Jay wakes up. He's never been one to slowly drift into consciousness, but this immediate reaction is unusual. It sets his nerves on edge, until he realises it's just his phone. Somehow, this is slightly more annoying.
"Hello?" he grumbles, cold, dry.
"Little Wing!" The voice bursts out of the speakers, tinny, yet still headache-inducing.
"Circus Boy," he says, voice full of fake cheer. "And just how are you at three o'clock in the fuckin' morning?"
"Never better!" Dick says. He's entirely unfazed, as usual. Jay had forgotten just how talented he is at brushing things off. "Listen, I was wondering, do you want to grab a coffee? It's really cold out, and I could use some company and a hot drink."
Jay discreetly pinches himself, just to make sure he's not dreaming. He and Dick haven't been buddy-buddy for a long, long time, and even then, calling at three in the morning was unheard of, unless Dick was begging to be subjected to Jay's never-ending whining.
He's not dreaming. Fine, so life wants him to roll with the punches, it's cool. He can do that. "A coffee? At three AM?"
"Yeah?" Dick asks. He seems so casual about it, like calling Jason "You Only Live Twice" Todd at three for company and refreshments is a normal, everyday occurrence.
Jay is too busy being dumbfounded to say no.
It's raining in Gotham, which makes the whole experience at least ten times more unpleasant. Jay's in civilian clothes, obviously, considering it would be more than a little confusing if Red Hood and Nightwing suddenly showed up at the local Starbucks, so he's kind of soaking wet at this point. He looks like a drowned rat. Or, rather, a drowned bat. It's annoying.
The coffee shop is, of course, in true Gotham style, a little sleazy, and it seems like the neighbourhood assholes make up at least 75% of the clientele. Then again, who's Jay to speak? He probably fits right in. Even Dick, who he can see huddled in the corner, has managed to blend, which is strange, since he's probably the best person in the place. Hell, he's probably the best person in the whole damn city.
Jay casually drops down into the seat in front and sets his arms on the table. "Good morning."
"Oh!" Dick says, eyes lighting up. "That was fast!"
Jay shrugs. "I happened to be around."
Dick smiles warmly, and Jay suppresses all fuzzy feelings. Dick has this way of cheering people up, even when they don't want to be. It bothers him.
"You look cold," Dick laughs. "Here, I have a spare jacket, if you want it."
Jay takes it, suspiciously, and nods his thanks. This is nice, too nice. Nobody, not even Dick Grayson himself, invites Jay out for coffee. Most people get skittish even talking to him. Pretty much all of the time, he enjoys the power rush, but here, now, he just feels used.
What's Dick playing at?
"Relax, Little Wing. Can't a guy get coffee?"
Jay narrows his eyes. "A guy can get coffee, sure. Usually, though, it's without his estranged little brother."
Dick frowns. He looks offended, which is puzzling. He's not the one who everyone's scared of. "You're not estranged, Jay," he says, mouth twisting down farther, as if saying the very word makes him sick. "You just need your space."
The fuck? What is this, therapy?
"Look, I don't know what you've brought me here for, but whatever it is, I'm not doing it. You think you can butter me up with a hot drink?"
Dick smiles, eyes twinkling. "But, Jay, I bought your favourite."
At that, a waitress approaches them, carrying two (ridiculously) oversized coffees, covered in whipped cream and all the other terrifying girly drink sugary shit.
Jay has a weakness for the aforementioned girly drink sugary shit, and Dick knows it. The bastard isn't afraid to bring out the big guns, he sees.
"What do you want, Dick?" he snaps, eyeing the Frappuccino longingly.
"To be friends," Dick replies simply.
Jay slowly closes his jaw where it's been hanging open. "Friends?" he snorts. "Friends?"
He takes a long gulp of his coffee, savouring the sugary taste, and sighs. This is going to be a long week.
Dick apparently thinks that being friends entails both constant phone calls (don't even talk to him about the text messages), and many, many coffee dates.
