The Ghost of Wayne Manor, (2016-06-15)

Surprise, it’s Tim.

Only children can sense him fully (though sometimes Alfred thinks he can hear him, can see the gentle nudges of things moved slightly out of place; sometimes they play chess) but once they’ve become “adults” that’s it. No more.

Tim remembers when Bruce was young, how they would play together. Remembers how his parents had indulged his “imagination” (though Thomas finds it quite the coincidence that his son’s ‘imaginary friend’ is also named Tim). And then, after the incident, how Bruce was so sad and brooding. In mourning. Something Tim knew about but never really understood until Bruce explained it to him.

But grief ages a person, and not long after, Bruce stops being able to see him anymore. Tim is alone, again.

Until Dick. And, see, even though Dick’s parents died before he came to the Manor, he wasn’t as rapidly changed as Bruce was. And Tim loved him for it, this new friend who could see him and play with him–even through his teenaged years.

Except, lately, Dick and Bruce have been fighting a lot. And Dick spends more and more time away, and suddenly their last fleeting goodbye becomes their final goodbye. Dick doesn’t come back until he’s Nightwing and can no longer see him.

It’s a while before anyone can sense him as completely as Dick did. Barbara, as Batgirl, on the rare occasions she came to the Manor (and not the Cave) had never been able to perceive him fully. Had perhaps seen glimpses of him from the corner of her eye, or heard a question in an unfamiliar voice, but they had never really met.

Jason, Tim thinks, came to the Manor old and learned to be young. Had been able to sense Tim better as time passed, an unusual direction, but one that Tim had been grateful for. Because Jason was interesting and fun and so full of life that Tim forgot, sometimes, whenever they were together, that he was a ghost.

Except that was cut short (and Tim wonders, sometimes, if it was his fault. If he might have wished that Jason could join him forever. If somewhere, in a land far away, Jason’s ghost is scared and alone and cursing his name).

The years that follow are long and cold and difficult. Worse, even, than when Bruce stopped seeing him and went away, coming back a stranger with a familiar face and always going to the Cave.

(Tim remembers, when Bruce was younger, the way they’d play at being brave but never daring the Cave. It was deep and dark and what if something were to happen to Bruce? Tim couldn’t get help. And so they avoided it, were awed by it. It was the bottom of the ocean and far flung space, a frontier that maybe they would explore when Bruce was older. But now look at it: Bruce has conquered it, made it into a home of sorts, a base from which his new legacy spreads. And still Tim cannot go in)

But things get better. A new Batgirl, one that can sometimes see him but not hear him–which is just as well, since she does not need words to understand him–and then another, one who can occasionally hear or see him, but not touch him (which he is grateful for, that first meeting, when her instinct is to punch a strange boy suddenly manifesting in front of her).

It is better, yes, but not the same as having a Robin or a Wayne child in the house.

Until, suddenly, there is.

Both even, though this one is far more interested in training in the Cave than indulging a ghost. But things start to come together somehow anyway, Dick and even Jason (somehow alive, not Tim’s fault, didn’t curse him to the same horrible fate) return to the Manor. And while Dick still can’t sense him, he remembers Tim, talks to him and pesters Damian into relaying responses. And Jason–touched by death, yet alive again–can still pinpoint Tim’s location, even without sight, and wrestle him into a playful headlock.

Stephanie and Cassandra and Barbara, who can see or hear him in bits and pieces, belief and perception bolstered by Damian’s honest, if reluctant, words. Alfred, of course, continues to do his best, their chess matches somehow cheerier.

Once, Bruce writes a note and leaves it on the desk in the study, before going behind the grandfather clock. Tim reads it and cries–or the ghostly equivalent of it, having no body or tears–but it is a thing more sweet than bitter, apologies, yes, but gratitude and nostalgia as well. Joy and affection.

Bruce has built a family around him, has filled the Manor with people who know Tim, and while it’s not the same as having his best friend back he thinks that this can be an acceptable replacement.

