Roman paced back and forth across his dining room. What to do, what to do.
The team he’d sent to his warehouse on the Two-Face border had called in about a half an hour ago. He’d expected the call, but not all of its contents. It seemed that once Two-Face’s men showed their faces, Red Hood had decided to push forward and drive them out on his own, ignoring Roman’s orders all the while. He’d then taken off completely on his own, leaving the rest of his squad to do any clean up.
If Roman knew Jason, he thought he was being smart. Roman would have to show him otherwise, the only question was how.
It wouldn’t have been the first time that Jason had acted out of turn. He talked back at Roman too often, tested him, pushed him. Sometimes Roman wondered if he should have allowed Jason to get away with what he did. He couldn’t this time. Jason had forced a recalculation of his long-term plan for that end of his part of Gotham, and Roman couldn’t have that.
Maybe he’d keep Jason in for a while. Make him go stir crazy, beg and whine for Roman to let him go out and work. It would have been nice, having Jason around, always where Roman could find him.
Or he could break out a cane. Jason had never liked those, and seeing him reduced to tears and humiliated would send the right message. Only problem was that Roman would inevitably want to take him there and then. Too many mixed signals. He wanted it clear that Jason couldn’t get away with stunts like this.
What to do.
He’d have to make up his mind quickly. By his estimate, he wouldn’t have to wait much longer for Jason to show up. The kid craved attention after all. It would have been cruel to deny him that much.
It had been a great, productive night, and things were only looking up. Jason strutted into Roman’s suite with a grin on his face. That night, he’d successfully fended off an ambush by Two-Face’s gang and defended Roman’s turf from capture. Almost single handedly too. Horst, their supposed squad leader had ordered a retreat, but Jason had no idea why. Their defense position had been weird, sure, but they could have easily fended off an attack from the twelve or so Two-Face goons. Jason could have done it by himself, and that’s exactly what he’d ended up doing. It hadn’t even been hard, really. How could Roman not praise him at least a little for taking the initiative?
Strangely, though, as Jason entered, he found that Roman wasn’t sitting around the fireplace or back near the windows. He was right there, standing in the entrance walkway, like he’d been waiting for Jason. He never did that, no matter how well Jason did. Yet something about Roman’s tight posture, arms folded, told Jason that he wasn’t too pleased.
“What the hell did you think you were doing out there?” he demanded.
Jason’s face crinkled with confusion. What was Roman talking about? They’d- well, more like Jason had - pushed the ambush back. He’d won.
“I saved you from losing valuable product,” he tried, shrugging. He moved forward to put a hand on Roman’s shoulder.
“I gave you express instructions!” Roman snapped, stepping up to get in Jason’s space without touching him. “I told you no theatrics, and you broke rank. You ran ahead while your team was falling back!”
What? They’d been the ones who’d been stupid by retreating prematurely, not Jason for putting his ass on the line. How could Roman be yelling at him?
“Well, maybe I wouldn’t have if you hadn’t put us in such a shitty defensive position!” Jason fired back. “Really? All lined up at the back of the building? Not even up on the catwalks? Did you want them to take all your stuff?”
“I made that choice for a reason!” Roman insisted. “I put you far back to keep you from getting killed, boy!”
“Do I look dead to you?” Jason asked, drawing himself up as he felt his face flush red. Who did Roman think he was? “I kept that warehouse from getting captured! You should be congratulating me!”
“I don’t reward my people for taking idiotic risks that I specifically ordered against. You completely ruined-”
“No!” Jason shrilled over Roman. He balled up his fists and brandished them at Roman, feeling his anger peaking by the moment. “I did exactly the right thing back there! I saved you time and money! You can’t tell me I didn’t, that’s bullshit and you know it!”
On the last few words, Jason flailed over to his right to knock over a vase sitting on a pedestal. It crashed to the floor and shattered. It felt good, hearing that. Like Jason had taken some kind of justice for Roman’s poor judgment.
A dark cloud seemed to pass over Roman then, and even with his mask, Jason could imagine his eyes narrowing dangerously at Jason.
“You will go to your room and stay there,” Roman ordered with an icy chill in his voice. “Now get out.”
“Fuckin’ bite me! I’m leaving!”
But before he could even half turn, Roman sucker punched him right in the stomach. Jason was so hot and pumped with adrenaline that he didn’t see Roman come at him until he felt the blow. Jason felt the air practically suck itself out of him before he was immediately shoved forward. Fuck. Since when did Roman know how to fight?
Jason landed on the floor with a thud as he desperately tried to catch his breath. It felt like hours before he could even manage to lift his head and glare at Roman.
“You son of a-!”
Before he could finish, Jason felt hands lift him up on either side. His eyes darted back and forth, and he found two of Roman’s masked goons restraining him.
“Get off me!” he snarled, squirming against them.
“Don’t make it worse,” one of them mumbled.
Jason glanced around as he was dragged away, looking for Roman, but he was nowhere to be seen. Bastard had just walked away. Couldn’t even fight him man-to-man. Typical.
The pair of goons led him off to his old room, the one he’d been sleeping in less and less since he and Roman had started fucking. They dumped him off inside, despite Jason’s shrieking and struggling, and stripped him of his guns with little issue. They muttered some half-hearted apologies before quickly stepping back out and shutting the door behind him.
Jason rushed over in hopes he’d catch the door, but found himself ramming right into it. He grabbed and rattled the doorknob, only to find it locked. Perfect. Just perfect. Roman had him locked up in his room, like he was some kind of kid being sent to bed without dinner.
It was the last place Jason wanted to be. Jason always, always ran off into the city to his personal spots when shit like this happened and he was just pissed off. He could sulk on his favorite gargoyle, or be alone in one of his safe houses and feel at home there. What the hell was he supposed to feel here? He felt like a prisoner, that much he could say for sure.
Who did Roman think he was? He couldn’t just hold Jason hostage like this just because Jason had made an intelligent decision.
So Jason made a point to try the windows, and found them jammed. He tried the locking mechanisms with no luck. Well, good to know that Roman was psychotically prepared enough to have hidden means of locking his “guests” in. That wasn’t creepy and paranoid or anything.
