Tim woke up annoyed to find that the soft, cold pillow he remembered falling asleep on had been replaced by something too hard and too warm for him to stay asleep. He shifted around trying to find a comfortable position before remembering just what had happened the night before and shooting up straight to find Bruce staring at him intently.
Hoping this would be an opportunity to get more information out of the boy, Bruce softly asked, “How did you sleep?” At Tim’s concerned look as he climbed off sit beside him, he remembered, “You can say anything you want, Timothy. You don’t have to wait for me to give you permission.”
Still not believing Bruce, Tim decided to focus on the question and answer honestly. “It was nice, Mr. Wayne. Thank you for coming.”
“I said I would,” Bruce reminded him hoping to instill some trust. “I was right outside of your room the whole time and when I heard you I knew to come in and help.”
Unsure of what to do, Tim focused on the bear Dick had left with him until Bruce told him, “Alfred is going to come here with something to eat in a couple of minutes. I told him to make a little of everything because we didn’t get a chance to find out what you liked so don’t feel the need to eat everything.”
“Yes, Mr. Wayne.” Tim said in acknowledgement. “I’m sure everything Mr. Pennyworth makes will be wonderful.”
Bruce was happy to see Tim was willing to talk and decided to try his luck. “Are you ready to talk, Timothy? I’d like it if you could answer some of my questions.” When Tim didn’t meet his eye or say anything in response, Bruce shifted into a serious tone and asked, “How did you get all those bruises, Tim? Did your parents do that?”
“No, Mr. Wayne,” Tim said instinctively. “There’s nothing wrong that we need to talk about.”
“You and I both know that’s not true.” Leaning in and raising Tim’s chin to force him to look at Bruce in the eye, he stressed, “You’re not alone anymore, Tim. You don’t have to lie to me and I’m not going to be upset about anything you have to say.”
Tim didn’t know what to do with the information so it was good for him when Alfred walked in with their breakfast. He used the opportunity to put some distance him and Bruce before Alfred set down the tray tables and asked, “Is there anything in particular you would like to eat, Timothy? I’ve made pancakes with chocolate chips, baked bean and toast, and an omelet for you to chose from.”
When Tim looked between Bruce and Alfred anxious, Alfred remembered, “You can say anything you want, Master Timothy.”
“Pancakes please,” Tim said as he noticed just how appetizing they looked from his position and remained unaware of the quick look Bruce and Alfred shared over his head.
Setting the plate down in front of him and leaving some syrup for him to apply at his leisure, Alfred turned to Bruce and asked, “Would you like your regular, Master Bruce?”
“Yes please, Alfred.”
“And your coffee, Mr. Wayne?”
“I’d rather tea, darjeeling if we have it or sencha if we don’t.” He explained, “I’m not planning on doing a lot of work today.”
“No problem, Mr. Wayne,” Alfred promised as he set a plate of baked beans and a side of fresh fruit. “I’ll bring it up as soon as I can.”
Alone again with Bruce once Alfred closed the door behind him, Tim focused on his pancakes and tried not to be too sloppy as he dug the butter knife through the stack. He almost forgot to move Dick’s bear to the side to make sure he didn’t get stained.
Bruce didn’t say anything as they ate, but he did watch intently as Tim refused to look up from his plate and strained with the knife meant for someone much older with him. Knowing the boy wasn’t going to ask him for help any time soon, Bruce he decided it was a good a time as any to be forward. “I can help you with that if you want. Next time I’ll get Alfred to get a knife easier for you to handle.”
The plate and knife were in Bruce’s hands before Tim could respond, it wasn’t like he knew what to say either way, but Tim was inwardly thankful to have the help. He was sure his blush made it more than obvious to Bruce.
They continued the meal in silence, neither could think of anything to say that wouldn’t be more awkward than the quiet, and both were working over what they’d do when it was time to talk. Tim was just as intent to keeping quiet as Bruce was to get information out of him.
Once the plates were clear, Bruce moved the trays off the bed and stressed, “We’re going to talk about this, Tim. I’m sorry but we have to talk about your parents.”
