Having lost precious few hours of sleep from the previous night, Bruce was in a worse mood than usual. The family had been woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of the alarm system going off and while Dick and Alfred had been able to fall back to sleep when they had been given the all clear from the police, Bruce had to stay up and be on lookout in case there was a repeat. His patrol as Batman now included examining the grounds and halls of his home to make sure nothing and no one else had broken in. Finding absolutely nothing to answer the many questions he needed answered, Bruce envied Tim and the undisturbed sleep he must have been having with his friends.
The alarm had broken through to the GCPD and as soon as Bruce had made sure everyone else was safe he walked out to see officers fighting a body to the ground while making sure the person was not armed. Before he could go out and investigate, an office was ushering him back into his home and informing him it was the safest place for him to be.
He hadn’t had an opportunity to talk to an officer even when the excitement had dialed down and it was only when Gordon knocked on his door that Bruce knew he would have some questions answered.
Walking him into the drawing room, Bruce immediately got to business and laid out a map of the grounds of Wayne Manor on the table before them. He explained, “I have a general idea of what happened, that someone jumped over the fence and onto the grounds, but what else can you tell me?”
Pointing to the eastern perimeter of the estate, Gordon stated, “Your alarms on the grounds are here, here, here, here, and here. There are more along the top of the gate surrounding the property, but there was something that had chewed through the wires and that is why she was able to get into your backyard before anyone was aware.”
Mildly surprised, Bruce repeated, “She?”
Understanding his surprise, Gordon answered, “Yeah it was a girl this time.”
“It was a sorority stunt?” It had happened a few times in the past that one of the local colleges would have someone try to break onto the grounds but it was almost always a frat.
Shaking his head, Jim explained, “No, it was a mentally unbalanced woman in her forties.”
Sighing into his coffee, Bruce tried to make light of the situation and joked, “Trying to attack me isn’t necessary evidence of being mentally unbalanced.”
Unsure of how Bruce would react, Gordon clarified, “It appears from her statement that you weren’t the target. They were able to get her to answer a few questions and you weren’t brought up.”
Growing even more confused and wishing he had been in the room to ask the questions, Bruce asked, “Who was?”
Clearing his throat, Jim softly answered, “Timothy.”
Before Bruce could demand to face the woman, Alfred walked in and Bruce repeated what he had learned with an easy to recognize malice in his voice.
Getting a call on his phone, Gordon dismissed himself for a moment before walking outside to answer and left the two to discuss things in private.
Trying to find the will not to break everything around him, Bruce hissed, “She wanted to hurt Tim, Alfred. She wanted to hurt him. I’m going to have to vamp up the security.”
Aware of Bruce’s tendency to go beyond what was warranted, Alfred commented, “Master Bruce, I would remind you not to go overboard. Master Tim wasn’t even home.”
Bruce maintained, “Just because she wasn’t prepared doesn’t mean the next one won’t be.” Never before having had to question his son’s safety in their own home, Bruce felt the need to ask, “We shouldn’t tell Tim about this right?”
Alfred agreed, “No. There’s no need to stress the boy out.”
Walking back in and putting his phone back into his pocket, Jim declared, “They’ve began questioning her but it doesn’t look like she is willing to give too much up.”
Nodding his understanding, Bruce asked, “You’ll send a full report?” It would be a good starting point for his own internal investigation that he knew would be much more thorough than anything the GCPD would do.
Collecting his things and packing his bags, Jim answered, “Sure, no problem.”
Before he could step out Bruce had to ask a question that made a world of difference. “Did she have a gun?”
Pausing in front of the door, Jim turned around and said, “Yes, a hand pistol.”
Once he was alone in the room once again, Bruce looked down to the ground before gripping the desk behind him as he tried to fight off the memory of the last time he had lost his family to a bullet.
Dick stood before Batman in his office on the Watchtower and presented the report he had designated to Tim the night before. If he didn’t trust his little brother Dick might have looked over it, but he knew Tim wouldn’t risk something like that, especially when he expected Bruce to be tired from his own mission. The three of them had spent the last week on two different missions and in proper Bat fashion their first meeting was a discussion of the results.
Scrutinizing the papers in his hand, Batman only said, “Good job.”
