Dick stood beside the front door waiting for Tim to come downstairs. It wasn’t like Tim to be late, but if he didn’t get here soon they would be late for school. Pulling out his phone, Dick distracted himself for five minutes before he went up to his little brother’s room to investigate just what was taking him so long.
Before he could walk through the door, Dick saw Tim lying flat on his bed with his head stuffed into a pillow. Bruce was sitting beside him and Tim was fully dressed for school with his packed bag on the floor beside the bed, but for whatever reason neither of them were moving. Tim was hiding his face and shaking softly while Bruce rubbed his back, probably trying to comfort him for some reason.
Dick couldn’t hear what Bruce was saying to Tim and Tim’s voice was undecipherable with the pillow covering his mouth, but after a while Bruce seemed to say the right words as Tim threw himself into his arms. Bruce kept rubbing circles into Tim’s back as he lifted him up and grabbed his bag with his other hand and began walking out. Before the two could see Dick watching in on the moment, he ran downstairs as quietly as he could and retook his position at the front of the door with his phone in his hand pretending to have been waiting for them the whole time. From his position, he could just barely see Bruce drop Tim on the floor, help him put on his backpack, and give him one last ruffle of his hair before the two made their way downstairs and greeted him.
As soon as Tim was on the ground, he ran over to Dick and apologized, “I’m sorry it took so long, Dick. I couldn’t find my shoes and Dad was helping me.”
He lied so easily that it confused Dick for a moment. He considered the possibility that he might have misread what he saw in the room, but when he saw the tear streaks on his cheeks and a stiffness in Bruce’s stance he knew something must be wrong and he wasn’t meant to know.
Smiling down at him, Dick pretended to believe the obvious lie and talked about something much lighter the ride to school. He thought it over in the car and realized that it was probably something to do with school that was bothering Tim. The concerned look Bruce kept on giving him through the rear view mirror and the way Tim’s answers came out much more strained the closer they got only further proved the point.
When they finally pulled up to the gates, Dick decided to walk Tim to his class and watch out to see if anyone was bothering him. He acted as if it was nothing out of the ordinary as they went in the direction of the elementary school building.
When Tim looked at him confused and tried to dismiss him, Dick assured him, “I don’t mind walking you over. It’s no big deal.”
To his surprise, Tim tried to fight him on it and keep him from walking through the main door. It was almost comical to see Tim try and hold Dick back, but Dick focused on his words instead. “I’m not a little kid, Dick. I can walk by myself.”
Dick frowned at his tone of voice and promised, “I know you can, Babybird. It’s just that-”
Tim squinted up his face and tried to put some distance between them. Holding onto his backpack’s straps for support, he spat out, “Don’t call me that, Dick. It makes me sound like a baby.”
That was all Dick needed before he caught up to Tim, put his hands on his shoulders, and asked, “Is that what someone told you, that you’re a baby?”
Not wanting to admit it, Tim tried to look anywhere other than his brother and avoid the question as long as he could. Maybe if he didn’t say anything too much time might pass by and Dick would have to go back to his building. The reaction was all the answer Dick needed before he asked, “Who told you that, Timmy? I want their names.”
Looking ashamed, Tim shook his head and tried to break out of Dick’s hold. When he finally succeeded, he ran the rest of the way to his class and made sure to avoid his brother for the rest of the day.
It was only when they were dismissed for the day that Dick saw Tim try to hide himself away from the rest of the crowd as he made his way over to where Dick was waiting. Dick was ready to not bring up the subject until they got home, but that was until he noticed a group of kids walk up to Tim and tell him something before going on to find their respective families. He wouldn’t have thought something of it if he hadn’t seen the way Tim flinched away from the kids and how he practically ran the rest of the way until he reached Dick.
Dick embraced him the way he had seen Bruce do in the morning. He held Tim as he began crying into his jacket and promised , “Don’t worry about it baby brother. I’ll deal with them tomorrow and make sure they don’t bother you anymore.”
Tim tried to argue, “I can deal with it myself, Dick. I’m not a baby,” but most of it got muffled by the tight hold Dick had on him and Tim didn’t want to break away just yet.
Dick assured him, “That might be true, Timmy, but you are my little brother.”
There wasn’t much Tim could say to that, and he pulled away just far enough to admit, “I just… I don’t know why they’re being mean to me.”
Not liking the way that people were beginning to stare at them and knowing it would only mean Tim would have to deal with more harsh words the longer they stayed, Dick took Tim’s hand into his own and lead him the way to where Bruce was waiting for him. Before they got close enough for anyone to overhear, Dick whispered, “You’re my little brother, Timmy. That means a lot of things, but the most important is that no one can make you cry and think I won’t get angry. No one gets to make you cry, okay?”
Tim blushed slightly at the declaration, but he whispered a soft, “Okay,” before giving Dick a quick hug and opening the door to the car.
Once he knew Tim was distracted trying to lock himself in his seat, Dick leaned over to Bruce and told him, “I’ll talk to them tomorrow. No one gets to make my little brother cry.”