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Tim // What if the world ends tonight
thirdboywonder wrote in damned
The bus ride had been uneventful. Tim was more than a little annoyed at the shirt he was wearing. He was sure it was a girl's shirt, but the nurse had assured him it wasn't, and had refused to get him anything else. The way too tight pants weren't really any help, and he was sure the color coupled with the tightness was some not-so-well-hidden hint that they knew exactly who he was. At least the coat covered up the stupid shirt. It was unnecessary, maybe, but it served it's purpose. And he could do worse than worn out blue Converse. Why they were blue and completely refused to match the rest of the clothes he'd been brought, well, who even knew.

The sack lunch was a ridiculous touch, as far as he was concerned. And the way the staff was littered all over the place, was this really necessary? It sure as hell wasn't like any hospital he'd ever heard of. Letting mental patients run around a town? That was crazy in and of itself.

He hadn't shaken the feeling he'd gotten last night. Blood all over the place, and he hadn't been able to reach Kon right away, and...

He stood on the street corner, unable to push the thoughts completely out of his head. All that blood, and it smelled real, and he couldn't save anyone because he couldn't be Robin and he wasn't cut out for it...

Dad, I'm sorry.

He forced himself to open his eyes. This was not the time or the place for that. Kon wasn't dead (well, okay, maybe he was, but he wasn't dead again), and the blood wasn't his fault. It wasn't like some other things, and it wasn't something he could have prevented or helped. It was just...something that had happened.

But he hated feeling like he had no control. He just couldn't stand that. So he stood there, fists clenched inside the too-long sleeves of the coat, and told himself to breathe. He had a few short hours to find something useful in this town. There was no sense in wasting the trip.

[Waiting for Alfred. He just doesn't know it yet.]

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[Have something useful. From here.]

Alfred remained in his seat for a short while after the bus had arrived at its destination, allowing most of the other patients to make their way off the bus. After about half of them were gone, he stood and made his own way down the isle, the paper sack containing his breakfast held in one hand, untouched. As he exited the vehicle, a nurse pressed a thin booklet and a navy blue jacket into his hands before directing him onto the streets.

Alfred frowned slightly, shrugging into the jacket as he walked, and placing the booklet in one of its pockets. This place got more bizarre by the minute. It was impossible that it was actually a mental facility, or that most of the people in it were seriously dangerous, if whomever was in charge had been willing to inflict them on this town and its people. Something was most definitely wrong here, and Alfred was determined to get to the bottom of whatever it was. Then, maybe, the questionable events that had already occurred would seem more sane. Or perhaps not, but there had to be some sort of solution. Some rational.

The older man looked over the shops that he passed, noting to take a look at the "Kitchin' Fixins" store after he'd explored a little more. There were a few other people on the road as he passed by Weigal St. And there seemed to be quite a number of nurses about, presumably to keep an eye on any unruly patients. Regardless of the precautions, this "field trip" still seemed like a rather ridiculous idea.

He walked past the police station, nearing the next intersection, where a shop called "Hearth and Home" was located. There was a young boy standing on the corner who seemed oddly familiar. And yet imposs- No more impossible than Jason had been. And much more likely than Bruce.

Alfred approached the boy, certain of his identity and yet, hoping that he might be wrong. That the youngest member of Batman's legacy might have escaped the fate that seemed to have befallen Jason and himself. Because after everything else...

"Master Timothy."

Tim knew the voice immediately, and turned toward it on instinct.

"Alfred?" he asked, incredulity clear in his tone. There was...there was no way. Bruce and him and Kon and Bart...but...Alfred? Alfred wasn't a vigilante. He sure qualified as "superhero" as far as Tim was concerned, but why would someone bring him here, too? And why not Dick, while they were at it? Or Cass, or Steph? Hell, then the whole family could have a wild party with the monsters, why not!

Somehow this wasn't helping him feel any saner.

Alfred raised an eyebrow. "So it would seem, Master Timothy. Or was there, perhaps, someone else that you might have been expecting?" He barely glanced down at what Timothy was wearing before he'd taken it all in, his eyebrow arching even higher. Although... considering what he'd been given to wear.

There were more people coming onto the street now then there had been when Alfred had first started walking, and he felt that it might not be the best idea to discuss the latest happenings with the boy while they were standing on a street corner. The nurses were ever present and there could be others listening in as well. Not that the pair looked like much; they could have been a boy and his grandfather. Even so. "Might we go someplace else in order to discuss matters, Master Timothy?"

"I was expecting Bruce before I was expecting you," Tim said, evenly. He wasn't sure he really expected Bruce to come up to him again, though. This Bruce was probably still a total control freak, but he couldn't control someone he didn't want a connection to. And though they had some weird, tentative understanding...

This Bruce was not his father.

He shrugged and was quiet for a minute. Alfred being here seemed like some bad omen, to him. How were they going to get this many people out of here at once? It wasn't even fathomable to him at the moment, and he hated situations like this. Alfred was their cornerstone, though. He'd even managed to keep Bruce comparatively sane. Now they were all here, though. Or, well, some other Bruce was. To hell with that, he was sick of thinking about it.

"Yeah, let's go somewhere else," he finally said.

That got a momentary pause from Alfred, barely noticeable, "Master Timothy? I'm afraid that it's quite impossible for Master Bruce to be present here, given current events." He'd tried to word that as delicately as possible. Bruce was, after all, a rather sensitive subject at the moment, especially for Timothy.

