One of the things I’ve learned is that it gets bad for everyone sometimes. I remember I’m not alone. I remember things do get better. Sometimes on their own, most times when you work at them. And when I have trouble remembering those things, I find people to talk to.
Tim Drake finally returns from his imprisonment and Dick’s first instinct is to wrap him in the biggest hug ever. But Tim had been isolated in a cage for months with no human contact and at least some sensory deprivation. So Dick’s hugs which once made him feel warm and safe and wanted and all those squishy happy feelings, just make him feel overwhelmed and trapped. He can’t help flinching as soon as someone touches him and even though being hugged used to be comforting, now it just makes his chest tighten with panic and his skin crawl and his head pound as he tries to cope with all the heightened sensory input. And all he wants is to relax in his brother’s arms and revel in the feeling of blessed human touch after being alone for so long but he just can’t and he hates it.
Jason and Tim arguing over who had it worse when it came to living up to their predecessor's legacy
‘All I’m saying is… I was living in the shadow of a dead boy.’
Jason looked up from his book with a scowl, turning the page a bit more roughly than he had meant to. He and Tim had been holding their own pity party of “who had it worse” as Robin when it came to living up to their predecessor’s legacy. Jason had made some comment about “back in my days as Robin”, and Tim had had enough self-respect to become offended. And as a consequence, Jason had only gotten through five pages and was tempted to just give up reading altogether.
Truth be told, he knew that Tim probably had it much worse than him, when it came to this specific issue. And he was only arguing with him because he knew how much arguing for the sake of arguing annoyed his brother.
But then again, the only thing Tim really had to do in order to surpass his predecessor, was not die… so Jason stuck to his guns. He set his book down and leaned forward, giving Tim his best “I don’t even have time to tell you how wrong you are” look.
‘Tim. Firstly, I’m a bit offended at being called a, quote unquote, “dead boy”…’
Tim frowned. ‘You call yourself a dead boy all the-’
‘-And secondly,’ Jason interrupted him cooly, ‘My standards were far, faaaar lower than Dick’s. To live up to my predecessor’s legacy meant being a perfect, obedient, chirpy, quipping, circus act, which was not happening in a million years unless global warming wasn’t a thing and hell froze over, giving us another ice age. You, on the other hand, just had to not do any of the things I did.’
Tim pursed his lips, sitting there in silence as he regarded Jason with a look of complete and utter exasperation.
‘So…’ he said slowly, enunciating every word, ‘not die.’
Jason nodded, rolling his eyes. ‘Yeah. Like I said. Lower standards.’
Tim sighed, massaging his forehead as he turned back to his laptop, tapping the keys distractedly. ‘Okay. But consider this: in order to not die, I actually had to achieve a standard of near-perfection as Robin that not even you or Dick were expected or pressured to reach.’
‘Okay,’ Jason countered. ‘But consider this: in Bruce’s eyes, none of us are ever good enough.’
‘So your point is, we’ve all had it bad and it’s pointless to try and decide who had it worst because we all had a common denominator and standard to live up to: Bruce.’
Jason shrugged and lay on his back on the sofa, opening the book again.
‘Even Bruce doesn’t live up to Bruce’s standards, so yes. It’s fucked up and we were all screwed from the start.’
‘Oh boy. That went south real quick.’
‘So wait, when I go off on Bruce, it’s too far. But when we’re talking about when I was a “dead boy” it’s all fine and dandy?’
‘All the time, Jason,’ Tim repeated without looking up from his laptop, his voice bland. ‘All. The. Time.’
Unable to think of a reasonable response or blatant lie, Jason scoffed and stood to find somewhere he could read in peace and not get his ear talked off or, god forbid, counselled by his younger brother.
‘Well, you try dying and see if you can stop talking about it. It’s a life-altering event, a real milestone.’
‘It’s also only meant to happen once,’ Tim said pointedly.
Jason paused to consider this. ‘Hold up. So, technically, Damian has already lived up to the standard I set as Robin because he also died and came back. Grayson had to fake it, so he’s disqualified… and we’re not counting Steph because she was never even given a chance, and would beat all our asses in the ‘who had it worst’ game.’
