The Smart One

October 20, 2014:

Tim comes to talk to Bruce about Miranda's offer, but the conversation gets derailed by a slip of the tongue.

Wayne Manor, Gotham

Bruce Wayne's Manor


NPCs: Alfred Pennyworth


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Bruce Wayne seldom slept more than two to three hours a night and when he slept he never dreamed. Techniques he's learned in his travels throughout the Orient earn him the ability to meet a relaxed meditation state that exists near the realms of complete serenity. Helpful when you're a rage embroiled spirit like the Batman.
This is a night Bruce Wayne was unable to attain that disciplined medium, he slept and he dreamed of his parents as he always does. The darkness swallowed him and he had awoken drenched in his own sweat and what could possibly be the tears of a child long ago dead.

Heavy breathing.

The sounds repetitive at this point, Bruce was in the ground level gym a massive room full of just about any kind of workout equipment imaginable. Gymnastics benches, a Mu ren zhuang, swinging bags, weights, the weights is where the man currently resides.
Alfred standing nearby with a tray laden with empty glasses. Protein shakes, very deliberate and focused ones with supplements for vitamins and muscle builders that were all natural and genetic targeting boosters. Nothing 'drug' level, all natural but they helped keep the man fit without requiring heavy meals. All part of the very strict Dark Knight health regime.
"Master Bruce, I have rebuilt Jason's shrine as request the other adjustments to security you asked for are also underway. Do you feel it is necessary to revoke most of the young man's access privileges?"
"Yes. He is taking liberties where he is unwelcome."
"An attention required son unwelcome to his broken fathers toys? How familial."
Bruce Wayne grunts and the barbell (weighted in excess of 500lbs) drops back to it's metal holster.
Grabbing up one of the hand towels from his butler the man begins to wipe his forehead down.

College has some weird hours. Some classes are early, while others considerably later in the day. Today, Tim had some of column A and, later, some of column B. Which puts a strange break in the middle of his day.

Consequently, when a break presented itself relatively early in the day, Tim thought he'd come back the manor. With his messenger bag slung over his shoulder, Tim Drake looks the part of college student. He'd wandered the manor for a bit, looking for signs of life as he'd done so, almost awkwardly with each of his steps.

After chatting with Dick and Babs about his potential job offer, he hasn't been keen to discuss it with anyone else.

But the impending deadline to sign Miranda Tate's contract means that things can't be avoided forever; even as the world turns, it seems that life continues to move on.

The sound of a faint clang grabs Tim's attention, and directs him further into the manor — to the gym itself.

Managing to catch the tail end of the conversation about Jason, Tim arches a wry eyebrow, "Wait. Which son?" his eyes narrow into slits, but that small dose of skepticism lasts for only a moment.

With a faint shake of his head, he shoots Alfred a dimpled, very boyish grin as he treads into the gym proper. "Hey Alfred. Hey Bruce."

There's a pause as he watches his mentor for a moment. Even with the workout seemingly completed, Tim's more avoid-y nature prompts him: "Uh. You look busy, I can come back later — "

"A cry for attention and…" Cutting himself off Bruce pulls the towel off his face to look towards the doorway at Tim, "Damien."
Alfred motions towards the tray in hand, "A protein shake, young sir?"

Standing up to begin stretching Bruce goes silent as his thoughts and focus zero back in.
Alfred offers one of his reticent smiles, "I would like to believe our newest family member is just getting settled and not quite the… menace he seems to be. You were quite difficult at one point as well, Master Bruce."
"You're defending him?" Bruce seems mildly surprised by this. The conversation between the two seems to die off as they both exchange a glance then seem to in sync drop their gazes on to the Boy Wonder.
"How are your classes going?" Bruce asks with more attempt than he is feeling at the moment.

At Damian's name, Tim's eyes deaden and then turn up towards the ceiling unceremoniously. Evidently, 'the good Robin,' as some have taken to calling him, isn't thrilled with the 'Other Robin'. His hands retreat into his jacket pockets and then he realizes he hasn't abandoned his book bag or jacket since coming into the manor.

"Right," Tim finally mutters at the defense. "I'm pretty sure he's plotting to steal my girlfriend and murder me in my sleep. But…. " his eyes tick downwards, "maybe it's just growing pains."

He manages another, somewhat weaker smile towards Alfred and accepts the protein shake, "Thanks, Alfred."

The bag strap is flung over his shoulder and then abandoned to the ground. Books are heavy. There's no reason to destroy his back so early in life.

When the pair direct their attention towards him, Tim becomes nearly statuesque, "Classes are fine. Honestly, better than high school," he shrugs. His eyebrows draw together, "Been thinking about dropping one though — "

"Horns are a painful growth phase for any hellspawn." Alfred quips dryly while handing the shake over.
"Alfred." Bruce gives the man a cautionary stare. "Your girlfriend?" Bruce looks curious now the look he'd given the elder man subsiding. Or at least curious enough his eyebrows actually shift a little.
"Our ever astute patriarch may need more enlightening to your current situations, Master Tim."
"May explain a few things. I know we have a lot of adjustments with Damian arriving here… " Ones Bruce or Batman have yet to go in length about and tackle. He's still adapting to it himself. One thing at a time.
"Adjustments is an understatement." The butler persists as he is gifted another of /those/ looks. "Ah yes, it is about that time and I need to mist the ficus tree. Also proof the room for drafts… " The man trails off as he departs with tray in hand. Obviously on his own tear today.