Well, he supposes it isn't like there's much else to do in Gotham. It's not as if you can go for a fun day in the park and play fucking Frisbee.
He rubs a hand through his hair, tapping his phone impatiently. It's not like he's grown to expect Dick's texts or anything, and it's certainly not like he misses them.
Anyway, Dick's probably off boning his girlfriend or whatever. He doesn't have time to talk to Jay all the time. Plus, Jay's not lonely. He's got loads to do.
Yeah, he's all set.
He looks tiredly around his run-down apartment, taking in the cracks and cobwebs. It hits him that it's surprisingly empty. Blank. Hollow. It doesn't look like anyone's lived in it for years. No wonder Dick had wanted to rekindle their friendship, he looks like a charity case.
He's sitting on some random, nondescript building's roof, feet dangling over the edge, watching the rain drops slide off the helmet cradled in his hands, when he hears the footsteps. He knows the sound off by heart, the cocky pitter-patter, all ambling and confident. It's Dick. Nobody else walks quite like he does, not even his very own mentor.
Jay raises an eyebrow, slightly hidden by the domino, and turns. Dick towers above him, thousand-watt smile almost blinding.
"Fancy meeting you here," Jay says dryly.
Dick lowers himself down so he's leaning casually against Jay's side. "I brought you some of Alfie's homemade pie. It's probably squished now, but I bet it still tastes good."
The way to a Robin's heart is through food. It takes all his willpower not to rip the paper bag right out of Dick's weather-worn hands. Gently, he pulls out a Saran-wrapped slice and sets to work on freeing it from its plastic prison. Dick just continues smiling, even as Jay shoves the newly-uncovered pie down his throat with no preamble.
"There's a little filling on your chin," Dick offers.
"Mmfff," Jay acknowledges, attempting to wipe it off. He misses, so Dick does it for him.
Just like old times, huh?
Dick seems to follow a similar train of thought, as he wraps an arm around Jay's shoulders. "Man, I sure missed this."
Jay ignores him for the pie. That hasn't changed much either. Still, he can't stop a small smile from making its way onto his face.
Dick notices -- he always does -- and grins even harder. It would be disturbing, how long that man can keep a positive expression without stretching his face 'till it sticks. Dick's wild smile is better than the Joker's, at least.
Dick grabs his own slice from their makeshift lunchbox and sighs contentedly at the first bite. It must remind him of home, because he snuggles (yes, snuggles) even closer to Jason, and says, "You should come back to the manor sometime. We'd love to have you over for dinner."
He's tempted to say no, but Dick's puppy eyes stop him. The man looks so damn hopeful, so Jay just nods his assent. "As long as Damian doesn't eat it all."
Dick's laughter echoes off the buildings that surround them. "I think I'm the one you have to worry about. I apparently eat like I'm a starving wild animal."
"You got the wild part right, for sure. Your manners are awful."
"I was raised in a circus!" Dick retorts, fond. "Cut me some slack!"
Jay finds himself laughing, suddenly. He can't even remember the last time he found something funny. It's all Dick's fault, damn him. He's always happy. It rubs off.
Dick hands him another slice, blueberry this time, and Jay digs in. Dick seems to take great pleasure in watching him enjoy himself, with all his stupid, caring older brother instincts. They're not even related, yet somehow Dick's taken him under his wing.
Oh, look, and now he's making Robin puns. Dick really is rubbing off on him.
Some small part of him, hidden deep away, wonders if that's really such a bad thing after all.
So, they're friends. It still doesn't prepare him for the sudden onslaught of the full force of his over-affectionate older brother.
All Jay had done was open the door, only to find himself immediately barrelled over in a bear hug. Which he's still stuck in, awkwardly patting Dick's back.
"Sorry," Dick apologises. "Rough night."
"Can't stand it when people use you to get to me. I may have gone a little overboard."
"What do I have to do with anything?" Jay asks, confused. He and Dick's relationship isn't exactly a weapon, not like it would be if they were lovers or something.
