The baseball bat arced through the air, whistled as if Tim could hear it, then collided with the back of his head.
Back up a bit.
Tim was on a solo flight tonight, no Batman or Oracle to oversee him, which was supposed to toughen him up and show how much Bruce trusted him. Naturally, Tim totally freaked out about it and slipped up on his own tension. Worse yet, it happened while he was fighting alongside Helena, who was actually being nice to him for a change. Tim had a bit of a crush on Huntress… he probably wouldn't if he knew that Dick had slept with her… but damn, that little stomach window was just asking for someone to cop a feel. Tim kept his hands behind his back when he talked to her.
So they'd been clearing out a meth lab when some crystal meth asshole with a bat woke up from his drug stupor, picked up a grungy old baseball bat from his lap, and went for a home run. Even as the pain registered, Robin was throwing his leg back in a kick that doubled the man over. Just to make his night complete, the thug vomited on Robin's cape as he lost consciousness.
Robin groaned in disgust, then wobbled a bit. He grabbed the wall for support as Huntress polished off the last thug.
"Hey, baby bird, you okay?"
Tim looked at her and was dismayed to find her blurry, like the rest of the world. "…think he knocked something loose."
"Ah shit," Helena grunted. "Hold still."
She grabbed his face and Tim thrilled at the contact, even as he felt guilty for being "unfaithful" to Steph and tried to contain his nausea.
"Mild concussion, looks like, though I'm no nurse…" She smiled comfortingly and slapped his chest. "Although I do dress up as one from time to time. You wanna tell…" She did that fingers-over-the-head thing that people always did when they talked about Bruce. "Or should I?"
Tim sat down. He had little choice in the matter.
"Okay, I'll do it. Are you bleeding? Check if you're bleeding, kiddo."
Tim searched through his hair for any blood, but all he found was a pretty big bump. Holy crap, I'm the elephant man. He listened in on Huntress's call to Batman, the chilly response, then woke up to Batman lifting him into his arms.
"Br… Batman?" Tim said hesitantly. "Am I hallucinating?"
"Doubtful. It'd take a much more severe concussion to do that. I'm benching you for the rest of the night. Problems with that?"
Robin shook his head, sending a fresh wave of nausea rippling through his body.
"Cheer up, kid," Helena said. "You get to ride in the Batmobile."
Batman shot her a glance.
"If you're even going to think about blaming this on me…"
"I can take responsibility for myself," Tim said at the same time.
"Robin, you should be more aware of your surroundings. Huntress, you should take better care of your allies. Which you would be if you participated in team exercises."
"I don't LARP," Helena said, crossing her arms.
They stepped out into the muggy Gotham night, with blood still unshed on the air. The Batmobile was idling at the curb.
"Tim, you're going back to the Cave alone. I need to follow up a lead. Will you be alright or should I send Huntress along?"
Helena squawked in outrage, fists planted at her hips.
"Nah, I'll be fine," Tim said bravely. "Can I drive?"
"Can I sit in the front seat?"
And that's where Batman set him down and did up the seatbelts.
Tim let Alfred help him out of the Batmobile and laid down on the exam table. The machinery buzzed around him, a sound so familiar it was almost a lullaby, and then he was looking at Alfred looking at his X-ray (or gamma-ray, to be more precise. It was high-tech).
"My my my," Alfred said. "You'll definitely need medical attention."
"Miss Bertinelli was wrong. She is not, after all, a doctor."
"But she might dress up as one," Tim muttered as he set his head back down. "Okay, here's what we're gonna do…"
Kon helped Tim hobble into the hospital, impressing Robin with his ability to pretend Tim weighted more than a feather to him. Tim had barely had time to change into a spare set of clothes before Kon had responded to the summons. Bruce wouldn't like knowledge of a Batcave entrance getting out, but Superboy could be trusted. Tim would tell him so.
"Hey, medicine people!" Kon shouted. "My friend here had a bit of an accident with a baseball bat and he lost! Pretty girls, I'm gonna need some sympathy, stat! Doctor guys, some painkillers! Nurses, let me see some phone numbers, stat!"
"Stop saying stat," a doctor said as he gestured for a gurney to be brought in. "Young man, what's your name?"
"Tim Drake. This is Conner Kent. We were playing baseball with some friends when…"
"The bat slipped out of my hands and wham!" Kon said. "It was awesome. Wish I'd brought a video camera."
"You were playing baseball at night?" the doctor asked.
"Saw it in a rap video," Tim replied. "Monkey see, monkey do."
Tim's last sight, as he was wheeled off into the deeper innards of the hospital, was Kon filling out paperwork.
Although Tim gave the nurse his parents' contact information, he imagined it would take a while for them to get around to informing them. In the meantime, he had an icepack to apply to his head and… his cell-phone rang. He slipped it out of his pocket and answered it. Cassie.
"A baseball bat?" she asked, sounding both concerned and really, really amused.
"It hurt," Tim said dully. "Who told?"
"Is zat Tim?" Bart asked over the phone line. "Ask him where he is! I can smuggle in chocolate, cigarettes, cakes, files, files in cakes, cakes…"
There was a sound remarkably like a whip cracking.
