All Jason had wanted was a scalding shower and an evening with Kori and Roy that didn’t involve aliens (excluding those present), mobsters, murderers (excluding those present), coups, or wars. He’d gone to Red Box and rented a movie. He’d brought home a six pack of the nonalcoholic beer that Roy had started drinking lately, “to curb the cravings.”
But, after Jason combed his damp hair into place and wrapped a towel around his waist, he walked out and stumbled on not one Bat in his (Kori’s) spaceship-home, but two.
“Jaybird!” Roy called, from where he perched on Dick’s back, arms looped around his neck, weight bending Dick over. “Look who I found!”
Dick beamed and waved at Jason, straightening up as much as he could with Roy’s legs wrapped tight around his waist. Jason raised his eyebrows.
“Roy, what did I tell you about bringing trash into the house,” he said, tone blasé. To Dick’s credit, his smile didn’t falter. In the spirit of feigning disinterest, Jason glanced across the room to where the other Bat was showing Kori the mechanics behind her weapon. Helena, Jason remembered. Kori seemed delighted by whatever Helena was saying, and Jason had a sinking feeling that he was about to be out-voted.
“Jay, if you have a minute, I’d like to talk. About a possible job,” Dick said, letting Roy slide down from his back. Roy sauntered over to Jay and leaned against his shoulder.
“Sorry, Dick, we only take work on commission. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” Jason said, crossing his arms and ignoring the fact that he was still in nothing but a towel.
Roy stepped away from him and Kori looked up from Helena’s crossbow-gun-hybrid thing, long hair flickering into flames, like it did when she was excited or in a fight. Her stony expression seemed to indicate she was preparing for the latter.
“We also accept conflict to help our friends,” Kori asserted. “And Dick is very much our friend. As is Helena. She is also royalty, and a refugee, like me.”
“Not. Not quite,” Helena started. Dick shot her a look and she rolled her eyes. “My mafia family was killed by mafia in a mafia turf war, I don’t think it’s the same, Grayson.”
Roy shrugged. “Kori clearly thinks it counts.” Roy turned to Jason. “Jaybird, seriously? They need us, and it wouldn’t kill us to help. Probably. Haven’t actually heard what we’re helping with, so can’t promise that last part.”
Jason let out a long-suffering sigh and glared up at the ceiling for several long minutes. He could hear the crackling fire of Kori’s hair, and Roy tapping his armored thigh.
“Fine,” Jason finally said, bringing his chin back down and glaring at everyone in turn. “I’m going to go pull on some pants. When I come back, we can talk about whatever this job is.”
“Thank you, Jay. I really do appreciate it,” Dick offered. Jason waved him off. He didn’t want to hear it, and it wasn’t like he was given much of a choice anyway.
As Jason walked away, he heard Kori murmuring, “I wish he would not do that.”
“What, front like he’s an asshole when we all know he’s not?” Roy muttered.
“No, put on pants. I do love his legs.”
Jason smirked as he closed their bedroom door behind himself, just barely catching Roy’s snort and Dick’s awkward laughter.
When he returned, they sat around the table that served as their dining room table and Dick and Helena explained everything. Apparently, a friend of Helena’s recently had her husband framed for murder by Jack Inzerillo. Inzerillo’s father led the Cosa Nostra crime family, formerly headed by the Bertinellis, Helena’s people. Helena had planned on confronting Inzerillo on her own, but Dick had caught up to her and convinced her to take her vendetta down a notch by salvaging enough money to help distance her friend and her friend’s family from Gotham, while also trying to prove her friend’s husband’s innocence. When they finished speaking, Jason sat back in his chair.
“This is a bad idea,” he concluded. “Mob stuff is always a bad idea to get involved in.”
“Jay, you ran a massive Gotham gang at one point, I don’t know how the mob is above your pay grade,” Dick shot back.
“Easy. Gangs are gangs, mobs are mobs. They’re fucking different, Dickie, and you don’t need me to tell you that,” Jason retorted. “And I didn’t say it’s above my pay grade because 1) you’re not fucking paying me and 2) clearly those two are all in, so, so am I. I just want it on the record, this is a bad idea.”
“It gets worse,” Helena promised. She pulled out an elaborately decorated piece of card stock from her boot and slung it on the table. “That’s a wedding invitation.”
“Oh?” Kori asked excitedly, resisting the urge to grab it lest she burn it. Still, she began to float as she leaned over Roy’s shoulder to look.
“Jack’s little sister is getting married,” Dick supplied. “And crashing that wedding is our best chance at getting a hold of the family’s money and evidence. It’s being held in their villa.”