Jason took a brief look around the bathroom for a vent he could use, but he already knew that the few in there were much too small. He wouldn’t die of thirst at least, but maybe he’d slack on personal hygiene, just as another fuck you to Roman. Who’d care if he stank if he was gonna be locked in his room anyway?
“Stupid no face shitbag…” Jason mumbled.
Jason stalked back into his bedroom, and paced back and forth, balling his fists over and over. He winced every now and then at the lingering pain in his stomach and shoulders. The room was small, too small. It didn’t bother him usually, but now, locked in, it felt like the walls might close in on him. In a bout of frustration, he snatched up one of the pillows from his bed and flung it across the room. When that only made him feel worse, he took in a sharp breath and rammed himself up against a wall, shoulder first.
He stayed there for a while, letting his head bump up against the wall. Some part of him still wanted to tear the whole place apart, but his common sense was catching up to him. What good was it gonna do him, flailing around like some lunatic?
Jason righted himself with a heavy sigh. Why give Roman the satisfaction of seeing him act like a little kid? He was still pissed at Roman, but Jason had subtler methods of showing it. He didn’t need to tear up the room or beat at the door. All he had to do was wait Roman out. If Roman had wanted him dead, he’d have been dead, not shut up in his room. No, Roman would come crawling back to him sooner or later and let him out. Then, when Roman didn’t expect it, Jason would get his revenge.
Jason smiled to himself before laying down on his bed. He had a plan, and that was enough for now. All he needed to do was wait for the right moment. Or any moment, for that matter. For the time being, he was stuck in his room.
That was fine by Jason. An early night in without Roman’s hands all over him was a relief. Jason didn’t even bother to change before he rolled over onto his side. He let his eyes close, and, as he drifted off, found himself curling one arm around an excess pillow in his reach.
Nonetheless, Jason rolled onto his back and sat up, sweeping his gaze over the room. He found his breakfast placed on his bedside table, along with a fork and knife. It was simple, compared to the spreads Roman usually liked presenting him with, but Jason didn’t really mind. He almost preferred it simple, even if he had to eat it alone. At least Roman couldn’t watch him eat as uncomfortably closely as he usually did.
Jason sniffed at the thought. Like he wasn’t used to eating alone anyway.
He scarfed down what was there, finding it still warm. It couldn’t have been sitting there for long, so Jason had to wonder who’d crept into his room to leave it without waking him up. He figured it could have been Roman, but he hadn’t been woken up by fondling, so that seemed unlikely. Probably just some grunt assigned to not let him starve.
Setting the plate aside where he’d found it, Jason stood up to stretch and yawn. Sleeping in his clothes had left both them and Jason himself feeling clammy. He had kind of been planning to not shower out of pure spite, but that didn’t seem too practical anymore. Just because Roman was an asshole didn’t mean Jason had to be uncomfortable.
He headed into the bathroom and shed what was left of his clothes and armor there, shoving them into the free corner near the door. Somehow, Jason tended to find his clothes cleaned and folded in his drawers after he’d left them out. The same went for his armor and boots; always cleaned lightly and placed neatly near the door. Yet he’d never seen any maids around. Either they were good at making themselves scarce, or Roman’s maids and security staff were one in the same. The thought gave Jason a chuckle.
His shower was brisk, but warm and pleasant. Jason felt better stepping back out onto the rug and towelling off than he’d felt beforehand. He stopped for a moment to look himself in the mirror and rub any remaining sleep out of his eyes. Same old Jason, as far as he could tell. Same black mop, same scars down his chest. Yet somehow, he didn’t feel the same, not since he’d started living here. He couldn’t have said why.
Jason filled up the little cup on the sink and took a deep drink of water before heading back out into his room.
He didn’t bother going to his wardrobe, or even closing the shades on his window. Instead, Jason went for the door first. He tried the knob and rattled it to no avail. His heart sank. So his house arrest was an indefinite punishment. Great.
He padded back over to his bed and spread out there. Despite Fall being well underway, the room’s temperature was still agreeable enough that Jason didn’t mind laying out in the nude without even a sheet on top of him. The warm glow in his skin from the shower was more than enough to keep him comfortable. As comfortable as he could be with his movement restricted.
As he lay there, Jason pondered how he might be able to get back at Roman from inside the room. He could leave the shower running on hot, but something told him that Roman would get a install some kind of limiter just for him if he tried that. He could plug up the drain and flood the room, but that would probably come down harder on Jason and Roman’s staff than Roman himself. He could try breaking out, either through the door or the window, but that would mean either sneaking past Roman’s security or navigating down a very vertical wall with almost none of his gear. Nothing seemed to be clicking and Jason was fast drifting off once again.
The sound of the door creaking open brought Jason back into the moment.
“Hey, Hood,” a familiar voice called as it started to open. Jason couldn’t quite put a name to it. Barney? Brandon? Barry?
“I’m naked,” Jason warned nonchalantly.
The door promptly squeaked back into an ajar position.
“Uh, the boss wants you out on a job we’re doing.”
“And if I don’t feel like it?”
“Well, we’ll be paying out our asses if you stay on yours,” Barry warned with a nervous, almost passive-aggressive edge. “Be a brother, huh?”
Jason grumbled in his throat. He was trying to get back at Roman, not any of his men. They weren’t all good people, far from it, but he’d gotten to know some of them and they weren’t all bad either. Most of them were just trying to support themselves and their families
“Yeah, yeah, just give me a minute,” he said, hauling himself to his feet.
“We’re leavin’ in ten. Don’t wear the hood,” Barry told him before Jason heard boots stomping off, leaving the door open.
That was promising. Jason headed over to his wardrobe and started pulling out clothes. The door was open and he could make his grand escape, but the problem of being caught loomed over him. Still, he could do more out of his room and on a mission than he could shut up inside, Red Hood or not.
