Avoiding The Butterfly Effect

The cutting off of the blaring alarm was what brought him back to full consciousness. Tim would give that some thought later--that hearing an alarm was actually his norm and almost comforting--but for now he was simply confused.

It had been late night, dark and overcast, the moon barely a sliver in the sky. Gotham City rooftops and a fight with Dodge. He'd grabbed him, there'd been a twisting of reality. He'd passed out.

Now he was at Titans Tower, but there was something...wrong. A glance past the four people approaching him showed him the New York City skyline not San Francisco. He knew there were plans to rebuild the New York tower, but he was pretty sure they weren't this far along.

And when did Raven go back to a dress?

Slowly Tim rose from where he'd been laying crumpled on the ground, and brushed off his cape. He waited and oddly enough wasn't surprised when his friends took defensive positions and Cyborg barked the questions of 'who are you' and 'how did you get here' at him.

Beast Boy was simply too young and Raven too old to be his.

So, he wasn't surprised at all when another person joined the other four in a quick run through the sunlight which glinted off a short yellow cape and bronzed thighs.

"I'm not a villain. I mean you no harm."

Robin--the original, Dick, his brother, way too young--stepped forward in those really silly pixie boots, especially silly since he appeared to be in his late teens, which fit with the team arrayed around him--and put his hands on his hips, and all Robin--Tim--could think of was Peter Pan, and in complete contrast to his normal personality, he laughed.

He couldn't help it. He was caught between his normal simmering desire for his eldest brother and the fact that the man in question was wearing armored panties and pixie boots.

And still looked hot.

Dick frowned and Tim stopped laughing as he saw the confusion in the older Robin's eyes--before Starlight lenses that hid their emotions. "Sorry. Inappropriate laughter isn't usually my defense mechanism."

"Who are you?" Dick asked, exasperation coloring his voice.

"That...would just confuse you." When he saw Dick's eyes fix on the 'R' on his chest, he sighed. "I'm from the future."

"You're not me."


"But, you're..."

"Really, it's better off if you don't know," Tim interrupted, wondering how much harm he'd already done to the future.

"How'd you get here?" Vic asked curiously.

"I was fighting a teleporter who has never shown the ability to travel in time. It's possible he's here as well."

"You came in alone."

Tim nodded and filed that information away. "I need to find a way home without giving you any potentially damaging information."

"I may be of some assistance," Raven said quietly as Vic began to run scans of the scene. Kory and Gar returned to the Tower and Tim gestured with his head for Dick to follow him. They walked in silence to the water's edge where Tim perched on a boulder and Dick dropped to the ground beside him.

"When did...does he replace me?" Dick broke the silence, his voice small and sad.

"Dick, I can't tell you that."

"Why did you want to talk to me, then?"

Tim thought about it for a minute, then admitted, "I'm more comfortable with you. What's the date?"

The one Dick gave him was seven years ago. It wouldn't be long before Bruce fired him, before Jason and then...Tim replaced him.

He'd only seen this Dick through the lens of his camera.

He really hadn't changed that much. There'd be a few more scars, a few more lines at his mouth and the corners of his eyes, a bit more bulk to his muscles, but basically he looked the same, sounded the same, smelled the same. Sweat, mint from the muscle balm Alfred made them, and the spiciness that was uniquely Dick.

Tim jerked his thoughts back to the present and rubbed a tired hand over his face. It might be day here, but he'd been patrolling for six hours and run into Dodge right as he'd begun to head home. "So, the Titans just regrouped?"

"A few months ago."

Tim's mind rapidly went through the cases in those early days and he bit back his need to warn Dick about Slade. They'd have met by now, but there was no way Dick could know just how much of a problem--and a help--he'd become.

"Can you at least tell me if we're all still alive whenever you come from?"

"I can't."

"Can you tell me your name?"

Tim shook his head. "We haven't met yet."

Dick sighed heavily. "Okay, can you tell me why you changed the costume?"