Having lived with Bruce for so many years, Dick knew it meant ‘I’m happy with the results’ and had a hint of ‘I’m proud of you’ somewhere in there. He smiled at his father nonetheless and was ready to leave when Bruce asked, “Are you free tonight?”
A little confused with the question, Dick thought for a moment and said, “I don’t have patrol, but I was planning on heading out with a few of us.”
Nodding thoughtfully, obviously deep in thought, Bruce asked, “How has Conner been bonding with the team?”
They had all tried their best to socialize with the clone, but he was still a loner and preferred to sit by himself. If Dick had to admit to some progress it would be that Conner was growing somewhat comfortable around Tim. Dick sighed knowing they should be trying harder to bond with him and admitted, “He keeps to himself mostly, but we’ve been trying to get him to come out of his shell.”
Bruce told him, “I want you to bring Conner along.” He would never admit it, but he cared about all of his children’s friends and new that they would function better as a team if they could relax in each other’s company. Clark had made him go through the exact same struggle in the early years of the JL and it only seemed proper their sons do the same.
Raising an eyebrow at the idea, Dick laughed, “B, you know that we’re going out for drinks, right?”
Ignoring the look on his son’s face, Bruce said, “Yes I know and I also know that they serve food and nonalcoholic drinks. Just make him feel comfortable.”
Giving him a formal salute and taking the suggestion as a formal mission, Dick called out, “Yes sir,” before closing the door behind him to find Conner.
Before he could get very far, Tim jumped out and gripped onto his arm. Dick already knew he wanted something by the way Tim smiled up at him and somehow made his blue eyes a little brighter. Without even giving Dick a greeting, Tim asked, “Can I come with, Dick? Please, please bring me with you.”
Knowing that he would eventually give in to his little brother, Dick decided to enjoy his advantage as much as he could and asked, “What are you talking about?”
Pointing back to Bruce’s office, Tim explained, “Dad told me you’re taking Conner out and I want to join.”
Chastising him as a good older brother would do, Dick warned, “It’s not a good place for kids, Robin.”
Playfully swatting his arm, Tim argued, “Neither is Gotham. Plus, I’m older than him; he’s only like a year old.”
“And he’s already so much more mature than you.”
“I’m going to pretend that I didn’t hear that. Plus, if the idea is to make him more comfortable I’m the best choice considering I’m his closest friend.”
Feigning being annoyed, Dick conceded, “Fine, I’ll bring you along.”
Not at all trying to hide his happiness, Tim finally dropped Dick’s arm and made his way back to where he knew Conner would be. “That’s why you’re my favorite brother, Wing.”
Finding the compliment not at all as rewarding as Tim might have thought it, Dick reminded him, “I’m your only brother, Rob.”
Before Tim turned around the corner Tim said, “And that’s why I’ll do you a favor. I’ll invite Conner myself so there’s very little chance he’ll say no.”
“Thanks for the help, Babybird.”
There was a heavy fog of smoke in the air and music being played far too loud, but the group were focused on anything else. Roy, Wally, and Donna had joined the trio for the night and were excited for a chance to corrupt Dick’s younger brother considering that his protectiveness was somewhat legendary. As soon as they gave their waiter their orders, Dick having to veto Tim’s choices until he decided to order something suitable for his age, the group began talking about their last mission.
The discussion centered around who had beaten up the most people, and whether or not one of Ra’s’ ninja’s was worth more or less than Joker’s hired mercenaries, and they dutifully kept score of who had come out on top. Tim and Conner opted out of the argument, Tim explaining different social practices to Conner instead, until the group had come to an understanding and Donna had been declared the winner with Wally in as a close second.
With all their orders ready, the group was ready to dig in and Roy began by offering Tim a sip of his own drink, but one glare from Dick was enough for him to abandon the idea forever.
Everyone chuckled at the scene, but Donna groaned when she looked down and found her drink missing. Trying to find their waiter she explained, “He forgot to bring me my grasshopper.”
Across the table Wally joked, “Maybe she felt really stupid ordering it.”
Sitting back down when she saw the waiter on another table, Donna gave Wally an annoyed look before arguing, “The grasshopper is a completely respectable drink.”
Tim stood up and offered, “I can get it from the front.”
Donna stood up to assure him, “I’ll get it.”
