Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. They belong to DC/Time Warner and as a bored college student, I decided to borrow them and write a little story about them and wanted everyone to know that I'm making zero cash from this and wouldn't be worth suing, anyway.
Tim Drake did a face plant onto his bed. The marshmallow softness swallowed his groan and enveloped him in the warmth and peace of mind he associated with the precious commodity of sleep. The springy firmness of the mattress sucked at his sore muscles, offering comfort in oblivion. The coverlet caressed his cheek, assuring him that it would be all right to close his eyes for just a few minutes…
“Perhaps you'd be more inclined to go to bed at a reasonable hour if you didn't sleep through the day.”
Tim's eyes shot open and his body tensed as the nasal voice of Wesley Thomas.
“Good thing I have you to keep me straight,” he replied dryly, pushing himself off the bed. He walked over to his desk and eyed his odious math book. He briefly considered studying for the dreaded test scheduled for the next morning, but picked up the cordless phone, instead. He hesitated for just a moment, then steeling himself, punched in a familiar number. It was time for his semi-daily beatdown.
“I told you not to call! Now hang up and forget my number before I sic the police and Batman on you for harassment!” The connection was terminated with a horrific crash that just might have been phone breakage.
Tim stared morosely at the buzzing receiver and carefully set it aside. Then, he very deliberately opened his math book, place his head between the pages and fell asleep.
He awoke several hours later with creases in his cheek and the very morose feeling one gets when one knows that his birthday has been all but forgotten.
Because it was Tim's birthday. Sure, his dad and Dana and Mrs. McIlvane had called and sent a card; a money-holding card, too, with real money in it. But they could have at least come to visit. To take him out to dinner or something.
After all, he was sixteen. This should be the year he got his first set of keys…oh, that's right. As the primary mobile adult in his house, he could already drive. No biggie, then.
He'd realized at lunch that day that he should have at least said something to his friends. But it was too late. To say anything then would just make them feel bad that they couldn't do anything. He should have said something yesterday. It would just be a quiet birthday this year. A birthday complete with a math cram session.
In honor of the impending math test and the fact that he was turning sixteen, Tim gave himself the night off from being Robin. Wesley helped by being in the room, constantly. Even with the added annoyance, Tim felt a sense of triumph when he found himself brushing his teeth at 10pm.
“Could you please close the window when you go to bed?” Wesley whined from his bed. “I'm getting a draft.”
“Sure thing, yer highness,” Tim grumbled around his toothbrush. Finishing up his toiletries, he shuffled to the window and stuck his head out for one last gulp of fresh air before shutting himself in with the overpowering aroma of Wesley's Bryl Crème and Pledge.
“Gah!” Tim jumped back from the window as Nightwing's face appeared outside the window, upside-down.
“I was wondering how long it would take you to get to the window. C'mon, get your tights and let's blow this Popsicle stand.”
“I…can't…” Tim hissed between gritted teeth.
As if to answer Nightwing, Wesley's voice rang from inside the room:
“What on earth are you doing, Timothy? I'll never get to sleep with all the racket you're making!”
“That's why!” Tim hissed to Nightwing.
“So?” Nightwing shrugged, an odd gesture when done upside-down. “Alfred's got all your stuff, right? Let's go out and break some faces!”
“Yeah, “ Tim muttered. “See you in ten.”
“I had understood that you were planning an early evening, Master Timothy,” Alfred commented, noncommittally, as Tim dug through the 'Robin' drawer.
“I was,” Tim grumbled. “But that's before Nightwing busted in on my night off.”
“Aah,” Alfred said, as if that explained everything. Which it did. “Master Nightwing has always been rather…persuasive…in his pleas for attention.”
“Which is why all the girls think he's the greatest thing since Fred Astaire and I'm still getting my ear blasted by Steph.”
“I offered my services as a dance instructor--“
“Forget it, Alf...” Tim sighed, adjusting his mask. “I gotta go.”
“Glad to be of--“ Alfred watched Tim disappear out the window. “--service.”
Robin crawled into the tree outside Alfred's window and scanned the campus. If he could get an early jump on his older brother-in-Batarangs, he might survive the night relatively unscathed. Emphasis on the 'might'. As it turned out, Dick wasn't trying to hide from his little buddy at all.
“Robin? Robin, where the hell are you? Hey, get offa me! Leggo of that! OW!”
Tim found Nightwing, the original Boy Wonder, near the wall of the property, hopping around on one foot as the fierce little form of Cardigan, Dean Nederlander's pugnacious pooch, dangled from one boot.
Tim couldn't help it. He laughed. He laughed long and he laughed hard. And it felt good.
“Stop that and come get this thing off me!” Nightwing growled, trying to pry Cardigan from his ankle.
Tim finally managed to pull himself together enough to squat down and whistle.
“C'mere, Cardigan! Where's the good wittle doggie?”
Cardigan immediately released Dick' leg and ran to Tim, nearly tripping over his own paws on the way. He hurled himself into the Boy Wonder's arms and panted desperately for a tummy scratch.
“Yeah,” Tim cooed. “There's a good boy.” He scrubbed on Cardigan's tummy for a moment, then set him aside. “We're just going over the wall for a little bit, but we'll be back to play later, ok boy?”
