Bruce watched Tim finish up on his morning workout on the training mat and dummy in the cave and tried not to show just how worried he was. The boy was in excellent shape, peak condition for someone his age, height, and weight, and had been trained by the best fighters in the world. Bruce knew he would be able to deal with joining the Titans.
While Bruce might not like to admit it to himself, it somehow felt fitting for Tim to branch out to a team. He himself had the Justice League and Dick was already the leader of the Titans so it was only fair that Tim got to join. Bruce had already seen the wonders the Titans did for Dick, helping him reach out to people more relatable to him and build trusting relationships with people he could count on showing up to help at a moment’s notice. Tim didn’t have any problem socializing, he made friends just as easily as Dick did, but Bruce knew it wouldn’t kill him not to have someone he could talk more openly about their nightlife with.
Distance hadn’t been a problem Bruce had seen them experiencing before, but in the weeks since Tim had been formally adopted he could feel the boy drawing away from him. It was only making Bruce feel more unsure about Tim joining the team, thinking that maybe there were some issues he wasn’t paying enough attention to. In the past Bruce had been blissfully unaware of the incredible stress on the boy and the effect it had on his anxiety, but he also knew Tim wasn’t fond of him being too cautious around him.
In the end all that Bruce was able to do was keep updated while doing his best not to seem too embedding. He’d been able to find the roster Dick had on who they were going to allow into the team. There were only a few teenagers the Titans trusted enough, Tim being one of them, but Bruce did have some concerns with a few of the new members.
Bart was a nice boy, Bruce had never seen him as much of a threat, but he was prone to making mistakes, many, many mistakes. It might have been because of his inexperienced with their time, but Bruce couldn’t just ignore the issue because Tim liked him. It also bothered him that there weren’t any proper safety measures they had against speedsters. With Kryptonians it was easy and readily accessible, but with the speedsters there was little Bruce could do to prevent them from going rogue, even less Tim could do. He would definitely need to increase Tim’s training on how to fight speedsters.
The one person Bruce had the most issue with was Connor. While Bart might not have been able to control the mess he made, Connor seemed to revel in it. He liked being the ‘bad boy’ of the group and was prone to acting as such. The greatest threat for Bruce came from his lineage. Clark was fine, although Bruce would never actually tell him that, but the fact that Connor was the son of Lex Luthor of all people posed a real problem. It had already happened once where the boy had been compromised and Bruce was still not over the time he’d broken Tim’s arm.
It didn’t help that Tim was so close to Connor. It had been hard on Bruce when Dick had pointed out why his little brother might have been so interested in the clone and it only caused Bruce’s worry to spike ever since. It had only gotten worse since Clark had finally taken the boy under his wing because it only took a few weeks for them to see some real improvement. Now Bruce was left with no real excuse for why the pairing bothered him so much except for the everlasting worry in his gut Clark’s father had said was just the feeling of being a father.
As the thud of Tim’s attacks on the dummy died done, Bruce turned his attention back on the boy as he gathered his bag and began moving to the cave showers. Seeing Bruce’s eyes on him, Tim smiled and said, “I’ll only be a few minutes. I just need to shower and then I’ll be on my way out.”
“You don’t have to rush. I can drive you to school.” Bruce knew it was about time he tried to fight against the distance Tim was pushing between them. The boy was going to be joining a team within the end of the week and Bruce wanted to make sure they were being forward with one another. Driving him to school would just be the first step.
“Are you sure? I can take the bus or if you have someplace you need to be…”
“It makes sense for me to drive you. You’re going to be living here permanently and I’ll be driving you around so there’s no reason to hold it off. Your school isn’t too far from my school and this way no one can bother you while you park the car. It’ll make things easier for you.”
Although he didn’t sound pleased, Tim said, “Okay sure.”
Bruce gave him a grunt to acknowledge that he’d heard him and as soon as Tim was no longer in his view pulled up the footage from outside the manor’s gates. There was a frenzy of reporters and photographers waiting to catch a glimpse of the new Wayne.
It had started earlier last week when Tim’s adoption was leaked to the press. Now there were photographers everywhere they went. It made simply leaving the house become a chore. There was little the police could do as they weren’t impeding on their privacy, but Batman and Nightwing had been able to scare most of them from from crossing any red lines.
Hearing the faucet of the shower shut off, Bruce closed the live footage and grabbed his own briefcase to make sure he had the paperwork he would need for the day.
Tim walked out looking silly with his wet and messy hair contrasting with the clean and pristine school uniform and Bruce chuckled to himself before throwing a towel in his direction. “You don’t want anyone to see your uniform soaking from your hair.”
Happily accepting the towel, Tim quickly ran it through his hair before asking, “Are there still people outside?”
“I’m sorry sport, but I don’t think we’ll be able to get out unseen.” Bruce knew Tim wanted to have some privacy, he hated being too public, but it didn’t seem possible right now.
“That’s okay,” Tim shrugged. I’ll have to get used to it at some point.”
