It should say something about his life that Tim is only mildly surprised to find Jason sitting on his fire escape after patrol that night.
Normally, Tim would be more wary of this. He and Jason have been on alright terms for a while, but house calls didn’t usually bode well for anyone. Typically, they meant that something really bad had happened; someone was dying or dead or in a whole lot of trouble. But the weather in Gotham was miserable--hot and humid--so all he said was, “What’s up?”
Jason pushes to his feet, helmet off and hair curling in messy, sweat-dampened curls around his forehead and temples. It’s getting long again, the undercut growing out. Tim is annoyed he noticed. “You got A/C?”
Narrowing his eyes, Tim nods. He can see sweat sliding down the side of Jason’s neck, disappearing below the collar of his shirt. Tim is certain he looks sweaty too, but probably not as artfully sweaty as Jason. His hair is straight, so when he sweats, it doesn’t look rumpled and curly, it just looks a goddamn mess. Jason seems to sag a little, and says, “Sweet, mind if I stay over? My apartment doesn’t have a unit and I’m not staying at the penthouse or the manor.”
“You have like, five different safe houses that I can think of,” Tim says. “Stay at one of those.”
“Creepy that you know that. But none of them have A/C either. Just let me stay the night you brat, I’ll be gone in the morning.”
“Not exactly winning me over,” Tim replies, but he turns and powers down the security measures to get into his apartment. Jason can stay one night, sure. That is what the spare bedroom’s for, after all.
They’re both quiet as they make their way inside the apartment. It’s blessedly cool against Tim’s face, and he can only imagine how the air will feel once he peels off his suit. How Jason can live in Gotham without an air conditioner is beyond him; one of the worst things about being a vigilante in Gotham is absolutely the summers. Still, he chances a look at Jason as he moves around his apartment.
Jason seems so out of place here in Tim’s apartment. He’s stiff and looking around like maybe he’s rethinking this decision. Tim catches sight of the duffle bag in Jason’s hands then, wondering how he missed it outside.
“That’s an awful big bag for just staying one night,” Tim comments. He motions that Jason should follow him down the hall. Jason’s footsteps are near silent behind him as he follows.
“I brought clothes to go home in and I needed something big enough to carry my suit in. Don’t worry, I won’t overstay my welcome.” Jason’s voice is bitter and it falls between them, ugly and reminiscent of the past. Tim’s own mouth tastes sour and he wants to say, I didn’t mean it like that, but he kind of did and he knows Jason will see through it.
Instead, he says, “You can stay in here,” when he gets the the guest room. It’s got a few boxes still stacked on the far wall and the bed needs new sheets, but it’s cool and the shades will block out the sun. “The bathroom is right there, and there are towels in the closet. Feel free to use whatever shampoo or whatever is in there, it’s all Dick’s.”
“Dick stay here often?”
“Only sometimes,” Tim answers, moving to the hall closet to find some sheets and a comforter. “Mostly when he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s in town.”
Jason nods, taking the bedclothes from Tim. “Thanks for letting me stay,” he says after a few seconds. The tense moment from before seems a little more distant now. “I appreciate it.”
“Any time.” It’s both an apology and the truth. As much as he and Jason hadn’t gotten along in the past, Tim is ready to move on from that. Even if it means sleepovers. “Sleep well. If you need anything, my room is the door at the end of the hall.”
Jason smiles, and it looks so odd on his face that Tim stares a little longer than he should. Later, in bed, he’ll think about that smile and how he’s only ever seen smirks and scowls on Jason’s face. He’ll think, I’d like to see it again. Heatstroke, he tells himself. Thoughts like that have to be due to heatstroke.
In the morning, Jason is gone.
The heatwave doesn’t get better, it gets worse. Nearly a month into summer, and Gotham has been in the high nineties and early hundreds almost every day. This in turn means that Tim has had company the last month as well.
Jason must have taken his offer seriously, because he’s shown up almost every night since. At first, Tim had barely noticed his presence. They usually met up after patrol, swinging their way back to Tim’s and into the comfort of cold air. Jason wakes earlier than Tim most of the time and was gone, but lately he’s taken to waking up around the same time as Tim, even going as far as making breakfast.
It’s what they’re doing right now, Jason standing over the stove with sweatpants hanging low on his hips. Tim watches from the island, mostly because Jason had deemed him useless and in the way. Of course, he isn’t too upset about this; Jason has a really nice back and Tim absolutely doesn’t mind watching him. Also, he’s getting what will definitely be a good meal for free, so.
The weirdest part about having Jason around is how easy it is. The first few times, they’d been careful around each other, both too aware of their pasts to be comfortable. But as the nights went on, the stilted conversation became easier. Now when they come back from patrol, they move around each other easily, too tired to do much beyond eating something quick and heading to bed, but still. And the mornings are usually filled with talk of what happened the night before and easy, delicious breakfasts.
If they were anyone else, Tim would say it’s domestic.
