Chapter 1: Hating All the Same Things Too
Hating All the Same Things Too
Dick fixes his estranged father figure with a harsh glare. They haven’t spoken since their last argument a few weeks ago and he’d been hoping to make it another few weeks before their next argument. He’d also been planning to have it at the manor so it’s not his things getting trashed.
Though in the interest of being fair, usually he’s the one breaking things and not Bruce.
“It’s only for a few days.” Bruce growls, and it is Bruce. For once he’s shown up sans mask and isn’t even wearing a suit. Though that doesn’t mean he isn’t overdressed. His steel gray turtleneck and creased designer slacks still ooze money. “Alfred’s away on a well deserved vacation. Short of the apocalypse, I’m not calling him home.”
“Then stay and watch the brat yourself. You took him in.” Dick turns his gaze back to the infomercial currently playing on the tv, trying to feign interest in the Shark Navigator Lift Away, ‘no loss of suction’, vacuum. It’s a challenge, but better than the alternative. “Surely the Justice League can let you take a personal day.”
Bruce gives another growl of exasperation. “If I could get out of this I wouldn’t be here.”
And ouch, that stings. Even if he doesn’t want to babysit, knowing he’s a last resort isn’t a good feeling.
“Try harder, I’m sure Superman would be happy to take over.” Through sheer willpower Dick keeps his expression neutral, glad that he’d forgotten to take his scent blockers off after patrol. It’s bad enough that Bruce still has the power to hurt him, he doesn’t want the other alpha to know it.
“Superman’s off world.” Bruce hesitantly takes a seat on the cushioned footstool in front of Dick. He’s not wearing scent blockers, so Dick can scent the nervousness, the desperation, coming from his pack leader in waves. “Look, I need you to do this for me. I’m not allowed to take him out of the state until I gain permanent custody of him, and I definitely can’t leave him alone.”
Dick’s jaw tightens as he stares resolutely over Bruce’s shoulder. “You’re right, it would be a shame if you can’t keep him. You’d miss it if you didn’t have to worry about coming home to find out that he’s taken everything not nailed down.”
“Richard. You out of everyone should be sympathetic.” Bruce stands with a thunderous expression, the anger that’s been strangely absent so far finally coming to the forefront but it’s not the raging anger that Dick’s become accustomed to. This is colder, lacking the frustrated affection that Dick always senses behind Bruce’s orders. “He’s twelve, has already survived on the streets of Gotham for at least a year, near as anyone can tell has never been part of a pack, and was neglected by both his birth parents. He needs pack, not to be ripped away from stability and sent to a group home. If I could stay behind, believe me I would. The fact is that I can’t be there, and neither can Alfred. Like it or not, you are still pack and right now you’re the only one who can stay with him.”
“Who has him now?” Dick drops his gaze down to his clenched hands, stung into guilt—not submission. He knows that it’s not Jason’s fault that he no longer gets along with Bruce, but the boy has done his best to take Dick’s spot in pack hierarchy. To add insult to injury, the pup has violently rebuffed his few, admittedly less than enthusiastic, attempts to welcome Jason to the pack. There’s still a scar across Dick’s forearm from the last time he’d seen the boy.
“He’s at tutoring with Barbara at the Gordon’s house.” Bruce softens a little and shoves one hand in his pocket. “Just this once, Dick. That’s all I’m asking. The court date to decide custody is in a few weeks and this won’t be an issue again.”
“Fine, Bruce.” He doesn’t like the kid, but the older alpha had a point. If nothing else, his brief stint in Gotham’s foster care was enough to convince him that no one deserves that fate. “I’ll get my things, but Bruce... I’m not doing this again. We’re pack, but you can’t just expect me to come every time you call like an overeager pup. I have my own life and a city that needs me now.”
Bruce only fixes him with an impassive bat glare before turning that glare to the ceiling. “We need to be back soon to pick Jason up.”
“Right.” Dick rolls his eyes and vaults over the couch, using a showy flip as a distraction so he can try to scent Bruce without the alpha noticing. He smells neutral, but there’s a slight edge of despair that hits Dick in the gut.
It’s Bruce’s fault though, if he would just ease up Dick wouldn’t have to flee to another city. If he hadn’t been so easily replaced, he might have even come home.
He packs quickly, digging through his hamper for things that are mostly clean. Laundry has somehow fallen to the wayside lately. After a hesitation he grabs a few books that he’s barely found the time to read. Alfred mentioned something about Jason enjoying reading. If nothing else, maybe he can bribe the kid into keeping to himself with a book.
Casting another glance around the room, he winces at the mess he’s created. Really though, what’s the point of making your bed if you’re just going to mess it up again in a few hours? He at least throws the blankets back onto the bed before leaving the room.
His nightwing costume is in the bathroom and gets stashed into its own mini bag in a hiden pocket of his bag. Then he seals his toothbrush in a plastic baggy and drops it into a side pocket alongside a razor and deodorant. He probably doesn’t need to bring them, Alfred always keeps a room stocked for him, but he’d rather have his own things.
When he makes it backout into the living room, Bruce is staring at his wall of pictures. There are a few of them together when he was younger, before he’d presented and Bruce had become overbearing. The others are all of him and the titans, out of uniform of course. Hidden on a shelf there’s a picture of Babs dancing with him at a Wayne gala. Next to it, a selfie he’d snapped with Starfire.
He doesn’t want to get rid of the pictures, but he doesn’t necessarily want to look at them all the time. The pain of ending those relationships is still fresh.
He lets his foot scuff against the floor and Bruce turns to acknowledge him.
“Ready to head out?”
“Let’s just get this over with.” Dick growls in return, just enough to show his annoyance. He’s careful to avoid showing teeth. The last thing he needs is for Bruce to see it as a challenge. Showing up with a bite on his neck can only put him at a disadvantage against Jason, and Dick isn’t foolish enough to believe that he would win against Bruce.
At least, not yet.
The drive feels twice as long under the oppressive silence that’s fallen. Still, they reach the Gordon’s house hours before he feels ready. Dick wants to stay in the car and wait for Bruce to come back with Jason, but if there’s one thing he’s not it’s a coward so he unfastens his seatbelt and joins Bruce in the short walk to the door.
“Come on in. They finished up a few minutes ago and decided to play a round of cards.” It’s the commissioner who answers and he leads the way out of the kitchen to the living area. “Looks like your ride’s here, Jason. Seems you won’t have to choke down my fajitas after all.”
“Clearly you’ve never tried Bruce’s cooking. I’d rather the fajitas.” Jason makes a face, not looking up as he tries to use their arrival as an opportunity to sharp himself a better hand. The kid’s good, if he wasn’t watching for it Dick probably wouldn’t have noticed the sleight of hand. He’d probably even be impressed if not for the fact that the kid had to have earned his skills through cheating people out of their money.
Bruce laughs and nudges Jason just hard enough to nearly knock him over, cards spilling out across the braided rug, prompting a dirty look from the pup in return. “Worry not, Jason. I’ve arranged to pick up food from your favorite restaurant on the way home.”
Dick glances at Barbara and they share an amused look, Bruce’s cooking is legendary levels of awful, before her expression shutters closed and Dick’s reminded they’re not supposed to get along anymore. She begins to pick up the cards. “Alright kid, it’s time to go home.”
Jason’s expression twists and a spike of nervousness spikes in his milky-sweet scent. Then he rolls his eyes, his scent softening back into amusement. He still hasn’t acknowledged Dick, though he has to know he’s there at this point. “Yeah, yeah. You just don’t want to lose again.”
“Got it in one.” Barbara bats at his head, but Jason fends her off with a swat to her arm. Then, before she can regroup to attack, Jason scrambles to hide behind Bruce. Bony fingers twist into the knit fabric of Bruce’s shirt, probably stretching out the fabric beyond repair.
“Bruce, you gotta—“ Dick winces when Jason glances his way. There’s a moment where the pup is clearly reading his expression and scent. Seconds later the boy’s face falls and he clings tighter to his adopted pack leader before pushing away roughly. The tiny street-kid glares Dick down, blue-green eyes promising a challenge. “Come on, Bruce. You said something about food?”
Pain flashes across Bruce’s scent so quick that Dick isn’t sure he actually caught it. Especially not with the way Brucie’s indulgent smile didn’t so much as flicker. “Get your things, Jaylad.”
Then Bruce turns to say something quieter to the commissioner as Jason tears off out of the room like a demon possessed.
“He grows on you.” Barbara unfolds from her spot on the braided rag rug and sets the deck of cards on the dark wood coffee table. “Still not as fun to patrol with as you are.”
It’s a poor attempt to comfort him, but Dick appreciates the effort. It’s tiring to listen to Bruce sing Jason’s praises constantly. Even Alfred is always defending the little brat.
Before he can reply, Jason skids back into the room. He’s deliberately not looking at Dick, but he’s tipped his head in that direction. Dick sighs and pretends that he doesn’t notice the boy sniffing as he approaches. After years of training with Bruce to control his scent, all the kid’s going to smell is bland amusement with maybe an edge of his suspicion.
The boy’s scowl deepens and turns his back on Dick in deliberate insult as he tugs on Bruce’s sleeve. “I’m ready. Let’s go get food.”
The trip back was uneventful, once they’d sorted out seating. Dick managed to claim the passenger seat and by some miracle Jason had only put up a token protest before sulking in the back on the trip to the manor.
At Jason’s insistence, they eat at the kitchen table instead of the dining room. The room feels strangely empty without Alfred’s calming presence. Bruce sits at the head of the table, with Jason and Dick sitting on either side of him.
Either Jason has decided to give them both the silent treatment, or he thinks the food deserves his full attention. The pup hunches over his plate as he wolfs down everything that Bruce set on it. For whatever reason the boy refused to serve himself. Only the flare of his nostrils and a flinch anytime someone moves too quickly indicate that Jason is aware they’re even there at all.
Dick tries to keep up a conversation as he butters another roll, but it’s been too long and he struggles to find topics that aren’t touchy. An awkward silences settles over the table and Dick’s leg bounces impatiently.
Jason finishes his plate and nudges Bruce to get more food. Once the alpha has complied the kid goes back to ignoring them.
Eventually Bruce seems to tire of the charade and pushes his half full plate back to join Dick’s. Only Jason continues to eat, on fourths already. The boy spares Bruce’s plate a glance, his free hand twitching towards it before he jerks it back into his lap. Then with a final swallow, he pushes his empty plate towards the others.
Bruce is watching the pup warily.
“What’s the bad news, Bruce?” Jason scoots his chair back casually, but his muscles are taut. He looks ready to jump up and run. “You don’t call Dickiebird back unless there’s something important.”
Bruce heaves a heavy sigh, scooting his chair closer to Jason. Jason jerks backwards and nearly tips his chair over. Dick surpresses a pang of jealousy when Bruce rests his hand on Jason’s shoulder gently. The man’s scent has become soft and comforting in response to Jason’s obvious unease. “There’s nothing terrible going on, Jason. I’m just needed out of state by the Justice League. It’s an important mission, but there’s no danger. Dick’s going to stay with you while I’m gone.”
Betrayal sharp and strong flares in Jason’s scent as the boy hisses as though he’s been stung. For a moment Dick thinks he sees tears in Jason’s eyes and then the moment has passed and there’s only anger. The pup might not have presented yet, but that snarl is all alpha. “Afraid you’ll come home to find the silverware gone?”
“No Jason. It’s not that, never that. You’re still a pup, it would be irresponsible to leave you here alone. We’re trying to convince the courts I’m a good guardian, remember?” Bruce pulls the struggling boy into a hug, wrapping around him protectively. Dick winces in sympathy when Jason manages to land several painful looking blows. “If I could, I promise I would take you with me.”
“Why can’t you?” The boy ceases his struggles and goes limp. The pain in his whine makes Dick feel like an outsider. The pack bonds he made with Bruce and Alfred get weaker the longer he’s away and his only attachment to Jason is tenuous, rooted solely in instinct that makes it hard to reject children within the pack. Hard, but not impossible and he’s been trying hard to sever bonds.
“Rich and famous single men tend to be suspect when taking in pups, or have you forgotten?” Amusement and agony both twist in Bruce’s expression. There’s a story there that Dick isn’t sure he wants to know. “Running away with you to another state isn’t likely to look good in court.”
Jason gives a growl, still too high to be anything but a pup’s, before clinging tightly to Bruce with another whine. “It’s not fair.”
“I know, Jay.” Bruce cradles the boy closer, giving Dick a warning look. He even rocks subtly with the boy nestled against his chest. “The court date for your adoption is coming up and after that I’ll be able to take you anywhere, promise. Staying here with Dick can’t be that bad.”
“He hates me.”
Dick almost didn’t hear Jason’s response, it was so quiet. He wishes he hadn’t heard Jason’s response. Guilt pools in his stomach, heavy as a brick, because he doesn’t hate the boy. He’s been too focused on his fight with Bruce to really see Jason as anything but an annoyance. Any damage to Jason has been collateral.
Bruce murmurs something that Dick can’t hear, but their eyes meet over Jason’s head. Swallowing hard, Dick hunches his shoulders. He still has legitimate complaints about Bruce’s behavior, but he’s done taking it out on Jason. If the boy tries to attack again though... well, he’s going to learn real quick that there are consequences for his actions.
Bruce dips his head and turns his attention back to Jason, rumbling a comforting purr before nuzzling Jason’s hair. “If you promise to do as you’re told, I’ll even let you patrol with Dick while I’m gone.”
“For sure?” The offer of patrol does the trick. Jason pulls back, excitement coming off him in waves. “I’ll be on my best behavior, swear. No growls or nothin’.”
“Good.” Bruce rubs his cheek against Jason’s, scenting him gently. Then the large alpha stands and beckons Dick closer.
Dick hesitantly obeys, getting pulled into Bruce’s embrace as soon as he’s within reach. With an amused huff, he lets Bruce scent him as well. Despite himself, his instincts thrum happily at being covered in his pack alpha’s scent. It’s been too long since he’s smelled like pack. Beside him, Jason tries to squirm out of the embrace.
With a quiet laugh, Bruce releases them. “I’ll be back soon. Try to keep the manor, and yourselves, in one piece.”
Jason takes several large steps backwards to put distance between himself and the others, swiping his hand through his unruly curls. “Yeah, yeah. Go keep Hal and Oliver in line. You know if you leave them alone they’ll just screw everything up.”
Dick bites back his amusement. It seems Jason shared Bruce’s opinion on at least a few of the Justice League’s members. “They’re not that bad.”
That statement gets him two identical stares of disbelief. Then Bruce shakes himself with a sigh, leading the way out of the kitchen to the manor’s large double doors. Bruce picks up a suitcase that is packed and tucked neatly out of the way. Halfway out the door, he pauses, “You boys will be fine?”
“We got this Bruce.” Dick assures him with faked confidence, placing a hand on Jason’s shoulder. As soon as Bruce leaves Jason is bound to try chewing it off, but he should be safe for a few seconds.
Bruce’s steel blue eyes search the two of them and then he nods. “I’ll be back soon, I promise.”
“Quit fussing, we’ll be fine.” Jason says, chin up and shoulders squared. “Get out of here.”
With a laugh, Bruce leaves.
Then the pup flees up the stairs before Dick can even register that the manor doors have closed.
Chapter 2: I Take These Things So I Don’t Feel
Thank you all for the kudos and comments!!! I honestly wasn’t expecting anyone to really even give this fic a chance, so seeing that people actually likes it made me really happy. :)
Posting this a day early because I have an eight hour shift tomorrow and I’m not sure I’d get a chance to post this before I go to work. It’s probably just going to be a weekly posting schedule for a little bit while I sort out this one plot snarl. Thankfully I think I’m through the worst of it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Chasing a young child through the nearly endless rooms of the manor isn’t nearly as fun as Dick imagined it being when he was younger. No wonder Bruce and Alfred had always been so exasperated with him. Honestly, he’s half tempted to leave things alone and go watch T.V. or something until it’s time to patrol, but he told Bruce he’d keep an eye on the kid so he should probably at least make sure that Jason stays in the manor.
After twenty minutes, searching through yet another empty room—this one with sheets covering the furniture, Dick is ready to throw in the towel.
With a groan, he flops onto an ancient couch. He could probably text Bruce or Alfred to see if they have any idea where the pup could be hiding. He should text Bruce or Alfred, but he doesn’t want them to know he’s already failing badly. Instead, he calls Babs.
“What is it, boy wonder?” There’s amused exasperation in her voice so he relaxes.
He also feels safe enough to joke. “I need a reason to call my favorite person?”
“Aren’t you supposed to be doing some family bonding right about now?”
“About that... Any idea where the kid likes to hide?” Dick leans back against the couch, staring at the high ceiling. “He ran right after Bruce left, tracker says he’s in the manor at least but I’d like to make sure he’s not plotting something.”
“He’s usually in his room.”
“That was the first place I checked.” It’s always something of a punch to the gut to peek into what’s now Jason’s room. It had been his room until he’d moved in with the Titans, though Bruce had never seen fit to let Dick know when it changed hands. Or that he’d taken in Jason. In fact, the first time Jason had attacked him it was because Dick was sleeping in what they each thought was their bed. Now Dick’s things are stored in a guest room that seems to have been designated as his and Jason’s kept the room, along with everything else. “He wasn’t there... Does he actually sleep under the bed?”
“Sometimes.” There’s a sharp edge to her voice when she answers. Dick’s not surprised to learn that she knows about the nest of blankets, Alfred’s shirts, and what seemed to be at least one Batman cape that he’d found under the bed. “Please tell me you didn’t touch anything.”
“Give me some credit.” Dick scowls. Babs has been strangely understanding, but even she assumes that Dick is in the wrong. It hurts. He’s the one being replaced by this violent upstart. “I went through Bruce’s ‘Victim Care 101’ same as you did. I wouldn’t go near a street pup’s nest, I found it when I knelt down to check under the bed from a few feet away.”
Granted he’d only kept his distance because he hadn’t wanted to be within striking distance if Jason had been there, but that feels like an unimportant detail now.
“Sorry.” And she does truly sound apologetic so he rumbles his acceptance. “When Bruce found it, he fled the manor for a few days and it was only Alfred who managed to coax him back. If you mess with it I don’t think we could get him back.”
He can’t deny the idea of being the only younger member of the pack is a satisfying one, but he wouldn’t make any kid—not even Jason— feel unsafe if he can help it. Keeping other kids safe was why he’d become Robin. It was why he created Nightwing now. Jason going back to the streets isn’t an acceptable solution.
He gives a tired grumble. “Just help me find him.”
“Have you tried the attic?”
“Nope.” He’s already rising to his feet. “Never would’ve guessed that one, always thought it was creepy. Any other ideas if he’s not there?”
“The library.” Barbara answers without hesitation. “He’s nearly always in there. But if he was upset I’d check the attic first.”
“Right. I’ll keep you updated then.” Dick starts climbing the stairs to the attic with a resigned sigh. Sure they were nothing compared to running across the rooftops every night, but they weren’t nearly as fun either. He stops on one of the steps as he adds hesitantly, “It was good to see you today, Barbara.”
“You’d see me more often if you stayed in town more than a night or two at a time.” Despite her words, she doesn’t sound angry. It brings a smile to his face that widens at her next words. “You’re welcome to come over for dinner tomorrow. Dad will want you to bring Jason though.”
“Sounds great. Tell the Comish we’ll be there.” Sure he’s annoyed at needing to bring the pup along, but this sounds like Barbara’s anger at him has faded. He’s not going to risk setting it off again, he wants to stay her friend too badly for that. “See you tomorrow, Babs.”
“See you, boy wonder.”
The line clicks off and he goes back to taking the stairs two at a time. The attic door is slightly ajar, so maybe Barbara was right. He pushes the door open all the way, peering through the dim lighting. “You in here, kid?”
There’s no answer, but he wasn’t exactly expecting one even if the kid is in here. He pads through the room softly, calling out Jason’s name every few minutes until he hears a soft thud followed by a string of nonsense that he thinks is supposed to be cursing but doesn’t sound like anything from any language he knows.
Maybe Alfred’s swear jar actually worked on Jason, it certainly hadn’t for Dick.
When he rounds a large bookcase stacked with boxes he spots the pup, legs tangled in a spilled box of old clothing with a lit cigarette held high above his head. The smoke drifts between them, doing little to hide the surge of fear that floods Jason’s scent. He has to give the pup credit though because he’s only frozen for half a second before he appears to relax. There’s even half a sneer on his expression when he lifts the cigarette and takes a drag like a pro, though the smell of fear lingers. “What do you want?”
“To make sure you’re not getting into trouble.” Dick gestures towards the cigarette dangled between trembling fingers while Jason breathes out a lazy smoke ring. “Bruce know you smoke those things?”
Jason sucks in another breath, the trembling nearly gone by the time he lets out a second mouthful of smoke. “I dunno. He hasn’t said anything. You gonna tell him?”
“How long have you been smoking?” Dick asks instead, cautiously sitting down. He’s going to have to tell Bruce, there’s no way around it. He’s just not sure what he’s going to say exactly.
Jason kicks off the last offending dress still tangled around his legs before shrugging. “Dunno, I was eight maybe, hungry. Da—M’ sire, Willis, had a lot of them laying around. He didn’t notice if a few went missing when he was drunk, an’ I figured there were worse things to get addicted to. Tony said they’d help.”
Dick does the math and winces. Jason’s... what? He thinks the pup said he’s fourteen. That means he’s been smoking for six years, at least. “How many do you smoke a day?”
“One or two since I came here.” Jason’s eyes narrow before he settles on the floor a few feet away from Dick. The boy stares down at offending item before lifting it to his lips again. “Before B, it depended on how often I could get ‘em, but I had an easier time finding them then. Maybe half a pack.”
“You’re going to have to quit.” Dick hates himself a little for the words. He’s so young, too young, but Jason clearly draws comfort from the ‘death sticks’. “Be a shame if lung cancer’s what gets you.”
“Guess so.” Jason’s chuckle is dark and bitter. He takes another drag before putting it out. “Suck to get out of Park Row, just to die in a hospital bed. Kinda used to figure I’d die running drugs or getting shot out in a gang war long before cancer could get me, y’know?”
“Drugs... you do drugs?” Dick asks before he can think. The last thing Brucie Wayne needs is the scandal an underage drug addict would bring.
Jason’s expression shutters closed but he can’t hide the grief that bleeds from his scent. He reaches for a second cigarette and Dick doesn’t make a move to stop him. Maybe he should, but a scent that strong is hard to fake. Dick can’t give him comfort, maybe tobacco can. “No.”
“Shoot, I didn’t mean...” Dick winces again, remembering the little Bruce has said about Jason’s mom, remembers Alfred saying the first time he’d tried giving the boy painkillers Jason had screamed bloody murder and hid for two days. He ducks his head slightly in apology. “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking, Bruce said you’re a good kid.”
“He did?” Jason looks cautiously amused, though the pain lingers in his scent. “Even with the cigarettes? ”
“He hasn’t said anything about them to me, but even if he doesn’t know about them now it won’t change anything if he finds out.” Honestly Dick figures he just about has to know. Bruce probably did blood work within the first couple days of Jason’s arrival and noticed the nicotine present then. “Though if he doesn’t, I’m sure Alfred does.”
“Alfred knows everything.” Jason agrees softly. The mention of the family butler has the kid relaxing a little more, resting his elbow on one knee. The other leg spreads out long in front of him. Though Dick can’t call Jason welcoming or friendly, the boy isn’t openly hostile anymore. “I can’t smoke and do my best on patrol anyway, just... just keep putting off quitting I guess.”
Dick tries to soften. “That’s understandable. A lot has changed for you. No one could blame you for wanting to keep a comfort for as long as possible. Bruce isn’t going to care that you used to smoke, he’s just going to help you quit.”
Jason shoots him a sharp look, his teal eyes searching Dick. Then he snorts quietly and breathes in another lungful of smoke. It gathers around his head in a soft halo. “Ever get tired of being insufferable, Goldie?”
“Not often.” Dick flashes a smile to hide his surge of annoyance. Based on the way Jason’s nostrils flare briefly it doesn’t work. “You ever get tired of being prickly?”
