Dick’s always loved how Jason looks when he’s reading, curled into the corner of a couch with a thick book open in his hands, utterly lost within whatever world exists inside the pages. Bruce is on the opposite side of the room at his desk, pen a quiet background noise that joins the faint crackle of the fireplace. Otherwise, the only sound is the soft rustle of paper as Jason turns pages, and that familiar cadence makes Dick smile the moment he comes in the room.
He crosses it, coming up to slide onto the couch next to Jason and press up against his side. “Hey, babe,” he murmurs, leaning in to nuzzle against his temple, taking a shallow breath to breathe in his mate’s scent.
Jason hums a response, leans into him slightly but doesn’t look away from the book. Dick’s not surprised.
He settles in, resting his head on Jason’s shoulder and peering down at the pages. Honestly, he could stay like this forever. The light filtering in through the windows, the scent of his mate in his nose, and his alpha across the room, strong and steady and simply there. He’s never been more content than how all of this feels. He’s never been as happy as he is here.
The door opens, and Dick flicks his gaze up to look with only a small flicker of protective instinct. It fades instantly when Alfred is the one to come through, offering him a small nod before heading over to Bruce and leaning down to speak with him. It’s quiet, inaudible except for a faint murmur of sound. Dick eases himself back down against Jason’s shoulder.
Bruce’s, “Show him in,” is just loud enough to be heard, and that gets Dick to lift his head for real this time.
He watches as Bruce gets up from the desk and circles around it, Alfred heading back out the door but leaving it slightly open. Bruce is straightening his clothing, brushing down the folds formed from sitting so long in one place, as he heads towards them.
“We have a guest,” Bruce offers, adjusting his cuffs. “Here to see you and I, Dick. Jason?” Here he gives a small smile, as Jason looks up from the book with an equally small frown. “Would you mind putting that down for a bit?”
Jason’s frown deepens a little, but he sighs and nods, closing his book and setting it aside on the small table beside the couch. “Yeah, alright.”
Dick smiles and leans in to give him a small kiss to his cheek, taking one of his hands and lacing their fingers together. “Just for a minute. Come on.”
He pulls Jason to his feet, squeezing for just a moment before he lets go and steps slightly to the side, putting a more proper distance between them for whatever company is on its way. Jason brushes his own clothes down, reaching up to fasten the last few buttons on his collar and hide the couple inches of skin revealed. Bruce dips his head in a small nod, then turns towards the door.
The man Alfred leads through is tall, white hair falling roughly to his jaw, a single blue eye sharp and contrasted by a white eyepatch covering the other. Dick feels his eyes widen, his heart skip a beat as he stares. He swallows, fear closing his throat, his hands drawing tight.
Slade’s gaze flicks from Bruce to Dick, focuses on him. He shivers at the weight of it, and then the way that his mouth curls at the edges. Sharp as his gaze, as it always has been.
“Lord Wayne,” he says, aiming that smile at Bruce, with a dip of his head only barely deep enough to be considered acceptable to a head of household. “Thank you for granting me an audience.”
“Of course.” There’s a beat of silence as Slade stands there, and Bruce faces him and waits for some continuation. It doesn’t come. “I was told that you had some business with me?”
Slade steps forward. “Yes, you have something that belongs to me. I’d like it back.”
Bruce straightens that last half inch, facing Slade evenly as the other alpha begins to move forward. “Excuse me?”
“The boy you’ve taken in; Grayson. He’s mine.”
From his place beside him, Dick can feel Jason’s shock radiating, but with Slade standing right there, he can’t do anything to acknowledge or assuage it. All he can do is stare as the alpha he thought he had long since left behind approaches him across the room, walking with a calm sense of authority despite the way Bruce glares at him.
Dick’s knees threaten to buckle as Slade’s scent reaches his nose; the urge to submit growing in his chest. It’s a struggle to fight it, to remember that he’s been independent of that control for two years now. That he’s built a new life for himself, with a new pack, a mate. A mate he has to protect… protect from...
“Hello, pet,” Slade smiles down at him as he stops less than a foot away, “Did you miss me?”
