Shifting Tommy in his arms as he got into the empty elevator, Tim pressed the button for the top floor and began waiting. The apartment building was one of the best in the city and the two of them would be sharing a beautiful view of Central Park on one side and metropolitan New York City on the other.
Tim hoped the movers had been able to get in the apartment and drop their stuff off without any trouble considering the first thing he wanted to do was collapse in bed without any worries.
Tom groaned slightly as the elevator began speeding up and Tim had to bounce him on his hip to distract the almost one year old from the ear popping that might come with being that high off the ground. It didn’t work as well as Tim might have liked, but as soon as the door opened Tom was entranced enough with the new environment before him to forget about his previous uncomfortableness. He struggled out of Tim’s arms and began stumbling around the apartment as they stepped out of the elevator and onto the marble floors while Tim hoped the popping would go away soon enough for it not to be a problem.
The apartment looked just as it had online, large open windows showing the view of the city and park, an up to date kitchen that would have made Alfred pretty happy, and enough room for Tim and Tommy many times over.
The movers had dropped off the furniture and boxes in what was to become the living room and just seeing all the work he would have to do made Tim feel even more tired. It had been a long drive from Gotham, them only stopping a few times to change Tom’s diaper, to get something to eat, and to buy some groceries for their dinner, and right now Tim would settle for crashing on the dirty couch if it meant he could close his eyes. It was what he wanted to do, but he couldn’t just leave Tom to fend for himself in the mess of boxes, furniture, and anything else Tim hadn’t packed away properly enough to keep him from reaching in and finding something dangerous.
Once he realized he didn’t have the time to actually set up the apartment before making the trip over, Tim had decided to use every millionaire’s best hand and paid someone else to do it for him. Even then, there was a limit to how much he was willing to reassign to someone else and he left some of the more important tasks for him to do once he made it to the city. First thing was to get all of the food into the kitchen and set up Tom’s nursery.
It didn’t really take that long, Tim was pretty sure Tom didn’t care that much about how his room looked when he was still so young, and once he had all of his things moved into his room there wasn’t a lot to do. By the time it reached three o’clock Tim was pretty much finished with everything he needed to do and began cleaning up the debris from the boxes. On the other side of the room Tom was trying to stick as much of the thrown away tape onto himself before Tim noticed and cleaned him up.
Warming up a bottle of milk for Tom and some ramen for himself, Tim looked over to his brother as he played with some of the forks and said, “You know Tommy, I think a nap is in order.”
In a move that reminded him just how ironic the world really was, as soon as Tim’s head fell on the pillow the buzzer from the front door began ringing throughout the apartment. Not bothering to put on shoes, Tim rushed to the front door wanting to be back in bed as soon as possible.
On the other side of the door Tim found a professionally dressed women with a briefcase. Slowly he asked, “Can I help you with something?” Tim hoped he didn’t coming off rude, but he also wasn’t too concerned with how he looked when he could be sleeping instead.
With an outreaching hand the woman greeted, “Hello. My name is Kat Benshaw and I work with the Social Services office.” Reading the name off the label on the file, she asked, “Are you Timothy Drake-Wayne?”
“It’s just Drake now, but you have the right person.” Growing concerned as to why she could possibly be here, she asked, “Is something wrong?” He had only been in New York for a few hours and there was very little he could imagine he had done wrong.
“I’m afraid so, Mr. Drake. There’s some things that need to be taken care of,” she said solemnly. Tim tried to get a read on what she could have been referring too, but he ended up being to tired.
Instead he forced himself to wake up, Tim opened the door and offered, “Please come in.” Maneuvering through the mess he had left, Tim motioned to a side of the kitchen and said, “We just moved in, but the table’s right through here.” Just as polite as ever, Tim asked, “Can I get you something to drink? Water? Soda? Coffee?”
“No thank you. I’m fine.” Instead, she found some paperwork from her briefcase and laid it out on the table.
