew that it wouldn’t be enough for them. It never was.

***

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The morning of the 21st, Tim watched through swollen, bruised eyes as his parents packed their suitcases into the car and instructed Matteo to drive them to the airport. The bruises and cuts across his body ached and throbbed and he looked at his phone where it rested on the far side of his little window seat, remembering his promise to call Jason if something happened. He knew, logically, that Jason wouldn’t be mad at him for calling, would probably be angrier if Tim didn’t call, but logic didn’t mean shit in the face of anxiety and Tim found himself frozen still, unable to bring himself to make the call. His hands shook and Tim looked back out the window, letting out a small sigh of relief when he realized that his parents had left. The cold, dead silence of the house was simultaneously soothing and painful, giving Tim the same sort of vertigo feeling that having Jason in the house gave him. The thought of Jason made Tim look back at his phone and, after dithering to himself for about 45 minutes, he picked it up with bruised, swollen fingers and opened the messaging app, texting two words to Jason.

 

“Something happened.”

 

There was no response and Tim set his phone down, burying his bruised face in his scraped knees as he tried to hold back the tears that prickled at his eyes, tears that he hadn’t even realized he still had left after crying himself to sleep the night before. His knuckles still stung, the small cuts his teeth had caused from biting down to muffle his sobs so that his parents didn’t hear cracking open every time he moved his fingers. Time seemed to stretch on and on in the silent house and Tim eventually drifted asleep, curled in a ball in his window seat.

 

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Tim was jerked awake by the sound of someone ringing his doorbell over and over, each ring getting cut short by the next like whoever was ringing it was just repeatedly jabbing the button. Groggy and still processing, Tim made his way into the front hall as the bell stopped ringing. In its place, Tim heard Jason growl, “Fuck it, I’m picking the fucking lock.”

 

Tim blinked, wondering if he had hit his head harder than he thought and was hallucinating, then heard the sound of lock picks in the lock. The noise shook him out of his stupor and Tim hurried to the door, opening the lock that Jason wasn’t picking. The sound of the deadbolt sliding back was apparently loud enough for Jason to hear, because he called, “Tim? You in there, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim started to open his mouth to reply, but the ache of his bruised jaw decided otherwise and Tim decided to just open the door. He checked the lock that Jason had successfully picked, then opened the door, finding himself face to face (well, face to chest, but the point stands) with a very worried-looking Jason and Dick. As soon as their eyes fell on him, Jason was reaching out, pausing before he could touch Tim and asking softly, “Is it okay if I touch you, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim nodded silently and Jason gently cradled Tim’s bruised face in his hand, murmuring, “Oh, Baby Bird, what did they do?”

 

Tim blinked back the tears that sprang to his eyes and curled in on himself, shaking his head to try to communicate that talking wasn’t happening. Jason apparently didn’t get the message, asking, “Tim, what happened?”

 

Thankfully, Dick quietly stated, “Jay, look at how bruised his jaw is. I don’t think you’re gonna get him to talk until the swelling goes down.”

 

Tim nodded and Jason gently pulled Tim in for a hug, holding him loosely like he was afraid Tim would break if he held tighter. Tim appreciated the loose hold, since his ribs and back were cut and bruised to Hell and back, and curled into it, a few tears trickling down his cheeks. He heard Dick moving around, then Jason quietly asked, “Do you want to come stay with us? You don’t have to say yes, but-”

 

Tim nodded without hesitation and Jason tucked him closer, whispering, “Alright. C’mon, Baby Bird, let’s go get your stuff, okay?”

 

Tim nodded again and led Jason to his room. As they walked, he heard Jason mumble to himself, “Fuck, it’s freezing in here.”

 

As soon as they reached his room, Tim set about grabbing his suitcase from under his bed and silently packing his clothes, toiletries, and camera bag into it. As he set his camera bag in, however, Jason quietly asked, “Where’s your bracelet?”

 

Tim quickly opened his camera bag and pulled his bracelet from its hiding place, feeling some of his anxiety ebb at the comforting weight and sight of it. He hooked it around his wrist, then closed his camera bag and grabbed his laptop and backpack, adding them to the suitcase. He paused for a moment, trying to think of anything else he would need, then zipped his suitcase and started to lift it off of his bed. Jason stepped in immediately, gently taking it from Tim and asking, “Is that everything?”

 

Tim started to nod, then realized what he was forgetting and grabbed his favorite blanket from his bed, the ultra-soft plush one that he had bought as a Christmas present for himself the year before. He bundled it up, holding it close to his chest, then nodded that he had everything. Jason gave him a soft smile that made Tim’s chest feel warm and fuzzy, then walked over to grab Tim’s phone from the window seat, checking, “Got your chargers for everything? Toothbrush? Socks?”

 

Tim laughed quietly at that, wincing when it made his bruised stomach hurt, then nodded again. Jason handed Tim his phone, then took Tim’s suitcase, stating, “Then let’s go.”

 

Jason carried Tim’s suitcase down to the drive, Tim trailing just behind him with the blanket, and they met up with Dick, who was sitting in the idling car. Jason loaded Tim’s suitcase into the trunk and Tim climbed into the backseat, almost melting against the blissfully warm heated seats. Jason climbed in moments later and Tim leaned against him, drifting asleep with his head resting on Jason’s shoulder as the car started moving.

Chapter Text

Tim woke up as the car came to a stop in front of Wayne Manor. Jason’s arm was warm around his shoulders and Tim blinked groggily, wanting to yawn but resisting the urge because of how swollen his jaw was. Jason helped him out of the car and led him into the house as Dick grabbed his suitcase, bringing it in. Tim wanted nothing more than to curl up in a warm bed and sleep until his body stopped hurting. Almost as soon as they entered Wayne Manor, however, Bruce was there, face pinched in concern as he asked, “Tim? What happened? Who did this?”

 

Before Tim could even think about how to answer, Jason cut in, scolding, “Leave him alone, B. He’s exhausted, in pain, and his jaw is too swollen to talk. You can get your answers once he’s feeling better, alright?”

 

Bruce opened his mouth, presumably to argue, but, from behind them, Dick sighed, “Leave it, B. Seriously. We know you mean well, but just let the kid sleep for a while.”

 

Bruce retreated and Jason gently guided Tim up to the room that Tim had been staying in, asking softly, “Wanna change into your pajamas?”

 

Tim nodded, the thought of going to bed in jeans a distinctly unpleasant one, and Jason retrieved them from the dresser, handing them to Tim and turning around to give Tim privacy. Tim pulled his jeans off, trading them for the soft pajama pants without a problem. Then he pulled his t-shirt off, sliding the button-up pajama shirt on its place, and quickly found that his fingers were too bruised and swollen to do up the buttons. Too tired to even bother, Tim just let it hang open and tapped Jason to let him know that he was done. Jason turned around, eyes catching on Tim’s bruised stomach and on the cut peeking around Tim’s side, then clenched his teeth and took a deep breath, lifting his eyes to Tim’s face and asking, “You want something to help with the pain?”

 

Tim nodded and Jason disappeared into the bathroom for a minute, returning with two pills and a cup of water with a straw. He brought them over to Tim, stating, “I know how much it sucks trying to take pills with a bruised jaw, but they’re small, so they shouldn’t be too bad. And don’t worry, it’s ibuprofen, so you shouldn’t have to worry about a bad reaction. I can also go grab some hot water bottles, if you wanna use them.”

 

Tim nodded, taking the cup and pills, and Jason left the room as Tim swallowed the pills, washing them down with the water. Once the pills were down, Tim set the cup on the bedside table and stumbled into the bathroom to pee. He heard the bedroom door reopen as he finished washing his hands and dried them quickly, opening the door and making his way towards the bed. Jason had his arms full of hot water bottles and Tim grabbed his blanket, climbing into the bed and arranging the sheets and comforter until it was a suitable nest-pile on top of him. Jason held the water bottles out to him and Tim took them gratefully, arranging six of them in his nest to warm it evenly before giving in to temptation and curling around the seventh. Then he laid down, still curled in a ball, and bundled his blanket around himself. The warmth mixed with the medicine numbing the pain made it very, very difficult to keep his eyes open, but Tim forced himself to keep them open long enough to reach out and grab Jason’s hand. Jason made a surprised noise, but Tim ignored it, thinking back to the book he had read on Morse code and tapping out his message on Jason’s palm.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Jason made another surprised noise, then answered, “You’re always welcome, Baby Bird. Want me to stay in here?”

 

Tim nodded and Jason gently ran his fingers through Tim’s hair as Tim closed his eyes, melting into the warmth of his nest. He heard soft footsteps walk around the bed, then the mattress shifted and Jason settled next to Tim, threading his fingers through Tim’s hair and just letting his hand rest as a comforting weight. The siren song of sleep called irresistibly to Tim and he shifted slightly to take pressure off a particularly bad bruise on his hip, then let the wonderful oblivion of sleep swallow him up.