“So. We’re supposed to somehow break into a heavily secured villa, pose as guests when there’s no way they don’t have a list, and rob the place, while also stumbling upon evidence that’ll free someone’s husband. Sounds peachy,” Jason muttered, rubbing his temples.
“You’re very negative lately, Jay. The sass doesn’t help,” Dick replied curtly.
“Mmhm,” Roy added, helpfully.
“Also, that’s not quite right,” Helena said. “We won’t be posing as guests- we’ll be staff. The mother of the bride is overwhelmed, I’ve already spoken to her and gotten us hired to support the current staff she has working the wedding.”
“Can I do this part?” Dick asked Helena, with a childlike glee that made Jason nauseous. Apparently, it did Helena too, because she rolled her eyes as she offered him a cluster of IDs that she pulled from her other boot. Jason began to ponder the utility of taller boots.
“Roy, you’re going to be the DJ. It’ll give you access to a computer while you try and hack into their accounts. It’ll also let you keep track of the bugs we’re going to plant.” Dick slid Roy one of the IDs, which had STAFF emblazoned across the top, with a picture of Roy underneath.
“Aces,” Roy said.
“Kori, you’re going to be the dress fitter and makeup artist for the bridesmaids. They already have their dresses, it’s just a matter of making sure that the dresses fit and that their makeup is done… I know you don’t wear much makeup, but hopefully it’ll turn out fine.” Dick passed her the ID with her picture… except that her skin was a much lighter shade in the image.
“Donna has shown me many things, including cosmetics. I will be fine. But this picture does not look like me, and I do not like it,” Kori made a face and show the ID to the others. Dick smiled apologetically.
“I know, Kori, but it was just so that we could get a hold of IDs in the first place. It doesn’t have to look like you, you just need to have it available in case someone asks. Jason, you’ll be the chef. There should be a staff that can actually cook, but--”
“Jaybird can cook,” Roy said. Kori nodded enthusiastically.
“Oh… Sorry, Jay, I didn’t know that about you,” Dick said. Jason smirked and plucked his ID from between Dick’s fingers.
“You better be getting your hands dirty too, Dickie,” Jason said, sliding his ID into his pocket. Dick smiled so bright, the lights seemed dim. Jason had a sinking feeling.
“Oh, don’t worry, I am,” Dick promised. “Anyway, we’ll all meet here tomorrow, early, so that we can drive down together. We need to seem like we’re part of the same team, at least for getting into the house. I’ll leave some briefing documents about the various families in attendance too. Are we all ready?”
The Outlaws voiced, hummed, and grunted their affirmations and Helena and Dick to their leave. When they were gone, Roy sat back and whistled.
“A con job with an ex-Mafia princess. Dickie’s changed,” Roy said. Jason rolled his eyes.
“He really hasn’t. I have a feeling if he didn’t get himself involved, this wouldn’t be a con, it’d be a massacre. Regardless, we’re doing this one job for him, but no more last minute scraps. If he wants favors, he’s gotta request them reasonably.”
“Thank you for agreeing to this, Jason,” Kori murmured, floating to him and pecking his cheek. She pressed his forehead against his temple. “You are being very kind to our good friends.”
Roy wrapped a hand around Jason’s waist and squeezed. “Seriously, Jaybird, I’m proud of you. I know you don’t like the Bats dropping in on you like this, but you handled it well.”
Jason ducked his head to hide his flushed cheeks and they laughed.
The next morning, Dick and Helena greeted them outside and Roy almost fell to the ground laughing. Kori tilted her head curiously and Jason raised his eyebrows.
“Your clothes are very nice, Dick, but I do not understand,” Kori said.
From the ground, Roy gasped out, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.”
Dick touched the clerical collar around his neck. “Actually, Helena said I wasn’t allowed to be a Catholic priest since I would be ‘defacing the Cloth,’ so for our purposes I’m like. Anglican or Methodist or something. I don’t know.”
“Oh? So you are a holy man? Why is that?” Kori asked, circling Dick and taking in his ensemble. This time, Dick cocked his head.
“Weddings are religious affairs on Earth,” Jason offered. “Religious clerks officiate them.”
One day, he would ask her about how weddings were conducted on Tamaran, but for now she seemed satisfied with his answer and that conversation could wait for when they were relaxed and enjoying home. Roy tapped at his ankle and Jason rolled his eyes before leaning down and grasping Roy’s extended hand, pulling him to his feet.
They left together in a sleek, black BMW, clearly borrowed from Bruce’s garage. Helena drove while Dick rode shotgun. Jason and Roy sat in the backseat, with Kori curled in their laps, napping like a cat. Jason brushed out her hair while she dozed, and Roy braided it.