Emptying out his pockets so that nothing would fall out from the incredibly small pocket, Tim explained, “I want to see how they make it.” Patting Dick on the shoulder he said, “I am starting college soon so it might be helpful.”
Once everyone beside Dick was done laughing, Wally called out to him, “Make sure they make it extra thick and green.”
Looking down at the pile that Tim had left on the table, Conner recognized a wallet, keys, and something completely foreign to him. Motioning to it he asked, “What’s that?”
Following his eye line, Roy answered, “It’s a panic button.”
“What does it do?”
Donna explained, “Bruce is a very protective father, and because he works very closely to the president every now and then Tim has some extra protection. That button will call in someone to take care of it.”
With a smile that gave away just how much experience he had with it, Roy promised Conner, “You don’t want to see it in action, it can get pretty messy.”
Turning to Dick, Conner asked, “Do you have one to?”
Dick patted his jacket pocket and Conner could see the outline of what he imaged to be another button. The idea was surprising for him, he knew that both of the brothers were competent enough to take care of themselves but he rationalized that they might not want to draw too much attention onto themselves. In any case, if it meant that Tim was safer he couldn’t fault it.
Seeing as he had the clones attention, Dick asked, “You having a good time tonight?” That was the whole point of the night no matter what his friends tried and he wanted to make sure he was on the right track.
Conner absentmindedly assured him, “Yeah. I appreciate it.”
Seeing him hunched over his water and avoiding looking at anyone in particular, Wally argued, “You don’t really look like you’re having a good time.”
Setting the bottle on the table to consider the best way to approach the topic, Conner asked, “Do you think they know I’m different from them?”
Motioning out to the other people in the room, he clarified, “All these people. Do you think they know I’m not…that I’m different?”
Pointing to Wally in particular, Dick assured him, “Conner, look who you’re sitting with. No one here is close to normal.”
“Yeah, but I’m still different.”
Dick offered his own words of wisdom and stressed, “Relax, Conner.”
Coming to the clone’s defense, Donna argued, “You say that with a sense of urgency.”
Trying to defend himself, Dick insisted, “I just want to make sure he’s having a good time.”
“You don’t need to keep pestering him about it.”
Not at all interested in the discussion, Conner looked around trying to find Tim and see what was taking him so long.
He was at the bar alone patiently waiting for Donna’s drink until a group of girls circled around him. Conner had been told not to use his hearing unless the situation warranted it, but he decided he should make sure nothing was going to happen to Tim.
One of the girls, a tall brunette, leaned over Tim’s shoulder and whispered a coy, “Hey.”
Tim muttered a dismissive, response but kept his attention on the bartender who was getting another order a few spots down. It shouldn’t be much longer, but he was more curious as to why anyone would name a drink ‘grasshopper.’
The brunette didn’t seem to understand what the tone of his voice meant and went on to ask, “What’s your name?”
A little shocked at the question, Tim turned to face away from the bar and asked, “What?”
She repeated, “What’s your name?”
Looking around at the three girls that had somehow cornered, Tim clarified, “You’re kidding right?”
A blonde from behind him smiled and repeated, “She’s just asking for your name.”
Tim took a moment to take in their stature. They were all about half a foot taller than him, one quite smaller than the others, and looked quite drunk. He could easily beat them, but he wanted to avoid making a scene if it was possible. Before Tim could decide whether or not to give them his real name, they came up with another idea.
“How about we guess your name?” The brunette looked particularly proud of her idea suggestion and the other two were quick to agree.
The shortest one beamed, “I bet we could guess it.”
Tim agreed to the idea if it meant he could buy some more time until Donna’s drink was ready and then walk back to the group. He stood patiently as the trio began shooting out random names for men.
Conner looked back to the others at the table and found Dick and Donna still having their argument while Roy was looking at something on his phone. He got Wally’s attention instead and pointed to the scene. Immediately recognizing that Tim might need some help, Wally got up to intervene and Conner followed on his heel.
Having decided that none of them really needed to know his name, Tim put an end to the guessing game and said, “My name is Kevin.”
He didn’t really like the way they repeated his fake name, but he perked up turned his attention to Wally and Conner when they showed up to save him.
Conner ignored everyone else and asked, “Is everything alright, Tim?”