Tim knew a losing battle when he saw one, Bruce was obviously determined, so he deflated and whispered, “Okay, Mr. Wayne.”
“Can I see the bruises again?” Bruce asked hoping it would be easier for Tim than talking. At the very least it would be a step forward that eased Tim into disclosing more information. He explained, “I’d like to see how serious it is and if I should rush you to the doctor.”
Tim dutifully removed the shirt and tried not to show how much it hurt to raise his arms that high. He kept his focus away from how Bruce’s face immediately darkened and turned his attention to anything else as Bruce shifted closer and started looking over some of the fresher bruises. It all went by in a haze, Bruce occasionally instructing Tim to lift an arm or bend a particular way and Tim was sure they’d spent the better part of an hour on the examination before Bruce asked, “I want you to be honest with me, Tim. Where how did you get these bruises? Who did this?”
Although he’d expected the strained tone, it still caught him off guard and he was barely able to force out, “I fell, Mr. Wayne. I fell from a tree and got hurt.” Bruce’s stern look told him he wasn’t convinced but Tim repeated, “I fell from a tree, Mr. Wayne,” aware that they both knew he was lying.
“I’m a very smart man, Tim,” Bruce said sternly and hoping his tone would be enough to force honesty out of Tim.
“I-I fell,” Tim insisted hoping he’d drop the subject. When it didn’t work and Bruce’s expression only got darker he knew he’d have to come clean soon. The last thing Tim wanted was to have Bruce upset with him and he found himself admitting, “Mother and Father. It was Mother and Father.”
Pleased to have an honest answer, Bruce kept his voice softer and asked, “How did it happen?”
“They hit me.”
“Does it happen a lot?” Bruce knew the six year old was on the verge of tears, but he was unable to control himself from wanting to hear Tim confirm what he already knew.
“Yes,” Tim whispered just low enough for Bruce to hear. “It happens a lot when I do something bad like break something or bother them but sometimes they don’t tell me what I did wrong and I don’t – didn’t know how to be better and fix it.” His voice was broken and Bruce could tell his eyes had glazed over, but Tim continued to insist, “I tried, I really did, but they didn’t always say what I did wrong so I didn’t know how to be better.”
Hoping to calm him down, Bruce lifted him into his lap and let him cry into his shoulder. He didn’t know what to say to lift his spirits, he had a feeling Alfred and Dick would be better at it than him, but he thought Tim needed to let out his frustration. Bruce wasn’t sure he’d ever had the opportunity or the free will until now.
It didn’t take Tim long to realize what he’d done, but before the six year old could say anything Bruce assured him, “You didn’t do anything wrong, Tim. I can promise you that you didn’t do anything wrong. Your parents…your parents were just…the problem was your parents not you.”
“You can’t tell them I told you, Mr. Wayne,” Tim pleaded close to rambling again. “I’m not allowed to talk about it, Mr. Wayne, and I’ll be in a lot of trouble if they know I told you. You can’t tell anyone that I told you, Mr. Wayne.”
“Nothing is going to happen to you, Tim,” Bruce promised. “You don’t have to worry.”
“You won’t tell?” Tim asked cautious as Bruce had avoided actually answering the question.
“Of course not, Timmy,” Bruce whispered hoping that the nickname would calm him down. “I won’t do anything you don’t want me to. Ever.”
Even though he knew Bruce had all the information he had been asking for, Tim found himself admitting, “I – I didn’t know what to do, Mr. Wayne. I didn’t know what to do. Some – sometimes, even when they were gone, I didn’t know when I was doing something wrong or even what I was doing wrong and I wanted to p – punish myself for messing up. I just…I knew I was doing something bad and what was supposed to happen because I was being bad. Mother and Father knew about it and they never said anything so I thought I was being g – good. I thought I was doing the right thing, that that was what I was supposed to be doing, but this one time one of my nannies tried to help me clean up and take me to the doctor but Father fired her so I didn’t know what to do, Mr. Wayne. I didn’t know.” Losing some of his energy, Tim whispered, “I just – I didn’t know what to do.”