When they arrived, Helena led them to the massive double doors of the main house. A frazzled looking blonde woman who towered on heels taller than Jason’s concealed tanto knife flung the doors open before Helena had the chance to ring the bell.
“You’re late!” the woman shrieked, her tall blond hair moving as she impatiently waved them into the house. Jason subtly glanced at his watch. They were five minutes early. Kori raised her eyebrows, but Helena quickly spoke for them.
“I am so sorry, but we’re here now and ready to work. If you don’t mind showing us around the venue, we’ll begin immediately.”
The woman looked like she had a few more harsh words on her tongue, but then she glanced at Dick who was flashing his most charming million-watt smile. She melted immediately.
“Of course, of course! Please excuse me if I’m a little… stressed. Your little girl only gets married once, you know!” she chattered while taking them deeper into the house. While she talked about the various rooms that they passed and the décor and the wall paintings, Roy quietly slipped bugs along their trail. They reached the kitchen first and Jason broke away from the group, tugging on an apron. Next, Kori was dropped off in a room full of giggling women where she looked just a little too comfortable for Helena’s comfort. Roy settled comfortably behind the computer he brought when he was left in the courtyard to prepare the music. Dick and Helena split to wander the house without the watchful eye of the mother of the bride, planting more bugs where they hadn’t before and keeping an eye on family that had already begun arriving.
After mentally cataloguing every early guest, Dick began to loop back around to check on the others. He met back up with Helena first, hovering while she wrapped up her conversation with the florist.
“What, Dick?” Helena asked, snagged another staff member who had an armful of garland to redirect him.
“Where are we at?” Dick asked as soon as the various staff filtered out of the room. Helena swiveled to glare at him, throwing her hands in the air.
“I don’t know, Dick! I think you need to ask yourself that question! You called me, remember? And then! You called your ex! And her partners! I don’t know what you want.”
Dick blinked. “Uh. I meant. I meant with finding evidence,” he said after licking his lips nervously. Immediately Helena lowered her arms and coughed awkwardly.
“Oh, uh. Nothing yet. And the only early-arrivals so far have been college friends and low-level henchmen.”
A woman walked in holding a gilded cage, which housed two cramped looking doves. Helena immediately flitted to the woman, waving her away. “Those do not belong inside, take them out immediately,” Helena chided, following the woman out and leaving Dick alone.
Dick whistled a happy tune and wandered off to find Jason. When he did, Jason was plating bacon wrapped asparagus and shoving the finished tray at one of the caterers. “Get that out now, guests are already arriving!” he said, waving the boy away. He immediately swiveled back to his worktable and began chopping what appeared to be scallions.
“How are we doing, how’s the search?” Dick asked from the doorway. Jason didn’t so much as look up at him. He scraped the chopped scallions into a bowl. He set the bowl aside and picked up a clove of garlic, peeling it deftly.
“I haven’t started it yet,” he said, mincing the garlic with a knife.
“What? What is it that you’ve been doing?” Dick asked, sauntering over. He reached over Jason for one of the devilled eggs nearby, and Jason swatted his hand away with the blunt edge of the knife.
“I’ve got 200 people I’ve to feed, fuck off!” Jason demanded, finished up the garlic and then scraping it from the cutting board into a small bowl. He strode to the oven and peeked inside before returning to his work station and grabbing a large silver bowl filled with some sort of white cream or sauce. Jason grabbed a whisk and began to furiously whip the substance, tossing in a pinch of pepper as he did.
“Oh. Uh. Okay. This is… surprising,” Dick said, glancing longingly at the devilled eggs.
“What? You think I’m only good at busting heads?” Jason muttered, tossing in some minced garlic without faltering in his furious pace.
“No!” Dick said defensively. “Or… yeah. Kind of. Well, not only good at it. I mean, we got the same training. Just… thought you preferred it is all. To other hobbies.”
Jason stopped whisking, set the bowl down, and immediately grabbed a massive knife.
“Hold a knife like this, cuts through an onion,” he said, emulating a chopping motion in the air. “Hold a knife like this,” he spun the knife into the air, catching it by the handle in his fist so that the blade pointed towards Dick in a reverse grip, “it cuts through like. Eight yakuza in four seconds. People are like knives. Everything’s in context.”
Jason set the knife down, in the nick of time. The mother of the bride burst in.
“What is happening, how is it going?” she demanded, craning her neck to look over the worktable. Pleased, Jason plucked a phyllo cup appetizer and gently added a touch of the white cream. He held it out and she plucked it from his hand, popping it into her mouth.
