Brotherly Advice

February 10, 2017:

Dick Grayson returns to Wayne Manor after his recent absence, and runs into Tim, who makes one of the greatest mistakes of his life.

Stately Wayne Manor

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Batman, Damian Wayne, Talia al Ghul, Catwoman, Zatanna Zatara, Stephanie Brown, Ravager, Deathstroke

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

For the first time in over a month Dick Grayson has returned Wayne's manor. He told Alfred he needed to check some critical data in the computers and he couldn't do that at distance. This might be true, but also gives him an excuse to visit and catch up with events. He has been talking with the old man for a couple hours, but now he is heading to the Batcave.

Sooner or later, everybody leaves home. When you're an orphan, well, then you end up doing it more than once.

The house Tim Drake grew up in, on a property adjacent to the sprawling Wayne land, doesn't exist anymore. It's gone, and nothing has since been built in its place, just an empty stretch of land on Crest Hill. He doesn't really live in Wayne Manor anymore either, spending most of his time at the townhouse he's remodeled out of an old theatre nearer to the university… But hey, when you're rich you're expected to have more than one place, right?

Right.

The Cave, too, is a place where he seldom goes now, to the point that Spoiler has criticised him for his absence. He isn't Robin anymore, he'd argue, and the days when Batman had vanished had given him a taste for independence anyway. But still, he knows he's part of a group, part of a Family. And after the run-in he had with the Dark Devil a few days before, there's things he can't quite handle by himself.

As such, by sheer coincidence, Tim is /also/ headed towards the Batcave, though he's only just arrived. And also by sheer coincidence, that's how he sees a familiar figure heading towards the hidden entrance.

"Dick?" the younger man calls out. It's been… A while, he thinks. Things have been a little crazy, of late.

Well, yes. Dick left the manor ten years ago to go to Hudson University, and he never really returned. He became Nightwing, joined a superteam of younglings, become a cop for a couple years, quit, purchased a circus, then got back to Gotham and maybe now will settle (unlikely).

He also had a run in with a dangerous female recently. But that is every other night in Gotham, ain't it?

"Hello," he greets. "Yes, it is me. How have you been? Is Bruce down there?" He asks.

"Maybe," is Tim's answer on the subject of Bruce being in the Cave; he doesn't keep close tabs on the movements of the Batman these days. "You know how he is, he's probably either down there, or punching human traffickers in a warehouse somewhere. As for me, I'm…"

Tired most of the time. All over the board, emotionally. Having to deal with a serious uptick in supernatural nonsense.

"…Fine," Tim decides on after maybe half a heartbeat of hesitation, because he'll always say that he's fine, even when it's a lie. Right now it's a lie.

"What, uh, about you? What brought you back to the Manor… Wait, are you hiding from some girl's family, again?"

The moment of hesitation, of course, it is noticed. You need to be a very good liar, a Loki-level liar, to get away with lies in this corner of Gotham. So Dick closes the door he was opening and gives Tim a 'detective examination'. "You look tired, man," he observes, inviting him to sit down and grabbing the closest chair. "No, no women troubles," he replies, which is shockingly true. He has not screwed up any relationship in months. "Sit down. And tell me about it. I have been out of the loop for a bit."

'You look tired, man.'

"No, I'm fine, I'm getting a good four hours of sleep most night," Tim insists, because of course he's trying to juggle about five million things on top of going to college and everything else, because he's Tim Drake. He does end up sitting, though; Dick is one of the few people who can easily get Tim to listen, though the younger man does give his foster brother a dubious look when he claims to not have any women troubles. Even if his remark about laying low at the Manor had been at least /mostly/ a joke.

"Tell you about it… Well, okay. This girl showed up in my Physics class, and it turns out her dad taught Bruce everything he knows about sleight of hand and escapology," and by extension, everything the two of them know as well. "And she's an actual magic-user, and I had to rescue her from a demon-worshipping serial killer. Since then, we've been on the trail of an immortal Nazi sorceror, and we had to stop some secret society from using her magic to rewrite reality to make it 'perfect,' and now there's something about… Angels and ancient shamans? It's weird," Tim says, which is in the running for one of history's great understatements.

"Oh, and I might've… Kind of… Told her my secret identity…" Tim mumbles, assuming that Dick has /not/ seen Batman's note about Zatanna yet.

"Zatara," that was the guy that taught Bruce about escapology and some magic tricks. With the little 'm'. Dick ponders a few seconds. "So that girl must be Zatanna Zatara, she is a stage magician, fairly famous in the circuits, a very good one. And she has real magic? That is… hard for us regular folks."

He looks again at Tim. "So are you telling me you feel over your head in these mystical troubles or that you are chasing after a magic girl because you really like her. For the first, I can give you a few names that could help. For the second… ah, that is trickier."

Tim can fool all sorts of people. He has to, after all, since there /is/ the whole 'secret identity' thing to consider, and most of the time that he was Robin, his father was still alive and very much ignorant of why his son kept looking like he'd just stumbled out of a warzone. If there's one person that it's even harder for him to put anything over on than the Bat, it would almost certainly be Dick Grayson.

"…Both?" Tim answers, awkwardly. "I've actually been learning… At least the rules of the whole 'magic' thing, so I can understand what's going on. And the other thing…" He waves a hand, as though trying to brush it off, but of course if /that/ were easy, he wouldn't be in this situation. "She's already got somebody. I've been trying to just, you know, get over it, but it's tough. It's like… You know, quicksand. You struggle and you just end up more trapped."

"Yes, hmm," Dick consider carefully. He could tell Tim to do exactly the opposite than he would do in the same circumstance: Run. Away. And it would be the best advice. Hypocritical. But really good advice.