“Nope.” Jason’s eyes flutter closed, head leaning back against the wall as he takes a drag. Pale smoke obscures his too casual expression. “You gonna let me out tonight?”
“Bruce gave his blessing, I don’t see why I’d say no.”
At that Jason jerks and nearly drops his cigarette as he whips his head to stare at Dick suspiciously. “Wait, really? You’re just gonna take me along?”
“You don’t want to join me, little wing?” He offers a small smile, grinning a little wider at Jason’s annoyed twitch.
“What the heck is a little wing?” The boy shifts uncomfortably, his scent a confusing mix of emotions covered by bland disinterest as he tries to take another nonchalant drag of his cigarette. Dick sees through it, but he suspects few other people could. “I’m not opposed. Just thought you’d want to be alone so you can make out with Barbie.”
“I said I’d take you for a run, we’re going on a run. Your homework done?” Dick decides to ignore the dig, past relationships with Barbara should be avoided in conversations where there’s no emergency exit. Besides, he thinks he hears a fair amount of anger towards Barbara and he has no idea what could have prompted it. Homework is a neutral topic. Though he can remember Bruce leaving him behind because he’d pushed his schoolwork to the side so maybe not.
But... Alfred had mentioned something about Jason enjoying school, and he had to try to get along with the pup.
Jason flicks some ash to the floor and then pokes at it with the toe of his sock. The kid is wearing two pairs when Dick knows the manor is warm enough to get away with not wearing any. “Yeah. I finished up that one extra credit assignment yesterday, so I ain’t got nothing ‘til Monday.”
“Extra credit, huh?” Dick gestures for the cigarette and after a second the kid hands it over. He raises it to his lips and takes a breath. The burn of smoke in his lungs is unpleasant, but Dick’s had to smoke a couple times while undercover so he thankfully doesn’t embarrass himself by choking. “That for the class Bab’s is tutoring you in?”
“She’s tutoring me in everything, so I guess.” Jason’s lips purse as he watches Dick and then reaches to take his cigarette back. There’s an almost defensive hunch to his back. “Bruce says I don’t really need tutoring or extra credit anymore, but I figure better safe than sorry.”
“What’re your grades?” Now that he’s left with a mouth that tastes like smoke, he’s really regretting his attempt to impress the kid. Maybe he can talk the kid into coming down for tea or something so he can wash out his mouth.
Jason takes a last drag and stubs out the butt, carefully avoiding looking at Dick. “Right now my lowest is 98%. ‘s why I skipped patrol last night to get the extra credit done.”
He almost teases the kid for being such a nerd and then, like a flash, he remembers that Jason had dropped out in early middle school. Bruce wasn’t sure if it was to take care of his mother, or run drugs for his father. The kid probably never thought he’d get to go back, might still think this is only temporary. No wonder he keeps his grades so high. There’s a slightly queasy feeling in Dick’s stomach as he chuckles. “You’re better about your grades than I’ve ever been. Got a favorite class?”
“English.” He grins slightly, flinches, and then shrugs. “I like researching for the papers, and all the reading. ‘S kinda annoying that your grade is just a teacher’s opinion, but Mrs. Richards seems fair... now that she’s done saying I cheat.”
“She said you cheated?” Dick finds himself faintly angry on Jason’s behalf, and isn’t that a strange feeling. “I’d’ve thought the school would know better than to let her after Bruce...” he almost doesn’t finish the story, but Jason’s expression is curious and so hopeful it almost hurts. “When Bruce took me in they were positive that because I was homeschooled at the circus there was no way I was able to get such high scores on the math tests. Bruce went in as Brucie and kinda threatened to sue the school and run it into the ground after the second time they made me retake a test.
Despite his embarrassment at the time, he’s glad for the story when he hears Jason laugh. It’s a little wild, boundless joy tinged with anger and heartbreak. Dick can’t help but laugh with him. “Principal Edwards actually turned green, and I thought his secretary was going to pass out.”
“Bruce brought his lawyer in after Mrs. Richards failed my paper.” Jason’s awed voice is almost a whisper, running his bruised hand with its ragged nails through his messy curls. The kid doesn’t thinks he’s worth it, Dick can sympathize a little. He’d felt the same way at one point. “He was gonna make her change my grades, but I wanted to prove I could do it, right? I can’t have them saying the only reason the street kid can get good grades is ‘cause Bruce has money. So then they all sat in the room while I wrote a paper from scratch an’ Mrs. Richards fixed up my grades. Bruce even took me out for ice cream after.”
“Bruce is cool like that.” Dick agrees, leaning in close enough to bump shoulders with Jason, trying to satisfy the random urge to nuzzle the pup without actually doing it. He remembers plenty of ice cream runs, amusement park trips, and zoo trips that Bruce took him on just because. The memories hurt now, but he’s almost glad that Jason gets them. Almost. “Soooo... you got yourself any cool school friends?”
Jason’s mouth immediately twists and he pulls his other knee up to his chest. “Nah.”
“You don’t hang out with any pretty omegas at the lunch table?” Dick drops an arm around Jason’s shoulders, trying to tease a smile back out of him. He’s not sure how he’s already screwed up, but he feels kinda bad about it.
“I said no.” Jason snarls, lips curled back to bare his teeth as he jerks away. Free from Dick’s hold, he hunches tightly. When he continues, it’s with a thick Jersey accent that Jason’s speech normally only hints at. “Ain’t no one want ta hang out wit’ da poor woit street trash, no matta ‘ow much money Brucie throws at ‘em. ‘Specially not some ‘alf feral alpha.” He snorts and picks at the knee of his jeans, flicks more ash onto the floorboards. When he speaks again the accent is gone. “Half the class is alphas with worse manners ‘n I got and I ain’t even presented yet.”
Dick shifts, trying to tamp down his guilt at having thought the same thing. It’s much easier to just focus on his last sentence and be amused at Jason’s adolescent unease over presenting. Really, he doesn’t think the pup has any hope of being anything but an alpha. “You’ll present soon enough. I presented late myself, y’know.”
“You’re lying.” Jason’s head tilts to rest his cheek on his knee, clearly scanning Dick’s face. His freckled nose scrunches up as he scents the air with an over exaggerated grimace. “Strong as you smell you had to‘ve presented at like eleven.”
“Nope.” He leans forward and ruffles Jason’s hair just because he can. Jason’s eyes narrow, but the mini bat glare is offset by the way his dark curls now stand up in every direction. “Up until I was fourteen everyone thought I was going to be an omega. Woke up one day and I had enough alpha hormones for someone twice my age. Don’t worry about it.”
“I’m not.” Jason’s jaw gets that stubborn set to it and he bares his teeth again with a puppy growl. There’s something about his expression that makes Dick think he’s terrified about the idea of presenting. “How long until patrol?”
Giving up the conversation, Dick glances down at his wristwatch. “We should get ready in an hour or so. You going to stay up here? If you want, we could go down and probably find a snack.”
Jason sucks in a sharp breath. Dick stays silent and still, letting him work through his thoughts without pressure. That Jason will attack if he feels pushed into making decisions was one of the first things Dick had learned about him. Now, in the interest of self preservation, Dick always remained patient with the pup.
With another grumble, Jason stands to follow Dick. “Yeah, fine. You ain’t cooking are you?”
“Never.” Dick laughs as he leads the way down. “Alfred would kill me if I ruined his kitchen.”
Jason eyes him balefully, staying right on his heels. “You’d deserve it. I’ll fix something and you can watch, pretty boy.”
Dick tries, but can’t quite stifle his laughter.
Chapter title from Sympathy by The Goo Goo Dolls. I love this song, and I kinda think it fits these two pretty well.
Chapter 3: Why Would I Be Starting Now?
So I wasn’t going to post today, and then it’s been something of a crappy day (before work) on top of something of a crappy week so I decided to just go for it and post this before work. Lol.
This chapter was kinda frustrating. It’s choppy in parts, but I still really like some of it. I dunno. Lemme know what you guys think. ;)
I’ll still be posting approximately Saturday.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jason as Robin is still strange to watch.
Jason as Jason Todd is sullen and angry, snarling answers and clawing gashes in your skin if you get too close. Jason as Robin is still defensive, but with wide smiles and eager laughter. He still snarls, snaps, and scratches, but now it’s in defense of victims who he approaches with the gentlest of reassuring purrs.
It’s easier to be angry at Jason when Dick sees him dressed up in the robin colors, chin jutting out aggressively. It’s harder to be angry when he watches Jason cradle a crying five year old who’s wandered too far from home and helps her find the rundown apartment she’s living in. It’s impossible to be angry when Jason refuses to release the child into her mother’s custody until he’s determined the male omega isn’t going to hurt her.
He has to hide his smile when the pup looks affronted at the grateful smack of lips that the little girl presses to one cheek while the omega presses a second kiss to the other side of his face.
Jason shoots Dick a glare as he jumps off the fire escape to land next to him and he can’t hide his smirk any longer. “Done charming Gotham’s citizens?”
“That’s hypocritical coming from you.” Jason elbows him. “Pretty sure Richie Wayne is more of a flirt than air-head Brucie ever is.”
“Richie Grayson is a charming young alpha who happens to be very friendly.” Dick protests, lunging playfully to grab his young partner.
Jason dodges by grappling out of the alley. For a second Dick thinks he’s going to have to chase him through Gotham, but he finds the boy waiting on a narrow ledge. Dick can’t get to him, but Jason is staying within eyesight at least. There’s a strange expression on his face, though it’s hard to get a good read on the younger boy through his domino mask.
“What?” He rubs at his cheek and combs one hand through his hair. “Is there alley grime on my face?”
“No, you pretty boy.” Jason’s mouth twists downwards. His posture is stiff. Muscles tighten with what Dick reads as annoyance. “Why don’t you—“
A scream cut off his question and they swing after it as one. Jason lands half a second before Dick does, but he lands with a flip to try distracting the pair of thugs from the squirming boy in their grasp and that takes a little more timing.
When they drop the kid, a swell of spiced sweet pheromones cause Dick to stagger. The thugs are picking on an omega pup. Anger bubbles up in his chest and he lets it fuel his snarl as he attacks. Jason recovers seconds later, putting himself between the thugs and the boy that is scrambling backwards.
The thugs are only halfway decent and it’s the work of a few minutes to have them tied up and the cops called.
With the would be captors taken care of, Dick starts towards the young omega before he’s stopped by Jason. The pup bares his teeth in a snarl, “Back off. He’s in heat.”
Dick pauses and scents the air, before realizing that Jason is right. He dips a small nod, but flashes just enough teeth that Jason knows he’s not submitting. He’s not sure Jason knows enough to fully help the omega, but the clearly unpresented pup is probably less threatening than an unknown adult who smells like nothing.
After a half second of hesitance and a puppy growl, Jason turns his back on Dick. His posture opens up, neck bared slightly in submission to the young omega. As he approaches, Jason hums a soft purr that is already nearly alpha low.
Just looking at the boy you can tell there’s no way this heat is a natural one, the other pup looks to be several years younger than Jason. He’s probably terrified and in pain. Anger flares up in Dick’s belly, the taste of it is sharp in the back of his throat. For the second time in twenty four hours Dick is grateful for his scent blockers. The last thing they need is for the victim to scent his anger. He wishes he’d punched the thugs harder.
He tries to focus on watching Jason with the boy. They’re currently rearranging the alley trash and the snippets of conversation that he catches are nonsensical. He thinks he catches Jason saying something about how that wet cardboard box definitely looks better across from the trash bag. Despite the circumstances, it’s hard to hide his smile when the omega preens at the praise.
The boys have just started to discuss the merits of a particularly troublesome pizza box when the cops show up. An EMT follows seconds behind to Dick’s relief.
It’s the EMT who approaches Dick first, while the cops secure the thugs. Both Jason and the boy stiffen when the female omega stops at Dick’s side. She doesn’t acknowledge them though, turning her whole body towards Dick, and Jason nudges the boy’s attention back to the pizza box.
“He’s in heat?” The medic pulls Dick’s attention to her and he nods in confirmation. “Were you here before or after it started?”
“After. Two men were trying to abduct him, but I haven’t been able to approach to see if he knows what happened.” Dick shifts his weight from one foot to the other. Half his attention is on Jason reassuring the boy that yes, the box is perfectly paired with that broken beer bottle and does he think that rusted trash can lid looks better against the wall or in the corner? “Robin has been keeping him calm.”
“Distracting him with nesting was a good idea.” She agrees. “Wait here.”
When she leaves, the boy tenses again. His head throws back with a sharp whine that makes even the cops freeze. Metallic fear cut with spiced omega pheromones and milky pup scent floods the alley. Jason shares a panicked look with Dick before hauling the boy over. Dick crouches, chin tipped back. He’s copying Jason, trying to make himself less threatening as he puts on a gentle smile for the boy, focusing all his attention on the omega.
He loses track of Jason for a few seconds so he’s not prepared when Jason crawls up into his lap and rubs his curly head under Dick’s chin. Jason even nips lightly at Dick’s jaw before tipping his head to the side invitingly. After a hesitation, that gets him a harsh pinch to his side, Dick lowers his head and mouths at Jason’s neck in return. When Jason gives a hum of approval, he moves downward and rubs his nose over Jason’s scent gland in the hollow where his neck meets his shoulder. The gland is covered by by both a scent blocker and the fabric of the Robin costume, but Dick feels that the thought counts.
He has no clue why Jason suddenly wants to play the role of the pack pup, but he’ll humor him if it will help the young omega.
Strangely, it does seem to. The young boy approaches hesitantly before pressing tightly to Dick’s side. He gives a low, mourning, croon that has Dick adjusting his crouch protectively.
Jason leans half out of Dick’s lap, and ouch the boy might be mostly bones but he’s still heavy on Dick’s bent knees, to rub his cheek against the omega’s. “See, Nightwing is good with pups. He’s a nice strong alpha, ‘member him takin’ down them thugs? He’s gonna help protect you ‘til we can find your pack. Promise. He’s a good alpha.”
The glare Jason shoots him has him nodding his agreement. After a second, he starts a rumbled alpha purr deep in his chest that has both pups relaxing against him. Jason seems to do so begrudgingly, nipping at his chin again. This time it’s a little sharper, perhaps a warning. Dick merely snuffles against Jason’s temple, bumping against the pup’s head with his nose. With a sigh, he resigns himself to his fate and shifts position once more so he’s at least actually sitting to take the weight off his cramping muscles. Truth be told, it’s not that unpleasant despite the circumstances. He’s definitely never one to turn down a snuggle.
He’s still purring when the emergency responder returns back with an armful of thin blankets. She stays back, offering the bedding to the boy. “Do you want to nest with this until we can find your mommy and daddy?”
To his surprise the young omega turns to him for guidance, so Dick nods encouragingly. “You’ll probably be more comfortable if you do.”
“My mama always felt better in a nest when she was in heat.” Jason offers the younger boy quietly. “She taught me how, your mama teach you how to nest yet?”
“N-no.” The boy bites his lip. “My mama is a beta. She’s only ever made puppy nests for me.”
“Those are the absolute best kind. They’re all kinds of magic, don’t’cha think? Why don’t you help me make a puppy nest?” Jason leaps from Dicks lap and snatches the bedding from the medic. He brings it over to the boy and helps him carefully twist the blankets. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason why the red blanket has to be on top, or why the yellow one is best when tucked over Dick’s leg, but the omega does relax once everything is arranged just so.
With a stuttered purr, the boy nuzzles against Dick’s leg and curls up. Jason sits beside the nest, rubbing at the boy’s lower back soothingly. “I know this is scary, it’s okay to be scared. We just wanna get you home to your mama. You got a name?”
One of the cops has joined the EMT’s side, taking notes. Another is taking a picture to send to the precinct since they can’t move the boy just yet. This way they can compare his picture to missing person reports.
“L-Liam.” The boy whimpers, tears spilling over his cheeks. He’s thin, but not in the bony way that Jason is. Dick didn’t realize how little puppy fat Jason had until he compared the two boys. Despite wolfing down everything Dicks ever seen put in front of him, Jason looks just a step above skeletal compared to the other boy. “My mami is Carrie.”
“Carrie is a beautiful name, bet she’s as pretty as she sounds. You know where your mami is?” Jason tucks in a corner of the blanket that Liam’s been frowning at.
Liam shakes his head, tears falling faster. Dick curls protectively around the pup before he can stop himself, giving a low reassuring rumble.
The boy is sinking into his heat so they need to figure out who he is as quick as possible. While omegas don’t really lose all rational thought and become willing incubators once a month, they do fall into a haze of pain and lust that makes it hard to carry on a conversation with them. Once their heat has really settled in they become both easily distracted and hyper focused on anything that they perceive as either bringing relief or a threat.
“How about a papa? You got a papa?”
“Yeah. My papa is...” Liam breaks off with a whine that’s almost a scream and curls up tighter. “It hurts, Robin. Why’s my tummy hurt?”
“You’re in heat, Liam.” Jason nuzzles against Liam apologetically. “We’re trying to find your papa so he can take you somewhere safe. Do you know where he is?”
“He’s home with Mami and Sisi.” Liam presses closer to Dick, squirming uncomfortably. “I want to go home.”
“The police are going to get you home as soon as they can.” Dick promises. “Do you think you can you go with the nice police officers?”
Liam whimpers and crawls up into Dicks lap. But he nods reluctantly. “Y-yeah.”
“Good boy.” Dick nuzzles the boy’s temple and then gingerly passes Liam to the waiting EMT. “Will you take him to the station?”
“Until we can find his family or arrange for a temporary home until we do.” The officer nods and then pauses so the EMT can coax the boy into the ambulance.
Dick stands to talk to the officer while Jason darts towards the pair guarding the thugs. “You didn’t seem surprised about his heat.”
“This is the third kid we’ve found with an induced heat this past week and a half. We’ll take these guys back to the station and question them, but if they’re like the others they won’t know anything.” The officer scratches the back of his neck and shrugs. “We’re hoping they’re just a ring passing through and not getting set up. The last thing Gotham needs is more traffickers.”
“True enough.” Dick forces his tone calm so he won’t growl at the idea of wanting the traffickers to escape to avoid the effort of catching them. “You don’t think they’re an already established group?”
“Nah.” The officer shakes his head. “Those usually grab the kids working the streets, or buy ‘em from their pimps. They’re not as careless either, this is the third we’ve found. Most of the rings here are better at keeping hold of the kids.”
If Jason hadn’t reappeared to press against his leg with a barely audible growl, Dick probably would have decked the officer tucking away his notebook. There was plenty to be done to stop trafficking and it would be done faster if the police would stop looking the other way when it happened. The commissioner might be cleaning up the force, but it’s happening far too slow for Dick’s taste.
Jason presses against him more insistently and Dick glances down at him. The boy huffs quietly and glanced towards the rooftops meaningfully. Time to wrap this up then.
“We found the parents.” Before Dick can come up with a good parting quip, the officer working on his phone looks up suddenly with a relieved grin. “They called him in missing a few hours ago. They should be at the station when we get there.”
Dick breathes out a quiet sigh at that. “Then we best let you get him home. We’ll keep you updated if we find anything else out.”
“And by that he means we’re gonna have ta do the dirty work for you, but don’t sweat it.” Jason’s wide smirk as he grapples onto the rooftop feels a little more unnerving than Dick’s smiles ever did as Robin.
Dick gives the startled officers an apologetic shrug before following, with maybe a few extra flourishes. He lands beside Jason who is now glaring at him, posture defensive. “You find something, kid?”
“One of the thugs had a cookie in his pocket. ‘S mostly crumbs, but I got a couple good chunks.” The pup holds up a baggie with said evidence. “Thought maybe we could run tests?”
Dick doesn’t think he meant for that last part to be a question.
“Good job.” He takes the bag and examines it before handing back with a ruffle to Jason’s curls.
Jason pulls back with an angry hiss. “Bruce said you’re an absolute loon about ‘cuddling’,” Dick chokes as Jason uses air quotes around the word with a straight face, “so Imma make this real clear. You’re not allowed to touch me. I only did that crap earlier to calm the kid down ‘cuz he thought you were gonna mount him.”
And there goes his good humor. “I would never—“
“I know. I’d’ve taken him and run if I thought you would.” Jason relents, his warning scowl fading to something tired. “We gonna keep going tonight?”
Dick considers it and then shakes his head, adjusting the collar of his nightwing costume. He’s listened to Jason rant about the deep vee and gold accents often enough to know that drawing his attention to it will distract the boy from whatever is bothering him. Evidently, Jason is something of a fashionista. “It’s time for little wings to nest. Besides, we should analyze the evidence as quickly as possible. The fresher the sample, the better I would think.”
“There’s no such thing as a little...” Jason makes a face, but dips his head in a reluctant nod. “Anything if it means I don’t have to look at you any more. Could you have tried harder to make an eyesore?”
“I could have stuck with red and green.” Dick offers as they grapple across the city.
Jason’s answer is a deeply offended cry of disgust.
Title is “What Am I Feeling” from the show called Galavant. Highly recommend. It’s sort of cringe at parts, but still so good.
Chapter 4: I Might Have Messed It Up Again
Alrighty. This chapter and the next have given me the biggest trouble so far. I’ve revised them like seven times and I’m still not entirely happy. However, I think this is probably as good as it gets.
Dick and Jason are probably a little OOC from fanon portrayals, but I think they still stay close to their personalities as shown in canon.
Also, I’ve realized that I’ve never said how long Jason has been with Bruce at this point. I’m twisting canon timelines around a lot, but I’m pretty sure he’s been at the manor almost a year, maybe a little longer, at this point. Also I see Dick as being seventeen, almost eighteen. Jason’s roughly twelve.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The next day finds Dick sulking. The computer is tracking down possible sources of the drug used to induce Liam’s heat and it’s taking forever. It doesn’t help that Jason’s never more than five feet away, watching him suspiciously. Never making sound, just watching. Whatever progress they made yesterday has been reset to zero and honestly Dick doesn’t have time to deal with Jason’s issues.
So he ignores him and scans the files on the other children being brought in with drug induced heats. Jason continues to stare.
“What do you want?” Dick finally snaps, spinning in his office chair to glare at the boy hanging upside down from a trapeze bar. He’s halfway across the cave, but that hardly matters. Jason has a way of making sure you can feel his disdain. If he was feeling charitable, Dick might tell him that he really shouldn’t wear a hoodie while doing acrobatics. He’s not so he doesn’t, just watches the blood rush to Jason’s pale, freckled face. The boy really needs a haircut.
Jason remains silent for a few long, judgemental, minutes. Then he scoffs and rights himself. “I’m making sure you don’t call metas into Gotham just because you’re bored.”
“One, I’m offended.” Dick scowls holding up his fingers, one at a time, to make a point. “Two, it wouldn’t be because I’m bored. Three, not your business what I do. Four, Speedy isn’t a meta.”
That it’s not a meta doesn’t seem to make Jason any happier. In fact, he looks more annoyed than if Dick said he was calling in Hal.
“What’re you doing calling in Queen’s tagalong in for? I could find them by myself, and even with you blundering along I can still probably manage it before B comes back.” Jason swings a few times before he dismounts with a flip, wobbling only slightly on the landing. Dick can’t quite hide his amused snort and Jason’s expression twists. “You call Speedy, that’s a horrible name by the way, and we’ll be all kinds ‘a screwed. What’s he gonna know about Gotham’s streets? Can’t even pick a good name.”
“Roy is good at what he does, and I know Gotham’s streets well enough that he doesn’t need to.” Dick scoffs, reaching behind him for his phone. “You didn’t even pick your name, so I don’t think you get to be a critic.”
“He shoots arrows at people with guns is what he does.” Jason huffs dismissively and then crouches down in a fighting stance with a low growl. “Not my fault you couldn’t keep Robin.”
“Robin was mine. My name, my colors, my costume.” Dick stands and stalks forward, punctuating each word with a finger jab. Maybe once Dick has proven himself the boy will calm down and they can settle pack hierarchy without Bruce’s interference, since Bruce keeps insisting he’s pack. “Bruce had no right to give it to you. You’re not even good enough for it. The only thing you can do halfway decent is take a punch. You have no business being out on the streets getting in the way.”
