Bruce jerked awake, curling into a small ball as sobs racked his body. He could hear Alfred's footsteps coming towards him, to check and see if things were okay. But it wasn't real. Alfred wasn't real. Just a dream. Soon he'd wake up and be back with...nnnn...couldn't go back! Couldn't! WOULDN'T! Dark...it was so dark. No matter where he went. Couldn't see anything. No brightness. Just dark shadows...could only hear voices...
He was alone...so alone...
A hand landed on his shoulder and he flinched, moving away. "Nnn..." Don't touch. Wasn't real. Just a dream. It was going to go away soon and he'd wake up again...
"Did you...have a bad dream?"
No. It was a wonderful dream. Nice dream. Safe dream. What he had was a bad reality.
"Do you...wish for me to stay here until you fall asleep?"
"NO!" Bruce sprung up into a sitting position, breathing harshly, "NONONONONONONONONO!!" Started clawing at himself, anything to keep from 'falling asleep'. Warm hands stilled his own and he stiffened, trying to pull away. "NO!" Couldn't go back! Couldn't!
"Master Bruce, please, calm yourself."
Struggled as he was pulled into an embrace, relaxing as the familiar scent registered with his brain. Dream Alfred was very convincing...
"Wish y'were real..." he mumbled into Dream Alfred's shoulder. "Jus' a dream..."
The body was trembling again. Like...um...Clark! Yes, just like Clark had been. Which mean...he was...
Crying...? Now Bruce was sure this was just a dream.
Alfred never cried. Ever.
"What...would convince you, Master Bruce?"
Paused for a second, thinking quietly. What would? Couldn't see, so that was out. Pain wasn't anything convincing. He felt that with the bad man too. So...wait. Maybe...
"Wanna talk to Mama...an' Dad..." Dreams never got their voices right. He could always tell when his parents were faked in his dreams. Always.
Knew from the way Alfred tensed that it wasn't possible.
'Cause this was just a dream.
After their talk, Tim and Dick had packed up a few things before deciding to call it a night. The next day had been hectic, full of riding around the city asking for boxes, packing everything up, getting change of address forms, arguing with his boss over why he needed a transfer, arguing with his landlord over why he was terminating his lease so soon and reading up on every book they could find about psychology and how to handle people like...Bruce. By the time they were done, it had been late so they had gone to bed.
They'd had a quick breakfast before they had hauled all the boxes into Dick's car, deciding to use the
cave to avoid the reporters that were outside of the gates, and had made trip after trip until Dick's apartment was finally empty. Then, then they were able to get a good look at Alfred.
And that's when their jaws dropped and their guilt increased by tenfold.
The butler looked...tired. Unbelievably tired. Like he hadn't slept in a few days...
"Master Bruce refuses to sleep."
Which was because he hadn't.
Tim winced. "Has he said why?"
They followed Alfred up to the kitchen, watching as he fixed himself coffee. Not tea. He was probably running on nothing but caffeine, sugar and will power by now. The butler took a large sip before sighing, "He is under the assumption that this is all but a dream and any second he will awaken to find himself still in his captor's custody."
Ah. That was...pretty complicated. Not to mention so, horribly screwed up. Once again, he had to remind himself that Bruce was mentally a 'child' and a much scarred one at that. How...what we he supposed to do?
After a brief battle with Alfred, in order to try to convince the butler to get a few hours sleep (which ended with Dick threatening to drug Alfred's drink and Alfred snappily threatening to have him removed from the premises...) that they lost, they started towards the den where Bruce was sitting with Hawk Girl. Who was trying...so very hard to talk to Bruce.
Who was curled into a small ball, rocking back and forth, mumbling something under his breath.
"Ba-Bruce...you need to sleep."
"NO! NO NO NONONONONONONONONO!!" Watched with wide eyes as Hawk Girl grabbed Bruce by the hands in order to keep him from clawing at himself. She had quite a few bruises and scratches on her and Tim briefly wondered just how long she'd been here. Didn't look as tired as Alfred but still looked really banged up, like she had been doing this for a while...
Wasn't really sure what to do. So he sat down, a few feet away from Bruce and just racked his brain for something to say. And ended up saying the first thing that popped into his head. Which was...
"Do you want to play twenty questions?"
Bruce stopped his struggling, turning over to stare in his direction, surprise momentarily overriding his fear. "Twenty what?"
