He clenched his jaw. "Whatever world we come from is classified information."
Todd barked out a laugh. Tim tightened his grip around his pistol at the sound. Todd's laugh wasn't unnerving, per se, just... there was something about it that made the uneasy feeling in his chest return full-force. "Seriously? The two of ya had probably broke 'bout half the protocols when you talked to Cass. What's wrong with telling us where you came from?"
"Timothy." Fingers tugged at the back of his jacket.
A noise of irritation bubbled up his throat. "Not now, Dames." He shifted his attention back to Todd. "Protocol is protocol. If you have a problem with it..." he trailed off with a pointed glance at his gun.
"Huh." Todd tilted his head to the side. "Never thought I'd live to see the day Timbo wouldn't hesitate to kill me."
Before Tim could open his mouth to respond, fingers tugged at the back of his jacket again. "Timothy. Much as I loathe to admit it, Todd has a point. We've already broken the protocols."
Tim gritted his teeth. "Brat, you don't understand. They are literally protocols for a reason - "
"You agreed to break them," Damian retorted. "Todd isn't looking for a fight. He wants to talk. Trust me."
After a moment of tense silence, Tim gave in. He did trust his brother, and he'd learned to follow Damian's instincts without much resistance years ago. With a loud sigh, he stashed his gun back inside his jacket, just as Damian stepped out from behind him to stand by his side. He lifted his chin to meet Todd's gaze again, and forced a fake smile. "Sorry, we definitely got off on the wrong foot. To answer your question, Dami, and I came from Earth-9602."
"See?" Todd drawled. "That wasn't so hard." He yelped when Cass jabbed his ribs. "Okay, okay, geez." As he straightened up, Tim couldn't help but let his eyes linger on the white streak in Todd's hair. He had a feeling it wasn't just a fashion statement. "Nice jacket, demon-spawn-from-another-world."
Tim grabbed Damian's arm before the brat could try to murder Todd. "Can you stop with the nicknames? We don't really know each other, and - "
"Yeah, yeah." Todd waved him off. "I'm the bad guy in your world. I know, Timbo, you can cut the bullshit."
He narrowed his eyes at Todd. Was the guy deliberately riling them up, or was he just an ass? Tim himself didn't have the patience of a saint, but dealing with Damian had made him much more patient than most people, and Todd was fucking testing his patience. "Cass, can we go?"
"You're no fun."
Todd turned to his sister. "You're no fun, either."
"Wrong. I'm...careful." The way she said the word had Tim guessing if it was an inside joke she shared with Todd.
Judging by the gleam in Todd's eyes, it was. "Damn right you are, Cass." The corners of Todd's lips quirked up into a smirk. "So, Timbo. You wanna share the rest of your story here, or somewhere else?"
"Kitchen," Cass spoke up. Tim glanced at her. "If you...want to," she added.
"We do," Damian replied. "Timothy?"
"What he said."
"Alright." Todd gave a pleased nod. "You can stop judging me, Timmy. I ain't gonna kill the demon spawn. Or you."
Tim narrowed his eyes. "Are you always like this?"
"Nah, I'm just worried the real Timbo, and Damian wouldn't come back, and we'd be stuck with you instead." Todd paused, smirk widening. He definitely didn't miss the spike of irritation in Tim's voice - not like Tim made much of an effort to hide it.
"Jay, enough." Relief bloomed in Tim's chest at the clear warning in Cass' tone. At least somebody in this universe has a decent head on their shoulders.
Damian snorted from beside him. "You've got a funny way of showing it, Todd."
"Hm?" All traces of amusement had faded from Todd's posture. Tim instinctively made a grab for his pistol again. "What'd you say, demon spawn?"
"I said - "
Tim seized his brother's arm with his free hand, ignoring Damian's low growl. "Damian, don't."
Todd arched a brow. "You know, I never noticed it earlier, and - sure, it's not like I have room to talk, but you don't exactly look the most stable with a gun, Replacement."
