The police only really cared about talking to Bruce Wayne. The fact that there were two recently orphaned boys was only a distraction from the opportunity to get invited to a party, sleep with him, or have a chance at going out drinking and meeting some influential socialites. Most of them were opportunistic and corrupt, a perfect embodiment of Gotham. If Bruce hadn’t spent most of his nights dressed as a giant bat and dealing with them, he might actually have been surprised.
Gordon was the only one who seemed to have any interest in the case and the wellbeing of the boys, reviewing every piece of information that they were able to find. Bruce knew it was going to astound some people just how quickly he would become Commissioner in a few years, especially considering how young he still was, but right now he was just another detective trying to do his job and the only one doing it well.
Scanning the clipboard that had been passed around, Gordon voiced to Bruce, “We talked to a few of the forensics and they couldn’t come up with much, but it looks like the lines were cut beforehand. Right now some of the others are going around interviewing the circus members to see if money might have been a motivation.” Taking his eyes away from the page, he bluntly stated, “As of right now, it looks like this was a homicide.”
One of the officers barely listening in followed with what was meant to be joke. “Where’s the big ol’ bat when you need him? He should’ve been able to get things done in a few minutes.”
He could act as strong as he wanted, but Bruce knew Joey would be scared out of his mind if Batman showed up. He knew Batman was still watching to see if he would take bribes from the gangs and murderers as he was known to do in the past. The only reason he wasn’t behind bars was because Joey could be a good cop if he had the right motivation and Bruce was doing a good job keeping him clean.
Another one of the officers was adamantly against the idea. “Why you don’t think we could handle this on our own? We don’t need him.”
As if they would get anything important done without his help. Most of the cases were solved by Batman and he did a better job than anyone else in watching over the police and politicians.
In the end everyone knew the city now trusted him more than they did their own police force.
The argument went on for a while, but once it looked as if they had finally begun to question him listening in on their conversation. They didn’t care enough to remove him from the scene, but they did seem dubious about him staying around this far after the actual incident. More than anything, they questioned why he was still around to check on the state of two boys he didn’t even know.
A new officer risked resting her arm around Bruce’s own before trying to lead him away. More than being unprofessional, the situation became awkward when Bruce refused to move from his place and the officer was forced to try to play off her hurt ego. “Mr. Wayne, if you need a patrol car to take you home mine’s always free.”
What exactly did she expect to happen in the few minutes it would take him to get home? Did she expect for him to ask her inside or give an invite to the next gala?
Joey tried his own luck at getting some alone time with Bruce, “No way man, you need to take those two kids to the station. I’ll drive the man to his castle instead.”
By now these cops had no more information to give him, and as such there was no reason for Bruce to give them any more of his time.
Refusing to give them any of his attention, Bruce turned to Gordon and acted as if he was the only one worth talking to. “Actually, I brought my car which is more than enough to take the three of us home.”
This was his way of informing him that he would in fact be taking Dick and Tim home with him, but he know that it would be difficult to convince him.
Bruce tried to play of the announcement by acting as if there was nothing to be worried about, but he knew it wouldn’t work too well on someone like Gordon. “Yes. I’m going to take the two home with me. They don’t need to go relive everything at the station and I have the room. It’s really no trouble.”
There was no way in hell he would let them take Dick and Tim away from him. In the few hours he had spent watching them sleep he had seemingly grown attached and he knew Alfred was never going to let him forget how quickly he had decided to let them move into the manor.
“Honestly, Mr. Wayne, there’s no need. We have a place ready to take them in.”
Bruce hid his glare as he imagined Dick and Tim all alone again and he focused his anger on the uninterested officer willing to label the whole incident an accident just to avoid the extra work. “No I insist. I’ve already talked to them and they said they’d like to move in with me.”
That was enough to shock everyone, especially Gordon, but another cop beat him to argue, “Move in? Sir, that’s really not how these things work. We’re supposed to take them to a foster place until someone adopts them. I know the situation’s not great, but it’s how it goes.”
At least he had the grace to feel some sympathy now.
Consciously making his voice softer and trying to appeal to the sympathetic side he had just awakened, Bruce argued, “Both of them? How likely is it that they’ll find someone to adopt both of the boys?”
Even if they weren’t taking into consideration the age difference between the two, it would be incredibly difficult finding someone willing to take in one of them, much less both.
With a little more weight to his voice, Bruce stressed one more time, “How likely?” It might have surprised them how adamant he was about the whole ordeal, but to him it was the best thing to do. There was no way he could live with himself if they were left on their own to deal with the lack of competence in the Gotham adoptive services. Once no one tried to question him again, Bruce asked, “How old are they?” He knew there was a significant difference between the two, but he was curious about just how large it was. At the moment the only information he had on the two was their orphanage and names.