“Dick?” Jason shifts closer to him, a nervous undercurrent now in his body language as he picks up on Dick’s own reaction. The brush of a shoulder against his own should be reassuring to him, but instead Dick only feels nauseous. “Who is this?”
“I think I should be the one asking that.” Slade says pleasantly, reaching out to brush his fingers down Dick’s cheek. “Something you maybe forgot to tell them, boy?”
"I want an explanation for why you're in my home. Now." Bruce's voice is just shy of a growl, and the deliberate step forward is clear threat and demand. Slade ignores it, doesn't pull his hand away or offer any indication of give.
Why should he? He's another three inches taller than Bruce and maybe even heavier too. Dick's never met another alpha quite as dangerous.
More unease filters around the room. Not least from Dick. He swallows thickly, “He’s... “
“Go on, out with it.” Slade says, stroking his fingers down his cheek to Dick’s throat. “Tell him what he wants to know.”
He’s enjoying this. Of course he is.
Dick closes his eyes for a moment, then forces himself to answer. “He’s Slade Wilson. A mercenary, and… and he was my alpha.”
The atmosphere in the room turns colder.
Jason recoils away from him, and when he next speaks Bruce’s voice is like ice, “You told me you didn’t have a pack. You said you were alone.”
“He ran away from me. Two years ago.” Slade explains. Dick’s breath hitches as the fingers on his throat threaten to curl around it. “I’ve been looking for him ever since.”
“That can’t be true.” Before anyone else can speak, Jason’s voice rings out. Slade’s eye shifts to him, and Dick immediately takes the opportunity to take a step back, pulling himself away from the burn of Slade’s touch. His mate’s cheeks are pink when he says, “I would know if he…” his eyes dart to Bruce, who looks back stonily. “Dick doesn’t have a claiming mark.”
… damn. If he hadn’t been so startled by Slade’s appearance, Dick might have thought of that and used it to deny Slade’s claim in the first place. But he’d never expected to see Slade again, that was the entire point. He’d put years and miles between them to that end, hoping that Slade might give up on him, maybe even assume he was dead. Only he’d underestimated him.
He should have kept moving. Never should have stopped. Except that he’d stumbled upon this place, met Jason, Bruce and the rest of his family. It had felt so good to be welcomed here, to have what felt like a real home.
“Really?” Slade says, looking in a way Dick reflexively dislikes at Jason. “That’s interesting.”
His lips starts to pull back over his teeth as Bruce cuts in, moving closer as if he intends to put himself between them and Slade. “My son has a point, if your intention here is to take Dick from this place, you have no right to do so without evidence that you have a claim over him.”
“Even if he admitted as much?”
“Even then.” Bruce says, on the edge of a snarl.
Never has Dick been more grateful to Bruce than in this moment (except of course, for when he accepted Dick’s courtship of Jason). Bruce might only be doing it to try and save Jason from suffering the repercussions of Dick’s actions as well, but it still means something. Still gives him a chance to avoid slipping back into Slade’s hands.
If they can just get rid of Slade, he knows he can explain everything. That what he did, he didn’t do out of malice, or a deliberate intention to mislead. He’d just wanted a clean break, to forget. To no longer have Slade’s influence hanging over him.
Whatever he has to do to earn their forgiveness he’ll do. He’ll prove himself all over again to both Jason and Bruce if that’s what it takes.
Then Slade talks, and dashes his hopes immediately.
Still looking at Jason, he says in a deceptively mild tone, “You seem to know Dick rather well, are you sure you’ve never seen a mark on him? Right about...” Slade touches his fingers to his own right hip, “... here?”
Dick’s heart sinks into his stomach.
Behind him, Jason’s blush deepens at the insinuation, and despite his defiant gaze, he can’t quite manage to hide the way his eyes widen in recognition of Slade’s words. “I…”
It’s a tiny hesitation, but Slade leaps on it like a tiger scenting blood. “You do know what I’m talking about, don’t you?”
“Jason?” Bruce asks suspiciously.