 

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Tim awoke to the quiet tap of shoes on hardwood, followed by the sound of something glass being set on the bedside table. He pried one eye open to see Alfred setting a jar of yellowish gel on the table and Alfred glanced at him, stating softly, “I apologize for waking you, Master Timothy.”

 

Tim gave Alfred a sleepy thumbs up, then closed his eye again and nestled closer to the warm body he was tucked against. Sleep tugged at his brain and he burrowed a little deeper into his nest, sinking back into dreamland.

 

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The third time Tim woke up, it was with someone curled against his back and his head tucked under a chin. It made him feel safe and he was about to drift back to sleep when Jason’s soft voice asked, “How ya feelin’ Baby Bird?”

 

Tim distantly wondered how Jason expected him to answer when he could barely open his mouth and Jason seemed to reach the same conclusion, adding, “Scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the best you’ve ever felt and 10 being the worst.”

 

Tim mused for a moment, then held up four fingers. He was warm and safe and the throbbing pain had been downgraded to a dull ache, so he figured he was doing pretty good. Jason gave a thoughtful hum, then asked, “Anything I can do to help?”

 

Tim rolled to face Jason, making direct eye contact with him, and Jason opened his mouth to say something, then stopped when Tim brought one finger to his lips and shushed him. Jason laughed softly and tugged Tim closer, whispering, “Alright, Baby Bird, I’ll shut my trap and let you sleep.”

 

Tim halfheartedly shushed him again, then snuggled in close and drifted back to sleep.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Tim woke the final time to Jason shaking him gently, calling, “Wakey wakey, Baby Bird. It’s time to sit up and eat. You can go back to sleep afterwards, I promise.”

 

Tim grumbled sleepily, but slowly sat up regardless, tucking his blanket tighter around himself to retain warmth. Jason handed him a warm mug with a straw in it, stating, “It’s broth. Easiest thing to eat with a bruised jaw. And once you’re done, Alfie brought up some arnica cream, which should help with the bruising.”

 

Tim nodded, sipping his broth through the straw. A pleased noise escaped him, both at the taste and the warmth spreading through him, and Jason smiled, making Tim wonder if the blush he felt was visible through the bruising. They ate in silence and, once they were done, Jason grabbed the jaw of yellowish gel and asked, “Want me to put this on for you?”

 

Tim nodded and Jason opened the jar, taking out a scoop of the gel and rubbing it between his hands. Then he slowly reached towards Tim’s face, projecting his movements to a degree that would have felt mocking if Tim was, like, 4% less skittish. As it was, Tim was just grateful that Jason was trying to make sure he was comfortable. Jason paused just before reaching Tim’s face and, when Tim made no move to move away or avoid his hands, began gently rubbing the vaguely pine-scented cream on Tim’s bruised face. Jason worked quickly and soon asked, “Want me to get your stomach and back, too? I saw earlier that you had some pretty nasty bruising there.”

 

Tim nodded and shrugged off his blanket, then removed his still-unbuttoned pajama shirt. Jason jaw clenched, then relaxed as he took another scoop of gel and began rubbing it on Tim’s shoulders. The gentle touches lulled Tim into a doze, which he was then jerked out of by Jason gently tapping his shoulder, calling, “I’m done, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim opened his eyes to see Jason smiling fondly at him, then blinked himself awake and pulled his pajama shirt back on, fumbling with the buttons as he tried to make his bruised fingers cooperate. Jason finally reached out to do up the buttons for Tim, then asked, “Whatcha wanna do?”

 

Tim gave him a Look and Jason nodded understandingly, asking, “Alright, uh, think you can type?”

 

Tim nodded and Jason grabbed his phone off of the bedside table, opening the notes app and holding it out to Tim. Tim took it, then, after a moment of consideration, typed, “Want to watch Netflix?”

 

He held the phone out to Jason, who read it and smiled, stating, “I like the way you think, Baby Bird. Netflix it is. I’ll go grab my laptop.”

 

Jason left the room and Tim took that time to arrange his nest to fit two. Then Jason returned with his laptop and settled in with Tim, pulling up Netflix and resuming the show they had been watching together as Tim curled up next to him, glad that he had texted Jason.

Chapter Text

Tim and Jason got through 6 episodes of their show before Dick knocked on the bedroom door, calling, “Hey, B is on his way up. Want me and Alfie to stall him?”

 

Jason looked to Tim, who took a deep breath and shook his head, knowing he would have to face Bruce sooner and later. Jason squeezed his shoulders gently, then called, “No, don’t bother.”

 

There was a beat of silence, then Dick called, “Alright. If you say so.”

 

Jason paused the show and set his laptop to the side, then, when Bruce knocked on the door, called, “Come in.”

 

Tim leaned into Jason a little more as Bruce entered and Jason wrapped his arm a little tighter, asking, “What’s up, B?”

 

Bruce moved to sit on the edge of the bed, eyes on Tim as he asked, “How are you feeling, Tim?”

 

Tim took a moment, then grabbed his phone from the bedside table and opened the notes app, typing out, “Feeling better.”

 

Then he held it out to Bruce, who read it and nodded, stating, “I’m glad to hear that.”

 

Uncomfortable silence filled the room for a few seconds and Tim fidgeted with his bracelets before Bruce sighed, “I know you’re having trouble speaking right now, Tim, but can you type up what happened?”

 

Tim glanced at Jason, who squeezed him gently and leaned down to murmur, “I’ve got your back, Baby Bird, regardless of what you choose.”

Tim hesitated, then shook his head. Logically, he knew that he should just tell Bruce, that Batman would figure it out one way or another, that his parents deserved to go to prison and that Bruce would probably take him in given the fact that he knows their identities. But the little anxiety goblin inside of him was a good bit louder than logic when it came to Jack and Janet and that little goblin insisted that no, no, no, Tim should absolutely not say anything at all because if he did his parents would find out and beat him more and he would only be proving that he was a worthless son and then they’d go to prison and he’d end up in foster care and we all know what happens to people like him in foster care.

 

So no, Tim was not going to tell Bruce what happened, at least not yet.

 

Bruce frowned at Tim’s reluctance, making Tim flinch back despite himself, then asked, “Can you type up who did it?”

 

Another shake of the head. Bruce’s frown deepened further and Tim tucked his blanket tighter around himself, anxiety clawing at him. Then Jason cut in, stating, “B, drop it. He’ll tell you when he’s ready for you to know. Until then, all you’re doing is making him scared of you.”

 

Tim curled into Jason gratefully, looking at Bruce with a wary eye as the man sighed and stood up, answering, “Alright. I’ll leave it. But you two should come down for dinner. Alfred is making tortilla soup and I think Dick wants to have a movie night.”

 

Jason nodded approvingly and Bruce retreated from the room, leaving Tim and Jason in peace. Jason leaned back against the headboard, gently pulling Tim with him until Tim was slumped against Jason’s chest, his head on Jason’s shoulder as Jason asked, “You wanna do the movie night?”

 

Tim mused for a few minutes, then nodded. Jason began running his fingers through Tim’s hair gently, almost mindlessly, then quietly stated, “I’m glad you texted me, Tim. It scared the Hell out of me when we got there and you didn’t answer the door. I mean, fuck, Baby Bird, I was ringing the bell for like ten minutes before you opened the door. I thought- I was scared that they had killed you.”

 

Tim curled closer, closing his eyes against the tears that threatened to well up at the sincere worry he heard in Jason’s voice. Jason moved his head so that his chin was resting on the top of Tim’s head, then asked quietly, “Is it normally this bad?”

 

Tim was quiet for a minute, before silently shaking his head. Jason continued petting his hair, asking, “Why was it so bad this time?”

 

A few tears managed to slip out between Tim’s closed eyelids and he felt Jason’s grip tighten slightly, his free hand coming up to wrap around Tim’s waist as he murmured soothingly. Tim let himself enjoy Jason’s hold for a few moments, then opened his eyes and reached to grab his phone, unlocking it and typing, “They were mad about me spending time with you. Mother called you trash. I told her not to call you that. They didn’t like me talking back.”

 

Then he offered the phone to Jason, who took it and read Tim’s message, face growing increasingly pale. Then he asked quietly, “They did this because of me?”

 

Tim immediately sat up to lock eyes with Jason, shaking his head so vigorously that it hurt his neck. Jason looked distinctly disbelieving and Tim gave him a serious look, shaking his head again. That finally earned an amused smile from Jason, who answered, “Alright, alright, got it. Not my fault. Message received, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim nodded approvingly and Jason gently tugged him to lay back down, asking, “Any movie suggestions you want me to pass along to Dick?”

 

The subject change was greatly appreciated by Tim, who typed out a few ideas and passed the phone over to Jason. Jason looked over his list, then mused, “Ooh, Monte Python and the Holy Grail is a classic. And Lord of the Rings is always on my list of suggestions. You’ve got good taste in movies, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim blushed and Jason asked, “Ever read the Lord of the Rings books?”

