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Negotiations

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“I want to go to the martial arts exhibition on Saturday. You will accompany me,” Damian said.

“No,” Jason said.

“Yes,” Damian insisted.

“No means no, little D, and you better learn that now so I don’t have to smack you around when you get older,” Jason said.

“Father said I could!”

“So what do you need me for?” Jason asked.

“I need someone to take me,” Damian said.

“Ask Alfred.”

“He’s driving Father.”

“Ask Dick.”

“He’s got a competition.”

Jason rolled his eyes, as he did whenever Dick and Tim’s cheerleading career was mentioned. Only Grayson could make cheerleading so damn masculine. “Get Cass to take you.”

“She’s a girl,” Damian said.

“Yeah, that’s why we call her sister instead of brother. What’s wrong with girls?”

“She’d bring Stephanie.” Damian folded his arms across his chest and pouted. It’d almost be cute if the kid wasn’t such a brat.

Jason grinned. “Again, I’m not seeing the problem here. In fact, maybe we should all go.”

“No! You’d spend the whole time staring at Stephanie’s chest!”

Jason’s grin disappeared. “I don’t stare at her chest!”

“You do when she wears those low-cut tank tops. I suggested she invest in turtlenecks to stave off your lechery, but she seems to find it endearing.”

“You talked to her about me?” Jason ran a hand through his hair and reminded himself that killing his adoptive father’s biological son would likely make his home life awkward. “Wait - did she say ‘endearing’?”

“She blushed and suggested I mind my own business. We’re getting off the subject.”

“I like this subject,” Jason said. “What else did she say?”

“That you should take me.”

“Liar.”

“All right, she didn’t say that. But you should,” Damian said.

“Nope.”

“My mother saved your life,” Damian said.

“And I’ll take her wherever she wants to go,” Jason smiled.

“My father took you off the streets and gave you everything,” Damian said. “You’d just be another bum without us.”

All signs of humor left Jason’s face. “Get out of my room.”

“It’s true!”

“Out the door or off the balcony, your choice,” Jason said coldly. “In ten seconds, I’ll decide for you.”

“I’m not going,” Damian said stubbornly.

“Ten... nine... eight....”

“Fine! I’m sorry I said that.” Damian ground the toe of his boot into the carpet and added in a low voice, “Father likes you better than me, anyway.”

A responsible elder brother (i.e. Dick) would have assured Damian that Bruce loved them all equally. “Yeah, well, sucks to be you,” Jason said.

Damian studied his toes and finally said, “Please?”

Jason raised his eyebrows. “Really? That’s the best you can do?” He wished Alfred didn’t forbid smoking in the manor ‘cause he was craving a cigarette.

“I want to go with you,” Damian said.

“Yeah, you said that.”

“No, I mean,” Damian kicked the leg of Jason’s bed to avoid facing his brother. “I want to go with you. It might be fun.”

Jason eyed Damian, but the kid seemed sincere. He sighed heavily. “Would I have to get up early?”

Damian looked up eagerly. “It doesn’t start until ten.”

Jason considered it for a long, quiet moment while Damian watched him with big puppy eyes. A yippy, annoying little puppy, like a chihuahua. Finally, Jay rolled his eyes. “Okay. Just this once.”

Damian’s whole face lit up and Jason felt this weird, brotherly... something. Was this how Dick felt when Tim followed him around like a cocker spaniel?

“Can we take the bike?” the kid asked.

“Sure.”

“Can I drive?”

“Not in my lifetime.”

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