Jason had mentioned Bruce too, but... and last night. Later.

"Perhaps there will be someplace suitable nearby." Alfred started walking to the west.

"More likely than you think, Alfred," Tim shot back, never missing a beat. He knew that Dick and Alfred were more or less convinced that he was in denial, but he wasn't. And anyway, the Bruce here wasn't his Bruce, so it wasn't the same situation...

His head was already pounding and the day had barely started. Great.

"Is that right, Master Timothy?" He stopped, analyzing the situation for a moment. If Jason had insisted that Bruce was being held at the institute... If Bruce was being held at the institute, and what he'd seen last night hadn't been some sort of trick, it was possible that Tim might have information on him - might have seen him. But he had to be delicate with his wording. He didn't want to give Tim hope when there was none.

"When I spoke with Jason, he seemed to believe that Master Bruce was being held at this institute along with the rest of us." He left it at that. Alfred certainly wasn't going to mention last night's episode if it wasn't necessary.

Tim stopped walking.

Jason. Jason Todd. Just hearing his name made Tim bristle inside. How had he not realized? He'd been so set on everything else, Jason was just as afterthought, someone he didn't want to think about.

And now he had to.


"I hate to agree with Jason Todd," Tim said, the venom in his voice nearly palpable, "but it's more than just a belief."

When Timothy stopped walking, so did Alfred. There was no need to hurry on ahead. That would gain nothing, but -

It's more than just a belief.

He turned to face Timothy. They were still on the street, which was hardly an appropriate place to be discussing this. Alfred didn't know exactly how he felt about the thought of Bruce being here. He had seen him last night, so at least it was a positive sign that he wasn't starting to imagine things. Unless, perhaps, they'd all seen the same specter. Unlikely.

"Then you've spoken with him." It wasn't a question. If Timothy had seen Bruce, he would have approached him. "Is he the same, do you know? Jason didn't remember anything that's recently happened, when I spoke with him yesterday."

Tim could feel his hands clench reflexively.

Is he the same?

"He's the same, but he's not the same," he said, his voice surprisingly level to his own ears. "He's...from a different...uh, a different timeline. He's not our Bruce. But he knew who I was. He has no idea who Jason is, though, which is probably going to be a huge deal at some point."

It still wasn't a concession on his part that their Bruce was dead. But he wasn't going to get into it. After everything that had occurred, there was just no way he was getting into that now.

“I see.” That certainly did make sense. Although the Batman that he’d seen last night – those eyes – had been more “the same” than “not the same”. And that haunted look that had been brought about by –

No. The Bruce that he’d seen last night had known about Jason, but not, perhaps, for very long. It had been a fresh wound. Recent. And the body that he carried. But the implications of that were, not entirely impossible, but highly improbable. Perhaps the man that he’d seen last night had been a ghost from the past, if what Timothy said was true; and why shouldn’t it be? So then, their Bruce was still missing, but the Bruce from some other world – some other timeline – was within reach. Alfred wasn’t sure how he felt about that.

“I can understand why it might be upsetting for Jason to not have Master Bruce know who he is.” Alfred paused, again. “Do you happen to have any plans for meeting with Master Bruce? And are you aware of any others here?”

"Superboy. Impulse. Blue Beetle, of the second variety. The Flash. That's all I know," Tim said, rattling off the answer as if he was answering Batman and not Alfred. Following orders, relaying information without relaying any emotion.

"Jason can bite me. Bruce is better off not knowing him." That sentence carried plenty of emotion - and none of it was very nice.

Alfred frowned, very slightly, at the lack of emotion in Timothy’s voice. Over half of the people that were known to be here, at this institute, were dead. At least they were in his world, and in his time. It was possible, he thought, that Tim were also from a different time or place, but he didn’t think so. That haunted look, hidden, but still there, if you knew what to look for… Alfred had spent much time with Timothy in the past several years. He would know, he thought, if something were off.

He nodded, “Have you spoken with any of them, other than Master Bruce?” He presumed that Timothy hadn’t spoken to Jason. He hadn’t seemed to realize that he was present at all, and, even if Timothy and Jason had been so inclined to converse with one another, Alfred couldn’t imagine that it would end well.

He raised his eyebrow at Timothy’s view on Jason, “Perhaps that’s true, in some ways. Although, unless I’ve been hallucinating, Master Timothy, or there happen to be two of Batman in this place, the man that I saw last night remembered Jason Todd.” He used the word “remembered” rather loosely here, mentally replacing it with “was haunted by the ghost of.”

Tim shook his head, slowly. "Just...Just Blue Beetle, for a little bit. And Kon. That's all. I didn't even know Jason was here until you mentioned him."

Tim thought of home, and hoped that Dick was holding up okay with all of them gone. Dick had taken Bruce's alleged death really hard (and for good reason), but this was...worse. With all of them missing...

Tim didn't want to think about it.

He frowned and looked up at Alfred. "What? But he just told me yesterday that he didn't know Jason. He told me about the differences between my world and his, about how Jason didn't ever happen and I was like totally different, and he chose to train me instead of having you and Dick convince him..."

And my dad died a lot earlier on, he didn't say. He couldn't say.

He had no idea what Alfred was talking about, and that bothered him. Alfred always made sense. So for him to stop making sense...no, it had to be some serious misunderstanding.

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