Jason's fiddling again. He's been fiddling for the past hour. It's not as if he can help it, considering Dick had told him, early in the morning and completely out of the blue, that today just happened to be the day they were going to tell Bruce. You know, that they were banging.
Yeah, no. He's not cool with that. He likes his sanity intact, and God knows how crazy he'll go once Bruce changes into full disappointed parent mode. Honestly, the words disappointed and Bruce don't go together well, if at all.
Dick pats him on the shoulder in a pathetic attempt to be reassuring. "It'll be fine," he says.
Yeah, sure, okay. It'll be fine. Jay'll be fine. He's not even going to pull the "You're not my real dad!" card. It'll go swimmingly.
His eye twitches. Dick offers him a cup of coffee, because apparently caffeine is relaxing.
With a punctuated roll of his eyes, Jay takes it anyway and drinks it in a few short, scalding gulps.
The car journey to the manor is tense, at best. At worst, Jay's hands start shaking. Dick's never had to deal with this, Bruce's disappointment. He's the Golden Boy. He's Bruce's favourite.
Jay isn't Bruce's favourite.
Jay isn't even second best.
He stares out the window, watching the streetlamps pass by at high speeds, the lights illuminating, darkening, and then once more illuminating the car in a consistent rhythm. Usually, he'd be comforted. Now, not even Dick's rambling on proper word usage is calming him down, and that's saying something.
He starts tapping at the window, nervously fidgeting again. Dick gives him this look, a mixture of concern and affection, like he's just seen a puppy trip over its own paws or something, and Jay stops. He's not a puppy, and he certainly doesn't trip. Jason Todd is fucking graceful. In a manly way.
"Come on, Little Wing," Dick pleads. "It's just Bruce!"
"Yeah," Jay deadpans, though the derisive tone makes it through anyhow, "just Bruce."
Dick manages to look even more concerned, the damn doe-eyed asshole. He starts drumming his fingers against the steering wheel, and Jay realises that Dick's probably just as nervous as he is. Plus, the atmosphere's really not helping matters. Feeling suddenly helpless, he rests a hand atop Dick's. He tells himself it's just to stop the tapping. Dick's fingers still, but he continues to look clammy. Jay doesn't move his hand.
"Calm down. You'll crash the fucking car."
"This is going to be a disaster, isn't it?" Dick asks, easing his foot off the gas somewhat. He makes it sound more like a statement than a question.
"No. It'll be really, uhm," Jay pauses. He thinks of something Dick would like. "It's going to be really aster. Completely, 100% aster."
"We're gonna die. Or get maimed."
Jay's eye twitches again. He's not sure if it's the caffeine. He hopes it's the caffeine.
"Yeah. We're dead. You're dead. I'm dead. For the second fucking time."
The car pulls into the driveway and comes to a stuttering halt. They sit in silence for a few moments, staring at the manor, before Jay hesitantly reaches for the door. Dick smiles nervously.
Dick actually knocks on the door. He knocks. On the door. To his own house.
Jay cannot believe him sometimes.
The first thing Bruce does when they say, "We have to tell you something..." is frown. Then, he narrows his eyes and raises an eyebrow.
Jay is not ready for this.
"So, uh, we, uhhh..." Dick begins.
Bruce's eyes narrow farther, and he, like they had only a short time before, starts drumming his fingers against the dining room table.
"What Dick's trying to say is..." Jay starts, motioning a little, as if that's going to fucking help them explain.
Bruce looks somewhat concerned now (or rather, as close to concerned as someone like Bruce can manage to look), but remains silent.
Jay looks down, studies the table intently, then anxiously nudges Dick. Dick stutters something unintelligible.
Bruce lowers the eyebrow. He drums his fingers even harder against the wood. Absently, Jay wonders if it will splinter. It's probably worth millions.
Yeah, this is going swimmingly.
"Me and Jay are-," Dick stammers. "Well, you see, we're-"
"Should I be worried?" Bruce asks.
"No?" Jay tries to sound firm, but instead comes out sounding closer to his approximation of a seven-year-old caught with his hand in the cookie jar. What the fuck is this?
"Is that a question?" Bruce's fingers freeze. Bats don't even have feathers, but his are most definitely ruffled.
Jay takes a deep breath. Dick shoots him a terrified look.
"MeandDickaredating," Jay says, in a rush. He's impossibly managed to speak faster than even the great Bart Allen himself. There's probably a record, or something.
Bruce, in the most terrifying display Jay's ever witnessed, laughs disbelievingly.
Oh, sweet Jesus. It's worse than he could have imagined. It's almost like Bruce Wayne is showing positive emotion, except worse. A lot worse.
Dick pales. He looks over at Jay, expectant. Jay shrugs, eyes wide, as if to say, "Like I fucking know!"
When it becomes clear that nobody's joking -- which is literally within two seconds, by the looks of pants-shitting terror on their faces -- Bruce blinks a few times, looks between the two of them, and coughs awkwardly.
"Congratulations," he says.
Jay looks back down at the table, examining the beautiful patterns on the finely-polished wood. It truly is exquisite. It's also very interesting right now, as he waits almost certainly for his impending death. In fact, it may be the most amazing table he's ever laid eyes on.
"Thanks," Dick mumbles. He also seems to share Jay's love for carpentry at the current moment. It's another thing they can bond over, perhaps. You know, later, when they're not about to die.
Oh, God, it's at times like these that Jay regrets not having superhuman abilities. He'd do anything to be able to fly away right now.
Bruce, after the initial shock, invites Jay to stay with them for a while at the manor. Jay's skeptical at first, but Dick convinces him with offers of pie. He can't turn down pie. Or Dick, really. (Not that he'd ever admit to it.)
They're about to get settled in their room, when Damian waltzes down the stairs, stands in front of them, looks them over, and smiles the most victorious and self-satisfied smile Jay's ever seen grace his face. Immediately, the absolute lunatic spins on his heels, vaguely aiming himself towards the direction of Tim's room upstairs, and yells, "Tim, you owe me fifty dollars!"
"Which bet this time?" comes the shouted reply.
"Which one do you honestly think I'm referring to?"
There's a small silence. "The one I was supposed to win?" Tim peeks out from the landing.
Damian waves him over, looking increasingly smug by the second. Tim edges down the stairs, clearly unwilling to face his apparent defeat in person.
"You couldn't have waited two more weeks? Nice to see you two, by the way," Tim sighs.
How is this his life?
Dick claps him on the back. "Glad to be home?"
No. Maybe. Kind of.