Except for Damian. It’s not as if Tim is jealous, he is dead and well aware of his role in the Manor–there is no competition, for how could a ghost ever compete with the living? But for some reason, Damian sees just the opposite.

Oh, he will repeat Tim’s words to the others when asked–grudgingly of course–but he will otherwise not acknowledge Tim’s presence. He doesn’t speak to Tim as himself, doesn’t interact with him, doesn’t engage. It’s as if he takes pleasure in making Tim feel as nonexistent as possible.

At one point, it seemed like he might even be trying to exorcise him (thankfully, Alfred put a stop to all that nonsense) though he might very well have continued if it weren’t for Bruce’s death.

And.

It’s stupid and selfish and so untrue, but Tim thinks it hurts him most of all.

He knew Bruce the longest, knew him when he was first brought home to the Manor as a baby. Bruce was his long before he was anyone else’s–before Alfred even–and it seems like his mourning, no longer an unfamiliar creature (and, oh, how silly and foolish he had been, how cruel he must have seemed to a young Bruce newly orphaned so long ago), should be far more than everyone else’s.

But that is not how grief works. Because that is not how family or love work, either, and during this time it cannot be said that isn’t what they are.

Grief works in mysterious ways, though, and while Dick and Jason and Cassandra and Stephanie all spend more and more time down in the Cave (all the better to honor Bruce, Tim knows, the legacy he left them with) Damian spends more time in the Manor. With Tim.

It’s not too little, too late–though he wishes Bruce would have been able to see them get along–but it is, at first, something strange and strained.

He and Damian are not friends yet, but they can learn to be; both of them a different but complementary parts of the Wayne family. Damian tells Tim about the Mission, about Bats and Birds and all the things in the Cave that Tim can never go to. He tells him about his mother, of his grandfather, of a childhood of being trained for two different roles; of swords and death and demons.

Tim teaches Damian his other branch of family history, two boys going down the long row of portraits, going further along each day.

Tim has been part of the Wayne Manor for so long, has watched generations of Wayne children grow up, and while he can remember each of them individually it’s true that sometimes the memories blur. He’s uncertain if it was Thomas or Bruce who broke a window and blamed it on Tim, or if it was Kenneth that unleashed frogs in the kitchen instead of Patrick.

Oh, he knows what they did as adults–even if they stopped seeing Tim by then–but he thinks Damian appreciates the more silly stories from their childhoods. It humanizes them, makes them family and not just genealogy.

Except. They reach the painting for Mordecai Wayne.

And Tim knows: he knows with such a strength (not the guilt ridden thoughts of Jason trapped in a foreign land, away from the Manor, away from Tim) that Bruce is alive.

The others don’t believe him (the others can barely see him–an imaginary friend they’ve outgrown, a child ghost unaware of the world) but Damian does.

It doesn’t matter that they are just children–one of them is a centuries old ghost and the other is Robin–they can do this. They can find Bruce and bring him home.

And Tim and Damian are no longer strangers stuck in the same house, they are friends. They are partners.

When Bruce comes back, he comes back to see his youngest son getting along with his oldest friend, and all is well in the Manor.

… for now…

Because maybe at one point in the future, Damian wants to figure out who exactly Tim is. No longer trying to exorcise him, but to give him a past–a name, a history–that isn’t just the ghost haunting Wayne Manor. How long has he been the Wayne family’s ghost; befriending Wayne children, watching over their home? Who was Tim before that?

And probably–even though Damian doesn’t intend for it to happen–unearthing the truth leads to Tim moving on. No more guardian ghost for the children of Wayne Manor. No more Tim.

But maybe there’s hope. Maybe, ten years after that–when Damian has finally taken up the mantle from his father–a little boy comes to the Manor. One that everyone can see and hear. A little boy named Tim.

Batman needs a Robin, and the Wayne family needs Tim.

~

A/N: a weird brainstorm/fic combination, highly influenced+inspired by @heartslogos’ DCU fic.