 

Tim nodded, then took his phone back from Jason and typed, “I’m about halfway through the third one.”

 

That earned Tim a warm smile and Jason hugged him a little tighter, then asked, “Oh, hey, wanna go see the Cave? Like, properly see it, instead of just the infirmary while you’re half-conscious?”

 

Tim shot bolt upright, nearly headbutting Jason on accident, and nodded, eyes wide with excitement. Jason smirked and teased lightly, “Aren’t you a bubbly little birdy all of a sudden? I figured that would perk you right up.”

 

Tim blushed and Jason climbed out of the bed, prompting Tim into a mad scramble out as well. After getting his feet tangled in the blankets and nearly faceplanting onto the hardwood, Tim managed to properly stand on both feet, fidgeting with his bracelet to give him something to do with his excited energy. Jason laughed and wrapped his arm around Tim’s shoulders, leading Tim out of the room and down the hall to a large bookshelf. Then Jason pulled a book from the bookshelf and pushed a button, causing the bookshelf to slide to the side and reveal an elevator that Tim had vague memories of being in. They rode the elevator down and stepped out into a room that Tim vaguely recognized as the infirmary. Jason grinned like an excited little kid, leading Tim out of the infirmary into a large cave with huge arching ceilings aflutter with bats. Tim gaped openly, not even trying to hide it, and Jason tugged him around, showing him the uniform cases, the Batmobile, and the training areas. Then Jason showed him to the Bat-Computer. Tim’s eyes went so wide that they hurt at the sight of the beautiful, glorious machine and Jason snorted a laugh, stating, “You look like you want to marry the computer, Baby Bird. It’s adorable.”

 

Tim was too busy staring at the computer to answer, too busy staring at it to notice that Jason was nudging him forward until he was being gently pushed into the computer chair and Jason was turning the computer on, stating, “B said I can show you some of the cold cases that you haven’t had the chance to look at yet. He wants to see what you can do with them, given your track record thus far.”

 

Tim blushed and watched avidly as Jason clicked around, pulling up files. Then Jason stepped back, stating, “Alright, Nerd Bird, I’ll leave you to work while I go do some training that B’s been harping on me about. If you need anything, my ringer is on and, y’know, I’ll still be in the Cave. Just make a loud noise and I’ll come to investigate.”

 

Tim nodded, eyes already glued to the casefiles, and Jason laughed, ruffling Tim’s hair and sighing, “I’ll come get you for dinner, Baby Bird.”

 

Then he walked away, leaving Tim to pore over the files.

 

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Tim had gotten through three of the cold cases when a voice behind him suddenly asked, “Who are you? What are you doing in the Batcave?”

 

Tim nearly jumped out of his skin, toppling the computer chair over, and found himself staring up into the face of one of his favorite non-Bat superheroes.

 

Chapter Text

Tim stared up from the cold stone floor at fucking SUPERMAN, who looked about as surprised as Tim felt. An awkward silence filled the air for several long, drawn-out seconds before Superman asked, “Are you okay?”

 

Tim nodded weakly, then slowly stood and hauled the chair up, reaching for his phone before realizing that he must have left it upstairs and sending out a silent prayer to the universe that Jason had heard him fall out of the chair. Superman narrowed his eyes, then asked, “Who are you? How did you get in here? Did Bru- Batman let you in?”

 

Tim glanced around for something to write with, but there was nothing, leaving Tim to just kinda gesture to his bruised jaw and hope for the best. He made a mental note to learn sign language as soon as he got the chance, then flinched back hard enough for his bruised ribs to loudly voice their protest as Superman reached for him. Superman froze, then slowly retracted his hand, soothing, “I’m not going to hurt you, kid, but I’d like to know your name.”

 

Tim hesitated, then reached out, tapping out his name in Morse code on the desk, wishing he was close enough to reach the keyboard without having to step closer to Superman. Superman stared at him in confusion and Tim felt anxiety bubbling in his chest. Then Jason’s voice called, “Clark? The hell are you doin’ here?”

 

Tim relaxed as Jason stepped around Superman and wrapped his arm around Tim’s shoulders, asking, “You alright, Baby Bird? I heard a crash.”

 

Tim nodded and tapped the back of the chair, miming pushing it over. Jason quirked an eyebrow and Superman stated, “I startled him and he tipped the chair on accident.”

 

Jason turned his gaze back to Superman and Superman queried, “What’s his name? I asked, but he didn’t answer.”

 

Jason tugged Tim closer and answered, “Tim, meet Clark. Clark, meet Tim. His jaw is pretty swollen right now, so talking isn’t really happening.”

 

Tim awkwardly waved and Clark gave him a small smile, stating, “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Tim. Sorry if I scared you.”

 

Tim gave him a thumbs-up to say that he was forgiven and Jason glanced at the clock, then nudged Tim and teased, “We’ve still got an hour until dinner, Baby Bird, in case you want to crack a few more cases.”

 

Tim glanced at Clark hesitantly and Jason squeezed Tim gently, promising, “I’ll deal with Clark.”

 

Tim nodded and Jason released him, allowing him to settle back into the computer chair and resume poring over the files. He was overly aware of Jason and Clark talking quietly and, without even thinking, began eavesdropping.

 

“Is he a new Robin trainee?”

 

“No. At least, not right now. Maybe someday, if that’s what he wants. Right now, he’s just a friend.”

 

Sounding distinctly disbelieving, Clark asked, “Really? Just a friend? Just a friend who happens to know your identities and is allowed to sit in the Batcave and look at cases without supervision?”

 

“Okay, first of all, Tim figured out our identities on his own. Second, the kid is smart as all hell, so it would be a waste of his big ol’ brain to not plop him down with some cases and let him puzzle them out. And third, he’s a good kid and so much like B that he’s almost guaranteed to get so into the cases that he isn’t gonna get up and wander off.”

 

Then Jason fell quiet and, sounding amused, teased, “You’re not great at subtlety, are you, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim squeaked and ducked his head down, a blush rising in his cheeks as he tried desperately to focus on the files. There were soft footsteps, then Jason leaned on the back of the chair, stating, “We should teach you to eavesdrop better, Baby Bird. First tip: Don’t stop what you’re doing. Even if you’re not actually working, keep typing and scrolling like you are.”

 

Tim slunk lower in the chair and Jason gently ruffled his hair, then turned back to Clark and announced, “I’m gonna go finish training. Try not to give Tim a panic attack.”

 

Then he walked away, leaving Tim and Clark alone. Tim did his damnedest to focus on the cases, but he could feel Clark’s gaze on the back of his head, making him want to squirm and run. Finally, he gave up trying to focus and turned to look at Clark, fidgeting with his bracelet and struggling to make eye contact. Awkward silence filled the desk area, then Clark asked, “So, uh, what happened? Jason said you’re not training to be Robin yet, so…?”

 

Tim steeled himself, then shook his head that he wasn’t sharing the story and forced himself to ignore the anxiety in his chest. Awkward silence reigned again and Tim finally turned back to the computer, praying that Clark wouldn’t ask any more questions. His eyes caught on a detail of the case and he turned his attention to the case fully, finally finding his way back into The Zone.

 

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Tim was finally pulled out of The Zone by Jason stepping between him and the computer, calling, “Dinnertime, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim shooed him aside and held up one finger, typing down a few more notes, and Jason snorted, teasing, “C’mon, Baby Bird, the computer will still be here tomorrow and, knowing that big brain of yours, you’ll probably figure it out during dinner anyway. I’ll even grab you a notepad that you can write on.”

 

Tim made a face but saved his notes and exited out of his open windows. Jason rustled around in one of the desk drawers, then pulled out a legal pad and a mechanical pencil, handing them to Tim. Tim took them, then scribbled a quick note and showed it to Jason.

 

“I think I’ve almost got it.”

 

Jason smirked and ruffled Tim’s hair, answering, “Knowing you, probably. Just give your brain a break and come eat. Alfie made tortilla soup and let me tell you, that shit is fantastic. It’s like the food of the gods.”

 

Tim smiled at Jason’s waxing poetic and followed him up to the kitchen, where Alfred was bustling around, trying in vain to shoo Clark out of the kitchen as Clark attempted to help. Finally, Alfred spotted Jason and Tim, greeting, “Master Jason, Master Tim, good. Could you two be so kind as to show Mister Kent out of the kitchen?”

 

Jason snorted a laugh, answering, “Course, Alfie, we’ll get him off your turf. Clark, dining room is this way.”

 

Clark started to argue, but Jason crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow, asking, “Are you really gonna make me go get B?”

 

Clark frowned, but followed Jason, stating, “I’m actually here to see Bruce. I have some information he wanted and we have an interview scheduled. Some charity gala he’s planning.”

