Dick peaked up from his bed as he heard shuffling outside his room. It didn’t take him long to figure out the footsteps belonged to Tim, they were too light to belong to anyone else, but he was still curious about what his little brother could possibly want so late into the night. Usually Tim was passed out and lost to the world by now.
The steps didn’t stop as soon as they reached his door and Dick could tell that Tim was nervously pacing in front of his room to try to convince himself to knock on the door. Dick knew Tim could be there for a long time, he’d done it before when he’d first moved in with Bruce, so he opened the door for Tim and asked, “Can I help you with something, Tim?”
Tim wasn’t able to come up with an answer and instead rushed forward to wrap his arms around Dick in a bear hug. Now more worried than anything, Dick closed the door and carried Tim towards the bed as he asked, “What’s wrong? Did something happen?”
Still unable to come up with an answer, Tim simply held onto Dick as they laid on the bed. It took him a few minutes and even then he ignored the question to chastise himself. “I’m getting too old for this, Dick.”
“Too old for what?” Dick couldn’t imagine his brother being too old for anything, he was only just starting preschool and still one of the smallest in the class.
“Having to come to you,” Tim said with frustration. “I’m three now, Dick. I’m almost four. I shouldn’t have to come crying to you.”
“I don’t mind, Timmy. It’s my job to help you and you’re definitely not too old to come to my room.” Leaning down as if he was sharing a secret, Dick admitted, “Sometimes I still go to Bruce when I’m upset.”
“Really?” Tim was astounded at the thought of his older brother needing anyone’s help considering how much older he was. To him Dick always seemed like the kind of person who could do everything on his own.
“Yup. All the time.”
Tim looked down as he contemplated what he’d just heard. To be extra sure that he wasn’t being lied to, Tim asked, “You’re not just saying that to make me feel better better?”
“Nope. Sometimes I get angry or sad or something like that and I’ll go to Bruce’s room so he can help.” Seeing the thoughtful look on Tim’s face, Dick tried again to get to the root of the problem. “What’s wrong, Timmy? You can tell me anything.”
“It’s just something that happened in school.”
A little more serious at the thought of something going wrong, Dick asked, “Was someone being mean to you?”
“No, but we were learning about Christmas.” Shuddering at the thought, Tim explained, “We had to listen to songs and draw pictures and everything like that.”
At the pause in Tim’s explanation, Dick asked, “Did someone not like your pictures?” He really didn’t understand what would make Tim so upset about Christmas.
“No, Dick. They all loved my drawings. I used glitter and everything.” Tim knew Dick had seen his drawings before, he’d even said they were the best he’d ever seen, so he didn’t understand why he thought someone could have an issue with them.
Dick realized he’d never be able to guess the issue on his own and asked, “So what’s the problem?”
“When we were listening to the songs…” Starting over with a deep sigh, Tim explained, “There’s a man called Santa. He’s always watching us, Dick. He sees everything, when we’re sleeping or bad, and he goes into everyone’s house. He breaks in while we’re sleeping.”
Tim sat up on the bed to stress, “He knows, Dick. He knows everything.”
Astounded, Dick asked, “Is this your first time hearing about Santa? You’ve never heard about him before?”
“No.” Tim sounded as if he was on the verge of tears. He’d come to Dick for his help, but he was more interested in why Tim didn’t already know about it. “Should I have? Should I have known about him before?”
“Who do you think leaves the presents under the trees?”
Deflating, Tim recalled, “I wasn’t allowed to have trees. Mother said they would leave a mess and father said they were a waste of money.” It hadn’t bothered Tim too much, he wasn’t allowed to watch christmas movies anyway so he didn’t have anything to compare it to, but now Dick seemed to think he was strange for it.
“Who do you think leaves the presents? Where do you keep the presents?” Dick couldn’t imagine celebrating christmas without Santa and presents.
“The nanny was supposed to go find a present and leave it in my room for when I woke up. They said I’m too old for lights and trees and decorations and things like that,”
It suddenly dawned on Dick just why Tim was so in the dark about christmas traditions. He’d never really been able to celebrate it with his parents and now Dick was making him feel worse about it. Not wanting to mess up anymore, Dick said, “I think I should get Bruce. He’ll know what to do.”
Grabbing onto Dick’s arm before he could even think of moving off of the bed, Tim whispered, “No! You can’t tell him, Dick.” Leaning into Dick’s ear and cupping his mouth with his free hand in hopes of preventing anyone from being able to read his lips, Tim explained, “Santa’s going to know that you told him and when they fight he’s going to already know everything about B.”
Trying not to laugh at the idea of Bruce fighting Santa, Dick assured Tim, “Batman isn’t going to fight Santa, Tim. That’s never going to happen.”
“Why not, Dick?”
Dick wanted to say it was because Santa wasn’t real, but he masterfully diverted the conversation. “Because…didn’t you pay attention to the whole song, Tim?”
“Yeah and he’s very creepy,” Tim said sounding frustrated. He had imagined a lot happening in the hours since he’d learned about Santa, but he never imagined Dick would actually be defending him.
“Well, he’s a good guy.” Deciding a comparison to something Tim already knew would be best, Dick added, “He’s sort of like a hero except he doesn’t fight the bad people. He just rewards good people.”
“Then why does he have to see everything we do, Dick? He should just leave us alone.” To Tim it was an invasion of their privacy pure and simple.
Trying to find the best way to explain the situation to Tim, Dick said, “It’s a little complicated, Tim, but the short version is that he needs to know who’s good and who’s bad. That way he can give presents to the good people and avoid the bad people. This way he also knows what kind of presents people want. He’s the one that leaves the presents under the christmas tree.”
Tim silently considered the explanation before asking, “He’s really not a bad person?”
“Nope. He’s a pretty great person actually.” Not wanting to leave his brother with any doubt, Dick added, “If we asked Bruce he’d say the same thing.” He knew Tim looked up to Bruce as if he’d hung the sun and moon just for him and his acceptance of Santa would mean everything to him.
“Really? He really likes him?”
“Yup. He even lets Santa come in and leave the presents under the christmas tree we’re going to get in a few days.”
Now more excited, Tim asked, “Do you think we can meet Santa, Dick? When he comes in to leave the presents can we talk to him?”
“We can ask Bruce. Sometimes Santa comes down to the mall in Gotham and sometimes if you stay awake long enough you can see him coming down the chimney.”
Stepping off the bed, Tim said, “I want to see him, Dick. I’m gonna go tell Bruce that we have to go.”
Getting back into position on the bed, Dick watched as Tim excitedly tried to put on his shoes and called out, “Ask him about christmas cards. I think he’ll let you pick out how we dress if you ask him.”