"No wonder Diane likes lassos so much. Where we were, boy wonder?"
"Oh yeah. A baseball bat?"
His phone chirped in the tone reserved for call waiting.
"Shoot, I got another call. It's my dad." Tim sighed. "Wish me luck."
"May Hera smile upon you."
"Thanks." Tim switched over. "Hey dad?"
"Timothy. Augustus. Drake!"
Tim hated hearing his middle name. And not just because it was Augustus.
"On a school night!" Livid with rage, Jack Drake sometimes forgot good grammar.
"I went to bed early."
"I'm fine, though."
"On my way there!"
"See you then."
His phone chirped.
"Hey, dad, how far are you off?"
"Alright, talk to you then." He toggled. "You've got Drake."
"A #!$! baseball bat?"
"That's fraggin' hardcore!"
"I think so too."
"Chicks dig scars! Did you get a good scar?"
There was a zoom and Bart was there, holding quite possibly the entire Library of Congress in his arms.
"I brought reading material."
"I'll have to call you back," Tim told Slobo.
Kon and Bart piled the last of the books into the trunk of Jack's car.
"Dana has some chicken noodle soup and 7-Up waiting for you at home," said Jack, who had calmed considerably when he saw that the extent of the injury was a bandage wrapped around Tim's head. "No school today, maybe not for the whole week, but mister you'd better believe you're going to make up for every second…"
"I could pick up his homework!" Bart volunteered quickly. "Just wait one…"
Kon grabbed Bart's arm, holding him in place. "We wouldn't want to be rushing Tim, would we?"
Bart caught on quick, giving Tim an exaggerated wink. And another to Kon. And one to Jack. "C'mon Kon. Race you back to the… place where we hang out!"
Kon frog-marched Bart around the corner, where their departure was marked by a sonic boom which Jack dismissed eagerly.
"My son's first sports injury," he said, clapping Tim on the shoulder. "You're a Drake now, son. Wear that bandage with pride."
"Oh, I intend to."
"You big stupid male!" Steph cussed at him as soon as he got to his bedroom for some rest. She threw herself into his arms, burying her face in his neck. "Oh, how come you get to have a concussion and everyone fawns over you, but the moment I slip up it's 'you're fired Steph, we hate you Steph, you're a big poopiehead Steph.'"
"I was scared too," Tim said as he shut the door behind him. He let Steph strip off his shirt and guide him to his bed.
"You wanna listen to some music? I made you a mix-tape. It's mellow," Steph said. She held it up. "Do you like the Beatles?"
"Steph, everyone likes the Beatles."
Steph loaded the CD into Tim's stereo, grousing a little about how big the speakers were and how he didn't even use it (because she was nervous), then skipped through some of the more rocking numbers until Hey Jude was on.
"Dick called," Steph said when she turned back to him. "He said to tell you there's a lesson in all this… DUCK!"
Tim tried to get comfortable, but Steph immediately pulled his pillow out from under his head and fluffed it. "I have to go to school. You gonna be okay?"
"Steph, I have parents."
That came off a little harsher than intended.
"I don't like the thought of you being hurt," Steph admitted. "I don't like it when good things get hurt."
Tim reached out, squeezed her hand. She squeezed back.
"You're a doll," he told her.
"You are. You're great. You're an angel. You're Elvis."
Tim brought her hand to his lips, kissed the back of it.
"You freak," Steph said, but rustled his hair as he said it.
"I like you a lot," Tim said as he pulled the covers over his body.
"Yeah, same here." She was at his window, ready to go out. "You call me if any of the New York Yankees show up. I'll come running."
"Go to school, Steph."
Steph blew him a kiss and was gone. The nausea passed. Tim went to sleep and dreamed about her.
He woke up to see Batgirl standing over him.
"That was a girl's scream," Cass said after he finished screaming. "Girl?"
She pulled up his sheets.
"Tim, are you alright?" Dana shouted from the bottom of the stairs.
Tim kicked at Cass half-heartedly. "I'm fine!" he yelled back. "Just a bad dream!"
"You want some soup?"
"That's alright!" He whirled on Cass. "I am not a girl!" he whispered tersely.
Cass looked dismayed. "I wanted to solve a mystery."
"What are you doing here, Cass?"
"Make it better," Cass said, before she wrenched him upright and kissed his bump. She put a Band-Aid on it for good measure. "There."
"Thanks, Cass." Tim couldn't help but smile.
"Sweet of him."
"Very sweet, Batman."
Tim cackled rather unmasculinely. What the hell, Cass could read his body language anyway and he didn't exactly swagger like John Wayne.
"You're sweet," he said.
"I know. Old Batgirl says that also."
"I need to get back to sleep," Tim said, shooing her off.
Two conjoined fingers lanced out from Cass's hand and Tim lost consciousness, dreaming of Cass transforming him into a girl and insisting he would be her Robin now.
He woke up, went to the bathroom, and went downstairs to join his parents for supper (after washing his hands with soap, of course).
"Mr. Wayne's joining us for dinner," Dana said as she set the table.
Bruce waved at him. They sat down to eat and Bruce said grace.
"Thank you, Lord, for friends and family and those that catch us when we fall."
Alfred must have told him to say that.