 

Jason made a face and Clark laughed, replying, “Yeah, that’s about how I feel about it, too. I’m a little excited, though, because I think he might be planning to announce… you know.”

 

He shot a look at Tim and Jason raised an eyebrow, asking, “Seriously? Like, officially announcing it?”

 

Clark nodded, then answered, “I don’t know for certain, but I think he might. He’s mentioned it a few times.”

 

Tim tilted his head curiously and Jason stated easily, “B and Clark are dating.”

 

Tim, being Tim, immediately tripped over the edge of the hallway rug at that, nearly faceplanting before Jason caught him and steadied him. Clark looked worried and Tim scribbled a quick message on his notepad, holding it up for Clark and Jason to see.

 

“Cool.”

 

Clark smiled and Jason smirked, asking, “You looked pretty surprised by that, Baby Bird. You harborin’ a secret crush on a certain superhero?”

 

Despite knowing that Jason was referring to Clark or Bruce, Tim immediately blushed bright red because he totally was harboring a secret crush on a certain superhero. Jason laughed, ruffling Tim’s hair and stating, “Don’t worry, Baby Bird, we’ve all been there. Dick apparently used to have the biggest crush on Clark.”

 

Tim, trying desperately to distract from his own embarrassment, scrawled, “What about you?”

 

Jason laughed, then answered, “Wonder Woman. She’s so cool.”

 

A wave of disappointment hit Tim, because Of course Jason is straight, you fool.

 

Then Jason continued, “Though Red Arrow is pretty cute, too. At least, he is until he opens his mouth. Then I just kinda want to kick him in the nuts.”

 

Something that felt far too much like hope for Tim’s comfort bloomed in his chest and he quickly reminded himself that he probably wasn’t Jason’s type. Jason shot Tim a mischievous smirk, asking, “What about you, Baby Bird? Who’s your superhero crush?”

 

Tim’s blush, which had started to fade somewhat, quickly made itself known again and, not wanting to confess his crush in front of fucking Superman, glanced at Clark. Jason immediately misinterpreted the glance, teasing, “Ah, so you take after Dickwing, huh?”

 

Tim couldn’t find it in himself to correct him and confess his true crush, so he just nodded, praying that no one would see through his lie. Jason laughed again and Clark flushed red, stammering, “Well, I, uh, I’m flattered.”

 

The trio entered the dining room and Jason gave Tim a gentle squeeze, stage-whispering, “Don’t worry, Baby Bird, that crush’ll go away after spending a bit with him.”

 

Clark gave a mock-offended gasp, then exclaimed, “You’re so mean to me, Jason! I thought we were starting to become friends! What would your father say if he heard you bullying me like this?!”

 

Jason made a face at Clark, replying, “He’d probably say something sappy about how his crush went away and returned as love. But he’s also too compromised to be an objective observer, so his testimony is meaningless.”

 

Both of them laughed, making Tim giggle quietly at their antics. Then Jason ruffled Tim’s hair again and stated, “I’ll go see if I can find B for you, Clark. Play nice.”

 

Tim made his way to the seat next to Jason’s and, as soon as Jason was out of earshot, Clark turned to Tim and confidently asked, “I’m not your real superhero crush, am I?”

 

Tim blushed and Clark smiled gently, stating, “You should tell him.”

 

The mere idea of confessing to Jason, not to mention the thought of what would happen if his parents found out, made Tim want to hide under the table, but he settled for shaking his head firmly and writing, in big, bold, impossible-to-miss letters, “NO.”

 

Clark snorted a laugh, stating, “Alright, alright, whatever makes you happy, Tim.”

 

Before either could say another word, Dick pranced in, looking like the cat that got the canary as he chirped, “Guess who got a 98 on his final!”

 

Tim gave him a thumbs-up and Clark wasted no time in congratulating him, asking questions about his classes and talking about the Titans. Tim took the opportunity to let his brain drift back to the case, scribbling notes down. Then the chair beside him was pulled out and Jason flopped down, announcing, “I’m going to steal all of B’s socks.”

 

Tim looked up in surprise and Jason laughed, stating, “Sorry, Baby Bird. I just wanted to see if you were listening.”

 

Tim wrinkled his nose at Jason, making Jason laugh again and reach up, tapping the tip of Tim’s nose. Tim wrinkled it further, bringing his hand up to rub it, and Jason teased, “Who gave you permission to be this cute, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim blushed and slid down in his chair. Then Dick was standing beside them, holding something small and green over them. He grinned evilly, then shook the little green thing in his hand and teased, “Uh-oh, kiddos! Looks like you’re under the mistletoe! You know what that means!”

Jason flushed a scarlet that almost rivalled Tim’s and started cussing Dick out. Meanwhile, Tim, desperate for an out, scribbled a question that he already knew the answer to but was willing to feign ignorance if it would help.

 

“What does it mean?”

 

He held up the notepad so Dick could see it and Dick’s mouth fell open as he asked, “Wait, you don’t know about mistletoe?”

 

Tim nodded, putting on what he hoped was a passably confused face, and Jason explained, “If you’re under mistletoe, you’re supposed to kiss someone. Typically whoever is under it with you, or a significant other or someone you like. Dick enjoys living up to his namesake and not letting people skip out on the kissing part.”

 

Tim hesitated, then leaned forward and kissed Jason’s cheek, hoping that Dick would accept it. Thankfully, Dick just cooed and bounced off, leaving both Tim and Jason alone. Then Jason leaned over and whispered, “I vote we steal all of his socks.”

 

Tim giggled, then nodded his assent.

 

Chapter Text

Not long after Dick had pranced off to go live up to his namesake elsewhere and Jason and Tim had begun plotting their revenge, Bruce entered and did a double-take when he saw Clark, asking, “Clark? What are you doing here? I thought you weren’t coming until the 21st?”

 

Clark raised an eyebrow, then answered, “Do me a favor and look at your phone, sweetheart.”

 

Bruce grabbed his phone, then looked up with a sheepish expression and stated, “It’s the 21st. I’m sorry. Things have been hectic and-”

 

Bruce stopped talking as Clark hugged him and interrupted, “It’s fine, darling. I was going to text you when I got to the Cave, but your new crimefighter kinda blindsided me and I forgot.”

 

Bruce sighed and swore quietly, mumbling, “Shit, I knew I had forgotten to tell you something.”

 

Clark just laughed and kissed Bruce’s head, soothing, “No worries, cupcake. It happens. But maybe set up a reminder to go off on your phone for the next one?”

 

Bruce opened his mouth, but he was interrupted by Jason fake-gagging loudly before calling, “Get a room!”

 

Clark laughed and Bruce just sighed resignedly, voice fond as he asked, “Why are you such a smartass?”

 

Tim tried to hold back his giggles, but didn’t really succeed, prompting Jason to grin smugly and answer, “I’m Robin, remember? It’s my whole job to be a little shit.”

 

“Language, Master Jason. Though your point is quite correct.”

 

Jason turned to give Alfred a grin as Alfred carried in a large, steaming pot and a stack of bowls. Clark started to offer his assistance, but one look from Alfred had him holding his hands up in surrender, settling into the seat beside Bruce. Alfred passed out bowls as Dick returned to the dining room from wherever he had been, then settled into his own seat at the table, passing the pot of soup around. The room was quiet for several minutes, the only sound being the clink of spoons against bowls and Jason’s appreciative little hums. Tim had to admit, the soup was just as good as Jason had made it out to be and he scribbled as much on his notepad, passing it over to Jason. Jason smirked, then answered, “Told you so, Baby Bird. I wouldn’t lead you astray.”

 

Jason’s words seemed to break the spell of silence and Dick asked, “So, Clark, how’s that story you were working on with Lois going?”

 

The conversation flowed naturally after that and Tim couldn’t help but feel a little awed at how peaceful yet giddy it made him feel.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Dinner passed in a blur of laughter and food and Tim soon found himself on the loveseat beside Jason in the living room. Bruce and Clark were at one end the couch, Dick curled on the other, and the first Lord of the Rings was playing on the tv as Tim half-watched, half worked through the case. Squinting at his notes in the dimly lit room gave him a headache, so Tim set his notepad aside and just thought things through, fiddling with his charms. His brain whirled, trying to connect dots that just didn’t want to connect, but he was jolted out of his thoughts by Jason snapping directly in front of his nose. Tim startled and Jason held up the jar of arnica cream wordlessly. Tim nodded, only half paying attention, and barely caught Jason rolling his eyes as Tim let his brain drift back to the case. Then Jason’s hands were on his face, warm and gentle as they rubbed the cream onto his bruised skin, and Tim was back to trying to make connections.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

An indeterminate amount of time later, Tim jolted up from where he was laying with his head in Jason’s lap (When the fuck had he laid down?) and nearly headbutted Jason on accident, scrambling for his notepad. Jason handed it to him with an amused smile and Tim hunched over it, scribbling down the connections he had made. Then he set the pencil down and Jason gently plucked the notepad and pencil from his hands, whispering, “You solve it yet, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim nodded and Jason gave him an approving nod, teasing, “Told you you’d figure it out. Now lay back down and relax. You’ve had a Hell of a day.”