“I was already on the streets, Goldie. Don’t need your approval, or Bruce’s. I was winning my battles long before any fancy training. Not that you’d know anything about fighting your own battles. Bruce took you in before your tears dried and you haven’t done anything for yourself since.” Jason hisses back, flattening down into a more defensive position. “This is mine. You abandoned Robin when you abandoned Gotham. You can’t just flip from place to place ‘cause you don’t care enough to stay and keep everything.”
“I abandoned Gotham?” Dick flung his arm out, eyebrows raised high. He was incredulous for three seconds and then his growl, much deeper than anything Jason could hope to reach as a pup, came back. How dare the upstart imply he was the one in the wrong. It was Bruce at fault, for trying to bench him. Maybe he would have believed it was out of some misguided desire to protect him, except now Jason is Robin and the dangers haven’t changed.
He stalks forward, watching the way Jason shifts his weight. “I’m out saving the world with my friends, I didn’t abandon anything. Bruce turned his back on me and then brought in some low life who stole his tires.”
“I ain’t a low life.” Jason bares his crooked teeth. The boy looks exactly like the dangerous alpha child the news likes to paint him as. Bruises mottle his pale skin, almost as plentiful as his freckles, and his scent bleeds aggression.
“Please Jason, your pedigree is full of gangsters and drug addicts. You’re the definition.”
There’s the scuff of Jason’s feet on the ground as he lunges forward and then Dick is dodging a wild punch. The next punch is less wild and catches Dick across the jaw. Jason is a natural brawler, but Dick’s been training for years. Jason has no hope. He flips over Jason, pivoting on one foot to launch a kick that knocks Jason backwards.
Dick’s tired of this boy pushing him around in what should be his home, he’s tired of rolling over while the boy steals his pack. So when Jason scrambles backwards, leaving his neck open, Dick takes advantage. He lunges forward, pinning Jason down. Jason’s struggles grow panicked as Dick’s teeth latch on and then he goes lax. Dick doesn’t trust that, growling deep and shaking his head to sink his teeth in deeper. For all he knows Jason is just playing dead, But Jason doesn’t move except to tip his head back further with a high pitched whine that wouldn’t sound out of place on a newborn. Only young pups and terrified omegas make that noise.
The taste of blood jolts Dick back to his senses.
His jaw unlocks and he falls backwards off the pup. Jason remains where he is, stiff and trembling. Blood weeps from the broken flesh, already swollen and puffy. Guilt washes over him and he moves forward to offer aid, but Jason flinches. Resignation settles on the pup’s tear stained face. Jason doesn’t try to find a defensive pose. He clearly expects Dick to beat him bloody and yet he lays there limp in a way that submission instincts can’t be fully responsible for. Even an omega bitten in heat will struggle against the victor if they think he or she is a threat. Someone’s done this to him before, probably many times with many someones, and Jason’s learned the easiest way out is just to take it.
Dick’s just the latest in a long line of people to hurt Jason when he should have been protecting him.
Somehow Dick stumbles across the cave on jelly legs to one of the trash cans Alfred keeps in the medbay for after patrol nausea. Everything he’d eaten that morning comes up and he still continues to dry heave. When he can finally breathe without the threat of bile rising up his throat, he lifts his head to see Jason still pressed against the stone floor where he’d been left. Stupid. He should’ve realized after that Jason would wait to be dismissed. He should have realized a lot of things and instead he’d left the bleeding, terrified, traumatized pup on the ground until he’d felt better. He’s never felt so disgusted with himself.
“Don’t leave the manor.” Dick rasps out. Because he knows that Jason has no choice but to obey right now. Because he knows that if Jason leaves after this, he’ll never come back.
Jason tenses further, if that’s possible, before scrambling to leave the cave. The pup leaps up the steps three at a time, nearly falling. Theres the sound of nails scrabbling on stone and then he’s out of hearing.
Dick curls in on himself. After a few minutes he flips open his cellphone and speed-dials a number without looking. “Roy, yeah... I know... it’s just... can you come to Gotham? I- I’ve screwed up.”
When Roy arrives, Dick is expecting his friend to snap and snarl at him. Instead Roy’s expression is soft with pity he doesn’t deserve. Dick’s nearly an adult, he knows better than to let his temper get the best of him. Now his lack of self control has hurt an already traumatized kid.
“He’s up in his room, I looked inside to make sure but I didn’t go in.” Dick runs his hand through his hair, tugging hard. “Bruce is going to kill me. Alfred is going to kill me. They should kill me.”
“Dick just breathe. Yeah you screwed up, but do you really think that brothers never fight?” Roy nudges Dick gently, trying to be encouraging. The reminder that Bruce wants them to brothers just makes him feel sick again. What kind of a person pins his baby brother down on the ground and bites him until he bleeds?
Roy snaps his fingers in Dick’s face to focus his attention. “Look. You shouldn’t have bit him, but you had to settle hierarchy at some point. Now you’ve gotten it over with and you can focus on being big brother.”
“Roy... you didn’t see him after...” Dick covers his eyes with a groan, like that can block out the memory of the pup silently crying.
Out of nowhere he’s knocked onto the ground and he just barely manages to catch himself. As he stands, adjusting his blue sweater, he gives Roy a dark glare.
“Nah. Don’t glare at me.” Roy nudges Dick’s head with his knuckles, before brushing past him. “You were starting to brood. Just lead the way. ”
“I wasn’t brooding, I was thinking. You should try it.” Dick scowls at him lightly before jogging the few steps needed to get in front of Roy. “He’s in my old bedroom.”
“I don’t thinking beating yourself up counts as thinking.” Roy retorts, but he doesn’t seem to expect more from Dick than a pained chuckle in response.
Despite the manor’s size, they find themselves outside the room too quickly. Roy turns to him. “You stay outside the door for now. He’s probably waiting for you to throw him out and you need to show him that the only thing that’s changed is hierarchy. You particularly need to show you’re still going to respect his boundaries.”
“I know. I know.” Dick hisses, but drops to the floor with crossed legs. “I’m not dumb, I just... I don’t know... it was an accident.”
“Just don’t accidentally walk into his room.” Roy snorts as he cautiously walks in. If those words had been said by anyone else, they would have been offensive. Roy had a way of softening painful truths until they felt like gentle teasing.
Jason’s growl is harsh and loud as Roy draws close. “Get out.”
“Look. I’m just here to make sure you’re okay.” Roy holds his hands up, even tips his chin back as he projects calming omega pheromones. Dick catches a whiff of the sweet mint and whisky scent and finds his own muscles relaxing.
Jason on the other hand gives a more savage growl, snapping at the end of it. The sharp click of teeth sounds almost painful. “I said get out. If Dick wants something he can come in himself. If I have to listen to him I at least want the chance to tear his throat open.”
“I’m not here to bring you a message from Dick.” Roy moves in further, out of Dick’s sight. There’s the sound of shuffling, the bed creaks, and Dick’s pretty sure Roy’s sitting on the bed. “I really am here to make sure you’re okay. If you’d come out from under there we could talk maybe? Just think of me as a neutral third party. You’ve heard of those right?”
Dick edges in closer until he can see the corner of the bed that Roy is sitting on. Jason’s still not visible, but Dick can hear the bitterness in his voice. He can taste it in Jason’s scent, acrid on his tongue. “I’ve heard of ‘em. Heard of unicorns too. Ain’t neutral parties supposed to be neutral and not, I dunno, say the offending party’s best friend?”
“What if I’m best friends with you both?” There’s another growl, suspicion lacing Jason’s milky sweet scent. “Yeah right. All you capes have made it pretty clear you all side with Dick. ‘Cept for Bruce and Alfie, no one can stand me.“
“I can stand you. I’m here of my own free will aren’t I? ” Roy waits for Jason to grunt agreement before continuing. “And what about Barbara? She’s tutoring you, isn’t she?”
“Yeah, ‘Cause Bruce bribed her. An emphatic ‘you’ll never be him’ and a slap made it pretty clear where her loyalties lie.”
That can’t be true, Barbara wouldn’t...
Jason crawls half out from under the bed on his elbows, twisting his neck to look up at Roy. “Swear you ain’t here to take me back to him?”
“Cross my heart and hope to die.” Roy raises his right hand as he crosses his heart with the other. That done he pats the mattress beside him. “Far as I’m concerned, Dick is Nightwing now. Doesn’t bother me if you’re Robin. Your neck okay?”
Jason crawls up onto the bed, leaving plenty of space between him and Roy. His hand goes to touch his neck and then jerks away like he’s been stung. Maybe it is that painful, Dick’s only been bitten once and he’s pretty sure Bruce was gentle about it despite his anger.
Dick wasn’t gentle. Jason probably is in a lot of pain.
“Dunno. Tried to clean it but... ‘s hard to get to.”
“You want me to help?” Roy offers another swell of scent. “I know you don’t know, or trust me, but an infected bite wouldn’t be a fun way to go.”
“I can think of worse ways.” Jason curls up a little, hugging his knees to his chest. Dust paints his curls white. After a second, he shifts a little closer and turns so Roy can see. Dick can’t get a good look, but even he can see how inflamed and swollen it is. The sight prompts the first glimpse of anger from Roy. It’s subtle, but Dick knows that Jason has caught it because the boy takes a leap off the bed and is halfway under it by the time Roy gives a shout to stop him.
“No, no, come back. I’m sorry. I’m mad at him, not you.” Roy reaches out pleadingly. “Please let me help. That looks bad.”
“You’re mad at the golden boy? Because he bit me?” Jason seems to be trying for doubt, but there’s a little too much water for it to sound anything but tentatively hopeful. Dick wants to kick himself. “Why?”
“You didn’t deserve this. Come here, let me look at the bite.” Roy speaks in the soft tone omegas reserve for pups. Dick expects Jason to snap and spew derision, but the boy whimpers and crawls back onto the bed to press against Roy’s side. Roy looks just as startled as Dick, but he wraps his arms around Jason. The bite must still be triggering the chemicals responsible for submission, making Jason more susceptible.
Roy’s larger frame nearly swallows the boy. They’re only a few years apart, but malnutrition has left Jason far smaller than he should be. “You okay kid?”
“I want my mom.”
“I know.” Roy rubs light circles onto Jason’s back. “I know. You wanna tell me about her?”
“She was a ‘mega. You kinda smell like her, before she got sick.” Jason nuzzles close, neck stiff from the bite, before hiding his face against Roy’s shoulder. “‘Cept she smelled like cigs and not booze.”
“Sorry. I’ll light a few up before I come over next time.” Roy uses one hand to cup the back of Jason’s neck, while gently probing the bite with the other. Jason hisses, the noise turning into a whine as he squirms. Roy hums lightly, holding onto Jason a little more firmly. He waits until Jason has relaxed back down before tugging a couple individually wrapped antiseptic wipes from his pocket. “This is probably going to sting. You ready?”
Jason tenses, probably steeling himself. “Yeah. Go ahead.”
Roy rips one of the packages open and then dabs at the wound. Despite his gentle purr, his expression grows tighter as he works. It takes two wipes, stained red and yellow by blood and puss, to get the bite clean. Jason only whimpers once, moving to give Roy better angles without needing prompted. That, more than anything else, convinces Dick that Jason’s used to being bitten.
Despite putting one there himself, Dick feels ready to tear apart the others who ever dared touch teeth to his packmate’s neck. Maybe before their fight, he’d view the other bites as something earned, but after... after seeing Jason so resigned to the horror he thought was coming, Dick wants to smash something
“There. Now we’ll just bandage it and wait for it to heal.” Roy is pulling the large bandaids out of his pocket as he speaks. He’d come prepared to take care of this it seems. “You want to tell me more about your momma? What was her job?”
“She... well, she was a waitress a while I guess. Then she got too sick so she started turnin’ tricks. I dunno. Willis wasn’t around a lot, and his money was mostly his anyway, and then he got himself shot up in prison. We didn’t have a lot, her... medicine was expensive.” Jason presses closer to Roy, burying his face in the archer’s neck. Traditional pup behavior isn’t something that Dick expected from Jason, but if his mother really was an omega it makes sense. Jason yawns and then rub his nose against Roy’s collarbone, having been shifted onto the omega’s lap. “I have her shirt, but it doesn’t smell like her anymore... Roy? ‘m real tired.”
“I imagine so. People are usually exhausted after being bit, there’s a major crash while your hormones reset.” Roy chuckles and lowers his head to scent Jason lightly. Nothing that won’t come off easily, but enough that it might give Jason some comfort. “You wanna sleep here or go back to your nest?”
“Mmm...” It seems to take Jason a great deal of effort to stagger to his feet. “I want my nest. You tell anyone about this and I’ll gut you.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it, Jaybird. Get some rest, we’ll need your help on the case.” Roy gathers up all the wrappers as he watches the boy sway.
Jason gives a low growl that sounds vaguely like a drunken purr before he drops down and wiggles up under the bed. There’s the sound of Jason nesting and then a quiet sigh when the noise stops.
Roy waits a few minutes and then stands. He’s glaring at Dick in a way that has the alpha scrambling to his feet quickly. Roy jerks his head to the side and Dick’s darting down to the end of the hallway filled with Alfred’s priceless knickknacks to await the tongue lashing he’s sure to get. The knowledge that Roy probably won’t get physically aggressive is only mildly reassuring.
Sure enough, Roy stops in front of him and snaps his teeth in Dick’s face. Only Bruce’s training keeps him from jerking backwards. “Never again. If you, or anyone else, hurts that kid again I’ll shoot you in the leg.”
“I know. I know. I didn’t know the others were...” He doesn’t know what they’ve done to so thoroughly convince Jason that he’s alone. “I didn’t know they weren’t accepting Jason.”
“You better make it real clear to them that Jason’s Robin now and you don’t care. That boy is grieving and as if that’s not bad enough, he’s being rejected by his extended pack. I don’t know how all you alphas can’t smell the despair on him.” Roy snarls before snorting quietly and his aggression fades. Unlike Dick, Roy is comfortable in a lower position both in the Titans and with Oliver. It would take a lot to get him to issue a challenge and it seems Dick fighting with Jason isn’t cause enough. “Thought you guys were supposed to have the better sense of smell.”
“Nope. You’re not sinking into depression either.” Roy gives him a tight smile and slings a tattooed arm over Dick’s shoulder. “Come show me the other reason I’m here, I know how much you enjoy a good case.”
It’s not complete absolution, but it is forgiveness. Now Dick just needs to talk to Jason, but later. Jason needs to sleep and Dick... Dick needs time to find the words that will make everything okay again.
Title from Beautiful Trauma by Pink.
Chapter 5: I Think I’m Moving But I Go Nowhere
I told myself I wasn’t going to post this Wednesday, and yet here we are. Clearly I have zero self control, but I have today off, I’m meeting friends for a late lunch, look cute today, and I wanna celebrate darn it. lol. Hopefully no one minds two chapters again this week.
Also, yes. I dressed Dick in the most obnoxious 2000-2013 men’s fashion trends that I could remember because that’s vaguely when that’s set.
I dunno if this deserves a warning, but there’s a blink and you’ll miss it vague reference to cops abusing street kids.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“So we don’t have any idea who we’re dealing with...” Roy scowls at the screen. The computer found four areas likely to have produced the sex trafficking ring, even tracked what was likely their path through America since leaving wherever they originated, but they can’t find anything about who might be in charge.
That it’s an alpha, they’re fairly certain, but they can’t be sure.
It doesn’t help that Dick’s attention is still divided between the case and Jason upstairs. The crash created by the withdrawal of heavy submission hormones is well documented, but so are complications that range from temporary paralysis to comas. The best case scenarios happen in healthy children, and that’s something Jason certainly is not.
If he’s hurt or, God forbid, killed Jason... nope. Not thinking about it. Jason’s sleeping it off and then he’ll be fine.
“It doesn’t look like the long term effects of the drug are too terrible...” Roy murmurs, drumming his fingers. “There’s a lot of trauma involved in forced heats though. The cops are really just going to leave them alone?”
“That’s what it looks like. They’re not even filing the cases together, even though they’re clearly linked.” Dick lets his head thump down on the desk. “Gordon is trying to clean up the city, but things still slip through the cracks. Especially cases like this where the only real evidence is missing children.”
“Missing children are usually a big deal.”
“Not in Gotham.” A thump alerts them to Jason’s presence. He’s changed into a ratty band tee that he brought with him to the manor when Bruce nabbed him. It dips below his collarbones, hanging off his frame. Small rips expose more of Jason’s torso.
“Half the children who go missing do so because it’s better on the streets than at home. If they put out a national alert every time a Gotham kid went missing no one would ever sleep.”
“Still though... surely the cops do something?”
“Sometimes they pay when they’re done with ‘em.” Jason’s flat look makes them both flinch.
Dick wants to ask if Jason was better off on the streets, if being homeless had been his choice. He doesn’t. Instead he swivels back to facing the screen as Jason crosses the room.
“We’re going to do something, something that will help, for these kids at least. They’re mostly pulling the kids from the slu—“ Jason’s from Crime Alley, he needs to be sensitive, “Park Row and the Bowery, kids that are the most likely to not be missed. But they’re not locals so they don’t know which ones have homes to go to and which ones don’t.”
“They’re grabbing the wrong ones. I’d guess there’s some bad blood between them and the pimps too. Otherwise they’d just buy some of the working kids and take off.” Jason flops into an empty chair, keeping Roy between him and Dick. “That happens a lot more than you’d expect. Maybe they’ve been through here before?”
“Maybe.” Dick hummed. “But if they’ve been through here before, wouldn’t they have a better idea which kids to grab?”
“Not if it’s been a few years. The last time I can remember there being a ring coming through was before mom died. She wouldn’t let me leave the apartment for like a week.” Jason kicks his feet lightly, scratching at the bandage on his neck. “There was a lot of turf wars back then too. She had to stick close too if she didn’t want to get nabbed.”
“So this might be their second or third pass through here.” Dick adds that to the file reluctantly. He’d been Robin at that point and he hates the idea that he and Bruce had missed something so huge. Hates the idea that Jason knew when they didn’t, even though there’s nothing that the boy could have done.
Roy swings from side to side in his chair. “Not to interrupt, but why am I here?”
Other than to keep you from tearing into a child goes unsaid in the glare he directs at Dick.
Dick clears his throat awkwardly before settling back into his role as leader. “They seem to be focusing here in the Bowery, I thought since you’re an omega you could go undercover and—“
He’s cut off by Jason laughing so hard he falls out of the chair. “Undercover as what?”
“A prostitute.” Dick sends Jason a glare that shuts him up, but the pup remains smirking. A low growl builds up in his throat, but he pushes it aside. He’s proven he deserves his place over Jason, he’s not going to let the boy bait him into another fight. Roy gives him an encouraging grin. “They’re going after omegas. So if we can get Roy into place, they’ll hopefully take the bait. If nothing else, he might hear something.”
Jason starts laughing again. “No one will believe that he’s willing to suck a knot.”
“Ow. One of my friends thinks I look like a hooker and the other doesn’t think I look good enough to be one.” Roy slumps halfway off the chair, almost too long red hair falling into his face. “I’m real hurt guys.”
“’s not an insult, Harper. You just don’t look that desperate.” Jason rolls his eyes and kicks at Roy’s leg. “An’ quit bellyaching. You don’t even know me so you don’t get to act all betrayed.”
“I am betrayed, it’s not an act.” Roy slings his arm around Jason’s shoulder, pulling him in close, and doesn’t flinch when Jason snaps teeth near his ear. “But let’s let Dick finish explaining his plan before we start poking holes into it, shall we?”
“Do we have to?” Jason elbows at Roy’s side half-heartedly, seemingly giving up on freeing himself. “They’re all so dumb. Just get in, grab the kids, get out.”
“We won’t know where to look if someone doesn’t go undercover. You’re a child, I’m an alpha, Roy’s an omega. They’re nabbing omegas, so we send in Roy.”
“They’re taking unpresented children.” Jason points out, chewing on the inside of his cheek. “Logically speaking, I’d be the better choice. Not to mention, I wouldn’t have to work as hard to get information out of the doves since they already know me.”
Dick tenses at the implication, but swallows back another reflexive growl. “Maybe, but Bruce would kill me if I used you as bait, and you know it.”
“They might not even go for you.” Roy’s drops his head to rub his chin against Jason’s hair lightly, no doubt to try soothing away the sting of his words. “You’re pretty close to presenting age, and you basically scream alpha.”
“That so?” Jason’s expression is sour, probably angry at being passed over in favor of Roy. He tugs at a rip in his shirt. “Give me a few minutes and some make up and I can pass as an omega baby.”
“No one is doubting you or your powers of disguise, little wing.” It’s hard to keep the disbelief out of his scent and voice, but he manages to keep both soft. “Roy’s already here and he’s in a better position. Besides, don’t you want to put the fear of Robin into these guys?”
“I just want them gone.” Jason mumbles at the ground but a swell of scent gives away his pleasure at being called Robin, even if he mostly reeks of resentment. “I still say no one will believe Roy’s anything but a tourist.”
“I think you’d be surprised what I can pull off, Jaybird.” Roy assures Jason, finally releasing him.
Jason shakes himself like he’s a literal puppy, before moving to jump up on the desk. “So Roy’s undercover. What do the rest of us do?”
“Babs and I will tail Roy and see what our informants say while you stay here and monitor everything.”
“Fat chance.” Jason hisses, fists clenching tight enough that his entire body trembles. “That’s my streets, my people. None of you know them well enough to do this.”
“Jason...” Roy tries to sooth, but this gets a batarang thrown at him, missing his face by a narrow margin. Jason draws another batarang from his jeans pocket and holds it up threateningly.
“You shouldn’t even be here, so you can shut it and let the big kids talk.” The pup switches his aim from Roy to Dick and pulls his lips back in a snarl. “You’re not benching me. I don’t care what Bruce or anyone else says about you, I know you’ve never dealt with a case like this on your own and you’re just gonna screw it up. I’m not about to let you sabotage the case just so you don’t have to deal with me.”
“I’m not sabotaging the case. I’m not even taking you off of it. I just want you in the cave for now.” Dick hissing, struggling to control his temper while his instincts scream threat. “This behavior is why. Put the batarang down.”
Jason lets out a growl, but lowers the batarang. Dick suspects the bite on his neck is the only keeping Jason from straight out challenging him. “I’m not just a kid. Ain’t like you didn’t work on these cases at my age.”
“I’d been Robin for a lot longer at your age.” It’s hard to keep his voice level. “It’s too dangerous for you.”
“You’re such a moron. You think I don’t know what it’s like? I lived out there my whole lif—“
“We’re eating at the Gordon’s.” Dick snaps, because he’s going to lose the tenuous ho,d he has on his temper if Jason insults him again. “Go get ready.”
For a moment, Jason pulls his lips back to bare his teeth. Dick’s level gaze has him ducking his head in submission, rubbing gingerly at his neck. Without another word, the pup turn on his heel and stalks up the stairs and out of the cave.
Dick drops his head into his hands with a pained growl, trying to find a good solution to Jason’s involvement. There isn’t one.
“You did good.” Roy claps a hand on his shoulder, the omega’s scent surrounding them. “Much better than I thought it was going to go. If we make it through the dinner without bloodshed everything else should be smooth sailing.”
By the time Roy and Dick get cleaned up and changed into nicer clothes, Jason is nowhere to be found. They’re cutting it close to being late when Dick remembers that Barbara said Jason spends a lot of time in the library.
They find him curled up with Wuthering Heights in the large leather armchair Dick has always thought of as Bruce’s. Jason doesn’t even look up until Roy nudges him. Then he fixes them both with a dirty scowl. He’s changed into a bright red sweater with a white button up underneath matched with dark washed jeans. He smells strongly of Bruce, like he’s wallered all over the chair to pick up his guardian’s scent.
Not the fanciest outfit he could have worn as a billionaire’s soon-to-be son, but it’s hard to match Dick’s fashion prowess. Case in point, Dick’s wearing his two tone denim jacket, red skinny jeans, and white Air Force Ones to match his tee. With his hair artfully spiked, he’s the picture of a trendsetter.