Dick shakes his head furiously. "It's nothing."
"Come on, spill," Jay says, suspicious.
"They just think the Red Hood and Nightwing are a little more than brothers, is all," Dick murmurs. It's quiet, shaky, and something in the back of Jason's head tells him Dick's dealt with this before.
Jay usually has his body under tight control, so he's almost horrified to find a blush rising to his cheeks. It's a good thing Dick's too busy clinging to him to look at his face.
"Man, where'd they get that information from?" he snorts, bitter. He's Jason Todd. Everyone knows he doesn't do romance.
"Observation." Dick sighs, seemingly at himself, and makes a derisive noise. "I get touchy about you. All of the Bats do, but me especially. I shouldn't, I know, but I can't help it."
"Well, at least they think we're getting laid."
Jay can feel Dick's smile against his neck. For some reason, this only serves to further strengthen his blush. Which reminds him, what the fuck? Dick is a) his stupid, overcaring adopted vigilante brother b) a fucking boy scout, and c) clearly straight.
His dick is a dick about Dick.
Seriously. This shit is ridiculous.
"Here," Jay interrupts his own internal monologue, "why don't we go watch some shitty TV? I have leftover Chinese in the fridge, too, if you want it."
Dick rests a hand on his shoulder. "Thanks."
Dick's fallen asleep on his couch. It would be adorable, but the man has gone full-on limpet and sprawled himself all over Jason, effectively pinning him down. The Blush (which now gets the privilege of capitals) has come back full force. It's embarrassing as all hell, not to mention really fucking weird. Sure, he had a huge crush on Dick when he was, like, fifteen, but he thought he'd gotten over that. And none of this explains why he's suddenly feeling like a hormone-ridden, pathetic teenager again.
He prods at Dick, but he's out cold. So, he resigns himself to his fate and tries to sleep.
He wakes up in the most frustrating way possible -- snuggled up to Dick like a fucking kitten, head resting on Dick's chest. The worst part is, of course, Dick's breathing, indicating the bastard's awake and probably enjoying every second of this. Luckily, he's pretty sure Dick still thinks he's asleep, by the way he cards his hands through Jason's hair and presses a kiss to his forehead.
Wait, wait, wait. Hold the fuck up.
Jay very carefully doesn't move. His brain has completely short-circuited, and to be honest, he simply has no response to this situation. It's certainly not one he'd ever prepared himself for.
At first, he's tempted just to yell and get the fuck out, but then he thinks of Dick's disappointed expression from all the other times he's tried to be overly-friendly (though, Jay's not sure he'd call this friendship, precisely), and he can't move. He can't even bring himself to let Dick know he's awake. All he can do is lie there, blank, and try to get a grip on himself.
Dick wraps his arms tighter around Jay's torso and hums, practically purring. It may be the most confounding thing Jay's had the pleasure of experiencing in all his time in their little Bat Family.
Then, he has an idea. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. If Dick's so happy to have him curled up in his arms, what would the bastard do if Jay responded positively, instead of punching Dick in the face like he ought to? The thought makes him question his own sanity (really? Willingly cuddling Dick Grayson?) and, amazingly, has him sorely, sorely tempted.
Slowly, carefully, he relaxes his tensely coiled muscles and worms his way farther into Dick's arms. Serves the little shit right for trying to fix Jason with hugs.
However, much to his chagrin, Dick just makes a surprised sound and presses their foreheads together, so their noses are touching. Jay has a sudden and heart-wrenching flashback to a time before the Lazarus Pit, when Dick used to give him Eskimo kisses and treat him less like he was a skittish puppy, ready to snap at any provocation.
It hits him like a punch to the gut, and it feels like the air has drained out of the room. Foolishly, he forgets he's supposed to be a sleep, and his eyes flutter open, meeting Dick's, which are already widening in horror.
"Little Wing," Dick greets. He sounds guilty, and his mouth twitches slightly, as if hiding a grimace.
