Batman and Robin scanned the scene from their perch on roof across the road from a gallery in the heart of Gotham. They were looking into a robbery happening at the opening at the art museum that was supposed to happen tonight. Most of Gotham’s elite were in the gallery discussing the pieces they would like to auction on and what the authors were trying to convey.
From his position Tim could see Dick moving across the crowd, smiling to everyone and pretended to be interested in everyone who pulled him aside. Robin knew his older brother well enough to see he would anything to trade places with either of them right now, but even Nightwing lucked out every now and then. Maybe someday Tim would be the one charming the crowd, but as of now no one would believe he was old enough to attend a formal function on his own.
The beeping off the signal in their gauntlets forced Tim to look away as he read exactly what Alfred was sending them from the Manor. He read it over a second time to make sure he didn’t miss anything before informing Bruce, “There’s been a breach on the other side of the building. Someone forced his or her way through the kitchen and the guards lost him or her on the third floor of the building. They’ve blocked off the every higher floors, so the robber won’t be able to get any higher but they don’t know the exact position.”
It was a possibility Bruce had already prepared for and he quickly instructed, “Stay on the first floor and watch for anything strange in the party. If you can give Nightwing enough time to get into uniform and help you deal with the enemy.”
Before they leapt into the air, Tim asked, “Do you think there’s only one person to be on the lookout for or a group?”
“What do you think?” Bruce wanted to use the opportunity to see just how Tim’s deductive skills were coming along.
Unsure, Tim sighed and said, “I think there might be a group. One person wouldn’t be able to fight off the guards and get a lot of money, but there could be a group of people on standby to help out if something goes wrong. It would help with a clean break as the cops would have a hard time only looking for one person and they can try to keep the guards and cops attention on themselves as the main robber breaks out the museum.”
Batman let himself feel proud as he said, “That’s what I was thinking too,” before ordering sternly, “If you see someone you think might be suspicious signal it down to Nightwing and see what he can find out.”
As the duo broke away from one another, Tim watched Bruce disappear to the other side of the building. Tim found an opening in a window along the second floor and swiftly made his way to the ceiling of the party on the first floor while trying to remember the guest-list Bruce had made him memorize. From his position in the rafters he decided it would be best to first spot his older brother and send him a signal that things were about to get rough soon. When Dick pulled up at his collar Tim knew he had seen the signal and was on red alert, Tim messaged him to be on the lookout for any strange people in the crowd.
The two were quickly able to dismiss those they had seen at previous galas and social events in Gotham up until now and were left with a few dozen people of interest. About half of them were far too old to be of much use in a grand heist and some were too rich to have to worry about stealing money tonight. Bruce had a lot to say about more than a few of the people in the room and how they stole from the poor of Gotham, but Tim was pretty sure this was not what he meant. Nevertheless the boys were eventually able to zero in on a few figures at opposite ends of the room who did not belong. Their jewelry and clothes were obviously fake to the well trained eye and they were staying away from alcohol probably in hopes of not impairing their judgement once the night came to an end. The most telling was the furtive glances they threw to each other anytime there was a loud noise somewhere nearby.
Tim sent the information to Bruce’s gauntlet and got a message to be on alert. Before Tim could make any progress in his plan to take the four down as soon as possible, a body came barreling down the stairs and fell flat on the floor in front of the crowd. There were a few quiet murmurs around the room as the attendants tried to determine who could have been drunk enough to fall down a flight of stairs, but they fell silent once a gun fell out from her pocket.
Tim flew down from his position on the rafters and blocked an exit as two of the accomplices tried to make a break for it. It only took him a few seconds to have them both tied up to the side and by the time he looked up Dick was already Nightwing and dealing with the other two. Tim knew Dick would be able to deal with the two on his own and instead he turned his attention to Bruce as he came down the stairs focused on the main suspect.
Once he was at Batman’s side Tim realized it would be best for him to get the crowd to leave the building as soon as possible. He didn’t want anyone to get to the suspects before the cops could get to them. Tim got their attention and instructed, “You should get out here as soon as possible. It’s best to be out before the cops get here and start asking you questions.”
Mention of the police might have been the secret word because the crowd quickly began to disperse, but only after sneaking a few pictures of Batman, Robin, and Nightwing. The lighting of the main foyer of the art gallery was very different from the darkness the trio was associated with. There were also a few who tried to flirt with the two oldest members of the group, but a quick glare from Batman was enough to have them rushing out of the building. By the time Dick was at their side there was only one other man left in the crowd, but it didn’t look like he was going to be moving anytime soon.
