Disclaimer: The norms
Story Synopsis: Dick just wants to take care of his family.
Thanks to Kathy for the beta work.
Dick doesn’t understand Tim or his complete lack of trust. How could he? His entire life has been about nothing but trust. Trust in his parents, trust in his catcher, trust in Bruce, trust in his friends…just trust in general. Dick doesn’t know how to distrust people the way that Tim does...not really, and it terrifies him. It always has. How can someone so young be so distrusting? What had to have happened to create someone like Tim? It’s concerning in a way that Dick doesn't know how to deal with. He tries to assure Tim that trust isn’t a bad thing, but every time that he does something seems to contradict him.
Dick understands Damian’s trust issues...he has from the moment that he met him. After all, it all makes sense when he thinks about how Damian was raised. Talia and Ra’s make it immeasurably easy to see how Damian could be so distrusting, but, even after working with him for years, Dick still doesn’t understand Tim. He wants to...hell, he feels like he needs to, but Dick doesn’t know how. He doesn’t have the first clue as to how he’s supposed to come to terms with the fact that his little brother doesn’t trust anyone...not really. Sure, Tim makes a good show of it for his friends, family...hell, even for Dick, but they all know that that’s all it really is, because the thing is, no matter how much Tim ‘trusts’ a person he still expects said person to let him down.
That’s the thing that Dick finds the most heartbreaking. He can’t prove Tim wrong there, either, because...well, with their lives, disappointments come with the territory. It doesn’t make Dick want to disprove him any less, though. He just needs to find a way. However, Dick knows them both well enough to know that that particular desire might just be unattainable, but he wouldn’t be Dick Grayson if he didn’t at least attempt to refute and redefine such an ugly word. That’s what being a flyer is all about, after all.
He knows that Tim trusts him wholly with his life. He just wishes that Tim trusted him as much with whatever is going on inside his head, because that’s the stuff that Tim always hides away. Sure, they have their moments when Tim opens up, but it happens so rarely that Dick honestly worries that Tim is going to self-destruct one day. Not to mention that, when Tim does let him in, he still keeps so much to himself that Dick feels as though there’s a giant chasm between them slowly filling with everything Tim doesn’t tell him.
It’s probably why Dick has been so desperate to just have a day with his little brother where they aren’t tracking down bad guys and getting shot at. However, getting Tim to agree to a day of just hanging out isn’t exactly easy. Dick doesn’t really want to consider that the reason for that is something more than Tim’s generally busy schedule, but he knows enough to know when someone has been avoiding him, and Tim has been avoiding him for far too long now. It’s been almost a week and Tim still hasn’t returned a single one of his phone calls, so really, Tim has to know that he has this coming, because the idea that Dick would actually allow Tim to ignore him for this long is right up there with Joker level insanity.
Breaking into Tim’s apartment is just as difficult as it should be, and Dick is actually quite impressed with Tim’s security. There are some nasty surprises that he only narrowly avoids. He wonders if a certain former Batgirl helped Tim rig some of those nasty surprises up, but before he can ask there’s the distinctive sound of someone groaning before a coughing fit ensues. Dick takes off in the direction of Tim’s bedroom and finds his little brother wrapped in a cocoon of blankets with a box of tissues tucked into the crook of his arm. “Well, that explains why you haven’t been answering my calls.”
Tim pokes his head up above his covers and glares at Dick. “What are you doing here?”
Dick shakes his head at the scratchy sound of Tim’s voice. “Just checking on my favorite little brother.”
Tim flops back down onto his bed and groans as he buries his head under the covers. “Damian’s not here and I don’t need your mother hen routine right now. I’m sure you can find your own way out.”
Dick can’t help but smile at Tim’s muffled petulant tone. “Nope, sorry, oh, grumpy one. You’re sick, so I’m staying. Did you take anything yet?”
There’s a rustle under the covers, which Dick guesses is Tim shaking his head. “Ran out of cold meds a couple of days ago, and I’m too miserable to go get more.”
Dick smiles gently at Tim’s extremely despondent tone. “Alrighty then, guess I’m going to the store. Need anything else?”
There’s another rustle from the blankets before another coughing fit. “Unconsciousness would be nice.”
Dick shakes his head as he tucks Tim into his cocoon of blankets a little more securely. “Okay, when’s the last time you ate?”
Tim huffs out an annoyed breath. “I thought you were leaving.”
“Tim?” Dick drags out the name and uses the sternest tone he can muster. “Answer the question.”
Dick sighs heavily, knowing that he isn’t going to like whatever comes next. “On what?”
“What day it is and if crackers count.”
Dick shakes his head once again as he turns to leave. “When I get back you’re eating something. No arguments.”
“Yes, Alfred. Of course, Alfred. Whatever you say, Alfred.” The snarky reply would probably be more coherent if it wasn’t broken up by a long sneezing fit in the middle.
Dick smirks mischievously as he heads for the door. “Keep it up and I’ll call him and tell him you’re in dire need of his special tea.”
Tim whimpers as he ducks down under the blankets even more, which Dick honestly didn’t think was possible. “Be nice to the sick one.”
“Uh huh, be back soon, little brother.”
