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no such thing as a favorite memory

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Tim doesn't know what he expected when he walked into the BatCave, but it certainly wasn't terrified and crying children, huddled on a cot as they leaned back from Dick, who's fear and worry was plan on his face. Damian is staring at the children with wide eyes, and Bruce is furiously working.

Cass and Jason aren't anywhere to be seen.

Tim narrows his eyes, tilts his head, and looks at the young girl of what must be four or five at the absolute most holding a boy that couldn't be older than two. They both have black hair. The girl's eyes are brown, and the boy's teal. They are wrapped up in Bruce's cape.

This is Cass and Jason, and Tim doesn't know how this became his life. He sighs, and thinks about the fact that he could turn around and walk out of this place right now, but he doesn't. He knows he can't. He just walks closer to the middle of this circus, frowning because his heat is almost gone, but it's not quite there yet. The twinges and aches are still settling under his skin, and the exhaustion is still vaguely present.

But he had wanted to see his family, and now he's see two of them as some very tiny humans.

Everyone turns to look at him, and he smiles weakly as he kneels down in front of Cass and Jason. Their age gap is larger, and Tim doesn't know what to make of that. He wonders how this happened, and he knows that Bruce must have ideas and theories, one's that he's excited to explore and-

Jason has leaped out of Cass's arms and into his, Tim only catching him out of pure instinct, and still almost falling backwards. Jason's small face is pressing against his neck, and the poor kid is taking deep breaths as he whimpers, trying to get all of Tim's scent in.

It's uncomfortably one of a child who is feeling the effects of touch starvation.

And Cass's quiet attitude as she stares at Tim with wide eyes makes him remember what he was told by her long ago, that she had never met an omega before him. He smiles at her, and all she does is hunch in further on herself, keeping her gaze locked onto Tim and Jason.

Jason is still whimpering in his arms, and Tim rubs his back carefully. The kid is small. Jason was lucky to have grown up big and tall, but it's so clear that the malnutrition that's infecting him now. He looks young enough that it's likely Catherine hasn't come into his life yet, which means that it's probably just Jason and Willas and honestly Tim is surprised that Jason survived that.

"Mama?" he whispers, his voice breaking slightly and Tim's heart sinks down to his feet. "Are you Mama?" Oh, Jason

Tim doesn't know what to say here. He can't say that he's Jason's mother, because that's wrong to lie his little brother, but Jason sounds so desperate. Tim settles for kissing the top of his hair, and whispering, "I'm here, baby. I'm here." The toddler whines and just presses his face closer into Tim's neck. Tim's eyes flick to Cass, who looks at them with a look that Tim can only call desperation. With bated breath, he balances Jason on one side of him, and stretches out his hand towards Cass. Her eyes flick towards it, and time stands still for just one moment.

And then she's in his arms, pressuring her face against his neck as she takes shuddering breath as she takes in the scent of an omega for the first time in her life. Tim turns to look at Dick, who's watching them with a beaming smile and tears in his eyes, and he can hear the slow, paced breathing of Bruce and Damian as they watch this scene unfold. He's holding two small children in his arms, and his omega instincts are starting to go into overdrive. He needs to protect these small children from everything wrong in life, needs to hold them close and protect them. Tears are sparking in his eyes, and he just wants to make sure that Jason and Cass are safe.

He also can't get up with the children that are clinging to him like they're sloths and he's a tree, and he can't let them go. He opens his mouth, but he doesn't even have to get the words out before Dick nods, sweeping him into his arms and miraculously not jostling Jason and Cass too much. "Your room?" he asks, and Tim nods. Yes, he needs to hold them close to him and make sure that they feel safe. There's nothing else that he can do, because he knows that Bruce is going to find a way to bring them back to their original ages and it's not like he can actually fix their childhoods.

But dammit, it doesn't matter that they're going to become big again in the future. They're terrified kids now, and Tim can't leave them scared and alone. So he lets Dick carry them back up to Tim's bed, a bed that Alfred had luckily taken advantage of being empty to change the sheets so they weren't covered with sweat and slick. They're nice and clean when Dick puts them down, and Tim sighs. Thank God for Alfred.

Dick stands above them, staring, and if Tim moves over just the smallest amount, Dick could fit into the bed. With a sigh, he does just that and nods his head towards the space and Dick looks so happy as he slides into the bed with them. And he must have taken a shower before Tim had come down, since he's wearing post-patrol sweats and his hair is still damp.

At Tim's trust of Dick, the kids don't tense up like he half expects. They just let Dick lay down next to them, already halfway to sleep, and before Tim knows it, he's falling back into sleep.