Title: Measure a Year (1/3)
Warnings: Spoilers for Young Justice in general and a few characters taken from the comic books. (Hello, Jason Todd.)
Notes: Dear readers, hello and welcome to yet another story of mine. Someone should stop me. Especially for this one.
I have another Bart-Tim centered story, spanning five years as they become friends and deal with a lot of issues, many from the comic books. The end of that story is Bart permanently going back to the future, but I kept hating myself for beating these two up, much like I do their relatives, Wally and Dick. So, I decided, I'm going to make an awesome, happier fic that only has them separated briefly and features the Team being amazing. And this is it. My fourth ongoing story this month. But two of the others are ending soon, so guilt temporarily assuaged. I know I should be calming the hell down, but I literally got no sleep one night until 6 AM just because this story was writing itself in my brain. And it kept bleeding over to how I wrote my other stories. So yeah that's why it couldn't wait. Much like Impulse.
A special note to readers who know me from my other stories, I'm so sorry. I keep creating these new stories while my old ones aren't finished. For those old readers, look down below for update news for both this story and my other ones.
Despite all that, I can't remember when I had more joy in writing something, especially because I feel I got to better know these characters while I did. I hope you all like this as much as I do.
Title taken from Seasons of Love, a song from the musical Rent.
Remember, reviews are my lifeblood. Check end of story for about a billion more notes.
Disclaimer: God, do I not own. At all. Credit to DC.
Summary: Bart's spent every moment from the word go waiting around for Tim. Now it's Tim's turn. Where Bart 'accidentally on-purpose' sends himself a year into the future, and Tim spends the entire time planning a global takeover, trying to keep the new recruits alive, and pretending he's confident Bart will be home soon. Or at all.
"You're gonna miss me, you're gonna miss me," Bart taunts, with a sly smile that doesn't reach his eyes, as he spins in the desk chair he's accidentally nearly rammed Tim with twice.
"We have to talk about this?" Tim asks, throwing a pillow over his face as he lies back down. Tim may have grown from meekly questioning his own skills and hiding his potential behind 'Timid Timmy' but, even at nineteen, he's still liable to fall back on his old avoidance tricks, especially when it comes to Bart, who naturally steamrolls over anyone who doesn't keep up.
"Well, I am," Bart calls out, throwing himself from the chair and onto the foot of Tim's bed, "You can listen, but then I'll talk for you, and I'm 'forbidden' from doing that after Santa Monica. Well, according to Bruce; I know Dick found my lack of radio silence hilarious."
The cause for the banning did not come from breaking radio silence, but Tim isn't going to debate that point. He feels the month of the song Santa Monica being his ringtone beat that horse into the ground, even if Impulse refuses to acknowledge that fact.
The crazier, speedier half of the duo sighs, "Alright Bart, I'm sorry for being so horrible to you, especially now that you're leaving. I know you know how much I care about you, and that I have no idea what I'll do without you. I don't want you to go back to crash the mode."
"Aw, Tim, I love you too. But this is going to be fine. Because I have a plan."
"Do you really? Oh, what is it?" Tim's voice has never been that high, even with all the other times Bart had mimicked him.
"Do you really want to know?"
Tim, who refuses to look at Impulse from under his pillow, because he got off patrol two hours ago and may have dislocated a rib along with derailing his recovery from that concussion, has his own version of their conversation with a lot more swearing and a lot less Bart. Because Bart is an idiot when he's not careful, and he wasn't, when he stupidly, so so stupidly, which is the only word Tim can use to describe Bart right now, casually mentioned that the time machine was fixed, just after the Justice League spent a month fighting time traveler after time traveler, with various members phasing in and out of reality. Top of the line timing. Top. Of. The. Line.
So, naturally, everyone started asking when, not if, Bart would be returning home, especially after Wonder Woman brought up the point that him staying longer to see his birth would bring up a time paradox.
Tim adores Cassie. Her mentor? Not so much.
Bart laughs, wildly, and Tim realizes he has said everything out loud.
"Alfred put you on the good stuff, didn't he?" Bart asks with a note of concern, still sprawled out on the foot of the bed, yet slowly but surely spreading out even farther across it.
Before Tim can respond, Bart continues with, "I've been thinking," and uses the manic tone that guarantees, not just promises, speedy, slurred words and mistakes more 'God, how are we still alive?' than the ones Dick, Wally, and company had during their barhopping days. (And Tim had never been more thankful for both his and Jaime's distaste for alcohol when his brother got to discover what type of drunk Superboy turned out to be. The answer is weepy when it comes to vodka, but angry with whiskey. Good to know.)