Bruce was glad Tim couldn’t look at his face from his position because he was sure he looked like he would attack anything. He really wished either Alfred or Dick were here to help Tim, Bruce didn’t know how, but judging from how Tim went limp he wasn’t planning on moving anytime soon. At the very least Tim seemed to feel safe with him.
Neither of them moved for a while, Tim needing to cry things out and Bruce needing the time to think things over, but this time when Tim tried to break away Bruce let him. He wiped away some of Tim’s stray tears, but he couldn’t do anything about the red, puffy eyes. When Tim finally felt able to collect himself he softly asked, “May I put my shirt back on? It’s cold, Mr. Wayne.”
“I’d like for you to get changed into something else, Timmy.” He explained, “I want to take you to a doctor, one I know very well, so she can look over your wounds. I’m not sure all of them healed properly.”
Ready to not spend the rest of the day crying, Tim knew he’d lose another battle just as easily as the last one and he nodded ready to get the whole ordeal over with.
It took Bruce a while to find the car seat Dick had outgrown years ago, but he enjoyed watching Tim watch him. The boy sat on top of one of the motorcycles parked to the side of the garage playing with the bear Dick had given him while Bruce looked through storage containers and old boxes. He eventually found it in the back with some of the other things Dick had outgrown and motioned Tim over once it was secure in the car. He explained, “I know they can be annoying, Tim, but it’s for your safety.”
Tim didn’t say anything, Bruce didn’t really expect him to, but he did seem happy when Bruce offered to bring the bear along. The drive was uneventful, Bruce pointing out a few interesting buildings and asking questions every now and then to lighten the mood, but Tim seemed satisfied to sit back and watch silently as they drove off the estate.
As they moved closer to the city something seemed to dawn on Tim and Bruce caught a glimpse of him stiffening up in his seat. He muddled things over in his before cautiously, “Are you going to tell the doctor everything, Mr. Wayne? Everything I told you?”
“Of course not, Timmy,” Bruce assured him again. The nickname felt awkward to voice, Bruce wasn’t one to use nicknames often, but it seemed to work on Tim and that was enough of a reason for Bruce to continue using it. “I won’t tell her anything you don’t want me to. I will say that you can trust her, Tim. You can trust her with anything that you want to say and I think you should tell her everything, but I won’t force you to or tell her without your permission.”
“Are you going to be in the room, Mr. Wayne?” Tim asked cautiously. He was beginning to feel safe around Bruce and he didn’t want to be separated from him just yet. At the very least he didn’t want to be left in a room with a complete stranger.
“If you want me to I can be outside the room,” Bruce said thinking Tim wanted privacy with the doctor. “If you’re uncomfortable I don’t mind letting you talk Dr. Thompkins alone.”
“No. I want you there, Mr. Wayne. I’d like you to be there.”
“Then I’ll be right beside you, Tim.”
Although he tried to hide it, Bruce could tell that Tim wasn’t impressed with the clinic when they finally parked the car along the curb. At the very least he had assumed that Bruce’s doctor wouldn’t have a practice in Crime Alley with a sign advertising free care.
As soon as Tim was released from his seat and helped out of the car he glued himself to Bruce’s side weary of everything as they walked down the road. He wasn’t used to being in the city, he’d definitely never been anywhere near Crime Alley, so Tim supposed the safest position would be beside Bruce.
The clinic seemed to be clean enough. Tim stayed with Bruce as he talked to the receptionist, he still weary of the other patients, and tucked himself into his side as they waited. Bruce eventually offered his phone to Tim to distract him from their environment, but Tim was content to sit and watch the crowd with Bruce.
It took some time before the doctor was free to see them, there were a lot of people in line before them, but Tim ended up preferring the wait in the reception area to waiting in the actual room. He had to sit by himself on the examination chair with the paper running down the middle, but Bruce pulled out a chair to sit beside and remind him, “If you want something or don’t want to do something you just have to say so. I’m not going to make you do something you’d rather not.”
