Tim climbs in through the bedroom window and freezes - something is wrong. Cleo isn't waiting for him, for one. For another, he didn't leave the light on in the living room, but there's a faint glow down the hallway.
Tim flexes his hands once, twice. He's not a fighter by preference, but he knows how to handle himself, doesn't need anyone's protection. (Selina taught him that, how to stand on his own two feet no matter what comes his way.) He starts down the hall, stopping just inside the living room.
There was a time when Tim would have been pleased to see his uninvited visitor, perhaps even welcomed him into his home, with certain precautions, but that was a long time ago. The person sitting on Tim's couch is not the same person he was then, and there are entirely new precautions that need to be taken.
Jason looks up,corner of his mouth pulling up into a smirk. Cleo's seated on the floor in front of him, ears half-way back, fur slightly fluffed. Wary, not at all pleased with the intruder in her home.
"Nice guard dog."
Tim lifts his head and clucks his tongue. Cleo gives a little snort, annoyance at Jason's presence, and flows to her feet. She gives herself a little shake and trots forward, leaps for Tim, who has his arm held out. Cleo lands lightly, and calmly walks up his arm to assume her usual sprawl across his shoulders, tail curling lightly around Tim's throat.
"What do you want, Hood?"
Jason sighs, slumping back against the couch. "I thought you might be interested in a little business proposition." A sharp smile. "Underworld politics."
Tim's only interest in underworld politics is in being able to keep three steps, if not more, ahead of the game. Being able to read the undercurrents of who has power, what they do with it, and how it will affect the fragile ecosystem of crime and corruption that is Gotham's underworld. (Sometimes Gotham itself.)
One of the few things Selina hadn't needed to teach him was being able to see how the smallest ripple could cause such great change. (Tim's mother had taught him that, in her deeds and actions if not her words.)
Tim's eyes narrow. "Go on."
Jason smiles, teeth flashing. "Something's going on, and the information I need is proving tricky to get my hands on."
Tim is beginning to see where this is leading. "Really."
"Don't play coy, brat."
Cleo hisses softly at his tone, warning. It brings a smile to Tim's face at the sour look on Jason's. (Beautiful girl, his Cleopatra.)
"Not to be uncouth, but what's in it for me?"
Jason sighs, and this. This is the person Tim would welcome into his home, under certain provisions. Not Red Hood, but Jason.
"Coffee?" Tim asks sweetly, scratching Cleo's ears as he walks - certainly not sashays, that's Selina's department - into his kitchen.
The fact that Jason actually came to Tim for help means whatever he's after is important, which in turn means it's going to be a long night. (Tim's not above haggling just to make Jason's life more difficult.)
"I hate you!" Jason calls after him, resigned.
Oh, this is going to be fun, Tim can already tell.
"That's nice." Tim looks at Cleo. "Isn't that nice, Cleo?"
Cleo, beautiful girl that she is, meows in agreement.
“I know what you're doing.”
Tim pauses, looks up to see Robin scowling down at him from his perch, arms crossed over his chest. Further back on a higher roof he sees a patch of black that looks distinctly bat-like.
“Do you?” he asks, licking his lips, smirking when Robin's eyes track the movement.
“Whatever Todd is planning - “
“You need to learn how to ask the right questions,” Tim says, rising to his feet. Jason may not always make the right decision – God, no – but he tries to do what he thinks is the right thing. This time, Tim happens to agree.
Robin sneers, something that's always attractive in a man. Really.
“Actually,” Tim says, flinging out an arm to where a bright orange-tinged glow touches the night sky. “You should be far more interested in that, I think.”
Robin hisses (oh how Tim loves that about him), and jumps, hands on Tim's shoulders as he brings them to the ground. “What have you done?”
Tim laughs, showing his teeth in a sharp smile. “It's not what I've done you should worry about.”
No, Tim's part in this is complete, contract fulfilled. Information gathering and minor distraction. Just enough for Jason to do what needed to be done to make Gotham's streets a little safer by dispensing some rough justice. (Also known as burning the shit out of things, to use Jason's words.)
Damian glares at him, angry, furious. (Breathtaking.)
And how often does Tim get a chance like this? He surges up against Damian's hold, rolling them over and pressing a light kiss on his mouth
“Next time, ask the right questions, little Robin,” Tim says, smirking at the look on Damian's face as he pushes off him, knowing Batman is closing in fast, concern and worry and frustration tinged with anger at another cat that's managed to slip through his fingers. (Fortunately for him, Selina always comes back.)
“Worthless thief!” Damian yells, scrambling after him, but Tim's already gone, jumping out into free fall, laughter trailing behind him and absolutely certain he'll land on his feet.
Tim isn't surprised to find his bedroom window open, or the spatters of blood leading to his bathroom because Jason is an idiot. Cleo is perched on top of the medicine cabinet, watching intently.
“Not that I'm not flattered, but you should have gone to them,” Tim says taking the first-aid kit from Jason's hands.
Tim rolls his eyes, reaches out slowly, carefully, waiting for Jason's permission before he touches him.
“What the hell do you think you're doing?”
“Bloodstains are hard to get out,” Tim says, gesturing for Jason to take his jacket off, which he does with much glaring and growling. Typical enough for Jason that Tim ignores it.
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“They didn't know, Jason!” Tim snaps, irritated, Cleo chiming in with a sharp hiss. “If you'd told them they could have helped!” Maybe not kept Jason from getting shot, no, but they could have made sure he got the medical attention he needed, not. Not Tim and a first-aid kit, no matter how well stocked.
Cleo slithers down form her perch and leans against Tim's leg, offering quiet comfort.
Jason looks away first, grumbling, “It's just a scratch, not like it's going to kill me.”
Not this time, no. “Idiots, all of you,” Tim mutters, setting about cleaning and bandaging the wound. “You deserve each other.” (They do, actually, Tim's always thought that, even if Jason refuses to see things that way.)
Jason huffs, scowling into the middle distance while Tim works. “Selina called.”
“She had an interesting story to tell me.”
Tim closes his eyes briefly. Selina.
“Oh?” Tim finishes bandaging Jason's arm and moves on to the cut on his cheek.
And now Jason looks at him, smirking. “Something about the distraction working better than we planned?”
Tim drops his hands, sits back and looks at Jason. “You didn't specify what you wanted.”
No, all Jason had told him was to keep Batman and Robin busy while Jason burned down warehouses holding a new designer drug that was making its way into Gotham's schools, poisoning its teenagers.
A message, to a new group moving in, trying to take over and not something the Red Hood will tolerate. He's made his stance clear, and there's the added benefit (although Jason won't see it that way) of Batman and all his people taking an interest in this new group.
Tim would ask, but he knows Selina likes her secrets. Knows she keeps an on eye on him sometimes, out of concern, or when she's feeling restless and wants to play, knowing Tim won't deny her a game of tag across Gotham's roofs.
“Really?” Jason asks, and that's amusement in his voice, laughter crowing his words. “Of all the people out there, you go for the demon brat.”
Cleo hisses, half-hearted because even she agrees with Jason on this, not that Tim can blame either of them.
Tim shrugs, leaning in to place a band-aid – Batman-themed, because Dick thinks he's funny like that – on Jason's cut. “Apparently making bad life choices runs in the family.”
Not that it's a bad life choice, per se, so much as it is an astoundingly bad life choice.
Jason laughs, and Tim doesn't have it in him to argue because yes, this is his life, and it's often terrible like this, but he wouldn't change it for anything.