Tim's inner monologue distracts him from a timely joke about the rarity of Bart thinking along with half of the conversation. Fortunately, Tim's spent four and a half years learning tricks to get their talks back on track, due to Impulse often speed talking, or because he randomly babbles (often to the point where Bart can't even follow what he's said) when he knows Tim isn't paying him attention, and instead of calling Tim out on it, Bart makes bets with himself on how long it will take Tim to cotton on to what he's doing.
"Bart, head injury" Tim groans, just to slow him down, and he does, frowning, and sitting up to stare at Tim, a look adapted from Tim's own impressive glower.
"Oh Tim, you really don't want to deal with this, do you?"
No, he's more than prepared for losing his best...whatever Bart is...and understands why he should be headed back forty, now thirty-fiveish years into the future, never to be seen again, because Tim is a Bat and will not last that long.
"'Jesus, you got slammed in the head again, didn't you?" Bart briefly rests his hands on Tim's legs to peer into his eyes, "Oh god, are you legs supposed to be this cold? And why aren't your eyes following my every move? Alfred!" Bart flees the room, and Tim decides sleeping through the inevitable hurricane is the better option.
Three days later, Tim is able to function in society with the aid of two cups of coffee, and manages not to slam his head down at the breakfast table upon seeing Dick, Damian, and Bart already there.
He doesn't even get to eat, just gets handed a travel container, of what Bart calls black tar and Tim calls his precious, for the ride as Bart drags him out the door, much to Damian's joy as he showfully places Tim's plate in front of his Great Dane-German Shepherd mix, Titus. Dick waves goodbye when he bothers to lift his face up from his own plate. Barbarians, all of them, much to Alfred's eternal chagrin.
Tim makes his way through the garage to a Mercedes, orders Bart into the passenger's seat, and drives to a random diner he decides will not lead to food poisoning. Bart, who has been vibrating in his seat the entire time, shoots out of the parked car like a rocket and charms a waitress named Michelle by the time Tim joins him in a corner booth.
Only after a ridiculous plate of pancakes is placed in front of Bart does he start talking, while Tim chews on a crunchy piece of toast and greedily swallows his eggs. Shockingly, between the two of them, Bart has slightly better table manners, even when they aren't alone, where Tim drops all pretenses and goes for broke when it comes to food.
"Has my favorite headcase recovered?"
Tim smiles, slowly, and responds, "Obviously not."
"Cheeky. I'm assuming you behaved for Alfred?"
"You know what they say about people who assume."
Tim ignores him as well as anyone can someone running around with the name Impulse and plows on, "What was so important that you felt the need to risk running into Bruce before his morning coffee?"
Bart steals and swallows a piece of bacon before replying, "You, Tweety Bird, are much more ferocious without caffeine, so I dare Bruce to bring a challenge...that was a joke, please don't come out if you can hear me. That would not be crash, fizz, or any other definition of alright."
Tim sighs, but then Bart does as well, bringing himself together before Tim has to, "I'm leaving. There's no way I won't be stepping foot in that time-machine and waving goodbye. We can't fix that."
They can, but Tim is not prepared for this conversation, needs more time to implement the plan to destroy the time machine and make it so only one of his relatives could figure it out.
"It's none of their business." Tim will debate and argue that point to the death.
In both a soothing and straightforward tone, Bart rebuffs him, "Yes it is; they're spooked after what's happened, and so am I. Last week, you turned transparent and vaporized right before my very eyes because some scientist decided to use time travel to play the stock market and altered both the Drake and Wayne Industries. So, with the machine fixed, maybe I should go away for a little while, until everyone calms down."
No. Hell no. Bart is not doing this. "A little while?"
"A year, maybe? It's a little wish-wash to figure out an exact minute and date with the alterations made. I won't be gone forever, I can't be," Bart's flat, wary tone breaks as he attempts a wink, "You'd be bereft without me." It's a feeling Tim knows well.
"Why not forever then?" Bart only modes are all or nothing, and if he felt going back to the future would help any of them, most of all his family or Tim, they wouldn't even be having this discussion; he'd be long gone, come hell or high water.
"Want rid of me that much?" And there's a kidding tone Tim ignores in favor of biting the inside of his cheek and glaring at Bart, who eventually shrugs in response.
"You know basically everything, but I don't think you understand the scope of what exactly I've done, how many changes there are due to me. I don't think there's a future and home for me to go back to. A year, Tim, that's all. Then we can say it malfunctioned, and you can make it go boom, like you were planning to. Hell, make it a bonding experience with Jason. He stopped trying to kill me ages ago."
