Tim watched from the top of the stairs as people began trickling into the Manor. It was almost four in the evening and the house was starting to feel chillier as people began moving things out to the back porch to enjoy the pool and fireworks, but Tim wasn’t all that interested. His special guest wasn’t here yet and he didn’t want to miss seeing him come in.
He felt felt Dick rushing around behind him as he looked for some sunscreen until he crouched down beside him to ask, “Whatcha looking at, Babybird?”
“People,” Tim mumbled. He wasn’t quite ready to admit everything just yet and he hoped his brother didn’t press the issue.
Dick turned to the fact Tim hadn’t changed out of his sleeping clothes and asked, “Why haven’t you changed yet? You’re going to be late and the pools going to be too cold soon.”
“I’m not swimming.”
“Why not?” Dick asked.
“I’m still not very good at it,” Tim admitted. His coach in school said it was because he was still small and he’d get better as he grew up and Tim was willing to wait until then to get in the pool.
“I’m sure you’ll be fine, Timbo. We’re surrounded by superheroes and they would never let anything bad happen to you.”
Deciding to focus on the finishing on the railings instead of actually looking at his older brother, Tim mumbled, “I don’t want to miss them coming in.”
Raising an eyebrow, Dick asked, “Them or him?” Pressing closer to Tim, he added, “Are you waiting for a special someone, Tim?”
“No,” Tim said a little too loud to be appropriate. “I miss Uncle Clark too.”
“But you knew who I was talking about without me having to say,” Dick challenged. “That has to mean something.”
Tim finally admitted, “Maybe. I guess it’s possible.”
Standing up and encouraging Tim to do so too, Dick said,”So why don’t you come downstairs with me and we can hang around the pool? When they get here it won’t be as awkward between you and Connor when he gets here. If you stay up here then you’re just going to run into your room as soon as you see him.”
Tim contemplated his options before asking, “Are you sure?”
“Of course. It’s my job as your big brother to give you advice on these kinds of things.”
Still not entirely sure but wanting to believe Dick, Tim stood up and said, “Ok. I’ll change.”
Dick assured him, “I’ll be right here so we can walk downstairs together.”
After waiting for a few minutes, Dick began to grow worried and decided to check on his brother and make sure he hadn’t changed his mind. He knocked on Tim’s door and asked, “Everything alright, Timmy? We should get going soon.”
When he didn’t get a response, or maybe one low enough that Dick couldn’t hear, Dick took the initiative to open the door and asked again, “Everything alright? You were taking a while.”
Looking down at the assortment of floaties he had pulled out of his closet and placed on his bed, Tim said, “I can’t swim by myself like you can, Dick.”
“That’s okay, Babybird, most people your age can’t, Dick assured, “You can use your floaties if you want.”
“But he doesn’t have to use them. He can swim all by himself.”
“He can also fly all by himself, but you shouldn’t worry about that either.”
Tim mumbled, “Okay,” again and picked out something that wouldn’t make him look like too much of a little kid. In the end he decided to go with two clear arm floaties and hoped they weren’t too noticeable to any of Bruce’s friends.
Before they could step out, Dick asked, “Don’t you think you should get one that goes around your waist?”
“I’m not that much of a baby, Dick,” Tim said agitated. “I don’t need them to go in the pool.”
“I know you don’t, but just to be safe it would be a good idea.” Dick offered as a compromise, “If you don’t need it we can keep it to the side, but if you do need it it’ll be right there.”
Tim couldn’t think of a proper counter argument and decided Dick probably knew best. He sighed and said, “Fine, but you have to be the one to hold it.” Although it was too small to fit around Dick, Tim hoped if people say it they might think it belonged to him.
Wanting to show his appreciation Dick added, “I’ll even put your sunscreen on for you so you don’t miss a spot,”
Not sure what to do with his appreciation for his older brother, Tim said, “Thank you, Dick.”
“No problem, little brother. I know how important tonight is for you.”
As soon as they stepped off the stairs Tim anxiously pulled on Dick’s arm and begged, “You can’t say anything, Dick. You have to promise you won’t say anything to anyone.”
“I know, Tim, but that doesn’t mean I can’t mess with you about it.” As they entered the back porch and prepared to greet their guests, Dick leaned in to add, “It’s your first ever crush and I’m your big brother so there’s a certain way the universe needs these things to go.”
Annoyed, Tim huffed away from Dick to launch himself at Wally and ask, “Do you want to go swimming with me? I’ve been practicing a lot and they’ve been teaching us swimming at school.”