Jason looks at Dick, biting his lip. He looks angry, both at himself and him. “There’s a scar.” he begrudgingly admits, turning his gaze away towards a corner of the room. “Just a scar. Not a bite.”
“Just a scar.” Slade repeats. Now he gives Bruce his actual attention, “No doubt the boy tried to disguise my claim on him after he ran, but I assure you, the mark is mine.”
“An unusual place for a claiming bite.”
“I’m an unusual man.” Slade smirks now, “And I had my reasons for leaving it where I did.”
Yes, like how not having it be obvious that Dick was claimed enabled Slade to use him in various ways for the jobs he took on in his mercenary work. Dick remembers well his own shock when Slade abandoned his neck to sink his teeth into the flesh over his hip instead, worrying them deep enough that it felt like they struck bone. He’d been unable to stand for days afterwards while the wound healed, and just thinking about it now sends a phantom pain shooting up and down his flank.
Bruce’s jaw tightens, “Show me, Dick.”
Dick starts to shake his head, “Bruce, please—”
It’s a full on command, and Dick can’t defy it. He reaches with shaking hands down to his belt, undoing the buckle and sliding the leather free. Jason still won’t look at him as he pulls his trousers down and lifts the hem of his shirt just enough to bare his right hip, as well as the ugly ragged scar left behind when he took a heated knife to his skin to remove the evidence of Slade’s teeth.
“There,” Slade says casually, stepping towards Dick once again. His hand reaches out, fingertips brushing against the scar. “You see?”
“I see a scar.” Bruce says, through gritted teeth. “A scar that could have been made by any number of causes.”
Slade’s expression doesn’t change, but Dick feels the pressure increase against his hip. A bruising force that’s all too familiar. “I have no reason to lie to you, and you heard what the boy said before. But if the evidence of my claim isn't good enough for you, I suppose I could resort to other ways of taking what's mine."
The implication is clear. An unspoken challenge hangs in the air. Between the two alphas, the atmosphere is as hot and heavy as an impending thunderstorm, and Dick watches with growing dismay as Bruce is forced to weigh his options.
If he decides to fight and wins, everything will be fine. But if Bruce were to lose… there’s far more at risk than just Dick and Jason. There’s the house, his wealth, and worst of all, the rest of the pack. Jason’s younger brothers and sister. If Slade were to decide to include them as part of Bruce’s penalty for failing to defeat him… Dick feels sick again just thinking about it.
Could Bruce beat Slade? Maybe. He’s a formidable fighter, Dick knows that from the training yard and earning his own place here. Certainly, he has a better chance of it than almost anyone else he’s ever encountered. But he remembers too, how incredibly dangerous his old alpha is. How many men and women he’s seen Slade kill.
It’s dangerous, too dangerous to take a risk on an unknown enemy, and judging by the way Bruce’s jaw tightens, he realises that too.
I’m sorry, he wants to say, but the words stay stuck in his throat. I’m so sorry.
“Well?” Slade prompts Bruce, when the silence goes on a beat too long.
When it comes, the admittance is like a death knell.
“I recognise your claim.” Bruce says, speech stilted as if he’s having to force himself to say every word. “He belongs to you.”
“I’m glad you see things my way.” Slade smiles. He takes his hand away from Dick’s hip. “Now, just to clarify a few things. Your son… Jason, is it?”
Jason has backed off another step. His scent is starting to turn sour underneath that which Dick left on him. He knows what’s coming. They all do.
“Slade, don’t—” Dick tries to protest, but Slade just talks over him.
“Mated to my boy, is he?”
“Yes,” Bruce answers, his accusing gaze all on Dick, “He is.”
“I see.” Slade reaches up, stroking his hand thoughtfully over his beard. He turns his head to look at Jason, “Then I suppose you’ll be coming with me too, won’t you?”
“Bruce, please…” Jason looks to his father desperately, but Bruce can only shake his head.
“It will be all right, Jason.” he says, and Dick has no idea how his voice can be so steady in this moment. He wants to go to Jason, hold him, comfort him. Tell him he loves him and repeat Bruce’s words in a way that doesn’t sound like a lie, but Dick knows that Jason is more likely to hit him right now than accept his comfort.
