Disclaimer: Oh DC nation, how we love your world. Too bad it isn't ours to keep.
Dick couldn't believe his luck. Inside he wanted nothing more than to run away from this situation and never look back. Inside he wanted to scream at Bruce for making him do this thing. Inside he wanted to complain to this friends and tell them everything that was going on.
But on his face as a cheerful smile as he waved goodbye to his neighbors, the Drakes, as they left him and their young son Timothy for the night.
"Have fun!" Dick called after them.
"Come back soon!" Tim hollered back. The excitable six year old grinned from ear to ear as he turned on Dick and gave him another huge hug. Dick returned it of course, but he really was upset at Bruce for forcing him to be there.
Not that he didn't like the Drakes or Tim. He liked them a lot. The Drakes were a young, kind family who lived nearby and always invited Dick and Bruce over for small gatherings. Occasionally they did come and nearly every time they met with them, Tim would tug on Dick's arm excitedly to get him to play with him. For some reason Tim followed Dick around like a baby chick and had this huge grin on his face whenever they were alone.
"Do it again!" Tim shouted gleefully about five minutes after his parents left.
"Again?" Dick gaped at the kid exasperated. His head poked out of the cupboards he was raiding for food. "Don't you want dinner first? I'm making PB and J."
Dick sighed heavily. "Fine! But only once tonight. You can't ask me to do it fifty million times like last time."
Tim nodded laughing. "Okay!"
Dick sighed again but left the cupboards to the largest open space he could find, taking off his shoes and jacket in the process. The first time Dick had to baby-sit Tim was nearly two years ago, and Tim didn't want to leave his mom and dad. Sure Tim knew Dick by then, but Mommy and Daddy were Mommy and Daddy. He cried endlessly for what seemed like hours and Dick had no idea what to do. So he did the only thing he could do.
He found the largest open space he could and did a quadruple summersault.
It instantly cheered Tim out of his crying and got him to cheer and laugh instead. Unfortunately, nearly every time they met these days Tim would beg for Dick to do it again. Dick was tempted to teach the kid how to do it just to get him to stop asking. Still, having an audience who cheered him on was a great feeling too.
So once again Dick jumped from a crouch into the air, rapidly turning himself before landing neatly on the floor probably twenty feet away from where he started. Dick noted the distance he traveled was getting larger, but his analysis of his abilities ended quickly as Tim clapped and cheered off to the side. The teen bowed dramatically, grinning from ear to ear. "Thank you, thank you! I can truly feel the aster today. Now for some grub."
Tim laughed gleefully then followed Dick to the kitchen. Since neither of them were experts at cooking, Dick thought it best to stick with what he knew by heart. The fun part was making sandwiches with Tim's help. Instead of watching, Tim insisted on making his own sandwich.
"Sure you can manage it?" Well why couldn't he? He was six after all. Tim nodded, taking out the bread and putting it before him before handing the bag to Dick. He got out his own butter knife then stabbed it into the peanut butter, swirling it around like a witch with her pot. It came out with a fair amount of PB on it, and Tim merrily spread it on one slice. About a third of it ended up on the counter, but the piece was thickly coated.
"Not bad," Dick mumbled, just a little impressed at Tim's butter-spreading skills.
Tim grinned, waving his dirty knife around. "I can make yours too! It'll be whelming!"
Dick grinned, glad someone actually appreciated his word play. "Nah, I can make my own. I'm much older than six."
"How much older?" Tim reached for the raspberry jam, a spoon already waiting to be used in top of it.
Dick helped open the bottle before letting Tim continue to make his sandwich. "I'm seven years older. I'm thirteen."
"Wow!" Tim forgot about his sandwich for the moment, his eyes widening. "How much older are you than my mommy?"
Dick tried not to laugh in Tim's face. "Uh, I'm much younger than Mommy. She's probably twice my age."
"So she's… twenty-six?"
Dick blinked. He almost forgot how quick this kid was. His parents did that 'my baby can read' program on him, and apparently he could do third grade math too. "Yeah, about that."
"Cool. Then how old is Daddy?"
"Um…" Dick thought a moment and debated doing some hacking online to find out. "I think he's a little older than Mommy. Not as old as Bruce though."
"How old's your daddy?"