It didn’t take Tim long to realize someone was staring at him, especially when the others in the room had already left, but once he spun around he immediately recognized his father. He didn’t need to be a detective to know just what Jack was thinking, he thought the Robin in front of him looked a lot like his son, and Tim needed to get him of the trail as soon as possible.
Before he could think about it too much, Tim turned back to Bruce and said, “Dad, it’s probably time to turn back. The police can handel this from here and we already have all the information we need.” If Jack thought Robin was Batman’s son, there would be no way for him to also be his own son.
Dick gave him a raised eyebrow Tim dutifully ignored while Bruce didn’t seem to notice Tim’s choice of wording. He simply turned away from the criminal after checking to see if she had any information on her and said, “I don’t think there’s much we can do from here. We should probably head back and see if there’s anything we can piece together in the cave.”
Tim hoped his relief noticeable, but his father turning around to leave the hall convinced that Bruce was his father might just have been the greatest feeling he’d ever experienced.
It was only after he fired the grappling hook at Batman’s heel that he realized just what had happened. He’d called Bruce his dad and Bruce hadn’t told him off for it. Realistically Tim knew that Bruce might not have noticed his word choice, but he also knew Batman noticed everything. That lead to the possibility that maybe Bruce considered Tim to be his son and in his mind considered himself to be Tim’s father. Dick must have been thinking the same thing because f he kept smiling back at Tim every time he came into his view. Tim knew a part of Dick just liked making fun of him, but a much larger part liked Tim considering himself a part of their family. After all, this was the man who’d started calling Tim ‘little brother’ a month after they’d first met and was pushing for him to stay in the Manor as often as possible.
Once they were back in the Manor and sitting around the cave methodically typing out their reports Tim decided he had an important decision to make. He could either pretend like the exchange never happened and didn’t mean anything, if anyone ever asked he’d say that he was shocked by seeing his dad and accidentally thought of him as he was talking to Bruce, but he also knew he’d never be able to stop contemplating Bruce’s reaction if he did that. The much more appealing option was to test his relationship with Bruce to see just what Bruce was comfortable with and maybe, hopefully, have a father-son relationship with him. Tim didn’t know why Jack’s possibly feeling on the matter didn’t matter to him, but it didn’t. Tim would pick Bruce as his father any day and this seemed like the perfect opening.
Even for being the best detective in the world, Bruce couldn’t pinpoint exactly when his relationship with Tim changed. It must have soon after Jack was ill in the hospital, but as far as Bruce could remember he had been trying hard to not intrude in and harm Tim’s relationship with his father. It had been hard trying to keep his distance with the boy when Bruce started to consider him his son and it looked like he wasn’t doing too good of a job all things considered. Tim had been calling him ‘dad’ for about a month and Bruce couldn’t bring himself to mind.
For all intents and purposes Tim really was his son. He took care of the boy any time Jack wasn’t available, even after he was recovering from his injuries, and Bruce had a distinct feeling that Tim turned to him for support before he even thought of approaching Jack.
A part of Bruce wanted to ask Tim outright just why he he’d started calling him his father, it must have been an important moment for the teenager, but another part knew it would be unfitting of the relationship they had built over the years to talk about their feelings. There was a reason he had to listen to so many of Alfred’s lectures on proper communication.
Instead, he simply started calling Tim ‘son’ once on the field and gauge his response. Just as he expected Tim didn’t have any grand reaction at first, but he did seem to grow more comfortable. It might have had something to do with the fact that they had been on patrol while the interaction happened and the focus on crime dimmed Tim’s comprehension of Bruce’s word choice, but Bruce knew better than to underestimate his Robin. Tim wouldn’t have come this far if he was stupid.
The effects didn’t take long as Tim began taking liberties around the Manor, things he was simply too polite or afraid the first few months of their relationship, and soon he was reminiscent of Dick at a younger age. One thing that did particularly surprise Bruce was the fact he found the differences between the two most appealing. Tim reminded Bruce of himself at a younger age, although there was the massive difference in emotional development, and Bruce couldn’t imagine him as anything other than his son.
After a few weeks Bruce decided to be more forward and simply called out, “It’s time to head out, son,” as they waited to leave for a formal party. The small smile Tim gave him in response was more than worth it.