Tim learned on a simulator because no one was there to teach him.
I have thoughts that he did lots of things on simulators. Like he simulated conversations with his dad, telling him all about Robin. He simulated watching movies with Dick. He simulated playing chess games with Bruce.
Tim used the simulator as a tool for social interaction with people who weren’t there.
And the simulator taught him how to drive. :-/
That is so incredibly painful to imagine *cringe*
This is so very, very Tim. Especially since he probably avoided obvious invitations from Dick and others because he didn’t want to intrude, only to go and simulate the exact social situation he’d just avoided. He considered the simulator faulty, though. They’d never really be that nice to him.
STOP. STOP IT. STOP RIPPING MY HEART OUT
And I had to write this fic. I had to.
The cartons are strewn out across the table, white with red Chinese characters on them. Grease spots bleeding through the paper and Dick is struggling a bit with his chopstick form. He loses a noodle here and there from bowl to mouth. The man eats animatedly, his elbow occasionally knocking against Tim’s arm, while Tim transfers vegetable fried rice from his own plate to his mouth with a fork.
The Nightwing suit is peeled off of the upper part of his body, dangles like a second skin around his waist. Dick’s undershirt is still damp from the sweat and adrenalin and ozone of the the nights patrol.
Bruce is across from them, using another set of chopsticks to dip one of the chive potstickers in the sweet soy sauce in a small plastic cup in the center of the counter. He’s in a more Batman styled uniform, unlike Dick’s Nightwing one, but it’s pulled apart similar to Dick’s. Batman’s cape abandoned in the cave for the evening.
Tim watches silently as Dick and Bruce work their way around the cartons of takeout. The way it’s a silent thing, that they know when the other needs the rice, or the spicy kung pow chicken. Or when the pass over the egg rolls and the duck sauce.
They’re partners. They know each other so well. They know how to eat take out with one another and make it seem like a routine — like a well choreographed dance.
“Want the last egg roll, Timmy?” Dick’s tenor voice knocks Tim out of his study.
Tim shakes his head and shovels another forkful of sodium saturated bad-carbs into his mouth, “No-” he swallows, “You can have it.”
Dick looks at him shredly before he shrugs, a gentle lift of his shoulders and uses the chopsticks to wobbly lever the fried roll closer to his mouth.
Tim watches Bruce watch Dick and he see’s the man’s eyes narrow minutely.
So does Dick.
“I’m sorry, Bruce. Did you want the last egg roll?” Dick asks with exasperation.
Bruce keeps his eyes narrowed and then looks back down as his own food. “No, Dick. You take it.”
“Do you want me to ask you again, B, because those Batman eye – yep, those ones – don’t really work on my. The Grayson’s have a gene that make us immune to passive aggressive bullsh-“
“No, Dick, really. You eat the last one. You ate the three before, so why not.” Bruce continues to work on the chicken and broccoli on his plate.
“I asked if Tim wanted any, and you don’t even like egg rolls, Bruce.”
There is enough takeout on the counter to feed the state of New Jersey, and Tim has a distinct impression that this wasn’t about egg rolls.
“It’s nothing Dick, could you pass me the soy sauce?”
“No, please Bruce, I insist. You eat the egg roll. Since you seem to want it so bad. Even though you don’t even like them-“
Tim slams his fork down on his plate, louder then he meant to, but it made a satisfying clatter and two pairs of blue eyes turn to stare down at him.
“Uh – Um I’m cutting the baby in half.” Tim grabs a knife and spears the fried roll with the tines of his fork and severs eggroll in two equal parts. “Here, Bruce. You get the bigger piece.” Tim places one half on Bruce’s plate and the other on Dick’s napkin.
When he looks up Bruce’s eyes are bright and directly on his. A new sign he’s getting used to. Veiled humor. A pleasant shiver races up his spine before Bruce looks down at his food.
Dick has a wide grin on his face. No veiled emotions on his handsome face. Just perfect Dick Grayson humor and that look. That look that Tim never quite comprehends as to why it’s aimed at him. It’s a mix of awe and warmth and happiness.
It’s Tim’s turn to look down at his food and move grains of rice around with his fork. His face heat and warms and blushes and he ducks down lower. “So, how does Alfred react when he sees all of the takeout containers?”
And now he hears both laughs from the men beside him. Bruce’s almost silent, but deep, slow laugh. It’s like chocolate, bittersweet and slow. And Dick’s laugh is like soda or champagne. Sweet and bubbly and fun. They sound great together. Batman and Robin.
“Tim. Tim we don’t let Alfred find out. We eat the food and burn the evidence!” Dick laughs and slurps another noodle through his lips.
“We burn them.” Bruce agrees.
Tim blinks, looks between the two of them. “We use the incinerator in the cave, don’t we?”
“We sure do.”
“And Alfred still will probably find out.” Dick supplies.
“Only because someone left a spicy mustard packet out-“
“Why do you always bring that up, Bruce?”
“Because you left a spicy mustard packet out and-“
“Oh my God, Bruce –“
“Well, I’ll make sure that all the mustard packets get spectacularly burned to a crisp. And those pesky soy sauce packets too. Those hussies.”
“See, Bruce?” Dick slings an arm around Tim’s shoulder pulls him close to his warm side. And the man smells like sweat, aftershave and laundry detergent and Tim stops himself from turning his head in to the cotton of Dick’s t-shirt. “I have a Tim to have my back now. How lucky am I?”
Bruce looks down at them, at Tim, who thinks that his heart is going to burst in his chest with each new swell of praise and love and happiness and belonging. “I guess we’re both pretty lucky in that regard.”
Tim slams his hand down on the keyboard and rips off the headgear that rested in his eyes and ears.
“Simulation Terminated. Simulation Terminated.” The computer voice from the speakers tells him.
Tim breathes deep. Reaches up with his hands to pull at the hair at his forehead. Squeeze his eyes shut.
He takes big, full deep breathes and counts.
He counts to ten and then gives permission to his fingers to release his hair and trail down his face, his neck his chest. He lets his arms cross and encircle his shoulders and gives himself. He let’s himself hug himself for a second or two.
Remembers how it felt to be between Bruce and Dick and their hands on his shoulder and the way they talked to him and looked at him.
He let’s himself think about those feelings for just a few sweet seconds.
And then he stretches back out. He looks down across the algorithms of the simulation.
He sees the sweet errors. He sees the happiness of the lies in them.
He begins to make adjustments. The simulation is false. Bruce and Dick are false. He begins to type. To delete. He fixes the kindness and ease of love that Bruce and Dick showed him with ones and zeros even as he remembers the sound of their laughter with his own.
You’re breaking my heart, Sam.
Why do you do this to me??
This was just so amazing. The banter between them. I laughed out loud at Bruce and Dick’s interactions. And Tim, the most precious of babies.
Ugh this is so heart wrenching and I just feel so utterly heartbroken for him.
It was really amazing