Disclaimer: I own nothing. All characters are owned by DC. I make no profit from this. Now onward to the story.

By Theresa

Everybody has rituals.

Nightwing follows the same routine night after night. As soon as patrol is over, he goes to home and does only one thing--he crashes. He finds the nearest bed, plops himself down and bang! He's out like a light. Sound unhealthy? Yeah it is, but for Dick it makes perfect sense. If you knew him like I do, you'd agree with me.

You see, he pushes himself hard--sometimes harder than Bruce. He patrols into the early hours of morning, giving himself only a few hours before he's due to work. He's a cop when he's not being Nightwing, so sleep is a rare commodity. That's why it's his habit to crash after patrol. I don't disturb him. I'm not crazy, you know! It's dangerous to disturb a tired vigilante!

Dick's pretty amazing though. He can go on a few hours sleep for days if he has too. Course, that was different when he was living at the Manor. When he was at home Alfred would put him to bed with a cup of hot cocoa. That's a tradition long dead. Since no one is there to make him cocoa in Bludhaven and he's too lazy to make it himself, he pushes himself to the limit.

Then he crashes.

Batman is very much the same. When you have to fight during the night and play millionaire during the day it's hard to fit in sleep. Bruce's mind is too active. His body is beat but his mind isn't ready for dreamland. So he doesn't sleep. Alfred, good old Aflie, has a tried and true remedy for this. Two words: sleeping pill. We slip a pill or two into his coffee or meal. Trust me, it works like a charm!

Now, Bruce has more than one ritual. He's got a couple, truth be told. One is meditation. Bruce meditates more then he sleeps. Meditating allows his mind the release to fall into sleep. At least that's what he says. I dunno if that's true,. Frankly, I can't tell the difference between a tired Bruce and meditated Bruce. They both seem to have the same surly nature.

But back to the rituals.

Bruce also loves his showers. One of the few ways for him to relax is to take a steaming hot shower. You can always tell when he has a really hard night because he always wanders into the shower room and stays there for an hour climbs out wanders up stairs and gets a good night sleep. I think this is a lot more effective than meditation, because I can actually detect a difference in nature. Instead of harassing me over cereal in the morning, he waits until snack time after school.

Then we have Oracle. If you look up ritualistic in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of Babs. She starts work at about the same time the sun sets. She quits when the sun rises. Babs will sleep for a few hours unless she has work that must be finished. You really don't want to wake her with anything less then an emergency. I phoned once thinking she would be up. Guess what, she wasn't up and when she woke up, she just about had me killed. (Babs and sleep deprivation don't mix!) The only one who can wake Babs without dying is Nightwing but then Dick is usually up at the same times she is.

Alfred is a man of routine. He makes sure everyone is fed and well. He listens to us all complain or tell of a great move we performed. After we're done with our talk session, he offers the cocoa or tea and suggests bed. If we turn down the bed, he offers us coffee or zesty and asks if we'll be going out again. If yes, he stays up and waits for us. If no. he drinks a cup of tea then excuses himself for the evening. In the morning breakfast is always made and if we haven't slept, a cup of coffee is provided to help us through the day. This is the ritual he always performs and the one I always expect. I think it'd be a sign of the end of times if Alfie didn't have a fresh pot of coffee on in the morning!

For me, I like showers. I relax in the shower. I know I'll have a bad night if I have to rush through my shower. After a practice session when I feel all sore and sweaty, the pounding of hot water on my back always makes the bruises and aching muscles go away. I then get ready for the night. Costume goes on first. It sets my mind toward Robin and away from Tim problems. Usually, though not always. Then it's onwards to ask if Batman needs help. Whether it is researching files or flying over roof tops I'm there to help. After a nights work don't get between me and my bed. I need at least an hour or two of undisturbed sleep. I become really cranky if I don't get at least an hour's sleep. The few times I really pushed myself I ended up more injured and in trouble then if I was just lacking the extra six or seven hours of sleep I should be getting at night.

And when I say trouble I don't mean as just Robin but as Tim Drake too. It's a lot easier hearing bad news as Tim Drake when you have at least an hour's worth of shuteye. I shouldn't admit this but sometimes when I don't get enough sleep, anything can set me off. I had to excuse myself from class once just because I failed an assignment.

Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal but I hadn't had any rest for at least two days. Now, compound that with a warning of failure by one of my teachers if I didn't improve my grades plus, take on the "A" student persona my dad thinks I should have. Sound like a pressure cooker? It is. And don't forget my other family. Batman has just as high, if not higher, expectations of me than my father. If I don't get the grades, I don't get the rooftop. It's as simple as that.

Well, wouldn't you know it, I failed my assignment. It was a little too much to handle for my sleep deprived brain and it just set me off. I walked down the hall and just about started crying right there. I ducked into the nearest bathroom and just told myself everything was going to be okay. Once I had improved my emotional state I returned to class. Things just went down hill from there. By the end of the day I was so mentally and emotionally wiped out that I went into my room, locked the door and just cried. I mean I acted like a total baby. What would Dick say if he ever found out that his little brother, the superhero know as Robin, was sitting on his bed crying like a baby over a very bad day at school. I would be completely humiliated! Never mind what my Young Justice teammates would think. I know Kon would never let me hear the end of it! Anyway, after that I made sure I got at least an hour or two of deep sleep.

But back to the rituals.

I never get in the way of the other's rituals. If Dick is asleep, I sure as heck don't wake him unless it's a big emergency. If Bruce heads to the shower, I don't stop him. When Alfred does his ritual I just enjoy it and play along. I learned the hard way not to disturb Bab's rituals. But mine, do they care? Not really. If Dick is home he ruins my shower by turning off the hot water or scaring the beejeebers out of me while the waters running. And no one seems to think anything of it to wake me from my hard-earned sleep. But what really bugs me is when my last nightly ritual is disrupted. I can live with them ruining my showers. I can live with not putting on my costume. I can live fairly well without any sleep. But I can not absolutely, positively not sleep without being able to check my email. I can't relax until I know what the rest of the world is up to. I just wish my family could understand how important my email is to me.

It is the one thing I always check whether I'm overseas or at school. It doesn't matter where I am in the world; my email is always there. When I'm injured, my email is there. When my life gets completely messed up, my email is there. It is the one thing my folks never fail to send me. My friends all send me Email. Email cards, letters, notes, page updates, and my e-group listings. All these things maybe trivial to Bruce and Dick but to me those things are my sanity. The one thing that never changes is the fact I will have mail.

They think I'm obsessed with it. Bruce recently banned me from my computer. The ban includes games, videos, music, even the internet, the location of my precious hotmail account! Frankly, I don't think I have had a good night's sleep since then. I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about the fact I haven't responded to the emails people sent me. I wake up in a sweat because I don't know what is happening on my e-groups. It has been a week now since the ban and I'm getting seriously cranky. Babs just laughs at me, saying I'm like a junky without my fix.

I have to get my email. I see the messages adding up. My computer is calling me I can feel it. When I get back on I will probably spend weeks just going through old messages, but do they understand? No. They don't care I haven't been sleeping. They don't care that this is one of my rituals. They don't care that I haven't checked my email. I'm not obsessed, really I'm not. I'm not one of those geeks who's checking his email every five minutes. I spend maybe twenty minutes at hotmail. I get my mail and then I respond. Every so often I take an hour to check my egroups. Is that obsessive? I think not? Not that Bruce believes that. But I'll let you in on a little secret. I have found a way to get my email.

Little does Bruce know my father has given me a present. It is a new cell phone. You know the ones. You can choose the how it rings and more importantly it has Internet access. I have gotten on line and accessed my email. I promised I wouldn't use my computer and I haven't. However, no on said I couldn't use my phone. I'm hiding in my dorm room right now. My computer is a dusty lifeless pile of technology sitting at my desk. Bah, who needs it? I've got a cell phone. I'm sitting on my bed grinning insanely as I check my email. Oh, yes! At long last I shall finally get a good night's sleep. I look at my clock, two a.m. Ha! I can feel my eyelids getting heavy. My body is turning to jelly as I retrieve my list of messages. This is my ritual. I don't crash, I don't drink tea nor do I meditate. I, Tim Drake, have only one true bedtime ritual.

I get my email.

The End

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