He’s tried to help Roy out, but was unfortunately barely successful, Roy’s baggy jeans are only slightly frayed and he’s pulled back half of his hair into a deliberately messy knot that’s hidden by his trucker hat. While he’d wanted to get Roy into a nice v-neck, the archer decided on his bulky hoodie and a jacket thrown on overtop. Not the worst, but like Jason it definitely leaves room for improvement.
“Good book?” Roy leans onto the back of the chair, reading over Jason’s shoulder before the pup snaps the book shut with a little more force than the question probably warranted.
Jason tucks the book under his arm and shakes his head. “No. I have to read it for school. The idiots in my class voted for it.”
“I thought Alfred said you liked the classics?” Dick follows Jason out of the room, freezing at the glare he’s sent.
“I do like classics. Pride and Prejudice is a classic, Taming of the Shrew is a classic. This isn’t a classic.” Jason insists waving the book in a way that’s both adorably annoyed and frighteningly aggressive. His face turns red and his scent turns into angry, burning heat. “This is a bunch of bullsh—bullcrap, I said bullcrap, drama about some street rat who got taken in by a rich guy and proceeded to be whiny and abusive the rest of his life because everyone looked down on him.”
There’s a second where no one speaks or moves and then Jason shoves the book up under his arm, shakes himself with a growl, and starts down the stairs. “Come on, lets get this dinner over with.”
Roy and Dick share an uneasy glance before they follow him down. By the time they reach the manor doors, he’s bundled himself up in a coat and pulled on his shoes. Both look brand new, despite the fact that Dick knows they were bought a few months ago. Jason most definitely takes better care of his things than Dick did at his age.
“Wanna take one of Bruce’s cars?” Dick pauses by the keys, hands hovering over the selection.
Roy lights up, to no one’s surprise, but it’s Jason who answers eagerly. “The Audi. B barely even uses it ‘cause he always has Alfred drive everywhere.”
“You like cars?” Roy asks Jason as Dick snatches up the keys.
“Yeah. Kinda.” Jason shrugs and leads the way to the car. “I like B’s cars, even if they’re a waste of money. He lets me work on the batmobile sometimes.”
Dick chuckles and barely holds himself back from ruffling Jason’s hair. That would not be even close to welcome, and he tells himself he doesn’t want to anyway. “Bruce found him when he stole a tire off the batmobile.”
“Tires.” Jason enunciates, dragging out the ‘s’ a little smugly if truth be told. “I had three of them and almost got all four.”
“What happened? He catch you in the act and kidnap you?”
“He showed up while I was getting the last one off and I thought he was gonna tie me up and leave me hanging upside down, so I smashed into his gut with the tire iron and took off running.” Jason seems to have warmed up to his audience and chatters away, acting out his story with exaggerated arm gestures as they walk. “So he chased me down and held me by the back of my hoodie and kinda shook me a little ‘til I agreed to help put the tires back. Then once they’re back on he buys me food, then he dropped me off at this foster home that was being used to train criminals, ‘cept he didn’t know that yet, and once he did know Ma shot him so I ran into her and shoved us both out the window. Then he kidnapped me and took me home.”
Roy chokes and has to lean against the car to hold himself up. “You stole Batman’s tires, and then saved him from being shot by an old omega?”
“Pretty much.” Jason shrugs casually, but his scent betrays his pride as he climbs up into the car. “His fault for parking in Crime Alley. Those tires would’ve made me a fortune.”
Roy’s still laughing when they reach the Gordon’s.
Title from Stop and Stare by OneRepublic.
Chapter 6: There’s A World Of Shiny People Somewhere Else
Here we go. Plot picks back up next chapter. Writing this chapter was like pulling teeth, but upon editing it’s not nearly as bad I remembered. Dunno. I wasn’t sure what to do with the Gordon’s for a while.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Glad to see everyone’s still in one piece.” Gordon grins as he opens the door. The smile he sends Jason’s way is especially fond. “It’s not Alfred’s cooking but...”
“I’ve spent the last few days with only Bruce, and now I'm stuck with these guys. I’ll take anything at this point.” Jason reassures the Commissioner, reaching up to give the older alpha a vaguely patronizing pat on the shoulder. “Thanks for having us.”
“We’re always glad to. Barbara is in the kitchen getting set up if you want me to take your coat?”
“Ah, yeah. Thanks.” There’s a half second of hesitation before Jason hands the coat over. Then his expression changes to grim determination as he marches past Jim, through the living room, and into the kitchen. “Hey, Barbie. I’ll give you a fiver if you’ll brain big bird with that ladle.”
“I’ll brain you with it if you’re not careful, you little punk.” Though she sounds annoyed, Dick recognizes the fond exasperation in Barbara’s voice.
Gordon laughs as he takes Dick and Roy’s coats. “I’m glad to see he’s finally settling in. I know it’s been a rough year or so trying to get the paperwork done so Bruce can make it official.”
“I’ve heard Bruce complain about it a few times.” Dick answers carefully. “Something about Jason not existing in the system, right?”
“Yeah. Kid says he wasn’t born in a hospital, so I guess they never filed for a birth certificate either. It’s been a bit of a mess trying to find proof he was born here.” Gordon said as he hung their coats up. “Officially, I’m not working on the case since I know him. Unofficially, I’ve been working with Bruce and his lawyers to get it all settled.“
“Lucky us, Willis waited to die until after they proved he was my sire.” Jason chirps, suddenly at Gordon’s side. “Barbara needs to know where you put the potholders.”
“Shoot. I think they’re on the coffee table, sorry kid. I set them down on my way to the door.” Gordon gestures over his shoulder and Jason takes off at a run. When the alpha turns back he has a scowl on his face. “He’s lucky he died before I got my hands on him, is what. Hope you guys don’t mind stew and cornbread.”
“That sounds good.” Dick answers, staring after Jason. To be so blasé about your sire’s death... “Think Barbara took the bribe and is lying in wait for me?”
“Only one way to find out.” Roy grins and starts shoving him towards the kitchen. Then, ever the charmer, Roy beams at the Commissioner. “Thanks for having me over. Dick thought he could use some help with Jason.”
“Anytime. Barbara said you guys met at a Wayne Gala?”
“Yeah. My ‘dad’ is Oliver Queen.” Roy’s arm around Dick’s neck tightens playfully. “Us adopted rich boys got to stick together at those sorts of parties. People are cutthroat. Dick introduced me to Barbara at one of the parties.”
“Well, it’s good to meet you.” Gordon shakes Roy’s hand as they enter the kitchen.
Jason sits on the counter next to where Barbara is working on a salad, bickering with her cheerfully. The topic is Wuthering Heights and Jason has opinions, both on the book and the boy who had campaigned so hard to get it chosen.
“Edgar Bartholomew Worthington the third has to hire someone to spell his name for him, what does that idiot know about a good book?” Jason’s scowl seems likely to stick on his face. “I’d rather read Animal Farm again than this pile of sh— crap.”
“Worthington...” Dick finds himself chuckling despite himself. “That the brother of Francis Worthington?”
Jason shoots him a cautious glance before nodding sullenly. “Yeah, Francis is his brother. I have to hear about him all the fricken time. Edgar Bartholemew wants to talk crap about my family, but he’s the one with an alpha brother named Francis. ‘But Francis got to read Water Babies’. ‘Francis read At The Back Of The North Wind’. ‘scuse me. Here I thought being forced to read about about poor kids drowning or freezing to death was fu—dging tasteless, but if Francis thought it helped him understand poverty, we all better read it instead of actually helping people.”
“I... was in Francis’s class and we never read any of that... think it was mostly Shakespeare. I’m not sure he even read anything in class anyway...” Is all Dick can think to stammer out in response. He’s not sure Jason even wants him to respond.
“I knew it.” Jason hisses vindictively and then smacks Barbara’s arm repeatedly. “I said that, didn’t I? I said he probably hadn’t read them. There’s no way he could have just happened to read all of these dumb books.”
“You did say that.” She answers. Her cucumber and honeydew beta scent is warm with amusement. “Have you told Bruce yet?”
“No...” Jason ducks his head and picks at his nail. “I mean... It doesn’t matter anyway. They’re just books, not even worth the effort it would take to get a different one chosen. ‘Sides, I socked him in the nose after he suggested The Outsiders next. I kinda like that one, but heck if I’m gonna let him call me Ponyboy.”
Something about his tone, the way he keeps shifting, the uncertainty of his scent... Dick realizes Jason isn’t sure that Bruce would do anything if he did know.
“You shouldn’t fight the other boys.” Gordon chides before Dick can say something to reassure him, but he doesn’t sound like he disapproves of the tactic. “Now off the counter, I need help setting the table.”
“Yeah, yeah. You just want free labor.” The pup snips and hops down to follow Gordon over to the table.
“You got me kid.” He ruffles Jason’s hair before he starts handing him the plates. “But the sooner we get this done, the sooner we can eat.”
“Gimme those, you’ll hurt yourself.” Jason takes the pile of dishes and begins meticulously arranging the place settings. By the time he’s finished, Barbara is ready to bring out the food. She shoves the bowl of salad into Dick’s arms and gives the tray of cornbread to Roy. The stew she takes in herself.
After Jason says grace they all start to dig in. The conversation is awkward at first, but slowly eases into something more natural. In fact by the time that even Jason is starting to finish up, Dick could reasonably say that he’s enjoying himself.
Then Jim has to take a call. When he returns his expression is grim. “I’m gonna have to duck out for a while, Barb.”
“Everything okay?” Barbara pushes back from the table to help him gather his stuff.
He nods, taking his bag from her as he tosses on his hat. “There’s a pair of kids turned up in the harbor. Turns out there’s been an increase in the number of kids going missing, a few found in heat, and they’ve just now made the connections between them.”
Gordon looks up when Jason snorts quietly, as though not realizing until that moment he had an audience. After a pause, he finishes pulling on his coat. “I’ll have to ask you to keep this information to yourselves of course, we wouldn’t want to jeopardize anything. Say hi to Bruce for me, nice to meet you Roy.”
“Nice to meet you too.” Roy gave the Commissioner a lazy salute. “Our lips are sealed.”
Dick and Jason both said their goodbyes and agreements, Jason mumbling his, then Barbara was walking him out the door.
When Barbara comes back it’s obvious that Jason was only playing nice for the Commissioner. He shoots her a sharp, angry, glare before he goes back to eating. Dick’s never seen someone so determined to eat his body weight at every meal. That it’s Barbara who provided the food only seems to make him determined to eat more of it, maybe to inconvenience her?
Barbara on the other hand seems... uncertain would be the wrong word, but she doesn’t seem to know what to do with Jason.
“Careful you don’t make yourself sick.” Dick warns before he can think better of it.
Jason responds by hurling his fork at Dick’s head.
Roy lets out a yelp and manages to intercept the throw before Dick has time to properly dodge. “Hold up a minute, kid. We’re not doing that.”
“I don’t need some prissy alpha telling me what to do.” Jason growls, posture defensive, butter knife already in his hand. “Just ‘cause he got a lucky bite in doesn’t make him my boss.”
“You bit him?” Barbara jerks to glare at Dick.
“You hit him.” Guilt roils in his stomach. “And he just threw a fork at my head. Why am I being yelled at?”
“No one is trying to boss you around, I promise.” Ignoring them both, Roy pushes back from the table to kneel down next to Jason’s chair. Dick and Barbara both freeze as the omega reaches up to cup the back of Jason’s neck. The pup shudders and clutches the cutlery tighter. When he doesn’t move to stab Roy, the older teen leans up to press his forehead against the other’s. “You’re okay, Jason. Dick isn’t saying you can’t eat.”
Dick’s heart sinks heavy to his gut. Why would Jason think that he would say that?
“Never thought he was.” Jason jerks backwards, scoffing, but he sets his fork down on the table. Relief leaks into Jason’s scent tellingly as he pushes Roy away. “I just don’t need him telling me what to do.”
“That’s just what he does.” Roy murmurs quietly, “Pretty sure he bosses Superman around even. It’s how he shows he cares.”
“He doesn’t care.” Jason’s answering scoff hurts. After shooting Dick a dirty look, he starts to eat again. This time he’s slower, a little less hunched over his plate.
With a pointed glare at Barbara and Dick, Roy returns to his own plate and takes small bites. The archer looks decidedly unenthusiastic at the idea of eating much more, picking apart the little that was left on his plate. “If you two are going to fight it out, do it in the other room. Jason and I are eating.”
Dick feels Jason’s attention focus on them, even though he’s still staring down at the floral patterned plate with singleminded determination. He catches sight of Jason’s trembling hand reaching for a glass of water and then pulling back just before it ducks under the table.
He almost sits back down but there are some things that need to be talked out before he and Barbara can work together, and it would be for the best if Jason wasn’t there.
Dick had taken the opportunity to go through Bruce’s file on the second Robin while Jason was sleeping. Most of the information was speculation, but loud noises and raised voices making the pup uneasy had been well documented.
“We’ll be back in a few minutes, Barb and I are going to compare notes on the case.” He gestures for her to lead the way up the stairs to her bedroom.
Jason snorts, but falls silent when Roy elbows him gently.
“Take your time.” Roy says, grinning overly wide. “Jaybird and I are going to get to know each other.”
“You’re worse than Dickie. ‘Get to know me’. This ain’t a date, Harper.” Jason lets his head flop onto the table. “Unless you’re so desperate for an alpha you’ll take an unpresented child.”
“Excuse you, I’ll have you know I’m highly desirable. There’s no desperation here. Except maybe from everyone else while they’re trying to get a piece of this.” Roy tosses his hair, causing an uncertain laugh to escape from the pup he’s distracting. While Jason’s forehead is still resting on the tabletop, the omega shoos the other two out of the room rather forcefully.
They’re reach the doorway during Jason’s exaggerated groan. “Ain’t nobody want a piece of that, Speedster. Reason number one why you can’t be a prostitute.”
“Excuse you,” is all they can catch from Roy before they’re up the stairs and he’s out of earshot.
“Look, Babs. I’m sorry.” Dick starts before she can, trying to head off another fight. “I know I hurt you when I left for Bludhaven, I didn’t mean to.”
“You didn’t mean to stay either.” She scowls. “Bruce decided to do his thing and you left me here to deal with it all by myself.”
“He threw me out.” Dick hisses. “Sure he regrets it now, but in between he decided to go out and have a second shot at Robin. He pulled some kid off the street and gave him my name, my colors, my room, my—”
“Jason’s another thing.” Her tone grows sharper. “What on Earth possessed you and made you think biting him was a good idea?”
“What possessed you to smack him around?” He spits back. “He replaced me and that’s still not good enough for him. He’s always attacking me, constantly. Every time I turn around I’ve done something new to offend him. He brings up my parents constantly, like because I was happy with them it somehow negates their deaths, and it doesn’t.”
“Dick...” Barbara pauses. Though her anger doesn’t fade, she softens. “He really said that about your parents?”
“Worse, he keeps accusing me of not caring about them. He’s always harping on about how I just abandoned everything. Everyone is always harping on me about going to Bludhaven.” Dick growled and tugged at his hair. “Jason wants me to stay in Bludhaven and never come back while Bruce wants me to come back and stay, and I can’t do either. Bruce, he... and then to have to listen to my replacement accuse me of abandoning Gotham, like quiting Robin was my idea... I couldn’t just keep quiet and listen to it this time and I snapped.”
“He didn’t... oh Dick, are you okay?” Barbara brushes the back of her hand across his cheek. “No one thinks that just because you were happy with Bruce you can’t miss your parents, least of all Bruce. Look at him and Alfred. And Bruce is... Bruce feels a compulsive need to take care of eveyone, but that doesn’t make him good with people. He got scared and handled it poorly, and then saw another kid who needed his help and has handled that only a little better.”
“Please. He was practically cuddling Jason last night. Seems like he’s handling Jason pretty well.” There’s not jealousy coloring his voice and scent, there’s not.
She laughs at that and shakes her head. “You’re just not around enough. Bruce has no clue what he’s doing with Jason. They fight plenty, Jason’s already challenged him twice.”
“And let me guess, Bruce gave him a few swats to the back of his head and sent him on his way?” That was bitterness.
“He grounded Jason and told the pup he had to stay within either his or Alfred’s eyesight at all times.” She tapped the faint scar on Dick’s neck, already mostly faded, leftover from his challenge to Bruce. “This wouldn’t work with him. He was testing Bruce to see if he’d respond with violence, to see if Bruce was lying about never hurting him. A bite would just prove him right and he’d escape back to stealing tires and who knows what else.”
And that makes sense, even if it still hurts. Envy burns in his veins that some kid can just walk in and take over his family; that the pup can misbehave worse than he ever did and get treated with only understanding. Maybe Jason’s a street kid, but Dick lost his parents too—was abandoned by his extended family within the circus to the grimy city where he’d watched his parents fall. Bruce and Alfred are his pack; he helped stitch it together. He’s the one who kept pulling Bruce back when the older alpha got weighed down by Gotham’s filth. He’s the one who cheered Alfred up every time Bruce came back from patrol injured and they weren’t sure he’d make a full recovery. He fought hard to earn his place next to Bruce as Robin, Jason hit Bruce in the ribs with a tire iron and the title was just handed over.
“If you like him so much, why’d you hit him?”
Barbara gives him a look that tells him she’s not impressed by his response before she drops her head to Dick’s shoulder. She takes a breath to speak and lets it out in a frustrated hiss before trying again. “We were fighting Two Face. Bruce had ordered us not to engage, but he went in anyway and nearly got killed. I pulled him out and tried to talk to him, but he never listens and he didn’t then either. Instead of taking my advice, he claimed the only reason I got Batgirl was because I slept with you. Then he started to rant that I was the reason Two Face got out, that I should have let him handle it because he was Robin, so I... I don’t know. I was upset. Bruce has already chewed me out over it, and continues to every time I see him, so I don’t need you on my case too.”
He’s infuriating and you just want to strangle him, but then he turns around and says it’s okay that his favorite teacher is knowingly letting the class choose books that make him feel like—” She crosses her arms and gives a low growl. “This is his favorite teacher. He won’t even talk about what goes on in his other classes. He thinks he’s dumb because no one taught him the order of operations so he struggles with algebra, but he can calculate complicated sums in his head, balance a checkbook, and write a comprehensive budget at the drop of a hat. He works so hard to prove himself better than his upbringing and then turns around and gets tangled up in a school brawl at least twice a week. I don’t know...”
He wraps his arms around her, rubbing her back. “He wants to be out on the streets for this case.”
“And you told him no.”
“Even if could trust him to do everything I say, and I can’t because he pushes boundaries like it’s going out of style, they’re snatching kids. So far we’ve only found a few kids that were in heat, but with how alphas outnumber omegas we should be a mass of children going into rut. They’re not finding them.” Dick breathes out a heavy breath through his nose. “I didn’t tell Jason or Roy, but those bodies they’re finding in the harbor? All of the kids have shown evidence of a premature rut.”
“You’re afraid if they get ahold of him...”
“Bruce didn’t do testing, but he’s calculated the odds of him presenting as an omega at about fifteen percent, a beta at about twenty, and an alpha at about sixty-five.” Dick slumps against her, barely restraining himself from burying his face in her hair like he used to when they dated. “I know he’s better trained than the average kid, that he lived on the streets. He probably dodged traffickers everyday, so he knows what he’s doing but... It’s because of his background I want to keep him locked up until this is over. He’s not going to have a clear line of when to stop. He’ll dive in headfirst and get himself hurt and I’ll be left to fix everything.”
“Why don’t you just explain it to him?”
“You think he’d actually listen?” He pulls back to raise a doubtful, Alfred patented, brow of disbelief. “I bet twenty that he tries to bite my head off before I get thirty seconds in.”
“You’re on. I’ve found that as long as you present it right, he actually listens well.” She punches his shoulder lightly, trying to walk past him.
He catches her by the elbow before she can go far. “I really am sorry, Babs.”
“I know.” Her soft beta scent sours with grief and she ducks her head so he can’t see her expression. The hem of her baby doll t-shirt is twisted beyond repair as she seems to consider her words carefully. “I’ll forgive you eventually, but right now I need time.”
That’s better than he could hope for. He gives her a sad smile to match hers and then twists it up into a smirk. “Take all the time you need, Babs. In the mean time, I have a head to get bitten off and a bet to win.”
Straightening his shoulders as though he’s headed off into battle, he marches comically down the stairs with elbows and knees going everywhere. He’s rewarded with warm laughter as Barbara takes the stairs two at a time to catch up to him. Her lips brush his cheek as she passes him.
“Roy and I will make sure to grab a front seat.”
Title from This Is Not Your Year by The Weepies.
Chapter 7: The Tumbling Ground Is Rough
So this chapter is... rough. Like really rough. I know it could use another couple rounds of edits, but with my time constraints I know that won’t happen until maybe Friday. So I'm sending it out now, rather than make everyone wait. Also after three rewrites I’m ready to move on to chapters that are more fun. Sorry it’s a little late. I’m hoping to get the next one out Friday or Saturday.
Also formatting is being weird and idk why.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The talk goes just about as well as Dick predicted it would and he now has a lovely bruise blooming across his cheekbone. He’d made sure to collect the money from Barbara before they left the Gordon’s.
When they reach the Manor, Jason jumps out of the car before it’s done moving and runs in. If he wasn’t driving, Dick probably would have run after him. He really didn’t fancy another search through the unnecessarily large building. As it is, he parks quicker than he probably should to dash in after the pup.
Taking in the foyer, empty of any clue to Jason’s location, Dick thumps his head back against the doorframe. “Great.”
“It definitely could have gone worse though.” Roy nudges Dick’s side with a grin. “You believe that he’s going to stay in while we’re on patrol?”
“No. But short of staying behind myself, I don’t know how to make sure that he does.” The beginnings of a headache start at the base of his neck. Anger wants to flare up in his chest, but he tries to keep hold of it for now. “Let’s just find him.”
They split up, Roy checking Jason’s room while Dick checks the attic. Jason’s there, puffing on another cigarette. The pup lifts his chin in what’s almost a dare, blowing smoke at Dick’s face. “What do you want now?”
“To make sure you’re not going to run.” Dick doesn’t approach. “I know you’re mad at me for keeping you in, but I want you to tell me the truth. Would Bruce let you work on this case?”
Jason glares down at his cigarette, the muscles in his jaw tight enough to make Dick’s ache in sympathy. Then he huffs out a sigh and turns to stare out the window. “No.”
“I’m not taking you off the case altogether. I want you here to monitor everything. You’ll still help, you’re just going to be safe while you do it.” Dick reaches forward hesitantly to rest his hand on Jason’s shoulder. “You’re right when you said they're more likely to go after you, but I told you earlier that you’re also the one who’s in the most danger. I wasn’t lying. In order to get to their headquarters, you’d have to get dosed and present as an omega. If you don’t, and you present as an alpha or beta, they’ll try to kill you and we’ll have shown our hand.”
Jason doesn’t respond, breathing in smoke and letting it out twice. Then he ducks his head. “Fine. I’ll stay in tonight, but if you guys fail as badly as I think you will then you have to let me try.”
“If we don’t get anything tonight, we’ll reconsider the idea. However, only if you stay in tonight. You go out and the deal is off.” Dick pulls back to give Jason space. After a second, he crosses his arms and shifts his weight from one hip to the other. “I’m not promising anything. And we both know this is better than you’d get from Bruce.”
“Fine.” The kid repeats, stubs out his cigarette on the window sill, and then erases the evidence. “We better get down there before Harper gets down to the cave and starts screwing things up.”
When they reach Roy, Jason is less than impressed with the outfit he’s chosen. While flattering, it’s a grungy halter top and skinny jeans. “You’re going to freeze, Harper. Might not be snowing yet, but it’s still cold enough to get frostbite at night.”
“Hate to break it to you kiddo, but I ain’t got a lot that can pass muster.” Roy snorts as he tugs on leather, making sure his heeled boots fit snug just below his knees and won’t slip out of place. “I’m a respectable ‘mega.”
“I’ve seen what you wear clubbing, the only reason it won’t pass is because it’s designer.” Dick laughs and tosses Roy a worn out peacoat that he’d worn once undercover as an omega.
