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Rating: PG. Nothing here but name-calling.


Family Time
By Rea


"We're back!"

Bruce Wayne looked up from his case files and scowled. "What took you so long?"

"You cannot rush clothes shopping." Dick said primly, depositing an assortment of shopping bags, boxes and parcels in front of his mentor. "It'd be a sin."

"I don't think clothing is all you purchased." Bruce poked at a Sam's Music bag. His brow furrowed as the latest Brittany Spears CD slid out of the plastic. Damnit. After using the other one as a Frisbee he'd hoped the boys would have taken the hint. Obviously it was time for another toss.

"Don't even think it." Dick snatched the CD from Bruce's hand. "Besides, what's a trip to the mall without a stop at the music store?"

"And at Spencer's!" Tim chimed happily, striding into the cave wearing google glasses and a blinking "Robin" ballcap. "You should see the cool things I got!"

"I can only imagine." Bruce said dryly. "I trust you spent all of your allowance, Timothy?"

"Nah. I've got a twenty in my pocket."

"Emergency money." Bruce said approvingly. He'd taught him well. "That's very mature of you."

"Uh... right." Timothy began pulling out his purchases, sorting out the pants from the shirts and setting them in neat piles while Dick smirked over his shoulder.

Bruce frowned. "What?"

Dick nudged the teen affectionately. "That twenty is date money." He ruffled Tim's hair as Bruce cocked a brow. "He's taking Batgirl for cheeseburgers on Friday."

"Cheeseburgers?"

"She's never had them!" Tim said defensively, growing slightly red. "And it's not a date. We're just friends."

"Then why isn't she paying for her half?" Dick leaned over the table, leering devilishly at the suddenly squirming Tim. "Don't 'friends' pay for themselves?"

"She doesn't get a big allowance like I do." Tim protested, picking up a bag from the Body Shop. "She has to budget her money."

"Something you should be doing." Bruce tilted his head towards the teen's purchases. "How much did all this come to?"

"Enough." Tim dumped the contents onto the table. "but it was worth it. I got some way cool things."

Upon hearing the magic words, Bruce knew he was about to be launched into the trying time of family show and tell. Tim stood expectantly in front of him, his first purchase waiting in his impatient hands. Sighing, Bruce put his case files away. He'd already received one lecture from Alfred about not being attentive. He was attentive. Just not in the areas of daily living or... he sighed again, steepled his fingers and leaned back in his chair... watching a fashion parade every allowance day. "What did you get this time, Timothy?"

"I stocked up on toiletries." Tim said proudly, holding up an assortment of colognes, shaving creams, hair gel and face creams. "The Body Shop had this huge sale on their men's line. I totally love the scent so I a got a couple months worth."

More like a years worth, Bruce thought as he did his fatherly duty of leaning forward to sniff the contents of the bottle Tim held out. A pungent scent rose from container, causing his nose hairs to curl. "It... smells very nice." And would be more effective than tear gas at immobilizing his enemies. "I can see why you bought it." A little cream smeared on his fist and he could wipe even the Joker's smile away.

Tim beamed. "Yeah, I think Cassandra will like it."

"Ah-HA!" Dick crowed, jabbing Tim in the stomach. "I knew it was a date! You've got a thing for her."

"I do not!"

"Mutes turn you on, huh?"

"No more than wheelchairs do for you." Tim said snidely, turning his back to Dick... Big mistake, Bruce thought.

"I think someone wants a wedgie."

"Do not... ARGH! Bruce tell him to stop it!"

"Baby!"

"Am not!"

"Are too!"

"BRUCE!"

Bruce watched the scene tiredly; speculating his chances of pawing his junior partners off onto his unsuspecting allies in the JLA. It was, he supposed, about time Superman got a sidekick.

"Enough!" he bellowed as Dick started to noogie Tim's head. "Richard Grayson, release Timothy at ONCE!"

"Spoilsport." Dick grumbled but released the youth.

Tim rubbed his head, scowling beneath longish bangs. "Jerk."

"Baby."

"Dork."

"Whiner."

"Jack---"

"Enough!" Bruce gritted his teeth to keep from joining the name-calling contest. Darned if he couldn't come up with a few choice names for each of them. Mustering all the patience in his fragile reserve, he attempted to steer the one-worded conversation back to the task at hand. "What else did you buy, Tim?"

"Some jeans." Timothy puckered his lips into a sulk, Dick's insults still simmering in the back of his adolescent mind. He gestured vaguely at the pile of clothes on the table. "A couple of sweaters and a pair of new sneakers."

"And girly boxers." Dick quipped, holding up a pair of black satin boxing shorts. "Timmy wears girly boxers!"

"Shut up!"

"He bought them at La Senza." Dick held up a pastel yellow bag with squiggly writing. "It's a girl shop. Really, Bruce, is this the kind of person you want as a partner? Cuz, I think Superboy is a heck of a lot more macho and would make a much better partnó"

"ARGH!" Tim screamed, launching himself at Dick. Bruce watched the two fall to the floor in a tangle of arms and limbs. To his disappointment, Dick pinned Tim immediately, leaving the youngest Robin to bat away Dick's hands in a decidedly weak-wristed manner.

He sighed heavily as the boys continued to fight. Where the hell was Alfred when you needed him? Probably baking cookies somewhere.

"You're such a loser, Dick! A loser with a double-meaning name!"

Bruce groaned. The kid couldn't even insult someone properly. While what Tim said was true, it just didn't pack the proper punch. Taking out his notepad, he penciled in a reminder to give Robin a lesson in the mannerly art of battle insultation. Immediately.

