ID: I feel a little bad for saying this, especially as cliché as it really is, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk about Tim. At least right now. I mean, Dick was your first adopted son, so there’s interest in that. Damian is your first bio-son, so that’s interesting, too. But Tim, is, well, the middle child. And like most middle children, I almost overlooked him.
B: Yeah, and Tim hasn’t been my son that very long. It’s certainly been a strange experience. Dick I met through tragedy. But Tim I knew. I’d known Tim for years, through his father. His dad was a neighbor, but after he was injured in a botched kidnapping, he wasn’t the same. Tim’s mom died at that same time, when his father was put into a wheelchair. But even before then, he spent a lot of time just hanging out in the mansion.
B: Getting a real Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch vibe here about your manor.
ID: Don’t be an ass.
By that point Dick had moved out, got his own place, his own trajectory. I think he was in school, then. And having Tim there, it reminded me of happier times. And being at home, well, his father was still a mess over what happened to him and his wife, so I think he just wanted to be away from that some of the time.
ID: Still getting the Neverland Ranch sensation.
B: Haven’t you ever had an older male friend before? Somebody who had a kind of pseudo-fatherly quality to them?
ID: Yeah, I guess, an ex girlfriend’s dad, for a while. So I can see it.
B: His dad was still around, but… Jack blamed himself for what happened to his wife. He tortured himself over it. And Tim needed sometimes to be someplace else. And I think it was mutually beneficial, because through Tim, I got the cautionary tale of Jack, you know, how far guilt and regret can twist you up inside. There’ve been a lot of things, I think that I could have gone in that direction over.
Things changed a little bit, when Jack and Shondra got kidnapped. This was right after Bane broke my back. Tim moved into the mansion, with Alfred, and started spending time with Dick, while I went to find his father and our doctor. I managed to save Jack, but Shondra…
Jack, loved Shondra, too. So we commiserated over her… injury. She was a wonderful woman, and the world’s poorer without her in it. I mean, she’s still alive, in a literal sense, but she doesn’t speak, doesn’t respond. For all intents and purposes, she died stopping her brother.
ID: But how did Tim come to live with you?
B: A few years later, Jack was killed in a home invasion. The sick part is it was a game to the woman who did it. She sent Jack a gun, and me a message that it was going to happen. And I couldn’t get there fast enough. Jack shot his attacker, but…
After he died, Tim moved in.
ID: Okay. You’ve told us a lot about the circumstances, but not about the boy. So tell me about Tim. You hung out. What’d you do?
B: He’s a kid. He does kid stuff. And I was his surrogate father figure. Oftentimes we weren’t even doing much together, honestly. I’d watch TV, and he’d play his DS on the couch. I’d be researching the sewer system because I suspected Scarecrow was there and he’d study- he spent and spends a lot of time in the library. Tim’s a really bright kid. Academically, I’ve always been impressed- even at a young age there weren’t a lot of conversations he couldn’t keep up with.
Sometimes we’d play chess. Mostly we’d just talk. Him losing his mom, and half-losing his dad, only to lose him the rest of the way. One of the first things he asked me, after he’d been coming around a lot, was if it ever got easier.
And it took me a while to really wrap myself around the question. But yeah. It does. It never stops hurting, never completely goes away. But it doesn’t sting quite so acutely, doesn’t get quite so thoroughly into your face.
ID: When did you decide to take him in?
B: The night his father died. Like I said, I got there too late. Tim was there, in the kitchen, crying his eyes out. And the moment I came into the room he latched onto me like a terrified baby chimp. And it was just the most crushing thing, because that moment, that was exactly the moment I’d spent my entire life trying to prevent. And I’d failed. Failed this bright kid who lived right next to me. It doesn’t get closer to home than that.
And at the same time, it was just like the night I first met Dick. Where it felt like there was such a thing as fate, that I was there, at that moment, because I understood his pain, had lived through it and come out, well, decently okay. I mean, I’m a lousy consolation prize, but at least I could be there for him. At least he didn’t have to be alone.
And, you know, in Dick he gained an older brother, someone to confide in once I became too much like a real dad, and an actual authority figure. And they’ve been really good for each other. That darkness I always talk about having, Dick doesn’t have, and Tim has only some. I think Dick keeps Tim optimistic, and I think Tim helped Dick understand me. I think we’re a much stronger family for his inclusion. So even if you hadn’t talked about him, he’s still very much in my thoughts. He’s one of my sons. And I love him.