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Like I'm slipping

by Te

[Story Headers]

Like I'm slipping
by Te
July 26, 2004

Disclaimers: Not even close to mine.

Spoilers: Fairly large ones for Gotham Adventures # 19.

Summary: Tim is putting things in order.

Ratings Note: PG-13.

Author's Note: Check the spoilers. This isn't just toon-fic, it's tie-in-comics-for-the-toons!fic. It's not my fault, man.

Acknowledgments: To LC and Livia for audiencing and encouragement.


The thing is, he is tired.

Tim hasn't just been saying it all night to try to get some time alone. He doesn't always have to stay home on school nights, anymore. Not if he doesn't want to, and certainly not if the others think they could use him out there.

Out there.

He's out more than he's in, these days, and it is... tiring.

And frankly, he isn't sure what it was that marked the shift between Robin's-in-training and Robin's-ready-for-this, but then again...

Then again, he also kind of is. Because he could always hear Bruce's voice in his head, and what he would have to say about whatever choices Tim made on the street, but now he can feel it.

Now the voice itself is kind of late, sometimes, because by the time he's heard it, he's already doing whatever it is Bruce would want him to do. Whether it's more, less, or just different than what he would do.

And it gets a little...

He's warm all the time, in a way that has nothing to do with good clothes and a house run by Alfred. Because he's wrapped up tight in something so much bigger than he is, bigger than he'll ever be. And that's never going to stop being so wonderful he doesn't even have words for it, but there's a price.

Batman is bigger than Bruce Wayne, because there are eight million people out there who owe their lives to him, who need him, and the rest of them, too. Need them to be Batman, and Batgirl, and Nightwing, and Robin.

And so there isn't really room for anything else. Or....

It's not that. Or, it's not that in a bad way. It's just something to think about, is all.

Tim leans back against the headboard, and stares out at the grounds. He isn't sure when that happened, either -- when he got used to the fact that he lives in a place with grounds, when it wasn't all that long ago (was it?) when he used to dream about
having... just a yard.

Maybe a tree, maybe a swing-set.

There's an orchard about a mile southwest -- still on the grounds -- far enough away to thrive despite all the salt in the air.

He's yet to see a gym in this city with more equipment than the Cave.

He wouldn't leave this place for... he just wouldn't. There isn't anything out there worth more than this, anything better than this.

And he thinks that might be the problem, if there even is one. Because the others think... He isn't sure, not really.

He watches Bruce's shadow fall across the doorway, and waits, and tries to put his thoughts in order. For himself as much as Bruce. Because he's never going to stop laughing about the images he'd been given tonight, and given is the right word. These were gifts from his friends, his family.

Babs with that huge, freaking scythe and Dick running around all night in a lion suit just because they were worried about him, and wanted him to... what?

Not be... upset?

He's not an expert on this stuff -- he belongs here as much as any of them, or maybe more, because it's not like he has anything like experience with normal families. But he does know that they're even more abnormal than... well, than he was when it was just him and his Dad, and whichever 'uncle' was letting him bunk at his place this time, because his Dad was doing another stretch.

It's just that he's pretty sure one of them could have maybe tried something else before whipping out the fake costumes and faker voices.


And Bruce doesn't shift, or clear his throat, or anything like that. He's just suddenly even more there than he was a second ago. Because he's Batman, and he can do that stuff. Tim grins to himself.

"I'm going to sleep soon, I promise."


And this time he does shift, and when Tim looks over, Bruce is leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest and eyes lasered in on him. Just like he's wearing the suit, instead of just a robe.

Because Bruce can do that, too. Everything about his posture and the look on his face screams talk, even though he doesn't look upset or anything like that. It's like...

"You know, you're the only person I've ever met who makes a suggestion feel like an order."

Bruce raises an eyebrow. "And what do my orders feel like?"

Tim grins a little wider. "There's this movie -- kind of obscure. You might not have seen it. Anyway, there's this scene with this guy Moses and a couple of stone tablets..."

"The book was better," Bruce says, and he's using that you're-spending-too-much-timewith -Dick voice. The one that always makes Dick walk around like he's won another victory against the universe for a few hours.

He loves his family. And they... love him, too. All of them. Tim takes a breath and says, as casually as he can, "Alfred's really good at this stuff, isn't he."

"He's good at a lot of things."