Jason snorts and flops down onto a chair at the bat computer. The kid is back in his ratty band tee and shredded jeans. It doesn’t seem that he wants to bother with changing into Robin if he’s not going to get to go out. “You’re off to a great start. What are you going to do when the johns realize you aren’t actually going to take their offers?”
“I’ll lure them into the alley and then Dick can tie them up and we’ll see what they know before calling in the cops to arrest them.”
Jason just rolls his eyes and spins in his chair. “So I’ll just dig the heels out of my closet tonight.”
“Not helpful.” Barbara rolls her eyes, how did they manage to miss her arrival, and gestures to the computer screen displaying a map of Gotham. “Where would you suggest we stakeout?”
“I thought I wasn’t supposed to help tonight.” He drawls, but spins back around to study the screen. Dick has to stifle a laugh at the way Jason’s nose scrunches up in thought before he hesitantly points to a street. “I know some of the workers here. They ain’t gonna talk to you, but they won’t jump you either.”
“Not getting jumped is always a plus.” Roy agrees and eyes the motorcycles. “You’ll probably want to drop me off a few streets away and then I can walk there.”
“That sounds good. Jason can track you while I stash the morotcycle and Barbara gets into place.” Dick fetches the helmets while Barbara starts hooking Roy up to their comm channel with a discrete device.
Once everything is set up, Dick straddles his motorcycle and waits patiently for Roy to get situated as well. He turns his focus on Jason, letting his voice deepen just slightly in command. “Stay here and stay safe.”
“Yeah, yeah. Try not to get killed, pretty boy.” Jason flips Dick off as he turns away from him, but a suppressed shudder rolls through his posture and Dick’s sure his alpha voice hit it’s mark.
He starts the motorcycle and shoots Jason a charming grin. “Aw, you think I’m pretty.”
Then he guns the engine and barrels out of the bat cave before Jason can get in a response. Petty? Yes, but so satisfying.
Roy laughs in his ear. “You’re getting murdered when we get back.”
After the third john to visit Roy didn’t come back, he stopped being approached. When Barbara felt the need to point this out, Jason crowed with triumphant laughter.
“I freaking told you, didn’t I?”
“You did tell us.” Unlike before with the books, Barbara doesn’t sound as indulgent now. “So why don’t you tell us a different street corner and we’ll have Roy just talk to the other workers for tonight.”
“Ain’t no one else gonna put up with a tourist trying to set up on their corner.” Jason replies glibly. There’s a near silent squeak of his chair spinning back and forth. It’s just audible and enough to set Dick on edge and make his teeth hurt. “If you’re not too much of a prude and you got cigarettes on you, you could ask Rhett if he’s got a lighter.”
“Rhett’s the only male?” Roy asks under his breath, disguising the speech by puffing on his hands.
Dick follows his gaze to the handful of workers. They’re all dressed in rather warm looking leggings and loose sweaters. Nothing all that different from what your average omega might wear, but with the way the clothes fit and how they stand in their platform heeled boots there’s no mistaking them for anything other than sex workers.
Dick quite firmly refuses to think about how the pup knows these workers specifically by name even as Jason answers Roy’s question in the affirmative.
“And they’re not going to chew my head off?” Roy shuffles towards the others hesitantly. Most of his apprehension seems to be for show, but Dick is close enough to catch the faintest hint of it in Roy’s scent.
The omega hadn’t been allowed to wear scent blockers since he was going undercover, but he had put on a dab of perfume to slightly distort the scent. It wouldn’t cover it up entirely, but it would make it harder to identify him with it.
“Probably not. Just don’t do anything that might get the girls hurt. Rhett and Daisy are pretty much joint pack leaders and they’ll tear you up if you hurt Dolly or Heaven.” Jason sounds bored again, huffing when Roy hesitates. “Look, either you go talk to them or you come in for the night because no one is gonna approach you now.”
“If I lose so much as a fingernail, I’m blaming you.” Roy growls quietly and shoves his hands up under his armpits.
Jason just laughs at them, again.
Roy shuffles over to the omegas, ignoring the glares and suspicion directed his way. Rhett and a tall woman with dark skin move in front of the other two, much younger, omegas. The archer fumbles a cigarette out and holds it up in explanation. “Could I borrow a lighter for a minute?”
They continue to side eye him, no one speaking for a minute and then the one Jason named as Rhett dips a slow nod. He slips a lighter from the top of his boots and passes it over silently. Or so Dick assumes, he’s too far away to see it properly.
“Thanks.” Roy passes something back, the cigarette tip glows red as Roy sucks on it. He turns his head and breathes out smoke to avoid blowing it in their faces and then turns back to them. “I’m Roy.”
The oldest omega snorts quietly, running her fingers through her box braids. “You’re near as bad as Baby Bird. You ain’t been using your real name the whole night, have you?”
“Um...” Roy hedges, not because he had been but because he hadn’t actually been using a name at all and apparently hadn’t considered needing a fake one.
“Tourist.” Jason mutters under his breath into the comms at the same time Roy’s mic catches Rhett saying it. There’s a strangled noise of triumph from Jason’s end and Dick just knows they’ll never hear the end of it. The pup is a terrible sport— especially when he wins.
Case in point, the wicked laughter in his ear courtesy of Jason.
“I, well. I hadn’t gotten to names yet.” Roy fumbles.
They seem to snicker at him, though none of them have Jason’s poor manners and laugh out loud. Rhett flicks his lighter on and off a few times before tucking it back away. “Should probably think of a stage name, ginger. ‘less you want clients following you home.”
“Right, thanks.” Roy puffs on his cigarette again, opening his mouth to ask a question when a car begins to approach and the omegas fix him with a sharp glare.
Rhett stiffens before he saunters over seductively.
“You’re gonna get hurt. Just count yourself lucky we ain’t run you out. ” The other omega in charge, Daisy Jason supplies, bares her teeth at Roy. “So go on back over to your side, kid. Or better yet, make up with your folks and go back home.”
“Do what she says.” Jason’s good humor is gone, now he sounds deadly serious. “Batgirl, think you can get closer to hear what they’re saying to Rhett?”
“I don’t particularly want to listen to an omega get propositioned, thanks.” Barbara gives a low growl, but does as Jason asked and jumps across a rooftop. She has to drop down to a fire escape in the alley. “It’s a beta in the car, he seems agitated. I’ll see if I can get audio.”
A few minutes while Barbara fiddles with something too small for Dick to make out and then the conversation crackles through the comms.
“I make more money than most of your doves.” Rhett hisses, but his body language screams trembling submission. “It’s cold out and people are getting picked up from the clubs.”
“You’re making half of what you were a month ago.” The beta growls back, though it’s not alpha low. “Not nearly enough for it to be worth it to keep you on. You’re a little old, but it seems she’s getting desperate. Bet she’d take you off my hands easy.”
“You want me to believe you’re gonna deal with that snake?” Despite his bravado, Rhett’s voice trembles. “She’s one body in the harbor away from getting caught out. No way you’d want her traced back to you.”
“If she buys you that’s one less body to be dumped and I get my money. Win, win.” The beta reaches out of the window to caress Rhett’s cheek, swiping his thumb across the scent gland behind his ear. Rhett’s shoulders climb up defensively and his entire body leans away. Then the beta fists Rhett’s hair and gives him a shake. “So lets see if you can do better tonight than you have been.”
“He wouldn’t dare.” Jason’s growl is childish, but the anger is venomous.
Dick wants to put a comforting hand on Jason’s shoulder, so it’s probably a good thing that there’s an entire city between them to curb the impulse. He doesn’t particularly want to lose his hand. “We’re not going to let him, little wing. Barbara can you put a tracker on the car? We’ll let him put some distance between here and then we’ll take him in. We’ll see what he knows about our target and drop him off for the police department to deal with.”
They watch Rhett sway back over to the others, the movement far less sensual than it was earlier. Daisy wraps an arm around his shoulder, though it looks more like she’s slung an arm around his shoulder than anything comforting. Still, the distress that Dick can smell from the rooftops starts to fade at the contact.
“What do you want me to do, boss?” Roy mutters quietly, still trying to keep the other omegas from seeing him talk to seemingly no one.
“Give it a few minutes and—“
“Stay and keep an eye on them.” Jason cuts in. “I dunno who ‘she’ is, but I’ve heard.... If she gets hold of them, they’re goners.”
Dick chokes back his angry growl at not only being interrupted, but having his authority undermined. It almost physically hurts. The only thing that helps is focusing on the agitation and fear in Jason’s voice, and telling himself that Jason didn’t mean it that way. He’s not entirely convinced, but there are bigger issues to focus on.
Like the car currently driving off.
Dick grapples across the city, following Bab’s directions. Even if he doesn’t have information on whoever is hurting the children, this man won’t be allowed to get away. There were bruises across Rhett’s face and arms. Maybe they were left there by the johns, but judging by the way Rhett had flinched at the beta’s touch it wasn’t likely they were the only ones to leave them.
Regardless of his involvement of their current case, it’s clear that the beta is a problem. If Dick can take him down and drop him off at a station, maybe the night won’t end up such a waste.
Title is from Wilderlove by John Mark McMillan
Chapter 8: You Were Inverted, No One Alerted You
Gah. Another late chapter. Sorry guys. Work got in the way of working on this, but I got up early to finish this up before work. It’s pretty rough, but I’m still happy with it. I only have 25hrs this week, so hopefully I’ll be able to get a lot done on this and maybe even finish up the first draft so I can focus solely on editing.
Somehow this chapter deals more with prostitution than the chapter that actually had sex workers in it? Dunno how that happened honestly.
Also... Discúlpame, por favor. Mi español es muy malo. I took Spanish from middle school through high school, but let’s be honest that doesn’t mean much. And I’m a couple years out of high school now so.... I didn’t use google translate, but I did try to use online dictionaries to make sure I was remembering right. There’s not a lot of Spanish in this chapter, but Jason I want for Jason to be fluent (or as fluent as a non-fluent, non-native speaker can manage). Not sure if he’s actually Hispanic or if the area he grew up in just used the language a lot. If he is Hispanic, it’s from his dad. Lemme know if there’s a preference, and also if I get anything wrong...
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The pimp stops outside of what looks to be a shabby hotel.
When Dick voices this observation, Jason scoffs quietly. “That’s a brothel. The beta you’ve followed, Rykker owns it. Street walkers are something he does on the side.”
“Do you know where his office is?”
“It’s on the third floor, ‘s got an attached bedroom.” There’s the sound of pencil on paper, then the tapping of keys on the keyboard before Dick’s tablet pings. He unlocks the device to find a hastily sketched floor plan. “He ‘visits’ with his workers there.”
“At some point we need to talk about how you know all this stuff.” Dick mutters under his breath.
Jason’s answering laugh is harsh “Pretty sure you know how I know all this and you don’t want to talk about it. Rykker’s gonna make his rounds, probably stay downstairs to pick himself up an omega before he goes back up to his office. You got maybe an hour.” There was a pause. “Probably closer to a half hour.”
A seductive purr comes from Roy’s side of the comms, evidently Roy’s future status as an omega fatale hasn’t had enough time to set in just yet. Dick tunes out the frankly terrible banter from a would be client that drifts through Roy’s comm.
Jason’s snickers as he listens in are harder to ignore, since the pup is giving him directions.
Scaling down from the rooftop to a window isn’t difficult. Breaking the lock on said window without falling to his doom was a little more difficult. Still, he didn’t train with Batman for years and learn nothing. After another few minutes he’s standing inside a very very tiny room that could probably pass for a hotel room if one was particularly determined to believe that’s what it was.
The lacy slip made of barely there fabric that hung out of a dresser drawer combined with sheets that have stains of questionable origin make the true purpose of the room rather obvious however.
“Do people really come here?” Dick asks, stepping gingerly across the carpet to poke his head out the door. There’s a startled cry from Roy’s end before the omega starts cheerfully whistling and there’s the sound of zip ties. “ I’d be scared to catch something.”
Jason snorts. “People who come here ain’t got money to go somewhere cleaner. Go down that hallway, it’s the door on the end. Don’t know what you think you’re gonna find though.”
“At this point I’ll take anything.” Dick follows the directions to find a slightly better kept office.
“If you can get ahold of his computer, I can put a virus on it. We might find something that way.“ Barbara offers. “He’s probably got paper records too.”
“Think he writes down in a journal every night, ‘Today Rhett brought in five hundred dollars, Angeline brought in seven hundred, I managed to add a new worker to my roster. He brought in a thousand, so I probably won’t sell him off yet.’” Jason’s impression of an upper class Gotham accent was actually rather impressive. In fact he sounded better than some upper class gothamites Dick knew. “I think I’ll sleep in tomorrow so I might wake tomorrow refreshed and ready to extort more money from the impoverished omega population.”
“Somehow I doubt we’ll get as lucky as that.” Dick chuckles despite himself as he begins rifling through cabinets and files. The paper files he finds only track ‘legitimate’ business. So he leaves it alone, describing what he’s doing for the others as often as he feels safe while he examines everything in the room.
He also tries to keep Jason as occupied as possible with looking things up in the hopes he won’t try to sneak out and conduct his own investigation. So far it seems to have worked, with Barbara finding ways to include Jason when Dick starts to run out of ideas. Roy too chimes in with questions.
The computer is a chunky old thing with a heavy monitor that takes forever to load. Dick’s just inserted the thumb drive that will allow Barbara access to the software when the door opens.
He swears under his breath. Immediately Barbara and Jason clamor for an update.
When he was younger, he’d always thought movies that showed things in slow motion were stupid. Life didn’t happen in slow motion, not even when his parents died. If anything their deaths happened in fast forward. So Dick’s highly annoyed when the creak of the door lasts for what has to be more than three minutes, except it isn’t. Because the door takes forever to creak open. Then, before Dick can adjust to the slower than molasses speed time has decided on, Rykker has reacted by smashing Dick upside the head with the lamp just inside the doorway.
Where before he had the noise of his teammates playing in his ear, now there’s just the harsh threat of static.
“What are you doing in my office?” Rykker raises the lamp for a second blow, but Dick dodges around it. He doesn’t notice the omega who has accompanied Rykker up until after the man plucks up a gaudy paperweight off the desk and tosses it at his head.
Only the reflexes Bruce spent years drilling into him save him from being brained by the shiny rock.
Unfortunately that gives Ryker more than enough time to reach his desk, reaching for a drawer Dick hasn’t rifled through yet. The confident purpose Rykker sneers with tells him it’s probably a gun. A gun is the last thing Dick needs, so he sends a wing ding to embed in the wood, nicking Rykker’s hand.
The beta jerks back with a yelp, holding the injured hand to his stomach. Dick can see him search the room frantically, landing on the lace clad omega cowering in the corner.
“¡Ve a buscar ayuda!” When the omega hesitates, the beta roars at him in a passable impression of an alpha voice. “¡Ahora!”
That has the omega scrambling out of the room. Dick lets him go. The bouncers from below would come eventually to see what the crashing was about, and this gets the omega out of the way.
It does however put him on a bit of a time crunch.
He stalks forward, drawing his escrima stick as he does. His thumb brushes across the handles, turning them on. Electric blue sparks light up the dim office, highlighting the room’s dilapidation and the fear on Rykker’s face in equal measure.
“What do you want from me?”
“Information. What were you doing with that omega earlier?” Dick stalks forward, watching the beta scramble backwards until he’s pressed against the wall. He turns one of the bastons off to jab it against Rykker’s chest.
“He’s my—“ Rykker swallows hard as the baston slides up towards his throat. “We just started dating.”
“Not the one you sent downstairs.” Dick hides his snort. “Though you should be aware I don’t believe for a minute that’s true. I’m talking about the one you visited on the street. You didn’t seem very happy with him.”
“I- I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The beta continues to insist, hand smacking the wall towards a bookshelf just out of reach. His voice only wavers a little. “I run a hotel, and unless you want to stay a night I’ll thank you to leave.”
With an internal sigh, why do ‘bad guys’ always make things so difficult for themselves, Dick jabs the escrima stick that he left on up under Rykker’s ribs. It’s low voltage, but enough to make the beta jerk and yelp. “Who is she?”
“Who is who?” Rykker whimpers, still clutching towards the shelf. “The only omegas I’ve seen today were all male.”
“Who’s buying up the omegas in Gotham?”
When Rykker doesn’t respond, Dick moves to jab him again with a higher voltage. Before he can even switch it back on, the beta snatches the heavy bookend he was reaching for and slams it against Dick’s head.
He crashes sideways to the floor, stumbling back to his feet in time to see three beefy alphas block the doorway. With an angry curse, he sheathes his bastons and lunges for the window. He crashes out of it, grappling to a building across the street while Rykker screams orders in English, Spanish, and what sounds like it might be Italian.
They won’t be able to catch him, but that’s small consolation for letting their best lead slip through his fingers. As he starts making his way back to Barbara and Roy, he says a small prayer that the computer held something useful.
When they finally return to the cave, Jason is fully dressed in his Robin suit and looks like he was three seconds away from the leaving the cave.
“Took you long enough.” The boy snarls, but there’s no bite. In fact, the way he looks them over, while one leg bounces uncontrollably, is almost worried. “You stopped using the comms after you went after Rykker.”
“The beta destroyed my comm.” Dick holds up the damaged device in apology. “Got in a lucky hit. I thought you agreed to stay in the cave.”
“I agreed to stay part of the case, not get shut out.” The pup hisses. His scent burns with anger, but it’s not quite enough to hide the sharp edge of fear. “You went dark and I didn’t know what was going on.”
“I went dark, you still had access to Barbara and Roy.” Dick crosses his arms, staring down at the boy. His chest aches as he realizes just how small Jason is. “We managed to plant a virus in his system and Barbara buried it deep enough it would be a miracle if he found it.”
“They went dark too.” Jason jabs Dick’s chest. “The whole point of me being stuck here was so I could keep an eye on everyone and I had access to nobody.”
“Barbara?” Dick turns his attention to the beta as she quickly takes over the bat computer.
“I diverted resources so I could focus on hacking the computer. It took less battery if Roy and I shared a private line.” Barbara sounds objective, but Dick can scent her guilt. Jason can’t, judging by the pup’s reaction.
Roy’s expression is pained as he reaches out to apologize.
“No.” Jason snarls, eyes wide and wild. He tears out of Roy’s grip. “I told you that you would all screw it up and no one listened to me. I’m going out there tomorrow.”
“Jason, you can’t. I know this is frustrating, but—“ Dick is torn between instincts that scream to scoop the pup up in a comforting embrace and to pin him down for daring to question him. It’s only the frantic sting of terror sharpening Jason’s scent that makes the first instinct stronger.
“Why are you being so stupid? I told you they won’t talk to Roy, they said they don’t want anything to do with Roy.” Jason presses up into Dick’s personal space in a blatant challenge, despite the ugly swollen lump on his neck visible under the Robin suit. “You botched taking in Rykker and now whoever’s behind this is gonna know we’re after her so we don’t have time for him to get their trust. I’m the one who is best suited for this.”
“Jason, I said no.” Dick lowers his voice to an alpha growl, but despite his shudder Jason doesn’t back down.
“It’s too dangerous.” He hisses and then deflates, crouching down to Jason’s level. The move is a little condescending, but it’s also bordering on submission. Hopefully that’s enough to break through to Jason, who’s working himself up into a panic. “Jason, look at me. Bruce put me in charge of keeping you safe and I can’t keep you safe if I’m pushing you into danger.”
“You don’t think I can do it.” Jason sounds broken for all of half a second before the anger blazes back across his face. “You don’t think I’m good enough.”
“It has nothing to do with being good enough.” Dick reaches out to touch Jason’s shoulder, trying to calm his spiral. The pup freezes under his touch as Dick looks to Roy for back up.
Before the omega can do anything Jason seems to soften. There’s an odd catch in his voice. “What if I can prove I’m good enough.”
“Jason I just said—“ When Dick turns back to Jason, all the anger seems to have disappeared as the boy leans into his touch. Dick pulls back like he’s been stung. “Jason?”
The pup bites his bottom lip in a manner so blatantly seductive it makes Dick’s stomach roil. He’s frozen as Jason moves closer, a provocative sway in his hips. Just before Jason can press in close, he puts his hands out to keep the boy at bay. “Jason, Jason stop.”
“I promise I can be good.” Jason ducks his head, the curve of his neck very clearly meant to be inviting. It just makes Dick’s chest ache, makes him more certain that Jason needs to be kept far away from the case. The pup peeks up at him from under his lashes, voice breathy and lips chewed red. “I just want to help.”
Dick jerks away, pushing to his feet quickly. “This isn’t about good, Jason. I’ve said no.”
Frustration leaks into the pup’s cloying scent before quickly being diluted. Jason reaches forward with a wanton whine, dragging slender fingertips across the skin bared by the Nightwing neckline, and Dick snaps.
He shoves Jason, digging deep to pull off the strongest alpha command he can manage. “Stop!”
The boy cringes backwards, clearly expecting an attack. When one doesn’t come, he scrambles to his feet, face bright red. “You can’t lock me up in here.”
“Go upstairs, Jason.” It takes everything he has to not let his voice shake the way it wants to, to stay calm and level. “We can talk in a few minutes about this once you’re thinking clearer.”
Jason snarls, tears welling up in his eyes. Dick hates that he can’t tell if they’re from embarrassment at being rejected or Jason was hurt when he fell. He’s about to insist again that Jason go upstairs when he feels Roy press against his side.
The omega’s scent is soothing and he speaks in a gentle omega purr. “It’s okay, Jason. Go on upstairs. We’ll be up in a minute to work everything out. No one is going to shut you out of the case anymore.”
“You did.” Jason’s hiss holds less venom this time around. It sounds fragile and hurt. “You already did.”
Roy leaves Dick’s side to kneel next to Jason. After a slight hesitation, he pulls the pup into a hug. Jason fights him frantically before sinking into it. Dick can’t hear what’s said, most of it seems to be subvocal reassurance from Roy, but eventually Jason gives a reluctant nod. Roy releases the pup.
After shooting Dick a sharp glare, Jason trudges up the stairs.
“What do we do?” Dick knows he sounds lost, but he can’t help it. He just had to fight off his baby brother, and the longer he was spending around the pup the more that descriptor felt right, from propositioning him. “He can’t go out there.”
“I think we should let him.” Barbara swivels in her chair to face them. “He has a point. He already has an in with the working omegas and he knows better than us how to get information from them.”
“How can you say that? If we send him out there, someone will try to pull him and he’s not going to say no.” Dick gestures with an angry sweep of his arm towards the direction Jason went.
Barbara snorts and jerks her thumb towards Roy. “He was out there all night and as far as I know he had sex exactly zero times. Don’t see why Jason can’t do it.”
“Roy, back me up here.” Dick swings to face the omega, certain he has back up on that front.
Instead Roy shifts his weight uncertainly. “I’m pretty sure he’s going to go out there anyway. At least this way we can be sure we’re there a back up.”
“It’s not safe. We just saw that Jason doesn’t have clear boundaries for this kind of thing. We’re setting him up to get hurt.” Dick protests, but he knows a losing battle when he sees one. Roy’s right that Jason will go out behind his back. Barbara’s determined expression and Roy’s guilty one tell him that they’re willing to go behind his back too. Barbara to save the children targeted by the monster they’re after, and Roy to save the boy hurting upstairs.
He swallows hard, fighting himself because he knows that he’s right, and then nods reluctantly. “One night, just to talk to the street walkers.”
“One night.” Barbara agrees, turning back to the screen. “And then we’ll see.”
She seems pleased, but Roy smells strongly of pained guilt.
“Should I go tell him, or will you?”
“I think you should.” Roy mumbles, not looking up. “I have some things I need to work on here.”
Jason is in his room when Dick finds him. The pup perches on his bed, staring sullenly at the ceiling. “What do you want?”
“We’ve decided that, that is the others and I talked and...” Dick pinches the inside of his arm, trying to make the words come out smoother. “You’re right. And... and we’re going to send you out tomorrow.”
Jason’s unadulterated excitement hits Dick like a punch to the gut.