Another officer took out a tablet with some basic information on the whole family. After a quick sweep he answered, “It says here that the oldest, Richard, is 8 and Timothy is almost 4.”
He knew that in a few years he’d be thankful he’d had a little practice before he had a teenager, much less two, on his hands.
With a voice leaving no room for defection, Bruce asked, “May I see that?” Once the officer handed the papers over and Bruce read through everything. Any information would be great if it made the move to Bristol easier.
No allergies, good. Moved around a lot, but that’s a given in the circus. No emergency contacts, Dick was right about that.
Nothing significant, but he’d want it around just in case. He removed the papers and put them in his pocket before handing the clipboard back to the officer. Any reservations they had about handing victim information over to a stranger was disregarded by the sheer fact that this was Bruce Wayne. Instead, Gordon took him aside to ask some questions in private.
“Bruce, what are you thinking?” The weight in his voice made it obvious just how tired he was. It didn’t surprise Bruce that Jim had stayed up all night just as he had, he had a surprising dedication to lonely boys. To be fair they both must have a soft spot for orphaned young boys.
Keeping him in his eyeline, Bruce answered, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I just want to help them out.” Bruce tried to keep some of the emotion out of his voice; he was resolute about bringing them to the manor but he didn’t want to freak anyone out, especially if he had the power to take them away.
Running his hand through his hair and turning his back, Gordon tried to break whatever idea and gotten into his mind. “Legally, you can have guardianship signed over, but it is a long process. It might take days even weeks and I don’t know just how interested you’ll be by then.”
The doubt was welcomed. If the GCPD was willing to be bribed this easily it would surely be depressing but of course that would never happen while Gordon had any say and Batman was looking over them.
In the end Bruce wasn’t willing to be deterred and he argued, “You know what the fosters houses in this city are like. Do you really trust them? After everything you’ve seen you can’t tell me you trust them.” Bruce didn’t try to hide the pleading in his voice because he knew it was sad the condition the orphanages in the city were in. Everyone tried their best, but progress was slow and Bruce wanted to save them from the ordeal. He wanted to save everyone, but this was the opportunity before him and he couldn’t let that go.
“They’re not all that bad. Some of these people really want to help the kids and-”
“I’m one of them.”
“You’re not certified. You can’t just…Look, there is a lot of work involved in getting officially registered as a foster house. Those two are going to need something much more stable before then.” The legality of the issue didn’t concern him. He spent his free time in a modified spanks and kevlar suit fighting crime, getting a few lawyers to file some papers was no trouble.
“I have a very good team of lawyers.” If he didn’t know any better he’d think he almost saw a smile Jim’s face and he knew he was well on his to winning him over.
“Why do you want to do this, Bruce?” Jim asked with a sigh. “I don’t see how this is something you could want to involve yourself with.” That was the cue to drop any formality or pretense in their discussion and proceed with full honesty.
It was no secret that Jim was good at reading people, it’s one of the reasons the police had become somewhat cleaner once he’d joined the precinct, and Bruce knew that lying now wouldn’t help his case.
“When I was in their place I had Alfred. I don’t think I could have made it this far if it wasn’t for him. Right now there is an opportunity to help someone in my shoes and I don’t think I can turn my back on them. I have to help them, Jim.”
Gordon ran his hand through his hair and turned his back on Bruce while he tried to process the information. Bruce knew that his own situation was a soft spot for the police officer, and that he knew he would try his hardest to keep the boys safe.
Giving him a deep sigh, Gordon dropped a small smiled and said, “I’ll see what I can do. I can’t promise anything and it will be a long process, but I’ll have someone get into contact with your attorney.”
“Thank you. I’ll have them gather some of their things so they can get settled into the manor.”
Before anything else happened, Gordon grabbed onto Bruce’s arm to make sure he didn’t forget anything coming out of his mouth. “I’m doing you a favor and I trust you, but if I have any suspicions I will follow up on them.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less, Officer.”
There wasn’t much to pack into their bags. Their semi nomadic lifestyles meant that they only kept the things they absolutely needed and Dick was able to put most of their cloths into one large backpack. Dick was still sure to include their favorite snacks in case Bruce didn’t have them in his house, but he still didn’t see the need to have so many socks.
After that, Dick wasn’t too sure about what he needed to bring and just went with whatever would fit in the bag. A second pair of shoes, a couple stray toys Timmy would appreciate once he was in a better state, the only blanket he could sleep with, Tim’s favorite books, and their photo album.
That was all Dick could think to pack, but he was sure Bruce would let them return if he happened to forget something. Once he was finished and it was just a matter of waiting for Bruce to come back he unconsciously started rearranging the room, moving random things around and not really caring where anything was.