It was just an innocent question, but his dad's birthday would have been last week. Dick remembered putting a flower on his grave for a moment and his chest tightened. He said nothing for a moment, then forced a sad smile on his face. "My dad would have been thirty-six. Bruce though is thirty. He's not my dad."
"He should be." Tim pouted a little, not yet understanding everything about Dick's situation. Innocently he observed, "He's really nice to you and does everything my Daddy does. Why isn't he your daddy?"
"Then dis-complicated it."
This won Tim a smirk. Dis-complicate? "Just make your sandwich. I'm hungry enough to eat it before you finish."
Startled out of his inquiring mode, Tim jerked his spook into the jam and tried to take a big scoop out of it. Unfortunately, he went too quickly coming out of the jar and about half it's remaining contents flew into the air, splattering onto the countertop. Both of them had raspberry on their shirts, and Dick was sure some of it was in his hair. He suppressed a laugh as Tim stared at the glob of jam, debating whether to use it or not. Being a practical child, Tim scooped up the jam best he could and plopped it on the bread, smearing it around. He finally put the two slices together and grinned impishly at Dick before taking a bite.
Dick couldn't take it anymore. He chuckled as quietly as he could, holding back his gails of laughter. Tim was just too cute.
"Okay Ramdsy. Get yourself and your dinner to the table. It's my turn now."
"Ah, but I wanna watch!" Tim put on his cutest begging face, but Dick would not be turned. He wasn't a girl after all.
"Nuh uh. You get to the table and start eating. I'll join you in a minute. When we're done, let's see what's good on TV." This of course made Tim gladly jump off his stool and run to the table. Dick watched him for a minute to make sure he didn't fall, then finally started making his "dinner". He'd eat something else after the kid was asleep.
It was nearly bedtime when the latest Power Rangers movie ended, and Dick couldn't be more pleased. Tim loved the show, mostly because the blue one reminded him of Blue Beetle, his favorite hero. But Dick, after actually fighting crime for so many years, and knowing from experience how often monsters appeared in public, couldn't take it for much longer. The kicks were all wrong and the flips were obviously done with wires. To the trained eye, it was so obviously fake.
'I gotta get this kid into Sherlock Holmes,' he thought as he turned off the TV. He looked over to Tim and knew he was still wired. Tim kept imitating the moves on TV and each time Dick did his best not to correct him too much. He was six after all. He could get the moves a little wrong for now. But if they kept watching this show each time he came over, Dick would have to start teaching Tim to fight properly or he'd go crazy.
"What?" Tim gave his best incredulous look to Dick but it didn't help his case at all. "I don't wanna go to bed!"
"Too bad. Mommy and Daddy said you go to bet at eight. It's nearly eight. If we get your PJs on now, it'll be eight in no time."
"But I wanna stay up and eat ice cream!"
'Does this kid read my mind or something?' That was exactly what Dick was planning to do. Stay up, eat ice cream, watch the news or a late night movie Bruce would never let him see, and wait in silence for Tim's parents to get home. "There will be plenty of ice cream waiting for you in the morning. Right now, it's time for bed. Now come on."
Dick gestured for Tim to follow him to his room, but Tim pouted, folded his arms and refused to move off the couch. "No."
Dick shrugged, expecting this already. "Alright then. We'll do this the hard way." Quickly Dick picked Tim up into a bear hug, lifting him off the couch and carrying him out the room before Tim started laughing and screaming. How kids managed to do both at the same time baffled Dick, but that's what happened. Carrying the struggling six year old, Dick trudged up a flight of stairs and down a hallway to get to Tim's room.
The room itself was decently sized and painted a dull red, maybe maroon or burgundy. Dick wasn't much of an artist to tell. What he did see, besides the mountain of toys and dirty clothes on the floor, were posters from Dick's circus days. There were times Dick forgot about his own personal connection to the Drakes, but it looked like Tim didn't want to forget it, despite being a toddler back then.
In a weird way, Tim was one of the few who knew who Dick really was. To Tim he wasn't Robin the boy wonder or Richard Grayson, Bruce Wayne's ward. Merely Dick, his neighbor, sometimes sitter, and kind of his big brother. His big cool brother who did the most awesome tricks in the air and said awesome things of whoa.
On Dick's shoulder, the six year old giggled in excitement, thinking of this as another game they played. Dick grinned impishly then comically, though carefully, tossed Tim onto his bad. "Ha ha! I got you now!"
