Tim’s first time meeting Ace
Tim immediately froze from his position on his swing as he heard something move in the bushes behind him. At first he imagined it was a squirrel or bird looking for some food, they came to hang out in his yard a lot, but he soon heard something between a squeal and growl that forced him to imagine that he was being watched by something more dangerous. He nervously glanced over his shoulder ready to sprint back into his house in a moment’s notice.
Tightening his grip on the rope holding the swing up, Tim studied the bushes to see if he could make out what was watching him but stopped thinking when the noise moved in his direction. Tim realized he wouldn’t have enough time to run back inside and protect himself, the thing would probably catch up to him by then, and he was forced to come up with a new plan.
For a moment he wondered if it would be worth it to climb up the tree his swing was hung from, but Tim immediately recognized the problems with that plan. If that thing, maybe person, could climb the tree too Tim would be stuck without anything to do.
As the sound carried ever closer to him, he decided to act on instinct and hope for the best. Tim slowly lowered himself to the ground before using all of his energy to sprint to the fence between the Drake and Wayne properties. It didn’t take him long to climb over the fence, but he didn’t waste anytime looking back as he didn’t want to risk wasting precious time.
Tim cautiously lowered himself on top of the bushes planted along side the fence, he was small enough to sit on them without falling through, and finally landed on the well manicured grass of Bruce Wayne’s backyard. He took a moment to see that there was no one around, but he didn’t expect anything different as it was still a little early and Bruce just have only gotten back from patrol a few hours ago.
Although he didn’t want to bother Bruce, Batman definitely needed all the sleep he could get, Tim couldn’t think of anything to do other than run to the front door and start ringing the doorbell. At least it would be better than knocking the door on the back porch.
It didn’t take long for Alfred to open the door, Tim knew he must have known about Tim climbing over the fence considering how extreme the security was in the Manor, and the butler politely asked, “Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Tim?”
Nodding his head frantically, Tim motioned for him to lean down and carefully whispered, “I need Batman. I need Bruce.”
Alfred stiffened up, Tim knew it must have been shocking, but to his benefit he didn’t try to play dumb. Instead he motioned for Tim to follow him into the Manor and lead him to a sitting room explaining simply, “I’ll go collect Master Bruce. It shouldn’t take long so please wait here until then.”
Now safe from danger and alone, Tim wondered if he’d made the wrong decision. Maybe this wasn’t something Batman needed to be worried about, maybe it actually just was a squirrel and Tim was acting like a baby, and he’d get annoyed with Tim bothering him. After all Bruce dealt with people like Joker and Ivy all the time. He was too important to be worried about something scaring Tim.
Tim debated whether or not he should run back to his house and deal with whatever was in his backyard himself, but after taking a few minutes to think it over he decided to would be even ruder to bother them and then run away without explanation. He didn’t need Bruce telling his parents about how he’d been bothering his neighbors.
Before too long Bruce walked into the room visibly concerned. He took a seat beside Tim and asked, “What is it, Tim? Alfred said you needed me.”
Frantically nodding once again, Tim explained, “There’s something in my house, Mr. Wayne. I was outside on my swing and I heard something moving around. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think it was a squirrel or a bird. It sounded scary. At first I thought I had imagined it, but then it started coming closer so I ran over to you.”
“Why me? Aren’t your parents home?” Bruce asked curious. He didn’t want to interrogate a boy obviously concerned, but he was still shocked about what Alfred had told him. He still didn’t believe that a small boy could know his secret.
“Your Batman and my parents are away right now,” Tim explained easily. “They’re in Russia looking at fossils of something so I’m alone right now.”
Momentarily not as interested in Tim’s confession of his secret, Bruce asked, “Don’t you have someone looking after you? Is there anyone in your house to help you.”
Tim could tell Bruce was upset and he deflated as he realized it was probably something to do with him. Still, he honestly answered, “I’m too old for a babysitter Mr. Wayne. I can look after myself.”
Bruce wanted to ask more questions, particularly about him knowing he’s Batman and who thought it was okay to leave such a young boy alone, but he didn’t think it would be best for Tim. Instead he stood up and said, “It was in your backyard, right? We should go and see what it is.”