Before the boy can get speak, Dick holds up a hand. “One night, for now. Just to talk to the omegas. No johns.”
Jason hunches his shoulders, face scrunching up as his scent reads unsure. “But I could find out more...”
“No johns.” Dick insists again, firm on this matter at least. “If we need information from them, we’ll interrogate them like we do every other criminal. We’re doing this to protect children, and you’re a child. Putting you in that position is unacceptable, no matter what cause it’s for. You can talk to your... friends and that’s it.”
There’s a moment where he thinks Jason is going to argue, but then the boy nods. “Yeah, yeah fine. Ain’t like I really want to suck another knot.”
“Good. Then we’re agreed.” Dick tries to hide the flash of anger at everything that statement implies, but he suspects he fails by the amused look Jason shoots him. Now that there isn’t anything to actively fight him on, the pup seems more relaxed. Dick gestures towards the door with his head. “Come on. We’ll find a snack and then see if we can find somewhere to put Roy up for the night.”
“You mean he ain’t sleepin’ in your room?” Jason waggles his eyebrows at Dick as he approaches.
Dick chokes on his own spit at the one eighty this conversation has taken. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Just saying, you’ve got yourself a nice harem of red heads.” Jason grins over his shoulder. “Barbie, Kori, Wally, Roy...”
“Roy and Wally are just friends.” Dick insists firmly, a touch wildly. How did he lose control of this conversation so fast? “Babs and Kori are just friends now.”
“Sure they are.” Jason’s grin turns wicked and he dashes past Dick before the alpha can think to grab him. His sing song floats down the hallway after him. “I’ll just make sure Roy doesn’t want to bed down with you before we go to the trouble of opening up another room. Maybe Babs will want to share too.”
“You ask either of them and I’ll string you up by your toes.” Dick shouts in what is most definitely not a shriek, chasing after the cackling pup.
Why had he ever begged his parents for a little brother? This was a nightmare.
Title from While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beetles. It’s a classic, and also a song I strongly associate with Jason. The original is really good, but I highly recommend Regina Spektor’s cover of it.
Chapter 9: Good Times, Bad Decisions
What’s this? A Saturday update? It’s a miracle. Lol.
I didn’t finish drafting the story, and in fact ended up scrapping a few chapters. But, I did finalize my outline and I’m now fairly confident this will be 15 chapters long. It’s shorter than I originally had in mind when I started, but I really want to move on to the next story and a lot of what I had planned felt repetitive so... here we are.
Between rewriting the plot and a bunch of school stuff that cropped up, I only managed to finish this chapter and rewrite about half of the next one. But that’s okay. So far I haven’t missed a week and I feel like that’s what matters.
Warnings for this chapter. Jason is going undercover as a sex worker and he is incredibly underage. More detailed warnings at the end so there aren’t spoilers. Nothing actually happens, but the last thing I want is for someone to get upset because they were caught off guard. I have extreme anxiety/agoraphobia/panic attack disorder myself so I know that sometimes something that’s “nothing” is enough to ruin your day. If you want to skip the alpha scene, it’s sectioned off by this ******
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Dick feels dirty for not putting a stop to this as he watches Jason saunter across the street. The sway in his hips looks out of place on the fierce child. Dick had taken one look at Jason’s ‘disguise’ and wanted to lock the boy up in his room for a few years to keep him safe. Barbara and Roy had vetoed him, but Roy looked like he was just barely restraining the urge himself.
As though Jason’s suggestive sweater, skinny jeans tight enough to look painted on, and platform heels weren’t bad enough, the boy’s done his make up. Glossy lips and a slight dusting of blush that make him look far too innocent to be walking the streets. Smudged eyeshadow and thick mascara give him doe eyes that don’t belong anywhere but the street corner. Dick hates it but he has to admit that Jason was right, no one would look at the boy and think he could be an alpha.
The four workers who’d been so cold to Roy, flock around Jason eagerly as he approaches. None of them scoop him up, but it’s clear that they want to.
“Baby! What are you doing back out here?”
“What happened to the fancy mansion and your butler?”
“Wayne ain’t touching you, is he honey?”
“You need me to take care of him for you next time he comes ‘round?”
“Don’t care how much he pays me to spread rumors about him, he ain’t gonna hurt you and get away with it.”
They huddle around Jason, taking turns scenting against him. Jason tips his head up with a happy smile, accepting the mother henning as they all fuss over his clothes and hair. One of them, Rhett, pulls out a nearly gone eyeliner pencil to fix Jason’s look.
“It’s okay guys. Bruce is good.” Once he’s been deemed to look acceptable, Jason lets himself be tugged over to sit on one of the older omega women’s lap, Dick thinks her name is Susan? Maybe Daisy. “Bruce is great. I don’t think he’s even looked at me like... like a client would. Not even once.”
“Then what’cha doin’ back out here, Baby?” One of the younger omegas, maybe seventeen, musses Jason’s curls. She still has puppy fat and Dick’s chest aches to see her dressed in so little out in the cold Gotham air. “Ain’t he gonna be worried if he finds you out of bed?”
“He had to go out of town, won’t be back for a couple days I don’t think.” Jason shuffles a bit as he digs his hand into his pocket, “I brought you guys some more money, he’s crazy. Gives me like fifty a week as ‘allowance’. Plus he gives me extra spending every time we go out and lets me keep whatever’s leftover. I don’t know what to do with all of it.”
“You sure you don’t need it, Baby?” The one cradling him in her lap, asks gently. Her voice is rough from smoke and rough living. “Maybe you oughta save it.”
“I got plenty saved, Daisy. Don’t worry about me.” Jason nuzzles against her dark skin, before shifting and leaning into Rhett’s touch. Maybe Roy had a point earlier about Jason needing to feel like he had a pack. The pup is wearing a blissful expression, surrounded by the street walkers. “You guys need this more.”
“So what are you doing out here if the mansion gig is so great?” The other young omega, choppy dark hair framing her face in a bob, rests her head against Jason’s leg. “What if Brucie Wayne catches word of you being out on the corner?”
“I wanted to see you guys, Dolly.” Jason pouts and leans down to poke her nose. His own speckled nose wrinkles in mock disgust. “Well, you, Daisy, and Heaven. Not so sure about Rhett.”
The male omega pokes Jason in the stomach. “You punk. See if I get you any more smokes.”
“You got me cigs?” Jason’s face lights up and he wriggles forward. “Bless you, Rhett. I take back everything I ever said.”
“Yeah, yeah. Save the flattery for clients.” Rhett drops a package of Marlboros and a lighter into Jason’s outstretched hand. Based on his indulgent expression, Dick suspects that they weren’t originally intended for Jason. “You ain’t taking any tonight, are you?”
“Naw he ain’t.” Daisy insists firmly, holding onto Jason a little tighter. “Baby is done taking clients. Was bad enough before, he ain’t gotta do it now. He’s just gonna sit here and tell us all about this mansion.”
Jason chatters on about school, and Alfred, and all the rooms in the manor, and this one weird hat he found in the back of the attic. Dick tunes out, Jason is surprisingly chatty.
It’s not until Dolly reaches up to wipe away Jason’s tears before his mascara can run that Dick pays attention again, “What’s wrong, Baby bird? That sounds wonderful.”
“He wants to adopt me.” Jason breathes, like if he says the words it will break whatever spell he’s under. “Not even Mama wanted me at first and he just... just... he shoulda had me put in Juvie and instead he wants me to go to his stupid rich people parties and live in his absurdly huge house and eat his fancy food. And I don’t know what he wants. He doesn’t want me to... y’know... pay him back, ‘cause I tried and he—“
Dick startles when Roy force switches them to a private channel.
“What are you doing?” Barbara’s voice is so cold it makes Dick shiver. He’s glad they’d decided to split up across the rooftops so no one can clearly see his reaction.
“That’s not a conversation we need to hear. I dunno how much is just him trying to work them, but it sounded pretty close to real.” Roy crosses his arms over dramatically, the movement visible from across several rooftops. “If someone approaches him, we’ll turn the coms back on. Until then you two are going to respect his privacy and let him talk to his friends.”
“And if he manages to get one of them to say something important?” Barbara snaps
Roy flings one arm up in the air. Dick can feel the exasperation. “He’s Robin, he’ll remember it. He’s the one most likely to know what’s important in this case anyway.”
“Having experience as a hooker hardly makes him an expert on this mission.” Barbara snaps. Then a black car pulls up. “Put his com back on.”
“I’m getting closer.” Dick drops down almost silently to a fire escape that gives him a good view of Jason and the would be client. It’s just high enough to avoid leaving himself out where he can be seen by passerby. Now if only he was sure Jason was going to do as he promised and not let himself be pulled. “What are you doing, Jason?”
Jason doesn’t reply, already standing with hands on his hips and pelvis tilted forward, waiting for the car to stop. He skips over before it’s even completely parked and leans his elbows on the windows that are pulled down, resting his cheek on his arms to tip his face up. A coy smile plays on his lips. “Long time, no see Mister.”
“I’m not the one who’s been missing, Baby. Heard Wayne picked you up.” The alpha’s voice is chillingly familiar and Dick feels the blood drain from his face. Steve Warret is one of Brucie’s closest business partners. They just sealed a new partnership with him. Bruce had mentioned that the alpha would be coming over for dinner in a few weeks.
Dick swallows down his growl and makes a note to start compiling evidence against Warret, hopefully evidence that won’t implicate Jason. Those dinner plans definitely needed canceled.
“Nah, Wayne won’t touch a minor with a ten foot pole. Dunno who the kid he grabbed is, but sounds like he hit the jackpot.” Jason pouts, looking put out at the idea while the omegas behind him look rather pleased. He leans back, still holding onto the car door. “You here to see one of the others?”
“I’d rather see you.” Warret pushes forward, enough that Dick can see his lecherous stare. The alpha’s lips hover dangerously close to Jason. “It’s been too long, Baby.”
“Jason...” Dick growls, hackles rising.
Instead of pulling back Jason ducks his head with a high puppy whine, definitely higher than it needs to be since Jason isn’t that young, or in distress. The way Warret’s lips curl up at the sound explains why he does it, making Dick’s skin prickle. Seconds later and Warret is mouthing Jason’s neck sloppily in a crude caricature of the soothing gesture it should be.
Dick is on the verge of pulling Jason away from the car, despite the potential consequences, when Jason steps back and tucks himself against Rhett’s side. The male omega tugs Jason away when Warret begins to brush teeth against Jason’s neck, growling quietly.
The pup ducks his head apologetically. “Wish I could, but my pimp has a client for me. Gotta pay my dues, y’know?”
“I’ll pay double and he’ll get over it.” Warret pushes, reaching out to grab Jason’s wrist.
Before Dick can do anything more than gather himself for an attack, Rhett has put himself between Jason and the car. The omega is growling viciously. While still smaller than the average alpha, Rhett’s rather butch and looks like he can hold his own. A tight muscle shirt shows off his lean form, and he’s what could maybe be considered tall for a beta. “Baby said he already has a companion for the night. Try again tomorrow.”
“If he doesn’t come with me, there’ll be consequences.” Warret snaps, opening his door and scooting to make room for Jason. “Come along nicely, Baby.”
“Get out of here. We’re not asking again.” Dolly snarls, fiercer than Dick’s ever seen someone be despite her tiny frame. She’s also planted herself in front of Jason firmly, chin jutting up in clear defiance.
Warret snarls a low alpha growl that has all of them shuddering, including Jason. This time Jason’s whine sounds almost real as he tucks himself tighter against Rhett. “I’m not asking again, give the kid over and he’ll be back unhurt when I’m done with him. If I have to take him...”
“Out, Warret. Unless you want to be blacklisted. Everyone knows who you’re dealing with, think our pimps are gonna be happy you brought her back to Gotham?” Despite Warret’s blatent misuse of alpha voice, Daisy’s voice doesn’t quiver.
This has Jason ducking his head further, his scent thick enough with fear that Dick can smell it from his hiding place. From this far away it’s impossible to tell if Jason is faking or not but Warret seems to be turned on more by the scent. Regardless Jason steps out from behind his friends and moves to climb into the car.
“Baby.” Heaven snaps, a parent scolding her pup.
Jason freezes for half a second before he scrambles up into the car. “It’s okay, guys... I’ll be back in a little bit, Mister and I have catching up to do.”
The street hookers don’t believe him, but they stay back regardless of the clear fury and despair on their expression. Whoever this person Warret knows is scary enough that they’re willing to watch Jason be taken away rather than risk their own skins further.
This is Gotham, so they could hardly be expected to do otherwise. Dick’s angry regardless. He’s moves to stop this before it can go on any further, but Barbara stops him. “They said he brought ‘her’ back. We should follow him.”
Dick growls his protest, but lowers his escrima stick reluctantly. “Batgirl, stay behind and see what they’ll tell you about Warret. Speedy, we need a tracker on that vehicle in case I lose it. Jason, when we get you out of this, we’re going to have a discussion on what ‘no johns’ means.”
Jason doesn’t do anything to indicate that he’s heard him, and Dick’s gut twists.
It’s for the best Jason doesn’t respond, the situation could become a hundred times more dangerous if he knew someone was listening in to the vile way he’s flirting with Jason, but that doesn’t make it easier.
He takes off after the car, his rage morphing into something that can be channeled.
“Mister...” Jason breathes out, and Dick can hear the sound of his small body shifting on leather seats. He chooses to believe Jason is moving away from Warret and not closer. “Aren’t we going to go to a hotel room?”
“Of course we are, Baby. When have I ever treated you like less than a prince? Still... we don’t need to wait to get started.” The low purr Warret is employing has Dick growling without fully registering it. As soon as the car turns a corner, Jason whimpering, Dick drops from a rooftop and crashes onto the hood. The vehicle comes to a screeching halt, but Jason’s yelp in his ear drowns everything else out.
“What the he—“ Warret breaks off as Dick smashes open the window with an escrima stick. The glass shatters across the alpha, cutting his face and arms as he tries to shield himself. Jason’s already ducked down and safe, but Warret didn’t even think to protect the pup from harm.
Dick feels zero remorse as he flips his escrima to the highest setting and jabs them into his chest. The alpha doesn’t have the time to twitch his arms, much less lower them to block the attack. He jolts for a few seconds and then goes still when Dick pulls them back.
Jason peeks out from behind his arms, mouth gaping before his expression morphs into a scowl. A scowl that is short lived as Warret blindly reaches for him and he has scrabble back to avoid being snatched. He nearly makes it before Warret catches him by the ankle and jerks. Jason tumbles into his lap, struggling against the arm wrapped tightly around him to trap his arms to his side. The alpha nuzzles against Jason’s neck, blood dribbling from his split lip onto the pup’s fair skin.
Jason freezes at the threat of teeth over the spot Dick had previously bitten.
“That’s better, Baby. Just stay put for me.” The alpha soothes before focusing his glare on Dick. “You the special client he was supposed to see?”
Dick quite firmly doesn’t let himself feel his skin crawl at the question and instead focuses on the best way to get his little brother free. Technically Jason can escape without trouble, but if he does so as a civilian it could bring up a lot issues. Especially since Warret has already connected him to Jason Todd. Dick can see the same realization settle onto Jason’s features. The pup disguises his growl as a whine.
Warret absently pets over Jason’s hair, turning his focus back onto Dick. “Never thought Nightwing would be interested in a soiled dove, but no judgement. He is quite the specimen. Unfortunately I’ve decided I don’t want to share anymore, Baby’s gonna stay with me from now on.”
Before Dick can do more than growl at the idea, Jason smashes his head back against Warret’s head. The sound of the alpha swearing is almost as satisfying as the crack of his nose breaking. Less satisfying is the way he shoves Jason out of his lap, foot reflexively slamming down on the gas. The car swerves, grazing Jason as it speeds down the road. A few feet later it straightens out, but doesn’t turn around.
Dick dives to check Jason. “Speedy, Batgirl, follow the car. Robin is down.”
“I’m not down.” Jason shoves at him, trying to stand and falling drunkenly onto his butt. New tears in his now very grimy shirt. Gray sludge paints his jeans. He looks dazed and Dick reaches towards him again to check for a concussion. “I jus’... jus’ need a minute.”
A minute that ends with Jason retching on the pavement.
Dick rubs gentle circles into the pup’s back. Then, before Jason can stop him, Dick scoops him up and gently cradles him close. Predictably, he reacts with a violent jerk that cuts off abruptly into a moan as he clutches at his stomach.
Grappling is out of the question. He calls his cycle to them and moves to a fire escape to wait.
Jason sits impossibly still, head leaning against the cool metal railing. Dick lets him settle his stomach and then slips a small set of note cards from it’s hiding place at the waist of his suit and hands it to Jason. “Let me check your head, I’m worried about the nausea.”
“Yeah? I’m a little more preoccupied with the fact Warret got away.” Despite his brave words, Jason still looks green and clammy. Every movement is careful and slow. “What’s your problem? We coulda had him.”
“Barbara and Roy are following him. I trust them to take care of it. If he’s actively working with whoever ‘she’ is, it might be for the best that he escape.” Dick keeps his fingers gentle as he probes for bumps and scrapes on Jason’s head. “Read those numbers please.” With a put upon sigh, Jason begins grudgingly reciting them while Dick times. When he finishes and hands the cards back over, Dick hums. “Well, no concussion. But you’re done for the night. Soon as my cycle gets here, we’re taking you home where you can explain why you decided to go with Warret, despite that being expressly forbidden.”
Jason opens his mouth to defend himself, but Dick taps his nose and shakes his head. “When we’re home.”
With a serious head injury ruled out, Dick moves his attention down to Jason’s feet. One of the heels is broken and both shoes are scuffed beyond repair. Dick starts working at the buckles, taking the shoes off one at a time and tossing them out of Jason’s reach. “Yeah, we’re not gonna keep these.”
“Can we... Can we let the others know I’m okay?” Jason’s more subdued than normal, head tucked against Dick’s shoulder he continues to check the boy for injuries. “They’re probably really freaked.”
Dick’s half tempted to let them stew over the potential consequences of their inaction, but they had tried and Jason looks absolutely miserable. Though it’s well contained, he’s trembling with quiet hitches to his breathing. If talking to the workers will help him calm, Dick sees no harm in it. “Alright. On my back.”
“What?” Jason rears back, nose scrunched in distaste. “You think I’m gonna let you piggyback me around?”
“And you think I’m gonna let you walk around East End streets barefoot?” Dick raises an eyebrow over his shoulder at Jason. “Come on. The cycle will here in a minute and I don’t want to leave it here. I’ve heard that there are daring young thieves who’ll rob even Batman.”
“Sound like cool kids.” Jason snorts quietly and then with a weary sigh he clambers up onto Dick’s back. Slender arms hug Dick’s neck while Jason’s head rests against him. It shouldn’t be so easy to carry a boy Jason’s age; like this Dick can feel just how malnourished Jason is even after nearly a year living with Bruce.
A aggressive need to protect surges through him, catching him off guard.
But he doesn’t let his new found big-brotherly affection show, terrified of driving Jason away with it. Instead he bounces the boy up a little higher onto his back. The trek back to the workers is short, the time he lets them spend with Jason is shorter. He hovers over Jason like the helicopter parent he’s always accused Bruce while They scent him goodbye and then he’s carrying Jason to his cycle.
With the nausea and trembling seemingly gone, Dick is willing to let Jason ride behind him. With Jason’s arms wrapped tight around his middle, Dick gets ready to start for home. Still, something makes him hesitate.
“Jason... why did you get in the car with Warret. We were right there. You knew we could have stopped him before he hurt anyone.” He keeps his tone gentle, trying to avoid anything close to accusation.
The pup startles behind him and then freezes. “I... I didn’t want to jeopardize anything. Warret didn’t know we were going to target him. I didn’t want him to suspect anything and have that put us back to the beginning.” A small fist thumps lightly against Dick’s back, a way to express displeasure without causing real harm. “I’m kinda mad at you for that stunt you pulled, by the way. In what world did dropping onto Warret’s car sound like a good plan?”
“I heard him, Jason.” Dick trembles with barely concealed rage when he recalls Warret’s words. “He wasn’t going to take no for an answer.”
“So I was gonna make out with him a little and slip away once we got to the hotel.” Jason raps his knuckles against Dick’s helmet this time. “Don’t tell me that plan didn’t occur to you. You overreacted.”
And that does it. He plants both feet firmly on the ground and twists to face Jason, pulling his helmet off as he does. Somehow he keeps his voice at a reasonable level, but he can’t keep the anger and fear from escaping in an intense fury. “That wasn’t an acceptable plan. I didn’t overreact, I was keeping you from getting hurt.”
“I said make out with him not—“
“It doesn’t matter.” He wants to shake Jason. “What makes you think that it’s okay for someone to buy your body, if it’s not okay for them to buy the kids we’re trying to save?”
“It was my choice.” Jason tugs his own helmet off leaning back. Anger and maybe embarrassment turn his freckled cheeks red. “I’m not a kid.”
“You’re fourteen.” Dick’s heart drops at the minute flicker of guilt across Jason’s expression. “You lied.”
Jason ducks his head and nods miserably. “‘m twelve.”
“You... you’re...” Dick swallows hard several times until he’s sure he can speak without his voice quivering. “Jason look at me.” The boy doesn’t raise his head, so Dick cups his face gently and forces him to look him in the eye. “Jason, listen to me. You’re not a horrible person for doing what it took to survive, and it doesn’t make you worth less than anyone else, but what that sad excuse for an alpha isn’t okay. It will never be okay and you don’t need to do it anymore. I don’t care if sleeping with Warret could reverse death itself, it wouldn’t be okay. You’re not an acceptable loss. Do you understand? You are just as deserving of protection as the kids we’re trying to save.”
Wide and watery teal eyes stare back at Dick, Jason’s mouth gaping slightly. The disbelief warring with hope is heartbreaking.
Impulsively, Dick presses his forehead against Jason’s. One of his hands shifts to cup the back of the pup’s neck. “You don’t have to hurt yourself to earn your place with Bruce, with Alfred, or with me. Do you understand?”
Jason’s trembling hands fist in his Nightwing suit, fingers pulling at the stretchy fabric and digging into the Kevlar panels beneath. “Y-yeah. ’kay. Okay.”
Neither of them hear the click in their coms that signals Roy and Barbara signing out of the channel.
A nasty alpha tries to hire underaged Jason, ignores Jason’s refusal, coerces Jason into a car, and tries to touch/kiss him off screen. Dick stops anything from happening and has a discussion with Jason about why it’s not okay. The part with the alpha is sectioned off between two rows of ******. If you want to skip the conversation with Dick after then just stop at the first row.
Title from Quarter Past Midnight by Bastille
Chapter 10: I’m Tired, Can We Just Sleep Tonight
I suck guys. Sorry I disappeared for a week there. Work was exhausting, I had a couple issues with transferring schools that still haven’t been completely dealt with, and then there were a couple things going on at home that required a lot of attention. I ended up with only four hours of sleep for like three days in a row over the weekend.
Anyway, I kinda like this chapter. I dunno, it got away from what I originally intended when I wrote it (this was one of the first chapters I wrote) but I don’t think it turned out too awful. Even though my rewrites could probably be better so it doesn’t feel as rushed... Again I apologize for my Spanish.
Hope everyone is doing well! I’ll be replying to comments tomorrow because I have to be up again at four am. I just wanted to get this out tonight since I don’t think I’ll have time tomorrow.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The trip home is quiet, Jason clinging tightly to Dick’s stomach with his face buried against the alpha’s back. When they reach home, Jason is still subdued. As they change into the sweats and tees Alfred keeps for them in the cave, he stays hunched in like he’s struggling to go unnoticed. At first he’s silent, but as he starts trying to undress his struggle gets louder. Jason’s clothes look like he was poured into them and it’s almost amusing to watch him struggle with peeling them off. But Dick has a mission, and it’s not to watch his little brother swear at his pants.
With the amount of makeup Bruce puts on to cover up bruises and dark circles, a gentle cleanser is always kept in stock. Dick grabs it and a soft cloth, heading back to the spot where Jason is sitting tiredly. The pup watches him approach warily, leaning back like he’s ready to leap over the chair. With a comforting smile, Dick kneels down in front of him. He’s careful to keep every movement obvious and slow to give Jason time to prepare as he dips the cloth in the clenser and begins to swipe it over Jason’s face.
