Sturdy and Serviceable

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Snippet: Able to Succeed
Okay, I'm over my freak out. I'm sure you're all very relieved.

Scenario: Two-Face has taken Fire Chief Anderson hostage at a Thursday matinee at the Princess Theatre. Two-Face has three male accomplices, all unknown. Anderson and Two-Face are on the stage, accomplices are blocking exits.

Describe how you will achieve the following: a) ensure safety of Chief Anderson and theatre-goers, b) apprehend Two-Face and accomplices, c) minimize property damage, d) remain uninjured. Prioritize in order given. List materials used, describe deployment, estimate worst and best case scenarios, and develop contingencies. Use essay format.

Tim looks up. "I don't know if I… If I could do those things."

"Assume success," says Bruce unencouragingly. "Describe how it's achieved."

Tim works on the assignment for two weeks. He can't take it home to work on: his reference books and research have taken over a corner of the cave. It's too dangerous to work on it at school. It takes him three days to come up with a plan he's sure of, and another half week to iron out the details. He writes it up, and then realizes he's left a flank unprotected and has to take out three pages and re-write them. When he gives the paper to Bruce, Bruce turns off the microscope light and turns on another desk light, then settles in to read with a red pencil twitching in his fingers.

It feels like an only slightly milder version of his not long ago audition for Robin. Bruce doesn't give him any indication with his facial expression, but before he's even flipped the first page he's already making marks on the paper. When Bruce says, "what's your source for the dispersion of the gas grenades?" Tim's almost startled enough to show it.

"Uh… Jane's Police and Security, 1995." He manages to fight the end of the phrase from sliding up into a question.

"Needs a footnote."

Silence, while Bruce scans, scribbles, flips. On page eleven he says, "Any reason you didn't take advantage of Anderson's pitching arm? He was scouted in college."

Tim knows telling Bruce he didn't know about that isn't a valid excuse. He could have found out. "No. That would have shaved a few seconds off."

Bruce grunts and keeps reading. Finally he hands the paper back and returns to his work. Tim is afraid that if he reads it right there he'll dissolve in tears, or shout at Bruce, or whine, so he takes it across the cave and reads it sitting in the corner behind the pommel horse.

When he gets assignments back from teachers, they usually have a few minor corrections and scrawled comments like interesting! Good Work! Keep it up! Bruce has neatly pencilled all his comments in the margins: risk unacceptable. Have you considered low ceiling? This figure incorrect. Rewrite. Source? Sloppy. Unclear. And those are just the ones he understands. He has to slink back to the bookshelf and look up all the proof reader's marks."

But Bruce hasn't written, "Failed. Hostage dead." He goes and finds the Jane's in order to put in the footnote, and thinks about how he could widen the margin if he could take advantage of Anderson's pitching arm.

Scenario: Superman has been exchanged with his double from an alternate dimension who is intent on conquering earth. You become aware of this when he kills Lois Lane and holds the staff of the Daily Planet hostage for a meeting with Earth's leaders, demanding their surrender.

Describe how you will achieve the following: a) protect civilians, b) incapacitate, contain, or kill alternate Superman, c) retrieve earth's proper Superman. Prioritize in order given. List materials used, describe deployment, estimate worst and best case scenarios, and develop contingencies. Use essay format.

"What—How do I…"

"All known information on Superman is in my files. Acquaint yourself with the subject before you begin this one."

"But we don't—"

"If the future of the planet is at stake? Remember. He's not a human being."

Tim spends the evening reading. It's a big file. Not as big as he wishes, because eventually he runs out of reading material and has to examine the problem.

He never thought being Robin would mean… Life or death, of course, but not… They don't. They just…

He doesn't start work on it. The assignment hangs over his head, and he feels guilty for neglecting it, guilty for thinking about it. Bruce doesn't ask him if he's making progress.

He can't allow himself to think about the goals Bruce has set out, but the problem still gnaws at his mind. Obviously, if the last objective was addressed first, then the rest wouldn't be a problem. But Bruce hasn't given him enough information to approach it from that angle.

Finally, driven to it by the growing, looming spectre of it, he writes the best report he can. His plan ends with the false Superman captured, but leaves him alive, and can't guarantee his imprisonment. He gives it to Bruce anyway.

Bruce gives it back to him with all the sentences in passive voice underlined in red.

Scenario: Gorilla Grodd has seized control of Young Justice Headquarters, and has taken control of Superboy, Wonder Girl, Arrowette and Secret using mind control implants.

Describe how you will achieve the following: a) individually neutralize Grodd's offensive resources YJ team members), b) avoid compromising secret identities, c) avoid disclosing YJ weaknesses and abilities, d) Apprehend Grodd. Prioritize in order given. List materials used, describe deployment, estimate worst and best case scenarios, and develop contingencies. Use essay format.

"I can't— You can't ask me to do this."

Bruce raises an eyebrow. "You either trust me or you don't. The scenario isn't implausible. The past is an indicator of the future."

"I— Fine."

When Tim hands it in, there are no missed footnotes. Bruce can't complain about his formatting. He has excised every passive voice sentence and he watches Bruce read the whole thing. When Bruce gives it back to him, he says nothing. There are only two marks on the paper, one crossing out "should" and replacing it with "will" and the other a smudge.