 

Tim made as much of a face as he could at Jason without hurting his still-sore face, but laid back down anyway, turning his head to watch the movie. Jason began playing with his hair and Tim turned to look at him curiously, prompting Jason to whisper, “Sorry. It’s soft and it gives me something to do with my hands.”

 

Tim smiled and gave a thumbs-up, then turned back to the movie. After a few moments, Jason’s fingers were back in his hair, gently playing with it and making Tim start to think quite favorably about closing his eyes for a few minutes. As Jason gently scraped his nails along Tim’s scalp, Tim’s eyelids started fluttering, the screen blurring as they sagged shut. He was distantly aware of Gandalf speaking, then even that faded out and Tim was asleep.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Tim woke up to Jason gently lifting his head up, whispering, “Sorry, Baby Bird. Duty calls.”

 

Tim slowly sat up, rubbing his jaw before testing it with a yawn. It didn’t hurt as bad as it had and Tim mumbled, “Wha’s goin’ on?”

 

Jason gave him a small, sorry smile and answered, “Freeze just popped back up and it’s all hands on deck. Go back to sleep, I’ll see you when I get back.”

 

Tim sat up straighter, mind immediately flitting to the spectacular photos he could get, and apparently it was written all over his face, since Jason looked distressed, ordering, “No.”

 

Tim ignored him, starting to stand, and Jason repeated, “Tim, no. You’re not going out to take photos. You’ll freeze.”

 

Tim shot him a Look, answering, “Jason, you’re acting like I haven’t been doing this nearly nightly for years before I met you. As long as I dress warm, I’ll be fine.”

 

Jason made a distressed noise, then pinched the bridge of his nose and asked, “If we leave you here, what are the chances of you following us anyway?”

 

“Almost 100%. Like, 99.999% chance.”

 

Jason heaved a sigh, then stated, “Fine. You win. But! You have to wear one of my winter uniforms. And a comm. And if I tell you to move, you move.”

 

Tim grinned, ignoring the way it made his cheeks throb, and darted upstairs to get his camera, nearly wiping out as his socked feet slid on the hardwood. He quickly changed into his sweatpants, pulling a pair of jeans on over them, then pulled on two long-sleeved shirts and the Robin hoodie that Jason had given him. He stuffed his feet into his shoes, then grabbed his camera bag and rushed back to meet Jason. Jason sighed again and, leading Tim down the steps into the Batcave, mused, “You know, normal people don’t get this excited about charging headfirst into a potentially dangerous situation.”

 

Tim laughed, replying, “Normal people also don’t know the true identities of Gotham’s superheroes.”

 

Jason tipped his head in acknowledgement as they entered the Cave, then led Tim over to the uniform cases, opening the panel under the Robin case and pulling out two pairs of tights and two long-sleeved shirts, as well as two pairs of sturdy boots. He handed one of each to Tim, then ordered. “Go put these on under your regular clothes. If the boots don’t fit, I’ll see if I can find my old boots. B’s a hoarder and my feet were tiny at first.”

 

Tim rushed to the locker rooms, Jason close behind him, and they both quickly changed. Jason finished first, then Tim emerged, boots in hand, and stated, “These are way too big.”

 

Jason nodded and hurried to one of the many, many, many cabinets, digging through until he found a set of notably smaller boots, which he handed off to Tim. Tim pulled them on and tied them. They were still a little loose, but close enough to not be falling off like the first pair. As he pulled his boots on, Jason retrieved two motorcycle helmets and two comms, which he fiddled with before passing one to Tim, stating, “Remember, I tell you to move, you move. And, uh, maybe don’t tell B or Dick that you were out? They were pretty adamant that you shouldn’t go out taking pictures at night anymore.”

 

Tim bobbed his head, placing the comm unit in his ear, and Jason passed him the helmet, then led him over to a gleaming red motorcycle, explaining, “B and Dick went ahead and told me to join them as soon as I could, since I’ve got my bike and I didn’t want to disturb you. Not that I did great at that, but it’s the thought that counts.”

 

Jason climbed onto the motorcycle and, after a moment of hesitation, Tim followed, clinging to Jason’s cape as Jason started the motorcycle and pulled out of the Cave.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Jason parked his motorcycle in an alleyway across from the jewelry store Mr. Freeze was targeting, then hopped off the bike, Tim close behind, and ordered, “Go up to the roof. The roof-access staircase door isn’t locked.”

 

Tim nodded and Jason rushed to join Batman and Nightwing as Tim darted to the staircase door. He raced up the stairs and burst onto the roof, hurrying to get a good angle. He had just gotten himself situated when Mr. Freeze showed up, freeze-gun in one hand and a sack in the other. He smashed through the glass door, Tim snapping photos as fast as he could, and Batman swooped in, Robin and Nightwing close behind. Mr. Freeze began firing blasts from his freeze-gun with one hand, scooping jewelry into his sack between blasts, and Robin leapt at him, landing a spectacular kick that knocked the villain over. The fight became something of a blur, everything moving so fast that it was almost dizzying. Then Mr. Freeze fired a blast at Robin’s turned back and time seemed to slow to a crawl. Not even thinking, Tim yelped, “Robin, duck!”

 

To Tim’s immense surprise, Robin dropped into a crouch, the blast missing his head by a hair’s breadth, then spun and threw a birdarang back, muttering, “Thanks, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim blushed, realizing that Robin could hear him, and mumbled, “No problem.”

 

Then he was snapping photos again as Batman put a batarang through the freeze-gun, smashing the electronics in it with an impressive shower of sparks. Nightwing flipped off one of the counters, booted feet making contact with Mr. Freeze’s chest and sending the villain stumbling backwards. His feet slipped on a patch of ice from his own gun and he went down hard, just in time for Robin to bring one foot down on his helmet, the cleat-like spikes on the sole of his boot smashing through the glass. Tim snapped photo after photo, then whispered, “Nice one, Robin.”

 

Batman turned to Robin, saying something, and Robin nodded, then turned and walked out towards the alleyway, muttering, “Show’s over, Baby Bird. Time to come down from your perch.”

 

Tim put his camera back in its bag and hurried down the stairs to meet Jason at the motorcycle, bouncing on his toes with a grin so wide that it hurt on his face. Jason grinned at him and they climbed onto the motorcycle, racing out of the alleyway and back towards the Cave. Upon arriving at the Cave, both showered and changed into their pajamas, then headed to bed. Tim was practically glowing as he settled into his bed and he played with his charms happily, drifting off to sleep with Jason’s smile dancing in his head and a smile of his own on his lips.

Chapter Text

Before Tim even knew it, Jason was tapping him awake, chirping with an unusual cheerfulness, “Baby Bird, time to wake up. We’re opening presents.”

 

Tim grumbled sleepily and burrowed deeper into his blankets, wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep. Then his still half-asleep brain processed what Jason had said and he jerked awake, ribs protesting as he snapped upright and yelped, “Wait, what?”

 

Jason raised an eyebrow and answered, “It’s December 25th, Baby Bird. You know, Christmas morning? Typically we’d’ve done something last night, too, but with Penguin stirring shit up last night, Christmas dinner was postponed until tonight.”

 

Tim checked his mental calendar, then grabbed his phone and checked the date, a little stunned to see that it was, in fact, Christmas morning. Jason grinned at him, bouncing a little, and Tim stated, “I didn’t- I didn’t know I would be spending Christmas with all of you. I didn’t get presents for anyone.”

 

Jason smirked and held up a shiny red hairbow, answering, “Don’t worry about it, Baby Bird. Just wrap your skinny butt up in your blankets and come on!”

 

Worry still churning in his gut, Tim obeyed, wrapping himself in his favorite blanket and following Jason out into the hallway and down the stairs. When they reached the bottom of the stairs, however, Jason suddenly turned to face Tim, reaching out and clipping the bow on the top of Tim’s hair. Tim gave a surprised squeak and Jason grinned, stating, “There we go. The perfect present.”

 

Tim’s face immediately flushed until he matched the bow and Jason snickered, teasing, “Maybe I should’ve gotten you a green bow instead, so you were Christmas colors.”

 

Tim somehow flushed brighter and Jason led him into the living room, announcing, “We’re all here!”