Tim grabbed some water for himself and asked, “What happened? Did something come up?” The last time he’d talked to someone from social services it had to do with him getting emancipated.
Taking a moment to collect her words, Kat started, “Mr. Drake I don’t have to tell you that Gotham is a very particular city. Officials there are willing to look the other way on issues other cities take much more seriously.”
Tim considered what she said before asking, “What does that have to do with me?”
“It has come to our knowledge that you have taken custody of your younger brother, Thomas.”
“Yeah,” Tim said stiffening up. “He’s in another room sleeping right now.”
Folding her hands, she admitted, “To be blunt, Mr. Drake, there are more than a few people who are…cautious of the situation. Your ability to look after your brother has been called into question.”
“What? Why?” In the day he’d had his little brother he didn’t think he’d messed up that much.
“You are still a minor, Mr. Drake. Emancipated or not, that is cause for some concern. On top of that you were under the custody of Bruce Wayne for only a few months before your aforementioned emancipation. You have not expressed any intentions to finish high school and your father and stepmother passed away within the past year. You have no family to go to for support and despite how much money you have, there are some people unsure of whether or not you are ready to raise a younger brother.”
While Tim might not like to admit it, she did have a point. Not in the mood to debate the issue, Tim asked, “What does this mean? What should I do?”
“The best solution would be for you and your brother to return to the custody of Bruce Wayne.”
Tim was quick to assure her, “That’s not going to happen.”
Kat hadn’t been expecting the first option to work and she looked through the notes she had compiled beforehand. “An alternative would be for you to return to your schooling. The school year is starting in just over a month and that would leave you enough time to find a high school for yourself and daycare for your brother.”
Compared to everything else he’d done, Tim didn’t think going back to high school would be too bad. He’d missed a few weeks off the tail end of sophomore year, but he knew he could make it up over the summer. Preferring this to the first option, Tim answered, “Yeah, I can do that.”
Taking a note down, Kate added, “There is going to be some monitoring of your situation, Mr. Drake. Every few months a social worker will come by to ensure everything is in order and gauge whether or not you can be entrusted with Thomas’s care.”
“What happens if it’s not? Just out of curiosity, what would happen?” Tim didn’t think there was too much he could get wrong, Bruce jumping into mind, but he knew to be prepared for anything.
There was no where she could say for sure, but Kat assumed, “The first option would be to return you to the care of Mr. Wayne, but if that can’t happen you two will probably go into foster care. I can’t say anything for certain as to what happens after that, but you two could be adopted by the same family, different families, or you age out of the system and try again for the custody of your brother.”
Tim quickly made a promise to himself and outloud that, “It won’t come to that. I’ll start looking into schools and daycares immediately.”
The meeting had gone easier than Kat expected, most people she came across were much more confrontational than Tim, but she still wanted to make sure there was no confusion. “I just want to reiterate that you are in a special position Mr. Drake. Your wealth and celebrity status means people are going to be looking for any reason to…”
Tim gave her a sincere look and assured her, “I understand. I’ll take care of things.”
Sitting in a secluded corner of Central Park, Tim watched Tom work with his airplane while he looked at schools online. Tim had always entertained the idea of finishing school, but he never imagined having to chose between so many options. Daycare had been much easier, him only needing to do extensive background checks on the employees and owners before narrowing down the list to a select few.
One bright side was the fact that he hadn’t had to deal with the paparazzi since their moves. It might have to do with them not knowing he was in New York, them not knowing who he was, or them not caring, but whatever it was Tim supported it.
So far the only attention Tim and Tom had received was from a girl a few years older than him coming over to their blanket and joining Tom in piloting his airplanes. Her babysitter was quick to apologize for impeding on their personal space, but Tim assured her, “It really no problem. I think he enjoys the company to be honest.”
“Is he your son?” May didn’t think Tim looked old enough to be a father, but she wasn’t really sure how kids got along at his age. From everything she could tell her nephew was the exception.
Laughing at the idea, Tim assured her, “No. Tommy is my little brother and I look after him. What about you two?”
