It was the same.
The blue door with stains from the time he and Wally had accidentally shot a paint ball at it years ago. They were kids then. Kids with dreams of heroism. Dreams that had been shattered over and over by reality. He didn't want to knock but luckily the old butler already knew he was there. Alfred opened it before he even raised his hand.
"Master Richard! I am glad you have come to visit. Master Bruce is in the living room." Alfred let Dick in. "It has been while."
Dick smiled awkwardly. "Yeah." Of course he had already been preparing for Alfred's inevitable pointing out of how he hadn't been to the manor in months. "I need to talk to Bruce."
Alfred nodded and began to lead him to the living room. "Might I ask what you wish to discuss?"
"Alfred. You already know don't you." Dick was tired.
"Of course." Alfreds stopped in front of the door. "Master Bruce is in there and so is Master Timothy. You haven't met him yet have you."
Dick swallowed. That was true he hadn't met the new boy wonder yet at all. He wasn't sure if he even wanted to but someone had to look after Bruce's new protégé. Because that was it wasn't it, why he was there, to stop Bruce from doing the obviously wrong thing of using another impressional kid to be a human shield. Sure he had been Robin and he turned out well not dead not yet anyway, but this kid was barely trained and from what media footage he saw Bruce was already letting Tim out on patrol on his own. You would think after Jason he would know better. But no he didn't seem to realize what could happen to Tim. Dick shook his head and entered the living room.
There he was in all his billionaire glory. Sitting on his leather chair reading business reports with tea on the small table. Bruce. Across from Bruce was a boy about twelve doing his homework next to the fire place. The seen was peaceful and even a little nostalgic but underneath Dick saw much more.
Like how Tim had a bandaid on his face from the evening's escapades it how Bruce was pointedly ignoring the fact that Dick had entered the room. Dick knew that Bruce had known that he was there since Alfred had opened the door. Well, he couldn't just keep on stalling.
"Dick." Bruce didn't even put down the forms.
"We need to talk." Dick said tentatively he had promised himself that he would be as direct as possible.
"Tim would you give us a moment." Bruce glanced at Tim with authority. Tim who was staring at Dick in shock immediately put down his homework and walked out of the room.
"Six months and not even a check in. Alfred was so worried and you haven't even called. And now you just show up out of nowhere." Bruce actually seemed upset.
"I told you I needed space."
"You promised to check in."
"I said I would try to, but ugh I am not here to bring up my leave of absence." Dick threw his hands in the air.
Bruce eyes narrowed. "Then what pray tell are you here about." He said crossing his arms.
"What do you think?! Your are right it's been six months Bruce I told you all I needed was a year. Just a year to get through all the emotional crap. I said you needed a break too. Did you listen no. I expected that I expected that...but now ot you dragging another kid into this. Another one. God! Bruce really!" Dick was angry. He was tired so dang tired.
"You are upset about Tim being Robin?" Bruce said his tone deadpan.
"Of course I am Bruce.!" Dick practically yelled.
"Oh no you are not turning this into a jealousy thing." Dick said.
"Is that not what this is.?" Bruce began.
"No. You absolute idiot. Are you kidding. I am not jealous of Tim. Oh my god. Bruce...I am terrified for him. You brought in another robin. A barley trained Robin at that. He could die. Why in the world would you even...Why after Jas..." Dick didn't get to finish.
"He didn't bring me into it." A voice above them interrupted as Tim jumped down from the rafters. "I forced my way into this. Bruce tried to stop me at every turn."
Dick took a step back from the kid in striped pajamas. "I know you think that but."
"I found out his identity. I have spied on all of you for years. I saw that Red Robin was gone. Nightwing was in Bludhaven and Batman needed a Robin. Whether or not he wanted him. I don't think I know. heck even tonight Bruce said that I shouldn't patrol on my own anymore and I literally argued with it for three hours. So no Dick. He didn't force me into it or even wants me to be doing this but I am. And I am not stopping and you can't make me." Tim finished and then stomped out in the living room before he slammed the door he said. "I don't know you, Dick ,but Alfred seems to be hoping you will stay for dinner, so get over the idea of saving me from something I chose to do and just join us." And with that he slammed the door.
For a moment Dick was out of words "That was?"
"Tim." Was all Bruce said.
"He is really choosing this life or."
"Am I filling his head with heroic fantasies?" Bruce said. "I am not. I have been utterly frank with him. I told him he could die. I told him how Jason died. And even then he wouldn't leave the cave. Dick I am never going to encourage a kid to go into this life. Never again. But Tim is...different. He never let go of the idea even after I threatened to tell his parents." Bruce finished.
"I...sorry...for barging in." Dick muttered.
"It's fine. But you are staying for dinner." Bruce's voice was firm. "I know that we aren't exactly best friends right now but Tim has been wanting to meet you. And Alfred wants you to stay."
Dick nodded. "So I will be civil, but we are going to talk eventually."
He watched as Bruce left to go get ready. He wanted to stop him. Yell at him more about letting a kid become Robin so soon after Jason, but he refrained. Tim. He needed to talk to him. Maybe the kid really thought he wanted to be Robin but Dick didn't know him well enough to be sure. He bumped into Alfred in the hall and asked him where Tim was. After being informed that Tim was upstairs in his room, dick went up to find him.
This kid had his own room. Dick thought it was a bit strange since he knew for a fact that Tim lived next door with his parents. He knocked on the door.
Upon entering he saw Tim siting rather stiffly on the side of his bed.
"I am sorry. I yelled at you. Was Bruce mad?" Tim seemed stressed about something.
"No well at least not at you." Dick walked over, "Mind if I sit?"
"Go ahead." Tim scooted over.
"You know you could die doing this." Dick for a moment didn't look at Tim. "You don't have to be Robin. You don't have to risk your life. Bruce is a gown up he can handle not having a partner all the time." Dick tried to say.
"You weren't there. And you're wrong. He can't handle not having a partner." Tim was twirling a pin anxiously.
"He did before he met me." Dick retorted quietly.
"Yeah and then he met you." Time sighed, "Don't you get it. Without Robin, Batman does stupid things risky things. And before you interrupt. I know it wasn't my job to get involved, but I have watched you all for a while. He needed someone who could stop him. And I didn't see anyone else volunteering. I...I know what I am. I am a kid who stupidly thought he could singlehandedly fix Batman. I am not part of this family. You all have past history. You're Family. And I was tired of seeing families get broken. You probably hate me, and I know it's selfish but I thought I was taking on Robin to help Batman. Now though, I don't care if you comeback to Gotham or if Bruce decides I am not worth it. I am never giving that mask up. And that's my choice." Tim nodded firmly.
For a moment Dick sat quietly trying to process everything Tim had just said.
"I said okay." Dick smiled. "I think I get it. Robin isn't just a mask to you anymore is he. And I am mentally kicking my self for not realizing it sooner. But if you are never giving up that mask then it doesn't matter what I say to Bruce will it. Robin is yours now. And I know from experience, once he's yours you will never stop." Dick leaned backwards. "But you got one thing wrong."
Tim who had been looking extremely happy that Dick wasn't going to stop him from his nightly outings now looked concerned. "What?" He asked.
"Tim. I don't know you super well but I already noticed. That dresser over there is full of your clothes. Alfred made you cookies. You were doing you homework in the living room. And Bruce actually smiled when you jumped down from the ceiling. Tim. You're wrong about one very important thing." Dick beamed and said.
"You are already part of the Family."