"Aw, is baby-bird gonna cry? Are those tears I see?"

Bruce leaned over to get a better view. Yep, could be. Dick knew how to hurt a guy. Still... "NIGHTWING!"

Dick stopped his merciless noogieing for a second. "What? He's such a baby!"

"Am not!" Tim whined, taking the opportunity to place a knee in Dick's stomach. Not bad. He squirmed out from beneath him, managing to land another kick to his tormentor's shoulder. "Am not! Am not!"

Now if only he could improve the comebacks.

"Are too!"

For pity's sakes. They sounded like two-year olds. "Boys!"

His order went ignored. Why was it he held no power during family time?

He blamed Alfred for telling the boys everyone was equal during show 'n' tell.

"Freak!"

"Dweeb!"

"Loser!"

Bruce had had enough. There was only one thing to do in cases like this. Rising to his full height of 6"5, he towered over his boys and gave...

The Look.

"Oh my ghod!" Dick cried. "Tim look out!"

"Nooooo!" Tim gasped and staggered back, clutching his chest as if struck by a bullet. "No... can't... escape." He crossed his eyes, chest heaving. "Won't make it... eyes glazing over... can't breath... everything going black." He fell to his knees and began dragging himself away, hands scrabbling futilely at the floor. "No use... can't escape the look... of death..." Gasping in exaggeration, Tim grabbed his throat and pitched forward, face first.

Bruce stared at his youngest, lying prone near his feet. Figured. Tim always did have a flair for the dramatic.

A muffled laugh had him swinging his head to glare at Nightwing. His oldest glared coolly back. "Sorry Bruce, that's not gonna work on me." Without meaning too, Bruce did it.

He growled.

Dick's reaction was even more extreme than Tim's. Giving a strangled cry, his oldest staggered around the batcave, arms and limbs shaking. His tongue lulled out the side of his mouth as drool foamed over his lips. Looking like an electrocuted cat trying to breakdance, he continued to shake, kicking over chairs, knocking over papers. As he neared the climax of his dance, he gave a strangled cry and fell over--right onto Tim.

To his credit, the youngest Robin didn't let out a squawk.

"Are you two finished?"

No response. Trotting over to the prone pair, Bruce nudged Dick with his toe. Dick's face rolled up to stare vacantly at his mentor. Nothing new there.

"Very amusing." he said dryly, deciding to play along with their little game. "I can't let Alfred know I killed you. So boys, where would you like me to stow your bodies?"

No answer. The little rugrats were determined to play this out. Only his Robins could go from beating each other to a pulp to working together at harassing him in a thirty second span. Hmph. Three could play this game.

Hoisting Dick over his shoulder and Tim under his arm, he trotted over to the trunk of the batmobile. Opening the trunk he deposited the two inside and shut the lid. "Sleep tight gentlemen. I'll dispose of you at shift time." He glanced at his watch. "That's only four hours away. Have fun."

Almost immediately, thudding and muffled cries came from the trunk. Bruce smirked. "Don't worry guys, there's an air hole in there. You won't suffocate. Now, I believe it's almost time for dinner."

His grin widened as the thudding and shouting increased. Revenge was sweet.

"Master Bruce?"

He turned to see Alfred standing at the base of the stairs, holding a plate of chocolate chip cookies. The butler looked around the cave, his brow knit in confusion. "Yes Alfred?"

"Where the boys sir? And what is that terrible banging?"

Bruce walked over and clasped the elder man's shoulder. "Bats, Alfred. Bats. Don't worry, I'll take care of it after dinner."

"But the boys, sir?"

"Otherwise engaged." He smiled at the batmobile. "You know old friend, family time really should fall into the category of cruel and unusual punishment." He gestured towards the stairs. "Shall we?"

Alfred stared quizzically at his employer. "Indeed, sir."


From down in the cave, two muffled voices echoed dully off the inside of the batmobile's trunk.

"This is all your fault, Dick!"

"Mine? It is not! You're the one who played dead!"

"You told me to 'look out'! I thought that's what I was supposed to do! Now we've missed supper!"

"Nancy."

"I'm hungry!"

"Weenie."

"Shut up!"

"Dweeb!"

"Loser!"

There was silence then...

"I hate family time."

"Me too."

Me three, thought Bruce, as he readied himself for patrol. He stood in front of the trunk and, after a moment's debate, decided to leave the boys where they were and take the motorcycle instead.

"You can let them out anytime." He informed Alfred before speeding away.

"Indeed." Alfred carefully set down his tray of cookies and approached the batmobile. Opening the trunk, he tsked loudly at the two rumpled figures crammed into the matted interior. "Well young sirs, have we learned our lesson? I have told you time and again, Master Bruce is not to be antagonized."

"If cry baby over here would use his head once in a while we wouldn't have been stuck here!" Dick growled, wacking Tim in the back of the head.

Squawking Tim jabbed his tormentor in the stomach. "It's not my fault! You're the one who started picking on me!"

"You are such a liar!"

"Am not!"

Alfred sighed piteously at the scene. Four hours locked in a trunk and neither had learned a thing.

"Screw off, Dick!" Tim howled as the other man started poking him mercilessly. "You're such a pain in the butt."

"I'll show you a pain in the butt you little wuss!"

"ARGH! Alfie tell him to stop it!"

"I think," Alfred decided, "I shall amend my decision. Perhaps spending four hours in the batmobile was not long enough."

Ignoring the protesting screams of his charges he promptly shut the lid. Gathering up his cookies, he trotted upstairs to watch Letterman.

Master Bruce was right, family time was indeed, cruel and unusual punishment.


The End


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