Yeah, it took him awhile to knock that off though.
There is no amount of pleading or persuasion Tim can think of to sway Bart off of this idea, because he is just as stubborn as the day they met and self-righteous in the way that is normally Tim's. And Bart knows it.
"I know." And he does, because Bart, usually goofy but deceptively bright and somber when he needs to be, gets him.
The pinched look Tim felt creeping over his expression at the start of this conversation lessens slightly, and he rolls his shoulders.
"Am I the only one who knows?"
"Grandparents and Wally do; they may have been ready to attack the machine before you could if I hadn't come up with this, and I needed Wally to sneak me into the Cave undetected so I could move around a few machine components. Go Team Self-Sabotage!" Bart leans back, away from the table and loosens up immediately after his whispered battle cry.
"We telling anyone else?" And it's the we that gets Bart, has him sending a blinding smile to Tim as he picks up his fork yet again. (Tim would still like to point out just how not fine he feels this plan is.)
"Not Cassie or Gar, they'd never pull it off. You can tell them when I'm gone. Speedy if he gets suspicious. Jaime, yes. He'll slaughter us otherwise. And I'd rather you have someone who understands so everything doesn't keep in your brain and festers until I return to you. Does this make you the teenage, time travel equivalent to a war bride?"
Tim spins his knife in his hand while he reminds Bart of both his gender and their lack of marriage or anything akin to it.
Stability achieved (for one of the last times for a year. A year.)
A week is more than adequate time for Tim to prepare himself, falsify documents showing Bart overseas researching for college credit to maintain an alibi, and deal with Bart's mini-crises leading up to the big farewell. It takes place in the Hall of Justice, after it closes for tourists, because some invited heroes don't necessarily know of the Cave, and Miss M, Superboy, and Tim have made Batman's protective paranoia over the location of the Cave their own.
After all the years Bart has spent surrounding himself with both 'mellow' speedsters and Bats, he is still nowhere close to using subtlety on any level. (Alright, that's not entirely fair, especially considering his acting skills when the time machine wouldn't work, oh my!)
Tim's point is that most 'See you in Thirty-Five Years' going away parties are sobers affairs, not actual parties, complete with balloons, roughly a dozen dessert platters, and garish, neon pointy hats that Bart adored and Tim tolerated but not so secretly resented for making him an easy target for his family, one that's spent countless hours being stuck at ritzy, black tie affairs where they were forced to find their own entertainment, often Tim because he didn't sneak out within the first half hour. Unlike Dick. Or Jason, the bastard.
The same hat-target made Dick's life way too easy, if the amused grin is anything to go by when he slides over to Tim. Bart gets in on the action, throwing an arm around Tim's shoulders and making Dick vow not to let Timmy mourn him too often. Surprisingly, a deeper, serious tone sinks into his voice, just as his grip around Tim tightens. Huh. His heart and lungs do too.
Dick, for once not in the loop, quietly promises, throwing the two of them a puzzled look before going to find Barbara. Or a camera. Tim's not entirely sure.
That's probably for the best.
On the opposite side of the room, Cassie, because she is wonderful, coldly ignores Wonder Woman while hanging on to Bart's arm, only relinquishing it when displaced by Gar.
They're going to kill him when they find out.
Wally, slightly separated from his wife and best friend, darts a glance Tim's way, and nods slightly. Speedy, somewhat unsurprisingly, catches it and raises his eyebrow in confusion. Luckily, Superboy accidentally bumps into him, derailing whatever train of though he had been holding.
Tim will either pull this off flawlessly, or Roy will clue in before the month ends.
Jaime joins Tim in the corner he's taken over, surveying the room, just as Bart, living up to the Impulse name, darts from person to person, most of them making poignant gestures or barely holding it together to say goodbye. Oh, so many of them will be a mix of furious and overjoyed. And Tim's no longer going to be able to throw the Kaldur thing back at Dick during their 'trust' arguments. Jaime laughs next to him when he brings up the point but sends him a more somber look with the shake of his head.
Jaime doesn't approve of this plan any more than Tim, but is accepting it easier, which Bart probably knew he would. It's a comfort, like Bart wanted, knowing someone who shares the same, somewhat guilty, weight on his shoulders.
But Tim doubts it will be enough.
Because Bart is the one sending himself away, both the Team and the Justice League give in to his request that he and a few select friends go to Mount Justice alone, letting Bart leave where he came. Cassie, Gar, and even Roy (real) are slightly confused and even hurt at not being invited, but the first two understand that them losing it will only 'make it that much moder to leave' for Bart, who deserves an award for his acting. Roy, however, relents upon the reveal it's just Tim going, and that is not a goodbye he wants to see for a slew of reasons.
