Learning to Fly: Chapter 2

Tim woke up annoyed to find that the soft, cold pillow he remembered falling asleep on had been replaced by something too hard and too warm for him to stay asleep.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.”

“Such as?”

“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.”


Learning to Fly: Chapter 1

The meeting didn’t need to go over the allotted time but with so many people speaking over each other they needed an extra hour to get through everything on the schedule. There was a collective sigh of relief around the room when Bruce finally closed his binder and people immediately began discussing anything other than the company’s international holdings.

Walking back to his office to continue his work and make some important calls, Bruce overheard something that caught his attention. Two low level executives were discussing a ticket one of them had received and the events that had befallen her in the police station. There was something about a little scared kid, but Bruce couldn’t hear enough to come to a strong conclusion. All things considered didn’t need to know much more, he had a weakness for little children.

He wasn’t able to think about anything else through any of his remaining meetings. It didn’t take him long to give into his curiosity and he found himself looking through a registry of employees, finding the one he had seen an hour ago, and calling her into his office to discuss the matter.

Britney took the seat across from him visibly distressed about what she could have done wrong, businessman Bruce was known for being different from social Bruce, but he immediately quelled her fears. “Britney, I overheard a conversation between you and Sebastian and before I begin anything I want to assure you this has nothing to do with either of your works and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

Although she was still confused, Britney’s curiosity won her over and she choked out, “Sure, I’ll answer any question you have.”

“What happened when you went to the police station this morning?” Bruce asked bluntly. “I overheard the two of you talking in the hallway and I was curious.”

Immediately relaxed, Britney explained, “When I was driving home a few days ago I was going a couple of miles over the limit. I just went in to pay my ticket this morning so that’s what we were talking about.”

“You mentioned something about a child,” Bruce clarified. “Something about seeing a kid at the station.”

Deflating slightly at the memory, Britney added, “There was a small kid sitting on one of the benches hunched over and looking very scared. I couldn’t even tell if it was a boy or a girl until one of the officers explained that he was the son of Jack and Janet Drake and they had left him there a few minutes before I came. Apparently they had just dropped him off and left.”

Giving her a rare smile hoping to calm her fears, Bruce thanked her for her help before calling Lucius to say that he would be gone for the rest of the day. By this point in their partnership, and having helped him very closely with anything he needed as Batman, Lucius knew better than to expect more of a warning from Bruce and promised to update him with any information developments he would when he eventually returned.

Rushing down to his personal garage, Bruce hoped that this was just another situation where he was overreacting to speculative evidence. Even then, something told him that this was going to be a hard day and he should be ready for anything. One thing he was sure of what that he needed to be as fast as possible in getting to the station; it wouldn’t take long before the police were able to find a place to hold him.

He drove as if he was in the BatMobile and parked quickly before regaining his affluent composure as he entered the building. It was only when the air conditioning hit him that Bruce noticed just how much he had been sweating and forced himself to calm down because this was not how the goddamn Batman acted when a little boy might need his help.

Once he was sure he would be able to form coherent words, Bruce walked up to the front desk and asked, “Is the Drake boy still here?”

Finding something on his computer screen much more interesting, the receptionist ignored Bruce until he felt the full weight of his icy glare. Before he could ask Bruce to repeat his question, Bruce caught a glance of Jim Gordon and immediately made his way over to someone who would offer him some real help.

The officer was confused about Bruce’s presence and instinctively asked, “Is everything alright, Bruce?”

Fully realizing the absurdity of what he was asking for, Bruce choked out, “I heard about a little boy…”

Even though he hadn’t finished the thought, Jim knew what he meant and explained, “He won’t say anything, but we know he’s Timothy Drake and his parents left him here on purpose.”

Bruce didn’t know what he had been expecting, but that wasn’t it. “Did they say why?”

Shaking his head still in disbelief as he thought back to earlier that, Jim answered, “Just muttered something about not wanting him anymore. This wasn’t some mistake, Bruce. They even left his paperwork and health information before taking off.”

“What do you think?” If there was one thing Bruce trusted it was Jim’s opinion on the matter.

Being as blunt as possible, Jim answered, “I think they don’t want a son anymore so they decided to get rid of him. They thought this was the easiest way and that they would get in trouble if they left him anywhere else.”