“I’ll pull up the car into the driveway and you can meet me in a few minutes.”
Looking through their garage, Bruce found the car with the darkest windows, the car the family used the most, and slowly drove it out to the front of the house. He didn’t have to wait long before Tim opened the passenger side door and collapsed on the seat.
Bruce slowly drove the driveway, he said, “You might want to put your hide your face when we have to pass the gate. There’s going to be a lot of photographers.”
Tim looked around for something to cover his head before deciding, “I can use my jacket until we pass them.”
“That should be fine,” Bruce agreed.
As they waited for the gate to open they could hear the excitement and clicks of the camera. Even when they saw that Tim was hiding his face with his jacket covering his head they continued to harass the two of them while asking embarrassing questions hoping to get a rise out of Bruce.
Once they were finally passed the crowd Bruce gave Tim the all clear to put his head up and assured him, “They’ll get bored soon as move onto someone else soon enough.”
Tim was skeptical as he said, “They’ve started hanging around the school. It’s not that big of a deal because I’m indoors most of the time, but still…”
Looking back between Tim and the road, Bruce asked, “Do you think too much is happening at the same time? That you have too much on your plate?”
“What do you mean?” Tim felt like he sort of knew what Bruce wanted to say, but he wasn’t entirely sure.
“With you joining the Titans, getting adopted, and having to deal with all the media at the same time. It wouldn’t be a big deal if you wanted to wait before joining the team, Tim. It’ll definitely give you some room to breath.” Bruce’s first concern was always Tim’s well being and he didn’t want his son to spread himself too thin.
“I don’t like the photographers, but I’m willing to accept them if it means I can be your son.”
“Are you sure?”
“I don’t know, B. I think you might be the one nervous about too much happening at the same time.”
Bruce didn’t quite know what to say about that, but he looked at the road while he tried to figure it out. “Tim, you now I want you to join the team and have fun with your friends -”
“It sounds like there’s a ‘but’ coming,” Tim said hoping he was wrong, but years of experience told him otherwise.
“But, I don’t know if this is the time.”
“What are you worried about?” Before Bruce could give him an answer, Tim quickly added, “Are you afraid that I’m going to get hurt?”
“It’s going to be the first time I won’t be there to look over you, Tim.”
“I’ve spent weekends with Dick in Blüdhaven before, sometimes longer,” Tim tried to reason.
“Dick isn’t always going to be there either.” Sighing, Bruce explained, “I know you should get a chance to be independent and spend more time with your friends, but I want to make sure the proper safeguards are there to prevent you from getting hurt. You are going to be the only new member of the team that isn’t a meta.”
Bruce had taught Tim enough detective skills to figure out, “You’re worried that I’m piling too much on my plate and it’s going to get my anxiety back up. We just finalized the adoption, people aren’t going to be letting up on me anytime soon, and you still aren’t sure about Kon and the others.”
“I trust Connor and I know he’d never try to hurt anyone on the team, but I’m not sure how you’re going to act as a team. It’s a lot harder than just hanging around playing video games.” Bruce was trying to keep from sounding too condescending, but the crinkle in Tim’s nose told him he wasn’t doing too well of a job.
“Dick’s going to be there, Bruce. He’s not going to let me get bad and I know you’ve probably talked to him about keeping you updated on how I’m doing.”
Bruce could see that he was losing the argument so he decided to ask the question he felt was most pertinent. “Tim, do you think you’ve been trying to keep too much distance between us since the adoption was finalized. That it made you feel the need to compare me to your father.” At the shocked look on Tim’s face, Bruce reminded him, “I’m the one who taught you how to be a detective, Tim.”
Tim shifted his gaze to his shoes and mumbled, “Maybe. I guess it’s possible.”
Bruce added, “I think you and I haven’t been very forward with each other, Tim, and that’s going to need to change for when join the Titans.”
Deciding that lying wouldn’t help either of them, Tim admitted, “It feels weird defining our relationship. Before it was that you and I were close, a clash of mentor, friend, and friend, but now you’re officially my dad and I don’t know how to feel about that.”
“You haven’t had a great relationship with your paternal figures before, a horrible one to say the least, but I’m not them, Tim,” He wouldn’t mind repeating it a thousand times if that was what it took for Tim to understand, but he desperately wanted him to understand.
“I know that and I trust you more than I’ve trusted anyone, but…” Letting out a sarcastic laugh, Tim realized, “I guess I really haven’t been acting normally.”
“That’s okay. This isn’t a normal situation and we aren’t normal people.”
“I know.” As they drew closer to the school Tim knew their conversation would have to end soon and he’d need to brace for the photographers. Hoping his sincerity was clear, Tim said, “I really want to do this, Bruce. I think I’m ready to join the team and I trust my friends and brother to look out for me.”
“I think as long as we are both forward with each other, honest when something bothers us, even when it might lead to an unpleasant conversation, we’ll be fine.” Even as he said it Bruce knew it would be hard; he and Tim were not the kind of people who found it easy to express themselves.