With shaking hands he fastens his pants and belt back up, tucking his shirt in again while Slade continues talking to Bruce. Saying what, Dick no longer quite knows, his head is spinning too much. He thinks Bruce makes an offer to try and get Slade to spend at least a night here, which Slade refuses, citing he’s already secured lodgings nearby. The rest is a haze until Slade’s hand grips the back of his neck.
“Come on, boy, you and I need to have a word in private while that pretty mate of yours packs his belongings.”
Bruce directs them to the drawing room, before disappearing back into the rest of the house, presumably after Jason, who stormed from the room they were in the second he was allowed. As soon as the door is closed, Dick finds himself being thrown backwards, then pushed up against the nearest wall by Slade’s overbearing weight.
He expects it, but that doesn’t stop him from gasping as the air is knocked out of his lungs. Dick tries to inhale, but that exact moment is when Slade’s hand wraps around his throat, squeezing tight.
“Submit,” he growls into Dick’s face, as his hands claw at Slade’s arm. A heave, and Dick’s toes are barely touching the floor. “Submit. Or I’ll really start to hurt you.”
You already are, Dick can’t say, but he knows Slade never makes a threat without meaning it. It should be harder than it is to obey, but apparently some old habits are so ingrained that they never go away. With Slade here, as huge and powerful as ever, his voice aggressive in Dick’s ears and his scent surrounding him, it’s almost as if the past two years never happened. Dropping his hands and letting his head fall back, Dick defies every instinct that tells him to struggle and fight as he’s being choked out, giving himself over entirely to Slade’s mercy, such as it is.
Seconds pass. Maybe a minute in which Dick wheezes and strains, struggling to bring tiny little snatches of breath into his lungs. The entire time, Slade watches him with a critical eye, assessing his actions. Through his reddening vision, Dick sees his nose twitch as Slade scents him; it’s only when the world starts to go dark around the edges that he’s finally released.
Dick falls to his knees, hauling in desperate lungfuls of air. One hand goes to his throat, touching tender flesh, while the other braces against the floor to keep him from collapsing completely. The position gives him a perfect view of Slade’s feet and not much else.
He doesn’t get up.
One of Slade’s boots rises, toe nudging against his shoulder, then the side of his neck until he turns his head away to bare it. “Later,” comes the words from above, “We’re going to make sure you never run from me again. For now, you’re going to sit here with me, and we’re going to wait for your mate to finish collecting his life. Is that clear?”
Dick rubs at his throat as much as he can stand, grimacing as he grates out, “Yes, alpha.”
Slade grunts, boot dropping away from his neck. “At least you can still listen.”
He watches as Slade’s feet step away from him, walking to the nearest chair and sitting down. A snap of his fingers indicates that he expects Dick to move over to join him, and Dick winces before forcing himself up onto his feet to stumble a couple paces closer before falling to his knees again (he refuses to crawl, no matter how much easier it would be). Almost as soon as he stops moving, Slade’s hand is in his hair, pulling Dick’s head forward until it’s pressed against his thigh. Then the hand slips down to Dick’s neck, squeezing over the back of it before forcing him to move his head so that his face is turned upwards, looking at Slade.
It’s far from comfortable. Dick clenches his jaw at the strain the position puts on his spine.
“You know,” Slade says, after a moment of looking at him, “if all you wanted was an omega to fuck, you could have just asked.”
Dick recoils, or rather, tries to. “That’s not—” he winces further at the roughened sound of his own voice, “It’s not like that. That’s not why I…”
“Really?” Slade raises his eyebrow, before tracking his eye around the room, taking in the obvious signs of wealth. “You seem to have landed on your feet. Worked your way into a nice rich family.” His mouth curves into a small smirk. “The omega boy’s a bit big; old tastes there, Grayson?”
Shame coils hot in Dick’s belly. “Don’t talk about him like that.” he hisses, wishing he could turn his head away.
