Bat Snapshots 29: Trust

While Bruce typed away at his laptop urgently working to get an assignment done one time, Tim sat behind him staring out of the window. To Gotham thunderstorms were a common occurrence, it always felt like the city was recovering from a flood, and Tim enjoyed looking down at the small people going about their regular business as if they weren’t drenched to their toes. People were getting something to eat from the food carts on the side of the road and others were fighting over who would get the taxi and Tim was enjoying every minute of it.

He wasn’t supposed to be in the building, he was technically sick and that was the reason he couldn’t go to school right now, but he’d been able to convince Bruce that making him stay in the Manor all day would have only made him more sick. Alfred seemed to agree because he packed Tim a healthy lunch and left Bruce some of his medicine.

Bruce had expected Tim to fall asleep on the couch in his office, but instead he was walking around the office and trying to get Bruce’s attention thinking they would be spending the whole day playing together. He was not impressed to find out Bruce didn’t keep any toys in his office, not even building blocks or cars, so Tim was trying to get him to take him around the rest of the building. There had to be something that he could play with.

Once simply looking at the scene outside the window started to bore Tim, he pulled on Bruce’s suit and asked, “Can we go outside?”

“Outside this room or outside outside?” Bruce asked even though he didn’t turn away from his laptop. Either way he knew his answer would be no.

Tim tried to think about what he wanted and decided, “Outside outside.” He wanted to play in the rain as he was used to doing in the Manor and see just how high he could splash the water in the puddles.

“Sorry sport, but if you go outside you’re going to get even more sick. Rain isn’t good for you right now.”

Accepting that Bruce probably knew more about the subject than him, Tim changed his mind and asked, “Then can we walk outside this room? Like around the building and stuff?”

“I’m sorry, Tim, but I have a lot of work to do.”

Remembering the puppy dog eyes Dick had taught him, Tim assured Bruce, “You don’t need to work. We have enough money, Dad. You can take a break and we can go for a walk.”

Smiling at the sight of Tim trying to use the same technique he was growing an immunity to, Bruce tried to reason with him. “The reason we have the money is because I’m always working, Tim. If I don’t keep on working then we might not have the money.” He hated how anytime he was able to bring his kids to his workplace there was always something that needed his attention. Why couldn’t they be here on most days when there wasn’t anything for him to do but pretend that he was working.

Frustrated, Tim decided to do the next best thing and asked, “Can I help you with your work? It’ll make it go by a lot faster.” He was used to helping Dick with his chores if it meant they would be to play together earlier. Sometime’s he’d do it just for Dick to get him some of the snacks he couldn’t reach or because his brother asked him to.

“Do you know anything about vectors and calculus, Tim?” Although he looked forward to the day when he would be able to delegate his work to his son, Bruce knew he was nowhere near ready right now.

Tim mumbled a quiet, “No,” before saying, “You can teach me though. You always say I’m very smart.”

“All of my employees have been studying for years to work on this project, Tim. I’m sorry but there isn’t really anything for you to do right now.”

Dramatically collapsing on the ground, Tim contemplated his options and asked, “I can’t play on your laptop? I could watch a video while you’re working.”

“There’s information on that laptop I need to bring down to the lab, Tim. You can’t keep it up here.”

“I can’t come with you either?” This day was just getting worse and worse. Tim might have been better off at school where he would be able to see his friends.

“No, Tim. It’s very dangerous down there.” The group would be working on building a new vaccine and Bruce didn’t want Tim to accidentally bring in his germs or even worse come into contact with something inside the lab.

“Fine,” Tim said deflated. He hoped Bruce could hear the sadness in his voice as he turned back around and said, “I’ll watch out the window until we go home.”

Bruce wanted to focus on his work and take Tim home as soon as possible, but he found himself saying, “Actually, Tim, there’s something I need you to do.”

“What is it?” He didn’t sound like he trusted Bruce, he’d just been let down by him, but was curious enough to ignore the feeling.

Turning away from his laptop to give Tim his full attention, Bruce whispered, “You have to promise to keep it a secret, Tim. No one can know about this.”

Tim gasped at what he thought was sincerity and whispered back, “I promise, Bruce. I won’t tell anyone.” Whatever Bruce needed him to do had to be important if it warrantied them talking in low voices.

“Are you sure, Tim? I know how you like to talk.” Feigning contemplation, Bruce said, “Maybe I shouldn’t have you do this.” By now Bruce knew how to bait his children and telling them they might not be old enough to do something only made them want to do it more.

Grabbing a hold of Bruce’s hand so he could see his sincerity, Tim assured him, “You can trust me, Dad. I won’t tell. I really won’t.”

Bruce sighed and didn’t do anything for a moment to keep Tim anxious before asking, “You remember where the break room is? The one we passed on our way here?”

Tim thought back to the tour Bruce had given him and remembered, “It’s the one were everyone was talking and laughing and it smelled very nice.”

Nodding, Bruce explained, “Because today is Friday there are donuts on the counter. How about you go grab a donut and bring it down to the lab for me? You could see a few things very quickly and then come back up here to watch your videos.”

Tim decided it would be better than simply sitting around and quickly made his way from behind Bruce’s desk to show Bruce just how determined he was. “I think I can do it, Dad. I’ll bring you a donut and coffee.”

Bruce knew it would be enough of a distraction to keep Tim at bay long enough for him to prepare the lab for a visitor, but he still added, “You’re the only one I trust, Tim. No one else can do this for me.” He knew there was nothing that energized Tim like hearing about a mission only he could do.