Carrying him over to the steps of the pool, Wally let him dangle his feet in the water and said, “Wow you must be really good then.”
“I’m okay,” Tim said for the sake of modesty, “but you can’t leave me in all by myself.”
“I would never even think about it.” Wally dipped in beside Tim and slowly lowered himself until his shorts began to inflate and the water stopped feeling as cold. “I could even teach you a few tricks if you wanted.”
Tim considered the offer as he made his way to the second step to test how comfortable he felt. In the end he decided, “I can’t go underwater though. The water hurts my eyes and ears.”
“Hmm. Maybe I can teach you how to jump into the pool. You’ve never done that before right?”
Concerned and barely able to imagine floating in the water by himself, Tim asked, “What if I jump too hard and my feet get broken when they hit the floor.”
“You’re floaties will keep you above water.”
“What if they pop while I’m jumping?” Tim asked. If there was anything Bruce had taught him it was that he needed to consider every possibility when it came to his safety.
“Then I’ll be the one to catch you.” Patting Tim’s hair because he knew how much it bothered him to get his hair wet, Wally assured him, “You’ll be ready by the end of the night. Just floating around the pool will calm your nerves, don’t worry.”
Tim responded to his wet hair by splashing water into Wally’s face while waiting for the water to not feel as chilly. It was was well past his waist by now and Tim was starting to feel anxious, but Wally was never more than a few inches away from his side.
By now Dick was warming up with laps around the pool, and he emerged from underwater to ask Tim, “Are you ready to go deeper?”
Enjoying the feeling of staying grounded to the steps, Tim decided, “No not yet. Maybe later, but not yet.”
“How about coming off the steps?” Dick tried. “You’ll like being able to move your legs more and get more comfortable.”
Knowing if he wanted to impress Conner he’d have to move past the steps at some point, Tim asked, “You’ll save me?”
“Of course that’s what we do.”
When Tim still couldn’t reach a decision Wally offered, “How about you crouch down a little so you can get everything wet and it won’t bother you as much to go deeper?”
Holding onto Wally’s hand as he made sure to keep his head above the water, Tim felt ready to go past the steps. He wanted to move before he got dry and cold again and as soon as he was properly wet he signaled for Wally and Dick to prepare to save him. Tim cautiously stepped off but as soon as his feet weren’t meeting anything he frantically splashed his arms in panic. He knew he wouldn’t drown with the floaties, but he only calmed down once Wally and Dick were holding him still and above water.
Concerned about his brother’s reaction, Dick asked, “Do you want the spaceship floatie? I can grab it for you.”
Tim wanted to argue, but as soon as Wally stopped holding onto him he began to panic again. He knew if he wanted to stay in the pool he’d probably need it.
Dick knew his brother had agreed even without him needing to say anything and he rushed out the pool to grab it from behind some of the lawn furniture. He threw it into the pool before leaping in beside it and pushing it in Tim’s direction.
Wally helped Tim move back to the steps so he could get into the hole and moved back to Dick’s side as they encouraged him to move out to them on his own. It took Tim a few seconds but that was only because he decided to leap from the top step to a few feet in front of him before kicking his feet forward as fast as he could.
Slowly moving backwards to urge Tim further towards the center, Dick asked, “It’s not that bad is it?”
Enjoying the feeling of being able to kick his legs, Tim admitted, “No I guess not. It makes it better actually.”
Before Dick could say anything in terms of gloating in his success, the door to the back porch opened up as Barry stepped out to bring the food for the party. He called out, “Hello boys! It looks like you’re having a lot of fun.”
“We are,” Tim said easily.
Dick added, “You should come in too Uncle Barry.”
“Doesn’t Bruce have a rule about an adult having to be at the pool to watch you guys?” Barry asked looking for an explanation for why he might leave the group preparing the rest of the food. “He doesn’t seem like the kind of person to let kids swim by themselves.”
“We’re only allowed to swim when Bruce or Alfred can watch us, but they don’t come in a lot,” Tim said trying to be helpful. “Sometimes Ace comes too, but he freaks out every time we go in the pool and tries to get us out even when we don’t need his help.”
Smirking down at them as he made sure the food was properly sealed, Barry said, “I guess Bruce would want me to drop everything and make sure no one gets hurt.”
Dick added, “The others should be getting here soon too so Bruce will have more help setting up.”
It didn’t take him long to change into his swimsuit and sneak past Bruce, it didn’t take him long to do most things, and he returned to find the boys competing to see who could make the largest splash with his jump.