When Dick returns, there’s the familiar smell of tea and soup permeating the air. Dick knows better than to assume that Tim got up and made it himself, and there’s only one person who knows how to make that particular type of tea -- which means that the almighty Alfred’s name was invoked and he came. Alfred is just magical that way. Dick enters the kitchen to find the older gentleman standing in front of a pot on the stove. “You have superpowers. I just know it. We say your name three times and you just appear.”
Alfred turns to face him with a small smile as he wipes his hands on a dish towel. “I assure you, Master Dick, I do not. Master Timothy missed our weekly chess game without calling. I assumed something was wrong, and, as it turns out, I was right.”
Dick grins brightly at the older man. “You always are, Alfie.”
“I presume the contents of those bags are intended for Master Timothy.” At Dick’s nod, Alfred continues. “Might I suggest you take them to him, while I finish preparing his tea and soup?”
Dick doesn’t need to be told twice. He nods and then heads straight for Tim’s room. He’s not even through the threshold before Tim grumbles at him. “Away with you, traitor!”
Dick holds up his hands in a mollifying gesture. “I swear I did not call Alfred. In fact, it’s your own fault that he’s here.”
Tim rolls his eyes as he makes a grab for his box of tissues, which was dangerously close to falling off the bed. “Oh, yes, blame the sick guy.”
“When it’s the sick guy’s fault, then yes. Did you perhaps forget to make a certain phone call and inform Alfred you were going to miss a certain chess game?”
Tim’s brow furrows in confusion. “What are you talking about? Our chess game isn’t until Tuesday.”
Dick raises an eyebrow wondering if Tim really is that sick or if he’s playing games with him…both are entirely possible. “Tim, today is Tuesday.”
Tim’s eyes widen as he tries to unfurl the covers around him, failing miserably and just getting himself more trapped. Now Dick knows he has his answer. “It can’t be Tuesday. I have so much that needs to be done.”
Dick pushes Tim back down onto the bed. “Nope, sorry, little brother. Whatever needs done can either wait or I can do it, but you’re staying in bed and letting Alfred and me take care of you. However, I would like to know, if you’re this sick, why didn’t you call someone?”
Tim looks away and, before he even utters a word, Dick knows…he knows exactly why Tim didn’t bother calling someone. He didn’t trust them enough to actually show up. “You’re all just as busy as I am, and I can handle a stupid cold.”
Dick shakes his head as he gathers Tim into a hug. “I’m never too busy for my family, Timmy. You can trust that and you can trust me. You don’t have to hide away when you’re sick. You know I’ll come.”
Tim shakes his head. “You’ll try. We both know you’ll try, but that’s all that you can do and you can’t avoid life getting in the way any more than the rest of us. You just take it harder when it does. It’s easier to just not bother calling or… ” Tim trails off, seemingly aware that he’s spoken aloud when he didn’t mean to. This more than anything is probably why Tim doesn’t bother to call anyone when he’s sick. His ability to keep his inner thoughts to himself gets compromised the more ill he is, and Dick knows exactly the type of things Tim is willing to do to keep his inner thoughts to himself.
“Timmy…” Before Dick can say anything more Alfred enters the room with soup and tea in hand. Dick knows Alfred wouldn’t have interrupted them if he didn’t feel that it was necessary. However, Dick just wishes that he knew whose benefit the disruption was for, because it’s not as though he really knows what to say to Tim and he knows Tim would rather they never have this conversation at all.
Still, Dick can’t deny that the soup, tea, and medication that Alfred undoubtedly spiked said tea and soup with is necessary. He sits quietly at the foot of the bed as Tim eats and he’s only moderately surprised that Alfred hasn’t kicked him out yet, since this is normally when Alfred would suggest Dick go do something useful as opposed to just sitting here watching Tim eat in awkward silence.
It isn’t long before Alfred clears his throat, and Dick just knows they’re about to be gently but sternly reminded that Tim needs his rest. “If I may, sirs, it would be wise for you, Master Timothy, to remember that your family would like the opportunity to care for you, even when you doubt the necessity of such. It would also be wise to remember there is always a reason to call, even if it is only to abate an old man’s concern.”
Tim blushes as he looks away sheepishly, and Dick does his best not to laugh at his little brother’s expression. “I hear you, Alfred, and I really am sorry.”
Alfred removes the tray holding Tim’s empty bowl and cup. “It is quite alright, Master Timothy. Now I believe it’s best if you get some sleep.”
Tim nods as he curls up in his blankets again. “Night, Alfred.”
Dick waits until Alfred has closed the door on his way out to say anything. “So, before you nod off, what did you need to get done that can’t wait?”
Tim shakes his head and then grimaces in pain. “You don’t need to worry about it. I’ll take care of it as soon as this,” he gestures to himself, “passes.”
Dick folds his arms over his chest. “Tim, what did Alfred just tell you about letting your family take care of you? This is part of taking care of you, so what do I need to do?”
Tim grumbles something about obnoxious mother hen older brothers and then points to his laptop sitting nearby on his desk. “Everything I’m working on is on there.” He yawns before continuing. “I’m sure you can figure out what needs priority.”
He yawns again and Dick laughs as he grabs Tim’s laptop. “Can do.” He tucks Tim back into his blanket cocoon and ruffles his hair. “Night, little brother.” Dick turns to leave and can’t keep the smile off of his face as he hears Tim’s snore before he’s even to the door. “We’ll figure it out eventually. We always do. Sleep tight, Timmy.”