Tim woke up to the feeling of Bruce’s chest rising and falling softly as he slept on. Blinking himself awake, Tim felt a puddle of his drool on on Bruce’s shirt and tried to pat it dry before he woke up. He ended up doing nothing to help the situation and all he ended up doing was waking Bruce up to the feeling of a light pat on his chest.
Not used to sleep soundly, Bruce basked in Tim’s warmth before nudging him to get his attention and greeting him, “Good morning, Tim.”
Smiling up at the soft tone, Tim replied, “Good morning, Bruce.” He didn’t know why but his toes curled up and it just might have to do with him feeling much safer than he had in months.
Understanding the many emotions running through him, Bruce urged Tim back into his original position and asked, “How are you feeling?”
Holding his hand out while he waited for Bruce to offer him his, Tim played around with the massive size difference in their fingers while he tried to figure out what the best response would be. “I think I’m still asleep, but I’m not sure.”
Not liking that he had to turn their light conversation into a serious one, Bruce softly rubbed his knuckles while he asked, “Do you remember what we talked about yesterday?” He wanted to ready to read into everything Tim said and flinching fingers were some of the best indicators.
Tim sighed into Bruce’s chest and tried to keep up the light tone of their conversation. “Yeah but…Bruce I don’t want to talk about that right now. I’d much rather get some breakfast and coffee first and then have a serious conversation.”
Knowing a diversion when he saw one, Bruce decided to indulge him and offered, “That’s no problem, but I’m assuming that we’re going to be eating cereal again?”
Getting up from his place in Bruce’s side, Tim stretched out his arms and thought out loud, “I can probably make something light, but it’s not going to be anywhere near as good as what Alfred makes.”
Bruce gave him a soft laugh and promised him, “Don’t worry. I’ve learned not to hold it against people.”
Standing over the stove as he scrambled some eggs, Tim hummed a soft song while he waited for the coffee to finish roasting. It was a strange sight for Bruce to walk in on, Tim was still wearing his pajamas and he still wasn’t fully awake at the moment, but Bruce appreciated the lack of stress or worry in Tim’s stance. He didn’t know how long it had been since Tim felt that at ease and Bruce knew that if they could make this much progress in a single day, in a few weeks he would have his son back.
Bruce pulled out a seat at the small table and decided to strike up a light conversation while he waited for the meal to be finished. “Where did you learn to cook? It already seems scores ahead of anything Dick and I could possibly make.” There was a particular lack of burning toast and spilled salt that always seemed to decorate the kitchen even when the meal didn’t involve salt.
Obviously it was the wrong question to ask because Tim straightened up, but he answered, “I didn’t always have someone to look after me so I sort of had to learn. It was either that or take out and I got out of the mood for pizza after a while.” Placing down a plate in front of Bruce, Tim sat down in his own seat and shrugged off, “You saw the tapes so…you saw.”
Eating some of the scrambled eggs while he planned out the best way to bring up the subject, Bruce waited until Tim was somewhat comfortable and began, “Tim there were some things we didn’t talk about last night, some things that didn’t come up.”
Tim’s eyes darkened at the reminder and he asked, “Is it what I think it is?”
Shaking his head at the vague question, Bruce promised, “Tim, no more beating around the bush. It’s about when your father found out about you being Robin.”
The sad smile that made his way onto Tim’s face was enough for Bruce to want to throw Jack in the pit to give him a piece of his mind, but it was Tim’s answer that brought him back to reality. “Yeah that’s what I thought. It was…it was rough.”
Moving his chair so that he could sit beside Tim, Bruce took his small hands into his own once again before he told him, “It wasn’t rough, Tim. It was abuse. Plain and simple, it was abuse.”
Watching as his his leg began to shake under the table, Tim said, “You want to talk about what he said.”
Squeezing his hands until he could bring Tim’s attention back to their conversation, Bruce said, “What he insinuated, Tim-”
If they were going to be blunt and honest with each other it had to extend to everything and Tim felt a need to voice out, “He thought you and I were sleeping together-having sex.”
Cringing back at the words, Bruce apologized, “Tim, if I’ve ever done something to make you feel like that, if you’ve ever felt uncomfortable around me I’m truly sorry.”
Looking up at the sincere look on his face, Tim promised him, “Bruce, it wasn’t about you. It was about me.”
Confused and aware that there was even more for him to learn, Bruce asked, “What does that mean, Tim? What don’t I know yet?”
Itching the side of his to try to distract himself from what he was about to admit, Tim took a deep breath and explained, “This happened before I was Robin so you didn’t see it, but my dad wasn’t really happy to find out that I am gay.”
Unsure of what this meant, Bruce offered a quiet, “Oh, I didn’t know.”
“Yeah. I don’t really bring it up because, well you saw my dad and it wasn’t really a pretty picture.”
Letting Tim rest his head in his shoulder, Bruce asked, “How did he find out?” even though he knew he wouldn’t like the answer.
Tim bit his lip for a moment before answering, “It was a concerned teacher. In the fifth grade there was a boy I was pretty hungover, he and I would always talk about how much we loved some show, I can’t remember the name now, but we were together a lot. We always sat together during lunch and we were beginning to learn about feelings and things like that and we talked about and decided it would be nice to kiss each other just before the bell rang to test out the waters and she caught us and told both of our parents.”