Tim stayed in the back as the judge, he was the only one who couldn’t jump in so it was the only thing he could do, and tried to guard his face as Wally and Dick repeatedly leaped in. As soon as he spotted Barry taking off his shoes he asked, “Can you jump in too, Uncle Barry? You could make a huge splash if you jump.” By the sheer fact he was larger, Barry should have made the biggest jump out of the group.
Stepping up to the edge he said, “I’m going to need some room so no one gets hurt.” He leaped up as high as he could, a childish part of himself wanting to impress the boys, before looking up to see Tim wading in the water from the ripples.
“Uncle Barry wins,” Tim exclaimed clapping. “The water went so high and splashed me in the face.”
Before the others could start complaining about the comparison not being fair, the door opened again as Clark and Conner stepped onto the back porch to greet them enthusiastically.
“You guys look like you’re having a lot of fun,” Clark noted. “Although Steve and Diana were wondering where you went, Barry.”
Wanting Conner to get into the pool as soon as possible, Tim decided, “We’re about to start a game of volleyball. You should join too.”
Wally looked back at him confused, they hadn’t talked about any games, but seeing the blush growing deeper he knew to go along with it. By now pretty much everyone knew about Tim’s crush on Conner even though he didn’t like to admit it. Catching a similar knowing look in Dick, Wally added, “We should break out into teams. One member from each family on the teams to keep things fair.”
“I call Uncle Clark and Wally on my team,” Dick said quickly. “You guys won’t be able to beat us at all.”
Laughing, Barry assured him, “I wouldn’t be so sure, kid.”
While Conner went to the pool house to change and Clark went to find a ball and net to pass through the center Tim pulled Dick to the side to say, “I think I don’t need my floaties anymore, Dick.”
“You don’t know how to swim yet, Timmy,” Dick said. “You should probably keep them on.”
Looking back at the pool house, Tim begged, “But…Conner.”
“He won’t care about something like that,” Dick assured him. “You know that.”
“But I’m the only one, Dick.”
“No one cares. They care that you don’t get hurt.”
“Okay,” Tim grunted before adding, “Thank you, Dick.”
Swimming over to his half of the pool, Dick said, “No problem, Babybird. It’ll make up for how bad we beat you in this game.”
Catching the ball after Clark blew air into it, Barry tested it a few times as he warned Dick, “I wouldn’t be too sure about that.”
Conner took his place beside Tim and Barry and added, “We’re going to beat you so bad, Dick. We’re a lot better than you.” With all the things Clark had been teaching Conner, trash talking wasn’t one of them.
Once everyone was in position, Barry bounced the ball in his hand before speeding up to spike it over the net with just enough energy to not destroy it as soon as it hit the water. “One point for us,” he said smugly. “That’s the closest this game is going to be so cherish the moment.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure, Barry,” Clark said as he got into position to serve the ball over the net. “It might just be the only time you’re in the lead.”
The game stayed tied for most of the night, neither team could get more than one point ahead of the other, but after crossing 10 the kids decided to sit on the edge and watch the game instead. After they had decided the team to get a two point lead would be the winner, Barry and Clark starting being even more competitive and the boys couldn’t get anything in.
Every now and then Conner tried to use his laser eyes to try and pop the ball and end the game, but every time he tried he almost hit someone.
After a few minutes the door opened behind them as Hal and Diana joined the group. Once they saw the two in intense competition they asked the boys about the score before immediately joining in the game, Hal with Clark and Diana with Barry. There was a controversy for a moment over whether or not Hal should be allowed to use his ring in the game, but they decided it was okay if Diana could use her wrist cuffs.
Pretty soon Conner decided he was bored of seeing the same few plays get acted out over and over again. Once Barry’s team had the lead and was getting ready to serve he asked Clark, “Who are you going to kiss at midnight Dad?” Just to keep his attention Conner added, “You too, Uncle Hal, who are you going to kiss? Aunt Diana has Uncle Steve, but you two don’t have anyone.”
Shocked out of his concentration Clark turned to Conner alarmed. “Why would you ask that? What? Conner, what?”
As soon as the ball hit the water behind him and Hal Conner sighed and said, “This was getting boring. I don’t care anymore and you guys keep on doing the same thing over and over again.”
Before anyone could refute the point Diana called out, “That point counts. We win.”
“You boys really play dirty don’t you?” Hal said from beside Clark. “That was a smart move, Conner.”
Quickly running around and removing the net and from the pool before they could start another match, Wally said, “We should go join everyone on ground as soon as Tim tries to jump in.” He didn’t really care, he was just as hungry as the rest of the swimmers, but he still wanted to see Tim jump.
