There were always areas of Wayne Manor Tim and Dick weren’t allowed to see. Over the years they had been here, Alfred and Bruce always chided, ‘You’ll understand when you’re older’ or ‘It’s not safe for kids’ but that only heightened their curiosity. The two must have been out of practice when it came to parenting because the boys might not have thought too much of it if they didn’t outright say they weren’t allowed.
It was too late now, Dick and Tim decided needed to know what they were keeping secret.
The room they were most anxious to see was the first floor library. Neither of the boys were interested in the books, the library on the second floor was closer to their rooms and had much more books, but Bruce and Alfred seemed to disappear in there for many, many hours. The two boys had even been able to catch Alfred and Bruce going in the room after putting them down to sleep and coming back closer to when it was time to wake up.
The following night, Tim and Dick made a plan to follow the two and finally get some well deserved answers. After pretending to go to sleep, they snuck out of bed and congregated at the top of the stairs watching as Alfred went around dimming the lights and checking the locks.
Bruce wasn’t too far away and discussed his expectation for the patrol tonight. A few feet above them and straining to listen into the conversation, the only words the kids could make out were ‘Gordon’ and ‘drugs.’
The implication of the words only made Dick more excited and he quietly lead Tim down the stairs as the older pair moved their conversation to the kitchen. They listened in as Bruce grabbed some water to drink and scrolled through something on his iPad. Dick motioned for Tim to stand still as the adults finally made their way to the library and grabbed the five year old’s hand as they followed closely behind Alfred.
Once the door closed behind the butler, they waited outside the library and tried to make out what the voices were saying. When Dick got the impression something was going on, he told Tim to stay behind as he slowly opened the door to catch a glance of what the adults were doing. He wasn’t able to see much, but he heard Bruce play something on the piano and heavy gears shift. Mustering up the courage to open the door to make a slightly wider gap, Dick looked in as a part of the book case shifted and the room was left empty.
He stepped in shocked and looked around to see if the two were playing with them. This had to be some kind of prank to make the boys feel bad for getting out of bed so late.
Tim peaked into the room to see what was taking his brother so long and what everyone was doing without him. Dick watched as Tim rushed in excited and then looked to him confused when he couldn’t find Bruce or Alfred.
Looking around the room one last time to make sure his eyes weren’t deceiving him, Tim stood in the center of the room shocked and asked, “Where did they go?”
Dick pointed to the bookcase he had seen shift after Bruce and Alfred disappeared. “They went behind the bookcase. There’s a secret door over there.”
Running over in the direction of Dick’s finger, Tim tried to see if he could find the secret opening. He failed in pushing the bookcase out of the way, but he still jumped around excited. “This house is like from the movies. Buried treasure, Dick. Buried treasure!” Looking back to where he thought the hole to be, Tim could imagine a famous pirate must hiding his gold in a tunnel behind the books. Even better, it could lead to a map and they would have to go all over the world looking for the treasure.
Dick let his brother enjoy his hunt while he turned his attention to the piano in the center of the room. He tried to remember the keys he had heard Bruce play a few minutes ago and listened for the same shift in gears. It took him a while with all the possible variation, but through trial and error Dick narrowed it down and finally got it right.
Tim stepped back as he heard something churn from behind the case and ran behind Dick for safety. Although there was still a very high chance this would lead to treasure, Tim realized there was also a chance this could lead to a monster who was angry at them for playing on his or her piano.
Investigating the change, Dick circled around the case until he found skid marks on the wall showing him just how to push. Tim looked up at him anxious and waited to see what would happen next.
Dick knew Tim was right to be a little worried and he whisper a warning to his brother. “Whatever happens, don’t make any noise. We don’t want to be caught.”
Nodding his head in understanding, Tim stepped up beside Dick and decided to help him with the pushing. Dick had been the one to figure out how to open the secret door through the piano and this was the least he could do to help.
It gave way easily enough and when there was a crack small enough for the both of them to squeeze through they took a step back.
Although he took great pride in how strong he was, Tim had to ask, “Are you sure about this?” He was beginning to get very powerful second thoughts and he didn’t want to see what was in the emptiness if it ended up being something horrible.
Knowing Tim needed some encouragement, Dick took his little brother’s hand into his own and promised, “I’ll be right next to you, Tim. No matter what.”
Taking in some of his resolution, Tim straightened up and squeezed his brother’s hand as they walked into the darkness.
The first thing that struck them was just how dark it was. They could just barely make out a flight of stairs with the light seeping in from the library, but they couldn’t see what was at the end of the stairs. There were dark walls on either side of the stairs creating a feeling that they were in a tunnel, but something had to be at the bottom if someone went through such high measures to hide it. Dick felt the need to remind Tim, “Don’t make any noise. We don’t want to be caught.”
Once their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they took very careful and quiet steps until the wall on their left side finished and they could look in very quickly to see if they had been caught yet. There was a large open area with a large light source on the wall and squeaking bats overhead. Dick could see that this was a cave, the ones that ran under the Manor.
Not wanting to risk him getting hurt, Dick tried to motion for Tim to stay behind until he could see what was so important about this cave, but he only succeeded in making his brother squeeze his hand even tighter.