“What’s going to happen to him now?” Bruce asked with his own plan in mind.

They had been down this route before, different boy with a different story but the exact same look in Bruce’s eyes. Giving him the same answer he had a few years ago, Jim said, “We’re looking for an orphanage to take him in, but it’s taking some time.”


Still a little stunned that they were having the same conversation they had, Jim felt the need to warn, “This isn’t like with Dick. This is very different. He’s not saying anything and he refuses to acknowledge anyone.”

To Bruce it didn’t matter. It all came down to, “He needs help, Jim. He needs help and I can help him.”

Sighing at the resolve in his voice, Jim lead Bruce to his own office where he had left Tim to wait until they could come up with a plan. Looking in through the glass of the door, Bruce could see why the sight of Tim had pulled on Britney’s heartstrings. He looked far more defeated than any kid his age should ever be.

Knowing that he couldn’t be there to watch over the interaction, Jim stopped Bruce from walking in and stressed, “He’s in a very distressed state, Bruce, and if you make it even slightly worse I will see to it that you are never allowed in the same room as him.”

Finding the terms fair, Bruce opened the door slowly in hopes of not shocking the boy. Tim was sitting in a chair far too big for him with his head between his knees as he tried to hide himself away from the rest of the world.

Pulling up another chair beside him, Bruce waited to see if Tim wanted to start the conversation.

When Tim didn’t have anything, Bruce began with an introduction. “Tim, my name is Bruce Wayne and I want to help you.”

With Tim still unresponsive, Bruce went on, “Jim told me that your name is Tim Drake and that your parents left you here. Is that right?”

At the suffocating silence that followed the question, Bruce stepped out of his seat to squat in front of the boy and put a hand on his shoulder. He hoped that physical contact would have a calming effect and get more answers out of him.

The only reaction he got out of Tim was a flinch and whimper and Bruce had to bring his hand back while he figured out how to move forward.

The first thing he would need to do was get Tim out of his fetal position but that would be hard enough. He took Tim’s small hands into his own and rubbed the back of it with his thumbs until Tim was confused enough to look up at him wanting answers.

When his parents had left him here a few hours ago this was the last thing he expected. At the very least he didn’t think his childhood hero would be here trying to make him feel better.

Once he had the boy’s attention, Bruce gave him a soft smile and asked, “Can you please talk to me?”

Still unable to get a reaction, Bruce let go of Tim’s hand to use sign language to ask the same question but when Tim looks even more confused Bruce knows he had gone the proper route the first time.

Tim sat up properly in his chair and waited for Bruce to do something that Bruce wished he knew. There was a fleeting moment Bruce thought he had seen excitement in those blue eyes that gave so little away, but when the solid blank look returned he blamed it on wishfulness from his side.

Taking those small hands into his own again, Bruce assured him in a tone he would imagine Clark using. “Timothy, I don’t know what your parents told you, but you can say anything you want. Even if it means having to say something that will make me angry or things they told you not to say, you don’t have to hide anything from him.”

For the first time in a while Tim let out a small gasp and used the smallest voice Bruce had ever heard to say, “Okay, Mr. Wayne.”

Hiding just how happy he was to finally hear his voice, Bruce asked, “Why didn’t you say anything before?”

Curious as to why Bruce didn’t already know the rules, Tim debated whether or not this was another test from his parents. Judging from the weird look on Bruce’s face Tim decided to explain truthfully, “You didn’t give me permission before.”

Staring at the ground while he considered his options, Bruce knew the situation warranted complete honesty from his part and he bluntly explained, “Timothy, your parents left you here and I would like to take you home with me. Is that okay with you?”

Too afraid to give the wrong answer, Tim avoided looking Bruce in the eye and waited for an easier question.

Deciding to take the initiative, Bruce offered, “I’m going to ask Jim Gordon to come in and talk to us and we can decide what to do okay? He’s going to help us.”

Neither of the adults wanting to move to the other side of Gordon’s desk, Bruce lifted Tim from his position on the chair and set him on his lap. Tim was shocked, but he didn’t fight the hold or change in position and instead tried to pretend this wasn’t happening..

Visibly happy to see him out of the fetal position he’d been stuck in for well over 2 hours, Gordon shifted closer and calmly asked, “How are you doing, Timmy? You look a lot better than when I last saw you.”