Tim shreds the paper. He knows Bruce won't forget anything he wrote.

Scenario: Batman has become dangerously unstable. You have witnessed him killing criminals who could have been brought to justice.

Describe how you will a) protect those at risk, b) defeat Batman. Prioritize in order given. List materials used, describe deployment, estimate worst and best case scenarios, and develop contingencies. Use essay format.

He looks at Bruce when Bruce gives him the assignment, but doesn't say anything. Bruce's expression reveals nothing. He leaves the paper in his locker and goes home.

This should be the paper that takes him the longest, but when he puts pen to paper he realizes what he's writing. He rips it up, burns it, gets out a new piece of paper and writes down his answer.

Without advance warning.

Bruce smiles when he reads the paper.

Author's note: This was nearly called "When you're a Bat, you're a Bat all the way." petronelle is to blame.

oh my god, that is FANTASTIC. hilarious and awful and oh. oh TIM.

Thanks. I love Bruce's slightly anal tendencies. I bet he doesn't allow split infinitives or sentence terminal prepositions.

a) protect civilians, b) incapacitate, contain or kill alternate Superman, c) retrieve earth's proper Superman. Prioritize in order given.


This should be the paper that takes him the longest, but when he puts pen to paper he realizes what he's writing. He rips it up, burns it, gets out a new piece of paper and writes down his answer.

Without advance warning.

Bruce smiles when he reads the paper.

Ha! Awesome.

Because sentimental attachments are both unnecessary and dangerous. Oh Bruce. Must you spread your psychopathic tendencies?

Glad you liked.

I love it. It's perfectly torturous. And I will give you better feedback after I finish taking my own midterm.

Oh good. I'm pleased, then.

Ooh, I like this one. That ending was just perfect-- the whole thing was just perfect.

Good one.

Thanks. I've had it kicking around for a while, but for some reason I thought I should write it from a Bruce POV which a) uh, why did I think that? and b) I can't write from Bruce's head.

So it was good to finally make it work.

c) minimize property damage, d) remain uninjured. Prioritize in order given.


Oh God, this is amazing. Go Tim's learning process! Go Bruce getting exactly what he wanted! Evil, evil, EVIL.

Yeah. Bruce leading Tim carefully to that point, is what I was aiming for. I guess if it makes you yell at Bruce, I can count it a success.

There can *never* be too much fic about Bruce's training methods. I'm just saying.

I love how Tim is a *freak* about sources and research. I love more how Bruce is even freakier. Passive sentences underlined in red? In a strategy paper? That should be canon.

This snippet is just one of the best things I've ever read about what makes Tim such a good Robin, and why Bruce is so willing to make him the next Batman: because Tim takes this things seriously, and the final paper was *so* not a joke.

I've got, like, four midterms coming up between today, tomorrow, and Monday, but this fic just made my week. Yay for education!

Sadder thing? I am a freak about sources. Jane's Police and Security actually exists.

Oh yeah. I think if Tim took that assignment seriously, (and Tim being Tim, how could he not?) that's the only paper he could hand in, and the only one Bruce would really respect.

Good luck with the brain hurty!

Oh, yes. This has to be canon. Are you sure this isn't canon?

I love Bruce's proofreading and nitpicking, even though the first paper was functional and the second was even better. I love Tim's absolute ability to rise to the challenge.

If Bruce doesn't know that the answer to the last is, "Find someone to become Robin or fill the role myself," he hasn't been paying attention.

I admit, I've kind of convinced myself it's canon.

I'm pretty sure Bruce is the kind of person who adheres to a prescriptivist view of language.

What to do you mean by "Find someone to become Robin or fill the role myself."? I'm not sure I get.

This is a SNIPPET?! I'd have to work for a month to write something like this.

My gods and little fishes. I'd been thinking vague thinky thoughts about how one trains a Robin, and I feel like you crystallized them and hit me in the head with the crystal and I love it. Oh TIM. (And oh Batman. So him. Especially the progression of the questions, and nailing all the passive voice lines.)

And the last two lines are solid shining gold.

Well it's been kicking around in my head for about three months. When I wrote Cold it was because I had started this, and then it had completely failed to work because for some reason I was trying to write it in Bruce voice.

I think Robin-training, for Bruce, is equally a matter of making sure Robin has the right attitudes as well as abilities.

It's not really a snippet, but it allows me to cross one off my list, so it's all good.

I'm glad you liked.

This is perfect. Especially Batman's picky, picky proof-reading. (Of course, Robin should express himself in the active voice. Let's keep the do-er of the action up front!)

Bruce is a combination of every picky prof I have ever had. Am I supposed to admit it when you say something about my fic that's smarter than I was while writing it? Because I'd just like to pretend I intended the active voice thing the way you read it.

Wow. This is amazingly good. Also, very true. The buildup is great, and the last sentence just killed me. Thanks!

Eh, sometimes you end up writing a thousand words to get to the punch-line you wanted. Glad you liked.