Lips twitching, Tim replied, "I don't know how you didn't freeze your ass off and I refuse to wear pixie boots."

Dick chuckled. "Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking. Okay, I do. I was nine." He sobered up and gestured to Tim. "What about the colors?"

The humor left Tim as well and he drew the cape around himself. "To honor a fallen friend," was the only answer he could give.

"...Oh. I'm sorry."

Tim shrugged. Kon wasn't even "born" yet in this time.

"How can you see out of those lenses?" Dick asked after a long silence.

"New tech." Tim reached up and retracted them.

"Blue eyes, black hair," Dick murmured.

"Bruce has a type," Tim said wryly, then muttered before he could stop himself, "Except when he had a girl."

Dick's eyes widened in surprise. "There was a girl Robin?"

Groaning at himself, Tim gave him a short nod. "Briefly, and she was blonde."

"How many Robins have there been?"

"I'll put it this way. There's always been a need for one, almost always been one, and the mythology pretty much requires one now."

Before Dick could ask any more questions, his communicator beeped and Victor asked them to come inside so they could get some parameters.

Tim had never been in the old Titans Tower but he recognized some of the technology as precursors of what they had in his time. This tower was built by Victor's father, the new one by Victor. They were very similar.

"We need to know the date and time you're from."

He gave that answer in a clipped voice.

"Only seven years?" Dick asked softly.

"A very busy seven years. You have to grow up sometime, Dick." Realizing his slip, he quickly looked at Raven and Victor, who were busy at a computer console.

"They know who I am. I don't hide that from my friends."

"Yeah, I forgot that. Batman's never approved of revealing that outside the family. Took him forever to let the JLA in on his own identity."

Dick's eyebrows went up. "He did? Will, I mean?"

"Crap, can you forget that? Just...You'll get there eventually. We'll meet...soon."

"How old are you?"


"So, you're ten now."

"But, we all grow up." Tim smiled slightly.

Victor came over to them. "Raven can open a portal but it's going to take a couple of hours to calibrate the correct date and time."

"Wanna spar?" Dick asked eagerly, nearly bouncing on his feet.

Knowing how much training was going to intensify in the next few years, especially after Bruce's broken back and then the earthquake, Tim smirked and nodded.

Two hours later, Dick was picking himself up from the mat for at least the tenth time, panting and sweating. Tim wasn't doing the former and was barely doing the latter.

"Okay, either I'm majorly out of shape or..."

"We train a lot harder. I couldn't become Robin without over half a year of training by as many masters of as many arts as I could find. I learned to use the staff to compensate for my height. You know, the hardest thing was actually losing the fear of jumping off a building. I always envied that you never had that problem. Being in the air is natural for you."

"So, I still fly?"

Tim smiled and tossed Dick a towel before wiping off with a second one. "Who could stop you?"

"You look a lot less like Bruce when you smile."

"Yeah, you'll tell me that again some day."

In companionable silence they headed back to the control room.

An hour or so, a couple of bottles of water and some sandwiches later, Raven led them out to the spot at which Tim had appeared.

"I can only hold the portal open for perhaps ten seconds, so you need to be ready to move."

Nodding, Tim turned to Dick and they shook hands, then Dick pulled him into a quick hug.

"So you were always touchy feely," Tim teased as he squeezed his brother's shoulders.

"I'll see you...soon?"

"Soon. I'll be the pest, but, you'll be the best big brother ever." The portal opened and Tim moved towards it. He wanted to shout half a dozen warnings, but he knew better, and he simply waved and stepped through the shimmering hole.

"So, who'll you be if you're not Robin?" Victor asked as the portal collapsed.

"I guess I'll find that out."

Tim emerged on the dark roof he'd disappeared from and lifted his eyes to the bat signal flying over police headquarters. Sighing tiredly, he shot a line, tapped his comlink, and reported in. When Nightwing's voice came over the link with rendevous coordinates, he smiled, and wondered if he should mention his little adventure, if Dick would even remember.


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