“Okay, Mr. Wayne,” Tim whispered as he kept his eye on the door. So far trusting Bruce hadn’t caused him any problems. It had been hard to confess everything for the first time, but Bruce made it easy. He didn’t know if it would be the same with the doctor.
The receptionist had warned him that it would be a few minutes until Leslie was ready and Bruce decided to use the opportunity to ask something that he’d been thinking over in the car. “Can I ask you a question, Timothy?”
“What are the rules with how you get permission to talk?”
“What do you mean, Mr. Wayne?”
Swiveling over to position himself in front of him, Bruce clarified, “You needed my permission at the beginning of the day, but you haven’t needed it since then. What are all of the rules about why?”
“Oh,” Tim said taking a moment to consider the best response. Up until now he’d thought that Bruce was only ever feigning ignorance and this was the first time he needed to explain it to someone else. “We’ve been with each other all day so I didn’t need to get permission again.”
“But when we get home Alfred is going to need to repeat himself?”
“Yes, Mr. Wayne, because we haven’t seen each other for a while. I don’t know if he wants me to keep talking.”
“Now, you do remember me telling you that you could talk without getting my permission right?”
“Yes, Mr. Wayne,” Tim nodded. “You told me that this morning.”
“So how come you needed Alfred to repeat himself?” Bruce asked confused. “You understand I want you to stop waiting for permission and respond as you would expect others to, don’t you?”
Lowering his head to hide his face, Tim admitted, “It’s just…it feels wrong, Mr. Wayne. I can try if you really want me to, but it feels wrong.”
“I would like for you to try,” Bruce said honestly. “It was wrong for them to ever expect anything like that from you and I don’t want that for you.”
“Okay,” Tim said not as determined as Bruce would have liked. He ended the discussion with a noncommittal, “I’ll try.”
The wait for Leslie wasn’t as long as Tim would have liked and she was soon pulling out the chair from under the built in desk chair and took over Bruce’s position in front of him. Hoping to ease his obvious worry she introduced herself calmly. “Hello, Timothy. My names Dr. Thompkins and I’m going to be looking over you today. I’m friends with Bruce so you don’t have to worry. You’ll be fine.” Glancing over some of the paperwork Bruce had filed, she asked, “So you’re here because you’ve gotten hurt and need some patching up?”
Tim tried to answer, but instincts fought him and he turned to Bruce for help. Bruce decided it was still too soon for him and he simply sighed and explained, “You have to give him permission to talk, Leslie.”
“Okay,” she said obviously confused, “You have my permission to talk, Timothy. You can say anything you want.”
“Okay, Dr. Thompkins,” Tim mumbled to show he understood.
“So, Timothy, do you mind telling me where it hurts?”
Getting a nod of acceptance from Bruce, Tim unbuttoned his shirt and kept his gaze on the floor while Leslie looked him over. Her first reaction was to turn to Bruce in disbelief but upon seeing his own disposition turn to stone she followed suit.
Leslie didn’t think Tim was ready to answer questions so she worked silently while making sure not to cause him any more pain. Her examination was much more thorough than Bruce’s, her having more experience and knowing what to ignore and what to make more seriously, and it wasn’t long before she was finished. To his credit, Tim remained considerably still and only squirmed in his position when he wanted Leslie to know she was getting close to hurting him.
After taking a moment to make sure there weren’t any bruises or injuries elsewhere, Leslie soon assured them, “Most of these injuries look like they’ve healed or are close so I’m not going to be as worried about them. On the other hand there are a few others that are more serious or haven’t healed properly so I’m going to need to treat them.” Inviting Bruce closer to getting a better view of a spot on his torso, Leslie explained, “He has a cracked rib right here under this bruise and that’s why it hurts probably hurts when he puts too much strain on it.” On Tim’s other side she pointed to a spot near his elbow and added, “This is going to a few stitches but only a couple and I’ll wrap it up after. We could possibly get away without stitching it up, but I’d like to urge on the side of caution considering it’s his right arm.”