A smile spread over Jason’s face as he dressed himself. Here was a chance to get back at Roman in his own way. Roman didn’t want him taking initiative in the field? He could play it as safe as possible. Why put in the effort to get a job done if Roman was just going to scold him if he tried anything beyond his orders?
It hadn’t come as much of a surprise to Roman that Jason had acted out upon being told off. He was a fighter, that boy, and couldn’t stand being told he was wrong. It was only a matter of time before Roman was going to have to really put his foot down. The kid was going to wreck his plans, or get himself killed. Roman couldn’t have that.
Jason had made Roman’s decision when he’d shown childish anger. If Jason wanted to act like a child, then he’d be punished like one. Grounding, chores, curfew.
Still, Roman couldn’t help but think that maybe he was overdoing things, isolating Jason away from himself. It was a little pathetic, watching the feed from Jason’s room. Even in just the brief snatches that Roman caught between paperwork and meetings, Jason looked so lost. Still pissed, definitely, but lost.
Roman couldn’t let it get to him. He still had to keep the kid at an arm’s length, and keeping the two of them separate would reinforce that. Some separation, maybe until week’s end, would do both of them good.
Of course, it wasn’t the best job for implementing Jason's master revenge plot.
Jason found himself sitting in the front of transport van, leaned back in the passenger’s seat and just barely paying attention. His guns had been returned to him for the time being, but he hadn’t had a reason to use them. No one seemed to suspect what they were carrying, and there was not a masked face in sight, black or otherwise. It was an incognito job, and it was a bore.
Barry was playing driver, and through the four or so trips they’d made, hauling product, he’d chatted to Jason every now and again.
“So I say to the guy that if he thinks he can move up the ranks under Wayne, he’s nuts. With all his “skills”, he’d be better off washin’ dishes than trying to make it as a database guy there.”
Jason didn’t know what he was talking about more often than not, but he sure liked talking. Any stretches of silence were bliss as far as Jason was concerned.
Even when he tried to help with packing and unpacking boxes, Barry was quick to intervene.
“Yeah, you’re just here on escort, Hood, we’ll do the lifting.”
He hated to admit it, but it was Hell standing there and acting like a look out when there was nothing to look out for. Was this a standard role in Roman’s operations? Was Roman trying to bore him into submission? It might have been a good strategy if it didn’t fuel Jason’s need to get his just desserts even more.
But they were on their last trip across town now. All the goods they’d needed to move would be someone else’s problem, and Jason could head off. He stood there watching everyone else unloading off the van, practically bouncing on his heels.
“Alright, wrap it up, get the doors open!” one of them called as another shut the van back up.
Jason breathed a sigh of relief, and stood where he was for a moment. He glanced around as some of the workers disappeared further into the warehouse and others continued to mill around the van. Only when everyone’s back seemed to be turned did Jason pick up his feet and start creeping away towards the door.
Apparently, though, Roman had picked Barry as his chaperone because he had eyes in the back of his head.
“Where you going?” he asked, having popped up behind Jason.
“I don’t know,” Jason said, turning about gradually and keeping the frustration in his voice low. “Somewhere else. We’re done here, aren’t we?”
“Ah, yeah, sorry, Hood, can’t let you go,” Barry told him in a matter-of-fact tone. “Need you on guard duty in the next couple hours, and boss says you’re grounded ‘til he gives the all clear.”
“I’m what?” Jason hissed, his face flushing. He was not a child and Roman couldn’t just ground him as he pleased.
Barry just shrugged. “That’s what he said. Come on, work with me here. I don’t like it any more than you do, but what Black Mask says goes.”
Jason wanted to fume at Barry, and get all his remaining anger out. He wanted to shout at all of the men who were keeping him there, in fact, but Jason couldn’t be angry at these guys. They all needed that paycheck, and Jason couldn’t bring himself to even ponder knocking them out so he could escape.
Still, the escape part of that equation wasn’t too bad.
“Fine,” he finally conceded, making like he was heading back around the van. “Guess I don’t have much choice.”
“You’re a lifesaver, Hood,” Barry laughed, as he opened the door and stepped back inside.
As he got to his side, though, Jason casually kept on walking, keeping a safe distance between himself and the other workers around. He made his way purposefully towards the still open car doors before breaking into a run as he got up close to them.
In the distance, Jason made out someone yelling over the sound of his heart pounding in his chest. He felt an extra shot of adrenaline course through him.
“-loose! Armin, get the-!”
The sound only spurred him on, and Jason sprinted out into the daylight.
It was a warehouse district, and the sight of someone hurrying to get around shouldn’t have been too unusual. Then again, it was Gotham, and not many things fazed anyone. Still, Jason would feel much safer on the top of a building than running around among them. He didn’t even want to look back to check if he was being followed. All he wanted was to duck and weave between the warehouses and evade potential capture.
Problem was, getting on top of a warehouse was near-impossible without equipment. A simple grappling hook would have been a gift from God just then. Jason didn’t really believe in miracles, though, so he just kept running, hoping to find something, anything that he could get up on where Roman’s goons couldn’t follow.
As luck would have it, Jason found himself in a more decayed edge of the district. The orderly rows of huge storage buildings came to an abrupt stop where crumbling brick structures began. The first of which had a large hole in its side. Maybe it had been a window at one point, but it was just the right size for Jason now.
The only problem was that there wasn’t too much to grab onto short of a few loose bricks. Jason could work with that, though, definitely. His eyes found the closest protruding brick and hopped up to start climbing.
Scaling walls like this was one of those complicated, but very necessary things that Bruce had been sure to go over. Jason wouldn’t always have a grappling hook or easily accessible fire escape after all. The action involved brawling with gravity, and he had to keep climbing so that it couldn’t push him down any more than it already was.
That was the only thing on Jason’s mind as he frantically shuffled up higher and higher. Just keep moving. One hand in front of the next, and the opening was closer than ever. Blood pumped in his ears, muffling the outside world. He could barely even make out the commotion not far below him.
Jason flinched at the feel of something nipping the meat of his shoulder. He whipped his head around, disoriented, and out of the corner of his eye, he could see the tail of a dart stuck in place. A rush of panic came over Jason, and he knew that that would only make the drug kick in faster. He had to keep climbing, as calmly as he possibly could.