“Those skills I taught you must have come in handy for worming your way into his bed.” Slade continues, ignoring him. “I assume that’s how you did it. Seduced him, ruined his honour, so that uptight father of his had no choice but to allow you to—”
“No!” Dick shouts before he can stop himself. He’s horrified at the implication, the idea that he could... his and Jason’s courtship had lasted months, even if the initial attraction between them had sprung into being much faster. He’d done everything by the book, properly, and while there might have been a few indiscrete moments along the way, he and Jason had never slept together until after the formal recognition of their union had been made. “I wouldn’t… I’d never…”
Slade’s fingers tighten on his neck. “Wouldn’t you? I already know you lied to them about me. Who knows what others you’ve told in your time here.” He snorts, “A family like this, allowing a landless, penniless alpha like you to mate with the heir to their fortune... They’d never do it otherwise.”
“Bruce isn’t like you.” Dick chokes. He hates him. He hates him — almost as much as he hates himself in this moment. “He’s a good alpha. He only cared that I made Jason happy. That we love—”
“Love each other?” Slade laughs, thumb sweeping up under his jaw. “That’s cute.”
“It’s true.” he glares.
“Oh, I have no doubt you believe it. You always were an idealistic whelp, despite my attempts to teach you better.” Slade shakes his head, as if exasperated by his behaviour. “Well, too late now; the boy will be coming with us. Is he carrying yet?”
Dick grits his jaw, “No.”
“Good, that makes it easier. An omega with an uneasy belly is the worst to travel with.”
It’s a long shot, but he still takes the chance. “You don’t have to take him. You could leave him here, with his family.”
“We’re his family now. You made sure of that when you stuck your knot in him.” Slade tells him sharply, as if Dick needs the reminder. He flinches as Slade’s thumb pushes harder into his jaw, “Now we all have to live with the consequences.”
“Please, Slade. Please don’t hurt him...”
“Hurt him? Why would I do that? I have no cause to… yet.”
“Slade, I’m begging you—”
“No. You don’t get to ask me for anything. Not now, and not for a good while yet. You have to earn forgiveness, Grayson, and what you’ve done is going to take a great deal of forgiving.” Slade shoves Dick’s head back down against his thigh. He gulps at the strength of the scent in his nose. “You can start by being quiet. We have some time to wait still, and I need to think.”
He doesn’t say what about, and Dick dares not ask, though he has a good suspicion. All he can do is wait, sure that he’ll find out soon enough.
Leaving is a torturous affair. Alfred comes to tell them when Jason is ready, and the cold shoulder he gives Dick as they walk out the door into the entrance hall chills him to the bone. Jason is waiting there, with his bags at his feet, dressed warmly for the weather outside and with his travel cloak wrapped around his shoulders. Next to him is not only Bruce, but all his siblings as well.
Dick is forced to endure their eyes on him as they make their farewells and move towards Slade’s carriage. Emotions ranging from confusion, to anger, as well as distress. It hurts worst from Damian, the youngest, who Dick has also become quite close to in his time here.
Slade, meanwhile, is wearing what Dick always thought of as his merchant’s persona, with an easy, charming smile and friendly tone that doesn’t at all fit the situation. Especially since Dick is sure his throat is already starting to bruise from being choked out by him — even if it has a ways yet to go to the more colorful array he’ll end up with later. His shirt collar probably covers the worst of it, but not all. Bruce definitely notices it, as for a moment his gaze lingers on him before turning away.
“I expect letters from my son,” Bruce tells Slade, “When he is settled into your home.”
“I won’t bar him from the materials,” is Slade’s roundabout way of not promising anything. “If he wants to write to you, he can.”
“Good.” Bruce says coolly, with the implication that he sees right through him.
While they go through the formal goodbyes, Dick tries to take the opportunity to step closer to Jason, reaching out to brush their hands together. Before his fingers can connect, though, Jason snatches his own away, hissing, “Don’t touch me,” out of the corner of his mouth.
“Jay, I’m sorry. Please, I’m...” Dick tries to whisper back, but it’s clear from the turn of Jason’s body that he’s ignoring him. A state of affairs that continues as he moves to share one last embrace with his family before reluctantly allowing himself to be escorted to the carriage.
