"What's your name?" Richard asked.
"Tim," Tim said shyly, glancing at Richard and wondering if maybe he remembered him?
"Well, Timmy, my name is Dick." (And watch me carefully during the show—I'm going to do a special extra flip just for you!) Maybe not. Tim didn't really blame him, all things considered.
(But it would be nice to call him Dick, instead of Richard. Less like…less like strangers.)
"Here we are," Dick said, voice cheerful, as they reached a doorway. It led to a wide hall, where waiters were bustling in and out of a large swinging door and one or two other, smaller doors.
"Oh my God!" Both boys spun around. Tim recognized the waitress with the brown ponytail—Harley?
"We're not really sure," Dick admitted, then leaned over to add, "I think it's something he ate."
Harley pursed her lips.
"We're going to go see Alfred."
Harley was still frowning a little. "Where are your parents, sweetheart?"
Tim looked up at Dick a little pleadingly. Thankfully, he understood and answered Harley. "We don't know."
Harley nodded a little, looked out at the crowd. "Would you like me to help you find them, Tim?"
Dick had apparently had enough of the conversation because he'd started tugging Tim along with him down the hall. "It might take a long time, Harley, and if it's something he ate we gotta do something quickly cause it can get bad."
Bad? Tim followed behind Dick as he ducked under a platter someone was carrying and pushed open the swinging door, but he glanced back to look at Harley. She opened her mouth, stopped, then set her platter down on a foldable table against the wall and sprinted after them.
"Alfred!" Dick called as they burst into a kitchen. It was hot, Tim realized, but it smelled like—so many different spices and—his stomach was starting to feel a little terrible too, now.
"Master Dick." The tall, thin man who turned around to face them just...radiated disapproval, and Tim shrank back a little behind Dick's arm. "May I inquire why you are here in the...oh, dear."
Dick tugged at Tim's arm, pulling him forward. "S'okay, Timmy. This is Alfred, he's the best. Alfie, I think Timmy's getting a reaction to something but we don't know where his parents are."
Alfred bent down, balancing on his knees at Tim's level. "Do me a favor, Master Dick, and find Master Bruce? Inform him of the situation and ask him to locate the Drakes."
Dick nodded and Tim tensed as he took a step back, gripping the hand (he hadn't realized he was still holding) a little tighter.
"And then please return as soon as possible," Alfred added gently, with a small smile.
Dick squeezed Tim's hand with a reassuring smile before letting go. "I'll only be a minute, Timmy, I'll be back before you know it."
"I'll go too, Mr. Pennyworth," Harley said, "It'll be faster that way." Tim watched as she stopped to whisper something to another girl before disappearing after Dick, the doors swinging back and forth in their wake.
While they were gone, Alfred—Mr. Pennyworth?-procured a bottle of bright pink liquid and explained that it was medicine that helped with "allergies", and should help his face stop swelling.
Tim turned the bottle over in his hands, glancing over the "symptoms" and "directions" sections. His first instinct was to be a little suspicious—he was a Gotham native, after all—but. Dick trusted Mr. Pennyworth, he could tell, and...Tim trusted that Dick, that Robin, wouldn't leave him alone with someone he didn't trust. So he accepted the teaspoon of the medicine that Mr. Pennyworth poured out for him, and the glass of water after.
The doors which had been gently swinging open and shut as the waiters moved in and out all this time suddenly burst open, and Dick jogged over. "I found Bruce, Alf, hey Timmy how are you-"
"Dick," he felt bad for interrupting but it would be worse if-"Is there a bathroom-"
Dick's eyes widened and he threw an arm around Tim's shoulders, pulling him out the swinging doors and past a heavy wooden one, and Tim dropped down on the floor and emptied all the appetizers he'd eaten into the toilet.
Dick patted his back sympathetically (He's still here?). "Yuck," he said. (How did he manage to sound cheerful even now?) "We might have to stay here for a little while," he added as Tim swallowed hard (miserably), wrapping an arm around the younger boy's shoulders again.
Tim nodded. Then jerked back to the toilet again.
"Timothy!" Tim looked up from where he was sitting on top of the counter with another glass of water, Dick leaning next to him with his arms folded over the countertop. Mrs. Mac was standing in the doorway.
"Mrs. Mac!" he cried, and slid forward. Dick reached up to help him jump off the counter, and he ran to give the familiar woman a hug.
He felt her arms come around him even as she spoke over his head. "I'm the Drakes' housekeeper—Mrs. Drake called t'tell me Timothy needed someone t' take 'im home." She pulled Tim back a little and tilted his head up. "Oh, m'poor dear..."
Out of the corner of his eye, Tim saw Mr. Pennyworth raise an eyebrow towards the door, and realized with a start that that was Mr. Wayne standing there, holding one of the doors open. Mr. Wayne nodded, but...it looked like it hurt him to do so.
"Wait, you talked with Mrs. Drake?" Dick piped up. "But..."
"Not now, Dickie." Dick frowned, but then he caught Tim's eye and smiled instead.
Something was still bothering him.
Mr. Pennyworth and Mrs. Mac had been speaking in the meantime, and Tim tuned in to their conversation to hear Mrs. Mac saying, "Yes, must've been the shrimp then."
"I would recommend a visit to a doctor," Mr. Pennyworth advised. "It is never a bad idea to exercise caution in a situation such as this."
Mrs. Mac nodded. "Thank you, Mr. Pennyworth, that's sound advice. You ready t'go, Timothy dear?"
Tim glanced back at Dick, who was still watching him. (He had his cheeks puffed up again, and Tim figured it was probably something he did when he was thinking about something.)
Dick shook his head a little, smiled and stepped over. "Goodbye, Timmy." He dropped down to one knee and wrapped his arms around him.
Tim hugged him back. (Dick Grayson still gave the best hugs, he decided.)
"This was kinda sucky, but maybe next time there's a gala we can hang out properly, yeah?"
"Really?" Tim asked, wide eyes and shock and awe. That Dick Grayson wanted to meet him again.
"Of course!" Dick said, then leaned in conspiratorially. "All the grown ups are boring, anyways—we kids gotta stick together."
It was with this promise that Tim left Wayne Manor almost skipping, holding Mrs. Mac's hand.
But Jack and Janet never take him to another gala, and Tim Drake has to content himself with watching Batman and Robin from a distance, unseen and unknown.