When Jason approaches the main doors of Gotham Academy, Damian is waiting for him on the front steps.
Unfortunately, so is Damian’s teacher.
Well, it’s not completely unfortunate. Jason’s happy to see him. He’s always happy to see him.
It’s just that everytime he sees him it’s because Damian is in trouble.
“Yo, kiddo,” he says, trying to keep anything bad out of his voice. He’s been trying so hard to not make Damian feel awful about the things he does. The kid is dealing with so much. He’s scared and lonely and Jason and Dick and Cass try their best but they aren’t Bruce, they aren’t Talia. Not that Talia was necessarily the best mother, but she’s his mom nonetheless, and Jason knows too well how important that is. He nods at the teacher. “Hey, Tim.”
Most teachers and parents-slash-guardians aren’t on a first name basis. Jason doesn’t feel special though. It would have been nicer if they’d gotten to this point in a way that didn't involve near-weekly parent/teacher conferences.
Tim says, “There was an… incident,” while Damian scowls at the concrete.
“What is it this time?”
Tim pokes lightly at Damian’s shoulder, snapping his hand away before it can get slapped down. Or possibly ripped off. “You wanna tell him?”
Damian tilts his chin up in that self-important way he does before he reports to Batman. “I shot Jon.”
“You… shot. Jon. You shot him.” Jason blinks. Waits to be more surprised that those words just came out of his mouth. It doesn’t come.
He asks, “Sure you don’t mean stabbed?” because mostly the part he’s hung up on right now is the fact that Damian always prefers a blade to bullets.
“It was a water gun,” Tim supplies.
And. Alright. That’ll be easier to deal with.
“Why did you shoot Jon with a water gun?” Jason asks, because he believes in finding out the why of it first, and solving the root problem. It’s something he wishes had been done for him.
“Because I wanted to.”
“Why did you want to shoot Jon with a water gun.”
“Because,” Damian huffs, “he annoyed me.”
Jason prays for some of that patience he’s been trying to practise. “What did he do that annoyed you?”
Damian crosses his arms and looks away, and Jason sighs because he recognises this as the point of no return; the boy’s clammed up and he’ll refuse to talk about it until hours- possibly days- later.
“Alright.” He turns to Tim. “Jon’s okay, right?”
Tim nods. “He was a little upset, but he’s fine. I am gonna have to discuss this with his parents, but I wanted to meet with you first.”
“I appreciate it. I should talk with them too,” Jason says a little reluctantly. Clark is a big softy, but Lois… Maybe he’ll make Dick deal with that part. They’ve always loved Dickie the most.
“Where did you even get a water gun?” he asks Damian.
“Cass gave you a water gun? ”
“Why the hell would she do that?”
Damian just rolls his eyes.
“Whatever, I’ll sort that out with her later. But you, little mister,” Damian growls but Jason ignores it, “you should try talking to Jon instead of pulling his pigtails.”
Damian frowns. “Jon does not have pigtails,” he says, and Jason remembers that, for all his brilliance, Damian hasn’t been in America for that long, and there are still things he doesn’t know. He’ll be sure to recount this one to Alfred and Cass and Dick later. It’s adorable.
“I meant,” Jason explains, “that you oughta tell the kid you like him, rather than awkwardly flirting with him.”
Damian’s face blooms red and Jason can almost hear the grinding of his teeth. He hisses, “I don’t like him. And why don’t you tell Drake you like him ?”
“ Mr. Drake,” Jason corrects. And then, “Wait, what?”
There’s quiet for a long moment. Even the birds have stopped chirping. Or maybe Jason just can’t hear them over his own internal screaming.
He chokes out stilted laugh. “What are- who said I… What?”
“You like me?” Tim asks.
Tim rears back sharply.
Jason stammers, “I mean- I like you, like, as a person. You’re um. Good. Cool. Nice guy, but.” He laughs, high and manic. “Kids say the darndest things don’t they!”
“Grayson said you wish to bear his offspring.” Damian looks up at him with big, overly innocent eyes. “Are you going to adopt like Father did? Or do you have a uterus?”
A strained whine slips from Jason’s mouth. He forces out a cough to try and cover it up, but it’s pretty useless at this point.
Tim raises his eyebrows, a small grin in place. “Well that sure is a good question.”
“I don’t have a uterus,” Jason answers distantly as he covers his face with both hands in an attempt to disappear into the fucking void.
“Adoption, then,” Tim says easily. “Although, we should probably go on a date first, before we start signing papers.”
Cautiously, Jason peeks through his fingers. “What? Really?”
“Well, about the date part, yeah.” Tim smiles, a little nervously. “I’m joking about the adoption.”
“You wanna go out with me?” Jason asks in disbelief.
“Um.” Jason lowers his hands.
“Pathetic,” Damian mumbles, and Jason jolts, looks down at the kid he’d almost forgotten was there. “State a time and place, Todd.”
“Oh. Right. Okay, uh.”
“How about Saturday,” Tim suggests. “We can get lunch.”
Saturday. Lunch. That’s two days away, which gives Jason some time to mentally prepare. And it’s early enough to not interfere with the work he had planned for that night. “Great, that’s. That’s perfect.”
And then he just stands there staring at Tim, and Tim stares back, and Damian flicks a mildly disgusted look between the two of them, until he finally tugs at Jason’s jacket a little more forcefully than an average nine year old should be able to and barks, “Come, Todd.”
He starts walking away down the sidewalk and Jason stumbles to follow, waving goodbye stupidly. “See you Saturday.”
Tim smiles. “See you.”
On the way home Jason’s phone buzzes, snapping him out of his happy trance.
It’s a text from Cassandra; just a simple, You’re welcome .