Blood and Water (the Loss and Life Remix), (2016-10-19)

A/N: Based off @bluethursday’s Blood and Water which is a DCUxAvatar the Last Airbender remix… you should probably read that first?

~

The first time Tim met Ra’s, he thought it was a curious and fascinating happenstance.

He never made that mistake again.

Your mother was water–the ocean and the rain and every drop in between–flowing and swelling and inescapable. Your father was the air–free and flighty, head too much in the clouds to worry about the ground.

Combined they made you.

Yet people still wondered why you had ice in your veins.

Bruce remembers his first impression of Tim: a smart but shy boy, demurely following at Ra’s heels. Only a few years younger than himself, a fellow fire bender wanting to learn from the master.

He was wrong on nearly every count.

Water benders are master healers, air benders the experts in spiritual matters. Or, at least, that’s what nature intended.

But your mother pushed and your father reached, and in the intersection they found a secret.

It was meant to be a gift.

Dick’s first impression was similarly wrong, yet somehow in an entirely different way.

A victim of Ra’s that Bruce had rescued, traumatized and reeling and seeking sanctuary with the Fire Nation King.

After all, Tim was clearly from the destroyed Water Tribes, he might have been a bender if Ra’s hadn’t killed them all.

Dick was very nearly right, if things were altered and rearranged.

You turned seventeen-eighteen-nineteen and realized that you hadn’t changed at all. No new scars, but you never had many in the first place, no wrinkles or additional height.

Perfectly preserved.

An abomination, a monster.

Cass is the one to help Tim leave, sees the fear of staying in one place too long, the fear of a threat already vanquished.

She knows he is hiding something, but he knows she knows, and besides everyone has secrets, so she doesn’t confront him about it.

Cass’ father thought he could make her the Avatar–she understands inheriting sins of the parent.

There is a pool of water that no right minded water bender would touch. Not that any water bender has had the opportunity to do so in centuries, so well-guarded is the Pit.

But your parents didn’t need the original to mimic it’s effects–no, not mimic… master.

Jason never met Tim, not properly, only saw him from a distance.

Jason thought he was the Consort of the Fire Nation King–just a fancy term for whore.

He wasn’t right… not yet.

If things were different, you might have chosen death. If the collective leaders of the remaining bending nations hadn’t banded together to take Ra’s out, you would have died to get rid of him.

Anything to even try to make amends, all those villages obliterated as Ra’s hunted you down, blood on your hands.

But your mother was a scholar, your father a dreamer, and combined they made you.

Maybe one day someone will find you and ask to be taught.

Damian is still a child when he hears the name–more myth than reality. It’s for old tales and nostalgia, nothing relevant, until he needs a water bending teacher.

Dick thinks he is sending Damian to a hermit, one who is aged, if not outrightly old. Jason does little more than smirk, but Cass gives a supportive shoulder pat.

Bruce stays entirely silent on the matter.

You are a monster, but there is place in the world for monsters.

Better you than someone else.

(But don’t all monsters think that?)

Thoughts of You, (2016-09-20)

In a sea of monochrome, all it takes is a single splash of color to draw his eye.

It’s been a few months since Damian has taken over for his father completely. By day and by night.

It should be everything he’s ever wanted. The whole purpose of his birth finally fulfilled, if coopted for himself instead of his grandfather and mother. He has wealth, he has power; he has family, he has friends.

He is not lacking in any way.

So why does he feel like he is?

Somewhere, flitting in the corner of Damian’s eye, is the only flash of color at this gala. He doesn’t even know what this gala is for, anymore, they all blur together.

The men around him in their nearly uniform tuxedos, the women who have turned to silver as this season’s color or who think black is slimming, elegant, classic (boring).

Even Damian’s kandura–chosen defiantly but altered slightly toward Western fashion sense–is all in white and pale gray.

But there is color here and now; small and fleeting but present. And he doesn’t care if it’s rude to abruptly leave the current conversation happening around him, it doesn’t matter.

Damian sees a spot of color–the first in what feels like ages–and all he can think is that he wants.

Time moves in circles; hands around the clock face–cycles and rhythms and patterns.

The prince becomes king, the young bat learns how to fly. Creatures of the night appear to make him fall.

Or watch him rise.

The color is a dress shirt–an almost familiar blue-green that Damian can’t quite place–worn underneath a black waistcoat and tie. No jacket, though. If this weren’t the kind of even that would regulate that–no matter how rich or influential the guests–Damian would almost think it were on purpose.