Dick’s lips thinned at the response, but he tried to think of a proper plan. He decided to go about this the old fashioned way he had seen spies act in movies and motioned for Tim to flatten himself against the wall so they could limit just how much Bruce and Alfred would be able to see.
Getting a proper look, they could see that the main light source was in fact a large monitor and surrounded by technology neither of the two understood. What they could make out was THE BATMAN talking to Alfred about something that must have been annoying him because he looked angry.
They were unsure of what to make of the two talking to each other, but they absolutely did not know what to think about Batman taking his cowl off to expose himself as Bruce. It was by pure luck Dick was able to clasp his hand over Tim’s mouth and hold back the gasp the five year old let out.
They stood still for a few minutes trying to come to terms with what they were seeing, but they eventually moved forward and left the safety of the wall to hide behind a peculiar dinosaur. The legs were wide enough to hide the boys and for a moment Tim had to remind himself that Batman was more important than the opportunity to touch a real life dinosaur.
Although they were still by the outer wall of the cave, the view was much better and they could make out the conversation through the occasional noise from up top.
Bruce was tapping away at the keyboard looking at something on the large monitor. He wanted to confirm that he actually had to go to this JL meeting and if there was any way out. After he found what he was looking for, he got up and brought the cowl back over his head. He was checking something on his monitor as he complained, “I would rather stay behind and look for some more clues than go out to the meeting.”
“You were the one to schedule it for today, Master Bruce. I’m afraid nothing can be changed, even for the Batman himself.” Alfred snarkiness was unchanged from his personality above ground and Dick wondered what other secrets the two could possibly have. It would be too much for him if Alfred ended up being a vigilante too.
Unfazed by the attitude, Bruce closed his gauntlet and said, “While I’m gone, look through the the bio profile again. I can’t help but think Gordon and I are missing something important.”
“Of course, Master Bruce.”
Still hidden behind the dinosaur, they watched as Bruce walked off to something outside of their eye line and Alfred disappeared in the other direction. There were a few minutes where neither of them dared to do anything in case they returned, but when nothing changed they edged closer to the center of the room and took in everything in the cave.
From their position they could see that Alfred was behind a door in a separate part of the cave working on something with his goggles on and listening to his Beatles music. Although they looked in the direction he had walked off in, neither of them could find Bruce. The only thing anywhere close was was a giant glowing circle with steps leading up to it and a control panel on the side.
Dick had his own idea of what this meant, but just to be sure he found a rock and threw it into the circle. Just as he had expected, it disappeared from a cave and landed where he assumed the adjoining machine was.
He jumped up and down with excitement as he explained to Tim, “That’s a teleporter. It takes you to somewhere else in one second.” Rushing over to the panel, he tried to see if he could figure out where the rock ended up landing but it was far too complicated for him to read. He took a step back as he judged what he could do with this.
The machine did not excite Tim and instead of rushing up towards it he edged away in case he accidentally ended up on the other side.
In the same time Dick made up his mind on what to do. Putting his hands on Tim’s shoulder and looking him in the eye so he could see just how serious he was, Dick said, “I’m going to go through it, Tim. I want to see what was on the other side.”
“No, Dick. Don’t do it,” Tim pleaded. If something went wrong he didn’t want to lose his older brother
Dick understood why Tim would be scared, but he wanted him to understand why the idea excited him. “It could be anything, Tim. I could end up anywhere in the world and find Bruce – Batman – doing something amazing. Just imagine what Bruce is doing right now!”
“It could be a monster.” He wasn’t completely sure there weren’t any in the cave with them right now and from this perspective the dinosaur wasn’t exciting, he was just terrifying.
Dick considered Tim’s worry and offered him a plan. “You don’t have to come with me. I’ll go through, just give me a few minutes, then run to Alfred and explain what happened. If something happens then he’ll tell Bruce and he’ll bring me back. If you don’t want to get in trouble, just run back upstairs and we’ll say I did this by myself and young had no idea.”
“No, Dick. Don’t do it. Please don’t do it.” Tim did not want to lose his brother to the monsters or an angry Bruce. Plus, how were they going to believe the second story if Dick wasn’t strong enough to push the bookcase open and Tim had done most of the work? Tim couldn’t help but think Dick wasn’t thinking this through.
Ruffling Tim’s hair in a way that was meant to be supportive but only came out as smug, Dick assured him, “Nothing bad will happen, Tim. This will be exciting.”
Tim shook his head in defiance and begged, “I don’t like this, Dick. Don’t do it.”
As Dick turned away from him, he pleaded, “If you go you could get hurt. Don’t go through the door. Please.”
When that didn’t work he tried something even worse. “You could die, Dick. Don’t do it.”
With Dick edging closer, Tim tried something he hoped would make his brother reconsider, “I’ll hate you if you do this.”
When Dick was at the foot of the giant circle, Tim used his last resort. “If you walk out that door, don’t you ever come back, Dick. I don’t care what happens to you.”
Not at all believing his little brother, Dick gave him a final wave before taking a deep breath and walking through.
There was a rush of silence as Tim watched him disappear and he realized he had yelled out the last part. After a quick glance behind him he could see Alfred was looking at him in shock and in a moment of panic he decided to follow Dick through the door. If he was going to be grounded for the rest of his life, he might as well blame it on Dick.