A/N: People seem to like this story, so I made an effort to update. Thanks to everyone who followed, favorited and especially reviewed ;) I don't care who you are, anyone can review! Love the fact that even without an account anyone can review. The second part of this chapter is kind of a flashback from Tim's perspective until it catches up to the present. For the upcoming New Year (and the fact that my dad is taking my laptop on his overseas trip) I present a longer chapter!
Wayne Manor, to some, was a beautiful castle; a palace with the oldest and most priceless riches at every turn. To others, it was a prison; a cold, dark, empty place where all you did was wait anxiously for some rescue to present itself. Almost all of its residents over time had felt this way after Thomas and Martha Wayne had died.
Bruce felt as if his old, empty residence, halls once filled with warm memories and happy moments, had turned its own back on him with the deaths of his parents, instead becoming only a dark and miserable reminder of what he once had. Alfred was who he had leaned on, and Alfred had always been a part of the Manor. The one part that had remained cheerful and encouraging, a steadfast hall to brighten in his own small ways the desolate rooms. Alfred never gave up on the house. Bruce may have been difficult but, with or without Thomas and Martha Wayne, the faithful butler would maintain the house at any cost. When Dick had moved in and filled the halls with childish laughter and exuberant excitement and enthusiasm, a change for the better had come. But it hadn't gotten that way as quickly as one would have hoped, for it was not at first that way for Dick.
For Dick, entering the grand halls of Wayne Manor had been a complete change in life, an adventure into a strange and mysterious world with closed doors and dark halls. His guardian was always disappearing at night and, alone in a room much too big for him and alone in a bed to large for him, thoughts drifted to the comforts of his old trailer. Tears would prick at clear, sparkling blue eyes and the rivers of sorrow wound down his pale white cheeks. It had felt very much like a prison in those days, the times before Robin. When Robin arrived, so did the renewed feelings of joy and happiness. It was a cheerful time in comparison to the days before. But, day by day, the tension grew. Arguments erupted and hurtful words shot in both directions. Then came the day that the little ball of sunshine, grown and hardened with the signs of a life of suffering, had had enough, and then he left.
Jason's arrival in the mansion had been the results of both a desperate act of crime and a desperate act of love. Alfred was certainly worried about Bruce's well-being when the bat had decided on the spot to take in a street kid who had been stealing tires off of the Batmobile. It was a sudden and surprising change for Jason, but at first he accepted it with a mix of delight and confusion, and then came jealousy. Jason grew more and more sour with the responsibility of living up to the Robin title hanging heavily on his shoulders, and the Manor was yet again the site of arguments where bullet wounds of hurt were inflicted, once more, on both sides. Then, in an episode for which Bruce would never forgive himself, Jason died at the hands of the ever-gleeful Joker.
Tim had also been desperate to live up to the regime of the Robins before him, so much so that he had quickly picked up the habits of his mentor himself. One Batman had been difficult enough for Alfred to handle, but because of his desire to please, the third Robin had become much more of a Batman than his alter ego. Joining the Team had been an excellent opportunity to get all the Batman-like brooding out of his system and ended up being just what he needed. A happy and intelligent child had risen. So while Tim gallivanted about as Robin, the manor settled down again for a while, still as empty, dark, and lonely as it had always been. Alfred remained faithful and unchanging and watched day by day go by, just as he always had.
Damian had hated everything that had anything to do with his Father and the double life he led from the moment he had become involved. It was a side effect of an intense childhood with the League of Assassins he supposed. The house was just another object to receive the bitter end of his loathing of everything within the realm of Batman. It always, to him, felt like a prison. He had never wanted to be there, having to deal with its residents and past residents. Even Todd had risen from the dead! Then he had snuck from the Manor, discovered this Team, snuck from the mountain, gone on the mission, and then made a mistake... Father had come home, learned of his escapades and quite fiercely lectured him, afterwards sending him upstairs. Now he sat, imprisoned in his room, with only his guilty thoughts to accompany him.
Hearing Pennyworth leave a tray of dinner, no doubt, and turning to look at the door, Damian realized that not only would he be forbidden from having anything to do with the Team, but what if...what if Father didn't want him anymore? He could be rejected! Was it truly possible as Drake had later pointed out, that his own Father would send him back?
