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Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc

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post hoc, ergo propter hoc: the logical fallacy of believing that temporal succession implies a causal relation

*

1. the stealth hug

The first time it happens--no, let's be honest here, it happens for a while before Jason finally catches on, so let's say, the first time Jason finally notices it, Dick has him pressed up against a wall. He's supposedly frisking him, tossing aside all the little toys Jason carries in the voluminous pockets of his jacket, but while Dick's hands are definitely tucked into Jason's inside pockets, he's not so much frisking as he is...squeezing. Like Jason's his long-lost teddy bear or something. (Dick actually has his long-lost teddy bear, which is obviously not lost anymore, because what's the point of being adopted by the World's Greatest Detective if he can't find your teddy bear after you've lost it? Seriously. But that's not the point, and anyway, Jason doesn't know about that or he'd never let Dick hear the end of it.)

Jason shrugs him off with an annoyed, "Dude," and doesn't think too much about it, too busy escaping and then mourning the loss of some quality explosives and his eighth favorite handgun. (He tries not to get attached to his weapons anymore, since they get taken away so often, but he can't help it. He's sure a shrink would have a field day with that, but since he has no plans to see one any time soon, he chooses not to think about it.)

The next time Jason clues in, he and Dick are fighting because Jason shot a drug dealer who was working the corners near an elementary school, and Dick won't let him execute the rest of the guy's crew. The dealers get taken away by the cops, but Jason's stuck with Dick blabbering on about morals and shit while they roll around on a rooftop. And okay, Jason's not going to ever admit this out loud, but he totally digs rolling around with Dick, way more than he probably should, considering they're family and all. It's the only reason he can think of for covering Dick like a blanket when he finally gets on top of him.

Instead of bucking him off (not that he could--Jason totally has him pinned), Dick wraps his arms around Jason and holds on. Jason's so keyed up that it takes his brain a few seconds to process this, and it's not until Dick actually strokes his hair that the dime drops.

Jason scrambles up and flings out an accusing finger. "You're hugging me! What the actual fuck?"

"What? No." Dick flips gracefully to his feet. He doesn't even look like he's been fighting, and with the mask on, Jason can't tell if Dick's avoiding his gaze. "It's a wrestling move."

"You were stroking my hair."

"Got you to let me up, didn't it?" And then Dick's gone in a whirl of long limbs and motion. Jason could follow him, but he chooses not to. Not because he's discombobulated, but because he needs to ponder Dick's dastardly new plan.

He goes out without the helmet the next few nights, not because he wants to encourage Dick's freaky behavior, but because he'd like some proof--once he's back in his own dingy apartment, he can't quite believe it actually happened, even though when he closes his eyes, he can call up the memory of long, gloved fingers brushing the nape of his neck. But the only time he runs into Dick, he seems to have taken the hint and there's no hugging or hair-stroking. Not that Jason's disappointed or anything. It's just that sometimes, he wonders about his sanity.

*

2. the one-armed bro-hug

"Hey, how are you?"

Jason turns to see Dick coming towards him, blinding smile on his face. He would be there. Jason finds himself smiling in response, the prospect of a fight the best thing that's happened in hours. He's only at the coffeehouse because the arms dealer he's tracking has a hopeless crush on the lesbian folkie guitarist; Dick's there because he has terrible taste in music and probably actually likes the band.

Jason puts up a hand, because he's still not sure if they're supposed to know each other anymore as civilians, and a handshake is nice and neutral. Dick grabs his hand and pulls him in for a one armed hug, slapping his back and holding him close, leaving his hand on Jason's shoulder for longer than Jason is really comfortable with. Dick smells of laundry detergent and Ivory soap, which is ridiculously typical. He probably doesn't even moisturize properly after using soap that will totally dry out his skin. (Jason is very serious about his skincare regimen.)

"I'm all right," he answers, surreptitiously trying to free himself, because it's been a couple of seconds too long for politeness and Dick is still hugging him, and it's going to get embarrassing in a few more seconds, in more ways than one. "Hanging in there."

"Good, good." Dick finally lets him go and he sucks in deep, relieved breath. "You should come home for the holidays."

Jason blinks in surprise. "Yeah," he says, mouth moving in an acceptable public response, while his brain tries to catch up with whatever Dick's pulling here. "I'll try to figure something out, make it work with my schedule."

"You know what you have to do," Dick says, clapping him on the shoulder one more time, fingers lingering just long enough to brush over his collar bone. "I know you can do it." Jason shivers, but Dick's already headed past him to the men's room, and then the barista is handing him his coffee.