Try as he might, Tim can't fight the smirk at Alferd's quip about hellspawn. The smile turns downright toothy as his fingers curl around the shake, but he manages to keep his own quips to himself. But the smile is short-lived as Bruce picks up on the keyword girlfriend, prompting a pink flush of Tim's cheeks. Skeptically, Tim arches an eyebrow, "That's what you picked up on? I'd have though the plotting over my demise would warrant pause."

His eyebrows draw together, his toe scuffs the floor, and he watches his feet for a few beats. When he looks up, Tim rather conveniently takes a long swig of the protein shake. He finally swallows and shrugs, but his face is no less pink. "Yeah. My girlfriend." His eyes turn to the retreating Alfred and then back to Bruce. "Steph. The girl. That I spend time with. She's…" He swallows hard and turns his head to the side, watching Alfred retreat. "…yeah," he'd intended Babs to be here when he talked about Steph.

"What things? It explains nothing. I'm pretty sure Damian has been, well, that way since before I had a girlfriend."

"It is very unlikely that Damian would kill you in your sleep." Damian would probably prefer Tim awake. Bruce rolls his shoulder the arm swinging out wide as he rotates it. More stretches and limbering up while they talk. "Steph? Steph what? You're acting a little uneasy about this. Something I should know or are you just being uncharacteristically bashful about girls? It's a part of life. Embrace it just don't let it distract you from what is important. You're a soldier now in a war that needs people like us. Being a normal teenage boy does not fall in to that equation." Bruce apparently knows very little about Robin and Spoilers activities or he is just not eluding to it. Hard to tell with the man.
No answer in regards to 'what things' either.

"I'm not -bashful-," Tim states defensively with an arch of his eyebrow. "Ehn. I'm just awful at girls. Dick is the smooth one." There's a pause, "I actually take comfort that Damian doesn't have Dick's skills there." But there is more; there's always more. He swallows hard and shrugs. "Steph Brown," he finally offers before finishing off his protein shake. After a few beats, quieter, he adds, "Spoiler."

But having said his girlfriend's other name, he pushes passed it and refocuses on being a soldier, "Right. I know that. And nothing gets in the way of that. I'm committed, even with school. And I've proven that I can balance all of this. I am balancing all of this. And nothing is suffering." There's a pause. "Robin has his time. It's challenging with two of us, and I don't want to be mistaken for Damian," there's considerable weight given to that though, "But I am balancing it." His throat clears. "Which is why I'm thinking of dropping a class."

"Spoiler." Bruce repeats. "Stephanie Brown. You're blurring the lines, Tim. Unacceptable." His tone of voice goes harder than it has been. A slight edge creeping in to it. No change of expression just that same cold unbroken mask. Tim knows Bruce enough to know he is unhappy, concerned and probably disappointed. "You're supposed to be the smart one." There it is.
It's almost as if the man stops himself from saying more his breathing changing. Calming techniques, refocusing, finding his center. All part of the exercise an exercise in maintaining himself and his humanity.
"Damian will be dealt with. He is not Robin, you are." More of those liberties the entitled child of Talia and Bruce is running with. He doesn't ask which class he is already beginning to walk off. "She better not become a liability, Tim. She is at this point your responsibility, you train her or get her to stop pretending to be a hero and if you start to slack as Robin, you're fired and Damian /will/ be Robin." Bruce isn't so sure about that one himself. He's just irate. The mans a control freak and this was not something in his realm of design.
"Alfred is making dinner, make sure you eat. We're holding a training session tonight before patrol. It is going to be a long day."

Silence often becomes the rule of thumb when Tim feels like he's being berated. And to Tim, from Bruce, this is definitely the equivalent. His jaw tightens, his own breathing catches, and his eyes train on Bruce. "I am training her. But thanks for the vote of confidence. It's nice that you all have so much trust in me after all of this time. Between you, Dick, and Babs, I'd have thought I was little more than the disappointing kid in the group."

His eyes roll, "And if that's the case… let Damian have Robin then. I can figure out something on my own. I've been doing this protege thing for awhile, and to be honest, I feel like I've earned a little more trust than I've been getting. From all of you. I may have no idea what it means to be Robin or what it means to be Tim, but I do know that I've been more than a little committed over the last few years."

He bends down to retrieve the messenger bag, "And I came here to mention the job offer I got. From Miranda Tate," also known as Talia al'Ghul, "to get your thoughts, but I'm an adult now. I'll go be an adult," and make his own decisions.

He turns on his heel, leaving nothing but his back to face Bruce, and only then he nods. "They're all long days. I have class. I'll be back after." And with that he disappears.

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