A little struck at the image of a much younger Timothy acting flustered about a boy, Bruce began to realize the implication and said, “I’m assuming your father didn’t react well.”
Gripping onto Bruce’s sleeve Tim added, “I wasn’t allowed to go to school for a week until the bruises and swelling went down.”
Taking him into his arms, Bruce declared, “You didn’t deserve that, Tim. You did not deserve to be treated like that.”
Not wanting to focus too much on the past, Tim broke out of Bruce’s hold and conceded, “I know, Bruce, but he was my dad and I can’t really change that.”
Although he wasn’t sure if he was stepping outside of his bounds, Bruce decided to do what felt the most natural to him and right now that has comforting Tim. “I know most of our relationship has been murky and strained to say the least, but I want you to know that I have always wanted you to be my son.”
Tim took his eyes off of Bruce to admit, “I used to pretend that I was. When I lived in the Manor I used to pretend I wouldn’t have to go back to him.”
Smiling internally at the image of him raising Timothy from a young age, Bruce assured him, “I know that many times victims of abuse aren’t able to find a way to escape it, but I want you to know that I would’ve loved to have you as son from the beginning.”
Tim tried to be happy about what he had said, but Bruce wanted there to be nothing left unsaid so he had to add, “I remember, Bruce, I don’t know if you do, but I remember that you used to call me ‘Dick’ and…”
Even though Tim had already broken out of his hold, Bruce took his hands back into his own and uncharacteristically babbled, “Oh god Tim, I did see that in some of the tapes from the cave yesterday, but I didn’t mean it. It was not intentional on my part and I know that doesn’t mean much but I never meant to hurt you. After Dick left, I wasn’t in a good place and I took it out on you and everyone around me, but I realize now just how much it hurt you Tim. But believe me, please, believe me when I say that you are my son, Tim. You are my son just like Dick is my son and there is nothing I would ever do to change it.”
Turning his attention away from the plate before him, Tim gave him an honest to god smile and kissed his cheek before getting up to remind Bruce, “You said something yesterday about me moving back to the Manor. I’m going to go get ready.”
It became Bruce’s job to load everything into his car but he didn’t mind too much because he got to watch Tim rest his feet on the dashboard with his seat reclined back. He looked at peace, something of a rarity, and Bruce knew he should have expected as much from Tim when he got to sit in an expensive car.
Closing the trunk and sliding into his own seat, Bruce pushed his seat back a little to give Tim enough room to move his feet onto his lap. As he drove out back to the Manor Bruce rubbed his ankles and talked in depth about Ace’s new habit of trying to trick everyone to thinking he hadn’t been fed yet. In one day he had eaten seven meals when he brought his empty bowl out to Bruce, Alfred, and Dick twice a day and the only reason they found out was because he had to take a long nap every couple of hours to digest the meals.
Tim’s lips curled up at the image of a flustered Alfred trying to push a tired old Great Dane. He enjoyed the moment, the absence of any tension between the two of them, and felt at ease as he laughed loudly at the idea that Dick had been forced to clean up after Ace because he had been the one to feed him the most.
As they entered the gates of the estate, Tim returned his feet to their proper position and began putting his shoes back on. Bruce parked the car and lifted up the trunk while Tim grabbed some of the lighter bags and made his way in to see Alfred cleaning the foyer. As soon as he saw the teenager confusion and then delight pass over his face as he realized what the bags meant.
Dropping the bags at the foot of the stairs, Tim ran out to Alfred and threw his arms around him. Alfred threw a surprised look over his shoulder to Bruce and even though he didn’t fully understand the situation he appreciated having his grandson back.
Setting up his room didn’t take too much time especially with Bruce feeling the need to help out with everything he could. Tim delegated all of the duties over to him while he watched and gave instructions from his bed.
Once the bags and boxes were empty, Bruce sat down on the bed beside him and held him in the silence. Letting him rest his head on his chest once again, Bruce rubbed his arm and acknowledged, “I really don’t know how I have spent so much time without you on by my side. I need you here just as much as anyone else, much more than anyone else, and I promise that things are going to be different from now on.”
Before Tim could even think of a response there was a knock on his door and Dick walked in to smile at the sight of the two together enjoying the nice moment.
“What did I miss?”
Looking down at Tim and easily reading the expression on his face, Bruce kissed the top of his head and left the room with a firm hand on Dick’s shoulder. Tim sat up straight on his bed while Dick took out his desk chair and began, “Tim, about what happened in the Watchtower…I realized I never apologized.”
Feeling that he’d had enough heartfelt conversations for a few hours, Tim tried to assure him, “Dick you don’t need to-”
Shaking his head, Dick insisted, “Yes I do little brother. I said some things while Bruce was gone. I flat out called you crazy and tried to send you to Arkham and I’m sorry.”
Stepping out of his seat to set next to his little brother, Dick let him know, “I’m incredibly sorry and I don’t know why I never mentioned it before, but I’m so sorry. I should have been a better older brother and you needed me to be, we both lost our dad when Bruce left, and I should have been a better brother.”
Smiling at him to let him know there was no ill will between the two of them, Tim said, “It’s never too late to try again. Who knows, maybe you’ll be an even better brother this time?”