tim drake’s snapchat is 90% him making bruce wayne do normal middle-class american things and filming the results. popular youtube compilations include the one where they’re at denny’s at two in the morning and tim keeps trying to get bruce to order a moon over my hammy just so he’ll have to say it, the one where they’re at disneyworld and bruce gets increasingly frazzled culminating in him actually physically picking up gaston for reasons no one can entirely recall, and everyone’s favorite series “bruce wayne doesn’t understand walmart”
having thought about it the best part is probably when a pranking fails because bruce has such a bizarre patchwork of knowledge/skills and it does not occur to him to hide most of it. tim puts a ghost pepper in bruce’s food but bruce just eats it like nothing is wrong. the same thing happens with the chocolate-covered crickets. it turns out bruce can lick his own elbow. bruce can lasso a runaway robot lawnmower like it’s a calf at a rodeo. whenever tim expresses shock that bruce knows how to do something he says “i did go to college, tim” as if that explains anything and it becomes a meme. whenever anyone does something fucking absurd it just gets tagged “i did go to college, tim”.
The camera came uncomfortably close to the face of a man ignoring it. He was very good at it. He was reading a book about, of all things, the history of denim. It was not the sort of book that made it easy to ignore cameras, but he remained stoic.
The caption said helpfully: [been doing this for 30 mins]
“Bruce. Bruce. Bruce. We need to go Walmart. Bruce. I need it.”
“It’s a surprise for Alfred.”
“You can’t surprise Alfred.”
“It’s not a matter of permission, I’m saying you literally can’t surprise Alfred.”
[he hates when i say that]
“This is bullroar.”
Bruce finally set down his book with an expression of the most profound disgust.
[oh no now we’ll be here all day]
“—either curse or don’t, just commit one way or the other instead of—”
The camera took its time panning over a black BMW.
“Can I drive?”
[after this he took away my music privileges]
Bruce was driving, looking stoic again. His face lent itself well to stoicism. The radio played, at high volume, “Sandstorm” by Darude.
“I’ll play something different this time.”
“You had your chance and you blew it on a meme.”
“Hi, bored,” Bruce said, eyes still on the road, and Tim groaned loudly. “I don’t give a shit.”
The view shifted and audio clattered as Tim dropped the phone, barking a laugh.
The phone was wobbly as Tim followed Bruce into the store. “Can I get a trampoline?” he asked, camera pointed to one outside the store.
“We have three trampolines.”
“But I want that one.”
They were in the chip aisle. “Have you ever had a Dorito? One Dorito? In your whole life?”
“I am a person. I eat food for people.”
The camera followed a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos into the cart.
“We’re not getting those.”
“We need to get sour cream, too.”
“You’ll love it.”
Tim had put the seatbelt of the cart’s seat, intended for toddlers, around a giant plastic jar of orange cheese puffs.
“I thought you were getting something for Alfred.”
“I’m getting groceries while we’re here.”
“None of this is food.”
[$3 pickles blowing his mind rn]
Bruce was holding a gallon jar of pickles with an expression of incredulity.
“—costs extra to not waste food?”
“Even taking into account the economies of scale—”
[putting his degree to use in the pickle aisle]
“—it just makes no sense even as a loss leader, unless the goal is to drive the competition out of business and hope they don’t go bankrupt in the—”
[i think he’s buying a pickle company??]
Bruce had every appearance of furiously texting on his phone, or possibly composing emails.
[lmao he did]
Bruce was now on his phone, looking impassive as ever as he contemplated the giant jar of pickles.
“—the business itself is perfectly sound. Yes. Obviously. Dead serious. Look, if you—”
Tim put a gallon jug of ranch dressing into the cart.
Tim was in the frozen section, his reflection visible in the glass.
“I bet Alfred would love some pizza rolls.”
“Your lies demean us both, Tim.”
Bruce was standing in the toy aisle, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “I understand the concept of blind boxes perfectly well, thank you.”
“Then why are you acting confused?”
“Why does Thomas the Tank Engine—”
Bruce was making a face of disgruntled bafflement at a display of baby clothes.
“—disturbed by the amount of aggressive heterosexuality being foisted on these babies.”
“Yeah,” Tim agreed. “What about the gay babies?”
“I can’t tell if you’re joking but I’m unironically concerned.”
The camera panned over a display of hero-themed hats. Most of the Batman hats had sold out, while the Superman display was nearly full. It panned back to Bruce, who was taking a picture with his own phone.
“Who you texting it to?”
“Friend in Metropolis.”
“Yes. Yes it does.”
The camera peered out slowly from behind a clothing display. Bruce was surrounded by enthusiastic and friendly women. It was impossible to tell what they were talking about.
Bruce was holding a dress up against himself. The women around him seemed delighted and were nodding their approval.
[i’ll strike while he’s distracted]
Tim dropped another two four-movie collections of Shrek on top of the considerable pile he’d already amassed. He panned up to check that Bruce had not caught him before grabbing another.