“Casey is the daughter of my neighbor. Her parents both had to be working right now and they didn’t have the time to find a babysitter and I had free time so I stepped in to help.”
Give her a small smile, Tim formally introduced himself. “I’m Tim by the way and this is Tommy.” Pointing up to his penthouse, he added, “We live right there.”
“My name is May.” Glancing down at his laptop and seeing some familiar names, she asked, “Are you looking at high schools?”
“Yeah I just moved here so I’m looking around at the different schools in the area.” Tim wondered if it was possible to forget how to have an easy conversation with a stranger because he was sure he was sure he was making this a lot harder than it had to be.
“Do you have any ideas? My nephew Peter goes to school not too far from here. Midtown Manhattan Magnet and he can walk there everyday.” May was usually good at reading people and from what she could tell Tim would be a good friend for Peter.
Tim actually had been looking into MMM and it was near the top of his list of preferred schools. “Thank you I’ll look into it.” Not wanting the conversation to end just yet, Tim asked, “What grade is your nephew in?”
“He’s going to be starting his junior year this fall.”
“Me too. I’m actually moving here from Gotham.” The two didn’t really have anything to do with each other, but he said it nonetheless.
“My husband and I went there a few times.” Playfully scrunching up her nose, she added, “If you don’t mind me saying, I prefer New York.”
“Yeah Gotham takes some getting used to. Even then…”
Shaking her head, May joked, “It’s too long to go without seeing any sun.” Looking down at her phone, she said, “I should probably get back home. Casey’s parents will be home soon and we shouldn’t miss them.”
Watching her dust off her clothes, Tim said, “It was nice to meet you, Ms. May.”
“Hopefully it won’t be our last time, Tim. I hope I get to see you around Peter’s school.”
With a small wave, Tim turned back to Tom and asked, “What do you think? Should we head back?”
Without the company, Tom stumbled over to Tims lap and began babbling some things Tim’s didn’t understand. Sighing, Tim decided it was getting late and began packing up their things. It really was a nice apartment, much more than nice, but Tim knew he was biased. He didn’t really want to have to move again anytime soon, mostly because he wanted Tommy to think of this as home, and he could see living here for a while. Being on Park Avenue it meant the two of them would be able to spend their weekends and any extra time in Central Park and enjoy the view. Tim knew it was going to be the little things about New York, the nice old ladies, the sun, and the park, that made him the happiest.
The only problem he had was finding something to occupy his time. Usually he would be digging into a case or working on something for Wayne Enterprises, but now he only had Tom to keep him busy. Tim sometimes wondered if Ra’s had anything to do with the way Tom was less inclined to act out compared to other kids Tim had been around or if his own personality had more to do with his father’s side than he originally thought. In any case, he didn’t have much to do outside of watching his little brother.
In the beginning, when Tim was still not used to the free time, he’d wake up a few hours before Tom and wait for him. Sometimes he’d mindlessly watch something, read something, play something, or just watch Tom until he woke up.
They’d eat breakfast together, Tim trying to gauge the things Tom liked and wondering just what Ra’s gave him in Nanda Parbat, before going out to the park. Very quickly the apartment began to feel suffocating. Despite being larger than many people’s homes, Tim was used to spending most of his free time jumping through rooftops and chasing criminals. A Park Avenue apartment didn’t have anything nearly as close to give him.
Looking down at the city from his balcony, Tim wondered if anyone would notice him leaping up from top of his apartment at night. In the end of his mind he always knew he couldn’t be a hero forever, but he still missed it. There was something to be said about the adrenaline one feels using a grappling hook to flying through a major metropolitan city while chasing villains with a slew of mental illnesses. Somewhere along the way he had fallen in love with the feeling and now couldn’t imagine never feeling it again.
Tim felt inexplicably nervous walking into the daycare office. He had to bring Tom in for an interview with an administrator to see if he was well behaved enough for them to take him in. There were dozen of daycares nearby, but this was one of the few close enough to his apartment and school and with a faculty he trusted.