Tim, still lost in his own mind, sat on the bunk and watched as Dick moved around the room. His eyes weren’t focusing on anything in particular, but he pretended to pay some attention to the jokes coming out of his brother. Dick tried his hardest to get his younger brother to show some emotion, but there was no indication that he even understood anything.
After Dick was willing to accept the silence, Tim spoke out, “How long are we going to stay there?” It came out murmured and if Dick hadn’t been focusing on him, he might have missed it. Off handedly he thought about how it always upset him when Tim was shy around him, he preferred the smiling version of his brother, but he’d try his hardest to get him back to his normal state.
He sat down next to his brother and pulled him into a tight hold. Dick rested his chin on Tim’s hair and just breathed in the faint smell of their shampoo. “I don’t know buddy, but we can’t stay here. There’s no one here to take care of us.”
This would be a massive change for Tim, he’d never had to spend time out of the circus except for a few trips to major cities, and it didn’t surprise Dick that he’d try to fight it with, “You take care of me all the time.”
“I know that, but I’m still just your brother.”
Tim nodded his understanding, but he still wasn’t all that interested in leaving the circus. He gave Dick a soft hug before getting up, moving to the other side of the bed, and grabbing the stuffed bird that had fallen off the night before. Holding it to his chest he returned to his place next to Dick and started talking about what Bruce’s house would look like. After saying goodbye to some of the other carnies and mentioning that Bruce was taking them in, the two had discovered that Bruce was the richest man in the world and lived in a haunted castle in the middle of the woods where no one bothered him. The quiet would be new, it was something no one in the circus had any experience with, but it would be good to have a change in scene.
Over time, their mood slowly improved as they thought about something other than the tragedy of the previous night. This was going to be a new chapter in their lives and if thinking about the lives of people who spent all their time in one place, so be it. That was the reason Bruce walked into the two giggling about how many ghosts they could catch in the haunted castle and possibility that he was a runaway prince who lost his memory and decided to stay in Gotham because he didn’t know how to get home.
Seeing their new guardian, Tim suddenly noticed just how much hunger he’d been ignoring while he was watching his brother move around. Jumping off from his bed, Tim gathered what he deemed to be his responsibility to carry and tugged onto Bruce’s pant leg to ask, “Can we have lunch in the food court? I’m really hungry.” Looking at the little boy with a small smile on his face and a far too big bag on his face, there was no way Bruce could even think of saying no.
Dick nodded along, probably feeling the hunger in himself as well, and turned to Bruce with, “Sure, why not. We can get something to eat right, Bruce?”
With a hand to their backs, Bruce let them lead the way out of the trailer and agreed, “Definitely. I’m going to have to count on your recommendation though, I don’t know what’s good around here.”
Bruce tried not to notice that the boys followed him every turn he made. Even when he’d asked Dick to get a seat for them while he put their things into the trunk of his car, the eight year old grabbed his brother’s hand and followed Bruce out to the parking lot to load their bags.
Bruce made a mental note to remember just how Tim’s eyes bugged out when he saw how shiny and slick the car was. He immediately dropped his brother’s hold and went to touch the car and feel how clean and smooth it was.
His hand traced over the sharp edges on the body as he looked over his shoulder to exclaim, “Look! Look! Look! I can see myself in the car! My face even gets all bendy when I move!” Tim lead his brother’s hands to feel just how smooth and shiny the car was while making sure to not leave any prints on the perfect gloss of the car.
Dick stayed behind him and looked over Tim’s shoulder to see just what made his brother so excited. Being the taller of the two, he was able to see the chic interior of the car and there was no chance he wouldn’t load this over his Timmy. “That’s really cool Babybird. If only you were a little taller you could see your reflection in the window?”
“Really? I wanna see.” He tried to stand on his tippy toes and see what he was missing out on but he was nowhere near tall enough.
Ruffling Tim’s hair to show just how small he was, Dick promised him, “Maybe in a couple of years baby bro, until then you’re just going to have to take my word for it.”
Tim gave him a half hearted glare before ignoring him to get a full view of the car. Dick made a scene of being able to see much more than Tim could, especially the interior of the car and the how everything inside was completely black and how the polished wood on the dashboard matched everything. Bruce decided to move them along before they asked to drive the car and the best thing he could think of was to remind them just how hungry they were. This tactic worked on people much older than them, Bruce had confirmed it multiple times.
“Ok boys, how about we get something to eat. Afterwards I promise that I’ll show you everything the car can do.” He could see that the two were slightly torn on the issue, but once a decision was made they were sure to move things along as fast as they could.
The boys, mostly Tim, dragged him to the food court and showed him just which options were the best, but even after Bruce got some nachos and cotton candy for lunch they were still talking about the car. They only stopped to notice that Bruce had to let Tim sit on his lap so he could see over the table and that was for the little choir of giggles. He had no interest in the unhealthy circus food and only focused on making sure Tim didn’t fall off while he was having an animated discussion with his older brother that seemed to need his whole body to stress how important everything was.