Cardigan panted and Tim looked up to see Dick already perched on top of the wall.
“Can we get going now?” he asked, rubbing his shin.
“Sure,” Tim answered with a grin. “Later, boy!” he called to Cardigan as he leapt to the top of the wall and followed Dick, who was already a quarter mile away.
“Uh…so what did you have in mind?” Tim asked, trying to sound conversational despite the fact he was hanging from a construction scaffold.
“We're going to visit Oracle.”
“Oracle? Cool!” Tim smiled, wickedly. “'Cause there's nothing going on there…right?”
“Brat.” Before Tim could come up with an appropriate retort, Dick barked, “NOW!” They both released and dropped twenty stories to grab twin flag rods and let their momentum swing them around and outward. “Shoot!” They pulled out the retractable decel line guns and fired. Tim felt his hook on something and his swing start.
“I'm hooked,” he called, so Dick could hear his voice.
“Great,” Dick called from somewhere above him. “Pull your feet up. You're low.”
Tim realized he was low as the edge of the Clock Tower roof caught his shins and he slammed chest-first onto the grimy roof.
“Can I take the blindfold off, yet?”
“Not yet. We're not in, yet.”
Tim sighed. He wasn't sure why Dick felt the need to sneak into Oracle's lair each and every time he wanted to see her. Tim just used the window.
“Here's the breaker box for the roof alarm,” Dick said, feeling the block of metal. “Of course she already knows we're here since you took the dive onto her sensory area.”
“Yippee skippy,” Tim commented, as Dick pressed something hard and metal into his hand.
“Here,” Nightwing said, softly. “You dismantle the window alarms. It's the green wire and then the blue one. Don't snap the red.”
Tim reached for his blindfold.
“And no peeking.”
Tim peeked anyway.
“So there you boys are,” Oracle said, smiling at Nightwing and the slightly bedraggled Robin. “I left the door unlocked, you know.”
“You never leave the door unlocked,” Dick reminded her, kissing the top of her head in greeting. “Besides, I'd feel silly shuffling around on your doorstep in my tights.”
“All my neighbors would be jealous,” Babs teased him. “And YOU, Boy Wonder, Happy Birthday! How old are you now?”
“Sixteen,” Tim blurted out automatically before remembering that not revealing any information about himself was essential in keeping his identity a secret from Oracle.
“Hey, Killer!” Dinah Laurel Lance, better known as the beguiling Black Canary popped out of the kitchen.
“Dinah!” Dick greeted her warmly, with the air of someone who was pretending to be happier to see someone than he really was. “How are ya?”
“Black Canary!” Tim said with the air of a Teenage Boy who was really happy to see a blonde superhero who wasn't yelling at him.
“Hey, kiddo,” Dinah replied with a wink. “I'm not around much, but I figured that since I was in town and you were aging rapidly, I should show up and bake you a little something."
Cassandra Cain, who had taken up residence in Oracle's tower when she wasn't out fighting crime came from the kitchen, holding a birthday cake, lighted with a single candle, and looking slightly bemused.
“Happy Birthday to you!” Dinah started to sing, loudly and slightly off-key.
“Stop that,” Babs instructed her, throwing the little Nightwing doll at her. “We all hang out with Batman. We don't sing.”
“Well, I don't--“
“Make a wish and blow out the candle, Robin,” Babs instructed over BC's complaints.
Tim smiled and leaned over the cake. I wish I could have these people at every single one of my future birthdays, he thought. And I wish that I could pass that math test, he added hastily before extinguishing the little flame.
Everyone clapped and lights, which had dimmed when Cassandra appeared, came back to full strength.
“We've got pizza over on the table,” Babs told the boys. “And Dinah's cutting the cake. I…would be careful with that, though,” she added, out of the corner of her mouth. “Hey, I heard something from Alfred about having problems with Geometric Sequences? C'mere. I held Dick's hand all the way through that lesson.”
“Really?” Tim asked, snagging a slice of pepperoni and then going to hang over the hacker's shoulder.
“Only because I couldn't convince her to hold anything else,” Dick cracked, his mouth already full.
“He didn't have a clue what he was doing,” Babs assured Tim. “Now let me show you a trick…”
It was nearly morning when Tim slipped back onto campus, full of pizza, confident about his math test, and ready for a few hours of sleep before hearing Wesley's whine again. The grounds were quiet and dark; even Cardigan had gone to bed long ago. Tim climbed up the tree nearest to his own window and transferred to the roof.
“Happy Birthday, Robin.”
Tim spun around to see the Dark Knight standing on the roof behind him.
“Batman! You're here! Oh, geez, you needed me and I was out--“
Batman shook his head. “No. Dick reminded me that it was your birthday. I…felt that I should come let you know.”
“Let me know what?”
“That I knew."
“And that I'm proud of you. You're still doing good work.” Batman looked around. “Must be hard to get in and out of this place.”
“Well, yeah,” Tim admitted.
“There's this little…dog.”
“Cardigan?” Tim grinned. “He's no problem.”
“I see.” Batman nodded again. “Oracle tells me you have a test later. Good luck.”
“Thanks, I—“ Gone again. Tim frowned. Was it his imagination…
Or had there been a bite out of the edge of Batman's cape?