Cautiously glancing between Bruce and Leslie, Tim asked, “Is it going to hurt?”
“A little,” she answered honestly. “The solution I’m going to use is going to sting a little, but it won’t hurt nearly as bad it when you got these injuries. It will just be like a little pinch.”
“Is that all?” Bruce asked thinking that it wasn’t much compared to his visits.
“We can do some more tests if you want,” Leslie offered. “It would just be everything that comes along with a regular check up. Ear, eyes, weight, height, and the like. It’ll show us just how he is and track his development so we know how he’s recovering.”
Turning Tim’s attention to himself, Bruce softly asked, “Would you be okay with that, Timmy? If not we can come back some other day, but I’d like to finish everything as soon as we can.”
Tim didn’t think he wanted to make the same journey a second time, definitely not in Crime Alley, so he decided, “We can do it all today if it doesn’t hurt a lot.”
Leslie walked to her desk and gathered some supplies on a rolling tray table before getting back in position and getting ready. It dawned on her to ask Bruce, “Do you want to take pictures?”
Bruce understood the implication, if someone was going to go to trial for this photographic evidence would be a major aid, but Tim quickly cut in, “No. No pictures, please. I don’t want her to take my picture, Mr. Wayne.”
Leslie knew he didn’t understand, but she decided to drop the subject when Bruce assured Tim they wouldn’t do anything he didn’t want. He was the detective and if he thought their paperwork and her notes would be enough she wasn’t going to complain.
After getting another quiet confirmation from Tim that he was ready, Leslie poured a liberal amount of disinfectant onto some cotton and began cleaning the wound on Tim’s collar. She explained, “This will make sure the cut is clean when I stitch it so we won’t have to worry about it being infected.” Leaning over and adding a second solution to the wound, she explained, “This one will make it feel numb so it won’t hurt. You won’t even really feel the stitches going in.”
With his own years of experience on the subject, Bruce advised, “If you turn your eyes and pay attention to something else it won’t hurt as bad.”
Tim nodded and offered his hand to Leslie wanting to be done with the whole process as soon as possible. He was mildly surprised to find that Leslie hadn’t been lying and he couldn’t feel much of anything. Still, he kept his eyes averted and tried to think of anything other than the thread going in and out of his flesh pulling two sides together hoping that his body would heal itself on his own. Tim wished he hadn’t watched as many medical shows.
Bruce eventually tapped on his shoulder to inform him the ordeal was finally over and Tim slowly opened his eyes to find his arm completely mended. He was enamored by the silver thread tying his skin together and pleased to find that it didn’t hurt when he ran his finger across the wound.
Leslie broke him out of his trance as she explained, “I’ll wrap it up with some gauze to protect it so you don’t have to worry about it. I’m sure Alfred will be able to reapply them later so you won’t have to worry.”
“How long is he going to have to keep them in?” Bruce asked in Tim’s place.
“Around 7 to 10 days,” Leslie said she motioned for Tim to sit up straight so she could wrap up his rib as well. “It shouldn’t be much longer than that, but if your rib hurts use an ice pack and get some rest. That should help get rid of most of the pain because it doesn’t look too serious.”
“So what are you going to do now?” Tim asked uneasily.
“I can give you a minute to relax,” Leslie said as she cleaned up around them and brought more tools out to Tim. “Just ordinary thing like an eye and ear exam, but I’d like to do a psychological examination.”
“Do you think he needs one?” Bruce asked immediately. In his own opinion Tim was too young for one, but then again he wasn’t the medical professional.
“If I’m right in assuming someone hurt him, has been hurting him considering how old some of the wounds and scars are, he definitely needs one.” She chose her words carefully to make sure Tim didn’t understand and added, “It will show how serious the internal damage is and if he needs professional help going forward. If you were to decide to pursue legal action it would also be helpful in proving just how severe a state he’s in.”
Tim would be lying if he claimed he understood everything that was being said between the two adults, but their expression were enough for him to know it wasn’t anything good.