Tim's heart stuttered in his chest as his brother tore his arm from his grip and launched himself straight at Todd.
Christ, how many times did he have to tell him not to be so reckless? He'd have thought the brat would've at least grown out of it; Bruce had been nagging his ear off about his recklessness for years. With an exasperated groan, he stashed his gun back inside his jacket, and stomped towards the fight to pull his brat of a brother off of some parallel universe version of Jason fucking Todd.
When did this even become his life? Crazy shit - the real, crazier shit, at least - only happened to superheroes, not random civilians like Tim. (Okay, he wasn't a civilian, but still. He doubted America or Kate had ever been stranded in a parallel universe because Zach had messed up again.)
"Tim." He jumped at the feather-light touch on his elbow. He turned to meet Cass' gaze. "I'm sorry. I… do you want me to help?"
He gave her the patented calm smile he reserves for civilians whenever things get downright ugly and he has to be deployed to the field. It's the smile Tony had taught him, the one where he pretends everything isn't going to shit, it'll be alright, don't worry, no, Thor hasn't been blasted into the sky by those alien-looking creatures - fine, he was, we'll get somebody to check up on him later. "I can handle it."
He turned his attention back to the fight. Todd had the upper-hand, of course, but… huh. He could tell the guy wasn't really taking Damian seriously. (He didn't know whether to be grateful, or offended on his brother's behalf.) Tim gave an impressed hum as Todd effortlessly blocked Damian's knife. So the guy was actually a decent fighter. Granted, he had an inkling of what Todd was capable of when Damian told him about their brief encounter during Tesseract fiasco, but to see Todd fight in person almost made him wonder what could've happened if their Jason Todd had never been fired from S.H.I.E.L.D.
For starters, Tim probably wouldn't have to put up with a whole bunch of crazy shit on his supposed afternoon off. Unfortunately, what's done was done. He's made his decision years ago; he had no choice but to deal with all the crap that came with the job, accidental dimension travel trips included. Shaking his head, he moved forward to pull Damian off of Todd. "Brat, stop it."
"No!" The brat continued to struggle in his grip. "Let me go! Let me go, damn you! I'll kill him!"
He ignored the brat's screeches to drag him to the other side of the library, far, far away from Todd. He took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. It wouldn't do either of them any good if he suddenly started to lecture the brat, no matter how much he wanted to. Damian didn't respond well to lectures. Or accusations of any kind, really.
"Damian," he began in a firm voice. But Damian stubbornly refused to meet his gaze. Tim could feel his disappointment crumbling. "Dames. Dames, c'mon. Look at me."
Still no response. Mouth set into a hard line, Tim lifted a hand to place it on his brother's shoulder. When Damian didn't recoil, he reached up to brush the brat's fringe out of his eyes. "D, c'mon. What were you even thinking? He could've hurt you."
That seemed to be the wrong thing to say.
"Hurt me?" The brat's stoic expression twisted into a snarl.
Tim jerked back to hold up his hands in a gesture of surrender. Christ, parenting your baby brother was hard. "I didn't say you couldn't take him - "
"He was insulting your honor! I will not let it be tolerated!"
Will not let his honor be what - oh.
Oh, wow. This was unexpected. Unexpected, but not unwelcome. So his efforts to make his brother capable of feeling emotions other than murderous rage really did pay off. He was definitely going to rub the fact he managed to turn one of HYDRA's living weapons into an awesome, kind-hearted, badass son, and little brother in Talia's face the next time they meet. But just because the brat finally admitted he loved him as much as Tim loved the brat doesn't mean he was going to let Damian off so easily. "Dami, I appreciate what you did, but you know I can stand up for myself. Besides, what if Todd did manage to hurt you? What would I tell B? And seriously, if you couldn't kick the guy's ass the last time you picked a fight with him, what made you think you have a chance now?"