 

Tim looked around the living room and felt something warm in his chest as he realized that this was the first Christmas in years that hadn’t been spent alone in his room. Jason led him over to the couch and Tim sank onto it, tucking his legs up and making himself a mini nest out of his blanket. Dick and Barbara were on the far end of the couch, snuggled up together with Barbara braiding Dick’s hair as Dick debated the pronunciation of ‘caramel’ with Clark, who was on the loveseat with Bruce. Bruce looked amused by the spirited debate his boyfriend and were son were having, glancing up at them over the top of his newspaper at them. Jason ducked out of the room, returning moments later with a Santa hat, which he tucked under one arm before clearing his throat to get everyone’s attention. Dick and Clark either didn’t hear him or didn’t care, their debate continuing, and Jason suddenly announced, “Would you two fools hush? Everyone knows its pronounced ca-ram-el.”

 

He pronounced it like ‘enamel’ and both Clark and Dick fell silent, gaping at him in unfiltered horror. Jason nodded approvingly, smirked playing at his lips, and brandished the hat at Tim, ordering, “Pick one.”

 

Tim picked a piece of paper from the hat, unfolding it and reading the name written on it. Jason looked at him expectantly and Tim announced awkwardly, “Dick?”

 

Dick got up, making his way over to the tree, then started picking up gifts and passing them out. Tim watched quietly, curious, then startled when Dick dropped a box in his lap. Staring down at it in a mix of shock and confusion, Tim wondered if he was dreaming and was about to wake up in his own bed at his own house. Then Jason poked his nose, teasing, “It won’t bite, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim looked up at Jason, gratitude and love and hope and happiness mixing in his brain like some sort of delightful neurotransmitter soup as he tried not to cry from joy. His face must have done something weird, because Jason looked confused and a little concerned, asking, “You okay, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim nodded, squeaking, “I’m just- I’m really happy.”

 

Jason smiled and settled onto the couch beside Tim, opening his own gifts as Dick dropped a second box in Tim’s lap, followed by an envelope. Tim leaned into Jason, then started opening the wrapping paper with trembling fingers. The first box contained a blanket from Dick and Barbara that was sinfully soft and fluffy, like a warm cloud. Tim immediately added it to his nest, sighing contentedly, and caught sight of Dick high-fiving Barbara out of the corner of his eye. Then he set to opening the second box, from Jason. It contained several charms for his bracelet. A pineapple charm, a computer charm, a Batgirl charm, a Nightwing charm, a small working compass charm, and a key charm. Tucked underneath the charms was a note, which Tim wasted no time in unfolding and reading. It was written in Jason’s messy yet neat handwriting and contained a list.

 

“1- A pineapple, since you said they’re your most hated fruit and I couldn’t resist. 2- A computer, since you’re a little tech wizard. 3- Batgirl and Nightwing charms, to complete the (current) set. 4- A compass, so you can always find your way back to us. 5- A key, so you know that you’re always welcome here.”

 

Tim didn’t even realize that he was crying until Jason’s worried voice cut through the haze of emotions he was feeling, asking worriedly, “Tim? Are you okay?”

 

Tim lurched forward, wrapping his arms around Jason and pulling him into a tight hug. Jason hugged him back and Tim whispered, “Thank you. Thank you.”

 

Jason ran his fingers through Tim’s hair and answered warmly, “Always, Baby Bird.”

 

Finally, Tim pulled back, wiping his watery eyes on his sleeve, then took off his bracelet and wasted no time in adding the new charms. Their added weight was grounding, like the warm weight of a blanket, and Tim couldn’t help but run his fingers over them, giving a delighted little wiggle in his nest. Jason laughed and wrapped one arm around Tim’s shoulders, stating, “You, Baby Bird, are adorable.”

 

Tim blushed, but he couldn’t even begin to help the grin on his face and, feeling almost drunk off of his own happiness, answered, “You’re adorable, too, Jay.”

 

And hoo boy, Tim thought he blushed brightly. Jason’s face rivalled the red of the Santa hat laying on the couch beside him and he squeaked out a thanks before the pair lapsed into awkward silence. Jason had several new books stacked in his lap and Tim looked down at his own lap, opening the envelope from Bruce. Inside it, he found a letter and a silver house key, which made his heart trip over itself as he opened the letter. It was short, summed up as telling Tim that he was always had a place with them and that, if he so desired, he was welcome to help them out with their nighttime activities and train to be Robin or a vigilante of his own, if that was what he wanted. It made Tim’s heart do some funny things and he flopped back against the couch, trying to wrap his brain around the idea of himself as a vigilante. He knew Jason had mentioned it before, but he had never once thought seriously about it.

 

He had to admit, he liked it a lot.

 

Tim was suddenly snapped out of his thoughts by Dick’s indignant cry of “So that’s where all my fucking socks went!”

 

Jason laughed and Tim joined in, the pair cackling like hyenas until their stomachs hurt and they were gasping for breath. Everything felt right in the world and, after the presents had all been opened, everyone lounged around for a while. Tim curled up in his blanket nest on the couch beside Jason, playing with his charms delightedly as Jason read his new books. At some point, Jason started playing with Tim’s hair mindlessly and Tim certainly wasn’t going to complain, leaning into the touch with a contented noise. The gentle touches made Tim’s eyelids feel heavier than lead and he nestled deeper into his nest, cradling his bracelet close to his chest as he slipped asleep.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Tim woke up to Jason tapping his nose lightly, calling, “It’s lunch time, Baby Bird!”

 

Tim yawned, blinking up at Jason and slowly sitting up. Jason grinned and stated, “We’re on our own for lunch, since Alfred takes Christmas Day off to go visit his niece.”

 

Tim nodded sleepily and slowly detangled himself from his nest, wrapping the blankets around his shoulders and standing up. Jason stood as well and Tim couldn’t help the rush of affection that hit him when Jason reached out, gently fixing an errant strand of Tim’s hair. Apparently still high on his Christmas-induced emotions, Tim’s mouth started running before his brain did and he blurted, “I really wanna kiss you right now.”

 

As soon as the words left his mouth, Tim’s face went scarlet and he started to stammer apologies. Jason just smiled softly, then asked, “Then why don’t you, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim opened and closed his mouth for a few seconds, trying to find words, and Jason leaned in about halfway. Shoving his fear and shock aside, Tim pushed himself to his toes and pressed his lips to Jason’s, pulling away after a few seconds. His whole body felt like he had just chugged about 10 cups of coffee and Jason smiled warmly, whispering, “I have been wanting to do that for weeks, Baby Bird.”

 

Instead of trying to find words, Tim just kissed him again.

Chapter Text

The rest of Christmas Day passed in a haze of Holy shit I kissed Jason and Holy shit Jason kissed me back. Finally, at around midnight, Tim found himself on the couch with Jason, curled up halfway in Jason’s lap as a movie played and Jason toyed with Tim’s hair. Tim was half-asleep, warm and content, when Jason asked the question.

 

“Do you want to date me, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim pressed his head into Jason’s hand and answered, “Yes. More than anything. But I understand if you don’t want to date me.”

 

Jason gave an incredulous laugh, replying, “Tim, Baby Bird, I’ve wanted to date you since the gala. Maybe longer. Probably longer. Okay, definitely longer.”

 

Tim giggled even as his face flushed, then rolled onto his back to look up at Jason’s face, asking, “Do you want to be my boyfriend, Jason?”

 

Jason leaned down, pressing a kiss to his forehead, and answered, “Yes. Absolutely yes.”

 

Tim gave a happy little wiggle and they lapsed into comfortable, sleepy silence for several minutes before Tim stated, “Bruce offered to train me to be a vigilante with you guys.”

 

Jason lightly scraped his nails over Tim’s scalp, asking, “Are you thinking of doing it?”

 

Tim leaned into the touch with a contented noise, then answered, “I think so. I want to.”

 

“Then do it, Baby Bird. And if you decide that the fighting part isn’t for you, you could always be our IT bird.”

 

Tim laughed softly, answering, “Fine. My New Years resolution is to start training to be a vigilante.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Tim fully intended to start his training on January 1st. He did.

 

His body, however, didn’t agree, as evidenced by the way his head spun and his stomach attempted to invert itself as soon as he tried to sit up. He was freezing and his throat felt like he had swallowed glass, making him give a pathetic whine and burrow deeper into his nest. The early morning light that peeked through the crack in his curtains felt like it was scorching his retinas through his eyelids and he grabbed his pillow, putting it over his face to block the light out. With the light blocked out, he began to doze back off, slipping into a half-awake haze that just kinda sucked. Time became blurry, but Tim could tell that it as at least a few minutes before a thudding sound reached his ears. He gave a whine at the noise, pulling the pillow so it covered his ears too, and the noise stopped, replaced with Jason’s voice. What Jason said was a complete mystery to Tim and his brain wasn’t firing on enough cylinders to puzzle it out, so he just curled tighter and hoped Jason would let him sleep. Unsurprisingly, though, Jason opened the bedroom door and came in, his footsteps coming towards where Tim was trying to hide from the world. Tim did his damnedest to ignore his boyfriend’s presence, wanting desperately to just go back to sleep until he felt less like death, but the finger that poked him made it very difficult. Finally, Tim gave another whine and pulled the pillow away from his face to glare at Jason, rasping, “Lemme sleep, Jay.”