Of course, that thought only made his heart race.
Jason was close, but his head was already starting to swim. He couldn’t say if it was from exertion or the drug, but it really didn’t matter. Every time he hauled himself up, Jason only felt his arms growing weaker as blood desperately tried to pump into them. If he kept this up too long, they might just go numb. Still, he couldn’t give in. Had to keep going, had to...
The opening was so close and yet so far. He was a few more bricks away from it, could practically see inside the abandoned office within. Jason managed one, and then two, lungs burning with effort. It was as though everything in his body wanted to relax and lay down just then. Of course, Jason couldn’t be near a bed for that, or even on the ground. No, he had to be climbing a wall.
At last, Jason was just below the opening he wanted. The only problem being that he was going to have to haul himself up. Jason was no slouch and the problem would have been a non-issue in better times.
With his limbs heavy and cumbersome, Jason couldn’t hold on any longer. The last thing he remembered was the rush of air as he fell.
He shifted over onto his side and found his cheek rubbed up against plush, familiar material. His bed at Roman’s place. Ugh. That was right.
Jason blinked rapidly and struggled to sit up, gritting his teeth all the while. He’d been tranquilized like some kind of wild animal, and dragged back here.
Maybe it was only fitting. He’d been acting like an animal, pulling its leash and bolting. He could have just waited it out, but no, Jason had to fight it, just like he always did And it wasn’t even like he’d done nothing to deserve it. Sure, Roman had scolded him when he’d done nothing wrong, but Jason was the one who’d thrown a tantrum back at him. He’d made himself look like some little kid.
Jason clenched his fists and knocked one shoulder against the headboard. No, Roman was still wrong. Jason had a right to tell him so, because he was. He’d was holding Jason here, locked up, all because Jason had done him a favor. Well, Jason sure wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of apologizing and groveling over that. No way.
Jason flopped down on the bed. He didn’t need to grovel; in fact, he didn’t need to do anything at all.
It felt like forever before Jason had any reason to move again. He just laid there, on his side, curled up into himself as he waited for something, anything. He could have showered, or read, or exercised a little, or even jacked off, but he couldn’t find the drive to do any of it. It just seemed pointless.
Darkness turned into light as the rays of morning shone through his window, and still Jason didn’t move. Only when he heard a knock on the door did Jason lift his head up, a spark of hope in his mind.
The door’s lock rattled for a moment before it was pushed open, and a broad-shouldered form trudged into the room.
“Hey, Hood. Got you some breakfast.”
Barry. Jason laid his head back down, even as the smell of bacon wafted his way. Of course, his apathy didn’t go unnoticed.
“Should really have a bite or two at least,” Barry said. “Got more to do today, and the boss was real clear about getting food in you.”
“Hrmph,” was the only reply Jason felt motivated enough to give.
“Okay,” Barry conceded, coming over to place the plate on Jason’s bedside table. “You do what you want, I guess. You got an hour.”
Without another word, Barry exited and closed the door behind himself. For a while, Jason still didn’t move. He could have stayed in bed all day, but that wasn’t looking like an option. It was obvious that Barry had been assigned to him, and Jason knew that Roman would hold him responsible if Jason wasn’t behaving himself. He didn’t want to make trouble, not for someone who’d treated him well enough.
So, Jason sat up with some effort, and swiveled so that he could sit on the side of the bed. Sure enough, there was his food, what looked like bacon, sliced tomatoes, and eggs benedict.
He put it in his lap, and the very second the bacon passed his lips, he was a goner, all dignity tossed aside. He’d forgotten that he’d barely eaten at all the day before. That was all it took to get him shoving food into his face as fast as he could without choking.
Well, Roman seemingly hadn’t changed anything, even with his little adventure. He still expected Jason to work, or “work” anyway. That was fine with Jason. Roman wanted him out there? Then he’d look for more openings to get away.
Once again, Jason played his role as escort, more sedate than he’d ever been the previous day. And when that job was done, Jason was herded on to the next, this time doing guard duty at one of Roman’s many warehouses. Not unlike the one where he’d made his supposed blunder.
The nice thing about this job was that he was allowed to stray a good distance from anyone else. The idea was to patrol this place’s perimeter, and, while he was usually in sight of support, he picked out a few spots where he was unlikely to be spotted should he make a move. The front, back, and right side of the building were a no go, being too heavily watched and used to work for his purposes. The building’s left, on the other hand, might just be what he needed. It was essentially just a concrete wall with an indent here and there, but Jason had a plan.
He’d meandered his way around the building twice already, and was only just coming back to the left side. One of the indents was just big enough for him to slip between and hide in. Across from it was a pair of smaller buildings with an alley between them that would be easy enough to disappear between. Only two other guards were anywhere to be seen. One was coming up just behind him, and had been following Jason the whole time. Roman and his damn babysitters. With any luck, Jason’s dark attire would be enough to do the trick.
So, as he crept up to his desired target, Jason glanced back and forth at the other guys covering him. The one in the front was about ready to turn the corner, and the sitter in back was turned away from him to eye a group of passing teenagers who were a little close for comfort. Perfect.
Quick as a whip, Jason shoved himself into the crevice and backed himself against the shadows. He crouched down as best he could, making himself as small as possible. And now he waited, counting the seconds with the pulse of his heart.
He breathed as softly as he could in the meantime, chest barely moving. In the moment or two he had there, an intrusive thought struck him: what if he deserved this? If Roman was right in punishing him, then he still had time to duck back out and show himself without suspicion. It would have been simple to wait it out. Take it and hear Roman call him his good boy at the end of it.
But no, Roman was wrong and he wasn’t going to take it.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he heard footsteps approaching his spot.
“Hood?” someone called from not far away.
Jason held his breath, shut his eyes, and waited for the inevitable.
He heard the scrape of boots and the shuffle of cargo pants on the concrete in front of him. It paused for the shortest of instants before moving along, the sound growing fainter and fainter. Jason only dared open his eyes when it had completely gone.