Again Tim squealed in glee, attempting to get off the bed to play more. Quickly Dick grabbed Tim's PJs and prepared himself to wrestle the kid into them. Tim scampered a little past Dick when his phone went off. Without thinking to check who was calling, he took it out and answered.
"Hey there! Bit busy at the moment, mind calling back later?" He put the phone to his ear and chased after Tim at full throttle.
"Rob, where are you?"
Dick jerked out of his game when he recognized the voice. "Wally?"
"Yeah it's me. Where are you? We had a team meeting tonight, or did you forget."
"Team meeting? I thought you were watching a movie. Or was it training." Quickly Dick looked around, having lost track of Tim for a moment. All he really had to do was look for the giggles.
"Same thing. The rest of us are ready to go. Where are you?"
'Crap.' "Something came up. I'm… on another case right now." Dick snuck around one corner where Tim was hiding, still giggling his head off. The teen grinned and pounced. "Gotcha!"
"You're not getting away this time you turd!" Tim only laughed as Dick struggled to pull off his shirt. It was really hard to do with one hand.
"What turd? What kind of case? Need any help with it?" Wally's voice on the other end was getting too curious for Dick's taste.
"It's nothing I can't handle, with two hands. Mind calling back later? He's gonna escape again." And sure enough, as soon as the shirt was off, so was Tim. Dick quickly grabbed Tim's arm and pulled him back into Dick's lap. This time he wrapped a leg around the kid to hold him still.
"Who is? Joker? Two-face?" Wally was getting excited.
"Nope. A civilian."
"Who you talking to?" Tim asked quickly.
"Really?" Tim's eyes shinned expectantly.
"No, but maybe someday."
"Is that a kid?" Wally's voice reeked of bafflement and disgust.
Dick hesitated briefly. "Maybe."
"Are you BABYSITTING?"
"Talk later." With that Dick ended the call and tossed his phone to the side, just in case Wally decided to call again. Tim laughed and clapped excitedly and Dick bowed a little. "Thank you, thank you. I'm very talented that way. Now for your pants."
Dick had waited by Tim's bedside for nearly ten minutes before he was sure the kid wouldn't get up and start racing him again. It was a little past nine and Dick was exhausted. This kid had way too much energy.
"Next time we're watching something calming. Maybe Nemo," he muttered as he picked up his phone from the hallway floor on his way back down stairs. He doubted it'd help much, but who knew. He had to try.
Dick glanced at his phone once he was done dishing out some ice cream and covering it up with sugary treats. Alfred didn't keep many in the manor after the last time Dick ODed on sugar. 'Yet Bruce encourages coffee.' He smirked at his inside joke and read his messages.
Mostly Wally was pestering him to answer his last question. There was a brief text from the Drakes saying they'd be gone until nearly midnight, and then another message from Alfred asking if all his homework was done. Dick debated asking Bruce how his patrol was going before waiting for the next call from Wally, but decided against it. The first night he babysat he kept calling Bruce for advice and learned very quickly he knew as much about kids as Dick. So Dick stopped asking Bruce for advice with Tim and instead just called Alfred.
Besides, bugging Bruce on patrol was risking a scowl and a lecture. Man did he hate those.
So Dick decided to wait until Wally's next call, and in the mean time watch some late night television. He found something interesting, jumping partway through the episode, and set the remote aside. He ate his ice cream and giggled as the show went on, trying not to wake the kid sleeping upstairs. The next episode was starting and the bowl in the sink when the phone finally went off. Dick sighed, turned down the volume some more and changed to a news station before answering the phone at long last.
"Are you babysitting?"
"Direct to the point aren't you. You need to be more tactful."
"Just answer the question. Are you ditching us to take care of some kid?"
Dick glared slightly. "Some kid? He's my neighbor. And it wasn't my idea."
"It was Batman's?" Somehow Wally doubted it.
"Yeah actually, it was." Dick straightened in his seat to explain it better. "He said it'd be good practice for the future. You know, he hardly had any kid experience before I came around. Probably why he doesn't have kids of his own."
Wally seemed to shut up after hearing that, but Dick continued anyway. "He's still not that good with kids, but he wants me to be as prepared as possible. By taking care of… him… I get to learn things Batman only figured out a few years ago. I think I'm a little better at it too.
