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in the damage to my soul, the wishing fire is still alive

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When I open the window, a cold draught slits knife-like across my exposed skin. I draw my knees up to crouch on the sill, a testament to how tired I am – ordinarily, I would have hopped up or over. Outside, Jason's leaning against the rusty fire escape, overlooking Blüdhaven with drooping eyelids, smoke curling from his mouth.

Around the cigarette, his fingers are trembling, though not from the dank October air. Nightmares, I think. Small wonder.

I want nothing more than to squeeze the back of his neck reassuringly and draw him in to press our foreheads together. But I've taken care not to touch him without permission. He's had enough done to him that he doesn't need my affection forced upon him too, even if I mean well. It's already a miracle he's agreed to crash here. Gotham no longer offers him protection. His safehouses have been compromised and he has nowhere to go but abroad. I can't have that.

"Do you want the bed?" I offer again, when the silence pressures me. "I know the sofa's a bitch to lie on."

"I can't kick you out of your own bed," he says and flicks the stub into the darkened streets.

"You could slip in with me," I suggest with a grin: let him decide whether I'm joking or not.

He leans against the railing and studies me. I shift on the balls of my feet to work the circulation back into them. His scrutiny seems to attract all the blood to my face.

A smile of his own twists up the corners of his mouth. His eyes gleam in the orange lamplight from below.

"Lead the way, Dickiebird. I'm not saying no to another offer. That thing you call sofa is a torture device straight from hell."

I shrug. "You didn't want to listen."

I lock the window again once we've climbed through. Jason's movements are sluggish, but the tension in them spells alertness. Even with me, he can't relax. Perhaps he fears rebuke, and true, while I can give him shelter, I can't excuse his dealings of the past months.

But that's a matter for another day. More than moral lessons, Jason needs a friend who's not going to poison his ear.

I slip under the covers and hold the edge up for him to follow.

"Do you want to be the big spoon or the little spoon?" I ask. "Or, uh," adding hastily, "I'll just turn around and leave you be."

"Straightforward, huh?"

I give an undignified squeak when his icy feet touch mine.

"Be my big spoon, then," he says, reclining onto the pillow. "I'd probably freeze you to death."

I chuckle, but it comes out like a cough. Throwing the blanket over his shoulders, I settle against his back, cocooning him. He's rigid and bone-chilled, but thawing slowly.

"I've got you, little wing," I murmur against his neck and hold him close until his shivers subside and I feel him drift off to sleep.