"So… uhhh… shotgun," Tim ventured as the four of them headed for the garage.
Despite Tim's innocuous tone, Jason exploded.
"You can't call shotgun inside the house!"
"You have to be within sight of the car to call shotgun. Geez-us, it's like rule number one in the international code of calling shotgun!"
"Well I never heard of such a rule!"
"Then you're a gigantic loser with no friends because everybody knows that rule. It's universal."
"No, it's not!"
"Ye-ah, it is!"
"Dick! Is that a rule?" Tim asked, desperate for support.
Dick held up his hands in a whoa-gesture. "I have no idea, guys," he said quickly, stepping in front of his arguing brothers. The last thing the wanted to do was get involved in a shotgun dispute between Tim and Jason.
As Tim and Jason continued bickering about the rules of calling shotgun, they fell further and further behind Dick and Damian. When the two Ds reached the Bugatti, Tim and Jason were still yards away in the enormous garage.
Dick sighed as he climbed into the driver's seat. "I guess I'll use this time to adjust the mirrors." He then occupied himself by fiddling with the numerous fancy dials to adjust the mirrors, the seat, the steering wheel, etc.
Damian stood quietly outside the car for a few moments, hesitating. With a flippant shrug, he then wrenched open the passenger-side door and climbed in.
"I guess I'm riding shotgun now."
Dick looked up from his fiddling, grinning. "Way to go Little D! That'll teach 'em." He held up his hand for a high-five, which Damian (after a pause) reluctantly returned.
By the time the two stragglers made it to the Bugatti, Dick had adjusted the mirrors and such five times over and Damian was securely buckled into the passenger seat.
"Oh hell no!" Jason shouted. "No way is he riding shotgun!"
"Try and stop me, Todd," Damian replied ominously.
Jason didn't take the hint, though. Just as he was about to reach into the car and attempt to forcibly remove Damian, Dick interrupted.
"Just get in the back, Jason; we've wasted enough time as it is. And let this be a lesson that you should walk quickly and bicker at the same time."
Cursing all three of his brothers under his breath, Jason climbed into the seat behind Dick (Tim having already taken the seat behind Damian, which offered more legroom).
Dick carefully maneuvered the Bugatti out of the garage. As the car and the boys emerged into daylight, Dick said, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful adventure."
Dick drove for about fifteen minutes, then came to a stop on a pretty-much abandoned road in a secluded area. "Well that was fun. Who's next?"
"Me! Birth order!" Jason demanded.
"Me – reverse birth order," Damian insisted.
Dick looked from one brother to the other, then decided to pass the buck. Why not let Tim decide? After all, Tim would be the next driver whether Jason or Damian went first.
"Tim," Dick gestured grandly at his brother, "I hereby let you decide. Who goes next: Jason or Damian?"
Tim grinned evilly. This was a perfect opportunity to stick it to Damian and it was not to be wasted. "Jason. Definitely Jason."
"I hate you," Damian snarled, glaring at Tim.
"The feeling's mutual," Tim shot back.
"Now, now," Dick gently reproved, "there's no room for hate in this car. We're all brother's here."
Jason rolled his eyes. "Aren't you little Miss Mary Sunshine. Now get out and let me drive."
"Okay." Dick got out of the driver's seat and took Jason's spot in the back.
As Jason was adjusting the mirrors and the seat (all the while mocking Dick for being a "shrimpy acrobat"), Tim suddenly remembered that he was still sitting in the backseat.
"Hey, it's my turn to ride shotgun!"
"Like hell it is, Drake," Damian hissed.
Dick made a sad face. "Don't you want to sit by me, Timbo?"
"I'd prefer sitting by you if you were in the driver's seat."
"Fair enough. Damian, switch with Tim."
"Go to hell, Grayson."
"Maybe another time. Little D, if you don't let Tim ride shotgun, you won't get a chance to drive the car." That should solve the problem.
"He gets to drive?" Jason and Tim indignantly shouted.
"Yeah, duh." Dick sighed and rolled his eyes. "I thought you guys were eavesdropping!"
"We were, but I thought that was just a ploy to wrangle more driving time out of Bruce," Tim explained.
"No, I meant it. Why do you think I brought us to the edge of the property? Damian can't legally drive on real roads, but he can on our property."
"Fine. Drake, you may have shotgun," Damian pronounced haughtily, as though he were doing Tim a huge favor.
