Bringing My Children Home
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Disclaimer: I am only borrowing the Bat family to practice my art.
Tim was sleeping on the couch, his head buried against Dick's shoulder. The funeral had been that day, and it had wiped the teenager out. It had infuriated Damian to see. There had been a crowd of rich, spoiled men and women all lying through their teeth to talk about the Drakes pathetic lives, as if they had been paragons.
The only person truly mourning their loss, was their son. Anyone else with real grief felt it more for the orphaned boy.
Drake had stood there and listened to men and women say he had good parents, how much they must have loved him, how amazing their stories about their adventures must have been. It was little wonder that he had shut down before the reception was over. Father had taken Tim away while Dick and Jason played hosts with as much grace as they could. Stephanie had been too angry to play that role, so Damian had gone to the corner she had secluded herself in for the remainder of the cold, ornate affair.
"What would they say if they knew the truth?" She had muttered.
Damian was not sure many would even believe the truth.
Frankly, it no longer mattered. They were gone, and by now Drake was legally fostered by Father. The adoption process had begun, though it would be delayed a little for appearance sake. A week ago, Damian would have resented the more binding arrangement.
Now, it sent relief through him. The Family was together. Drake, Tim, would teach Damian his secrets, when he had recovered from the loss of his parents. They would all teach Damian, praise him, protect him, love him.
"What are you drawing, baby bat?" Cass asked, leaning over the chair to look at his sketchpad.
Seven people were half-sketched on the sheet. Father, Dick, Jason, and Cass were complete, and Damian was starting to add the features for Drake, and the vague shapes that were Stephanie, and Damian himself, waited their turn.
"Look at this," Stephanie jumped in front of Dick, as soon as he arrived home from his meeting with the realtors about purchasing a store front to turn into a gymnastics center. She was holding up three eskrima sticks joined by short chain links. "Bruce said I could give this a try. I've already hit myself in the face a couple times, but I am going to figure this out."
"There is nothing wrong with both of us using eskrima sticks," Dick pointed out, looping an arm around her shoulders. "It's not like we can't use each other's weapons."
"Oh, I know, but I saw a video with this, and thought it would suit me."
"It is hard to control," Dick pointed out.
"That's the point. I'm not as precise as Tim or Cass, nor as blunt as Jason or Damian. I can mimic a lot of what you do, but there are some obvious drawbacks. I have the stamina, but not always the strength. This would extend my reach, as well as give me an edge because it will look like I can't control it."
Dick grinned. "I like that. I'm guessing you are showing this to me, because Bruce mentioned I had some training?"
"Pretty please?" Stephanie fluttered her eyes.
"Anything for family," Dick answered. "Damian hasn't…"
"No, he said he was going to use his blades as his special weapon. He thinks I'm being foolish," Steph grinned. "Cass and Jason approve, of course. Tim suggested I use a mace instead. Not sure if that was approval or sarcasm. Still, I got him to make some comment!"
"Alright, let me go hug the rest and we'll go downstairs and see what you have," Dick replied. His grin did not leave.
He had the best family.
"Alright, that's enough," Stephanie declared. Cass and Damian both gave her their respectful attention. Jason did not as he continued to poke Tim, who was just curled up in silence, again. She leapt out of her chair, her homework sliding off the table.
"I need your help, Jason. Tim is trying to sleep. Come on, this is important," Stephanie tugged at Jason. He scowled at her, but when Tim peeked up at them from under his blanket with a look of relief, Jason sighed and got up.
Cass slid into his place, pulling Tim's head on her lap, and stroking his longish hair while she turned the tv on. Damian stuck his tongue out at Jason's back. That was a pleasure to see. Despite Bruce's laid-back disapproval, Stephanie and Dick had been telling Damian all about what it was like to be a preteen. Never mind that Stephanie was a girl and Dick was a circus performer, they had the most experience with being kids.
It was Dick who had said he stuck his tongue out at Bruce, a lot. Stephanie had pretended to be shocked, then started sticking her tongue out, any time one of her siblings was distracted. So far Damian had only ventured to follow her lead with her or Dick, but Jason's obsessive hovering over Tim had annoyed him enough to try with their burly brother. The next step was sliding down banisters.