With every swipe the hyper sexualized ‘Baby’ disappears, leaving behind Jason with red rimmed eyes. He swipes a little more insistently at the lingering mascara, but with gentle motions that won’t hurt the delicate skin of Jason’s eyelids.
After a few seconds, Jason seems to gather himself together and he jerks to the side. “C’mon. Lay off it. I’m not hurt; I don’t need you grooming me like I’m five.”
“You’re still just a puppy.” Dick teases gently. He doesn’t want to push too far after the night’s events, but from the little he knows about Jason treating him like glass will only make things worse. “As the oldest alpha pup in this family it’s basically my job to groom you. Be glad I’m using a rag.”
Jason’s face turns bright red and he chokes before he can growl out a belligerent response. “That’s not a rag.”
“What is it then?” Dick pauses for half a second and then resumes wiping away the last of the make up.
“Not a rag. Rags have holes in them.”
A few bruises dot Jason’s jaw in the shape of fingertips. The sight of them have Dick growling low in his throat. Warret is lucky Dick hadn’t been the one to go after him, he’d be going to prison in a body cast. Then Jason’s eyes are wide and his chin is tipping back, one hand going to cover the bite mark on his neck. Immediately Dick begins a comforting purr and leans in to rub his nose against Jason’s. “I’m not mad at you, I promise.”
“Bruce was right, you really are nuts.” Jason lets the contact last approximately half a second before he jerks back so hard the chair half tips over before Dick can stop it. “That bite went to your head, or what?”
“The bite?” Dick blinks away the sting of Jason’s rejection. He thought they’d had a moment, that maybe they had gotten past the bite.
Jason begins trying to edge off the chair to escape. “Yeah. Like, alphas always get kinda possessive after they bite someone.“
“Jason. This isn’t...” Dick bites his lip, letting the rag drop to his lap. “I know it might look like that’s the only reason I... but I promise it’s not. I was stupid to let my fight with Bruce get between me and you. This weekend has taught me that. I’m sorry that I bit you, I shouldn’t have. I just want to be your brother now, it’s got nothing to do with the bite. If you’ll forgive me, I want us to try again.”
Jason froze and stared down at Dick, chest rising and falling in shallow, controlled, breaths. “I’m going to bed.”
And Dicks heart drops to his stomach, but he nods. “Just think about it. I don’t want to push you, I... well, good night.”
“Night.” The boy answered, hugging himself with one hand reaching across to his shoulder. He pauses for a moment more, giving Dick the opportunity to note just how battered Jason looks. Then the boy flees up the steps.
Dick spends the next hour cleaning up the cave and getting updates from Roy and Barbara. Eventually he’s left just standing in the middle of the bat cave. Roy and Barbara are handling tracking Warret just fine, they’re currently watching him work in his home office with his fiancé. The woman is also an alpha, a popular socialite that Dick vaguely knows. Their recent engagement had made headlines.
“You can go on to bed, Dick. We’re probably only going to be out for the next hour or so.” Barbara tells him, her annoyance bleeding through her tone after Dick asks them for the fifth time about an update.
“Yeah, I’ll- I’ll do that. You guys stay safe.” Dick signs off and then stares at his hands, forced to confront the fact that he’s been avoiding bed. Despite everything that’s gone wrong, he doesn’t exactly want to hand off the case and go back to Bludhaven when Bruce returns in the afternoon. He groans and let his head thunk against his hand. “Quit being maudlin, Grayson. Bruce will come back tomorrow, you’ll fight, and then you’ll head back to Bludhaven wondering why you ever thought of staying in the first place.”
Somehow that thought isn’t as comforting as it should be.
With another sigh, he heads upstairs and tucks himself into bed, ignoring the way his instincts keep telling him to go check on Jason after the rough night. The pup has made it clear that he wants space. Dick needs to respect that.
He settles the issue and pulls his blankets tighter. Seconds later he hears a noise that could possibly be Jason calling for help and his instincts go haywire again.
It’s going to be a long night.
He’d been asleep maybe twenty minutes, judging by the alarm clock on his bedside, when the screaming starts. Curses and pleading in Spanish; an inhuman noise that sounds like it’s being wrenched from the small body making it.
Dick runs across the hallway to Jason’s room. The rooms near it are empty, Roy and Barbara must still be out gathering information.
“¡Basta, por favor!” Inside the room, the pup is nowhere to be seen. Only his protests, now just faint whimpers, indicate that Jason is still there. Hesitantly, Dick crouches down to peer under the bed. Jason’s curled up tight, knees to his chin and arms over his head. “Perdóname... No me hagas daño...”
“Jason.” Dick breathes, a sharp pain twisting through his heart as he reaches out and shakes the boy gently. “Jason, you’re safe.”
The pup’s eyes shoot open and he cringes away. He scrambles backwards, one arm protecting his head, before his gaze can even focus, shouting, “Prometo no volver a hacerlo.”
“You’re safe, Jason.” Dick tries to soothe, repeating himself in Spanish. “Ya estás a salvo ahora.”
“Dick? You...” Jason’s scent is thick enough with fear that Dick has to work hard to not choke on it. Slowly Jason lowers his arm, only to stiffen again with aggression. “I know I’m safe, don’t be stupid.”
“You had a nightmare.” Dick scoots closer to him and then freezes, thinking better of it before he actually slides under with Jason. He’s more likely to get attacked than to provide comfort. “I... Are you okay? I’m here if you wanna talk.”
Jason mimics him and moves a little closer, but appears to be ignoring Dick in favor of meticulously rearranging his nest. With his fists clenched tight in Bruce’s cape, Jason pauses. The boy is trembling from head to toe. Dick studies him, cataloging pale skin almost ghost white with a multitude of scars that almost glow bright red. Too many scars for a child his age, and there’s no way they all came from being Robin. Jason sniffs aggressively, hunching in on himself. “What makes you think I want to talk to Bruce’s golden child?”
“I have nightmares too, Jason.” At the evidence of Jason’s tears Dick gives into his instincts, letting them override what his brain is saying, and flattens himself on his stomach to crawl next to the pup. He presses against him, tugging Jason down against his side. Jason’s elbows and teeth are sharp while he fights the embrace, but Dick holds tighter. “I might understand.”
“Yeah? What terror does Dickie dream about?” Jason‘s punches are wild and frantic. His growl cuts off before it can devolve into a cry. Tremors wrack his body as he fists his hands in the back of Dick’s shirt and tugs, head dropping to Dick’s chest. “You had amazing parents, you have Bruce. What can you have nightmares about?”
There was a lot. Being Robin certainly hadn’t sheltered him from the evil in the world. He never said anything about how it stuck with him, so people seemed to think it didn’t. It was so tempting to snap at Jason for making the assumption, for being so self-centered he assumed no one else could be hurt, but this close he could feel Jason shake with the silent sobs he’s trying so hard to hide.
He isn’t accusing Dick of being perfect, he’s begging to be shown Dick is human and hurting too. Jason doesn’t want to be alone.
With a soft, sympathetic rumble Dick noses the top of Jason’s head. One arm staying firm across the boy’s back as he moves the other to cup the back of Jason’s neck. “Sometimes it’s being beaten by Two Face again, or getting shot by the Joker. There’s a lot where it’s Bruce or Alfred hurt. Especially when I’m not with them, it can be hard to remember they’re safe at night.”
An ugly sob finally tears it’s way out of Jason, seemingly against his will judging by the angry frustration that follows it, and Dick tugs him closer. He focuses on gentle, comforting, nips at the boy’s neck and massaging circles into his back. The fists in Dick’s shirt tighten as he rubs his scent into Jason’s skin, trying to stop the horrible shaking. “Most nights though, it’s watching my parents die. Never at the circus, not like it really happened, just... they’re always falling and then they’re broken.”
Jason freezes, not even breathing, before pushing himself into Dick like he’s trying to fuse them together. Dick pulls Jason’s head to his throat, ear against his throat and nose towards the scent gland behind his ear.
“I’m sorry.” Jason’s voice is rough with sleep and terror, a hitch in his voice from the tears he’s trying and failing to hold back. The understanding there is something Dick would never wish on anyone, and yet it’s how he was found by Bruce so there has to be some good from it.
Dick can feel the thread of a pack bond worm it’s way through his chest, searing hot with intensity despite how fragile it is.
Jason tenses again. He releases Dick with one hand to rub at his own chest before nuzzling at Dick’s scent gland, coating his skin with alpha pheromones that will convince his body that he’s camouflaged from other predators. A biological trick, left over when people were still nomadic, that will help him relax quicker; meant to help him feel protected from aggressive and unknown alphas that might stumble onto his nest.
Though, for Jason the alpha that has always hurt him probably wasn’t so unknown.
Slowly the shaking stops. Dick is almost ready to pull away when Jason speaks. It’s quiet and distant. Dick looks down at him, but Jason’s gaze is unfocused over his shoulder in a way that’s not natural. “Willis escapes prison and finds us, me and Mama. It’s always too late and she’s cold... so cold. He’s mad, he was always mad. Especially when he was drunk. Sometimes he’s good though and those are worse. Tonight he... Warret was there... and...”
Jason chokes off and Dick fights down the urge to rip out the throats of the people who have left the pup so hurt. He strokes through Jason’s tangled curls, smoothing them out. “It’s all over now, Little Wing. He’s gone and Bruce loves you more than anything. You’re Batman’s pup and Nightwing’s little brother. We’ll keep you safe.”
The boy doesn’t say anything, just squirms a little and tucks himself tight against Dick. In return, Dick curls around him protectively and noses the top of his head. The boy reeks of sweat and thick emotion, but as his breathing evens the milky sweet pup scent comes back. Driven by instinct, Dick licks his cheeks, his forehead, his nose in tiny puppy kisses that clean away the fear and grief still clinging to his skin.
To his surprise Jason doesn’t protest, just lets his eyes drift shut and makes a soft yipping noise that means he feels safe.
The cord in his chest, linking them together, wraps a little tighter around Dick’s heart. He never could have imagined the rush of affection that swells within him as he continues to press gentle kisses to Jason’s neck, mouthing one of the scent glands near his collarbone. For better or worse, they’re pack now.
Dick bumps his head against Jason’s again, before glancing sideways at Jason’s puppy nest and back down to Jason. The boy is already drowsy, quietly echoing Dick’s purr with a faltering chirr of his own.
“Do you want me to put you back in your nest?”
Jason’s fingers tangle into his shirt and hold tight. He doesn’t respond immediately, seeming to think it over. Then he gingerly pushes back to sit almost upright. “Y-“ a hiccup “you said you get nightmares?”
“Yeah. I get nightmares.” Dick pushes up on his elbows, trying to follow the reasoning.
“Bruce says sometimes other people can keep away nightmares.” The muscles in Jason’s jaw jump as he stares down at his lap. Dick hides his sad smile, waiting for Jason to finish. “Maybe, maybe if you stay, you won’t get ‘em.”
“You wouldn’t mind if I stayed in your nest with you?”
“Just for tonight. So you don’t have nightmares.” Jason sneaks a quick glance at Dick before he shuffles back to the pile of clothing and blankets and deftly twists everything back together from where it got messed up by his nightmare. “It’s plenty big and, unlike you, I know how to make a good nest.”
“I can make a nest.” Dick chuckles and moves to help, but Alfred’s shirt is snatched from his hands and settled into a spot across from him. What made that the better placing, he doesn’t know.
“Bruce told me how you make nests.” Jason shakes his head, seeming a little better now that he has a plan of action to make things better, and nudges the last of the bedding into place. Complaining about Dick also seems to be doing wonders for him. “Shoving everything into piles isn’t nesting, it’s being lazy. Just get in.”
Dick does as he’s told, settling in at the end closest to the rest of the room. Having Dick between Jason and whatever danger that could enter the room might have the boy more relaxed. At least, that’s the hope. Jason nestles in against him, bony elbows digging into his ribs and knees jabbing into his abdomen. Then the pup tugs the pilfered cape up over them and shuts his eyes with a quiet sigh. It’s such a routine, so easy, that Dick can’t help but wonder if Jason was unused to sleeping alone before the streets.
There’s a sharp pang throbbing in his chest as he watches the boy settle into sleep. Despite being so angry and defensive all the time, Jason settles easily in Dick’s protective embrace. He looks so vulnerable and for the first time Dick can finally see why Bruce is so insistent that Jason needs them.
For the first time he agrees.
His eyes drift closed, but before he can fall asleep completely Jason gives a tiny growl. “I still hate you.”
“That’s alright, little wing. I deserve it.” He noses the top of the boy’s curls. “Just go to sleep and we can talk more in the morning.”
Jason seems to do as he’s told. His breathing slowly evens out while Dick cuddles him protectively. He can’t bring himself to fall asleep until dawn lights up pink in the windows and he hears Roy and Barbara reaching their guest rooms. He presses another sleepy kiss to Jason’s forehead and tucks the boy closer.
When he wakes, Jason is gone from the manor.
We’ll Be Found by Sia
Chapter 11: The Night Was All You Had
This actually takes place during the day, but I really liked these lyrics so that’s what I went with.
I wrote this fast, which was mildly surprising because most of this wasn’t planned and I thought it would take more thinking. Guess that’s what happens when you start working half the hours you were and finally get some free time. Please excuse any typos!
Fun fact, Jason has so many italics because I feel that while Dick is more outgoing, Jason thinks with more emphasis.
Also, there’s less Bruce in this than I wanted, but he’s one of the main players in the next few chapters so we’ll definitely get to see more of him. I just was kinda running out of room and this is already a kinda long chapter.
But, I mean, the main thing you all wanted to see was Jason present right?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jason swallows down his guilt as he slinks down Gotham’s streets, one of his newest go bags slung across his back. He’d wasted too much time curled against Dick.
Honestly he hadn’t meant to actually fall asleep, either time. The first time he’d planned on waiting it out until Dick had gone to sleep and then he’d thought he would just slip out. The second.... well, it was a moment of weakness he wasn’t keen on repeating.
I just want to be your brother now.
With a tired growl, Jason physically shakes the memory away and turns down an alleyway. He’s still on the nicer side of Gotham so it’s relatively clean; the stink of decay and worse wafting on the biting wind still tolerable. He tugs his threadbare jacket a little closer and slings through a hole in the chain link relic once meant to keep the riffraff of East End contained on their side of the city. He probably should have taken a warmer coat with him when he left and not the zip up hoodie he’d been wearing the night he’d met Bruce, but...
He needs to get picked up. People are less likely to be interested in kidnapping him for sex slavery if he looks like he’s wealthy and would be missed. Freezing his fingers and toes off is a small price to pay if he can pull this off. At any rate, he needs to get used to this again because once this is all over... once the truth comes out... there’s no way he’s going to be becoming a Wayne.
Nice dream while it lasted though.
As he blows warmth on his fingers so they won’t be so numb when he scales the side of the building, he determinedly does not remember how hard it was to leave his very cozy, very warm, nest behind. He doesn’t think about how safe he’d felt cuddled up against a packmate for the first time since his mother died.
Jason isn’t stupid. He’s been in other foster homes, he knows how this works. Dick just doesn’t want him tattling to Bruce and so he’s trying to play up their nonexistent relationship. Doesn’t matter, Jason doesn’t tattle. He knows better than to expect someone to side with a whore, especially against everyone’s favorite golden boy.
Roy did though. Some traitorous part of his mind whispers, making his chest ache as he hauls himself hand over hand up the brick building via drain pipe. He needs to get to the rougher part of town, the fastest way to do that is over the rooftops. He’s got to go quickly though, unless he wants to be chased down by a flying Grayson wearing the biggest fashion disaster Jason’s seen since Bruce tried dressing like a normal human. If his maybe-dad could stick to Alfred approved rich people sweaters they would all be so much better for it.
Except Bruce isn’t his maybe-Dad anymore. He’s running away to pimp himself out again and, after Jason crawled into the billionaire’s bed because he just wanted to get it over with, Bruce had been pretty firm that he couldn’t be having sex for money, or protection, or anything other than he wanted it while living at the manor. There were even rules for if he wanted it, like his ‘partner’ (there were no assumptions made about either his gender or the other kid’s, which was a novelty) had to be his age, and they couldn’t be younger than sixteen, Bruce would prefer eighteen, and he’d gotten a lecture on safe sex, and even if it had been awkward as heck it had been so nice, and Bruce had been worried about him—
He’s not crying, the wind is stronger up here and it’s making his eyes water.
He leaps across yet another rooftop, steadily making his way to the part of Crime Alley kids have been disappearing from. He’s got one last mission as Robin before the truth comes out and he’s going to get it done. This is fine. He’d always known this was a temporary gig and there could definitely be less deserving last cases.
Another dozen rooftops and he skitters down a fire escape to a dingy alleyway overflowing with refuse. Even at his worst he wouldn’t be caught here, so that makes it the perfect place to set up his trap. Well, he says trap but mostly his plan is to sit out on the street corner looking enticing, ingest the drug he’s offered, and then activate the tracker hidden in his curls that he currently has deactivated.
Really though, he should have thought this through a little better, maybe. His bite aches and throbs with guilt and self reproach for disobeying and displeasing the alpha that put it there. When he was flying across the rooftops it was easier to ignore. Now he’s sitting in the cold and wet, leaning against a still inhabited condemned building with nothing to distract him from it.
He scratches one hand, and then the other, shifts his weight a little so maybe he can avoid most of the sludge-y wetness he hadn’t checked for before he sat down. He definitely needs a plan with less waiting, with more moving around to distract him.
Lighting up one of the cigarettes Rhett just gave him, he tries to remind himself that he’s probably safer on his own anyway. Dick bit him, pinned him down and locked jaws around the side of his neck until Jason had felt his free will slip away out of his grasp. Previous experience—knowing what to expect from all the times Willis had thought him too mouthy, or his mom’s dealer had thought him too unwilling, or a thug had caught up with him after he’d jacked their car parts—hadn’t made it any easier. But Dick seems so guilty now. Every time his eyes catch on the bandage Jason watches pain flash across his face, not pride.
Smoke fills his lungs and then escapes in a rush towards the sky. He sucks in one breath, and then another. None of them do anything to calm him, so he stubs it out and flicks the butt towards the gutter.
He hugs his knees tighter and drops his head to bury his face against them because maybe Dick had bit him, but he hadn’t taken advantage and didn’t that set the bar low? Dick was one of the better alphas, hadn’t beaten him or taken what he wanted. He hadn’t even seemed to want, and maybe Jason’s just being a little conceited, but there weren’t many people he’d met where banging him hadn’t at least been a thought. Bruce was one, Roy another, Babs, Alfred, his street corner friends... Willis... Mama...
His heart bleeds with how deeply he misses her. If she was alive this wouldn’t be an issue, she hadn’t cared what he was. She’d fought so hard to keep them both alive until he could take over for her. After Willis finally got locked up, he’d dedicated his young life to keep her going. He’d dropped out of school to make sure she was okay, and to bring in money. He’d kept her dealer happy when she couldn’t pay for her drugs with either money or her body. He’d spent so many sleepless nights awake so she wouldn’t drown in her own vomit.
It wasn’t her fault she was so sick, that Willis got her hooked on drugs. It wasn’t his fault he wasn’t good at keeping her alive, that he wasn’t ever enough. It wasn’t anyone’s fault that if not for a biological fluke, he might have been happy being Bruce’s Robin for the rest of his life.
What is Bruce going to do if Dick doesn’t come back? Jason knows that Bruce isn’t his mama. He isn’t going to turn around and get himself killed if Jason’s not there to babysit him. He knows Bruce isn’t Willis. He knows that Bruce isn’t going to go into a rage now that Jason’s finally screwed everything up. He does know it. But it doesn’t make the worry go away.
Jason squeezes his eyes tight to keep the tears in, so caught up in this black hole of pain and regret in his chest, that he doesn’t hear the scuff of footsteps on concrete approaching him. He doesn’t register that anyone is there until a soft hand on his shoulder has him startling like a skittish colt, all arms and legs and a lack of coordination.
It’s an alpha woman, pretty in a soft way that’s uncommon in her gender. If he hadn’t seen her before when he was still living with Catherine and Willis, if Willis hadn’t warned him away from her, maybe he would have trusted her. She’s wearing an omega scent, but she lacks an omega’s gentle curves and looks uncomfortable in the high collar cut of her clothes. She wobbles a little in her high heels, carries herself like an alpha despite them. “You okay, sweetheart?
I’m fine.” He answers, swiping a sleeve under his nose.
She sits down next to him, heedless of her expensive skirt. Doesn’t she know that any smart kid would turn and run if some alpha wearing designer clothes approached them? No wonder they’re grabbing all the wrong kids. Only green kids new to the streets, and those straying a little too far from home, would let her get this close. “Do you have family I can call to pick you up?”
For a moment he’s tempted to say yes, maybe she would call Dick or even Bruce. Barbie could hack her phone and he could go home for a little bit longer before they threw him out, or worse.
He dismisses the thought immediately and shakes his head. She might not call, Barbie might not think to hack the call, they could lose her.
”Are you hungry?” And something about the way she says those words, the way she looks him up and down looking hungry herself, makes him uneasy. It’s so unlike the way Bruce has asked him, seeming a little scared of Jason’s response but wanting help regardless.
The idea of eating anything she’s touched makes his stomach churn. He forces himself to nod, but the hesitance is real. “Y-yeah.”
“I probably have something in my purse, just give me a second.” She pats his leg, squeezing his upper leg far too close to his groin to be comfortable and he just wants to go home.
He wants his dad, and Alfred, and even his stupid rival of a maybe-brother whose scent still clings to his skin. This was stupid and he’s going to get himself stuck as someone’s plaything, because why would they come after him? He’s been nothing but trouble since the beginning. If it weren’t for him, Dick and Bruce probably would have made up long before now. He’s selfish and he wants Bruce, but living at the manor knowing he’s second choice almost hurts more than what he’s about to do.
The alpha beside him gives a chirrup of triumph. It’s a passable attempt at a primarily omegan noise, but it’s too low. It sounds nothing like when he would bring home a good report card and his mama would fuss over him until Willis came home to ruin everything because it wasn’t his brain that was going to bring in cash.
“Here we go, I knew I had this with me. My mom gave it to me, but I know she won’t mind if I share.” She passes him over a ziplock of fudge and he just stares at it a moment. Then he swallows hard and peeks up at her. He runs a hand through his hair in what he hopes looks like nervousness as he switches the tracker on.
At her encouraging smile, he opens the ziplock and nibbles at the chocolate. The drug is tasteless, so at least he doesn’t have to hide nausea. As he consumes more, nearly half the baggie, he can feel a tingling spread through his body. It’s a feeling he’s only felt once before, when Willis brought a friend with a needle over while Mama was at work to see if he was worth all the money it took to keep him alive.
Most of his memories of the incident are fuzzy, but he can remember her coming home early and screaming when she found him lying on the floor. He can remember feeling so hot. He remembers the way she had rubbed away his stomach cramps and gave him tea that calmed his frantic instincts. She had covered him in her honey sweet scent so thickly that he was almost okay with there not being an alpha there to scent him.
And after he was better, when Willis had gotten himself locked up again, she’d packed everything up and they’d fled the apartments to somewhere no one knew about the incident. For him, she’d left Willis behind, even though they both knew it killed her. She taught him how to act like an alpha, but also how to accept himself as he was. She’d taught him how to nest and helped coach him until he could reach nearly alpha low registers. She’d started teaching him how to cook right before she got really sick for the last time. Alfred was teaching him how to make healthier meals now.
He kinda wishes he could bake even those nasty health food cookies with the old alpha one last time before he’s locked up in a cage somewhere.
The fuzziness is really starting to set in now, his body keenly aware of the alpha pressing in close. He still aches for his family, wants his den where it’s safe and warm and he has three alphas to help him, but the cloying scent of omega and alpha clinging to the woman isn’t exactly as unpleasant as it should be. This is what’s best for his pack, the certainty of that overrides the panic he feels at being separated from them, at the unknown alpha.