Nodding, Tim stood up and followed Bruce outside. This time they took the more normal route as they walked to Tim’s house and he dug out the house key from his pocket and offered it to Bruce because he still wasn’t great at opening the door. It was pretty heavy and it took a lot of Tim’s energy and time to push it open. This was time sensitive.
Bruce frowned as he took the key from Tim but forced himself to stop when he say the boy looking up at him concerned. The last thing he wanted was for Tim to think he was upset at him.
As soon as they were inside Tim lead him through the fastest route to the backyard. He stopped as soon as they were at the porch doors and scanned around looking to see if there was anything a miss. He pointed in the direction of his swing and explained, “It was in that direction, but I don’t know where it is right now. It might not be here anymore, but it really was a few minutes ago, Mr. Wayne.”
“I believe you, Tim,” Bruce assured him. He didn’t think it was really anything to be worried about, a person would have definitely left by now, so he offered, “Do you want to come out with me?”
Unsure, Tim took a moment to consider his options. At the very least he didn’t want Bruce, Batman, to think he was scared and he knew Bruce would protect him. Deciding it was a good a time as any to be brave, Tim nodded and said, “Sure, I don’t mind.”
“Stay behind me,” Bruce instructed as he opened the door. “You can tell me which way to go, but stay behind me.”
Tim gripped onto the back of Bruce’s pant leg and explained, “It shouldn’t take long to get there. It’s only a few minutes away.”
They walked silently, both trying to listen intently for any noise, but Bruce was distracted by the distance they were walking. He knew the Drakes had a back yard comparable to his own, many acres, but he couldn’t comprehend why anyone would think it was okay for a child to play by himself so far aware from even his own home. Bruce guessed it was a great thing that Tim was able to find his way to the Wayne Manor.
By the time they were at the swing Bruce wouldn’t even see the house, but Tim had other worries. He asked, “Should I go on the swing? It might be waiting for me to get on the swing.”
“Sure,” Bruce said not really aware what the right answer was. “I’ll look around to see if I can find it.”
They worked in silence, Tim scanning around the bushes and Bruce peeking inside them, but they couldn’t hear anything. Bruce could see that Tim was getting nervous, he probably thought it might have broken into his home or that Bruce didn’t believe him, but he couldn’t think of anything to say to assure him things were fine.
Bruce walked around a little, hoping to hear something get some clues, and luckily enough he heard a branch break not too far away. Looking back, he could see that Tim had heard it too and when they heard it a second time Tim sprinted behind Bruce for safety.
The boy was obviously incredibly worried and Bruce asked, “Do you want to run back home while I deal with this?”
Tim considered the distance he would have to run and decided, “It’s safer with Batman.”
Bruce wanted to say something about not mentioning that while they’re outside, but he was still more worried about Tim. “Stay close, okay? Everything will be fine.”
Tim nodded and held on tightly to Bruce’s pant as they made their way in the direction of the noise. It became louder as they got closer and pretty soon Bruce knew just where it was coming from. He could tell Tim wasn’t ready to let go so he decided it would be best to work slowly.
The noise stopped as soon as Bruce got closer and Tim dropped his hold on Bruce to cover his eyes and save himself from having to see just what it was. His imagination was going crazy by picturing the scariest most vile concoction that could exist.
Bruce slowly found whatever it was and carefully scavenged through the bushes until he pulled out a familiar looking ball of fur into the light. Practically on the verge of running away again, Tim only looked up when Bruce softly assured him, “It’s fine, Tim. There’s nothing to be worried about.”
Trusting Bruce, Tim peeked through his fingers and was embarrassed to find an annoyingly cute puppy trying to break out of Bruce’s hold. Unsure of what to do, Tim settled for blushing and trying to hide his face as he realized he’d gotten afraid of a little dog who didn’t look like he could fight a leaf. Tim didn’t want to know what Bruce thought of him.
Bruce let out an uncharacteristic smile as Tim tried to calm down his blush. He helped the boy to his feet as he explained, “This is a puppy I got for Dick not long ago, but apparently he broke into your backyard. I’ll make sure Dick keeps a better eye on him from now on so you don’t have to worry. I’m sorry he put you through this ordeal though. Dick will definitely be getting a lecture.”
“That’s okay,” Tim whispered not wanting Dick to get in trouble on his behalf. Instead he leaned in to get a better look of the pup and asked, “What’s his name?”