He’s already being impulsive, heedless, untethered, and Damian just wants. Reaches out to curl a hand around the man’s wrist, feels soft fabric beneath his palm, and the smooth surface of his chrysoberyl cabochon cufflinks.

The man turns around to face Damian, surprise but no fear or anger on his face. His lips curve into a demure smirk, if a smirk could even be such, a small sideways smile that says I know a secret.

He glances down, pointedly, at their joined arms, Damian’s hand still wrapped around a pulse he can barely feel beneath the cuff but which still hammers away despite the man’s apparent calm. Belatedly, he lets go, scowls at his own lack of decorum.

“Is there something you needed, Mr. Wayne?” The man asks, even as Damian reels internally, burning with same question.

“Please,” he says, which is a more common occurrence than it used to be but still fairly rare, “Call me Damian.” Because everyone, even strangers, call him Damian–one of the many downfalls of being the youngest of such a public family, never mind that he is no longer a child.

The man nods in acknowledgement, “Damian, then,” he says, and that’s it. No additional chatter, no leading statements, no desperate attempts at flirting. In fact, it looks as if he’s about to turn back around and leave.

“And you?” Damian asks, can’t stop the way the words escape him to fill the silence, “You know my name. You have me at a disadvantage.”

The man blinks, smiles wider, “You can call me Quinton.”

They don’t have much more time than that, the sycophants ever clamoring for the Wayne coattails interrupting the moment.

Damian cannot disregard propriety a second time, can only watch as the man–Quinton–is pushed away behind the crowd of d├ębutantes, eager to make their own impression on Gotham’s most eligible bachelor.

By the time Damian comes up for air, Quinton is nowhere in sight, the world gone back to monochrome.

At least he knows the man’s name.

Damian begins to suspect something is wrong when, upon seeking the event planner for the guest list, finds the woman in a frenzy hissing orders to her army of underlings.

“And make sure none of this gets out to the guests,” she punctuates fiercely, only to squeak in horror at spotting Damian. “Sir!”

“What is going on?” he asks, more demand than question, more Bat than Wayne.

The hotel hosting the gala was also home to a vault whose contents the head of security will not disclose, not even to Damian Wayne.

It doesn’t take much sleuthing to figure out what happened.

It also doesn’t take very long to create a suspect list–though as far as Damian knows, the only person who can pull this off single-handedly is halfway across the globe with his father on an international crime spree to reclaim stolen relics for their nation of origin.

Just in case, Damian calls him.

“Father,” he greets, just barely, before a rushed, “You and Kyle are far from Gotham, yes?”

Father pauses, processing, but when he speaks it is warm and amused, “Damian,” he returns, “Yes, Selina and I are not in Gotham. Is something the matter?”

“There’s been an incident at the gala,” Damian admits grudgingly, “Or rather, using the gala as a distraction. Burglary, though I don’t know yet what’s been taken. I’m still Damian Wayne right now.”

“Oh?” A voice asks, too feminine to be his father.

“Am I on speaker?” Damian asks, irritated.

“Yes,” Father says, redundant, as Kyle continues with, “A burglary and your first though was little old me? I’m retired, darling,” she lies, blatantly. Her crimes now are more noble, but certainly no less illegal.

Her travel companion hardly minds, though: vigilantism is also technically illegal.

“Do you know if anything has been left behind?” Kyle asks, and Damian bids a swift goodbye as he follows up on that train of thought.

As Damian Wayne, he is politely but firmly told that the hotel cannot violate their guests’ privacy and to stay out of the matter.

As Batman he finds out what, exactly, was taken from the vault, what was left in the vault, and the likely suspect now that Kyle is out of the running:

In the empty case which once contained an external hard drive, is a fake flower with silk petals of a familiar blue-green color. According to the gala guest list, there is only one Quinton, last name Harlowe, who no one else can remember.

After a night of fruitless searching and more successful crime fighting, Damian returns to the Cave and flips the cowl off. It seems more suffocating tonight, his head overheating with thoughts of frustration and baseless betrayal.

In the Cave’s bathroom, he splashes cool water to his face, and looks at his own reflection. His eyes, even bloodshot and shadowed, are a familiar blue-green color

(Tim is born to a Fury, cold and full of wrath.

He’s raised to be a Siren, singing of a different kind of danger.)

~

A/N: Been reading DCU fic, in particular @justwritinsThink Of Me (hence the shoutout title even this ficlet has nothing in common with their fantastic fic except for the pairing) and woke up with the most wonderful DamiTim idea which took way too long to actually transcribe and faded as the day passed :/

So this is what I was able to salvage before it disappeared completely. ~Enjoy~

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.