No, no that was not possible. Bruce could not do such a thing, whether he wanted to or not. Damian knew he was lying to himself, but he had no idea why he was actually worrying about it. Shouldn't he be thinking along the lines of something like Go ahead, Father, reject me. See if I care. Damian should refuse to let it bother him. Then why did it bother him, that, just like those before him, he was trapped and held captive in a dark and gloomy dwelling? Wouldn't it be a good thing if he was sent away? He would not have to put up with the annoying acts of his so-called siblings if that were the case. He could return to his mother and grandfather! For some reason, though, Damian didn't really want to. He had grown, in a strange sense, somewhat fond of the hero life. It was certainly more exhilarating than sitting down alone and rejected.
He would never admit it to anyone, but he did not want to be alone. He blinked furiously as an unfamiliar wetness overtook his eyes. Was he really crying? Good heavens, no! Half of him yelled to pull himself together, while the other half sobbed silently for the rejection he was certain to face. Unable to hold back the torrents much longer, he caved to the flowing tears and silently bowed his head. A good ten minutes later, he made a choice.
You've done something wrong and you know it. Find out how you can fix it...and perhaps this hero life can be yours.
After helping the other three companions transport the victims to the hospital nearby, Tim and Damian had returned to the Cave where Nightwing had immediately demanded a report. Dick had dismissed Jaime, Bart, and Garfield, and then left for the Batcave soon after with Tim and Damian in tow. Wanting to talk with Damian, Dick had sent Tim off to his room. Tim had waited there for a few hours, anxiously contemplating the potential severity of Bruce's reaction. Thankful for having planted a listening device in the Cave only days prior, he intently strained to hear for Bruce's verdict.
First, Tim heard from downstairs, the front door opening and Alfred's usual polite greeting of "Welcome home, Master Bruce. Coffee?" Swallowing and glancing at the clock, Tim had realized bruce's work day was over. Now it was only dinner and a few hours of preparation before it was time for the two of them to patrol. Bruce had declined the offer of the beverage, and Tim knew he had sensed that something was wrong. Dick had also heard Bruce's entrance and had approached then quietly asked if they could talk in the Cave.
That was when Tim's device came in handy. He listened as Nightwing relayed a complete report of the afternoon's failings all the way from Damian's arrival to the return home, and then added at the end several remarks about his conversation with Damian, which Tim himself had not heard. Bruce didn't say anything for several minutes, although Tim was positive that his expression and body language were saying it all. Wanting to talk first to the culprits individually, Bruce had not made a judgement on the spot. He sent Alfred to fetch Tim. Tim, of course, scrambled to hide his listening device while the butler was ascending the stairs. "I believe Master Bruce has been wanting to speak with you, Master Timothy." Tim looked up, nervous, at the solemn butler standing quietly before him and nodded. When Alfred beckoned him, it took no acting ability for him to follow silently and dutifully, his entire being weighed down with guilt.
Bruce had asked him to confirm everything Dick said, while Dick himself stood quietly in the corner, knowing that if he'd been told to leave, he would have. At the end of his report, Tim told Bruce he knew what he did was wrong, apologized for it, and confirmed that it would not happen again. Bruce accepted it without any further punishment except to state that tonight he would not patrol with Batman. "You've had enough excitement for one day as it is," he explained, dismissing Tim to his room and calling for Damian.
Tim had again picked up his device and heard Damian confirm Nightwing's report, and then listened as Bruce angrily lectured Damian, scolding him and pointing out his mistakes. Damian accepted the fact that he would not be seeing the Team again unless he completely changed his ways and proved himself worthy. The little assassin did so silently, but most likely furiously. Damian, too, had been dismissed to his room. Tim put away his device and sat, thinking, for awhile. Eventually, he heard Alfred place a tray outside his door and then move to Damian's room to do the same, no doubt. Tim fetched it and nibbled some, genuinely worried about Damian. It was strange, to be worrying for a heartless assassin. But if he had listened to Bruce's warning, now it was likely that Damian was no longer heartless, and the change in behavior that might come with that was worrying. What if Damian ran away? Guilt could eat him up in an instant if the assassin lost his heartless attitude. When the Bat-symbol lit in the sky, and through the device, Tim heard Batman set out to preserve justice he rolled over and closed his eyes.
No use worrying now. What's done is done.
A/N: Hope that was sufficient enough for those of you anticipating a dramatic confrontation with the formidable DaddyBats...