 

Jason whistled lowly, then rested his hand on Tim’s forehead for a second before pulling it away, stating, “That’s quite the fever you’re runnin’, Baby Bird. I’ll go get you some medicine.”

 

Tim nodded and Jason walked away as Tim closed his eyes again. An indeterminate amount of time later, Jason returned, tapping Tim’s cheek and murmuring, “I’m back, Baby Bird. Think you can sit up?”

 

Tim shook his head, mind flickering back to his earlier attempt, and Jason hummed thoughtfully. Tim heard something getting set on the bedside table, then Jason’s arm was gently wrapped around him and he was being carefully lifted up, pillows getting slid in behind his back to prop him up. Tim opened his bleary eyes and Jason gave him a soft smile, picking up a steaming mug from the bedside table and pressing it into Tim’s hands. Tim immediately took a sip, the hot tea feeling like heaven on his sore throat, and Jason pulled a pill bottle from his pocket, offering two of the pills to Tim. Tim took them, washing them down with more tea, and Jason sat down on the edge of the bed, holding up a thermometer. Tim opened his mouth, allowing Jason to place it beneath his tongue, and Jason ran his fingers through Tim’s hair as they waited. Tim leaned into the touch unabashedly and Jason stated, “I think it’s safe to say that you won’t be starting training today, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim pouted as the thermometer beeped and Jason gently pulled it from Tim’s mouth, sighing, “102.4. Could be worse. Any other symptoms?”

 

Tim took a long drink of his tea and Jason moved to sit beside him, gently guiding Tim to lean against him. Tim didn’t hesitate to curl into him, rasping, “Headache. Throat hurts. Nauseous. Wanna sleep.”

 

Jason tapped Tim’s mug gently and stated, “Well, this is ginger tea with honey in it, so that should help with the throat and nausea. And once you finish it, I’ll let you go back to sleep, promise.”

 

Tim nodded and took another drink of his tea, rasping, “Sorry I got sick.”

 

Jason pressed a soft kiss to his head and answered, “It’s not your fault, Baby Bird.”

 

Tim took another sip, eyes drifting closed as his head lolled against Jason’s shoulder. He felt Jason gently pull the mug from his fingers, then he was being gently leaned against Jason’s warm chest and Jason’s warm hands were stroking through his hair, earning a sleepy, pleased noise from Tim. Tim rolled onto his stomach, snuggling in close, and felt Jason kiss the crown of his head as he murmured, “Get some rest, Baby Bird. I’ll let B know you’re not feeling well.”

 

Tim clutched Jason’s shirt, then let himself drift asleep.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Tim woke up feeling somewhat better, with his face buried in Jason’s belly and hands gently massaging his scalp. His headache had abated some and he sleepily pressed his head into Jason’s hands, rasping, “Feels nice.”

 

Jason laughed softly and gently scraped his nails across Tim’s scalp, making Tim give a pleased noise and press his head into Jason’s hands. Jason laughed again, then teased lightly, “You’re like a cat, Baby Bird. Maybe I should start calling you Baby Kitty instead.”

 

Tim lifted his head to glare at Jason and Jason booped his nose gently, continuing, “Nah, I like Baby Bird better.”

 

Tim nodded, setting his head down and mumbling, “’M your Baby Bird.”

 

Jason’s voice was soft and full of awe as he answered, “Damn right you are.”

 

Tim gave a pleased noise and Jason laughed yet again, then pulled one hand away from Tim’s head and stated, “Alfred brought up soup, if you think your stomach can handle it. And Bruce said he hopes you feel better soon.”

 

Tim slowly rolled onto his back, sitting up slowly. His stomach grumbled and he giggled, rasping, “Soup sounds good.”

 

Jason smirked and passed Tim the steaming bowl, picking up a plate of sandwiches for himself. They ate in comfortable silence and Jason asked, “Wanna watch Netflix?”

 

Tim nodded and Jason got out of the bed, retrieving his laptop. When he returned, they settled in together, Tim leaned against Jason’s chest with his head tucked under Jason’s chin and the laptop in his lap. Jason turned on the show they had been watching together, then wrapped one arm around Tim’s waist and buried his free hand in Tim’s hair. Tim tried to pay attention to the show, but his brain was still fuzzy from sickness and he finally just gave up, melting against Jason and drifting back to sleep.

 

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Tim’s plague lasted four long, miserable days before finally letting up, allowing him to start his training. The first day of training was pretty simple stuff, mostly measuring baseline height, weight, muscle mass, et cetera, as well as learning some basic flexibility exercises. Bruce seemed surprised by how flexible Tim was already, but, given how often Tim had to contort himself into weird positions to get good photos, it wasn’t that much of a shock.

 

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Weeks of school and training passed in a blur and Tim was frankly stunned by how good he felt. Sure, he was usually sore from training and he had a few bruises from his occasional bouts of failed coordination, but the feeling of being able to hold his own while sparring with Jason was a heady one, not in the least because he was able to do it without freaking the fuck out.

 

Then Bruce asked to spar with him. And Tim, riding high on his success, agreed. He and Bruce went to the mats and assumed their stances. Then the sparring began. For the first minute, Bruce took it easy on him, bobbing and dodging Tim’s strikes without returning any of his own. Then Tim saw Bruce’s fist coming towards him and his brain blue-screened, anxiety burning in his veins. He stumbled back and tripped over his own feet, falling to the floor and narrowly avoiding a fist to the face as he vacillated between memory and reality, his brain painting Jack’s furious face over Bruce’s calm one, layering the high ceilings of dining room over the Cave. The air rushed out of his lungs and fought to draw a breath, but it felt like he was drowning, his lungs spasming and driving out every bit of oxygen he managed to get in. His vision tunneled and he vaguely heard Jason’s voice. Then his hand was being gently lifted and placed against a chest as Jason’s worried face appeared in his vision. The steady thumping of Jason’s heartbeat against his palm helped ground Tim, remind him that he was safe and that he wasn’t with Jack and Janet, and he slowly remembered how to breathe. His vision returned to normal and his heart started to settle as he realized that his cheeks were wet with tears and that his throat was burning like he’d been screaming. He could see Bruce standing at the edge of the mats, looking horrified, but his attention was drawn by Jason, who asked, “Are you okay, Baby Bird?”

 

Tim rubbed his face with shaking hands and curled in on himself, whispering, “I’m okay. I’m sorry. I thought- I thought I could handle it.”

 

Jason slowly reached towards Tim’s face, then awkwardly paused halfway there, like he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to touch Tim. Tim nodded and Jason cradled his face gently, murmuring, “It’s okay, Baby Bird, it’s alright. You don’t need to apologize.”

 

Tim leaned into the touch and Bruce slowly approached, moving to sit on the floor behind Jason. He looked almost nauseous and Tim’s confusion must have been evident on his face, because Jason quietly stated, “You were screaming, Baby Bird. You- You called him ‘Father’ and begged him not to hit you again.”

 

Tim closed his eyes and brought his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arms around them. Then he confessed, “You wanted to know- to know who beat me before Christmas. It was- They- At the gala, someone took a picture of Jason hugging me and one of the tabloids wrote a story speculating about us being- about us being together. Mother found it and- and- and they-”

 

A choked sob cut him off and he curled tighter, forcing himself to finish, “They beat me. I thought they were- I thought they were going to kill me.”

 

Another sob escaped him and Bruce quietly asked, “Was that the first time they had ever hurt you?”

 

Tim shook his head and whispered, “I don’t- I can’t even remember the first time. They’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember.”

 

Tim’s eyes burned with tears and he heard movement, then Jason gently touched his hand, stating, “I’ve got tissues if you want them.”

 

Tim opened his eyes and took the tissues offered to him, wiping his eyes and nose. Bruce looked pale, paler than usual, and asked, “The scars on your back. Were those-?”

 

Tim nodded and Bruce looked stricken. Then his expression shifted into his Batman expression and he stated, “They won’t get away with this, Tim. I promise.”

 

Anxiety spiked in Tim’s chest and he whimpered, “They’re the only family I have! If they- If they get arrested-”

 

Bruce’s expression softened and he stated, “If they get arrested, you can stay with us. You’re already a part of the family, as far as we’re concerned.”

 

Tim closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, then reopened them and answered, “Okay.”