"Fight for her," he decides. Sincere. Bad advice. "Seriously. She needs help, right? So it is not as if you can forget about her. And seriously, if you really like a woman, you have to fight for her heart. Unless the other guy is an honest-to-god saint, you are better than him. And since this girl already knows you are Robin, that is a secret that is not going to be between you two."

The Secret is what ruined half his relationships. Or at least that is what he tells himself. Self-deception is a wonderful thing.

Which is why Tim, man, you have to be very tired to ask for relationship advice from Nightwing. Keep going and you will be asking Batman. Hilarity and tears will be guaranteed.

The worst part, maybe, is that he already /has/ talked to Batman about it. It wasn't on purpose, indeed the conversation had started out about something else entirely… But, well, you don't get to be the World's Greatest Detective by collecting bottlecaps. Alfred's intrusion into that conversation had only made it worse.

The younger of the two former Boy Wonders scrubs his hands through his hair, pushing the longish, unruly dark locks back out of his face, though his hair slides back forward quickly enough; it's had a mind of its own ever since he grew it out. Sometimes he thinks about just lopping it all off again.

"She's my friend, so of course I'm going to help her," Tim says, though Dick's probably very bad advice manages to both be intriguing /and/ run against his very nature at the same time. He's always been more of the 'self-recrimination and retreating internally' sort of guy, which is why things always went so swimmingly with Stephanie. "Well… I guess it beats Bruce warning me that women are a complication, and telling me how Damian happened," he mutters.

Dick rolls eyes at knowing about Bruce's advice. "Damian might yet be the best 'complication' that has happened to Bruce ever." And Dick might be the only person in the world that thinks so! "What is this about… complications? Tim, if you don't want complications hang the cape and find a regular, normal girl. And move to Metropolis. Gotham is not safe for anyone." And all this good advice is given for free, too. To be ignored by the both of them.

Yes… Dick is almost certainly the only person who thinks that about Damian Wayne.

Especially given the 'are you kidding?' look that Tim shoots him at that, his brow furrowing as he doesn't bother to try and hide his disbelief at Dick's view of their successor. The latest Robin is a menace, as far as Tim Drake is concerned. The two of them get along about as well as oil and water, or maybe white phosphorous and open air, but of course Tim doesn't see it that way. Even he can't be objective about everything.

Obviously.

Tim grumbles a bit, leaning back into the chair he's sitting in, as though he were intending to just sink right into it - which, maybe he is. "I don't think there are any regular, normal girls, Dick. Anyone I met would probably turn out to be a space alien, or something. Maybe I should just become a monk. You know, vow of celibacy, devote my life to self-improvement. Then I wouldn't have to worry about this at /all/."

"Wouldn't Bruce just love that?" Points out Dick. "He is pretty much a warrior monk, living in a cave, training all day and fighting all night. And still… he gets 'complications'. Thankfully. We were his 'complications' a few years back. And Talia and Catwoman too."

Absolutely true about all women being secretly space aliens, or brainwashed assassins, or apparently, sorceresses in distress. But that is mostly a Gotham problem. "Well, if you can't find a normal girl, go for your magical one. What do you have to lose?"

It would, of course, just be Tim's luck if he ended up following in Bruce's footsteps and taking in strays as his adopted children… Though in Red Robin's case, the way things are going he'll never even get to /try/ doing it the old-fashioned way. Which might make it easier to take the celibacy route.

Not that he could ever say that to Dick. He wouldn't put it past his brother - and really, Dick /is/ his brother, even if they have nothing genetically in common - to try and 'solve' his problem. Or dedicate his life to making sure Tim remained eternally cockblocked. It could go either way.

"Yeah, chicks dig the Batman costume, I know," Tim says. "But I… I dunno, I feel like an asshole. Zatanna seems pretty happy, and I don't want to ruin our friendship, and every time I run into Steph I think about stuff, and… You know, life or death battles against ninja assassins is a lot easier than this. I don't get how you do it."

Dick doesn't know how he does it either. Things… happen. Start off well; then end up in a train wreck all too soon. Along the way some ninjas get fought, and forgotten. "Yes. I know," he admits bleakly. He really doesn't have any more bad advice. Tim probably needs a party right now; or a fight with some dumb ninjas.

Giving Tim the phone number of some pretty girls would maybe work. But most of the women Nightwing knows seem to be the 'space alien or something' kind. "Ah. But no, don't be an asshole. Who knows, maybe Zatanna has a sister she could introduce to you? Meanwhile, I was going to do some research at the computers with maybe a side of hacking. A mercenary woman called Ravager is in Gotham and I'd like to know what Bruce has on her. Want to lend me a hand?"

Of course it wouldn't be simple where Tim is concerned, right? It never is. Even if it wasn't complicated to begin with, it's guaranteed that he'd find a way to make it complicated, one way or another.

But he can't quite shake Dick's advice, either. Perhaps it's simply a case of a thought of his own wanting outside validation, but it still lurks there: Why should he give up completely? Maybe, maybe…

"Oh… Work? Yes, god, let's do that instead," Tim says, rising out of his chair eagerly. He'd /much/ rather go snooping around about a mercenary. Another of the many things he uses to occupy his mind so he doesn't wallow, thinking about what he can't have. He starts heading towards the entrance to the Batcave immediately.

Then something occurs to him.

"Wait, you're not just trying to find out if she's got a boyfriend, are you?"

It's a fair question, where Dick is concerned.

"Now, that is an idea," replies Dick with a smirk, but then shakes his head. "Look, she fights with Deathstroke's style, only not as… smooth. But strong, and quick as lightning. Also, she seems to have some ethics. I am curious, and Bruce is going to be even more curious." So he heads down, ahead of Tim.

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