A/N-Prompt #17: Swollen
As you can tell, I had no idea what to name this. See if you can figure it out.
Part 1, because I wanted to publish something. Part 2 Coming soon.
(It was hard writing 4-year-old Tim. I know four year old boys. They are wild and noisy and do exactly what you tell them not to. But I feel like Tim, when with his parents, would be kind of…not.)
The ballroom was a sea of silver suits and shimmering metallic fabric. It was something to do with the theme of the party, Tim remembered his mother saying, as he sat at a table against a wall, eyes glued to the mauve gauze of his mother's dress, sparkling in the bright white light from the grand crystal chandelier hundreds of feet above Tim's head.
At four years old, this was Tim's first time attending a gala. Earlier that day, Janet had swept into the bedroom where Tim had a puzzle spread out on the floor.
She glanced at her son, lying on his stomach with half the 100-piece jigsaw assembled in front of him. "Do clean that up, Timothy," she said, striding towards the closet and sliding the doors open.
Tim blinked, wondering why, exactly, he was cleaning up already. Dinner wouldn't be ready for another hour, maybe his parents had decided to go out?
Janet pulled a silver suit Tim had never seen before out from the closet. "Yes, put it away. Mina!" she called out the door as she laid the suit on the bed and turned to Tim, smiling. "Because you've been such a good boy, you can come to the gala tonight with your father and I."
Tim looked at her with wide eyes. "The gala?"
"Yes, yes, the gala at Wayne Manor. Mina will help you get dressed." And with that she swept out again, leaving a slightly shocked Tim frozen on the bedroom floor.
He blinked, shook his head, and then considered his mother's surprise announcement.
A gala? Tim's parents had never brought him along with them before.
"You're too young to come with us, Timothy," Janet would say.
"It would get pretty boring," Jack would confide. "Just a whole lot of old people around, really."
But this...this was a party at Wayne Manor. Home of Richard Grayson and Bruce Wayne.
The truth was, Tim had not really been all THAT well-behaved, recently. He'd knocked a glass off a table three days ago, before his parents had arrived. It had shattered all over the floor. It looked like Mina, his current nanny, hadn't told Mom about the incident.
He supposed the right thing to do be to inform Mom. But...he wanted to go to the gala. Wayne Manor? Maybe Richard Grayson would actually be there! Tim would love to meet him again! And seeing Bruce Wayne would be really cool, too. (But Richard Grayson...)
And anyways, he figured, if he told Mom what happened, she'd know Mina had been keeping something from her. That wouldn't end well, probably with Janet giving Mina an angry scolding before firing her (which was exactly what had happened to Eliza. And Jane. And Kristi. And Hannah. Every time, as soon as they were moving from being strangers to people Tim actually liked.)
Tim liked Mina. He didn't want to get her fired.
(It was probably a matter of later rather than sooner, but. Well.)
In spite of that earlier excitement, to be completely honest, so far Tim was bored.
As they left the Bentley and headed towards the grand mahogany doors of the manor, Janet had leaned over slightly to whisper to him, "Stay close to your father and I, Timothy. We can't have you getting lost in all these crowds."
Tim had obeyed, following along behind her as she and Jack made their way through the enormous doors and into a gigantic room. What looked like hundreds of people stood around on the floor, waiters in black and white moving nimbly through the clumps of people, carrying silver trays. There were tables with chairs lining three walls, and Tim could see some old people sitting down on them.
Janet and Jack had made their way through the crowd, shaking hands, smiling and laughing. Every time they stopped Tim would slip to either parents' side, and smile politely and say "hello" when Mom introduced him to some person-or-the-other that Tim had never seen before. (Although he recognized a few, vaguely, from the newspapers and the TV.)
This went on for only about ten minutes before Tim, who had been staring at the doors wondering if Bruce and Richard were already here, bumped into his mother's four-inch heels.
"Sorry!" he yelped, as Janet stumbled, grabbing Jack's elbow for balance.
"You alright?" Jack asked, reaching out for her other arm to steady her.
Janet just sighed, loudly, and turned to Tim with a tight smile.
"Come with me, Timothy."
She led him to the tables against the wall.
"Your father will be along later, to check up on you," she told him. "Until then, sit here like a good boy, okay?"
Tim obeyed. Even if it meant that, when Bruce Wayne and Richard Grayson finally entered the hall, he didn't actually get to go meet them. Even if Dad had long ago melted into the sea of silver suits, Tim hadn't caught another glimpse of Richard Grayson, and he now had to keep eagle eyes on his mother, afraid that she'd disappear too.