Also, written on my phone while I was on a seven hour bus ride so… take that as you will.

BASICALLY, I am always having Tim feels. Always.

Richie Todd Wayne Goes To Paris, Prologue (2015-10-05)

Summary:

Mr. Drake looks at him and sighs, before tossing over his phone. Richie’s going to be Robin one day, so it’s no problem to catch it.

“Call your family. Let them know where you are, and that you’re safe… And ask for permission. If they actually want me to train you, then I will,” the man says, all resigned exhalations, while Richie types in the number for the Manor. He would feel bad about being so clearly considered a nuisance, except he’s stuck on something and has to ask.

“Don’t you mean our family?”

Mr. Drake just smiles and shakes his head.

A/N1: So this is based on @mgnemesi‘s babyfic ‘verse, in which Jason Todd is suddenly in charge of a baby and goes to the only person in Gotham who can help–Alfred. There’s more but, seriously, just go to the master post and read it.

This is a future fic remix in which… well… hopefully it’ll be clear.

On Richie’s thirteenth birthday, when he blows out the candles on his cake, he makes the same wish he always makes.

At first he thinks it’s a waste of a birthday wish. He’s pretty sure he’ll be Robin this year, even without the wish; after all, Damian has taken over as Batman full time already. But as time passes and Damian continues to patrol without him, he begins to doubt.

“I don’t get it,” Richie says, perched on the gurney, helping Alfred take inventory of the Cave’s medical supplies.

Scarecrow and Poison Ivy are both out of Arkham, so they’ll likely need to have antidotes on hand. This, at least, Richie is allowed to help with.

“… doesn’t Batman need a Robin?”

Alfred’s hands still over the vials of antihistamines, “Perhaps, young Master Richard,” he says carefully, “You should consider a change in your summer holiday plans.”

Tim is en route from the London HQ to his main flat in Paris when Vivienne sends a message over the comms: the team caught an intruder trying to break into the Paris HQ.

Normally, Tim would consider this an opportunity for the team to exercise some independence. He knows they have the protocol memorized, and anyway he trusts their judgement. He wouldn’t have chosen them for Batman Inc, otherwise. But in this case…

“I’m sorry, what did you say his name was?” Tim repeats, though he knows he didn’t mishear the first time.

“Richard Todd Wayne. He says he’s here for you.”

It takes only six hours for Jason to realize that his son is missing, and only because he was unconscious for four of those.

“What do you mean, you don’t know where he is?” Jason seethes, hands clenched tightly into fists.

“It’s Friday. Doesn’t Richie usually hang out with his friends after school on Friday?” Dick shrugs, not yet aware of danger he’s in.

“Tt,” Damian’s voice snaps out, “School’s been out for two weeks already.”

Meaning Richie should be home, pestering one of them for more training. He certainly wouldn’t have passed up the chance to get some aerial practice with the first Robin.

Bruce sits silently, his mouth a flat worried line.

“WHERE IS MY SON?” Jason growls, about to fly off the handle completely, when Alfred steps into the room and clears his throat.

“Sirs. Master Jason has a call on the Manor line.”

All of them pounce for the phone on Bruce’s desk.

After a few minutes of rather explosive back and forth shouting, Richie sullenly holds out the phone and says, “They want to talk to you.”

Tim bites back the bitter automatic response–that would be a first–and instead dials it down to a skeptical, “Did they actually say that, or do you no longer want to get yelled at?”

Baby Richie–except he’s not a baby anymore, god, he’s a teenager has it really been so long?–blushes but continues to stubbornly hold out the phone, so Tim takes it and brings it to his ear.

“… and if you don’t get on a plane back right this second,” says someone’s voice. But it’s been a while–a decade–since Tim has heard any of the family’s voices, so he can’t tell who is speaking.

That’s a lie, of course he knows who it is.

“Hello, Jason.” Tim says, unflinching at the volume.

“… Pretender?”