Damian gave a loud huff, and slumped against the wall with a resigned expression. An adorably resigned expression, complete with his bottom lip jutting out into a pout. "I hate you, Timothy."
"Yeah, yeah. Come here, you little liar." He spread his arms in a gesture of invitation, which Damian took as a cue to peel himself from the wall, and fall into the hug. Whoever said his younger brother wasn't capable of being cute was wrong on so many levels.
"It's alright, brat." He rubbed the brat's back. "You're still the best field agent I've ever known."
"You're the best handler I've ever had as well," Damian murmured, voice muffled against his shoulder.
Tim let the corners of his lips lift at what had become an inside joke for the both of them. "Only because I'm the only handler who could put you in your place. The new recruits are scared of you. What did you even do to them?"
"Tt. Nothing much."
He rolled his eyes. Nothing much practically meant I threatened those idiots to do their best or else for Damian. "Just...don't try to antagonize them, okay? God knows we don't need any more recruits quitting."
Damian pulled away give him a dirty look. Once upon a time, the look had been the bane of Tim's existence. "If they made the cut, then you know they shouldn't have a reason to be scared of me."
"Brat, no offense, but they haven't had prior training before they've been dumped at the academy like you did, so maybe you could cut them some slack?"
The brat let his head fall back against his shoulder. "Fine."
"Knew I could count on you." Tim ruffled his brother's hair with his free hand. Despite the brat's numerous complaints with regards to everything Tim asked him to do, they were always more for show rather than actual resistance.
The brat raised his head to give him a dirty look again. "Gordon put you up to this, didn't he?"
"Tony, actually." He brushed back the brat's hair once more. Sure, Babs had nagged him to ask Damian to lay it off because God knows they don't need any more recruits quitting, but it was Tony who'd been on the verge of tearing his hair out, and Tony wasn't even in charge of the recruits. "You ready to talk to Todd?"
Damian untangled himself from the hug. He stared at Tim for a long moment. "As long as he doesn't insult you…"
Tim reached out to adjust the collar of his brother's jacket. "Don't worry, D. The jerk already got what he wanted from us."
He whipped around at the voice.
Todd's bewildered expression almost made up for the stupid stunt he pulled in the first place. Almost. "I can't believe Cass was right."
Tim rolled his eyes. "You're lucky I realized what you were trying to do, or I wouldn't have hesitated to put a bullet through your brain, you asshole."
"Fuck you, I had to see it for myself," Todd snapped, like baiting the parallel universe counterparts of his so-called brothers because he didn't believe they actually loved each other instead of just asking like a normal person wasn't a dick move for everyone involved. "I mean, our demon spawn dislikes Replacement with every fiber of his being, and vice versa. No way you two didn't feel the same." His face split into a shit-eating grin. "But no hard feelings, eh, Timbo?"
Tim gave him the middle finger.
Okay, so Todd wasn't much of an asshole as he initially thought he was. In fact, something about him reminded Tim of Tommy, but he can't pinpoint exactly what. Todd had served them waffles after a suggestion from Cass; apparently, the guy was a decent cook.
"You're not joking. You don't have an Alfred Pennyworth in your world?"
He rolled his eyes at Todd's horrified look. Seriously, Todd was more dramatic than Tony, and Tony was, like, the second most dramatic person Tim knew. (First place goes to Bruce, of course.) "We told you, it's only been me, this brat, and B since forever. Tony joins us for dinner sometimes, but that's it."
"Then at least tell me you have a Stephanie Brown."
He furrowed his eyebrows. Stephanie Brown? It was a familiar name, but he can't remember where he'd last heard it.
"She was a recruit," Damian spoke up. Tim stared at his brother in surprise. "She applied for the academy at the same time as Timothy, but she didn't make the cut." Damian's grip tightened around his fork. "Enough about our world. What are Timothy, and I like in this universe?"
"Well, you're not super spies, obviously," Todd said around a mouthful of waffles.