"It's a game. I'll think of something. Anything. You get to ask twenty questions to try and figure it out. If you can't, I win. If you can, you get to think of something and I ask the questions. Though..." he paused thoughtfully, "I'll probably win..."
That was just what he needed to say in order to get Bruce interested. He stopped trying to claw himself and instead asked, "Animal, place, thing or mineral?" Tim blinked, surprised at that question. Bruce hadn't even known what the game was yet he knew what questions to ask? Figures.
His jaw dropped. What? No. No. There was...blue eyes narrowed at Bruce, who grinned, as if sensing the glare. "Your turn! Try not to lose again."
"B-but I didn't even..." Tim scowled, "Fine. Animal, place, thing or mineral?"
The grin widened. "Thing."
"Is it ugly?"
Probably? What type of answer was that?
"Can it move?"
"Is it deadly?"
"If you look at it."
If you look at it...hmmm... Tim chewed his lip thoughtfully, noticing in the back of his mind that Bruce was scooting closer towards him. If you look at it...mmm...
"No. Though I've heard horror stories..."
Wasn't mythical. It was a thing, a real thing, probably ugly, could move, was deadly when looked at...hmmm...
"Can it...hmmm...can it talk? In an intelligent manner?"
"Yes and no."
Probably some type of toy...mmm... But what type of toy would be deadly to look at? Maybe a laser type thing?
"Is it a toy?"
"Nope. But it's probably really funny."
Probably really funny? Probably ugly? That's right. Bruce couldn't see. So it had to be something he'd just come in contact with recently. He knew what Alfred ...wait. That wouldn't work. It was a thing. Damn. Hmm...
"Is it in this room?"
Bruce was now practically sitting in his lap and while Tim knew a part of him should have been freaking out over such a thing, his mind was too busy trying to win the game. Mmmm...okay. In this room. Probably funny. Can't talk in an intelligent manner. But it can talk. Deadly to look at... Tim felt his eye twitch as it occurred to him that Bruce was a child. "Bruce?" If he said yes...
"No. Not me."
"Is it my face?"
He groaned, rubbing a tired hand over his eyes. Bruce had just insulted him via twenty questions. And he'd fallen for it. "My turn."
A snicker escaped. "No, I'm more intelligent than that."
The scowl told Tim that the insult had been picked up on and not appreciated. Good. Little brat...his face? Hmpf.
"Animal, plant, thing, place or mineral?"
Damn. Had to stick place in there didn't he?
He laid back on the floor, a frustrated growl escaping him. "How do you do that?!"
Bruce grinned, poking his leg. "'Cause I'm good like that."
Tim laughed softly, "You've been hanging around Flash too much...alright. Animal, thing, place, plant or mineral?"
What? Who did...
Damn. Who did Bruce...awww man. Batman probably knew tons of people like that.
A pout. "No. It'd be more fair if they did though."
Tim grinned. Alfred, had to be. "Can you tell this person no?"
Oh yeah. Alfred.
He yawned, blinking when Bruce laid down beside him. Hmm? How did he know he'd laid down? Meh. Bruce was still Batman, even if he couldn't remember it... "Does this person have the power to make you feel guilty with just a glance?"
A grin was his answer as Bruce scooted closer.
"And the power to ...:yawn: make you do things :yawn: with just suggestions?" Tim continued sleepily, his eyes falling shut. It'd been a really hectic few days, they'd had an early morning and the floor was really comfortable. Felt Bruce nod and fuzzily realized that the older man's head was resting on his chest. Too tired...nnn...he'd flip out over when he woke up.
Dick shared an amused look with Hawk Girl, jumping when Alfred handed him an armful of blankets. Slipped the pillow under Tim's head and draped the covers over the two, watching as they slept on the floor. Bruce, with his head resting on Tim's chest, his face looking so...open...
He let out a grunt before slumping over onto the couch, dimly realizing that Alfred was laying in the recliner and Hawk Girl's eyes were falling shut. Jeeze...child or grown up, Bruce still required a lot of taking care of. Some things never changed…
Still, he felt a bit of pride stir in him as his body relaxed.
You did good, Tim...real good.
Dick smiled, knowing that Tim would be fine. Just had to get his feet back under him is all.
Bruce was Batman and...seeing him like this was more than unnerving. He'd fallen many times before but had always managed to pick himself up again. This time...he needed help.
And they were determined to give it to him.
After all, that's what family was for, right?
I KNOW it's been a while but...yeah. I got nothing. XD Review peoples! Before I smite thee! XD