Now or never.
Jason sprung to his feet and pushed off of the wall to sprint for the alleyway. He didn’t look around or back; the only thing on his mind was putting as much distance between himself and the watchmen as quickly as possible.
The only thing he heard as he ran was the blood in his ears. If anyone noticed him running, they didn’t make it obvious. He had to assume that he’d made a clean getaway. Jason definitely wasn’t stopping for anything. In fact, he already had a destination and he had half a mind to run all the way there.
Jason arrived at his nearest safehouse, entering the building through a disused AC vent, and entered his room with a sigh. It wasn’t one of his more well-used places to crash, but that just made it less likely for Roman to have tracked it down and compromised it.
Roman. Jason found himself stalking across the room at just the thought of him. If it were up to Roman, he’d still be doing grunt work or locked in his room. Asshole. Didn’t know how lucky he was to have Jason around.
He paced across the room, turning over and over in the limited space.
Jason grunted and flopped down onto his bed. If he hadn’t been there during that warehouse raid, then they’d have lost product. Who cared if he hadn’t followed orders? He’d gotten it done. Nevermind Roman’s orders. Roman’s very specific orders to stay where he was ordered to be.
Jason hadn’t exactly listened. Just like he always had trouble doing. Exactly what had gotten him into trouble too many times before.
No, Roman was wrong. Still was, always had been. He’d locked Jason in his room and made him do a petty job, all because Jason had- well, maybe he’d taken a bit of a risk. Maybe he hadn’t been a team player. Maybe Roman’s men could have been injured needlessly because he’d broken rank. Maybe Roman had another plan in mind.
Jason jerked up and hopped off the bed. This wasn’t going anywhere. He needed some air.
He made his way through the rubble littered hallway and back up to the roof. It was just a hop, skip, and jump over to an old church with gargoyles that sat lost in thought on the slanted rooftop. Jason didn’t really need to think, but it was a good place to be when he didn’t want to be anywhere at all.
Jason landed on the rooftop easily and took his place next to his favorite gargoyle. Its face resembled a bat with a beak and horns like a goat, yet no wings. It sat hunched, talons clasping at the edge of the roof and face in a perpetual grimace, beak ajar. Jason assumed that the creature was meant to be fearsome, but, to him, it had always looked pained and melancholic. Something about the eyes.
But Jason didn’t have time to mourn for some stone creature. He was here for his own moping, after all, like he had been so many times before. He was still angry, really angry, over what Roman had done to him.
So why was it that, as minutes passed, maybe turning into hours, that any passion he felt faded? It had gone from burning to biting to only a buzzing thought in his mind. Slowly, Jason felt more and more like those thoughtful gargoyles, thinking hard about whatever their lives entailed.
Jason wanted to be angry. Wanted to feel that same searing hatred that he had when Roman had first grounded him. Yet any anger he tried to conjure up fell flat and fizzled into something else. As he glanced back at his gargoyle, there was only a crushing loneliness, something like deprivation. Not only that, but also the looming realization that his situation might have been his fault after all.
A knot formed in Jason’s throat at that thought. He angled his gaze back downward. Now that he thought about it, maybe throwing a tantrum and doing everything but listening to Roman wasn’t the right decision. It had been so easy to do, to beat back against Roman like he had, but he must have looked so stupid and irresponsible. Then to take his anger out on Roman’s men too; that wasn’t fair. They could have been in serious hot water and it was all because of him.
Jason stood up and hurried away from his safehouse. Maybe he could still fix this.
For those of you who already read the first two chapters, I've added some additional scenes to them since publishing. I recommend going back and re-reading. You don't absolutely need to, but Roman gets some of his own scenes if that's of interest.
It was, again, no surprise when Roman heard that Jason tried to run off the prior day. The kid was probably still angry, of course he was going to run. It wasn’t surprising when he’d heard that Jason had done the same thing that day with success. That was fine. Roman’s business was hardly going to grind to a halt because of one runaway boy.
Roman had assumed that he’d be relieved to have a long stretch of peace and quiet. He’d always valued having time to think and read and watch the city on his own in the solitude of his suite. But no. He wasn’t relieved. Even as he stood out on his balcony, observing his lady Gotham, he found himself feeling apathetic to her. Unmoved. Bored.
He kept glancing over his shoulder like Jason might be there, ready to chatter about something inane that happened out in the field, or badger him about his mask, or rub himself up against Roman and less-than-subtly demand sex. Roman should have been glad to be rid of Jason. In a sane world, he would have been.
Sometimes he wondered if he’d let the kid get in too close.
Roman stepped back inside and shut the door behind himself. There was nothing to be done about any of it. Whether he liked it or not, there was no guarantee of Jason coming back. There had never been any guarantee of him staying in the first place. He’d have to live with that, just like he’d lived with so many things before.
Jason arrived back at Roman’s place as the sun faded over the horizon. He didn’t go in through any vents or windows or anything he’d have chosen otherwise; instead, he went in straight through the front door.
He’d been through the lobby enough times, when he didn’t come in through back entrances, but he’d never spent any time there. It was wide open with all the modern, distinct edges, and contrasting blacks and whites that Roman liked so much. Beyond the reception desk and the Sionis Industries logo, way in the back, Jason spotted Barry pacing back and forth, walkie-talkie in hand.
Well. Here went nothing. Jason paced up to him, catching his attention. Barry’s expression quickly went from a raised brow of surprise to a hard stare of anger.
“Uh. Hey,” Jason said, unsure of what else he could say.
“Where the hell have you been?! We’ve been lookin’ all over!” Barry closed the distance between them, giving him a hard glare. “Jesus, you know how much grief you caused us?”
Jason winced as his heart sank. At least Barry was okay. Roman wasn’t exactly known for his mercy.
“I think I might,” he mumbled, just barely holding Barry’s gaze. “I’m really sorry about all this, I was-” Pissed off. Petty. Childish. “Well, I wasn’t thinking straight.”
Barry hesitated, still giving Jason the same stern gaze. Then he relaxed his shoulders, and even managed to give Jason a smile.