Chapter Text

For the first time in his life, Tim was almost excited for his parents to get home. Not because he wanted to see them, but because he had the police and Bruce Wayne, Batman, in his corner and they weren’t going to get away with hurting him again. And with that knowledge came a sense of confidence that Tim honestly didn’t know was possible. Which was why, on February 2nd, Tim sat at the foot of the stairs waiting for his parents to get back from the airport, dressed in baggy jeans and Jason’s hoodie with a comm in his ear, hidden under his hair. The outfit, while partially Tim’s way of telling his parents to fuck themselves, was mostly to hide the Kevlar body armor that Tim had on under his clothes in case Jack or Janet took a swing at him before Bruce showed up as Batman. Even with his confidence, though, there was still an underlying anxiety that things wouldn’t go well, that something would go wrong and his parents would hurt him, prompting him to leave his bracelet upstairs, where he was sure it was safe. Thankfully, he had Jason as well, who was dealing with Tim’s nerves by texting him funny pictures and random stories about various members of the superhero community. They worked well enough to distract Tim from his nerves, to the point that Tim didn’t even hear Matteo pull the car up outside or unlock the door and was unaware that his parents had arrived until the door opened and they entered. Tim reached up like he was tucking his hair back and flicked on the comm, greeting, “Mother. Father. How was Dubai?”

 

Janet scowled at Tim and snapped, “Timothy. I thought I told you to cut your hair.”

 

Tim stood, forcing back the instinctive wave of Please don’t hurt me that made him want to apologize and instead answering politely, “You did, but I like my hair long, so I didn’t.”

 

The rage in Jack’s eyes at Tim’s disobedience made Tim’s lungs clench, but he forced himself to remember the breathing exercises Jason had taught him, maintaining eye contact with his father and praying that Jason and Bruce were on their way. Janet sneered, then spat, “So you not only have to act like a faggot, you also have to dress like one? You are a disgrace to the Drake name. I always knew we were too lenient with you as a child.”

 

Tim crossed his arms over his chest, partially to portray an air of confidence but also to hide the way his hands shook, and answered coldly, “I’m not letting you treat me like this anymore.”

 

Jack scoffed, stalking towards Tim, and sneered, “What are you going to do about it, you little brat? Huh? Who’s going to stop us from raising you the way we see fit?”

 

Tim opened his mouth to respond, but the sound of Jason’s voice, albeit slightly altered by the voice modulator in his suit collar, cut in, stating, “Well, for one, me.”

 

Then a green-gloved hand was resting on Tim’s shoulder and Robin moved to stand between Tim and his parents, arms crossed. Jack scowled and spat, “And what are you going to do about it, you fucking freak? It’s not as though anyone knows your identity. I could kill you and no one would ever know to look for you.”

 

Before Jason could say a word, Tim blurted, “Oh, go fuck yourself!”

 

Then his eyes went wide and he clapped a hand over his mouth. Silence filled the house as Jack’s face slowly turned red with rage, then, from the shadowy corner of the entrance hallway, Batman’s growl stated, “I couldn’t have put it any better myself, Timothy.”

 

All the blood drained from Jack’s face and he stumbled backwards, growling, “Get out of my house, you fucking freak!”

 

Batman walked forwards slowly, each step silent, and stated, “You are going to prison, Jack Drake. Both you and your wife. A police report has already been filed and it’s only a matter of time before the police get here. But that still leaves us plenty of time to make sure you are fully aware of our distaste for child abusers.”

 

Tim’s eyes widened as Batman grabbed a handful of Jack’s shirt collar, pulling him in and lifting him off of his feet. Without even thinking, Tim stepped forward to grab Batman’s arm, crying, “Wait! Don’t hurt him!”

 

Batman turned to look at Tim curiously and Tim took a deep breath, stating, “They may have hurt me, but they’re still my parents and they’ll still get what they deserve from the legal system.”

 

The words hung in the air for several long seconds and Tim started to think Batman was going to ignore him and hit Jack anyway. Then Batman dropped Jack and stepped back wordlessly. Jack seemed stunned for a moment, then his expression turned furious and he took a swing at Tim, catching him off-guard and making contact with the left side of Tim’s face. Tim stumbled back, landing hard on his ass as he clutched his face. Robin started forward, but Tim threw out one hand, standing back up and stating, “You can beat me until you’re satisfied, but you’ll still get exactly what you deserve at the end of the day.”

 

Janet, who had been uncharacteristically quiet, suddenly piped up, hissing, “And then what happens to you, hmm? You end up in foster care, getting bounced from home to home when they realize what a worthless, pathetic freak-of-nature you are!”

 

Tim set his jaw, refusing to rise to the bait as the faint sound of an engine reached him. Batman looked at him and Tim nodded slightly. Then Batman and Robin were gone, slipping out one of the windows. As soon as they were out of the house, Jack threw another punch, making contact with Tim’s nose. Tim fell back, clutching his nose as it gushed blood down his face and shirt, and he heard the slam of car doors outside the house. There was a knock on the door and Tim rolled to his feet, tears prickling at his eyes from instinctive panic as rushed to open it. Before he could get there, though, Jack grabbed his hood and started trying to frag him back. And Tim, knowing that he couldn’t let the police leave without getting answers, took a deep breath and screamed as loud as he could. Janet rushed forward, slapping one hand over his mouth, her nails digging into his cheek, but it was too late. The door burst open and several GCPD officers flooded in, weapons drawn. Jack’s grip loosened on Tim’s hood and Tim wrenched himself free of his parents’ holds, tumbling forward and accidentally smacking his head into the floor as he let the panicked tears flood his eyes and drip down his cheeks. One of the officers immediately dropped to one knee, speaking to Tim, while the rest cuffed Jack and Janet, reading them their rights. The officer speaking to Tim, Officer Rodriguez based off of his nametag, pulled out a pack of tissues from his jacket pocket and offered it to Tim, who tried to focus on what he was saying. His ears were ringing a bit, though he couldn’t tell if it was from relief, shock, or a concussion, and Officer Rodriguez looked worried, speaking into his radio before saying something else to Tim. Tim blinked, then, as the ringing started fading, asked, “What?”

 

Officer Rodriguez repeated, “I said, can you hear me?”

 

Tim nodded and Officer Rodriguez gave a relieved sigh, then stated, “I need you to lean forward and pinch the bridge of your nose, right under the bony part. It’ll help stop the bleeding.”

 

Tim obeyed and Officer Rodriguez handed him a tissue, instructing him to hold it under his nose. Tim slowly pulled his knees up to his chest, curling in on himself despite the way the Kevlar body armor pinched him. His nose oozed blood all over the knees of his jeans and he pinched just a little harder, pressing the blood-soaked tissue a little firmer as the sound of sirens reached him. An ambulance pulled up the driveway and two paramedics hurried over. One began checking him over quickly while the other spoke to Officer Rodriguez. Once the paramedics had declared him to be okay, Officer Rodriguez allowed Tim to go upstairs and change into clean clothes before asking if he had anyone he wanted to call. Tim immediately requested Bruce, earning a questioning look, but Officer Rodriguez called nonetheless, requesting the Bruce meet them at the police station.

 

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Tim soon found himself curled up in a hard plastic chair beside Officer Rodriguez in the police station, playing with the charms on his bracelet to calm his racing heart as he watched the officers lead his parents into interrogation rooms. As they walked, however, Jack’s eyes landed on him and Jack jerked against the cop holding him, screaming, “You little fucker! I’ll make you pay for this, you hear me?”

 

Tim jolted back in his seat and Officer Rodriguez stepped between him and Jack. Tim curled tighter, fingers finding the charms again, and, under his breath, he started listing off the charms he had as he touched each one, using the memories of getting each one to soothe his anxiety. As he mumbled, Officer Rodriguez sat back down, then, suddenly, asked, “What was that about pineapples?”

 

Tim blushed and held up his wrist to show the bright yellow pineapple charm, explaining, “It helps when I get nervous. Listing my charms, I mean. And remembering where and when I got them.”

 

Officer Rodriguez smiled slightly and turned to face Tim, asking, “Oh? Well, where did you get the pineapple, then?”

 

Tim smiled despite himself and rubbed the yellow enamel between his fingers, explaining, “Jason gave it to me for Christmas because pineapple is my least favorite fruit and he couldn’t resist teasing me about it.”

 

That made Officer Rodriguez smile a little more and he went on to ask Tim about the rest of the charms, until Bruce rushed in, looking harried, and rushed over to Tim. Bruce fussed over Tim for several minutes before Officer Rodriguez stepped in and distracted him with questions. Bruce immediately agreed to take Tim in, citing the fact that he already knew Tim and that Tim was already friends with his sons as justification, and signed the paperwork to become Tim’s temporary guardian without hesitation, making something warm bloom in Tim’s chest. With Bruce by his side, Tim was taken back to an interrogation room, where he gave a full report of his parents’ abusive behavior, including lifting his shirt up to show the scars on his back at one point, an act that nearly gave him a panic attack. It was worth it, though, because he knew that his parents wouldn’t be getting out of prison for a long time. And, once the report was finished, Bruce took Tim back to Wayne Manor, where Jason immediately stepped in to bury Tim in soft blankets and fluffy pillows, cuddling him close and playing with Tim’s hair until they both fell asleep.