"Alright, what do you need, Spoilsport?" Jason demanded when they were mostly out of the room.
"You need to go for a walk or a drive or something. Tim doesn't need your constant attendance. I know it's hard to see him like this, but all you are doing is reminding him that he's hurting. Stop babying him. Start treating him like normal again. Even Dick is not this overbearing."
"Steph, it's Tim. He lies about everything," Jason retorted. "You and I both know…"
"Depression is not an uncommon part of grief. If it lasts, then we can take steps. I'm not saying not to care for him, but you will hardly leave him alone," She sighed.
Jason clenched his fist. "No one ever came out and said it at the time, but everyone knew. My step mom might have intentionally overdosed. It had reached the point where even I wasn't enough to keep her there."
"I'm sorry Jason. I understand where you are coming from. You, watching his every move, isn't the answer. He is always tense around you. Even Damian can get him to relax when the kid just sits nearby sketching."
"Ok, Ok. So, what am I supposed to do?"
"Bruce wanted you or Dick to stop by the Wayne Foundation Offices. Go be useful. If I was doing English homework, I would have a whole other answer. Sadly, it's just history."
She shooed him out the door and watched him consider the idea for a moment before heading for the garage.
With that out of the way, she headed back for her homework. Sometimes, Family needed a kick in the pants.
It could be blamed on Stephanie, but her only purpose was to get him out the door.
Nonetheless, Jason Wayne had walked into the Wayne Foundation Offices and discovered a frazzled office manager wondering when they were getting another CEO for the charity foundation, and if he could answer a few questions she had. Two hours later, Jason was in the central office, had requested to borrow an executive assistant from Wayne Enterprises, and was getting a crash course in the Foundations inner workings. By the end of the afternoon the pleasant assistant had made things understandable, Jason had talked the caretaker for the understaffed youth center into staying on, and was reviewing applicants for adding the needed staff.
When he went home, he discovered that Dick had also shown up. Dick had had a spurt of independence and had spent the last couple of nights in his apartment to be near the building he was buying to turn into a gymnastics center. This meant the entire family was present for dinner. Stephanie and Cass claimed either side of Tim, who looked like he had slept most of the afternoon, and Jason was somehow shuffled next to Bruce.
"When are you going to get a new head of the Wayne Foundation? Poor Ms. Kennedy was in tears when I stopped by. I fixed the problems for this afternoon, but they need a better situation."
"There hasn't been a candidate that meets the requirements. Lucius and Tiffany both try to stop by, but it really does need someone who could be there when needed. Tamara has said she could volunteer too, but between her college classes and internship, she has even less time," Bruce replied. "Lucius's children have managed it up until now. I liked that. It felt like it was in the family."
"Jason, you should take the job," Tim suggested absently. "The position does a lot of travel, which would be a good cover for whatever you, Roy, Donna, and Kory are up to. Then it stays in the family."
Jason sputtered a few nonsensical words, trying to tell his brother he was no businessman, and that Jason's private vigilante plans were nothing to do with him. It was surprising that no one had said anything yet. The yet unnamed group was not ready to go public or have to deal with the Justice League being parental.
"We will find a knowledgeable assistant to do the paperwork. Your job will be to smile, talk, and look pretty," and Tim gave a weak smile. "I could help you figure it out. I've helped Bruce out at Wayne Enterprises often."
Considering that Tim had not shown much interest in anything but sleep for the last couple of weeks, Jason realized he was trapped. It was entirely possible Tim was manipulating him, but that would be as good news as showing interest. For Family, Jason would have to try running the foundation. He could hire the other three of his group as bodyguards and assistants. Donna might appreciate seeing Jason in his Wayne Suits.
Yes, this was for Family, after all.
Cass hummed to herself as she carefully wrapped a Christmas present. It was Damian and Stephanie's first Christmas with them. It was a special Christmas. She knew where all her siblings had theirs hidden, but did not go looking for them. It was special to open it without knowing.
Perhaps, Christmas would fill Tim up again.
He looked so empty these days. Much of Tim was missing. No one outside the Family saw, since Tim could put on a different person by changing how he sat, talked, dressed. He wore those other people outside the home, but the real parts of Tim that belonged to those masks were empty.
