“Is Bruce in here?” Tim figured he might be— Bruce spent a lot of time in the children’s wing of Wayne Enterprises. There were a dozen or so kids in daycare most weekdays, and Bruce liked to hang out.
Tim liked to hang out too. They had nice snacks, and he’d known most of the kids since they were toddlers. And sometimes naps were mandatory.
“Conference call,” Damian told him. (For someone who claimed to hate naps, snackfood, kids, and humanity in general, Damian also spent a lot of time in the children’s wing.) “I don’t know where.”
He went back to what he was doing, which was arranging a set of pewter soldiers into a complex model of a battlefield, presumably for the benefit of the preschooler sitting next to him.
“The Battle of Issus, 333 BC.”
“Right, obviously.” Tim decided he was curious, so he settled down on the mats to watch. Damian finished his model; he pulled a marker from the art table and used it as a pointer.
“Okay. This is the Macedonian army, outnumbered but in the better tactical position, south of the Pinarus River. Their leader is Alexander the Great. And this—” He pointed to his enemy line. “—is the Achaemenid Empire. They’re about to lose.”
Damian tapped his marker on the Macedonian right. “This is the companion calvary, Alexander’s elite force, and they—” he cut off when he noticed his pupil digging in the toy bin, clearly distracted. The kid came up with a battered Transformer, which he set behind Damian’s lines.
“Elliot. Alexander did not have robots.”
“But,” said Tim, rummaging through the box himself, “did he have wizards?” He pulled a bearded magician out of the tub and held it up for Damian to see.
“You know he didn’t.”
Tim passed the wizard to Elliot. “But what if he did?”
“How would that go?”
“Abracadabra, Alexander!” Elliot yelled, gleefully smashing through Damian’s entire left flank.
“Damn it, Drake.” Damian sighed in frustration— not quite the rise Tim was hoping for, but still something. He dropped Elliot’s discarded robot back into the box.
“I don’t know what you were expecting,” Tim told him. “Elliot’s four. He’s too young for— what is this— military history?”
“He was doing fine before you showed up.” Damian started to re-erect his soldiers, but he gave it up after Elliot came in for a second pass. “Which is typical, isn’t it?”
“Thank you.” Damian crossed his arms. “Fine. I’ll bite. When is he supposed to learn this kind of thing?”
“High school? Maybe never.”
“That can’t be right.”
“Have I ever lied to you?”
“Frequently.” Damian rolled his eyes. “I’m getting a second opinion.”
Damian checked the room for potential allies. “Thomas?” he called over his shoulder, “You learned military strategy as a kid, right?”
Duke looked up from the book he was reading to a pair of kindergardeners. “Just you, man.”
“Told you.” Tim fished a bag of plastic ninja from the toy box and arranged them pointedly into a row. “How are you still surprised by this kind of thing?”
Damian glared at him. “Okay, first of all? I’m not a— hold on a second. Elliot!”
Elliot froze with a large, plastic dinosaur held aloft over the battlefield. He drew it sheepishly back to his chest. “Sorry.”
“Not in the calvary wing,” Damian told him. “You’ll scare the horses.”
“Here?” Elliot pointed to the front of the phalanx.
“Aim for his center.” Damian turned back to Tim. “Anyway. Why are you still talking to me? I thought we had an agreement about unnecessary contact.”