116. “I broke your nose, and I’m sorry for that. But what you’re doing isn’t fair.”
Tim withdrew, scoffing. Then wincing and cupping his broken nose through the tissues Barbara had lent him.
“How is it unfair?”
“You know the rules we laid out as well as I do!” Steph gesticulated violently with the gun. Some of her fair hair had escaped her helmet – and was splattered with pink. “And you’re cheating.”
“Cheating, filthy dirty cheater –” Her voice was lilting.
“Hey,” he protested. But despite himself he stifled a laugh; her eyes sparked beneath the helmet.
“Tim, like the rules of love, the rules of paintball are simple: you. Cannot. Have both Babs and Cass on the same team! That’s just straight out unfair for the rest of the human population, let alone the opposing team.”
Tim let go of his nose to glance back out at the rest of the paintball field. Poor Jason; he appeared to be getting both barrels to the chest right now. Even for such a big guy, such an onslaught of cheerful yellow and green had to be a lot.
“Eh, Jason deserved to be taken down a peg.”
“He usually does, that’s not the point.” She wagged a finger at him with exaggerated drama, making him stifle more laughter. “He’s still my teammate. I fought tooth and nail to be a part of this family, and that includes being loyal to them during paintball matches.”
“Oh.” His tone had become softer, he realized. “Oh, okay, I get it.”
Paintball guns lowering, Tim and Steph both sat down. They glanced over to watch Damian ruthlessly taking aim at Dick, at Duke running in to save him. At Cass darting away in triumph.
“That being said, Jason looks good in yellow and green, don’t you think?” Steph’s voice sounded lighter again. Tim chuckled.
“Oh yeah, definitely.”
When they took aim again, he glanced down the barrel of the gun through the tissues of his nose; all he could see was color. All he could hear was Stephanie’s laughter, joyful once more.
Edit: AO3 link