Looking between the two men, Tim wondered why no one beside him knew the rules and waited until Bruce explained things to Jim. It took a few minutes to understand why Tim wasn’t answering, but he worked through their light conversation in his head and sighed as he pieced things together. Even though he knew he would have a lot to ask Tim when they got to the Manor, Bruce knew this wasn’t the time and he explained, “You need to give him permission to say anything he wants.”

Still confused, Jim pushed his questions to the back of his mind and simply mirrored Bruce’s instructions. “You have my permission to say anything to want, Tim. Anything.”

If they hadn’t been listening as closely as he was, both men would have missed the soft, “Okay,” that Tim let out.

Jim began again with the questions he had asked to no avail a few hours ago. “Do you understand what happened?”

Eyes on anything other than Jim or Bruce, Tim answered, “My parents don’t want me anymore.”

Jim’s lip thinned at the bluntness of the statement, but he offered, “If you want you could move in with Bruce, but only if you want to.”

Not seeing anything else he could do, Tim nodded and held on as the adults discussed some of the more boring details. He didn’t understand much, and it didn’t look like they expected him to, but he tried to pay attention just in case it became important.

From what Tim understood, to combat similar instances of neglect and parents unqualified to raise their children Gotham city started allowing parents to drop off their children on government property with no questions asked. It hadn’t been very controversial, most people agreed that the best thing for those kids was to be away from the negative influences on their lives, but the rules didn’t go into effect until one month from now. In any case there wasn’t much they could do and their various calls and questions to lawyers hadn’t given them a lot of answers. The final decision came down to Bruce and Jim and they decided that Tim could go into Bruce’s custody under a provisional basis and if they had any reason to doubt his effectiveness in caring for the boy they would move Tim to a place more suited for him.

The whole ordeal had taken much longer than Bruce had expected and by the time he was leading Tim out of the station it was almost time for Dick to be done with school. He explained the situation to Tim as he helped him into the car, but Tim didn’t have any objections to the detour.

Looking through his mirror, Bruce could tell that Tim was still not comfortable around him so he elected out of trying to make conversation. Instead they drove in silence until he parked the car close to the school and helped Tim get out of his seat so they could greet Dick as soon as he stepped out. Once he locked the car behind him, Bruce held his hand out waiting for the six year old to grab onto it but Tim just looked at not knowing what to do.

Instead, Bruce once again lifted Tim into his arms but this time took note of the stiffness of his stance. This was obviously not a child that had been carried around a lot and as soon as they were on the grounds of the school Bruce let him back on his feet thinking he’d be more comfortable.

He stood by Bruce’s feet as a few other parents came by to catch up but seeing the way Tim tried to keep as much distance between him and the strangers Bruce made his responses quick and feigned calls on the phone to draw the others away.

When the bell rang and announced the end of the day, Tim stiffened at the sight of so people coming out of the building and even though he hadn’t voiced his concerns, Bruce picked him up once again to try to comfort him.

Dick came out a few minutes later, talking to one of his friends as he looked around trying to find his father, the exact opposite of the boy in Bruce’s arms. Remembering what Jim had told him before, the differences between the ways he would raise the two boys, it only became more evident when he considered how Dick survived on contact and socialization while Tim seemed to fear it. He knew it wasn’t a fair assessment, one was a well adapted twelve year old while the other was a six year old scared out of his mind, but he knew it came from the massive differences in the ways they were raised. If he had to be sure of one thing it was that Dick’s parents would never have left their boy alone in a police station with no explanation.

Once he caught sight of his father, Dick excused himself from his friends and made his way over. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he was carrying a little person in his arms and the hard look on Bruce’s face told him he needed to be on his best behavior.

Trying to get a better look at the person clinging to Bruce’s coat, Dick introduced himself and didn’t get anything in return. Bruce ruffled his hair to show his appreciation for his effort before returning the greeting and leading the way to the car.

He closed the door as he set Tim down in the middle seat and turned to Dick who was still loading his bags into the trunk. Bruce quietly whispered, “His name is Timothy and he’s going to be living with us from now on.”

Not really wanting to know the answer and expecting the worst, Dick asked, “Did his parents die too?”

Even though he knew it would be something Dick would have a hard time understanding, Bruce explained, “They left him behind. They left him and his things in the police station. You are going to have to be very careful around him, Dick. He’s scared and doesn’t know what to expect from us.”

