Bat Snapshots 13: Learning Curve IV

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, “Good morning, Tim.”

Smiling up at the soft tone, Tim replied, “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 weeks, in months.

Understanding that emotions were almost as hard for Tim as they were for him, Bruce urged Tim back into his original position and calmly 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. I still think that this might all just be a dream.”

Bruce softly rubbed his knuckles while he asked, “Do you remember what we talked about yesterday?”

Tim sighed into Bruce’s chest and tried to shake off the rest of his sleepiness. Even though he couldn’t think straight yet, he still knew, “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.”

Bruce knew a diversion when he saw one, but he decided to indulge Tim. “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 made some toast, 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 breakfast nook and asked, “Where did you learn to cook?” Just from the smell he could note, “It’s 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 follow any time they came anywhere near the kitchen.

Obviously it was the wrong question to ask considering Tim straightened up, but he still 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 and another one for himself, Tim sat down in his own seat and shrugged off, “You saw the tapes so…you saw.”

Eating some of the assorted fruit while he planned out the best way to bring up the subject, Bruce waited until Tim was somewhat comfortable to begin the hard part of the conversation. “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 mumbled, “‘I’m guessing it’s what I think it is.”

“No more beating around the bush,” Bruce promised. “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 the present. “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 stressed, “It wasn’t rough, Tim. It was abuse. Plain and simple, it was abuse.”

Tim watched as his his leg began to shake under the table and said, “You want to talk about what he said.”

“What he insinuated, Tim-” Bruce started. “What he said about us-”

If they were going to be blunt and honest with each other it had to extend to everything and Tim felt a need to admit, “He thought you and I were sleeping together – having sex.”

Cringing back at the words, Bruce felt the need to apologize. “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. You don’t have to feel bad.”

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 the best reaction would be, Bruce offered a quiet, “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.”

Bruce leaned closer to him and let him rest his head on his shoulder and asked, “How did he find out?” He didn’t think he wanted to know, but Tim needed to say it.

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 crush, Bruce let himself imagine what it must have looked like before realizing, “I’m assuming your father didn’t react well.”

Gripping onto Bruce’s sleeve as he kept his gaze low, Tim added, “I wasn’t allowed to go to school for a week until the bruises and swelling went down.”

Bruce tightened his hold on Tim and 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 assured him, “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. It was probably the fatherly instincts Alfred always talked about that lead him to say, “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. Maybe it took a lot longer than it should have, but you’re my son and there’s nothing that’s going to change that.”

Tim took his eyes off of Bruce to admit, “I used to pretend that I was.” At Bruce’s worried look he stressed, “Before everything. When I used to live next door and didn’t really know you and when I lived in the Manor and 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 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 there was still something that he couldn’t get over. “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.”

Neither of them said anything for a while, there was little left to say, but eventually Tim gave him an honest to god smile 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 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.

As they entered the gates of the estate, 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, but he didn’t need to understand everything to simply appreciated having his grandson back.

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.”


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