Universal Constants

"Don't touch me!" shrilled Tim's voice through the halls of Wayne Manor.

Alfred, who had been pouring a cup of tea for Bruce in the parlor, jumped, and almost dropped the teapot. Only almost, or else that integral part of the Wayne family china would have been no more. Quickly wiping up the lone drop of wayward tea with a teatowel hand-embroidered by a long-dead Wayne ancestor, Alfred turned to his eldest charge and raised a questioning brow.

Bruce just shook his head, befuddled. No, he had no idea why their interdimensional visitor was yelling. Though who he was yelling at was clear; Dick was the only other person in the house.

By silent accord, the two men snuck to the doorway and leaned out just far enough to eavesdrop. The conversation was taking place a scant few feet from them, yet they still remained unnoticed by both boys.

Tim was feeling frazzled. More than that, he was frustrated beyond belief with the fact that Dick – this Dick, who didn't call him 'little brother' for very good reasons, but seemed to be even more touchy-feely than Bart when he'd gotten dosed with Poison Ivy's 'hugging pollen' – just would not leave him alone. From what he'd been able to determine by skimming this Bruce's – not Batman; this Bruce actually had a life outside the cowl, albeit not much of one – files, he and this universe's Tim had very little in common beyond name and age. The other Tim reminded him of Jason…well, when he'd been alive. This universe had never even had a Jason Todd, and…and…

And Dick was touching him again! Whirling on the older man, Tim glared at Dick, until finally the chagrined grin on his face faded into unease. Tim had modeled his Robin Glare on Bruce's Batglare, and while it wasn't quite as intense, it was meaner than anything that his Dick had ever been able to manage. And this universe wasn't near as mean as his.

It was time for him to lay down the law, before he laid Dick flat out on the floor. "Look," Tim said testily, "I realize that you and your Tim were…involved…but in case it has escaped your notice: I'm. Not. Him. And if you can't manage to not touch me without groping me, I am going to tie you spread-eagled to the floor–"

He saw Dick perk up at that; his dick, too.

"–and take a pair of tweezers and remove all of your pubic hairs. One. At. A. Time," Tim ground out, smirking internally.

Dick flinched and curled in on himself. "Damn, Timmy, that's harsh."

"My name is not Timmy," Tim snarled, almost vibrating like a speedster with his rage. "We all agreed that you wouldn't call me that so as to avoid confusion, remember?" That had been the least insane thing that had happened since he'd wound up in this warped mirror reality.

"Yeah, but–" Dick objected, only to be cut off.

"I have someone in my universe. Two someones, actually," Tim said, preparing himself for a rant. He needed to vent, and Dick was making himself a prime target to be the object of his wrath.

Bruce blinked. Alfred's, "My word…" was barely audible. Both of them had known that Dick and Tim had shared a more than brotherly affection for each other ever since Timmy had turned eighteen. Alfred knew everything that happened with those he considered family, and Batman everything that happened in his city, so of course they knew when their two boys started dating.

It had just, somehow, slipped their minds that perhaps the other universe's Tim wasn't with the other universe's Dick.

Dick was shocked. More than shocked, he was completely flabbergasted. "Two?" he asked faintly.

Timmy – no, Tim – actually flushed slightly. Dick couldn't remember the last time Timmy had blushed. "Yeah, well," Tim said, "I was dating her, but then we broke up, and I got together with him, only then his ex-girlfriend wanted to get back together, and so did Steph, with me, only Kon didn't want to get back together with Cassie, and Steph decided that she was willing to share me with him, and he was agreeable, then I gave my opinion, and, well…" Tim smiled, that small little smile that was so much smaller than anything Timmy had ever given him. It was barely bigger than Bruce's, but shone like a star in the night. "We didn't come up for air for three days," he said almost dreamily, a goofy look on his face.

Completely and utterly boggled by what he was hearing, Dick felt his jaw drop open. He tried to close it, but when faced with undeniable evidence that the alternate universe version of his boyfriend was most definitely not with the alternate universe version of himself, he had quite a few more important things on his mind than how undignified he looked.

Tim stared at him as if he was wondering whether he should call for a consultation from Arkham Asylum, and that finally snapped Dick out of it. He had to use his hand to close his mouth, however, but then he was good to go. "I…see," he said, because he did, and what else could he say?

Tim gave an audible sigh of relief. Then his face hardened determinedly, and he prompted, "And your excuse for your reprehensible behavior is…?"

Dick flushed, feeling as if he'd been reprimanded by Alfred. Not only the wording, but also the 'I'm disappointed in you, young man; you know better' tone of voice shamed him. "It's just…I miss him, and you…"

"…have nothing in common with him besides our appearance," Tim interrupted Dick's admittedly half-assed explanation. "And even that is negligible."

Timmy never used words like negligible outside of making fun of people who actually studied for their SATs. Dick got the feeling that Tim probably could have made a perfect score on his, if he hadn't realized how much unwanted attention that would draw.

Tim…really wasn't Timmy. And Dick really missed him.

"I…yeah." Dick swallowed, hard, and ducked his head. "I, um, I'm sorry for bothering you."

Tim sighed, whether in relief or aggravation, Dick couldn't tell. "I'm not going to say it's all right, because it's not–" Dick couldn't keep himself from wincing there, "–but I understand. Just…don't do again, okay?"

Dick nodded rapidly, and resolved to find something in Bludhaven that would require his attention for the foreseeable future.

At least until this Tim got swapped back with his Timmy.

Once the apology have been given and accepted, Alfred silently closed the door to the sitting room. He cast about for anything appropriate to say, but what did one say when they had purposefully eavesdropped on a very private conversation. "Well. I do hope that Dr. Fate finds a way to return young Master Tim to his home dimension soon."

Bruce cleared his throat and said gruffly, "Yes."

"Shall I retrieve the scones, sir?" Alfred asked, struggling valiantly to assume his normal tone of aplomb.

Nodding, Bruce resumed his seat at the table. "Please do, Alfred. I find myself rather in need of a distraction from our current predicament." He took a sip of his slightly cooled tea and resolved to have a talk with Nightwing about his apparent neediness. No wonder he and Timmy were getting into so many fights over 'possessiveness,' if that was how Dick acted around him.

Grimacing as he remembered how spectacularly he'd failed at giving either of his sons 'The Talk,' Bruce thought that perhaps he should ask Barbara to talk to Dick.

Alfred swiftly departed the room and headed for the kitchen to retrieve the chocolate scones he'd prepared for the afternoon tea, specifically because they were Master Timmy's favorite. He had no idea if Master Tim liked them, but he knew Dick did. As he lifted the tray of pastries from the warming rack, Alfred resolved to better take into account the differences between their young guest and his alternate self during the young man's hopefully short stay.

He also resolved to quit eavesdropping on conversations involving family. It never led to anything good.

Some things were different the multiverse over, but Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth being snooping busybodies wasn't one of them. Perhaps that should change.