One of the waiters, seeing the little boy sitting alone at the table, had stopped and asked him if he'd like a shrimp puff. Tim had accepted, just to be polite. He didn't really like shrimp. (He also wasn't supposed to take food from strangers, but did waiters count?)
(Unknown to Tim, the waiter, whose name was James, had spread the word about a sweet little boy alone at the tables.)
A couple of the other waiters had stopped by, after, too. They all asked him what his name was, if he'd like some food, and chatted for a few minutes.
"These parties really are a little boring, aren't they?" Crystal laughed.
"I have to go now, because Ms. Westford spilled wine all over the floor and we need to clean it up before someone notices and embarrasses her," Henry confided.
"There's cheesecake for dessert. I'll make sure you get a big slice," Harley promised.
(Also unknown to Tim, ten-year-old Dick Grayson had heard about the boy at the tables and, deciding that he HAD to be feeling as bored and lonely as Dick was, surrounded by the rich, stuffy, mean grownups crowding the place, had set off to find him.)
But now, after maybe an hour or two of sitting alone at the table, even with the periodic visits from the waiters, Tim was bored.
Normally, Tim could find ways to entertain himself for hours with just his mind. People watching was a special hobby of his. But people at galas...there were a lot of whispers and fake smiles and cold laughs, and it just wasn't any fun. Tim had given up only half an hour into the game.
He'd eaten all the food the waiters had brought, he was that bored.
His shoes were pinching his feet.
And the tie was annoying.
And his face was itchy.
Once he stopped to think about it, Tim realized his whole face felt...wrong. It felt like there was something puffy and tight under his eyes. And his throat felt scratchy when he swallowed.
Confused, miserable and a little scared, Tim finally slipped off the chair and scampered over to where his mother was standing, sipping from a flute of champagne as she watched someone further away with narrowed eyes.
"Mom," Tim said, tugging at her sleeve. "Mom, I don't feel so good."
Janet patted his head absently. "Not now, Timmy," she murmured, "Wait for me at the table, yes?" And she was off.
Tim bit his lip. It felt puffy. And it hurt more than it usually did.
He wanted to cry. (But Mom wouldn't like that. Big boys aren't supposed to cry.)
When he turned around, he saw rows and rows of identical tables, white tablecloths and golden candles. He had no idea which one he was supposed to wait at. How would Mom find him if he accidentally sat at the wrong table?
When he looked the way Mom had gone, he couldn't see any mauve anywhere. Just tall, silver suits (there was no way he'd be able to find Dad) and jewel-colored dresses and too many faces he didn't know.
He could feel his eyes filling up with tears.
"Hey!" There was a cheerful child's voice behind him and a hand on his shoulder. Tim spun around quickly, stumbling a little.
And there in front of him stood Richard Grayson.
He was wearing a suit and tie and his hair was all gelled up, so he looked really different from the wild boy at the circus Tim had met two years ago. He still had the same beaming grin, though. A smile that slowly disappeared, replaced by an "oh" of surprise and wide blue eyes.
"Are you okay?"
Was Tim okay? He didn't feel okay. But if he wasn't feeling okay he was supposed to find his (current) nanny, or his parents. Mom had told him, on the way, that he was not to bother anybody at the party. So he just nodded.
"You don't look okay," Richard said critically, pursing his lips and puffing his cheeks. "What happened?"
Tim wasn't supposed to talk to strangers. But this was Richard Grayson, who'd smiled at him and let him sit in his lap for the picture and told him he'd do his special flip for him (before it had all gone wrong).
"I don't know," he said miserably. "I was being a good boy, I promise. I was just sitting at the tables like Mommy said to."
Richard blew the air out of his mouth slowly, fingers tapping against his lips. "Oh. Hm. Where is your mom?"
Tim felt the tears beginning to spill over. "I can't find her. And I can't find Dad."
"Oh, hey, it's okay," Richard said quickly, throwing an arm around Tim's shoulder and squeezing. "Don't cry, I'll help you, it's okay." He paused for a second. "Say, did you eat anything?"
"What did you eat?"
Tim shrugged a little guiltily. "Lot's of things? Because everybody kept giving me food," he added quickly.
Dick nodded, bounced on his toes a little, then squeezed Tim's shoulder again, and let go. "Okay! I know someone who can help." He smiled and held out a hand.
Tim hesitated only a second. He wasn't supposed to go anywhere with strangers. But this was Richard Grayson. This was Robin.
He took the hand the older boy offered, and let him lead him through the crowd.