As Damian and Tim switched seats, Jason ran his hand fondly over the dashboard.
"So, Dick, you're sure we're on private property?" he asked.
"So no speed limits?" Jason caught Dick's eyes in the rearview mirror and smirked.
Dick grinned back. "Not to my knowledge."
"Excellent. Let's see what this baby really has under her hood."
Tim looked panicked. "Oh, God, I'm going to die."
"Don't be such a weakling, Drake. If you're going to ride shotgun, you have to be worthy of the privilege."
Jason laughed. "Nice one, kid." He awkwardly stuck his hand into the backseat, hoping to high-five Damian. Damian, however, looked disdainfully at his hand and refused to acknowledge the gesture.
"Never mind," Jason muttered, placing both hands on the wheel.
"Just don't kill us all, Jason, okay?" Dick requested, pretty calmly (all things considered).
Twenty or so minutes later, the Bugatti screeched to a stop, the tires leaving impressive burn-marks on the road.
"Whoo-hoo," Jason hollered, fist-pumping the air. "That was amazing!"
Everyone else in the car took a deep breath as the green slowly receded from their faces.
Dick shook his head, trying to clear away the haze of panic. "If I didn't have so much training, I think I would have been sick back here."
Tim and Damian gave slight nods of agreement, but Jason ignored them all.
"This car is a beaut! And has this baby ever got it going on under the hood. Damn!"
"That tends to be the case with a car that costs more than many people pay for their houses," Tim snapped.
"Well, aren't we in a snit. Can't handle –"
"Alright, you two. Tim's turn to drive," Dick interrupted from the back.
"Shotgun!" Jason shouted as he unbuckled.
As Tim settled himself into the driver's seat, Jason began examining the sound system. "Let's see what this baby can do."
"Oooh, put on 98.6," Dick suggested eagerly. "They play pretty good stuff."
Jason was aghast. "You listen to the radio? What are you, fifty?"
"No," Dick moped, crossing his arms and pouting.
"I," Jason pulled something out of his pocket, "am going to hook up my iPod."
"You can do that?" Dick asked impressed, his slightly-hurt feelings all forgotten.
"Dick, you can do that with a top-of-the-line Ford." Tim explained patiently. "So of course you can do it with a Bugatti."
"Will wonders never cease?" Dick commented, without sarcasm. He was genuinely impressed with the car's ability to operate an iPod, even though he still liked the joy of scanning through the radio stations.
As Tim began to drive, the Bugatti's speakers began to blare death-metal. "Is this the only crap you have on your iPod?" Tim asked.
"Just shut up and drive," Jason retorted. "The kickin' bass line really shows off the system's abilities."
As Tim and Dick resigned themselves to listening to the blaring music, Damian started contemplating how to destroy Jason's iPod.
As Tim brought the car to a graceful stop, Damian called out, "My turn!"
Tim turned to look at Dick who was still sitting behind him. "You're seriously going to let him drive?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe because he's underage!"
Dick waved his hand dismissively. "Age ain't nothing but a number. He'll be fine."
"Can he even reach the pedals?" Jason snorted.
"Todd, I will have you know that I am of more than sufficient height to operate a motor vehicle."
"See?" Dick said, as though Damian's height were the only issue.
"Drake, you're in my way."
A few minutes later, Damian had made all the necessary adjustments and Dick was in the passenger seat.
"Okay, little D, gently press on the gas. This isn't the Batmobile; we can't just fix the scratches down in the cave."
"You let him drive the Batmobile!" Tim shouted, irate.
"No!" Dick responded quickly, in a somewhat-panicked tone.
"You did." Jason accused. "Shit, man, I'm telling Bruce."
"Well, it was my Batmobile," Dick pouted.
"I wouldn't tell my father anything, Todd," Damian warned ominously.
"Oh sure, now he gets protective," Jason huffed.
"Good to know the demon-spawn gives a crap about someone," Tim muttered.
Sensing that Tim was honing in on a possible weakness, Damian snapped, "Drake! If you –"
"Okay, then," Dick smoothly interrupted. "Now that we've established that what happens in the Bugatti stays in the Bugatti," he paused to look searchingly into the eyes of each of his three brothers, making sure that no one was going to breathe a word about the Batmobile, "I believe it's Damian's turn to drive."