At that, Tim does flinch. But only Richie is there to see, and he’s still busy sulking, so it’s alright.

“Yes, it’s Tim.”

Shit.

Shit. Fuck. Goddamnit. Shit.

The first word he’s said–the first word any of them say– to Tim in fucking years and of fucking course it’s Jason calling him Pretender.

God fucking damn it.

The others stare at him wide eyed, before Dickie reaches for the speaker button. For some reason, Jason slaps his hand away.

“Hey, Tim,” Jason tries not to croak in surprise, scrambles to come up with anything else to say and falls short.

Silence reigns for a few moments–shit, why is Richie there, how did he even find you, how have you been, there’s too much shit bouncing around in his head to think properly–before Tim picks up the slack and says calmly, as if this phone call is a common occurrence, “Richie’s with me. We’re in my Paris apartment. He’s safe and uninjured.”

At that, Jason shudders out of his fucking stupor, the heavy weight of concern dissipating with a few select words.

“He says he was sent here for training but…”

Jason snorts, “How quickly did you see through that lie?”

Another pause. Duh, they’re not that familiar with each other. Even before, they were never that close.

“Marinette was the one to catch it, actually,” Tim says and doesn’t clarify, “But I know there would have been an email or a memo, if it were true. Anyway, if he’s not meant to be here, I can bring him to the airport. Have him set up on the next flight back to Gotham.”

It’s on the edge of his tongue to say yes. To say, why don’t you come back with him? But Tim, thankfully, continues.

“But… if you’d like. I doubt he’s missing anything, but I can see if there’s anything I can train him in. Maybe some undercover work.”

It’s true that Tim was the best out of them at undercover work. But Jason can’t help but think that it’s a jab at the Pretender comment.

“Yeah, that’d be–” he says, before being cut off by a wave of sound from Richie.

“Oh please, Dad! Oh please, please, please!” his son’s voice shouts out, overwhelming Tim’s completely.

Tim quickly hands the phone back to Richie, in order to spare his eardrums, and mentally goes through his schedule for the next few days–he doubts Richie is going to want to stay for very long.

He was being honest when he said that the teen’s training was likely already complete. There’s not much Tim can teach Richie that someone else couldn’t do a better job. He’ll get bored and go home after a week.

Yeah, Tim can postpone some meetings to next week. And it’s not like Wayne Enterprises is going to fire him when it’s for the Wayne family’s youngest member.

“I will, promise. Thanks, Dad!” Richie says, bright and cheerful, and why wouldn’t he be? “I love you, too,” he finishes, before hanging up.

Tim pretends that the catch in his chest is relief at not having to talk to the family. He’s good at that. Pretending, that is.

~

A/N2: So, I’ve just recently re-read babyfic ‘verse and found myself swamped by baby Richie feels and, since I am always feeling things about Tim Drake and his terribly sad existence, it all just simmered in my brain until I came up with this idea while I was stuck in traffic.

Essentially, this is roughly twelve to thirteen years in the future–Richie is thirteen–and in a sort of fit of teenage rebellion he goes to Paris to find and be trained by Timothy Drake. Who has not been in Gotham for a decade.

Cue bright and sunny soon-to-be-Robin inching his way into the life and heart of the bitter, self-estranged ex-Robin and both of them realizing what family and the role of Robin really means. Or something like that. And some JayxTim. Because I’m predictable like that.

Preeeeetty sure I’ll be doing another few parts to this.

I’m not super keen on the title? But future installments will be under that tag, so…

Untitled DCU drabble (2015-08-29)

“Hello,” says the woman standing outside of the front door. She is short and thin and perfectly normal. And yet, she has somehow slipped past all of the security around the manor, no alarms or sensors tripped, to ring the doorbell. It is only her sheer nonthreatening persona which prevents Alfred from pulling out his customary shotgun. As it is, the family is waiting in the wings to swoop down at the smallest hint of aggression.