As it is, he knows that the only reason Jason is sticking around is because it’s easier than buying his own air conditioner and it’s supposed to reach a high of 110 degrees today. The blinds are shut in the living room, but when he moved past them earlier to check the security, he could already feel how hot it was. Going out tonight will be fun.
Jason slides a plate across the table, the omelette looking delicious and cheesy. Tim barely takes the time to thank Jason before he’s digging in. If Jason wants to stay the rest of the summer, Tim decides as he tastes the cheese and ham omelette, he can.
“I picked up some stuff for you,” Jason says one day as he lets himself into Tim’s apartment via the actual door. The keys in his hand are Tim’s, and he wonders briefly how he didn’t notice Jason take them. He gets distracted by the grocery bags in Jason’s hands, though, and gets up to inspect them.
“What kind of stuff?”
“Not pizza pockets or frozen chicken fingers,” Jason says dryly. There are sweat stains in the pits of his blue shirt and the tips of his hair look damp. The news said it would reach 100 degrees again, and Tim notes that Jason is pretty tough to have braved the heat just to feed them. Tim would have been cool with ordering food. “Healthy stuff. Fruits and veggies. Meat that isn’t frozen. You know, stuff that won’t kill you in a few years.”
Tim scoffs as Jason starts to put things away, only mildly shocked that he knows where things are supposed to go. Though to be fair, Tim didn’t really have much of a system before. “I hardly think bad eating will kill me.”
The look Jason shoots him is not kind. “Anyway, I’ll cook before we go on patrol tonight. I saw this recipe for lemon chicken on Facebook and it looked cool.”
Tim shudders. “It still freaks me out that you have Facebook.”
Jason raises one eyebrow, which Tim thinks is so cool but would never, ever, actually tell Jason that. “I think it’s weird that you don’t. And anyway, it’s fun to comment on everyone’s stuff.”
“I guess,” Tim concedes, catching the apples Jason throws at him so he can place them in the dish in the center if the island. “You don’t have to shop for me, by the way.”
“I know,” Jason shrugs, and it’s too casual for Tim’s trained eyes. Damn, maybe he should have just let it go. “I don’t mind. I eat most of it anyway.”
It’s as close as either of them have come to admitting that Jason practically lives there. Nineteen days so far, and Tim barely notices that Jason doesn’t actually live at his apartment. To anyone else, it probably looks weird; but Tim doesn’t mind not being alone all the time, and getting to know more about Jason is better than fighting him.
“Hey, you wanna watch a movie or something?” Tim asks, only a little awkward as he catches Jason coming out of the bathroom. He can already see some of the bruises from a fight earlier blooming across Jason’s back and ribs. Tim’s still wired from his patrol, not enough to do for how many coffees he had earlier that day, and he hoped a showed would make him drowsy, not more awake.
Jason stares at him for a moment, towel loose around his hips, before he shrugs. “Just let me put clothes on and I’ll meet you out there,” he answers, disappearing into his--no, the guest room.
Tim nods, realizes he’s nodding to nobody, then makes his way into the living room to find a movie on Netflix.
An hour later, he and Jason are sprawled out on the couch, carefully not touching as they watch Tangled. It hadn’t been his choice, but Jason, upon hearing that Tim had never seen it, demanded they watch. It isn’t a bad movie, of course, but Tim is hyper aware of Jason dozing beside him. Part of Tim laments the fact that he didn’t position himself closer to Jason at the beginning of the movie, because moving now to be just a little closer would probably look suspicious. Another part of Tim is asking what the fuck are you doing? Because thinking about his pseudo-brother like this will not end up well for anyone. Probably.
By the time the movie is over, Jason is nearly asleep and Tim is ready to try sleeping himself. “That was good,” he says, standing and making his way toward his room. Jason follows close behind, feet shuffling along the floor in a way that Tim finds very distracting. He turns at Jason’s door, smiling only a little awkwardly. “Thanks for making me watch it.”
“Sure,” Jason nods, looking exhausted but pleased. “Everyone should watch Tangled at least once. It’s a law, I’m pretty sure.” His words are slow and heavy, like he’d just woken up, and Tim, well. He doesn’t hate the sound of it.
Clearing his throat, he nods. “Well, I’ll see you in the morning?” He doesn’t mean for it to sound like a question, but it comes out that way despite himself. He’s about to make a hasty retreat when Jason leans forward, smelling like body wash and something distinctly Jason, pressing his mouth to the corner of Tim’s.
It’s quick, but Jason’s lips are soft and the scruff around his mouth brushes against Tim’s skin, and holy fucking shit. “See ya,” Jason says, still droopy-eyed as he makes his way into the guest room which might as well be his fucking room now and Tim...Tim won’t be sleeping tonight.
Jason Todd just kissed me, Tim thinks to himself as he finally goes into his own bedroom. His heart feels ready to burst through his chest and he’s certain his cheeks are as red as his suit. The worst part is that Tim shouldn’t actually be surprised about it, because there have been signs for a few weeks now. It might have been that Jason was tired, but what if he wasn’t? What if Jason actually wanted to kiss Tim?