‘Which means I do have it worse than you, because the standard I now have to live up to is resurrection.’
‘WWJD, Timbo,’ he grinned, finger-gunning his brother as he walked backwards out the door. ‘”What Would Jason Do?”’
‘Die and come back a salty gun enthusiast,’ Tim muttered under his breath, mulling over their conversation and taking it more seriously than he should. ‘Also, Easter was last month.’
Pssst. If you're still looking for Timmy prompts, I'm a sucker for sick!Tim. Bonus if he's in "work 'till I drop" mode. And actually collapses before anyone really puts together what's up with him.
I feel like this isn’t quite what you were hoping for, but I tried? Uni is stressing me out a bit at the moment and as a result I’m in a bit of a creative slump so this is a lot shorter than I would have liked and probably terrible but oh well at least it’s finally posted.
Probably set either not too long after Bruce adopts Tim or while his dad is in a coma.
He can hear Tim’s voice arguing with someone when he arrives at the front office, which is reassuring. Or maybe not so much, because Tim tends to get more snappish and argumentative when he’s not alright. Bruce takes a second to school his features into something resembling neutrality - if too much concern leaks through, Tim will either retreat into himself or lash out at him as well, both of which would be counterproductive - without looking disinterested and pushes the door open to step inside.
Tim’s eyes are wide when they latch onto him, shimmering with frustration that nobody believes his claims that he’s fine. He opens his mouth - presumably to protest being taken home - but the school receptionist gets in first with a relieved, “Mr Wayne, thank you for coming.”
“Of course,“ Bruce says. He sits down next to Tim, looking him over. He doesn’t like what he sees; too pale, dark smudges under his eyes, cheeks tinted pink, a slight squint as he tries to glare past the headache pounding behind his eyes.
“They told me you passed out. How do you feel?”
Tim lifts a hand to scrub at his eyes, prickling with heat beneath the sheen of exhausted tears he’s trying desperately to keep at bay. "I didn’t pass out,” he protests. “Just got a little dizzy ’s all.”
“That’s not the bit that was a question, Tim,” Bruce says firmly. He catches Tim’s hand and pulls it away from his face, pressing his own knuckles to his cheek to gauge how high his fever is. “And I expect an honest answer.”
Tim huffs, but he leans into Bruce’s touch, eyes closing as he admits in a whisper, “Not fantastic.”
It’s an understatement if Bruce has ever heard one, but it’s better than nothing.
Despite how exhausted he clearly looks, his pulse is racing when Bruce presses two fingers against the point beneath his jaw. Bruce frowns. “How much coffee have you had today?”
“I couldn’t miss school, B.”
“Tim. How many cups?”
“Four? Five? I dunno.” Tim leans a little more heavily against him. “Everything’s… hazy. ’S moving too fast.”
Way too much coffee and not enough sleep then. A bad enough combination on its own, but when he seems to be coming down with something as well…
“Okay. Let’s get you home and into bed.”
Bruce stands up and pulls Tim to his feet as well. The teen sways slightly and Bruce tucks him against his side, an arm around his shoulders for support. “It’s alright, I’ve got you.”
Tim’s eyes are focused on putting one foot in front of the other but he tilts his head enough that Bruce can see a smile playing over his lips. “I know,” he replies quietly, then adds almost to himself, “’S weird being picked up by a parent.”
Bruce’s heart clenches. Tim is clearly out of it, or he’d never let even that small detail about his crappy childhood slip out. He wonders how often Tim battled through school with a fever because nobody was at home to take care of him, or how often he felt a spark of hope when someone was called to pick him up, only for it to be crushed out when it was just one of his many nannies. Tim stumbles going down the front steps of the school and Bruce automatically hugs him a little tighter. He makes a vow to himself, as Tim smiles gratefully, open and lopsided with exhaustion and fever, that he’s going to be here for this kid more than he has been, make sure he knows that he’s loved and wanted no matter what. Starting with taking him home and letting Alfred fuss over him.