When Jason Todd staggered into his apartment at three in the morning to find a man bleeding all over his new couch, he didn’t bother asking who it was. He just hung up his jacket on a nail by the door, tossed his keys on the counter to be forgotten, and opened the fridge.
“You want something?” he asked.
The man on his couch grunted. “Not in the mood for that hipster soda, Jay.”
“It’s not fucking hipster,” Jason said. He pulled out two bottles of sparkling water and made his way to the living room, where Dick Grayson was waiting.
Dick never came to Jason’s apartment whole. He showed up on the hard nights, the nights when his toothy grin and quick wit sank into a cold silence, when the anger he couldn’t allow himself to feel lent an edge to his laugh and a sting to his blows. He came to Jason with bruises on his jaw and blood welling in his mouth, with twisted fingers and toes that curled with a pain he wouldn’t admit to. He came to Jason broken, not because Jason was any good at putting people back together, but because he knew that sometimes, even the best had to let themselves break.
Jason set the drinks on the floor and stood over the couch, blocking out the light from the kitchen hallway. Dick peered up at him through one good eye, the other swelled shut, and gave him a grimace that was more blood than tooth. A cut on his lip split open, and he raised the hand pressed to his side, streaking the dark kevlar of his suit.
“Right,” Jason said. “What’d you do this time? Lie on the ground and let someone step on you?”
Dick tried to laugh, but it came out strangled. “Sort of.” He drew up his knees to make room, and Jason caught a streak of rust brown on the cushions. He sat—didn’t matter if his jeans collected one more stain, in the end—and lifted Dick’s feet onto his lap. “You know the trafficking ring? West 60th street? Mostly drugs?”
“Yeah, I know it,” Jason said. He started unbuckling Dick’s boots.
“They were recruiting kids,” Dick said. His eyes were closed. When Jason pulled his boot off, he flinched, and Jason pressed a thumb to a thick knot at the base of his ankle. “Jay, cut it. Anyways, there were...” He kicked when Jason pulled off the second boot. “Teenagers. I lost two. Guy and a girl.”
Jason said nothing. He’d thought that this would change things: That having Dick crash on his couch, bloody and battered, would take the edge off the awe he’d felt the first time he saw him. Even then, Dick was exceptional, a small sun that drew all he met into his orbit, bright and overwhelming. He’d smiled at Jason, then, called him Robin like the name was meant for him, and when Jason took his hand, it was like gripping a lifeline in a churning sea. In that moment, Jason would have gladly died for Dick three times over.
Now, Dick’s fingers shook as Jason tugged his bloodstained gloves free, and his breath hitched in his throat.
You’re too good for Gotham, Jason thought, leaning over to fumble for the zipper at Dick’s neck. Dick smiled at him, that same fucking smile he’d worn at the start of it all, and laid a hand over his.
“Don’t. That’s the blood loss talking.” Jason let him take over, and tried not to stare at the blooming red patches on Dick’s skin as he shook his shoulders free, at the scars that trailed down his torso: Bullet wound, knife mark, acid burn. So many of them had stories that ended in Jason’s apartment, on Jason’s cheap furniture, on the cold tile of his bathroom floor. Without thinking, he ran his fingers up a jagged scar that Dick had earned in a fight with the League, and Dick froze, the sleeves of his suit bunching up around his elbows.
“Not gonna start lecturing me, are you?” Dick asked. Jason splayed his fingers over Dick’s stomach, and traced a scar the shape of a crescent moon.
“I’m the last person to give out life advice,” Jason said, and leaned down to press his lips to the silvery mark.
It was a terrible decision. He knew it as soon as he felt the clammy warmth of Dick’s skin on his mouth, as soon as he heard the sharp intake of breath, felt muscles jump under his lips. He made to back off, but then Dick’s hands were in his hair, guiding him up his chest. Jason circled his thumb over a burn, kissed a purpling bruise, and had to brace himself over Dick with one arm as he finally found his ruined face.
When Dick kissed him, Jason tasted copper on his tongue. He let out a sound of surprise, which was muffled when Dick, unperturbed by the way blood ran sluggishly from his lip, deepened the kiss. His good eye was closed, and he grabbed at Jason’s jaw, his neck, digging fingers into his unmarked skin.
They broke apart at last, and Jason sat up and pushed damp hair out of his eyes.
“One thing,” he said, and a shadow passed over Dick’s face, stark and fleeting. “Next time you want to bleed to death on my couch? Put a fucking towel down first.”
“Sure,” Dick said, grinning wide. “Next time.”