Dick doesn’t begin to fully realize the extent of things until the chill of the wind pulls a shiver from him. He’s not dressed for the current weather like Jason is; all his clothes are still up in their room. His things, everything but what he’d happened to be wearing when Slade showed up, left behind, and judging by the extent of his mate’s anger, he doubts the bags Jason’s carrying contain anything for him.
He deserves it, but that doesn’t make the reality any easier to bear.
At the carriage door, Slade offers Jason a hand up the steps. A gesture Dick learned a while back not to make, as Jason hates such formalities except when the occasion demanded them. He can feel his mate’s confusion, and uncertainty, before with a stiff breath, he forces himself to accept it and steps up inside.
Even that brief touch exchanged between them sets a growl building in the back of Dick’s throat. He forces himself to swallow it down as Slade impatiently nods at him to get in next, before clambering in himself. Jason’s set his bags on the seat next to him in a distinctly defensive and uninviting move, leaving little room to even try to sit, so Dick takes the spot across from him instead.
That of course, means the only place left for Slade is beside him, which he takes after pulling the door shut. Dick presses himself as close to the wall of the carriage as he can get, hearing Slade thump the ceiling to signal to the driver that they’re ready, and just like that, they’re away.
Jason’s head is turned firmly away from both of them, staring through the slight gap in the curtains to the road they’re passing by. His expression is set into something miserable but hard; the steel line to his spine something Dick’s seen a few times before during the course of the time they’ve been together. Jason’s rough around the edges, more aggressive than Dick’s ever seen an omega be before, but underneath it all there’s the bones of the noble that Alfred raised.
A stubborn, uncompromising, refusal to break.
Dick loves that about him, but is deathly afraid of what it could mean for Jason with Slade, who values nothing more than complete obedience. He needs to explain to him, to warn him, but he can’t do that with Slade right next to them, and who knows when they’ll next be able to get a moment alone.
As if reading his thoughts, Slade takes that moment to lean forward, smiling gently at Jason as he observes, “A quiet one, aren’t you? I know this must all have been quite a shock. Are you alright?”
It doesn’t seem as if Jason’s posture could get any stiffer, but somehow he manages it. “I’m fine.” he mutters. “Just peachy, in fact.”
Slade’s tilts his head in understanding, “I want you to know, despite the abrupt way in which we’ve met, I mean you no harm. And will do my best to keep you in the manner to which you’re accustomed when we reach my home.”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Jason answers, while in his corner Dick bristles.
It’s a not so subtle reminder that he has no assets of his own; no means by which to support Jason without help. He came to the Wayne estate near empty-handed, and he’s been dragged from it the same way. Slade always forced Dick to have to rely on him for everything, it was one of the many ways in which he established his control, and no doubt that isn’t going to change going forwards.
There has to be a way out of this. Something he can do. Dick can’t beat Slade in a straight up fight, that’s why he’d run in the first place. Using that same strategy will be harder with two of them, though, and he knows Slade will be keeping a very close eye on him for a good while yet.
He just needs to talk to Jason. Talk to him alone. Explain, and get him to listen, no matter what it takes. Once he does, then they can—
Slade is talking again. “I’m sure you must have a great many questions; we can discuss them more later when we reach my lodgings. But for now, I want to apologise.”
“... apologise?” Jason asks, with appropriate caution.
“Yes. For the disturbance.”
It happens quickly. Too quickly. In their time apart, Dick has almost forgotten how swift Slade can be, in a way no one would expect for a man of his size and age. Fingers close like iron around his wrist, and Dick finds himself yanked out of his corner and across the carriage to land on Slade’s lap. He is not sure whether the yelp that sounds in that moment is his or Jason’s. Perhaps both, one echoing after the other.
“Slade!” Dick tries to protest, as an arm holds him tight about the waist, pinning his own down by his side. Slade’s other hand goes to the neck of his shirt, tearing it open with no regard for the buttons. They ping against the floor of the carriage before his alpha’s fingers grasp his hair, using the hole to yank his head down to one side and back. “Damn it, stop!”