Peeking into the window to see just how defeated he looked in his seat, Dick nodded his understanding and decided against sitting in the front passenger seat to sit beside Tim.

The whole ride home Dick tried to get Tim to say something and when nothing worked he decided to talk about himself. He talked about how his parents had died and Bruce had taken him in so he wouldn’t have to go into foster care. He talked about it was hard at first because he didn’t know what to do with all his feelings and about how he had been afraid that at some point Bruce would change his mind and send him back. He talked about how Bruce was bad and showing his emotions sometimes and he cared a lot even though he couldn’t always say it out loud.

Bruce was hearing most of it for the first time, Dick never felt the need to tell him, but he appreciated Dick’s attempt to make Tim feel even just a little bit more comfortable..

Dick thought it was something that needed to be said if it would help Tim feel a little less alone. He knew just how hard the transition could be for someone and Tim was already a lot younger than he had been when it was Dick in his position.

Tim was still in shock; it had never crossed his mind that he would be in a car with his favorite heroes and he would be the one they were helping. He had imagined it a little. When his home was a little too lonely and what he could see of the Gotham skyline from his bedroom a little too exciting he imagined what it would have been like if they swung into his room and brought them along with them, but he never expected his dreams to come true. His parents had taught him very early on that dreaming was for little kids and that no one was going to come in to help him, that he deserved everything that happened to him.

The first thing Bruce did once they reached the Manor was introduced Tim to the last two remaining members of his new family. Alfred only raised an eyebrow at the new young boy in Bruce’s arms while Ace was much more excited. He leapt out from his bed to investigate the new smell that engulfed the room and almost tackled Tim before Bruce was able to calm him down.

Bruce gave Tim a quick tour of the most used sections of the first floor as Dick joined in to point out the best places to leap off and some insight into his own experiences in the rooms. Walking around, Bruce took note of just how the boy’s eyes dilated, even if it was incremental, at the sight of the library and he could only imagine what his reaction would be to the even larger one on the second floor. They weren’t able to get far into the tour before Alfred announced it was time for dinner and Dick and Bruce quickly shuffled into the dining room.

The dinner went by easily enough, Tim was incredibly careful in making sure that he didn’t make a mess, and he sat patiently after he had finished his meal. No one could tell whether or not he had liked it or if he wanted more, but something told Alfred that if he told the boy to eat a second serving he would finish it on principle.

Trying to make the situation lighter, Dick babbled on about what his day had been like leaving multiple openings for Tim to join in if he felt like it. Tim obviously didn’t take any of the openings, but he was interested in Dick’s story and listened intently until Bruce informed him it was time to show him his room.

Bruce made sure to stop by the larger library on the way to the rooms and informed Tim that he could come in and read any book he wanted. The only indication that he got that Tim was paying attention was a shiver at the knowledge that sometimes the family would gather around the fireplace on a particularly cold night and he made a mental note to question him about it later.

Alfred eventually had to pull Bruce away for a conversation the boys couldn’t overhear and instead the duty fell on Dick. He was only meant to show Tim what was to become his new room, but instead Dick took the six year old’s hand and decided that they would be starting the tour from the beginning.

He explained that the Manor was built in a way that the first floor had incredibly high ceilings and an open floor plan that left room for many large parties and celebrations. Over the years it was redesigned to be more homely with a home movie theater and indoor pool taking the place of two of the smaller ballrooms and a kitchen that was renovated until it met all of Alfred’s high standards. There was the small library in one corner of the first floor, but that had been added by Bruce’s grandfather so that he could keep people away from the much more important and personal books he kept in the larger second floor library. In a way that reflected the dynamic of the building; the first floor was designed for the public while the second was the personal and private grounds of the Wayne family. Very few people were allowed to venture up to the rooms and Bruce only ever allowed outsiders if it was for a meeting in his office. The private drawing room, slowly transformed into more of a play room as Dick had began redesigning it four years ago, was where he and Bruce relaxed after a long day’s work with Ace sleeping in his own personal chair. Across the hall was an indoor gym that had been refurbished to include most of Dick’s gymnastics equipments and even when the two would be having an argument, they spent most of their Sundays practicing and honing their skills. The bedrooms took up most of the space, there were twenty one in total but as far as Dick knew all of them had never been occupied at the same time. The master bedroom sat with two rooms on each side and the rest in their own personal guest wing.