“Hello, miss…” Alfred pauses, prompting for a name.

“Oh, yes, sorry. I’m Fiona Hill,” she says with a sheepish smile, “I need help finding my sister, Caroline.”

Behind him, Alfred can hear the confused murmurs from his charges. All but the one who knows Caroline Hill; the one who, in a way, was Caroline Hill. This is no doubt a matter which will prove quite interesting.

He opens the door of Wayne Manor more fully, “Please, come in, Miss Hill.”

The woman, Fiona Hill, sits in the drawing room, enjoys the tea set Alfred provides, and utterly fails to be remarkable. She is as bland as a person can be. Except for how she claims to be the sister of someone who doesn’t exist.

“Technically, we’re only half-sisters,” she says apologetically, as if that were the issue, “I’ve never even met her before, but my mother made sure to tell me her name and that she lives in Gotham. I was able to track down a paper trail, but it’s fairly sporadic and some of it is contradictory then it just disappears. I’m worried,” she sighs, before taking a careful sip from her teacup.

“Why is it that you came here for help?” Alfred asks, “Surely the police or even a private detective would be better.”

Skeptically, she responds, “Better than Batman?”

“I understand you may want to run some tests,” Fiona says, as Alfred escorts her calmly but sternly to the door, “So in addition to the fingerprints and DNA on the teacup, I’ve also prepared more comprehensive samples,” she reaches into her bag and brings out a small plastic box with several compartments. In each compartment is a small vial or a plastic bag, neatly labelled.

It is a forensic scientist’s dream.

It is also unnecessary.

The teacup is enough for them to run tests on. The DNA comes up with two in-system matches. The first is Tim, the actual person behind Caroline Hill. It makes sense, since it does match her claims, but it is still surprising.

The second is both surprising and unbelievable.

The second is the Joker.

~

A/N: Tbh, I have no idea wtf this is. Like… what? I dunno. I’ve just been reading some of heartslogos’ (absolutely fantastic) works on ao3 and I guess my brain is a little bit caught in the DCU. This set of scenes wouldn’t leave me alone the whole day so I figured I ought to write it down and get it out of my system.

Doing some routine maintenance of the plot bunnies, so probably the next couple of days are going to be bouncing around fandoms and unrelated.

Cross-Post: Little Bunny

original here. dated 2013-09-04.

~

[[because when I saw the summary/snippet of mgnemesi’s Bunny – “Her,” Young Mr. Wayne blurts, pointing a finger at the girl. “I want her.” – I kind of pictured something different.]]

Jason is nine years old, not stupid. For all that Bruce Wayne says he doesn’t have to change, Jason knows that if he doesn’t want to go back to the orphanage (and the streets, because, let’s be honest the streets of Gotham are sadly a lot better than the orphanage Bruce Wayne found him in) he has to be perfect. It would help if high society behavior were less… convoluted, because Jason does not care for these plastic-face, plastic-personality people trying to pretty much sell their daughters to him.

For all that he’s only nine, being the newest Young Mr. Wayne makes him some sort of prize to be bought through marriage. Jason knows that these same people would have seen him as little more than the dirt under their feet when he was still a street rat. But he’s still confused why they’re trying to make him dance with their daughters–some of them are teenagers, closer to Dickie’s age than his, so he doesn’t know why they don’t bother him instead (except how Dick’s “secret” crush on the Commissioner’s daughter is obvious even to the air-heads)– when it’s a Halloween party. Sure, high society is different, but he’s pretty sure that dancing isn’t really a Halloween thing.

But they’re still pressuring him, and there’s only so many excuses he can make to get out of it without outrightly saying no, before he has to give in sometime. Alfred, all-knowing and all-seeing being that he is, though too busy supervising the wait staff to interfere himself, has thankfully alerted Brucie about his increasingly panicked ward.

Except Brucie is a moron.