“He changes his mind every few days, but at this point I think he’s settled on Ace.” Bruce reiterated, “Don’t worry. I’ll have a word with him about not letting this happen again.”
Tim didn’t think he would have a problem if Ace broke into his backyard again, this was in fact Batman’s dog, but he had to ask, “Is he going to fight crime too?”
Thinking to himself as Bruce held open the door, Tim repeated, “When he’s older, he’s probably too small now, but when he’s older is he going to go on patrol with you and Dick?”
“No, Timothy,” Bruce answered hoping Tim would stop talking about his nightlife outside while lacking the resolve to ask the boy to stop. “He’s a dog and dogs don’t fight crime.”
Tim let them walk in silence for a few minutes, but he eventually noted, “Superman’s dog fights crime. He even has his own cape.”
“Yes he does but that’s because his dog is an alien like him. Superman would never take out a regular dog and put him in danger.”
Bruce’s tone told Tim to drop the subject but before he could apologize they were already at the door to Wayne Manor. Before Tim could thank Bruce for his help and turn back home, Alfred opened the door and motioned for them to come inside. “I take it everything went well, Master Bruce?”
“It was only Ace,” Bruce explained. “He’d managed to break into Tim’s backyard when no one was looking. I’ll talk to Dick about it.”
Standing in the foyer unsure of what his role in the conversation was, Tim decided to dismiss himself and turn back home. He smiled at Bruce and said, “Thank you for helping me, Mr. Wayne, but I should probably head back home now. It’s getting late.”
Surprising even himself, Bruce said, “I’d prefer it if you stayed for lunch, Timothy. It’s the least we could do after you found Ace.”
“Are you sure, Mr. Wayne? You don’t have to if it’s too much trouble.”
“Definitely, Timothy. It’s the least I can do to make it up to you for causing you so much trouble.”
Tim wanted to argue, but he couldn’t bring himself to disagree with Batman. Instead he compromised, “I can stay for a little while, but I’ll go home after.”
Tightening his hold on the rope in his hand, Tim tried his hardest to pull it away from Ace. They had been in the same position for a few minutes now, neither of them willing to give up any ground, but Tim could tell Ace was running out of energy. If he could hold out for a few more minutes he was sure he’d win.
He risked a glance back to the porch and saw Dick and Bruce watching him intently. They were talking to each other, probably about him, and Tim knew he wouldn’t let them see him lose to Ace. He loved the puppy, but this was about impressing Batman.
Just as he’d expected Ace gave up not long after and Tim dropped down beside him in exhausted victory. They’d spent their entire day chasing each other around Bruce’s backyard, everyone else was too busy, and Tim assumed this was a good a time as any to call it a day.
He collapsed on the grass and giggled as Ace padded around him looking for the best position to join before crawling on top of his lap. Tim tried to stay awake as long as he could, the ground wasn’t the best place to fall asleep, and it took all of his remaining energy to urge Ace up and towards the Manor.
Tim eventually found himself sitting beside Bruce with Ace on his other side taking a well deserved nap.
“We spent all day outside, Mr. Wayne,” Tim said proudly. “We were running and jumping and everything. He got to be Batdog and I was Batman.”
“You must be pretty tired,” Bruce noted still unable to ask Tim to stop talking about Batman. “It takes a lot of energy to keep up with a dog like Ace.”
“Yeah he almost never wants to stop,” Tim said thinking back to when he’d started chasing the squirrels that lived in Bruce’s trees. “I don’t know how he can always be moving.”
“Well I’m really glad you offered to look after him while I’m not able, Timothy.”
Tim was getting better at hiding his blush, but right now he was too tired to do anything other than assure him, “It wasn’t hard. I really like spending time with him.”
“You think you can stay for a while longer?” Bruce asked cautiously. He knew there was something to be said about a practical stranger asking a kid to stay at his house, but he found himself saying, “Ace really likes you and I think he’d be hurt to have to leave so soon.”
Looking down, Tim considered his options. Batman needed his help. He was sure this was what his whole life was leading up to. Still, he wasn’t sure there was anything he could do. Worse yet, what if he messed it up and ruined his relationship with Bruce forever? He took a moment to fully take in the fact he was sitting in the back porch of Wayne Manor with Batman to one side, Ace on the other, and Dick inside getting them a snack before he finally decided, “I’ll stay if you need me to, Mr. Wayne. I’d love to help!”