The cheery shout of 'I'm HOOOMMMEE," informed Cass that her sister was done with school for the day. Bruce would roll his eyes in the study, hiding the secret smile that came every day Stephanie burst into the house like that. Everyone knew he had started going to the study just to hear the two teenagers in school arrive home. Even Crystal had figured it out already.
Cass wondered if she should have tried a year of public school, since both Steph and Tim were graduating this year. If she was going to try, she should have done it this year. No, her online courses were plenty of learning and she did not need to be with the naïve children Steph and Tim talked about. Jason had caught up with school through online, refusing to go back to class.
Damian was at her door, trying not to be seen. She raised a brow, before shoving her brightly wrapped presents under her bed.
"Do you need something, Damian?"
He entered, twisting his hands a little. He wanted something from her. Curious. Dick and Jason were teaching him to defend better, Stephanie was teaching him about being a kid, Tim was at least talking to him about things, but Damian had never come to Cass. Words, for all the good they did, were still foreign at times.
"You wish me to teach you something?" She asked.
His eyes brightened.
"I belong here now, and everyone else has taught me things. I feel, wanted, when they teach me. I want to be the best Robin, when it is my turn, so I should learn from all of you."
She nodded in agreement, watching as Tim went into his bedroom with a half curious glance at Damian in Cass's room.
"All of the family can teach you. I do not know what to teach, though. Everything that HE taught me gets jumbled when I try to explain."
He looked disappointed, so she smiled.
"I can teach you the family. I can teach you to read them, more than just the surface."
It was several weeks before Tim felt anything like grief.
To be honest, he had felt numb. It was the best way to hide from the guilt. At times it felt like the deaths were of strangers. When parents died, everything was supposed to change. Only, it did not change for Tim. It was nothing but a thought in his head. He had some difficulty playing his roles in the public, and it was impossible to play a role for the family. His apathy became a role on its own.
Tim had managed to get his bedroom to himself. Jason's new role as head of the Wayne Foundation was distracting his older brother, giving Tim space to think. Not that Jason was not always texting or calling, but most of the time it was to see if Tim knew how an office worked. It was right to see Jason there. He did not have to do any of the paperwork that had made him protest at first, the budget committee was the Wayne Family, and any other meeting Jason had to attend was usually interesting to him.
When Tim woke that morning three weeks after the funeral for his parents, it suddenly struck him in the gut.
There was no more hope. Those slivers of dreams that suggested Mom and Dad might one day want Tim again, they were nothing more than false hopes now. The chances of getting real parents who wanted to know him, to cheer him in his choices were gone. This time they had left him for good.
When the tears came, they were not for the loss of the parents he had once had. The tears were for the parents he could have had, for all the nights a lonely little boy had gone to bed wondering where his parents were that night, for all the birthdays missed or forgotten, for all the picnics, zoo trips, school milestones never had or celebrated. They were for the bruises, the anger, the selfish cruelty of his parents. Tim Drake cried himself to sleep again. Tim Drake had been another role, another mask to play.
The tears would come and go for several months, but Tim Wayne would wake up to a family eager to know him, to see him, to encourage him.
Family was no longer absent parents. Family was Bruce's proud look when Tim talked circles around a dazed businessman who thought the teenager was an easy target to get information from, Dick's hugs at just those moments when Tim thought he would fall apart, Barbara's snarky challenges daring him to play with her tech, Jason invading his room when he worried about Tim, Cass's delight when she learned another word from him, Stephanie's excitement when Spoiler and Robin got to patrol together. Family was Damian looking up at Tim with eager eyes, wanting to learn the secrets of Robin.
Family was Tim, in a pile of brothers and sisters after a bad patrol, safe in the Nest.
Thanks for reading! I would love to hear what you thought. Hearing from my readers is encouraging, and often inspires me to write. I enjoy constructive critiques that make me think harder about my storylines. Thank you so much to everyone who has reviewed, favorited, and following Bringing My Children Home. I would love to continue this series, and have several one-shots written that I may post after the holidays. Feel free to message me story or one-shot ideas for this series.
I don't write slash, sex, or supernatural stories. I don't like to write much Romance of any kind. I like family and action and hurt/comfort. I can't promise to write your prompt, but you may inspire me to write something.
Again, thanks for reading and reviewing!