The short one looked confused and asked him, “Why did he call you ‘Tim?’ You said your name was Kevin.”
Reaching in between the girls to grab him, Wally said, “Let’s get back to the table.”
Blocking Tim’s way out, the brunette stood up taller and asked, “What’s up ginger?”
Ignoring the scene, Conner tried again and asked, “Are you ready to head back?”
With them making a wall between Tim and his friends, Tim couldn’t get out. The brunette, they all assumed she was their leader, told the newcomers, “Hey, we’re just trying to buy him a drink and get him to lighten up. What’s your problem?”
Getting angry, Conner explained, “He’s 17. You’d have to take him cross country to buy him a beer.”
The blonde laughed until she say the angry look on Tim’s face and how he was growing tired of their little game. Not wanting to make the situation any worse, Wally tried again but this time the short one pushed Tim back against the counter to stop him from getting out of the circle he was trapped in.
Turning back to make sure Tim was still behind her, the brunette turned to Wally with a smug smile and asked, “Why don’t you go?”
Taking in a deep breath and reminding himself that he wasn’t in costume right now, Wally put on a false smile and advised, “Look you don’t know who this is, be cool”
The three looked between each other and mocked, “Be cool?”
The blonde called out from the back and asked, “What do you know about being col, Carrot Top?”
Back at the table, Roy noticed the unreasonably long absence of half the group and pointed out the scene to Donna and Dick. In an instant the light jovial tone was gone and they read the situation to see if it guaranteed them breaking out of their civies. Donna immediately got up to reinforce the others while Dick picked up the button from the table before following the others.
They got there in time to hear the brunette call out, “What are you doing here with him anyway because to to me you just look like a ginger faggot.”
Roy got up beside Wally and asked, “What’s going on around here?”
The blonde one badgered on, “Oh look, another ginger faggot.”
After Roy gave the three of them a quick, “Kiss me ass,” Donne called out to the person in the middle of this mess to make sure he hadn’t been hurt.
Looking down and wondering how he had gotten in the middle of this mess, Tim assured her, “I’m fine.”
Knowing he was too proud to say if he was in trouble, Donna turned to Wally.
He gave her the same blase, “Everything’s fine.”
Not liking being ignored, the brunette focused on Donna and asked, “You wanna go?”
She might have thought that she look intimidating with the way she waved her arms and puffed her chest, but to someone with as much experience as Donna she looked like a fool.
With the Amazon too busy trying to stifle her laughter, Roy looked at the brunet and bluntly asked, “What are you talking about?”
Turning her attention to him, she repeated, “You wanna go? Let’s do it right now.”
Hoping that the scene was not as bad as it looked, Dick broke in and asked, “How’s everything going?”
“Oh look, more fairy boys.”
A little taken aback, Dick knew he had to say something but the first thing that came to mind was, “Excuse me?”
With absolutely no hesitation, the brunette repeated, “I said more fairy boys.”
Looking up at the sky and not believing this would happen the first time he took his little brother to a bar, Dick muttered, “I can’t believe this is happening.”
The short one actually was not as dumb as she looked because she looked between Dick and Tim and realized, “I’ve seen these two somewhere before.”
Smiling at her, Dick promised, “You guys don’t realize it, but you’re having a pretty bad night.”
Just in time, three officers broke in with their badges in the air and announced, “Federal agents. Federal agents.”
Roy, Donna, Wally, and Dick immediately had their arms in the air and began pointing at the girls until the officers had them against the counter. The only noise in the bar came from the sound of glass breaking and groans as the girls were held against the counter while agents handcuffed them behind their back.
Turning enough to look Wally in the eye, the brunette growled, “I’m not done with you, Carrot Top.”
Even though he knew he had won, Wally leaned down and said, “My name is Wally, jackass, and it looks like you three are going to be spending the rest of spring break in a federal prison.”
The gravity of the situation seemed to have dawned on the trio as they stopped fighting against the hold of the officers and deflated. Most everyone turned back to their table hoping that their meal hadn’t gone cold and made sure Tim wasn’t hurt, but Conner and Dick stayed back.
Watching the three leave out the door, Conner turned to Dick and said, “Now I’m having a good time.”
Knowing that just might be the silver lining of the night, Dick curled his lips and said, “Well, my work here is done.”