“Okay,” Bruce said for Tim. “I guess we can finish there before going back home for lunch.”
Before the questioning Leslie had shone a light into Tim’s eyes and ears, measured his height and weight, and left Tim more annoyed than anything. He didn’t know what she was looking for, but at the very least she didn’t concerned with the results.
“Now I have to ask you a few questions, okay?” She said after cleaning up again and brings cards and a note pad. “They might seem a little weird but just answer honestly and with the first thing that comes to your mind.”
“Okay,” Tim nodded. “I can do that.”
“Do you want Bruce to stay in the room?” Leslie asked next. “It would be best if I could talk to you alone.”
“No,” Tim said abruptly. He could tell Leslie and Bruce were surprised to hear an outburst from him and he added, “Please, I want Mr. Wayne to stay.”
“Ok, Timmy, now I’m just going to ask you a few questions. You can leave right after,” Leslie said hoping to keep him on track. She explained, “I want you to name what you see on the cards. If you don’t know what the picture is, just say so but otherwise name the first thing that comes into your mind.”
The test seemed simple enough and Tim straightened up ready to try his best. “That’s a car. Apple. Bed. Plate. Window. Piano. Boat. Shoe. Dragonfly. Pencil. Bear. Popcorn in a bucket, like when people go to the movies. Phone. Tire.” Staring closely Tim admitted, “I don’t know what that is, but I think I saw it before. Brick. Fridge. Lipstick. A person looking in the mirror. Tissues. Light bulb. Bunny. Flute. Dresser. Computer. Door knob. Ring. That’s a heart, the cartoony one, not like the real one in people’s bodies. Hair brush. Orange juice. A book. Glasses. Fan. Lamp. Nose. Penguin. Cloud. A mug. Picnic table. Door. Jacket. Rock. Guitar. A purse. Eraser. Candle. Briefcase. Sandwich. A flower. I think it’s a daisy, but I’m more sure. Bath tub. Water bottle. Curtains. A rolling chair. Abraham Lincoln. Pants.”
“Great job, Timothy,” Leslie praised as she set the cards aside. “You did wonderfully. Now we’re going to do the same with some math problems. If they are too hard and you don’t know just say so. Some of these are just going to be numbers that I want you to read off.”
“2. 15. 8. 29…64? 23. 46. 12. 6. 8. 22. 34. 54. 73. 25. 87. 64. 43. 26. 5. 25. 67. 9. 56. 94.” When she finally put the cards aside Tim hopefully asked, “Is that it?”
“No, but we’re almost done.” She wrote something on her notepad and explained, “These are going to be a little harder, but if you don’t know or don’t want to answer you just have to say so.”
“I can do that.”
For their first question she bluntly asked, “What were your mom and dad like?”
Caught off guard, Tim look up at her shocked. Bruce was ready to intervene, but before he could Tim answered, “Mean. They were really mean.”
“How were they mean?” Leslie asked hoping for him to expand on the explanation. “Was it something they did, something they said?”
“Both, I guess. Th-they used to yell at me a lot and call me names. They made me stay in a my room all the time, but my nannies would let me out when they were away. I guess my parents used to also hit me a lot.”
“Were your parents away a lot?”
“Yup,” Tim said emotionless. “They used to go to places very far away to look at old things.”
Although she and Bruce were curious as to what looking at old things meant, she asked, “Did you miss them when they were gone?”
“No. I mean, at first I used to miss them. I didn’t like my nannies and everyone else at school had their mom and dad with them, but after a while I realized it was a lot nicer when they were away.”
Making a quick note of things, Leslie asked, “How often did your parents hit you?”
“A lot,” Tim repeated easily. “It was when I did something wrong, but they didn’t say what I did wrong. Mr. Wayne said they hit me because they were bad people.”
“Do you think they were bad people?”
It was the first time Tim needed time to answer a question, but in the end he answered, “I don’t know. I think so, but…I don’t know.”
“What do you mean? Didn’t you say they were mean?”