Damn, this is good. So many small things, and they're all perfect. The "remain uninjured" being last on Bruce's priority list just killed me. And Tim getting it... damn. This was funny and painful and ruthless, all at the same time, and I loved it.

The ways in which Bruce and Tim are alike are all very scary ways. I'm glad it worked for you.

I love this. The concept behind it is great (Bat-homework!), the scenarios are spot-on with Bruce's line of thinking, and the evolution of Tim's writing (and that last paper!) makes my heart go bippity-boppity-boo.

Bruce's files are so much a part of his mythology. I think Bruce is happiest when he can learn from books, but recognizes that practical experience is necessary. As well, Bruce just wants all his operatives to be able to write clear and concise reports (saving him from that extra human interaction of having to go ask them questions) as well as, he's so anal that he can't not correct grammar even if the problems are minor and the thinking is good.

Anyway. Bat-homework. It could happen.

I'm very pleased you like it! (I'm distracted but, is bippity-boppity-boo from Bed Nobs and Broomsticks?)

Whoa. The ending is just perfect. Timmy makes an A! I wonder if Bruce brags to Clark about how smart he (Tim) is. Because he should, and it'd be cute. I have to admit I like how Bruce had the alternate Superman kill Lois in that scenario. He's probably (researching!) writing a paper on how best to comfort Clark if it ever happens. Anyone want to write that essay for me? Wonderful, well thought-out fic, very Batman and very Tim with a good Robin ending.

Hmm. I was actually thinking that Bruce sees it as part of Batman's role to be the man who stops Superman if necesary, and he wants to make sure Tim can step into that post. The alternate Superman was thin a disguise to lead Tim into the idea gently. (OHMYGOD Bruce you freak that is not gentle you should not be allowed near children!)

Is what I was thinking. But I can see it your way too.

The last bit was *golden*. Ah, Tim. Clever boy.

One of things I love about Tim is the way he's so damn earnest about crime fighting. It's never an abstract question to him.

Dude. That was *great*. I really feel for poor Tim--I've had those papers--and I loved the ending. You just know anything else would have been ripped to shreds. *grins*


Thanks, glad you liked! I was certainly relying at least partly on my own experience for the papers.

I think Tim submitted that final paper because if Bruce asks him to take a question seriously, he'll take it seriously. Telling Bruce how you plan to take him down is telling him that you'd never do it. You'd be handing him the tool to prevent you.

And again, you make me jealous...

This is just the most perfect, the most *them* thing in the history of EVER. I'm in awe *and* in love, and despite being on vacation in Houston (land of some_stars), I had to read and feedback. Beautiful and wonderful and *yay*.

Re: And again, you make me jealous...

Te! You're alive! (hugs kisses chocolate molestation) And on vacation! (mumble curse etc.)

Glad you like. If I can fancy this up slightly and think of a title, I'm going to be pimping it out to a comm or two.

Repetitive, but... wow. Last paper was perfect. And that he not only shredded but burned the version he started first.

I admit, I copied a pasted parts of the homework assignments, because I think Bruce would write it full each time, but by the end I was kind of banking on the reader not going through too carefully and had sort of cut it down.

Glad you noticed that detail, I'm fond of it.

Really good.

Batman's contingency plans are canon, and I also never thought of this type of training for Tim. This has definately opened up a new perspective on the Batclan for me, and that has never happened before. Thank you.

The question of Tim's training is very interesting to me. I think Batman would decide, especially after Jason, that the right attitude is as important as the abilities.

Glad it worked for you!

Man, how cool!!!

This was fucking fantastic!

How very interesting!

Oh dear lord this is fucking awesome. I love this story. Love love love love love.

I'm fond of it myself. Thanks!

Dude, I'm not even in this fandom, but this RULED.

Well, turnabout is fair play, because you sucked me into reading RPS with A Critique of Pure Reason and made me like it. Man, I think I gave feedback on that one, but now I'm not sure. If not, it was the most crack addled/awesome thing I've ever read in BtVS, and I was like a kid with candy for two days after. I loved the way I couldn't decide which was more "real life," Buffy canon or the made up adventures of real people.

Here from a rec from hjcallipygian.

Guh. Wow. It's so very much how I'd imagine things working if I'd stopped to think about it for more than five seconds.

Thank you for the story.

I'm glad you liked! I'm a little obsessive about Tim. How do you become Robin, anyway? It's an interesting question.

(Deleted comment)
Wow, I'm glad I made it work, even if it's outside your fandom!

Yeah, this could totally be canon. So much fun! Though when I read that last one I thought of Azrael and how Tim actually had to kinda enact that scenario in the comics. Of course! Because Tim's life is busier than a soap opera.

Well, I think that's in Robin's job description, and Tim's had to do it before. Glad you liked.

This. Was. AWESOME! The changing reactions to the assignments leading further . . . and further . . . and the last one was absolutely *perfect.* Bruce, you are a giant freaky freak (1), and we --well. We are fascinated by you.

The order of priorities was an extra-added kick! d)remain uninjured Oy. . . . *g* Great stuff.

1. Chalcopyrite's thought processes, 16 May 2005; unpublished. See also general opinion of participants in online fandom. List of sites follows complete bibliography.


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