“Ah,” he sighed. “Well, no one’s lost his head yet, so, hey, no harm done.” Barry clapped Jason on the shoulder with a breathy laugh. “Just don’t go running off on me again, alright? I got a job to do too.”
“Yeah, I get it, don’t worry,” Jason said, returning the smile as best he could. “Has Ro- the boss asked for me?”
“If y’mean he asked me to get you back, then yeah, ‘course he did, but he ain’t said anything about wanting to see you.”
Again, Jason felt his mood sink and he had to swallow through a lump in his throat.
“Guess that figures,” Jason murmured, turning away to start for the elevators. “You need me for something, I’ll be in my room.”
“Hope you stay there,” Barry called after him.
“Yeah, don’t worry,” Jason repeated before quietly adding. “Don’t have anything better to do.”
He heard Barry say something about finding Hood and calling off the search, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care. Suddenly, he was feeling cold and kind of empty. Jason should have been used to that feeling, but it was more foreign than it had ever felt for him. Weird. Maybe he’d feel a little better once he got some rest.
It was really, really weird, thinking about Roman as a companion of his. Someone who’d made Jason’s life feel more whole and even made him, if he even dared think it, happy. It almost made him laugh. Jason Todd, happy. And because of Roman goddamn Sionis. It would have been comical if it wasn’t right there in front of him.
And now he might just have fucked it all up because Jason couldn’t help but be an idiot. His throat tightened up even worse.
Jason rolled onto his side, curling up into himself and squeezing his eyes shut. It didn’t really matter. He shouldn’t have expected his time with Roman to last. That was the plan after all; stay with Roman as long as it took to get intel about what he was up to, and get out. Still, that didn’t change the hurt deep in his chest.
But what could he do? It wasn’t the first time he’d been kicked to the curb by someone he thought might be trustworthy. Might as well take advantage of what Roman was still providing him, and get some rest.
When he felt the mattress creak under additional weight did, Jason finally bothered to shift his gaze downward. Roman had sat down near the foot of the bed and was giving Jason a look. Jason couldn’t even begin to say what the look meant, not anymore, so he just returned it and stayed where he was. For all he knew, Roman was testing him.
After a moment, though, Roman gave him a gesture, just a little flick of his wrist towards himself. Jason might have taken it at face value any other time, but not now. He stayed put.
“You need an engraved invitation?” Roman asked after another moment passed. “Come here, my boy.”
It was Roman. He’d come into Jason’s room to see him. Jason’s heart gave a leap, and he was ready to jump and go to Roman. Jason had missed him.
Then, it occurred to him once more that it was Roman’s fault that he was here in the first place. Roman who had locked him in his room because he’d made a bad choice. Roman who had assigned Barry to him and used that to leverage Jason into behaving. Who hadn’t even told him when he’d see Roman again, or when he’d be allowed to do actual jobs again.
Jason had come back, sure, but he wasn’t about to forgive Roman just like that.
“I came back for the guys, not for you,” he said, as calmly as he could manage. “I shouldn’t have acted out, but you’re still wrong.”
Immediately, the air changed, and the tension was clear in Roman’s posture.
“Is that so?”
“Yeah,” Jason said, holding his ground against Roman’s hard stare. “I wouldn’t have broken rank if you hadn’t given us the worst position possible.”
Tension turned to a cold chill. “You still haven’t learned a damn thing, have you?”
“Haven’t learned what?” Jason dared. “That you’re stubborn and don’t understand combat positioning?”
“I’m stubborn?” Roman sighed and shook his head. “I thought giving you time to think might give you some perspective.”
“Guess not, old man.”
Jason looked away, but he’d barely moved his head before Roman lunged over to grab him by the hair.
“Hey! What are you-”
Roman held him steady by the bicep and, despite Jason’s struggling, wrestled him over his lap. Jason kept up his squirming, even as Roman shoved his head down into the sheets.
“Stay,” Roman growled as he maneuvered Jason into the position he wanted, his ass sticking out and cock pressed against Roman’s knee.
Jason gritted his teeth, but it was obvious that he wasn’t going anywhere. He quit struggling, and turned his head to glower at Roman with one eye.
Roman met his gaze before raking his eyes across Jason’s back to his rear. “If you can’t learn from house arrest, then maybe you need something more traditional.”
Roman ran one hand from Jason’s neck down to the small of his back. He shivered under the light touch, even as he tried to suppress it. Deprivation had left him sensitive, and he couldn’t hide that he’d missed Roman’s touch. But he wasn’t giving up, certainly not now, not even when-
Without warning, Roman’s hand came down on his ass with a harsh slap.
Jason yelped and jerked upward at the sting, but was held in place by another hand pressing down on his shoulders. He knew it wasn’t as hard as Roman could go, but had no time to worry about about what was next before another harsh blow landed.
“You wasted everyone’s time,” Roman hissed. “My time.”
Another slap, harder than the last.
“You damn well know how valuable my time is.”
Jason clenched his fists and refused to acknowledge Roman’s words. He’d take a spanking, but he wasn’t going to break down. If Jason couldn’t stand up to Roman now, then how could he when it really mattered?
The next three slaps came in rapid fire, and Jason strained as pain mixed with the pleasure of rutting against Roman.
“You talked back without listening to me.”
“And I’d do it-”
Jason cut of with a cry as Roman delivered two strategic slaps to each of his thighs. There was nothing pleasant in that, just stinging pain. Immediate negative feedback. He let his head hang limp.
Roman paused to let it sink in before brushing a feather-light touch over Jason’s thighs and ass. He winced, but held back a whimper, even as he felt his eyes water.
“You broke an antique vase.”
The slaps paused as Roman reached down to give Jason’s partial erection a rough stroke. Jason dug his fingers into the bedsheets, doing his best to ignore how good it felt and that the pain only fed his arousal.
To that point, Roman spanked him again and Jason moaned with frustration. He made to rut against Roman, but wasn’t allowed the leverage to get far. Roman gave him two more slaps, and tears finally spilled down Jason’s face. He was done, but desperate to avoid admitting it. He wanted Roman, but- but...