“Yeah, but…maybe. Sometimes…Maybe it was because I was doing something wrong,” Tim tried to explain. “Mr. Wayne says I wasn’t, but I could have been doing something wrong and because they were my parents it was…I don’t know.”
“Do you want to stop?” Leslie said calmly seeing how tired Tim looked. “We can stop for the day if you want.”
“Yes please, Dr. Thompkins,” Tim answered leaning back in the chair and wishing he were back the bed in the Manor.
Leslie nodded and put the papers away before asking, “Can I see you outside, Bruce?” She assured Tim, “It’s only going to be for a few moments and it won’t take long. I’ll have him back soon.”
After getting a quick okay from Tim, Bruce followed her outside of the room and into an empty hallway. He quickly asked, “How does everything look? Is he going to be okay?”
“Can’t say anything for sure right now, but I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be able to make a full recovery,” she said making sure to chose her words carefully. “What I wanted to talk about is that I think he should be put into therapy. It will help his recovery and give him someone he can confide in without worrying that there might be a repercussion. I can recommend a few people who are more than qualified.”
“I’d appreciate that.” Thinking about the tests she had used to come to that conclusion, Bruce asked, “What were those cards for? It looked like random things on cards.”
“The pictures were things kid Tim’s age should be able to recognize. If he didn’t know what most of them were or didn’t know what the proper name was it could have meant something more serious.”
“That he didn’t have any access to any media, had very limited contact with other people, or that he hadn’t had an education. The good news is that it doesn’t look like that was the case and it’s probable that his nannies and teachers took over where his parents had failed.”
“There was the one card that he didn’t know,” Bruce noted. “I think it was the phone.”
“That’s not anything to worry about,” Leslie assured him. “A lot of kids his age might not be able to recognize phones other than cell phones so I wouldn’t think too much of it.”
“That makes sense.” Ready to get back into the room, Bruce asked, “Is there anything else?”
“Bruce, you did a wonderful job taking care of Dick, but this is going to be a lot harder. A lot of the things that came naturally to Dick, like how to connect to people and expressing himself, are practically foreign concepts to him. He’s going to need a lot of your patience and then some.”
“I’ll make sure he has everything he needs.”
Trusting him, Leslie opened the door into the room but made sure to offer, “If you ever need anything just ask, okay. I’ll help any way I can.”
They found that Tim was unmoved from his position on the seat but he perked up as soon as the duo was back.
Bruce walked up to him and happily said, “We can leave now, Timmy.”
“Okay,” Tim said carefully sliding off the chair. He grabbed Bruce’s hand, followed him out, and was happy to find that there weren’t as many people waiting in the office. Bruce stopped by the front desk with Leslie for a few minutes and got a slip of paper, but Tim was more interested in making sure he didn’t leave any space between him and Bruce. Even if there weren’t too many people around he was going to remain careful.
Bruce lead them out of the clinic and decided to lift Tim up. It caught the six year old off guard, he would have prefered a warning, but it was worth not having to deal with the crowd that had formed since they had gone in. They had taken long enough that it was now time for the lunch rush and hundreds of people were walking around the city looking for a good eating spot..
Thankfully people either didn’t recognize Bruce or didn’t care enough so there wasn’t a fight in getting them to the car.
Looking through the rearview mirror to see Tim sitting content and keeping his attention on the bear he was happy to find no one had stolen from the car as they drove around the city, Bruce asked, “How do you think things went, Timmy?”
“It was okay,” Tim said honestly. It wasn’t as bad as he had imagined, but he would have prefered not having to deal with any of this mess.
“Do you feel better?” Bruce asked cautiously. He wasn’t sure what he’d do if that wasn’t the case and Tim actually felt worse after everything.
Tim wasn’t sure how it was supposed to make him feel better, if he were talking about the injuries he couldn’t feel all that much of anything, but he knew what Bruce wanted to hear. “Yes, Mr. Wayne. I feel a lot better.”
“That’s great.” Bruce said with a hint of pride.
The pair returned to the Manor in time to find Alfred and Dick preparing a late lunch and discussing their day in the kitchen.