Jason gave Dick a cocky smirk, but when he looked back to the mother of the bride, her face was scrunched up.
“This isn’t a food court! I need high end food- fix it! And you!” She turned to Dick. “I don’t even know why you’re in here!” She swiveled on her stilettos and began to walk away. On reflect, Jason grabbed the nearest knife and reared it back, but Dick caught his wrist and the mother of the bride left the room unscathed.
“Just- Just focus on finding the evidence, okay?” Dick pleaded. “It’s why we’re here.”
Jason jerked his hand out of his grip and muttered, “Yeah, okay.”
Dick left Jason to his chopping and went to check on Kori instead. She was alone with a bridesmaid, tugging at the skirt of the gaudy purple dress that draped around the bridesmaid unflatteringly. When the bridesmaid saw Dick, her checks flushed and she bat her eyes, shifting just a bit.
“Hold still,” Kori warned as she slid a pin into the fabric.
“You look beautiful,” Dick offered the flustered bridesmaid, who blushed even deeper.
“You think so? You don’t think it makes me look fat?” She asked, glancing away.
“Well, I did have to let out the waist in the dress,” Kori said. The bridesmaid jerked and shot Kori a scandalized glare. The bridesmaid’s lower lip began to tremble, and Kori scrambled to correct herself.
“It is okay! You are, what, 170 Earth pounds? That is nothing in the Vega Star System!”
Dick winced as the bridesmaid burst into tears. The bridesmaid ran out of the room, and Kori looked at Dick helplessly.
“I did not mean- I did not know that to be fat is a bad thing!” she insisted. Dick walked over and put a hand on her shoulder.
“It’s not, Kori. But women are told that it is, and so some are sensitive about it.”
“How rude,” Kori huffs. “Who tells them such a terrible thing? I would like to speak to them.”
Dick open and closed his mouth, at a loss, but fortunately Helena poked her head in. “Dick! I need you, we have a situation developing.”
Dick gave Kori one last pat on the shoulder before following Helena out. Once they were out of earshot, Helena flicked off her comm and asked, “She didn’t… did she?”
Dick raised his eyebrows, but removed his comm to say, “Only one bridesmaid. And she’ll get over it, it was a minor offense,” Dick said, waving his hand flippantly. Helena gave him a weird look.
“What?” Dick asked, somewhat defensively.
“That’s a strange way to talk about it, that’s all,” Helena said shrugging. Dick stopped walking, forcing Helena to stop too.
“What do you mean? What do you think we’re talking about?” Dick asked.
“… Kori seducing a bridesmaid?” Helena offered. Dick balked and it was Helena’s turn to be defensive. “What? That’s what I was worried about when we left her alone with a gaggle of them! Is that not what happened?”
“No!” Dick practically wailed. “Why would it? Besides, Kori’s with Roy and Jay… I think….”
“Right, because she’s polyamorous,” Helena said. “Which is why I thought-”
“Kori doesn’t like women,” Dick insisted. “She’s not-” Dick paused as he considered a few different female friendships that Kori had had over the years, paired with comments he’d heard her make about various women. “Oh. Oh my god.”
Helena pat his shoulder consolingly. She flicked her comm back to life, and prided Dick’s out of his clenched hand to pop it back in his ear. “As much fun as I’m having with your epiphany, right now we have an issue. Suzie Su is here, inexplicably.”
A sharp inhale sounded over the comms system as Jason heard them.
“Oh. Um. Jay, do you think she’ll recognize you?”
There was a moment of silence as Jason flashed back to their last interaction in the Gotham hospital before Jason murmured, “Um. Yeah. Yeah, she will.”
“That’s it,” Dick said. “I’m pulling the plug. We’re ending this now.” Helena recoiled from him as if struck, and the comms crackled to life as the others chimed in.
“Fuck off,” Jason said.
“Yeah, don’t be a dick, Dick,” Roy quipped.
“Who, how does it go? Committed a coup and placed you in power?” Kori offered. “We want to stay and see this to completion. You asked us here, we are here. Do not ask us to leave. Not until we find what we are looking for and help Helena’s friend.”
“Yeah, besides,” Roy said against the sound his typing. “I’ve been hacking at this encrypted as fuck shit for too long to not finish it.”
“I’m okay with this, Dick,” Jason offered. “We’ve got this. We’re going to finish this.”
“Okay,” Dick said. “Okay, if you all are all in, then so am I. Roy, aside from the bank account, do you have any leads on possible evidence? Anything from the bugs?”