"Ignore him," Cass chimed in. Tim didn't miss the hint of fond exasperation in her voice. "We're - vigilantes. The whole family is."
…Okay, that was definitely not what he expected their counterparts to be. On the bright side, at least they weren't part of the mafia-slash-heroes-for-hire syndicate like he originally thought when he saw the family portrait earlier. But vigilantes? Really? He couldn't even imagine himself running around Manhattan in a costume like Peter, stopping muggers and saving cats from trees or whatever it is vigilantes did.
"Vigilantes?" He met the brat's perplexed gaze. "Like Deadpool?"
"The hell is Deadpool?"
The brat broke eye contact to sneer at Todd. "I wasn't talking to you - "
"Robin," Cass interrupted, pointing at Damian. "You're Robin here." Tim mentally sent her a huge thanks. He didn't think he could handle it if Damian demanded a rematch with Todd inside the spotless kitchen. He was pretty sure the counter alone costs two hundred thousand dollars. "Tim is Red Robin."
It took a moment for the information to sink in. "Wait, what? Red Robin? Like, the restaurant?"
"Yep. Sucks to be you, really." Todd, the asshole, was definitely enjoying the conversation. Tim resisted the urge to shoot him a dirty look.
"It's…not the best of names," the brat confessed, drawing Tim's attention back to his brother. "But it has a nice ring to it."
Todd made a choked noise. Or maybe he just choked on his waffles. Served him right. "Christ, did the gremlin just…? I can't be the only one finding this weird, can I?"
"It's nice," Cass commented quietly. She seemed to be biting back a smile. "You know it's nice, Jay."
Tim pointed his fork at Todd. "Basically, what you're saying is you could never picture us not hating each other."
Todd held up his hands in a gesture of mock-surrender. "Don't blame me. The demon spawn tried to kill you - our Timbo, I mean - more times than I ever did."
Jesus. Well, he supposed he really shouldn't have been surprised. After all, with the number of times his Dami tried to kill him in his first week at the penthouse? He'd lost count on the third day.
"Were you two also...?" Cass tilted her head to the side.
He huffed out a laugh. "Yeah, Dames, and I weren't on the best of terms when he came to live with us. Little shit tried to poison me in my sleep three nights in a row." He ruffled the brat's hair with his free hand. "But he grew out of it."
The brat batted away his hand. "You know, I could still try to kill you if you want me to."
"Uh-huh." He arched a brow at the brat. "Then who's gonna save your ass on the field?"
"Tt." Damian looked away after about fifteen seconds. "Tell me about Father, Cass."
Tim cleared his throat. "Ahem."
The tips of his brother's ears went pink. "Please."
Cass, to her credit, looked amused. The corners of her mouth twitched behind her straw. "Bruce is...Batman. The Dark Knight. Also the World's Greatest Detective."
The Dark Knight, huh? Tim abandoned his waffles to lean forward. Now he was interested. The Dark Knight sounded like an ominous title. His waffles could wait. "Body count?"
"Body...?" Cass' forehead creased. "Batman doesn't kill."
Tim stared at her. It wasn't a question. "He doesn't? Then what does he do?"
"Jesus Christ." Todd's jaw had gone slack. "He kills in your world?"
"Obviously." Tim didn't have to look at Damian to know the brat was rolling his eyes.
"Oh my God, this is priceless!" To Tim's surprise, Todd pulled out a phone from inside his jacket, and began to fumble with it. "Cass, can you introduce B to Timmy again? And Timmy, you gotta ask body count with your most serious face. Bet ya ten bucks everyone will have an aneurysm when I send this to the group chat - "
"Jason," Cass said, her voice dripping with exasperation again. "Bruce will cancel your credit card."
Todd waved her off. "Don't care. I can't fucking wait to see Dickie's reaction..."
Tim dropped his fork. Fuck. He almost forgot about Dick.