Tim opened his window and swung inside. His parents should be home in an hour or so, back from God-knew-where.

Christmas eve had been, as usual, hell in Gotham. Not that anyone was out and about- rumor had it Joker LIKED the Christmas meal they served in Arkham, and so planned his breakout accordingly- but because it was so damned cold and depressing.

He shivered under his blankets. Mom and Dad would be home in the morning, he would have French toast (he'd make it) and they would open gifts. He thanked God that he had his parents. He'd seen Dick's mouth set tonight, looking at all the billboards for 'Christmas with Family' and he knew Dick was smelling sawdust.

He glanced into starlit lenses in a dark cowl, and saw pearls. .

Tim fell asleep.

He woke up at seven, excited for no particular reason. Christmas! He thought, gleefully, forgetting that he was fourteen, and too old for that.

He pounded down the stairs, running into the kitchen. French toast. Oh, yes… what?

There was a note on the table from the housekeeper.


Your parents called, they can't make it home tonight, there was a layover in London. They said to go ahead and open your presents.

Have a good day.

Tim set the paper down, numb.

He looked at the pile of shining presents, and realized that the one thing he wanted he couldn't have.

The happiness he had felt earlier slipped from him, leaving a cold empty husk. He walked up the stairs to his room, and lay down across his bed.

He lay there for an hour, before getting up and going back downstairs.

He opened his gifts carefully, nervous fingers folding the paper perfectly into little squares after he was done. It was pretty paper, shiny and colorful. He liked the feel of it.

The gifts mocked him, and he piled them to the side, with the little stack of paper next to them.

He didn't know what he'd gotten. Found that he didn't really care. They were only things, and he didn't need anymore of those.

Bruce and Dick were orphans. They had seen their parents die, been left alone in the night.

Tim was an orphan, too. His parents were alive, but they had left him alone.