It's probably the closest to terrified Jay's ever seen him, and it's not even in response to something normal, like a fucking bad guy. No, it's all Jay's fault, in fact. He feels a pang of remorse, all of a sudden, so he just swallows and says, "Morning, Dick. Not that this isn't nice and all, but warn a guy so he can invest in a bigger couch first, my back feels like shit."
Dick stays there, frozen, unblinking, so Jay just continues, "Breakfast? I've got shitty pancake mix."
Dick, the ever-unpredictable maniac, starts grinning like a moron. "Pancakes sound great, Jay!" he says, sounding somehow joyous, like this is some kind of major breakthrough.
Yeah, because not punching someone in the face for showing a little affection is apparently a huge achievement.
And there's the familiar self-loathing. Hello, old friend.
Dick hugs him tighter and rattles off all the possible fruit combinations they could mix with the shitty pancake mix, therefore defeating the very point of its very existence as shitty pancake mix and reforming it into A+ pancake mix.
Huh. Maybe that's a metaphor for Jay's life. He's the shitty pancake, and it's up to Dick to add all the fruit and syrup and generous helpings of butter. Or, you know, Jay's on the good drugs, sleep-deprived, and totally making shit up. Either way.
Dick practically hijacks the kitchen, whipping up all manner of concoctions, working like a mad scientist to perfect his master creation, breakfast. It's weird, he and Dick could snap someone's neck without even trying, and yet, here they are, arguing over whether strawberries or blueberries are better additions to their breakfast foods. What would their enemies think if they saw them here, wearing flour-stained aprons like two middle-aged 1950's housewives?
Jay shakes his head to himself and goes back to watching Dick, who's got a smear of melted chocolate chips dripping down the bridge of his nose. He looks like he's trying to become their breakfast, but it's not like Jason's going to eat him.
He coughs a little, scolding himself at the very poor choice of words, and fights back the Blush as it tries to make a comeback. Before it has a chance to, Dick's poking at him with batter-covered hands, painting his face like a warrior. A pancake warrior, apparently. Jay snorts.
"There. Now we can pretend to have a shred of masculinity while we cook." Dick mock-snarls, trying to appear tough by flexing his biceps, which are also covered in ingredients. Messy idiot.
"We don't look manly at all," Jay corrects, licking some stray blueberry juice off a finger. "Not even with war paint."
"Speak for yourself. I'm very manly!"
Jay endeavours, and fails spectacularly, to stop himself from laughing. "And that's why they call you Pretty Boy."
"Oh, fuck you, too, Jay."
Jay winks lewdly. "Why, Dick, we haven't even had our first date!"
Dick flicks more batter at him, the asshole.
Their breakfast is fantastic, and Jay's thoroughly enjoying himself, for once. Dick decides to crash at his apartment for a bit, because it's become, in a few hours, like a second home. Jay supposes it always was, really. He probably couldn't refuse Dick if he tried.
They're sitting on the couch and watching reruns on Cartoon Network, for some unfathomable reason, when Dick wraps an arm over Jay's shoulders. He doesn't even notice he's doing it, and Jay finds he really doesn't mind. He shouldn't be surprised, but how much everything's changed in so little time is probably what's to blame for the initial disbelief.
"You know, Dick, if you wanted to get into my pants, you could've just asked," Jay begins, motioning to the arm curled around him. "No need to be so clichéd. I might swoon!"
Dick looks at his arm, then at Jay, and back at his arm again. "How did that get there?" he asks, and it sounds so genuine that Jay can't help but to chuckle.
"I don't know, but your arm has great taste." He waggles his eyebrows for effect.
"Your humility astounds me," Dick deadpans.
"One of my greater qualities, I've been assured."
There's a hand cupping his face, and Jay leans in. Dick meets him halfway.
"How are we going to break this news to Bruce?" Jay questions, some considerable time later, as they lie in bed.
"Oh, sweet Jesus," Dick cries.
They burst out laughing in unison.