“Yeah, actually. Kaiju of the Bride keeps referencing the screening room in phone calls. Don’t know why, but surely there can’t be that much shit in one room,” Roy offered. “Someone should check it out.”
“My guess would be that she’s running a deal behind the rest of the family’s back—she’s essentially an outsider to the rest of the family. Loyalties aren’t as tight,” Jason offered. “There probably won’t be any evidence in that room, but there may be money.”
“Kori, can you?” Dick asked.
“Of course,” Kori said. “I’ll go immediately.”
“Wait! Kor, before you go, put on a bridesmaid dress,” Roy blurted. “And if you’re caught… play drunk.”
“I do not know that game,” Kori said, concern inching into her voice. “But I will wear the dress, even if it isn’t very suitable for fighting.”
“No fighting, Kori,” Dick said. “We’re going to try for the least amount of engagement possible. If someone catches you, just act confused, okay?”
Kori hummed confirmation, but before anyone could say another word, a loud crashing sounded over the comm, followed by Jason’s grunts.
“One of Suzie’s men,” Jason said, voice strained. “Trouble is a friend.” He grunted again and there was the sound of a dull thud, like a knife through wood.
“On my way, Jay!” Dick said, running for the kitchen. He walked in in just enough time to watch Jason grind two devilled eggs into the henchman’s eyes. The henchman screamed and stumbled back.
“It burns!” The henchman cried out.
“It’s the fucking vinegar!” Jason shouted, lifting a heavy silver serving tray and bashing it across the henchman’s head. The henchman crumpled to the ground, and Jason dropped the tray to floor, panting.
“Did… did you just kill a guy with an appetizer?” Dick asked, nudging at the fallen foe with his toe.
“I don’t know,” Jason panted. “Maybe?” He shrugged and Dick groaned into his palms.
“Okay. Okay, we need to wrap this up soon. If he’s here, there’s probably more. Probably more looking for you. Fuck. Okay. This is fine. Kori, what’s your status?”
“I am in hiding,” Kori whispered. “The mean woman from earlier is here, with someone speaking Cantonese. They are exchanging money and what they have called ‘blackmail materials.’”
“Since when did you learn to speak Cantonese?” Dick asked. Next to him, Jason coughed awkwardly.
“I speak Cantonese,” Jason said, by way of explanation. Dick blushed.
“Right, okay, great, Kori, just don’t engage.” A scream and a crash sounded, loud enough that Dick winced. “… what was that?”
“I have obtained the money and the blackmail materials, and I did not become engaged to either of them,” Kori announced proudly.
Roy and Jason cackled.
“Well. Turns out videotaping your murder of another mobster is a shitty fucking idea,” Roy said, once they’d peeled away from the ridiculously long driveway. “And Jaybird’s killer in an apron,” he said with a wink. “Get it?” he asked quickly.
Jason rolled his eyes and shoved at Roy’s head. “Yeah, we get it.” Jason glanced at the video that Roy had playing on a loop on his open laptop. Turns out Jack Inzerillo’s murder got caught on camera- and Daddy hadn’t gotten the chance to destroy it before his wife tried to turn it into Suzie Su’s operation in exchange for enough money to leave her husband. Now that money would go to Helena’s friend, and the evidence to court. Even Jason had to admit that, as far as work the Outlaws takes on goes, this one was clean and quick.
After Dick and Helena dropped them off, Jason collapsed on the couch, while Kori and Roy perched on either side of him.
“Sorry you had to do all that hacking work for nothing, Roytoy,” Jason murmured absently. “Dick had you wasting time.”
“No use crying over spilt milk,” Roy said, turning on the television. Without looking away from the screen, he added, “Besides. I did get in.”
Both Jason and Kori whipped to look at him. Roy smirked.
“Check the joint account,” Roy said. Jason pulled out his cellphone and logged into their account quickly, mouth dropping. “The rest is in one of our offshore accounts,” Roy said. “Wiped them clean. Well, mostly.”
“Mostly?” Kori asked.
“We have multiple offshore bank accounts?” Jason asked.
Roy grinned up at Kori. “I left him a few dollars. He’s gonna need something for commissary, in prison.”
Kori giggled and flopped into their laps. Jason worked his fingers through her hair, undoing her braid while Roy settled on a television show. Before long, Roy and Kori were passed out, sleeping off the day’s excitement. Jason’s phone vibrated.
The text from Dick read, “Thanks again, Jay! You’re a lifesaver.”
Jason sent back, “No skin off my back, Dickiebird. Don’t mention it.”
When Kori and Roy woke up at midnight, Jason made them devilled eggs.