The thought makes him oddly giddy. By the time he actually falls asleep, the sun is just starting to peek through beyond his closed blinds.
It keeps happening.
Or rather, Jason keeps doing weird shit and Tim keeps letting it happen. Jason will do his (their) laundry. He cooks them breakfast and dinner (which, not as weird, but now that Tim is looking at it post-kiss, it seems even more domestic). If they watch something, Jason sits close enough that they actually touch. Every night before they part way to go to sleep, Jason touches his shoulder or his hand or even kisses him (not his mouth again, though Tim...doesn’t think he’d mind), looking sleepy and happy.
Tim has half a mind to tell Jason to go back to his own apartment, if only because he needs to figure this shit out without Jason around. But it’s still hot as hell and Tim doesn’t want Jason to take it the wrong way, so he keeps his mouth shut and freaks out in the shower or before he falls asleep.
They should talk about it, right? Tim tries googling it at one point but it directs him to that hellsite tumblr and he doesn’t really want to sift through the dirt to find something useful. He also doesn’t want to bring it up in case it really isn’t a big deal. Jason might be a touchy person, right? Maybe.
He’s still trying to figure out what to do when he comes home one night to find Dick in his living room. His first thought is oh shit because what if he found Jason? His second thought is: it doesn’t matter, we aren’t doing anything wrong, followed by another oh shit because they might not be doing anything wrong but they are definitely doing something.
“Hey,” Tim says, trying not to sound guilty but absolutely failing. “What’s up?”
“Why is Jason using my bed?” Dick asks, not unkindly. He’s in civvies and his duffle bag is on the floor. Shit, did Tim forget he was coming?
“Not your bed,” Jason says as he comes into the main room, toweling off his hair. “Didn’t have your name on it.”
Dick stares at Jason--bare chested and in only a pair of boxer briefs, then looks back at Tim. “I know I live in Bludhaven now, but I feel like I missed a lot.”
Tim fiddles with his belt, catches both of them watching him, then offers, “There’s been a heatwave? Jay doesn’t have air conditioning and he cooks for me, so it’s a win/win.”
Dick looks skeptical, but it’s the look on Jason’s face that catches him off guard. Before Tim can figure out what it means, he’s blank faced and saying, “I’ll head back to my apartment tonight. You can have the bed back, Dickface.”
“No,” Tim says at the same time as Dick. They both look at each other, and Tim hopes it’s dark enough that they can’t see his blush. “You can--I mean, my bed is a king so you can come sleep with me tonight and Dick can have the bed.” As soon as the words are out of his mouth, his shoulders feel both lighter and heavier. If he’s been reading this wrong the whole time, it’ll be really awkward, but if he hasn’t...
Jason’s eyebrows raise, but there is colour in his cheeks and he looks at Dick, who is looking at them, and Jesus Christ Tim needs a drink or something.
“Okay,” Dick’s voice is slow, but Tim determinedly does not look at him. “Do you guys wanna watch a movie or something before--”
“No.” Jason cuts Dick off quickly, eyes not leaving Tim’s. “I’m tired. I’m going to bed.”
“Me too,” Tim agrees, though he doesn’t think he’s ever been more awake in his life.
They say a quick good night to Dick, and too soon Tim and Jason are on their way down the hall, in Tim’s room and alone.
Tim’s room, the coldest in the apartment, is near freezing as he stands before his closed door, watching Jason take in the space that he’s made for himself. Pictures hang along the walls, mostly scenery but there are a few on his desk of him and others. A photo booth strip of him and Steph, a polaroid of him and Dick, a family photo of him and his parents. The blankets on his bed are rumpled and some of his clothing lay scattered across the floor.
Jason turns from the bedroom, a small smile on his face like that first time again, soft and real. It soothes the anxiety buzzing through him, although a whole new buzzing begins as Jason moves forward slowly.
“Hey.” Jason is close enough to touch now, his words leaving a trail of warm breath against Tim’s cheek. Tentatively, Jason’s hands rise on either side of Tim, bracing against the door behind him. Jason’s arms are muscled and right there and Tim never thought he could be attracted to forearms, and yet. “So, unless I read that wrong out there, I’m gonna kiss you.”
“For real this time?” The words are out of his mouth before he can think better of it. But before he can do anything to fix it, Jason’s eyes slide away from him and in the low light of his room, Tim can see Jason’s cheeks darken again. Tim really, really enjoys making them do that.
Jason looks back at him, smirking. “Yeah, for real this time Babybird.”
When they kiss, it’s gentle and sweet. Soft in a way Tim didn’t know Jason could be, and while he’s really into this Jason, he wants to see what’s underneath the softness. Tim presses his hands along Jason’s ribs, the skin warm to the touch. Tim knows they’re going to have to talk about this eventually, but as the kiss deepens, Tim decides they can talk about it after the heatwave.