He was still half interested when he dug out some wet wipes to clean off the sticky hands and smudged faces, but it was a slight change in topic eventually grabbed Bruce’s interest.
“What about Batman’s car?” Dick apparently recalled a video he had seen on the news which involved Batman speeding through Gotham trying to catch come C-list villain. Right now he was using pieces of fries, chips, and their soft drinks to be pedestrians, villains and Gotham’s skyscrapers and Tim was soaking in everything.
Interested in knowing what they thought about his night job, Bruce decided to channel his investigative side and asked, “What about it? What makes his car so special?”
Dick was appalled that he would even need to ask such a simple question. Slamming both of his hands flat on the table, Dick made sure all of Bruce’s attention was focused on him before he explained, “It can do everything, and I really mean everything! The police have never caught up to him. I remember watching Batman drive it up a tower, completely straight up, and not fall off.” Actually, that was mostly the job of a pulley attached to the top of Wayne tower, but they didn’t need to know that.
Although he appreciated the bragging, Bruce decided to use the situation to assess how they felt about Batman and vigilantism as a whole. He knew he would need to keep them removed from his night time job for safety reason, but there was no reason to not gauge their feelings about him.
Adjusting Tim’s position on his lap as a diversion, Bruce made sure to be nonchalant when he asked, “Since you are going to be living in Gotham, what do the two of you think about Batman?”
“He’s so cool!”
“He can do anything!”
“Do you think we can meet him?”
“Do you know him?”
“Is he really a vampire?”
“Can he fly?”
Bruce let them tire themselves out with all their questions and just smiled as they finally came to a pause and waited for his answer. Knowing they held him in such high regard was flattering to an immeasurable degree and he definitely welcomed their praise.
“I actually have met him before. He usually comes around the Wayne Enterprise building looking for money. As far as I know he is human, but he is incredibly handsome…and taller than Superman.” The heavy pride in his voice was completely surprising for the boys and they didn’t expect for him to know as much about their favorite hero as he did. This revelation opened up many exciting possibilities and Dick voiced the question that was going through both of their minds.
“Can? We? Meet? Him?”
Bruce let out a small sigh, weighing the pros and cons of introducing them to his alternate life. Seeing no possibility where they wouldn’t start asking the wrong kind of questions he made sure to respond carefully, “I’m not so sure boys, he only comes out at night and that is definitely long past your bedtime.”
Although they were a little deflated and unsatisfied with Bruce’s explanation, the ability to live in Batman’s city was enough to keep them excited. At the very least they were in a much better mood then they had been earlier in the day and Bruce was very pleased to see this new side of them.
After they finished eating all of the junk food he dragged them into the bathroom so they could wash their sticky faces and hands properly. The wipes had taken care of most of the problem, but it would never be enough to satisfy Alfred. Bruce was only able to get them to agree to the additional cleaning when he convinced them that they didn’t want to get stuck to the car and never be be removed, but Tim did seem slightly pleased with the possibility.
Once everyone was settled into the car and seatbelts were on, Bruce made a show of the convertible version of the roof. Giggles erupted once the wind started pushing their hair back and they couldn’t keep their eyes open. Bruce gave both of them a pair of sunglasses he had stored in the glove box, but they didn’t last long as they didn’t fit on their faces and only Dick was fast enough to catch his.
After assuring Tim that the loss of sunglasses were not his fault, Bruce decided to take the long way home and show them what downtown Gotham looked like. Even though the 5 o’clock traffic was still around at 6, the boys were amazed by the tall buildings made entirely of glass. The Wayne Enterprise building was a personal favorite and he made a promise to give them a tour sometime soon. Dick loved it because it was the highest point in the city and somewhere in the back of his mind he wanted to see just what the city looked like from that height. He’d never voice his ideas out loud because he knew that the image of him flying through the city might be a little too much for his Timbo to bare but he couldn’t help, but imagine how it would feel to leap off of the tip of the WE building.
As it started to get darker and the two wanted to spot Batman, Bruce decided it was time to head home. Through the half hearted protests, he put the roof back up to keep them safe from the mosquitoes and insects that came out at night. As soon as they entered Bristol, the two were amazed at the giant houses with estates larger than the circus grounds, but Bruce saved what he knew to be the best for the last.
Wayne Manor was the most impressive of all of them. As he pulled into the driveway, Bruce could hear them fidgeting in the back, excitement about what they would see once they got past those giant doors.
After helping the two out of their seats and grabbing their bags from the back, Bruce opened the door for them while the two stared at him ready to go inside. Tim had immediately grabbed Dick’s hand as he lead them up the steps and Bruce saw them straighten themselves out before Bruce opened the door and let them in.