When he meets Bruce's eyes again, it's the same thrill. Old and familiar, now, and still just so bright. Light in his veins or something, because Bruce... wants this from him. This more. He always does. "Like acting," Tim says, and watches all the light flare and burn in Bruce's eyes.

"When did you know? I'm sure Alfred would appreciate the critique."

Tim smiles at the floor between them. "He doesn't get the chance to take the stage very often, I guess."


"I didn't know for sure until right now. When I thought about it." Which is maybe exactly what he wasn't supposed to do, and he stops smiling.

"Tim --"

"I'm okay, you know. I'm not going to go nuts or anything."

"No one thought you were." And there's another suggestion in the tone of Bruce's voice.

Tim just isn't sure, yet, how to answer it. He swallows back a breath that would've come out too much like a sigh and forces himself to straighten up. To look up, and keep doing it.

He wonders if Bruce knows that, sometimes, his eyes are harder to look at than the lenses of the cowl.

Everything in the world is in Bruce's eyes, if you know how to look. Tim isn't sure how he ever didn't. "I think I'm figuring it out, Bruce."

Another eyebrow raise.

"Everything you guys already knew about this life. What you all wanted me to know."

Bruce's expression shifts, sharpens. Like a knife that's sharp enough to cut you to the bone before you can even feel it. It's his way of being gentle. "Perhaps not all of us."

Tim blinks, and frowns, and... thinks about it. Because, considering everything, it would make sense for Babs and Dick not to want him to understand this stuff, and how awful it is, but... "I... I don't think Robin is supposed to be the mascot."

Another flare in Bruce's eyes, all that pride and happiness and Bruce could lead armies, if he wanted to. "Neither do I," is what Bruce actually says.

"Is... is that what they want from me? The others?"

"You're thinking of the sort of mascots they have at your school. Children in ridiculous costumes, jumping around and drumming up... spirit."

Tim snorts. "Can you blame me?"


Bruce is also the only person he knows who can make a single word feel like a punch. Because... because why shouldn't he be the mascot? What right did he have to want more from people who'd already given him... Tim swallows and bites his lip. "Oh."

And Bruce is fast and silent, he always is, and Tim didn't know he was looking down at the floor again until he isn't. Until Bruce has his hand on Tim's jaw and his face is right there. Demanding with a look. Tim catches his breath.

"What --"

"You've been with us for some time now, Tim."

He nods, and waits, and watches the thoughts race across Bruce's eyes.

"We've all come to know you. To..." Bruce's hand tightens on his jaw, a little. Less than the way the corners of his mouth tighten. And... Tim gets it. He thinks he does.

"You don't have to say it."

And just that fast, Bruce's expression becomes wry. Approachable and soft. It's as terrifying and wonderful (beautiful) as it always is.

"I mean... I. You just want me to be happy."

"Yes. And we want you to be yourself. And we want to see that happen. See you become whoever it is you need to be. Every day.

"Every night."

And... there's a lot unspoken there. What they hope, and fear. What Bruce hopes, and what he wants. And, maybe, what all of them would do to make sure they get it. They want Tim here, no matter what, and Tim laughs around the pound of his heart.

"You make it sound like a threat, Bruce." Bruce's smile is sort of lazily predatory, and for a brief, ridiculous moment Tim pictures him in Dick's 'Lion Man' suit.

Bruce strokes his cheek with his thumb before letting go, and then stands up out of his crouch. The robe falls into perfect lines again, and he says, "Maybe it is. But you understand that now."

Tim nods, and Bruce smiles down at him.

He looks like he's about to ruffle Tim's hair, but he doesn't.

He does pause in the doorway, turning just enough that Tim can see all that fire in his left eye.

"It isn't a game, Tim," he says, and Tim can hear the rest of that sentence just as easily as he can hear the soft nothing of Bruce's bare feet on the carpeting in the hall. As he can hear the manor ticking over into quiet, into sleep for another dawn.

It isn't a game. It never was, and it never will be.


That doesn't mean it can't be fun.


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Fandom:  Other (Gotham Knights)
Title:  Like I'm slipping
Author:  Te   [email]   [website]
Details:  Standalone  |  PG-13  |  gen  |  9k  |  07/26/04
Characters:  Tim, Bruce
Summary:  Tim is putting things in order.

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