Right now they were sitting in the waiting room entertaining themselves with a few of the toys set out while waiting for their appointment. Every now and then Tom would call out something that sounded like a word and sometimes he would even be right, but Tim was still busy with worrying about everything going well.
He only turned his head up when he heard a woman’s voice ask, “Thomas Drake?”
Tim stood up and turned Tommy’s attention to the woman before taking his hand and guiding him. In the weeks Tim had had him, Tom would sometimes be difficult for no apparent reason so Tim was grateful when he gave in without a fight.
They were lead to a classroom, the walk taking a lot longer than it should have with Tommy getting distracted very easily, but he walked right in when he saw the colorful room with toys scattered around.
Their guide, Carly Garrison, pulled out a chair and noted, “I’ve seen your face somewhere, Mr. Drake, but I can’t put a finger on it.”
Tim smiled, didn’t comment, and said, “You can call me Tim.”
Taking a note of that, she asked, “Are you Thomas’s father? If you don’t mind me saying you look a little young.”
“No. I’m his older brother.” It was the second time someone had made that mistake, but it always made him laugh.
Looking over the paperwork she had been given, she said, “Everything seems to be in order and your brother seems pretty well behaved.” She hadn’t spent a lot of time around him, but she’d been in the business long enough to just know. “The only thing I’d like to see is how he gets along with other kids. It says here that you would be scheduled to begin daycare in September, but it would be good to have Tom come in a few days early to make the transition easier for him.”
“That should be fine.” Tim admitted, “He has a few friends from around our apartment building, but none that he spends hours with.”
Nodding, she looked over the medical information and asked, “Any allergies?”
“What about an emergency contact? You don’t have anyone listed on the forms.”
Tim had been hoping that wouldn’t be a problem. There wasn’t really anyone he could count on at this point, definitely not anyone in the city, but he knew there should be someone there just as a safety precaution. There really was only one name that made sense and he motioned for a pen before filling in the contact information for Alfred. Tim really hoped a situation wouldn’t come up where they needed to call him because that would be one of the worst ways for Alfred to learn Tim had a little brother, someone Alfred would probably consider to be a grandson.
Looking back to Tom as he repeatedly stacked and then destroyed the towers he was building out of the blocks, Carly asked, “Does he have any behavioral problems?”
Tim had only been watching over him for a few weeks, but as far as he could tell, “No, there no real problem. Just the occasional tantrum, but that’s more or less normal.”
Carly nodded and asked, “Do you have any questions? We have all the information we need and your brother can start as soon as you’re ready.”
“Umm…do you take walk-ins? It really is just the both of us so someone has to look after him while I’m not able to.” Tim didn’t foresee having to drop him by on a minute’s notice, but that wasn’t any reason to not be prepared.
“Our policy is basically that the charges are higher for walk-ins than they are with scheduled ones but other than that it’s okay. We also have a nightly service for families whose parents work night shifts, but again it’s a higher fee.”
Tim really hoped it never came to that, but he said, “Thank you for the help.”
Tom did end up putting up a fight when they had to finally leave, this really was a room designed to keep kids happy, but it was close enough to his regular naps that he was all tired out. By the time Tim had him back in their apartment he didn’t even need a bottle to begin dozing off.
They got home just in time for Tim to see a notification on his computer telling him he had an email. He didn’t really have much to expect, he had a great spam filter and no reason for anyone from Gotham to contact him, so it peaked his curiosity enough for him to forgo putting Tommy in his crib just yet. It was an email from MMM informing him he had gotten in and could start classes in a month with the rest of the junior class.
Picking Tommy up before he could fall asleep on his lap, Tim excitedly told him, “Good news, Tommy. We got into the schools we needed to.” The infant didn’t give him any indication he had heard what he’d said, but lit up once Tim returned back with a bottle in his hand. “Even if you can’t understand me, I know just what you want.”