"Besides, he's six, and really cute. I think you'd like him." Dick leaned back into the couch, satisfied. "I was trying to wrestle him onto his pajamas when you called earlier. Bad timing."
"Still doesn't fix the fact that you ditched us," Wally muttered lowly, though the bite was gone.
Dick bit back a laugh. "Well it was a last minute thing. They don't think about sitters too often, especially since they can catch me half the time. Plus it's just one kid. I know someone at school who handles six at one time. Murder really." His ears perked up as he heard something above him. Something very soft.
"I bet it is. I wonder how things'll be when my uncle has kids."
"Wally can I call you back?" Dick heard the soft thumping sound come closer towards him, coming from the stairs. "I think I've got a little visitor."
Almost on cue, Tim came into view, one hand rubbing his eyes and another clutching a blanket. Dick smiled gently, already guessing what made Tim leave his bed. He could vaguely make out tear streaks on the kid's cheeks. 'I thought kids had to be asleep longer for nightmares to start.'
On the other end, Wally sighed. "Fine. Call you later. Have fun birdy."
"You too streaker." Before Wally could object to that, Dick turned off his phone and set it on the coffee table. He didn't get out of his seat but looked right at Tim, smiling kindly.
"Bad dream?" Tim nodded. Dick waved his hand to the seat besides him. "Care to join me?"
Tim nodded again and blearily made his way to Dick's side. Without a second thought, the six year old climbed on the couch and curled up besides Dick, his blanket wrapped around him. Dick smiled and let himself be used as a pillow. Quietly Dick changed stations to the history channel, hoping it'd help the kid sleep. Before Dick knew it, Tim's breathing regulated and he was off in slumberland.
Dick smiled as he watched Tim sleep peacefully. He fought as Robin so people could have moments like these. It was great to know he could have them too.
The Drakes returned home at one in the morning and came in to a sweet surprise. The TV was still on, but an infomercial only made a murmur over the quiet din. On the couch Tim was curled up in his favorite blanket, using Dick's leg as a pillow. Dick himself leaned back on the couch, deeply asleep as well. Both of them had the most innocent and peaceful expressions that it'd be a shame to take them away from each other.
At least before Jack Drake took a picture.
"What should we do?" Janet asked her husband as he put away the camera, not wanting to disturb the tranquil scene before them. Jack shrugged but let out a resigned sigh. There really was only one thing to do. As he reached to nudge Dick awake, a knock came at the door. He stopped as Janet answered it.
"I'm sorry to disturb you," Bruce started, peaking his eyes beyond Janet, "but is Dick still here? He hasn't come home yet."
Janet smiled and let Bruce in. "Yes he is. We just barely made it home and… oh you just have to see this."
Excitedly, she tugged Bruce into the family room where the boys were sleeping. Bruce stared at the two, a mixture of feelings clambering on his face. Then after a moment he smiled serenely. The Drakes also smiled, the misses giggling a little.
"We took a picture if you want it later."
Bruce gave a soft chuckle. "I might."
Quietly he walked over to his young ward and tried nudging him awake. Dick rolled his head a bit, moaning, but didn't regain consciousness. Bruce sighed as Jack picked up his own little boy to put him to bed. Resigned, Bruce picked up Dick, who pretty much gave him a money-hug just to hold on. Janet helped Bruce with the door, then offered to help them on their short walk home.
Bruce shook his head. "We'll be fine. Just didn't think I'd be carrying him like this again."
Janet smiled. "Thank him for me when he wakes up. Tim loves having Dick around. He's practically his big brother."
Bruce smiled fondly as well. "I know the feeling's likewise." He adjusted his grip on Dick's limp body and nodded his head. "Good night Janet."
"Good night Bruce." Slowly she closed the door behind them, watching the almost father and son make their way to their home.
A/N: Just wanted to bring Tim into the picture. Plus I really feel like, since the Drakes lived next to the Waynes, shouldn't Tim and Dick have grown up together? And what to neighbor's kids do? They baby-sit! Those two really do get a close brotherly relationship in the end, I just wanted to establish it early.
Carrying big kids in their sleep isn't easy. Tried it with a ten year old once. So hard, especially since he was only a foot shorter than me.