“So tiger,” and Jason doesn’t understand these stupid nicknames. They make even less sense when it’s obvious that Jason is dressed as a pirate, “It’s getting pretty late, Alfy says you’ve only got time for one dance before you have to go back upstairs. Who are you going to choose?”

Like he said, Brucie is a moron.

But, well, okay. He only has to choose one girl. But does that mean it’s the equivalent of a proposal? He doesn’t want to accidentally get engaged because of a stupid Halloween dance. As Jason scans the hopeful debutantes and their even more desperate parents crowding around him, he spots a bunny. Well, obviously it’s a kid in a bunny costume, puffball tail and all, over near a small group of adults. She’s tugging on one of the talking men’s trouser legs, trying to get her father’s attention, but the man dismisses her with a brief pat on the head–between the pair of ears– and pushes her towards the candy buffet table. Which obviously Jason has been orbiting around, because it’s pretty much the only good thing about this party.

And the thing is, the girl in the bunny costume is pretty much the only one who hasn’t been thrown in his direction tonight. And she’s got the saddest expression on her face, even though she’s headed towards unlimited free candy (and him), because it’s obvious that she just wants her dad’s attention. And her ears (he knows they’re fake but still) are drooping a little. And seriously, it’s just one dance. They’ll probably never interact after this, right?

So it’s only a little bit of a surprise when he just – “Her,” Young Mr. Wayne blurts, pointing a finger at the girl. “I want her.” – and the crowd around him follows his finger and swivel their heads like a group of predators catching the hint of prey, and even Bruce (not Brucie, actual less-of-a-moron Bruce) looks surprised, and the girl freezes just like a real bunny would with all of this unexpected attention.

But luckily Alfred (seriously, Alfred is great) appears at her side and sort of shields her from their glares and kind of guides her to Jason and Bruce while making it seem like he’s doing nothing of the sort. When they get closer, Jason can see that her blue blue eyes are watery–like, she’s trying really hard not to cry–and wow, doesn’t he feel like a jerk?

Then Alfred does his throat clearing noise which means that he’s not actually clearing his throat, but that he’s going to say something important so you better pay attention. “Would you care for some sweets, Mister Drake?”

“No thank you, Mr. Pennyworth,” The, apparently, boy in a bunny costume answers, voice soft. “And… you can call me Tim.”

“Only if you call me Alfred, Mister Timothy. You are free to change your mind and take advantage of the candy buffet, Master Jason certainly has been. Now if you will pardon me, I wish you a Happy Halloween.”

Then Alfred disappears to wherever he goes, usually, but only after bunny-boy… Tim, replies with a still soft “You too, Mr Alfred.”

Then it’s just the three of them looking at each other, then away, then back. Except the society vultures are still watching, so does this mean he still has to dance?

And because Brucie is still a moron, he says “Well, sport, you going to dance with Timbo here? He’s a boy, you know.”

And then Tim flushes a bright bright red, and Brucie is a jerk as well as a moron for that. And Jason really can’t not make it up to the other boy, so he grabs Tim’s hand (because honestly he’s kind of concerned that the crowd is seriously considering eating him) and declares, “You didn’t say I had to dance with a girl. And what’s wrong with two boys dancing? Of course I’m going to dance with Tim… I mean, if he wants to,”

Because Jason is a jerk, too, and hasn’t asked Tim yet. But, even though Tim’s face is still red, Jason knows it’s the good kind of blush because he nods and says “I’d like that.” So they go to the dance floor (even though Jason still thinks ballroom dancing on Halloween is stupid) and he’s been taking lessons and Tim must be, too, because they don’t fall over themselves, and it’s not exactly terrible.

There is one thing that Jason’s been curious about, though, so he asks, “Why are you dressed as a bunny?”

And Tim smiles, wide enough to show the set of plastic fangs in his mouth, “I’m Bunnicula, legendary terror of the garden,”

And so maybe the candy buffet table isn’t the only good thing about this party.

[[Obviously this is an AU where Jason was adopted earlier, but beyond that I don’t know what else is different in this universe.]]