“And you ran from your punishment. How am I meant to trust you to be responsible, Jason?”
Jason didn’t say anything, certain that if he spoke, then he’d end up groveling. His pride was wounded, but still so stubborn.
Apparently, that wasn’t the reaction Roman wanted. Roman grabbed him by his hair again and yanked his head back.
“You’re an ungrateful, thoughtless mess,” Roman hissed into his ear, emphasizing each word. “You know how much effort I spend managing you? Just trying to shove you into maybe taking care of yourself?”
Finally, a sob wracked Jason. It was true, all of it, everything he’d done wrong. Everything wrong with him. Why had he even tried to fight? Why was he so stubborn and stupid? Tears flowed freely from his eyes and Jason brought his arms around his face in shame.
No more blows came, at least. He fully expected Roman to shove him away, given how harsh his words had been. But instead, Roman gathered him up in his arms and maneuvered him onto his other side.
“I’m sorry-” Jason blubbered, recoiling like he wanted to hide. “I was stupid, I should have listened, I- I’m sorry...”
“I know,” Roman sighed.
He made to lift Jason, but, rather than bring him onto his lap, he placed Jason next to him on the bed, rubbing in how raw Roman had left his ass. Not only that, but when Jason tried to lean in to get more contact with Roman, he was promptly pushed back and distanced. Jason swallowed and did what he could to hide that that hurt him more than a spanking ever could.
Roman reached one hand up to cup Jason’s cheek and brush away tears with his thumb.
“Jason…” he murmured.
“I thought…” Jason started before stopping himself. It was stupid.
“You thought what?” Roman prompted, firmly holding his gaze.
Jason hesitated, mouth ajar, wondering if he should make something up. He didn’t want Roman to think he was weak or pathetic. But something told him that, even if he did lie, Roman would see right through him.
“I thought you wouldn’t come back,” he admitted at last.
Roman watched him for a long moment, but Jason couldn’t quite visualize his facial expression this time. All he could say was that suspicion was bleeding through Roman’s unreadable face. As though even when Jason had been honest, he still had to be certain.
“If I wanted you gone, you’d be gone, not locked in your room,” Roman scoffed.
Jason wanted to believe it. He wanted nothing more than to be safe in the knowledge that Roman wouldn’t abandon him, but something niggled at the back of his mind, telling him that Roman still might just.
“Tell me,” Roman said after a brief lull. “Why did I put you on probation?”
“I-” Jason swallowed. He didn’t want to voice his thoughts, certainly not to Roman’s face, but he knew that it was the right way to go. “I disobeyed a direct order, and could have compromised the safety of the rest of my team and the entire mission.”
“Good,” Roman said, reaching up to grab around Jason’s face, a little too tight. “And if you’d let me, I would have told you that that payload was rigged from the start and the turf was expendable.”
Jason’s heart only sank. It wasn’t like Roman always told him every goal behind every mission, at least not until after it was done. He never gave orders without reason either. Jason was such a cocky idiot.
“I’m sorry,” Jason repeated.
“Oh, I know.” Roman’s hand slipped down to grip under Jason’s chin. “And I know that it’s not going to happen again.”
Jason could practically see the quirk in Roman’s brow as he waited for him to respond.
“No, boss, it won’t happen again,” he agreed.
“Good boy.” Roman reached down to stroke his hand over Jason’s inner thigh. “Now, why don’t you make yourself useful?”
Jason blinked quizzically. “Huh?”
“Well, you didn’t think this was over yet, did you?” Roman asked, an expectant, almost cruel tone in his voice.
Jason shuddered. He knew exactly what Roman wanted just from those words, and it wouldn’t have been the first time that Roman “disciplined” him in the same manner.
He shifted off of Roman’s lap to kneel down on the floor, glancing up with wide eyes the way he knew Roman liked. Roman nodded slowly, and that was Jason’s cue to get to work.
He turned his eyes down again, and reached forward to unbutton Roman’s pants. Jason made a point to palm at the bulge there, like he was sizing Roman up. Sure enough, he could feel that Roman was aroused, almost as much as Jason was.
Jason couldn’t help a pang of satisfaction. Of course Roman would be turned on hitting Jason over and over again. That was just like him. Or, at least, it was the impression he liked to give.
He freed Roman’s cock from its confines, taking it in hand. Relief washed over Jason at the familiar feel of it, much to Jason’s embarrassment. He refused, however, to show how affected he was, and moved straight to take the head in his mouth.
Roman rumbled in his throat as Jason sucked and bobbed on his cock, just a bit. If his mouth hadn’t been busy, Jason would have smirked. It was always satisfying, seeing Roman as a flesh and blood man, not the unmoving statue he presented. Even if it meant giving him a blowjob.
Not that Jason enjoyed it. His own erection wasn’t straining for stimulation or anything, no. He didn’t desperately want to touch himself.
Jason dared to shift his arm towards his groin, but was immediately met with a snarl from Roman.
“Don’t you dare,” he said, an icy chill in his words. “Certainly not now.”
Figures. Jason wasn’t usually allowed to touch himself anyway.
With that in mind, Jason put his focus on the task at hand. He took Roman deeper into his mouth, nearly to his throat.
Roman sighed and put a hand in Jason’s hair. He held it there, not petting or even gripping, just using Jason’s head as a resting place. Jason shuddered, swallowing around Roman.
It was then that Roman took hold of Jason’s hair, grabbing it tight enough to pull. Jason winced, but barely had time to react before his head was shoved forward and held there.
Jason’s nose connected with coarse, black hair and he was cut off from much-needed oxygen. It was impossible to do anything but swallow feebly as Roman choked him, using his throat. Roman even made a point to let out a sigh of relief and satisfaction, all while Jason’s lungs burned more and more by the minute.
Only when Jason’s saliva began flowing free out from his lips and he sputtered out of reflex did Roman finally let up. The second that his hand was gone, Jason’s head sprung up and he rasped in a breath.