Keeping apt attention throughout the tour, Tim was ready to be shown to one of the guest rooms until Dick lead him to the one right across from his own.

He explained his reasoning along the way. “Bruce sleeps in the master room and I have the one on left but if you take the one on the right it would be perfect. You’ll be close to both of us and if you need Bruce you just have to walk a few feet to his door and mine will be not too far away. You won’t have to worry about being too far away.”

This was not what Tim had expected but didn’t expect for it to last. His room was always the one farthest from his parent’s because they didn’t like it when he made noise. Even when he had tried his hardest to stay quiet, Tim wasn’t allowed any closer and he knew he should just wait until Bruce made the same rules here.

As Dick lifted Tim onto the bed, he explained, “These are some of my old things from when we were your size, Tim. I actually used to wear them when I was younger than you are. Bruce says you’re six but you don’t look like it. At first I thought you were only four.” Still not able to read the look on Tim’s face, Dick went on, “These are just temporary, Alfred will take some measurements and find you new clothes in a few days, but you can pick out anything you like and it will be yours from now on. I don’t really need them anymore.”

When he didn’t move to sort through the clothes, Dick began looking through the pile for him and pulled out some things he thought would suit him particularly well. There were some, many, references he didn’t understand from his old shirts and he didn’t think orange was a good color on Tim and in the end Dick was left with enough shirts and pants to last a few weeks.

After Dick was finished working through the clothes he didn’t know what to pull the silence with and he began talking about everything he envisioned them doing over the next few days. Bruce walked in before he could finish explaining how paintball worked and Dick knew it was time to put their conversation on break for a while. Instead he watched from Tim’s side as Bruce pulled the desk chair in front of them and said, “There are some questions I’m going to need you to answer okay? I don’t know if you need me to repeat this again, but you have my permission to say anything you want to.”

Although much sturdier than the last time he had spoken, Tim gave another soft, “Okay,” and ducked his head to mentally prepare himself for the interrogation.

Turning to the other boy in the room, Bruce instructed more than asked, “Can you please leave us alone?”

Not wanting to question Bruce’s experience with the subject, Dick stepped off the bed and began to make his way out and stopped in his tracks when he heard a soft whimper come from Tim. Seeing Bruce just as stunned as he was to hear anything from Tim, Dick took the initiative and sat back down next to Tim and offered his own silent support.

“Can you talk to me about your parents?” Bruce simply asked. “I want you to tell me anything you can about them.”

Starting to shake at the mention of a subject he hadn’t been able to prepare himself for no matter how much he tried, Tim begged, “Please, I’m not allowed to talk about it. They said I can’t say anything.”

Trying to rub some confidence into his shoulders, Bruce reminds him, “You can tell me anything you want, Tim. Anything at all and nothing is going to happen to you.”

Still adamant, Tim repeated, “I’m not allowed, Mr. Wayne. They said I’m not allowed.”

Not wanting to make the boy anymore frantic, Bruce promised, “That’s okay, Tim. We don’t have to talk about them. Can you tell me about what happened this morning before I found you?”

Obviously going through an internal debate, Tim sighed and decided he should give Bruce something for taking him in for the day., Tim recalled, “They woke me up in the morning, they never wake me up and I have an alarm so I thought it was strange, but today they woke me up and told me to get dressed. I changed into these clothes and they picked up some papers and said that we were going on a trip, but they found Mr. Gordon and gave him the papers and left me there. I didn’t know what to do so I just sat there and didn’t say anything until you came in, Mr. Wayne.”

Bruce could tell that the explanation had taken a lot out of Tim, it wasn’t something he liked having to recount, so he brought him into an embrace until he felt the shivers die down.

Drying away a stray tear, Bruce promised him, “That’s all you have to do for today, Tim. I’ll have Alfred bring something for you to eat at night if you get hungry, but now it’s time to get some well deserved rest.”

Nodding his understanding, Tim sat back on the bed and watched as Dick and Bruce got up. Before he could leave the room for the night, Dick turned around and asked, “Timmy, have I seen you before?”

Tim looked ready to give him an answer, but he choked back his words and turned to Bruce.