Tim quickly said, “No. It’s okay. We can eat instead.”
Wally promised, “I’ll catch you if that’s what you’re afraid of.”
Seeing no way out of the situation and everyone looking at him expectantly, Tim decided, “No it’s okay. I’ll do it.” Tim didn’t want any of the heroes to think he was scared and he slowly made his way to the end of the board. He could see that Wally was edging closer just in case, but Tim didn’t want anyone to think he needed the help. He inwardly counted to three but couldn’t seem to move his feet until he saw Conner look up expectantly.
Bruce caught a glimpse of Tim standing over the pool from inside the Manor where he was cutting up fruit. He wasn’t immediately worried, but he did rush outside to make sure everything was alright. Bruce noted the adults in the pool and said, “You have all been horrible help today. The pool was supposed to be for the kids,” before turning to his son to ask, “What are you doing, Tim?”
“I’m about to jump in the pool, Dad,” Tim explained with a shaky voice. “Everyone else did.”
Wally assured him, “It’s okay Uncle B. We’ll catch him if you’re worried.”
“I’m not worried, I just want to know Tim’s not worried.” Bruce knew he didn’t have to be worried all things considered, but he knew Tim was skeptical considering his stressed stance.
“It’s okay I can do it.” There was no way he was going to be surrounded by half the Justice League and not do something everyone else had done. It was only after a few words of encouragement from the group behind him that he walked more than jumped into the water. His eyes were squinted closed, his hands were still tightly grasping the floatie around his waist, and everyone was ready to go see if he needed help until Tim mumbled, “Cold. Cold. Cold. The water is very very cold.”
Diana reasoned, “It’s getting late and you were out of the pool for a while so it probably feels colder for you.”
Barry got out of the pool and quickly shook off the water until he was completely dry with Wally and Clark soon to follow. “I can grab you guys towels to dry off.”
Everyone called out in unison, “Please,” before stepping out of the pool and starting to shake as the cold air hit them hard.
Bruce helped Tim take off the floaties as he was shaking too hard to wiggle them off himself and once a towel landed on his head he tried to keep Tim warm. He warned, “You don’t want to spend the rest of the break sick.”
Dick wasn’t paying attention to the cold, but looked down at the food at the table and asked, “Can we start eating? Food looks pretty good.”
Dried off from a shower and clean of all the chemicals from the pool, Tim sat in the den of the pool house watching the clock start to countdown on tv. They still had a few hours until midnight but once the heating in the pool couldn’t counter the cold night everyone began to trickle out. As the only two non metas in the pool Dick and Tim were told to leave first and being much smaller Tim was finished first. He would have gone to Bruce and offer him help with the remainder of the party, there was going to be a larger dinner closer to midnight, but he was too tired to be of much help.
Surprisingly Conner was the next one to be finished and he quickly flew up to the seat beside Tim to join him in watching tv. Tim didn’t know what to say and he didn’t need to once Conner asked, “Do you wanna watch a movie? This is pretty boring.” The only thing they were showing was the crowd over NYC and after a few scenes it was pretty uninteresting.
“What movie do you want?” Tim offered, “We could watch anything you want to.”
Not too aware of many good movies, Conner asked, “What do you usually watch?”
“Dick and I like a lot of old kung fu movies, but I don’t know if the others would like them.”
Raking his mind for anything his father might have mentioned, Conner thought, “What about Star Wars?”
Feeling all the more in love, Tim asked, “Have you seen any of them before?”
“Not really,” Conner said honestly before remembering Tim might not be impressed with that answer. “I know a lot of the stuff that happens in them though.”
“Which one do you want to see first?” Tim asked. This was more of a test to see what Conner’s taste was, but he knew there was a right answer Tim would appreciate more.
“Dad always says to ignore the first three movies so we should probably start from the fourth one,” Conner said easily. He could tell that Tim was excited and he hoped it had something to do with him.
“Okay but we should wait until the others get here. They won’t like it if we start without them.” Tim didn’t want them to come in and see them in the middle of a movie if the adults wanted to watch something else.
“What should we do while we wait?” Conner asked. “It’s going to take a while before everyone finishes up.”
Dick came into the room wrapped in a towel and his pjs and offered the boys, “We should play video games. We might even get a few games in before everyone else takes over.”
Tim didn’t really mind, he thought it was a good idea considering he got to sit next to Conner on the couch, but he did think everyone was getting too competitive once the adults came back in. Even Bruce looked like he wanted to complain about them acting like children, but there wasn’t much he could say after he became obsessed with beating Diana on Rainbow Road. Dick had a personal vendetta against Steve after he made a joke about him being short and even Wally wanted to beat his uncle.
