It was that smell.
The smell of warmth, of spice, of energy.
Every time he entered the place and had his senses assaulted by the strong scent, he knew the kid was there, working, driving himself into the ground as he took the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was a damn overachiever, but that was nothing new. It was integrated into his very being, or so he had come to assume. The way he couldn’t be dissuaded from a single task, the way he continued to work until his body would force him into sleep, or until he was stupid enough to get himself hurt. He just kept pressing forward. That smell, of coffee, meant that he was pressing himself further. He was using the caffeine to make himself get just a little further so he wasn’t completely at human limitation.
Dropping his jacket on the couch, he stepped through the loft on a path that was automatic by now. He knew his way down to the little bird’s nest, and that was almost always where he found him, unless Jason got lucky. This was no such time. By the time he was at the lower level, he saw the glow of the large monitors, and the little shadowed figure sitting before them, typing away. He sighed, a bit of aggravation welling up, before he strode up to place his hand on the back of the chair and whirl it around, bringing the little bird’s features into his proper vision. He just glared at him with a raised eyebrow, waiting for an explanation from the younger boy that he would surely think justified his actions on the large pot of coffee sitting on the desk beside him with a full cup. Jason was sure that it hadn’t been the first pot of the night, and that if he had been able to count how many he had ingested over the last few days, his level of irritation would have been much higher.
This kid was an idiot and he was going to get himself killed just because he wanted to prove himself to people that he shouldn’t have given a damn about.
But no explanation came, he just received an even and unamused glare in return. It was a while that they remained just like that, neither giving an inch, neither saying a word. But it was Jason who “cracked” first. It always was.
“What in the hell are you doing.” It was caught between a statement and a question, all the while taking on the hint of a demand. It often was.
“I was working on my reports. I got back from patrol a short while ago.”
“That isn’t what I meant and you damn well know it.”
But Tim was all-too-smug about it, because, of course, he saw nothing wrong with what he was doing. He saw himself doing his job, and at the acceptable price. Even if he collapsed tomorrow because he was so exhausted and worn and fried. That would be acceptable, yet not because he would say - or maybe he wouldn’t, but Jason would know he was thinking it - that he shouldn’t have because he should have been able to do so much more. But what Tim didn’t get was that he wasn’t one of the freaking Supers. He wasn’t a Meta. He was just a kid who was trying to save the whole world by himself, and he couldn’t do that. He was stupid for trying. He should have understood by now. But that was one thing he didn’t seem capable of learning - his limitations. He could not understand nor accept it. It made Jason crazy.
“When was the last time you slept?” The next inquiry that would likely, and easily, go unanswered.
“I’ll sleep tonight.”
“Okay, first of all, no you won’t. Second, that isn’t what I asked, brat, and you know it.” He saw that glint of amusement in Tim’s eyes. The kid got a kick out of irritating him and making him crazy. He knew that well, and he hated that he could at all.
“You’re just a kid who can’t take care of himself, while thinking you can solve everybody’s problems.”
Tim still wasn’t saying a word. He was allowing him to rant because he knew that was the best and easiest thing to do.
“And you’re gonna get yourself killed.”
Still Tim didn’t say a word. Even on that subject. Or maybe it should have been especially on that subject, because a word was never spoken on it. Because he just didn’t seem to be bothered by that fact. He just brushed it off, as if he was confident he wouldn’t. But it wasn’t confidence, it was arrogance and irresponsibility.
“You freak out and panic over the idea of losing anyone else but it’s no big deal if anybody loses you.”
Why was this turning into some serious conversation? This was no situation that was any different from any time before.
But maybe it was because last time Tim had pulled this, he had gotten himself shot.
The time before that, he’d ended up with three broken bones.
The time before that, he’d gotten himself nabbed by some cocky bastards and they’d had to save him.
There was a pattern that he found to be seemingly endless, but the kid hadn’t picked up on it, evidently. It kept happening, so nothing had changed. And maybe it was because each time he heard about the situations he’d gotten himself into, things he should have been able to avoid, he felt that damned twist in his gut. It drove him nuts, it made him angry, because the little bird had gotten inside his head, and there was nothing he could manage to do about it. But Jason Todd was not a soft person. He didn’t get attached. Not anymore. He did not believe in love. He did not believe in family. He didn’t believe in friends - though he did believe in people being useful to him and serving a purpose for him, only when he wanted them to.
But Tim was trying to mess up that system.
There was an understanding in the boy’s eyes then, even if it was only a flash of it. It was unspoken, and he didn’t need to say a word.
“I’ll sleep.” A promise that he decided to give. Jason just scoffed, glancing to the pot of coffee once more.
“Yeah. Good luck with that with how much coffee you probably have in your system, little bird.”
Tim shrugged. Jason knew he just wasn’t commenting on the way his shoulders had lost some of their tenseness after the spoken promise.
“Tch.” This was stupid, and so was the brat sitting right in front of him, wearing that little smile now. He was still far too pleased with himself. Even if he had “lost”, Tim was still very aware of the fact that, overall, he had won. Ugh. Damn him.
He needed a smoke.
Listening to the sound of the boy’s chuckle, he watched him with the same glare before the smirk spread over the smaller male’s face as he stood. Arms wrapped around his neck, and Tim’s lips pressed to his own before he flicked his tongue out to trace his lower lip. It was then that Jason moved all at once, taking advantage of the boy’s parted lips to taste the flavor that was uniquely Tim’s own, always hinted with at least the faintest bit of coffee - but this was one of the times that it was strong, fresh. His hand shot to the back of the boy’s head, fingers tightly grasping the dark strands, his other going to grasp his backside.
He really needed a smoke.