Jaime ended up being called back home for some slight emergency involving his friend Tye, and the Allens had to get back to the babysitter long before the party concluded after midnight. Wally, and Artemis, because she was family now through more than marriage, were nicer to Tim than Bart when the four said goodbye, and Wally joked he wasn't wearing the right shoes to swim through the pool of tears, making the lingering surrounding party guests laugh while Artemis winked at the two of them.
So, at roughly 1:00 AM on June 12, Red Robin and Impulse travel to the Cave for the final time.
We should have named her," Bart moans, quiet for him, as they walk into the Cave and face his time machine, placed exactly where it had been years before.
"She's the closest you're coming to a pet," Tim replies, just as Bart asks, "Can we get a dog?"
"No! God, no."
"Cool, so when I get back let's go to the pound."
"Do you have something against shelter dogs? They're my symbolic brothers cast out alone and deserve homes just like I did!" Bart begins making slight alterations along the side of the 'she'.
"I'm telling your relatives about that comparison."
"We'll get a big one to beat that beast your brother is training."
"Yeah, that monster. Ours is gonna be named after a comic book character, not whatever proper thing Damian stole it from."
"You can name your imaginary dog anything you want, I am not involved. And he got it from Shakespeare."
Bart grimaces suddenly at that reveal because he loathes Shakespeare almost as much as he enjoys the Greek tragedies he feels superior over, "Yes you are. We both know it will become your dog too and end up listening to your orders and ignoring mine. I'll be the fun parent. Tell me that won't happen."
It will, and Tim knows it. Eleven months from now, he'll remember to check into dog-proofing Bart's place for him, because this will be two minutes for Bart, not the full honest to god year Tim will be carrying on through.
"So." Bart looks bashful all of a sudden, and Tim is now the emotionally adjusted one.
"So." Or not.
"You going to miss me?" And despite the teasing look in his eye, Bart's voice is far from it.
"You know I will." Everyone knows he will; everyone will expect him to fall apart, as much as he can.
Losing Bart is going to be difficult, and it still hasn't fully absorbed into both his brain and his heart. But it will tomorrow, when he doesn't send a text message to Bart letting him know he survived another patrol, or when he hears about a local animal shelter and gets brought back to this very point in time. Just because he knows Bart is coming back to them doesn't mean he won't be able to grieve with the Team.
"You're going to be alright. Just promise me that you won't do that thing I hate, where you pretend to be fine, and we find you working yourself to near death because I can just slammer you now and save myself the trouble." This isn't Impulse, who held a party an hour ago and pretended to be a tourist. This is Bart, who's going into the future to make other people feel better and will spend his last moments here worrying about Tim, the only person who can read his mind and predict just how unbridled he can be when provoked.
This has been their story.
"I promise," and Tim's not sure whether if he lunged for Bart or the other way around, but they have a desperate grip on each other, one not knowing what tomorrow will bring and the other more concerned for the condition of the people waiting when his door opens.
"This will work according to plan, right?"
"We'll find out, won't we?" Bart replies with a wry grin as they let go, and squeezes his shoulders one final time before he leaves.
"I'll see you soon, Tim." With that he disappears into the machine.
When Bart's face pops up to the glass plate window, Tim manages to smirk and casually wave. His final gift until future him drags Bart out of the machine. Most likely with a dopey dog by his side.
And then, Bart is gone.
Tim lingers in the Cave for a few minutes, pretending there isn't something trying to claw out of his throat and that he isn't secretly wishing and waiting for the machine to bring Bart back, and now.
365 (roughly) days to go.
And that was Part One! The next chapter will either be the entire year, or half of it, depending on the length and how long I can hold out before this take over my brain yet again. While this shares the slight, similar Bart leaving for timey reasons aspect as Ignore the Fact, it's going to be radically different, which I hope is somewhat evident now, and will become more so next chapter.
Comic Reference: Just for those who don't know, Tim Drake eventually becomes Red Robin while Bruce Wayne's biological son Damian takes the Robin mantle (the two do not get along). Jason Todd, who isn't in the show, was technically the second Robin who died at the hands of the Joker but is revived (with SOOOO many issues). They're going to be the main non-show aspects in the upcoming chapters so figured it be better to clear it up now for just show-readers.
Updates: Depends on above, whether or not I do one or two chapters, but early July most likely. We Were Once Perfect readers, that's coming within the next few days so look out for that. My profile has update lists so feel free to check there for various changes.
So let me know how you felt about this readers.
As always, I hope you have a lovely day.