Bruce had previously thought that Tim needed permission to say something that his parents might not have liked, but now he explored another idea. Squatting down to his knees, Bruce asked, “Tim, do you need permission to say something you aren’t supposed to say or just say something?”

He looked at Bruce confused at the question but when he worked it through in his head he explained, “They – my parents – said I’m not supposed to say anything until someone gives me permission to talk.”

Sneering for a moment at the answer, Bruce turned back to Dick and explained, “You’re going ot have to give him permission to talk before you ask your question.”

The entire idea put him off. Dick had never had rules like that and there was no reason for Tim to either, but looking at Bruce’s face he knew he wasn’t the only one repulsed. Dick worked out that Bruce didn’t want to change too many things for Tim at the same time, especially when he was in such a vulnerable state, and he repeated the question with the proper statement.

For the first time in a long time, Tim gave Dick a something that resembled a smile and explained, “We met before at the circus where you and your parents had your show. I was there when your parents died. I was in the crowd and saw.”

“What?” Dick asked completely shocked. With everything that had happened today, Dick hadn’t expected for his parents to tie into it.

Tim babbled, “I saw you before and you smiled and gave me a hug and you said you were going to do a flip just for me and my nanny took a picture of us.”

Dick stood frozen for a few minutes turning over the information before running out to his room and holding a picture he had framed beside his bed. Pointing to a little boy sitting on his father’s lap, he asked, “Is that you?”

Tim nodded, a little proud that his hero had kept his gift. “I thought, it’s the last picture of them before…and maybe you would like it.”

Taking Tim into his arms again, Dick assured him, “I love it, Timmy. Thank you so much.”

Tim blushed under the praise and even more when Dick said he could sleep with him tonight. He had never slept with someone else in his bed and he didn’t know what to do.

Not liking that he had to ruin the moment, Bruce said, “He probably needs his privacy, Dick. I don’t think he has a lot of experience with sleeping with someone else and I think we shouldn’t change too many things too fast. He might not feel comfortable having his first night here be even more strange for him. Maybe soon though, if he wants to.”

The thinking was sound, but Dick still found a way to compromise. He rushed out of the room and came back to offer Tim a stuffed bear he had used when he first moved in explaining, “He helped me a lot and he can probably help you too.”

Not sure of what he was supposed to do with the toy, Tim placed it on his bed before thanking Dick for the gift. Alfred came in to warn them that it was getting dangerously close to Tim’s bedtime and Dick stayed back to help Tim change into pjs when Bruce walked out to have another adult conversation with Alfred..

As soon as Bruce closed the door behind him, he lost his composure and told Alfred, “I’m going to find them, Alfred. I’m going to find them and make them explain what the hell they had been thinking.”

Even though he knew it would get a rise out of Bruce, Alfred had to ask, “Do you think that’s wise, Master Bruce?”

Shocked that Alfred would question the idea, Bruce asked, “What do you mean? You don’t think they deserve it?”

“Of course they do, sir,” Alfred assured him, “but Master Tim has obviously been through a lot and the focus right now should be on healing.”

“That doesn’t mean we can’t make them take responsibility for this, that we can’t watch them try and find a way to justify the way they treated Tim before they realize just how massively they fucked up.”

Shaking his head, Alfred sighed, “You are far too smart to not understand the flaws in your argument.”

If the past was any indication Bruce would end up following Alfred’s suggestion but he still needed to know it was the best option. “Enlighten me.”

With a very calm voice, Alfred explained, “If we decide to go forward with this case, with or without any input from Master Tim, it will be him who has to live with the consequences. They treated him horribly when he was under their care and there is no reason they won’t do the same when he brings a trial against them.”

“What do you suppose we do? Ignore it?”

“Of course not sir, but instead discuss the matter with Officer Gordon, gather the evidence, and go forward with the trial when Timothy decides he is prepared.”

As always Alfred was right but Bruce was still worried about Tim’s response to their lack of response. “I just – I don’t want him to think we didn’t do anything, that we ignored it.”

Knowing this was the heart of Bruce’s concern, Alfred promised, “Master Bruce, if you are sincere and honest with the boy he will appreciate everything we are going to do for him. Right now he doesn’t need a trial, he needs support.”

