“Stark,” Jason says, voice bright in the damp night air. His sneakers squeak slightly on the marble as he walks out to join Tony on the terrace. Tony exhales a breath of smoke in greeting, cigarette still pressed against pursed lips. It’s November, half past four in the morning, and Jason’s obviously just back from patrol, hair still wet from the showers, a bruise that’s probably throbbing starting to darken on his pale cheek. Tony offers him the cigarette.
“Thanks,” Jason says, before taking a long, grateful drag. Tony shrugs and grins back. They both know Jason’s not supposed to be smoking, the same way they both know that Tony won’t tell Bruce. Bruce will know anyway, of course, but they’re both used to his disapproval.
“When’d you get in?” Jason asks, a smoke ring curling out from around his tongue. Show off.
“An hour ago. Alfred let me in.” He hadn’t exactly told Bruce he was stopping by, but then, he hadn’t exactly planned it either. Jason’s looking at him like he knows.
“Didn’t see the jet.”
“Didn’t bring the jet,” Tony says as Jason hands him back the cigarette. The sun is due up at any minute. They should both really be sleeping.
“Where’s the armor?”
“In the cave.” He pauses when Jason raises his eyebrows.
“Didn’t see it when I came in.”
Tony takes another slow drag, wishing he could have a drink without Bruce scolding him about it when he gets back from wherever he is now.
Jason reads him like a good little protégé of the world’s greatest detective.
“There’s storage for the armor down there? Bruce gave you a closet?”
“It’s more like a drawer. Don’t worry, I’m not about to start redecorating, though believe me, you guys could really use it. You’d think the original boy wonder would have convinced Bruce to put in a lava lamp or some disco lights to go with the dinosaur and the giant penny. Kid’s got a flare for the dramatic.”
Jason laughs, and then, comes the smirk Tony’s not prepared for, lips curled, teeth that are entirely too white in the dark, “Bruce made a space for the armor in the cave.”
“Of course not. I built it and designed it. Bruce just stood there freaking out while I installed it.”
“Yeah, he doesn’t like it when other people touch his stuff.”
“Guys with a lotta stuff never do. I should know. You know I own more foreign real estate than he does? He owns more hedge funds than I do, but still-”
“Yeah, I’ll bet that bugs you sometimes,” Jason says, smiling sharply, “So, are you guys fucking?”
And that, Tony knows, is the question you never want Robin to ask you about Batman. Ever. Because it doesn’t even matter what the answer is. It doesn’t even matter if you lie. It’s a warning shot; a sign that you’re being scrutinized in a way that means you’re certain to come up short. It would be a blow to anyone who wasn’t used to failing everyone around them.
“We’ve known each other a long time.”
“That’s a yes, then.” Jason says, crossing his arms. He sounds unbelievably smug, which is a great way to conceal feeling threatened when you’re under fire. Tony knows that particular bag of tricks by heart.
Tony used to have to really try with Dick, but he’d liked Jason right away. It was impossible for him not to respect someone who wore Robin’s mantle and smile as he went right for your throat.
“It’s complicated,” Tony admits, because it is. It’s not so much that he and Bruce really want each other that way when something better, someone more compatible, is available. It’s just that they have too much in common to pass up something so knowing that comes with no strings attached. Being a vigilante has totally ruined Tony’s sex life anyway, so it’s not like he’s going to feel guilty about it just because a teenager in short pants is going to cry himself to sleep.
They pass the cigarette back and forth until it’s done, and then Tony lights another one, wincing at the pain of clenching bruised fingers around the lighter.
“If you hurt him, I’ll kill you.” Jason says evenly. At that, Tony actually laughs.
“Kid, you’re not even the fifth person who’s threatened me with death today. If I were going to hurt someone, it wouldn’t be your boss.”
“He’s not my boss.” Jason says, smiling bright. Tony really likes him too much.
“Your father figure, then,” he says, because he was an asshole before Jason was even born, and nobody hits you right in the daddy issues like a guy whose own father never liked him. Jason doesn’t even wince.
“He might be your old friend and your next fuck, but he’s my partner, Stark. Don’t forget that.” Jason takes the cigarette and flicks the it onto the ground, stomping it out before walking back into the house.
Tony stares at the ashes on the ground until they cool to gray, the breaking sun just high enough that he can see his own shadow.