Tim felt a rush of pride before he promised, “I won’t let you down, Dad,” and walking outside of the office. Knowing that he couldn’t run in the building, he didn’t want all of his father’s employees to think he was immature, Tim quickly walked to the elevator and pressed the button for the floor just below them.

Once Bruce saw Tim disappear behind the elevator doors, he looked down to his secretary and asked, “Are you doing anything urgent right now, Carly?”

“I’m just making sure you didn’t miss any meetings today.”

“Did I?” Although he was used to not going to meetings when things came up, he was actually hoping to get on top of everything today. Even for him there were somethings he simply couldn’t miss.

Carly smiled and said, “You’ve actually been a good boy today, Mr. Wayne. You haven’t missed anything so far.” She was used to taking over for her boss every time he fell short on his appointments, but it definitely made her life easier when he stayed on track.

Bruce hummed in acknowledgement before saying, “I need you to clear my schedule for tomorrow. If there’s nothing important then I’d rather stay home and make sure Tim’s feeling better.”

“No problem, Mr. Wayne.”

“I also need you to go down to the break room and try to keep Tim distracted for as long as possible.”

“Any particular reason?” It was a part of her job to look after Bruce’s sons when he was too busy with work, but it was usually something as simple as watching over them as they messed with their toys.

“I didn’t bring any of his toys and he’s been getting pretty anxious for something to do so I sent him down. I just need to keep him out of the lab long enough to transfer all the important files to the lab computers. Tim will be able to sit in my office and watch shows on it instead.”

“Can’t he just watch something on the thousands of other laptops in this building. I know it’s pretty retro, but we do have a tv.”

Bruce explained, “My laptop has the controls to keep him from watching anything that isn’t age appropriate. He’s watched Walking Dead after Dick left it open about five times now and each time I have to deal with his nightmares.”

Although her lips curled despite her best efforts, she managed to keep from laughing as she stood up and said, “I’ll make sure he stays safe, Mr. Wayne.”

Following him down to the break room, she found Tim standing in the hallway staring at the doorway anxiously.

Unaware that this was simply a distraction, Tim cautiously looked into the room to see if he could find the donuts. He regretted promising to get Bruce some coffee too, he realized he didn’t know how to make it, but this was something Bruce had trusted him with and he couldn’t let him down. It would be best if he could go in and out without anyone seeing him, but all eyes were on him as soon as he walked into the room.

He hoped his cheeks weren’t as red as they felt, but he didn’t know what to do as the room got silent and people looked at him all at once.

Once he finally reached the box of what he could only assume was full of donuts, Tim realized he wasn’t tall enough to reach it and it would be rude to start climbing around. He had heard Bruce chastise Dick for it enough.

Before he could think of anything to say, a familiar woman walked into the room and whispered something to the rest of the group before turning to him and asking, “Do you need any help, Timothy?”

Tim knew Carly was nice, she would have to be if Bruce hired here, but Tim also knew to keep his mission as secretive as he could. He simply answered, “I need a donut.”

Smiling at Tim hoping to ease some of his concerns she introduced herself as she found a napkin to carry the donut in. “Do you need something else, Tim?”

Deciding it would be best to have someone else do the things he couldn’t, Tim explained, “I don’t know how to make coffee.”

“That’s okay kiddo. I can get it for you.”

She signaled for him to take a seat at the table, but Tim was anxious, shaking his leg as he tried to relieve himself of the stress that came with knowing he might have given too much away to strangers. If this was his mission no one should have had to be helping him.

They were able to convince Tim to eat a donut and tried to get him to laugh with a few of their jokes while waiting for the coffee to finish, but as soon as it was done Tim was ready to barrel out of the room and down to the lab. Before they could let him go out on his own, they made sure to tape down the lid to the cup so none of the hot drink would splash onto his hand and to remind him to be careful. None of them wanted to see what would happen if Tim somehow got hurt due to their negligence.

As soon as he had the directions to the lab figured out, Tim rushed down hopeful that he hadn’t been too long. It would be embarrassing if Bruce had found someone else to get him his donut and coffee.

Tim was able to spot his father immediately, he was the largest one in the room, but unsure of how to enter the room. Bruce wasn’t in the main lab and instead he was with a few scientists looking down at the others who were working. Unlike the scientists working on chemicals and solution and with important looking equipment and material, Bruce wasn’t wearing any safety gear and Tim didn’t think it would be a problem if he walked in but he didn’t want to be wrong.

Instead he knocked on the glass window until he had Bruce’s attention. Bruce stepped away from the group and grabbed a bag from an otherwise empty table before walking out to greet Tim. “How’d everything go, sport? It took you awhile to get here.”

“I don’t know how to make coffee, Dad. Someone else had to do it.” Leaning in to prevent anyone from overhearing, Tim added, “I didn’t tell anyone about my mission. I kept it a secret even though a lot of people asked.” People hadn’t asked, they already knew everything from Bruce’s secretary, but Tim felt like Bruce needed to think he had the resolve to keep secrets if need be.

Bruce took the coffee and donut before handing Tim his bag and saying, “I have a reward for you too. You can go up to my room and watch your videos, but make sure not to bother anyone who’s working, okay?” Taking a sip of the coffee, Bruce added, “You did a very good job and deserve the reward.”

Deciding this could just be another mission in a day filled with hard work, Tim assured Bruce he’d follow his orders and keep himself entertained. “I can do that, Dad. If you need me to, I can do it.”

Patting his head, Bruce assured Tim, “I know, sport, and I’m very proud of you.” Before he turned away to head back to the office, Bruce caught sight of the flush of Tim’s cheeks and added, “You did very well on your first project, Tim. I might just have to keep you around the office more,” just to see it get deeper as he walked away.

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