"Fine," Jason and Tim grunted from the backseat.
"Damian, if you would then." Dick made a sweeping gesture towards the great beyond.
"Finally." And the youngest brother peeled out with a little more speed than he really should have.
None of the other boys had been paying any attention to the time. Consequently, all three were rather surprised to see that it was 5:35 PM when they headed for home.
"Uhh, Dick," Tim said, tapping the clock face from his place in the passenger seat (his reward for having achieved victory in an epic battle of rock-paper-scissors). "Is this clock wrong?"
Dick gave the clock a cursory glance. "No, why?"
"Because it's 5:35 and you told Bruce we'd be back by 4:45."
"So you were eavesdropping."
Jason leaned forward, craning his neck around Dick's seat to see the clock. "Oh man. Your ass is grass, Dick."
Dick just smiled. "We'll see about that, Jays."
Dick turned off the engine at exactly 5:43, giving the boys just enough time to be back in the kitchen by the stroke of 5:45. Tim was clearly nervous about how Bruce was going to react to them being an hour late. Jason was also trepidatious but he tried not to let it show. Even Damian was mildly concerned, although he hid it well under a veneer of scorn. Only Dick seemed cheerful and unconcerned.
A glowering Bruce met them in the kitchen. "You're late," he growled, while simultaneously sticking out his hand for the keys.
Jason started to say something about it being Dick's fault, but his older brother pushed past him and walked straight up to Bruce. He flashed his adoptive father a mega-watt grin and, with show-business-worthy flair, placed the precious Bugatti keys in Bruce's palm.
"Whatever do you mean, Bruce?" he asked, all wide-eyed innocence. "It's the very stroke of 4:45-" he paused for dramatic effect "-central time."
Damian raised his eyebrows a millimeter in surprise. Tim and Jason looked at each other in open-mouthed shock. Was Dick seriously going to pull this off? Alfred, hiding a smile, was suddenly very busy preparing dinner.
When Bruce didn't respond, but just fixed Dick with an irritated glare, the oldest Bat-boy added, "You never specified that we had to be home by 4:45 eastern time."
"Given that Gotham City is on eastern time, I think we could assume I meant 4:45 eastern time."
Dick just shrugged. "Well, Dad," (he did think it advisable to butter Bruce up the teensiest bit) "you know what they say about assuming. You make an –"
"I know what they say," Bruce interrupted snappishly. He frowned but then sighed in resignation. "Just don't do it again."
"Of course." Dick grinned at Bruce, then glanced around the room at his astounded brothers. "Thanks for letting us drive the new Bugatti, Dad." He then audaciously placed his arms around Bruce and gave him a hug. "She's a beauty."
And with that, he slipped out of the kitchen, gone like a shadow in the night.
A chorus of subdued "Thanks, Bruce" and "Thank you, Father" filled the kitchen, then the three younger brothers made short work to exit. Dick was waiting for them just outside the kitchen.
As all four sauntered off towards the television room, Tim commented, "I can't believe you got away with that, Dick. You're my hero."
"Yeah, how the hell did you pull that off, Golden Boy?"
"Years of experience, guys. You don't spend ten years as an only child with Bruce Wayne and not learn a few tricks. Or, if you want to keep yourself from being perpetually grounded, a few dozen."
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Bruce was complaining to Alfred. "I can't believe I let him get away with that time-zone trick again, Alfred. He's been using that since he was – what? Eleven? Twelve?"
"I believe since he was ten, Master Bruce." And Alfred would know. After all, he was the one who had first suggested the malleability of time when a certain little boy had awakened at an ungodly early hour one Christmas morning. And if Master Bruce ever asked, how was an old butler to foresee that as the boy became an adolescent he would use that trick to avoid reprimands for breaking curfew?
"That long?" Bruce gave a despairing sigh. "And that isn't even the oldest trick in his book."
Alfred smiled and placed a calming mug of hot tea in Bruce's hands. "Now, sir, this particular dynamic has been working for over fifteen years. There's no reason to change things now."
Bruce took a sip of tea. "I suppose you're right, Alfred. I just hope Dick doesn't teach Damian any of his tricks or I'll really have my hands full."
Well, that was fun (even more than I thought it would be). I hope it was fun for you, too, super-awesome reader! I don't usually write Jason, Tim, or Damian, but it was enjoyable using them. Anyway, thanks for reading!