Jason coughed around a his rough throat. Yet no more than a few seconds after he’d pulled off, Roman cleared his throat expectantly. Jason turned his head up to look at Roman, mouth ajar.
Roman locked eyes with him before patting the bed.
Damn him. Damn Roman and damn the pulse of arousal that shot through Jason at the clear command. Jason hated him and everything he stood for and what he did to Jason.
And yet still, he climbed back up on the bed, face down, ass up, and waited for Roman. He didn’t glance back, even at the sound of shuffling and Roman popping open some lube. Of course he’d brought some. He was so predictable. Somehow, though, Jason was more predictable.
Jason felt Roman mount behind him, but still took in a sharp breath at the feel of the slick head pressing against his entrance. They always started with fingering, and the suddenness of it made it impossible not to tense up. That earned him another smack on the ass, and Jason hissed at the impact on his already sore flesh.
“Relax,” Roman ordered, still insistently pressing against him.
Jason whimpered, but made a point to breathe in deep and let his muscles go slack. His own climax was at stake, so he’d play Roman’s game.
He managed to only grunt as Roman breached into him and buried himself up to the hilt. Roman bore down on him, almost caging Jason with his body, and rasping into his ear. Jason shifted his rear, trying for some friction or stimulation, but got almost nothing in return. He might have sobbed if he’d had any energy left for it.
Only when Roman decided to move did Jason get what he wanted, though, maybe he should have been more careful what he wished for. Roman pulled almost all of the way out before slamming back in and setting a brutal pace. He wanted to get off as much as Jason did, that much was clear. Neither of them were going to last long.
Jason yelped at each thrust, but each pushed him closer and closer to the edge. He dug his fingers into the sheets with one hand, and grabbed Roman’s arm with the other. He couldn’t disguise the shake in his knees anymore, and feared that they might collapse before it was all over.
Fortunately for him, Roman was letting out harsh, desperate grunts at the same time, his pace quickly becoming hurried and uneven. Roman stilled inside him for an instant and Jason felt his cock twitch inside him. One more hard thrust had him feeling the internal warmth he’d grown so familiar with. If he’d ever wanted to insist that Roman use protection, that much was enough to convince him otherwise.
Roman pulled out unceremoniously, making Jason whimper at the loss. The small amounts of cum that dripped down over his balls reminded him of just how desperate he was himself.
“Please,” he whined before he could catch himself. “Roman, please.”
Roman leaned over to look directly at him. And, if he did say so himself, Roman seemed to be smiling at him. His own near-indiscernible version a smile, but still, a smile. Or maybe it was just the warm, melty sensation in his stomach skewing his perception.
Whatever it was, Roman was merciful and reached under Jason to start stroking him, firm and fast. Exactly what Jason needed.
Jason quaked and cried out as, within a few seconds, he was coming over his sheets. It felt like he hadn’t managed to orgasm in forever, and it felt so good.
As soon as he’d finished, though, Jason collapsed down onto the bed, going completely lax. He grew aware of the shortness of his breath as it slowly returned to normal. Every little sensation seemed to be multiplied and slowed down so Jason could just lay there and feel. Feel Roman still hovering above him, watching him. It shouldn’t have been as comforting as it was.
“My good boy,” Roman said, putting a hand on Jason’s cheek, gentler than before.
Jason pressed into the soft touch, his pride all-but-forgotten. He didn’t care about being right anymore, all he wanted was to be close to Roman and soak in all the affection he could get. And something told him that Roman was still looking for a concession out of him.
”You were right,” he admitted in a sigh. “I should have just done what I was told.”
“You should have,” Roman echoed, an almost callous indifference in his voice that stung Jason. It obviously wasn’t what Roman wanted to hear.
“I just-” Jason hesitated, unsure if he should tug at this particular thread. “I don’t understand why you didn’t tell me in the first place.”
There was an unspoken question in his words, one that took him back to his time with Bruce. Always something his mentor kept from him, always his fault for asking “what” and “why” questions. He wanted Roman to trust him, wanted to feel-
“Good,” Roman said, nodding his approval. “That’s fair.”
Jason blinked his surprise. Maybe he shouldn’t have been taken aback, given Roman’s paradoxical track record. He liked having total control, but couldn’t stand mindless groveling. Jason was usually rewarded for being a little ballsy, just not for throwing tantrums.
Roman laid down on his back next to Jason, and gave Jason’s bicep a directing tug. Despite what Jason figured that meant, he couldn’t help but remembering being pushed away earlier. So, Jason put a cautious hand over Roman’s chest. When Roman didn’t push him away and gave him a nod, Jason jumped to sprawl over top of Roman, pressing his face into Roman’s chest. He’d missed this kind of closeness, the warmth of Roman against his face, the sound of heartbeat and steady breathing. Then, on top of that, Roman threaded his fingers into Jason’s hair, stroking his head in slow, thorough movements.
Jason could have fallen asleep there and then. He wanted to, and would have, had Roman not started to speak once more.
“I didn’t put you on probation because of anything you did in the field.”
“Yeah,” Jason murmured. “I think I already knew that.”
“Then you know I’d rather not repeat this experience.”
There was one of those typical Roman double entendres. Was he trying to reiterate that Jason had better not act out again, or was it the closest he could get to saying “I missed you”?
“Takes guts, pushing forward without backup,” Roman continued. “Probably could have pulled off something more useful, if you’d known.”
Jason could scarcely believe his ears, but he couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face. Was Roman admitting fault? Roman “I always know better than you” Sionis? Maybe not. Maybe he was gloating or mocking Jason, but Jason found that idea hard to reconcile with the modest tone he took. He didn’t want to think too hard about it, so he made a point to hide his face from Roman.
No more than a minute after he’d done that, though, Jason felt something nudge up against the top of his head. Something distinctly warm, yet solid. The closest thing Roman got to a kiss.
Maybe it wasn’t healthy that he was so comfortable like this, Roman being what he was and doing what he did, but Jason didn’t care. He just gently pushed up into the contact, exhaling fully for the first time in what felt like forever.