“You’re not related to him. You know that now, Timothy,” Grandfather says. “I have no need of you. Stand aside, and I will spare you.”
Timothy shifts further in front of Damian, and snaps out his staff.
“Seven is too little to become a killer, Dami.” Timothy kisses his little brother on the forehead. He leaves behind drying streaks of blood, rusty brown against golden tan.
“The target is dead,” Timothy says. “Nobody needs to know who struck the killing blow.”
“…Okay, Tim.” Damian agrees slowly. He sways on his feet, suddenly ashen. Timothy caught him before he fell headfirst into the bloody puddle surrounding the corpse.
“Arms around my neck.” Timothy sweeps him off his feet, one arm under his legs, the other supporting his back. “Let’s go home, little brother.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Tim hissed fiercely. “He is my brother, and you cannot have him.” Grandfather stared at Damian’s brother like he has never seen him before. Maybe he hasn’t.
Timothy peers at him through the cracked window. He makes a face when he sees Damian’s bruises. He holds up four fingers, flashes them three time. Damian allows his head to list downward enough to hide his eyes from the tutor. He closes his eyes, holds them shut for two seconds, and blinks three times. Timothy smirks, nods, and pads off on soundless feet.
Twelve minutes later, on the dot, the compound shakes with the muted force of a nearby explosion. Damian’s tutor shoots him a look, then the door. The explosion wins.
“Stay here,” She commands, before hurrying out the door, locking it behind her.
“One afternoon off, courtesy of a misplaced container of gunpowder.” Timothy shoves the window inward and slides in off the thin ledge. “What should we do now?”
“Library again?” Damian suggests. He winces as his abused throat protests. Timothy nods.
“Whatever you’d like, Dami. Can you handle the ledge?” Damian studies the narrow protrusion and regretfully shakes his head.
Timothy climbs out the window and offers Damian his hand. “Trust me.”
Damian clasps hands with him, and allows his brother to pull him outside.
“And how will you stop me, grandson?” Grandfather asked. He sounded almost amused, but there was fury beneath his voice. Timothy gestured behind his back for Damian to run.
“How will you stop me after, if you do this?” Damian’s brother countered. His voice was savage. “I would not rest until you were dead. I would see the world burn, if that was what was necessary to avenge my brother. How would you stop me, grandfather?"
“Shh. It’s a sneaking game.” Damian smirks as Timothy lobs a spare rag at him. Timothy glares at him a moment more, then laughs.
“It’s a hiding game, actually,” Timothy corrects primly. He retrieves the missing tin from his bag and smears another layer of the contents across Damian’s face. It was grey this time, over the layer of dirty olive. “You have thirty minutes to hide, then I come looking for you. It was an hour, but if you’re confident enough to mock, you obviously don’t need the extra time.”
“-tt-” Damian tucks his dark hood up over his face. “I’ll beat you this time.” Damian turned and bounded off the roof.
“Clock starts now!” Timothy called after him.
From the lip of the tunnel, Damian watched as his relatives faced off. Grandfather raised an eyebrow. “You cannot think you’d win.” Timothy laughed, less in amusement than bitter victory.
“I don’t have to win, Grandfather.” Timothy tilted his head towards the polluted ruin that once was a lazarus pit. “I just have to make you lose.”