Bruce understood Alfred’s superior insight and said, “He gets to set the pace from now on. He deserves that at the very least.”

Before Bruce was forced to acknowledge that he had been wrong, Dick barged into the room and flattened himself against Bruce’s chest. Shocked and worried, Bruce asked, “What happened?”

Not willing to remove his face from it’s position in Bruce’s shirt, Dick choked through, “I was helping Tim change and when he took off his shirt I saw bruises and I asked him where they came from and he wouldn’t say anything and he said he fell but it doesn’t look like that and I don’t know what to do, Bruce. I know someone did that to him, but he’s just a little boy and smaller than me and he says he’s six but he looks like he’s four and someone did that to him.”

Turning him over to Alfred to calm him down, Bruce rushed over to Tim’s room to try and find him. He wasn’t anywhere in the room and Bruce was ready to begin looking through the rest of the Manor when he heard a quiet whimper coming from the closet. Slowly opening the door so he wouldn’t frighten him, Bruce found Tim in a corner hiding under some of the clothes Dick had put away a few minutes ago. He picked the boy up making sure to not press on any of the bruises and kept a few inches away so that his limbs flanging around in the air wouldn’t hit him. Bruce could tell Tim wanted to shout, but all that came out was a choked scream and spending most of his energy on trying to shake out of his hold.

Having taken Alfred’s words to heart, Bruce helped Tim back into another shirt and tucked him into his new bed. Waiting for him to calm down and even out his breathing, Bruce wiped away even more tears and promised, “You don’t have to worry about whatever gave you those bruises, Tim. I made a promise that we were done for tonight and you can go to sleep. No more questions right now.”

It was obvious to anyone that Tim did not believe him and instead of saying anything he turned away from him. Bruce watched as he tried to hide away under the covers until his head hit the bear Dick had left for him. After staring at it a few moments, Tim reached out and curled around it.

Bruce left him with a kiss to the head that Tim flinched away from and he said, “I’m going to leave your door open. If anything happens while you’re asleep, like a nightmare, I’ll hear it and come over.”

For whatever reason Bruce didn’t feel ridiculous as he brought his computer out into the hallway and got to work outside of Tim’s room. With the little experience he had with the boy, Bruce knew he was quiet and there was a high chance he wouldn’t’ hear anything from his own room, especially if he was able to find what he was looking for.

The very first thing Bruce did was look up Tim’s parents. He had little interaction with them and none that didn’t focus on some form of work. From what he had heard, they had a rocky relationship and traveled a lot to forget that. There was little mention of their son online, none that went into any detail outside of his birth, and absolutely no pictures.

Recalling one moment when Jack had given him his business card, Bruce pulled out the number and a burner phone and dialed the number. Once he was sure the phone was hooked onto his computer and pressed the green button to start the call. He watched the laptop screen as it began looking for the location of Jack’s cell and it zeroed into Gotham City. They hadn’t moved. By the time Janet answered the call it zoomed into downtown Gotham and by the time she realized there was no one else on the line Bruce knew the hotel and room the couple were staying in.

After a few seconds of silence Janet hung up. That didn’t mean much to Bruce because he had already hacked into the speaker of the phone and could hear into their conversation as long as the phone was not turned off.

He needed to remind himself of Alfred’s words of wisdom when he began recording. The couple talk at length about how much better their lives were going to be without Tim there and how they had hoped he would run away much sooner.

It was knowledge that he needed to stay behind and make sure Tim slept soundly that he didn’t dawn the cowl and make his way over and as he imagined what he would do he heard a slight whimper coming from the wall behind him. Over the past few hours he had grown far too experienced with that sound.

Knowing that Alfred would clean up after him in the morning, Bruce untangled himself from the wires and made his way into the room.

Still curled around the bear, Tim’s cheeks were covered in tears as he fought off what Bruce expected to be a nightmare. Slowly getting under the covers from the other side of the bed, Bruce lifted Tim onto his chest and rubbed what he hoped would be soothing circles into his back.

Looking down, he caught a sliver of blue breaking out from between his eyelids and Tim adjusted himself on Bruce’s chest still mostly asleep. Unaccustomed to the warmth, he rubbed his cheek into Bruce’s neck and balled his fists into his shirt. It took a few minutes for the tears to stop, but Bruce made himself a promise to give the six year old the best possible life from now on.