“What are you doing?!” Jason’s voice demands. Dick can’t see him with his neck twisted like this, only the wall and ceiling of the carriage, but scent blooms like an ill-fated flower, and he feels himself keen with the urge to go to his mate as much as defend himself. “You’re hurting him!”
“Look away, boy,” Slade says, voice smooth and calm and utterly inappropriate in the face of the panic Dick can feel compressing his lungs. “You know firsthand he can’t be trusted; he’s earned this.”
“Jason,” Dick chokes out, “Jason, please, it wasn’t like that. I didn’t mean to hurt you. Please, don’t believe—” Before he can go any further, Slade yanks his hair hard enough to cut him off. Hot breath is on his throat, like steam hissing from a kettle, soon followed by teeth.
It hurts. Just as much as the first bite Slade gave him did, one sensitive place traded for another. Dick kicks, for all the good it does him, foot striking the door of the carriage, and by some miracle does not scream as his skin is torn open and worried deep enough to break the veins beneath. Blood runs down his neck to the hollow of his throat and then lower, where it soaks into the fine cotton of his shirt.
There is a bright, vivid moment where he is vividly aware of everything that is happening to him. Every sight and every sound. Every feeling. Before instinct digs its terrible claws into his brain and all the fight runs out of him.
Slade continues to hold on, for a minute, or maybe two. Then he releases Dick, from teeth and arms both, allowing him to slide from his lap and fall to the floor. He lands heavily, unable to catch himself in time, and now on his back, Dick looks up in a haze to see Jason’s face, ghost white, staring back down at him.
I’m okay, he wants to say. I’m okay. Don’t worry. I’m...
“I’m going to need your scarf.”
“What?” Jason’s face turns away from him, looking across the carriage to Slade.
“Your scarf, Jason, if you would.”
It’s a good scarf, fine black wool. Better than the purpose for which Slade intends it. Jason’s hands rise, shaking, as if on automatic, loosening the knot from around his neck and slipping it free. The sight of his neck — though still covered by the collar of his jacket — stirs Dick. Omegas (especially noble ones) aren’t supposed to bare their necks for anyone but their mates, and he does not want Slade to get anywhere close to seeing that.
He pushes himself up on his elbows, fingers grazing the top of Jason’s boot. As Slade takes the scarf from him, Jason huddles backwards, pulling his cloak in tighter around his shoulders. Of course Slade notices it, as he notices everything.
“Don’t worry, boy, I won’t hurt you.” He soothes, lowering his voice to a more calming pitch. “You’ve done nothing wrong.”
Dick feels a hand hook underneath his bicep, hauling him up to a sitting position. He whines before he even thinks about it, cringing back from the touch and curling in on himself. Anything to avoid more punishment from his alpha. He’s not a threat to him, he never has been.
There’s more movement above him. Jason, reaching down, before Slade heads him off. “I’ve got him.” Thick fingers card through Dick’s hair, smoothing over his scalp. He keens to it as his head is brought down to rest against Slade’s thigh. “There we go, that’s better. Good boy, Dick. Now, let me get at this bite.”
He shakes as his head is tilted, just enough for warm wool to be wrapped around his neck and pressed over the still bleeding wound. With it comes something else: the rich, concentrated scent of his mate striking Dick in the gut. He inhales deeply, and that familiar comfort does more to relax him than Slade ever could. Dick wants to go to Jason, wants to hold him, but the hands won’t let him as Slade finishes tying the knot at his neck, then returns to holding Dick’s head against his thigh. All he can do is pull the end of the scarf up against his nose, nuzzling into it for comfort.
“Is he… alright?”
“Never seen him like this before? Didn’t your father ever have to discipline him?”
Presumably, Jason shakes his head. “No, Dick always accepted Bruce’s lead.”
Slade grunts, “It would have happened sooner or later. Dick’s always been a troublemaker.” His hair is tugged lightly. “He’ll be out of it by the time we reach the inn, don’t worry.”
“I’m not worried.” Jason says, a little too sharply.
“Of course not.” Slade replies. “After what he did… well, we can talk about that more later. For now, let’s just enjoy the ride.”