Jason puts it out of his mind and steels himself for another set of sub-par Michelle Branch clones. No one understands the sacrifices he makes for the mission.

*

Three days later, when he has the opportunity to put two slugs in the back of the arms dealer's head, he hesitates long enough for Dick to arrive and tie the guy up. He doesn't even fight it. Dick gives him another of those one-armed hugs (now he smells like sweat and rain) before he disappears back into the night, and Jason thinks again about shooting the guy, but instead he just kicks him a couple of times, not even hard enough to break his ribs, and takes off. He's got other fish to fry.

*

3. the 'hey, we're not dead and the world didn't end' hug

A whole block of rowhouses has been destroyed--the ones that weren't crushed are on fire--but they stopped the freaky demon worshippers from raising Trigon, so when Dick pulls Jason into a tight hug, for the first time, Jason hugs back. He ducks his head, buries his face against the sooty, sweaty skin of Dick's throat, and hangs on for dear life.

*

4. stealth cuddling

It's not that Jason's never thought about it. On the contrary. Since he's been back in Gotham (since he was twelve, truthfully, but he doesn't like to think about that), it's been one of his favorite jerk-off fantasies. But he never actually expected it to happen. (Despite what some people think, Jason's got a pretty good grasp of reality and his own place in it.) Helping to save the world from a demon apocalypse definitely has some unanticipated perks.

And then for Dick to stay instead of taking off right afterward--that's something he never bothered fantasizing about because it seemed so far beyond the realm of possibility that it ruined the whole thing. But he wakes up and not only is Dick still in bed with him (to be honest, Jason's not sure, but this might be the first time he's ever actually woken up beside someone he's had sex with), he's got his arms wrapped around Jason like he's the big spoon and Jason's the little spoon, which is all kinds of wrong in exactly the right ways, and as soon as Jason wakes up again, he's going to tell him so.

For now, he lets out a contented sigh, snuggles up against Dick's warm body, and goes back to sleep.

*

5. the 'yay! you stopped killing people' hug

It gets easier after that to leave his guns holstered (not that he actually has holsters, but maybe he should invest--thigh holsters would be hot) and use other methods to take care of the bad guys. He backslides occasionally, and he still believes that some criminals need to be put down for the greater good, but he reins in the rhetoric and some of the violence in return for getting laid (and cuddled) on a regular basis.

He slowly starts to divest himself of his financial interest in the city's drug trade, though he still hasn't found an alternate means of funding his operations.

Thanksgiving passes in a whirl of Harley and Ivy-related carnage that Jason's gratefully on the periphery of. (He doesn't really feel bad for Harley, though he supposes he understands her obsession to some degree, but he finds himself agreeing with some of Ivy's gripes about consumerism and how terrible it is for the environment, and that makes him want to lie down for a while, preferably while Dick holds him and tells him it'll be all right.) It's not like they ever celebrated Thanksgiving anyway, outside of a turkey that was always dry and cold by the time they sat down to it, despite Alfred's magic touch.

Christmas, though. He thinks about Christmas, but can't bring himself to ask if Dick was serious all those weeks ago. Instead, on Christmas Eve, he shows up at the manor wearing his best khakis and a nice button-down shirt, which he's actually had pressed for the occasion. He takes his knife--he doesn't go anywhere without it, and especially needs the comforting weight of it strapped to his leg today--but he leaves the guns at home.

He rings the bell and then contemplates hopping back on his bike and roaring away, like he's playing the world's ballsiest game of ring-and-run, but before he can do that, the door opens and Alfred's standing there.

"My dear boy, don't just stand there," he says, when Jason can't seem to do more than gape at him. "We've held dinner for you."

He hands the bottle of champagne to Alfred and steps into the house warily, still waiting for the trap to spring.

Dick grins at him and gives him a thumbs-up, but just like old times, Jason finds his gaze riveted on Bruce. Who for a brief, unbelievable moment, seems to be at almost as much of a loss as he is.

Then Bruce steps forward, his mouth curved in the closest thing to a smile he allows himself most days, and he lays his hand on Jason's shoulder and squeezes hard enough to hurt.

"Jason," he says.

"Bruce."

"Welcome home."

They both sound a little thick, but Jason will totally deny being choked up when Dick calls him on it later.

Alfred calls it a Christmas miracle, and Jason calls it a conscious choice, but Dick claims it's all because of his superior hugging skills. Sometimes, Jason agrees with him.

end

~*~