Author's Notes: a friend sent me a link to this (.com/post/17750719307/sword-meets-rose-livinglovinoloca) picture. And a bunny bit. This ficlet happens after the events of the A Better Choice series but could be read as a standalone.

Umbra is exhausted. The blood loss probably isn't helping. He can feel it pooling in his boot, but he has to keep going. He has to. Dick needs time to get the goods. So Jason said he could handle it. And he can. Normally. There is nothing normal about this night. Where the fuck had those extra twenty goons come from? Crap. What kind of fucknuts calls attention to his other operations by kidnapping kids?

The floor is littered with maimed and unconscious skels. And Umbra keeps swinging. Kicking. He has to. If he goes down he knows that the won't get up. So keep going. Keep.

The last one goes down, but Jason hasn't touched him. The falling body reveals a very pissed Nightwing wearing that stupid-assed disco collar. Jason gives a weak, grateful smile before he too drops.

"Umbra!" Dick yells running for the kid, trying to catching him before he hits the pavement. Too late. He moves to his partner and checks his eyes; no concussion. There's probably has to be something else, though. He curses the kid's choice of flat black and deepest maroon. The colour hides blood too well. He starts stripping him. The right leg. He pulls out the emergency kit in his brightly brightly-coloured bracer. Then grabs the one that is in Jason's belt, going and goes to work. He has to get stop the bleeding stopped.

A large hand descends on his shoulder. "Take him home," The the Bat says. Dick doesn't question it, Bruce can handle the rest. Jason is the priority here, ; he needs to get back to the caveā€”and Alfred. The only butler who will be able to make him right as rain. They go.

Batman watches. Then he turns. The sniffling isn't actually audible above the groans and wet snores of the downed perps. But he's Batman and he knows what he's looking for. A little, black black-haired boy who is the reason they are all here. For a week, children of wealthy family families have been getting kidnapped and ransomed back to their familiesheld for ransom. Six in total, usually returned unharmed within two hours of being taken and with no memory of anything. Though Timothy is barely over 13, he looks more like ten, which is the top end of the preferred age range for the kidnappers.

Being bait had been Tim's idea, and while Bruce had initially balked, the boy was persuasive. And he Tim had had both Dick and Jason backing him. None of them had known about the arms smuggling operation. The kidnappers were brilliantly killing some time before their shipment came in. Which had happened to be tonight, along accompanied by with 30 trained mercenaries.

Dick had been the one to go find Tim. Bruce had ended up dealing with the shipment of nuclear warheads. And Jason? Jason had gone to create a distraction, buying them both the time they needed and to thin out the ranks. As for Tim... Tim had only had a month of training, so far. He's not wasn't street ready, but that didn't hadn't stop him from using what he knew when Nightwing dropped him off at the doorway and went to help Umbra.

Now, Tim is huddled in the corner, waiting. The tear tracks glisten in the dim light of the ship's cargo hold. The Bat glides over and crouches next to him. A hand reaches out and lifts Tim's chin. "They will be fine. We need to go."

The boy nods and uses the proffered gauntlet to get to his feet. A quick look shows that the boy is relatively unscathed. What blood there is on him is not his own. Though there will not doubt be bruises.

He takes the youngest member of his family out to where the Batmobile is waiting for them. In the distance, they can hear the approaching sirens. The Bat says nothing as they head speed out at speed. Tim is trying to make himself as small as possible in the passenger seat, positively oozing guilt and self-loathing. He's no doubt blaming himself for Jason being injured. Bruce frowns, but he has no idea what to say to that. Not that HE blames the boy either. It was his call to let the plan proceed.

It's a long trip, full of thick silence, but finally they are back at the Cave. No sooner has the car stopped than Tim is out and looking for the others. Alfred is in the medical bay cleaning up. Tentatively, Tim approaches and is favoured by the butler with a gentle smile. Before he can ask, a strong arm is around the boy's shoulders turning him to the spare king-sized bed that is concealed in the shadows. Jason and Dick are already circled up under the plush duvet.

Bruce walks the miserable boy over and makes his sit on the edge of the bed. He silently takes Tim's shoes off for him. Then his filthy shirt and pants, down to his boxers. Without a word, the imposing vigilante pulls back the covers and motions for the child to join his brothers. Tim wiggles in next to Jason, who promptly shifts in his slumber to get an arm over his friend.

Standing up, he leaves the boys to their much-needed rest.