Tim made for the nook and just barely managed to sit down before Bruce said, “You should wash your hands before you eat. You don’t want to get sick considering all the germs sick people in the waiting room.”
The six year old’s face twisted at the image, but before he could wash his hands in the sink in the kitchen, Bruce added, “There’s a stool in your bathroom now so it might be easier up there.”
The look Tim gave him made Bruce think he didn’t believe him, but he turned back and left the room after grabbing the bear from his seat.
“So what did Leslie say?” Dick asked as soon as they were alone.
“He needs stitches on his arm, that’s why it’s covered in gauze, and he had a broken rib that Leslie wrapped up.” Alfred and Dick were visibly disturbed to hear the news, but to their credit there wasn’t an outburst. Bruce added, “She said he’s going to need a lot of help. His parents were horrible to him, they hurt him emotionally and physically, and he’s definitely going to need therapy and support from everyone.”
Dick sat back and considered the information. After everything that had happened yesterday, particularly the ending to the day when he had to go running to Bruce, Dick didn’t expect to hear good news. Still, it was hard for him to understand why anyone would want to hurt Tim, someone Dick didn’t think was possible of fighting back. All of the parents Dick had had loved him unconditionally.
Seeing the boys confusion, Bruce stressed a point he was trying to get Tim to understand. “Tim parents are some of the worst people in the world, but don’t worry. He’s going to be living with us from now on and if anything we’re going to make sure he doesn’t go through anything like that again.”
“Okay,” Dick said determined. “We’re going to make sure Tim never feels that horrible again.”
Alfred started to set the table and advised, “I feel that Master Timothy might appreciate to hear that from you directly.”
“I’ve already explained that to him,” Bruce explained. “We had that conversation this morning after breakfast.”
“The point is worth repeating,” Alfred defended. “It’s going to take years of stressing the point to repair the damage just as it took years of abuse for him to deteriorate to this point. Timothy didn’t look like he believes you just yet.”
“What do you mean?” Bruce asked sure that Alfred must have seen something he’d missed.
“He did look sad when you told him to leave the room,” Dick noted. “I think he thought that you didn’t want him around.”
“I’ll make sure to stress to him that that’s not true. I don’t mind repeating the point as many times as he needs,” Bruce said determined.
“So is he going to need therapy too?” Dick asked thinking back to the first few months of him moving into the Manor. “I remember it being pretty awkward.”
“Leslie said he’s going to need it,” Bruce said. “It would be good for him to have someone he can be blunt and honest with and not worry about anything happening to him. I think he would appreciate your advice on how to deal with everything.”
“I can definitely do that,” Dick assured Bruce. “I’ll tell him it really helps especially the first couple of months.”
Tim came padding into the room not long after. He made sure to stop at the doorway to make sure he wasn’t impeding and quickly took a seat at the table seeing that Alfred was getting ready to set their lunch..
Perking up at an opportunity to finally talk to Tim, Dick asked, “How’re you feeling, Timmy?”
“I have this thing on my arm,” Tim said as he raised his arm and showed Dick were Leslie had wrapped him up. Standing on the seat and outlining the gauze around his torso, Tim added, “There’s another on right here.”
“Wow that looks cool,” Dick said unsure of what Tim wanted to hear. “Did it hurt having to get it.”
“Not really. I don’t know why but it didn’t hurt a lot. Dr. Thompkins said it was because she put something on them.”
“So did you like your first day with Bruce?” Dick asked happy to see that Tim was in lighter spirits than he had been yesterday. “I know it’s not over yet, but you’ve spent all day with him.”
Tim deflated as he thought over the question and simply answered, “Mr. Wayne is really nice.”
Dick wasn’t the only one to notice the strange tone of the answer and he asked, “Is that a bad thing? You don’t look happy about it.”
“No,” Tim said quickly not wanting to offend them. He clarified, “It’s…different.”
“Good different or bad different?” Dick asked hoping to get a simpler answer.
“Good different,” Tim said easily. “Very good different.”