With a nudge to Tim’s arm Conner leaned in and whispered, “Do you want to go upstairs? You have a tv there right?”
Looking at the clock, Tim agreed. “We don’t have a lot of time before midnight. We won’t be able to catch most of the movie.”
“We could go on the balcony and watch the fireworks though.”
No one noticed them getting off the couch to leave the room, Dick subconsciously knew they made more room on the couch but he couldn’t pull himself away from the game long enough to notice why.
They found themselves in the game room on the second floor and immediately rolled the tv out to the balcony so they could watch the countdown. They only had a few minutes left until the ball dropped, but perked up when they saw that they had more than enough time to get comfortable on the couch.
Suddenly Conner remembered, “There’s a rule. When it’s officially midnight you have to kiss someone.”
Although he already knew about the tradition, the reminder lead Tim to lean in and whispered with a chuckle, “Do you think everyone downstairs is going to kiss?” Diana was the only one with her boyfriend there.
“Maybe they could do something like a kiss on the cheek instead. I don’t think they are going to notice when midnight happens though.” After a small pause to appreciate the skyline scene on the screen outside Conner worked up the courage to ask, “Do you want to kiss at midnight?”
Tim knew he must have looked flushed, Conner’s vision was good enough that the darkness wouldn’t bother him, but he managed to squeak out, “Yeah that sounds like a good idea.”
Conner didn’t show it, but he was proud of himself for finally asking Tim the questions. He had been debating it the entire trip over, he confessed his plan to Clark and asking for his advice, but it was nowhere near as nerve racking as he had imagined. Being around Tim just made him feel calm.
They didn’t say much to each other for the remainder of the day, there was only a few minutes left, but when the final few seconds began to countdown they straightened up in excitement. It was the nerve of knowing this was going to be both of their first kisses and that if they did something wrong they could ruin their relationship that kept them on edge.
As soon as the ball began to drop they faced each other feeling nervous all over again. Tim took the initiative this time and leaned into Conner until their lips met and neither of them dared breath and ruin the moment. They held the position for a few moments until they had to pull away to catch a breath and silently enjoy the fireworks lighting up the sky in front of them.
Waving goodbye at the crowd as they took off in their own forms of transportation, Tim finally began to feel incredibly tired. It was well past his regular bedtime and he knew he wouldn’t be able to stay up much longer so instead he held onto Bruce so his father would hold him as they entered the house.
Closing the door behind them, Bruce asked, “Do you want me to put you to bed?”
“Yes please,” Tim mumbled with a yawn.
“No problem, sport.”
“We did a lot today,” Tim remarked as they walked up the stairs. “I might even be tired tomorrow.”
“I’ll make sure no one bothers you until you’re well rested,” Bruce promised.
Tim hummed his appreciation but not before asking, “Can Conner come over tomorrow?”
“He’s probably going to want to stay in too.”
“Conner’s not like us,” Tim said happily. “He doesn’t need a lot of sleep just like Uncle Clark doesn’t.”
Sighing, Bruce said, “Maybe Clark wants him to stay inside so they can spend the day together. His break ends soon then yours.”
Tim grunted his acknowledgment and remained seated when Bruce laid him down on his bed. It was while Bruce’s back was towards him that Tim decided to add, “I kissed Conner today. While everyone was playing the game we went upstairs and watched everything on tv and at midnight we kissed.” Getting through the statement was harder than he had imagined and he found his voice getting airier as he went along.
Although he ignored looking Tim in the eye, Bruce dropped his pjs on the bed and said, “That’s nice son.”
“Do you think it will happen again?” Tim asked. He really wanted to, but all the movies he’d watched ended right here and he didn’t know what was supposed to happen after.
“I can’t know for sure, short.” Bruce cautiously asked, “Do you want it to?”
“Yes,” Tim said enthusiastically. “It was a lot of fun and I really really like him.”
“Well then I hope things go in your favor,” Bruce said diplomatically.
After smiling his appreciation to Bruce, Tim looked over the clothes he had chosen for him and prepared to change. Bruce patted his hair as a goodnight, but before he could leave Tim asked, “Are you going to sleep too?” If he wasn’t, Tim just might decide to stay up and see if he could sneak his phone away to call Conner in Metropolis.
Bruce said honestly, “I have to talk to Dick about something important and maybe make a call or two, but I’ll be in bed soon.”
Tim deflated as his plan fell through, but he decided he already had the perfect beginning for the new year..