While Bruce put DVDs back on the shelf, Tim surreptitiously grabbed a Shrek coloring book.
[he’s gonna get a fish]
Bruce was frowning at the wall of fishtanks in silence. Finally he said, “These fish are very unhealthy.”
[HE’S BUYING ALL THE FISH]
The man attempting to help Bruce looked baffled. Bruce gestured to the entire display of fish with a nod. The man shook his head. Tim brought his phone close to a betta, blue and red with a tattered and graying tail.
“We’re here to save you,” Tim stage-whispered to it.
Bruce was now engrossed in conversation with multiple employees.
“—if I bought some tanks — they’re much too small but as a temporary measure — we could transfer them directly and it might be less distressing for the fish.”
“Maybe I could get one of the big dolly carts from the back?” one young man suggested.
The low camera angle suggested Tim was trying to be surreptitious.
“—for trying to unionize is completely against the law,” Bruce was saying, his voice low. He was helping three other employees transfer fish into large plastic tanks.
“At-will employment,” one woman said.
“We’d have to prove that was why they fired us,” someone clarified. “Otherwise they can say it was for no reason.”
“You’re shitting me.”
“—fucking with my hours hoping I’ll quit.”
“If they fired me, they’d have to pay unemployment.”
“That’s why they won’t let me work full-time.”
“What the fuck.”
[omg he’s stealing the employees now]
“—in Gotham, but there’s more opportunities outside of manufacturing if you’re willing to move.”
“Wait, so do you mean like for management?”
“No, no, that’s the starting wage for someone working assembly, quality control, that kind of thing. We’re all unionized, none of this at-will bullshit.”
“So if I—”
The woman from earlier was showing Bruce her phone while the others continued moving fish.
“You painted this?” Bruce asked. She nodded. “That’s fantastic. Are you showing it anywhere? I know a guy with a gallery — actually I know pretty much everyone with an art gallery in Gotham. I think I have a friend who’d really love this, if you don’t mind me making some calls for you.”
Four more employees had joined the menagerie.
“—almost always hiring in Gotham. People are always moving to cities with fewer evil clowns.” Everyone laughed. Tim snorted. “Employee insurance totally covers acts of supervillainy, though.”
[trying to crush the revolution]
The employees had not dispersed. In the distance, someone managerial was talking to Bruce. He looked much less amused than Bruce did.
[THEY CALLED THE COPS]
Tim had switched to the selfie camera, his face pure glee. He turned bodily to show the employees wheeling out tanks of fish out of the store, police lights in the parking lot.
“The manager tried to make Bruce leave but he insisted on paying for his fish and he wouldn’t stop giving people better jobs so the guy said it was corporate espionage and threatened to call the cops and Bruce called his bluff so he did it.”
[WE’RE BANNED FROM WALMART FOREVER]
Bruce was laughing with the police officers about something. The manager from earlier had been joined by men in suits. None of them looked happy. Some of the employees from earlier were yelling and flipping them off. One man pulled off the shirt of his uniform and started setting it on fire.
Bruce was on the phone in the parking lot.
“They’re small, most of them are tropical. You can figure out what they are when you get here. How is that racist? I’m not suggesting you already know them, I’m well aware you don’t personally know every single fish—”
“Either you take these fish or I toss them in the sewer and Killer Croc can eat them. It will be a merciful death compared to what they were getting. It doesn’t matter where I found them.”
[i’m not allowed near toxic waste]
Tim held the betta from earlier in front of his phone, bringing it dangerously close to Bruce’s face. Bruce had hung up, but seemed to be dialing another number.
“I’m keeping this one,” Tim said.
“If I drop him in toxic waste do you think he’ll get powers?”
“We’ve already had this discussion.”
[the pettiest man in gotham]
Bruce was on the phone again, looking out at the empty field beside the Walmart parking lot.
“Yeah, just buy the whole thing. Yeah. Absolutely sure. Green Market’s doing good, we’ll build another one of those. Can we put up a billboard while it’s under construction? A really big billboard.”
“First of all, if it’s in writing, it’s libel. Second, figures taken directly from their report to shareholders aren’t defamatory. What’s the most they could even sue me for? See, that’s nothing. Bad PR for them, good for us, it's—”
Tim had switched to the selfie camera again, and was using a sparkling purple filter that made his eyes look huge. He backed into Bruce so that Bruce’s face would be in the shot. “Bruce, look! You’re a pretty pretty princess!”
Bruce raised an eyebrow as he looked at his face on the screen. “I’m always a pretty princess,” he said seriously.
[he picked the music this time]
Bruce was driving again. He was listening to 100 Little Curses without any apparent irony. This did not mean there wasn’t any irony.
[i named him wally]
The Walmart betta was now in a tank that held at least a hundred gallons. His underwater castle was resplendent. His tail had grown in, a shimmering gradient of red and blue. Bruce could be seen in the background through the tank, sitting on the couch and reading a book.