When she takes the fudge from him and suggests he follow her to her home where she can find him help, he goes despite knowing what she really has planned. Dick was wrong when he said Jason didn’t have to hurt, he was wrong but it felt nice to hear. Maybe Dick won’t be too mad at him for getting the former Robin in trouble with Batman. Even if Jason hasn’t quite deluded himself into thinking he really could be Bruce’s son, he knows the pack’s lead alpha will be angry to find him missing.
It’s what needs to happen though, nobody else is unpresented so they can’t go undercover. It’s just how it works. In lieu of a safe alpha to fixate on, his brain latches onto the knowledge that what he’s doing is what’s best for his pack.
He’s got one last job to do to keep Gotham, his family safe. He’s doing what needs to be done, what no one else can do. And if he concentrates hard on that, if he focuses on his mission, he can almost forget that when this is all over its back to the streets. He’d always known that the mansion gig was temporary.
It’s like the kids at school say, everyone knows that Robin can’t be an omega.
Three hours of searching and nothing.
Dick is ready to scream, or tear his hair out. Roy flips between comforting him and working with Barbara to track Jason. He needs to be doing something helpful, but just what he can do is escaping him. Just like Jason had.
He should have held on tighter this morning, stayed awake just a little longer or something. If he wasn’t such a useless packmate, Jason wouldn’t have felt the need to run away. Or... maybe he still would have, but Dick would have been able to stop him.
Over and over the images of children pulled from the river, bloated and decomposed, play through his mind and he knows better than to picture Jason as one of them. He absolutely knows better, and yet that doesn’t stop him from imagining it. Bruce’s predictions keep running through his head. There’s an eighty-five percent chance that Jason will present as something that will get him killed.
Bruce needs to be told still.
Dick pulls his phone from his pocket and stares down at it. He could do the cowardly thing and wait to tell him until after Bruce gets home, but he’s already waited too long. After telling the others his intentions, Dick slips out of the cave. He’s not really sure where he’s headed until after he’s reached Bruce’s chair at the library.
He drops into it and dials the number. It rings twice.
“Everything okay?” Bruce’s voice rumbles through the phone’s speakers and it’s almost enough to make Dick cry. He’s so over his head, has been from the beginning, and he just wants his father figure to fix things.
“Jason’s gone, Bruce. He...” Dick swallows hard and then he spills everything. As he outlines the case, details just what he’s scared Jason’s done, Bruce stays silent. By the end, tears spill down his cheeks unbidden because he’s just so terrified. Jason is a good fighter, could probably defend himself under normal circumstances, but a rut could impair his judgement greatly and the traffickers could get lucky.
When Bruce speaks, it’s with none of the judgement that he knows is coming once they get Jason back home and safe. “It’s going to be alright, Dick. Barbara will find him. I’m nearly to Gotham, which streets are missing the most children? You said Jason is probably going to try using himself as bait? If I search the most likely areas I might be able to find him before anything can happen.”
Maybe it’s the logic behind that plan, maybe it’s Bruce’s gentle use of his alpha voice, but Dick’s fear starts to calm. He rattles off the street names quickly. “I— I should have thought of that, I should have.... I’m sorry, Bruce.”
“We’re going to find him and bring him home.” Bruce assures him again with all the firm confidence of Batman. “Keep me updated.”
“You too, good lu— hold on.” Dick looks up just as Roy skids to a stop in front of him.
“We got him. Kid just turned on his tracker. Bab’s is suiting up, tell B-man we gotta go.” Roy’s fire red hair hangs into his face stringy with grease. Fear and grim optimism paint his expression and it’s terrifying on him. Roy is cheerful to a fault, so much more so than Dick has ever been. “Kid’s in trouble.”
“B, they found him. I’m going to give you to Roy so he can tell you which tracker to lock onto. We’ll be switching to coms in a minute.” Dick is already standing, racing down the hallway with Roy at his heels.
“Understood. I’ll see you out on the field.” Bruce grunts. Dick can hear him flipping switches to transform the car from Brucie’s private car to the Batmobile.
Dick doesn’t respond, just tosses Roy the phone and begins tugging off his shirt before he’s even reached the study. Maybe he’s the worst big brother to ever big brother, but Jason needs him and that’s all that matters for the moment. He loses his pants on the way down the stairs.
Bab’s is waiting for him with his suit and equipment at the ready. There’s no embarrassment at him being half naked. She just helps him pull on Kevlar and spandex so he’s ready in record time. His mask is applied as he mounts his cycle and his comm is slipped in just before he starts up the vehicle.
He takes just a second to center himself, to gather up his haywire instincts and focus them on making Jason safe. Then he takes off for the city, Roy and Barbara behind him. Somewhere on the other side of the city, Bruce has to be breaking nearly speed limit there is.
They’re going to find Jason and Heaven help the people who’ve hurt his little wing when they do.
Title is from Laura Palmer by Bastille. I didn’t really want to do two Bastille songs in the same fic, but this song fit. And I love it.
Chapter 12: Please Be My Saving Grace
Meh. I’m not crazy happy with this chapter, but I think it’s as good as it gets for now. Life is getting a little crazy, so updates might spread out a little bit, but it should stay once a week aiming for the weekend.
Hope all of you lovelies had a good weekend and are about to have a great week!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jason’s tracker is moving, Dick tries to tell himself that’s a good thing. It’s hard. The tracker isn’t able to transmit vitals so at this point they’re just hoping that the tracker is still on Jason, and that the kidnappers aren’t just dumping his body.
There’s a collective sigh of relief when the car turns to go inland without reaching the harbor. So he’s alive, if he’s in the car. The implications of that are best not dwelt on. Whether he’s been recognized as Jason Todd or...
No matter why they’ve done it, his kidnappers can’t have good intentions.
Eventually the tracker stops at the edge of one of Gotham’s more respectable middle class neighborhoods. Dick is the closest and abandons his bike a few blocks away so they won’t be able to see him approach.
Whoever they are.
From the outside, the house is disturbingly normal. If the tracker didn’t say that Jason was in there, Dick probably wouldn’t give it a second thought. His gut twists as he taps his comm. “I’m here, the car is outside but empty. I think they’re probably inside. Instructions?”
“See how close you can get, identify all possible exits. I‘ll be there in five minutes.” Bruce orders.
There’s the crackle of static and then a new voice enters the line. “I’ve arrived to find the manor empty. Might I inquire as to what case has Robin out so late? I do feel I should remind you, he does have school tomorrow.”
Alfred. Thank the heavens.
Dick goes to answer, but chokes on air because how can he explain to Alfred what he’s allowed to happen. It was bad enough telling Bruce. He’s creeping closer to the house, so far he just sees the two doors on the first level. There are six windows though, most likely locked, and another six on the second floor.
“Jason’s been taken, Alfred. We’re on our way to get him back.” Bruce answers for Dick. He feels guiltily relieved.
For a minute there’s silence, then the sound Alfred busying himself. “Very well. I shall begin preparing the med bay. Do we have an idea of potential injuries?”
“He’s probably in a rut, or maybe a heat.” Dick finally forces himself to speak. “Traffickers took him out of costume.”
“I see.” The comm is muted a moment, and if the situation wasn’t so serious he’d ask Alfred how much he owes the swear jar. Then the comm clicks back on. “I will gather supplies and monitor the channels then. Bring him home.”
“Will do, Agent A.” Bruce drops down next to Dick, fully suited up as Batman. “Speedy, Batgirl, ETA.”
“Probably another five to ten minutes. We took the long way in case that would put us closer to where they stopped.” Barbara answers. She can barely be heard above the noise of their bikes.
“Understood. We’re headed in, join us when you get here.” If he didn’t know Bruce so well, Dick would have thought that Bruce was annoyed. He does know Bruce, however, and he knows the man gets snappish when he’s worries.
He follows Bruce as they slip in through one of the back windows into what looks like a well maintained living room. They pause just long enough to establish that the room is empty and then head straight for the door.
Dick nearly trips over a frilly pink gingham footstool in his haste.
“Check the upstairs, I’ll search down here.” Batman, because of course Bruce has disappeared in the face of emotional turmoil, tilts his head in the direction of the steps. “Take down anyone you come across and if you find him, get him out.”
“What about the other kids? They might be here too.”
“Get them somewhere hidden and I’ll take care of them if the others aren’t there to help by that point.“ Batman doesn’t pause to consider the best course of action, he’s already considered all the factors and expects to be obeyed. “Jason Todd can’t be found having been kidnapped by traffickers when he was supposed to be in the care of Bruce Wayne.
A chill runs down Dick’s back as he realizes this could keep the courts from letting Bruce adopt Jason. They’re already looking for a reason to deny the petition if it’s anything like when Bruce got custody of Dick. He dips his head in a nod, swallowing down his fear at losing his brother before he even gets to know him. “I’ll have him out before the cops can get here.”
For just a moment, Dick can see a flicker of Bruce’s fear. Then it’s locked tightly away and the older alpha is starting down a hallway. Dick takes the steps two at a time, coming out into a hallway.
The scent of heat starts out faint but quickly grows stronger, the cocktail of spice and sweetness making his hackles raise. Dick ducks into an empty room as a thug passes him, grumbling at the appetites of bratty omegas in heat.
“Boss said to keep ‘em well fed and happy. If they get heat sick she’ll have our heads.” A second thug calls from somewhere in the direction the heat smell comes from.
Dick clenches his fist as he checks to make sure he’s out of sight of the second one. Then slides back out of the room, grabbing the thug that had passed by him in a blood choke. It doesn’t take long at all for the man to pass out and only a few extra moments for Dick to drag the beta male into the room he’d just exited from.
Locking the door behind him, Dick slips back out into the hall to continue on his way. The second thug, another beta, is harder subdue, having seen him coming.
As much as he wants to just kick in the lock, he can’t risk the noise or scaring the omega children inside. He has one chance to earn their trust and nearly bowling them over with a door wouldn’t do that. So as he wastes a precious few minutes jiggling the lock, Dick taps his comm. “I think I found at least some of the omegas. Their heat smell is pretty strong, even from the outside. I’m unlocking the door now.”
“Understood.” Batman grunts. “There’s a basement. I’m going to go check it out.”
“We just got here.” Roy sounds in. “I’m headed up to join Nightwing, Batgirl said she’d head to you, Batman.”
There’s another answering grunt and then they all fall silent again, not wanting to give themselves away. Dick rattles the handle a few times before the lock finally gives way and he can push the door open completely.
The fog of heat and fear pheromones is so thick he chokes on it, blinking away tears as he tries to scan the room. Slowly he shuts the door behind himself, trusting Roy to be able to find the right one. The children all stare at him, cringing backwards.
Then a little boy runs forward and crashes against Dick’s legs. “Nightwing! You came back for us. I told them you would, Robin promised you’re a goodalpha, so you gotta help me. Their tummies hurt like mine did, ‘cept I ain’t gots enough blankets now.”
Recognizing Liam feels like a punch to the gut.
“Of course I’ll help. My friends are going to help too.” He reassures, running one hand through the little boy’s hair as he searches the room. Five children, including Liam, three in heat.
He swallows down his disappointment to somewhere it can’t be sensed by the children, pups tend to be scary in tune with body language, and approaches them with his neck bared. The ones in heat whine and snap, but the other runs to join Liam in clinging to his leg. She sniffles back tears and rubs her nose against his knee. In return, he places a comforting hand on the back of her neck to scruff her lightly.
“It’s okay. We’re gonna get you out of here.” Gradually he makes it over to the ones in heat and reaches out a cautious hand to them. They’re curled against him too by the time Roy reaches them. Dick feels relief wish over him, as important as it is to help these kids... Jason needs his help too. “This is Speedy. He’s an omega just like you, he can help.”
“Is he your ‘mega?” Liam stage whispers, hiding most of his face against Dick’s arm.
Dick bites back a grin despite himself and glances up at Roy. The cursed man is wiggling his eyebrows invitingly, making his mask contort in ways that it really shouldn’t. Not dropping the grin, Roy crouches down next to them. “Maybe if he asks nicely. I kinda like to think I’m good on my own though. Think I could carry a few of you?”
Liam sucks on his bottom lip and glances at the other shivering children curled up tight against Dick. It’s hard to tell what the little boy is thinking, but he squirms out of the pile. “Did you get Jason?”
“Jason?” Dick’s heart thumps hard in his throat and he shares a panicked look with Roy. He almost forgets he shouldn’t know Jason, thankfully he catches himself. “There are more of you?”
“Only one here. There are lots at the other house.” Liam rubs one arm, shaking a little. “Jason’s new. He... he fought too much when they tried to lock him in with us. I don’t... They took him to Alpha. She’s not nice. The kids she takes get hurt.”
“Hey... it’s okay. We’re gonna get you out and then we’ll make sure this alpha can’t hurt anyone anymore.” Roy reassures. “Do you know where Jason is?”
“Mmhm. In her office.” Liam trembles head to toe, but puffs up his chest bravely. “I-I can show you.”
It takes a little bit of maneuvering to get the other children clinging to Roy instead, but somehow they managed it. Then Dick is sneaking down the hallway again, Liam holding tightly to his hand.
Barbara and Bruce report in. The basement holds a stage designed for auctions and plenty of seating, but no children. The thugs on the lower floors have all been taken care of, and they’re on the way up. Dick doesn’t respond. He lets Roy fill them in. He’s got to get to Jason.
The iron stench of fear sings through the air just a little further down, resting heavy in Dick’s lungs. They enter a living room and in the corner there’s a door that could be mistaken as belonging to a closet. The high keening whine that meets Dick’s ears turns his blood boiling. He has just enough presence of mind to shoo Liam back to Roy, out of harms way, before he breaks down the door with a few well placed kicks.
He allows himself thirty seconds take in the room, to register the female alpha towering over Jason threateningly with her fingers clawing deep into the bite on Jason’s neck, then he moves. He draws his escrima and swings.
Jason is thrown to the side, hiccuping for air, and the chair he’d been in is thrown at Dick’s head. He’s forced to pull back to duck and she takes advantage, drawing a gun from a desk drawer.
She points it at him before glancing to the side to see Jason trying to scramble away. Almost casually she slams her foot down on the boy’s leg. There’s a sharp cry and Jason goes white, freezing in place. From where he’s at, Dick can’t tell if it’s broken or will just be bruised. Then the alpha grinds her heel down to make a point, saying something he can’t understand over the rush of blood in his ears. Probably a threat to do worse if either one of them move.
Dick’s heard it all before, and he didn’t let it stop him then either. He ducks under the gun just seconds before it goes off and lunges for the woman. His batons swing hard enough to break bone, the gun drops to the floor.
He goes to tase her with a baton but is too slow. She claws him across the face and then they wrestle across the ground in a hissing, spitting snarl. Dick thinks he sees Jason creeping on his knees towards the gun, movement clumsy and uncoordinated. Then the alpha kicks out at the pup’s head and he disappears from Dick’s line of sight with a pained whimper.
Dick sees red.
When he comes to, his fists are bloody and he’s being pulled off of her by Barbara. The beta is breathing calming reassurances into his ear, but he tunes them out because the woman is getting away. She’s stumbling out, holding her bloodied face, and Barbara is holding him back so she can.
“If I could trust you not to cave her skull in, I would be able to go after her.” Barbara hisses before she jerks to look to the side. “Jason. See if you can distract him.”
“I can’t.” Comes the raspy reply. “He’s gone alpha crazy.”
“You have to. Roy has the children and Bruce is keeping my dad and the others downstairs until you two can get away. I need you to do something.” Barbara’s frustration leaks into her previously soothing tone as Dick nearly slips free. Though he’s an acrobat, not a contortionist, he’s not easy to hold onto.
He’s just slipped her grip and started for the door, following the female alpha’s scent like a bloodhound, when a high pitched whine freezes him in his tracks. A second one flips his instincts from attack to comfort and he searches the room for the source of the sound.
Jason is curled up in the corner looking bloody and bruised, but he stands and stumble steps towards Dick. For a minute Dick thinks the problem is that Jason’s leg was broken, and he snarls ready to go after the alpha again. The pup freezes at the sound and throws his head back in total, frightened, submission.
That’s not acceptable. His pack should always feel safe. He reaches Jason’s side and he gets a heavy whiff of heat scent... coming from Jason. His feral baby brother is an omega. Jason is an omega.
Clarity, or something that feels a lot like it, hits him like a ton of bricks. He snatches Jason up, cradling him close to his chest despite the boy’s struggles. He needs to get Jason home to their den where he can be properly protected. This isn’t safe.
“I can freakin’ walk. Let me down.” Jason snarls between gasping breaths. He smells of terror and despair. Dick feels the primal urge to cover it up with his own scent, but he can’t do that here.
That’s why they need to get home.
He starts for the window, taking determined steps as he frees his grapple.
Jason squirms harder, flailing his limbs towards Barbara. No doubt he’s seeking help, but Dick snaps his teeth at the beta before she can even think about approaching. She stays back. Good. He likes Barbara, but he doesn’t think Jason is safe around her. Using Jason as bait was as much her plan as it was Jason’s, even if she didn’t have wanted this to happen.
“Let him get you home, Jason. This will go faster if he does.” She’s gone back to using soothing tones, and that’s acceptable. Jason needs soothed.
Footsteps sound down the hallway, and Dick can hear the Commissioner’s voice.
Jason lets out a weak growl and then wraps his arms tightly around Dick’s neck. “If you drop me, I’m taking your bike.”
Dick begins a soft alpha rumble as he swings out of the window, trying to calm Jason down. Despite the boy’s best attempts to disguise his fear as anger, his heat makes it impossible to hide. There’s no difficulty finding his bike, so he spares a few extra seconds to swipe his cheek across Jason’s. It doesn't leave behind a scent, but the action should be calming anyway. Maybe he should say something, Jason seems to be trying to speak to him, but words feel out of reach for now.
He mounts the bike and settles Jason in his lap facing his chest. After a second of hesitation, Jason wraps his arms around Dick in a hug and clings tightly. It’s maybe not the safest position, but he doesn’t quite trust Jason to be able to hold on tight enough at his back. Heat might not leave omegas slobbering idiots, but it does impair judgement. He wants to be able to curl around Jason anyway, try to help the boy feel protected even though he’s not in his den.
Jason hides his face against Dick’s chest, complaining about the deep vee. Dick only rumbles a little louder. Skin to skin contact is good for omegas in heat. So really, Dick feels like his fashion choices are vindicated. Jason is just complaining to complain.
He takes the turns too fast, reaching the manor in record time. The need to be in their home, Jason’s den is overwhelming. Still, when he parks the bike, he takes the time to picks off the scent neutralizer patches behind his ears, above his collarbones, and on his wrists. Then he curls tighter around Jason, the pup shuddering as he breathes in Dick’s alpha scent.
Without releasing him, Dick stands and leaves the bike behind. Alfred catches sight of him and rushes forward with his arms outstretched to take Jason. Dick snarls at him, clinging tighter to Jason while the pup tries to wiggle free. Alfred is safer than Barbara, but the butler is standing between them and Jason’s nest.
Their grandfather figure recoils.
“He’s gone crazy, Alf.” Jason pants, sinking back into Dick’s protective embrace. His skin feels too hot, feverish from his heat. “You gotta help me.”
Dick pushes past Alfred and up into the manor. Somewhere in the back of his mind he realizes he hasn’t changed out of costume, but it registers as unimportant. Alfred’s rules are getting in the way of getting Jason safe. He takes the stairs three at a time, sprinting for Jason’s room.
From there it’s just a matter of seconds until he’s settling Jason into his nest. The pup blinks at him in confusion and then yelps when Dick crawls into the nest and curls around him.
“C’mon, Dickie. What’re you doing? Jason whines, but it isn’t high pitched or pained. The boy just sounds annoyed, and Dick can live with that. If he’s annoyed, he’s safe. Jason never acts anything but angry when he’s hurt or scared. When he starts grooming Jason, cleaning the fear from his freckled skin and combing through his curls, the pup makes an odd noise of disapproval that comes from the back of his throat. It just makes Dick purr harder, amused by Jason’s protests.
He rubs circles across Jason’s back, unable to help himself. He needs the feeling of Jason’s skin, burning under his touch, to remind himself that Jason is here. Jason is safe.
Jason is in heat.
He shudders and squeezes his eyes shut. Jason’s an omega. In heat. If Dick had just been more careful, kept a closer eye on Jason, this wouldn’t have happened. His baby brother would have been able to present like everyone else. Now something that should have been a happy occasion was overshadowed by kidnappings.
A gentle hand rests hesitantly on his shoulder, like Alfred is afraid he might bite. A few minutes ago he might have. “It’s alright, Master Dick. He’s home and safe, with very little damage to speak of it seems. Can I see him?”
Reluctantly, Dick uncurls from around the boy. Jason emerges, gasping and choking far more dramatically than the situation really deserves. The boy crawls out from under the bed and presses against the butler with a baby whine. “You gotta save me, Alf. Dick’s trying to smother me with his alpha stink.”
“Is he now?” Alfred wraps an arm around Jason loosely. He scents Jason as well, albeit a bit more subtly. “We can’t have that. Are you injured anywhere?”
“My leg maybe, don’t feel broken.” Jason mumbles against Alfred’s side. “Mostly I just feel really hot. And my head really hurts.”
Dick watches the pair chat as Alfred examines him. Well, it’s less a chat and more Alfred trying to convince Jason to just put up with Dick until his instincts have run their course. Dick’s chest aches and the pain just grows worse as time goes on. Eventually, Alfred declares Jason to be merely banged up and coaxes the boy into taking a mild sedative to help him settle down during the worst part of the heat.
Jason crawls back into the nest drowsy, curling up against Dick with a vague threat to gut him if this becomes a thing.
Dick does his best to look cowed. It’s hard because all he really feels is relief that the boy is finally safe in his nest where he belongs. One of Jason’s hands sneaks out from under the bed to grasp Alfred’s slacks in a loose fist.
Neither alpha speaks until they’re sure Jason is asleep. It’s Alfred who breaks the silence. “You should rest as well. He’s home and safe now, you’ve done a good job.”
“He’s in heat, Alf.”
The butler’s expression goes heavy. “He is, but something tells me he isn’t nearly as surprised by that as we are. Please try to get some rest, I‘ll send Master Bruce up soon.”
And with that the butler slips away out of Jason’s grip to go downstairs again. Dick shifts so he can guard Jason more effectively, but he doesn’t sleep. He keeps his focus on Jason, afraid if he falls asleep the boy will run again.
Fifteen minutes later, Bruce comes running into the room. The large alpha drops down onto his side, relief flooding his warm scent. It makes Dick want to relax. When Bruce reaches for Jason Dick moves to leave despite his screaming instincts, but then pack leader holds Dick in place with a shake of his head. “Stay. I want us all together tonight.”
“Yeah... Alright.” Dick doesn’t push against the orders like he might normally. He needs this just as badly. With Bruce’s help, they manage to move the nest close enough to the edge that Bruce can also curl around Jason easily.
Tomorrow they can deal with the consequences of everything. There will probably be a fight that neither of them wins. Tonight he just nuzzles his little brother’s hair, eyes drooping as their pack alpha scents them both. Alfred enters and begins tidying something, like he needs a pretense to be there. Despite his best efforts to stay up and help guard, Dick falls asleep to Bruce’s soothing alpha rumble and the sound of Alfred bustling around the room. The circumstances are maybe less than ideal, but their pack is finally all together.
It feels good.
Whiskey Lullabies by Janet Devlin.
Chapter 13: Tomorrow Will Be Kinder
Somehow between trying to get rid of most of my stuff, packing, and working extra shifts/hours in the shifts I’m already scheduled because everyone keeps calling off, I managed to finish this. It took a couple rewrites and it’s maybe a little bit too fluffy, but I just don’t have the energy for constant angst. Lol.
It’s mostly Bruce and Jason with a little bit of Dick and Alfred. Someday I’ll figure out how to fit everyone in effectively. Today is not that day. Roy and Barbara should show up more in the next chapter though, as long as I don’t end up completely overhauling it as I’m wont to do.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jason wakes the next morning warm, safe, and comfortable. Even after a year of living in the manor, he still kind of gets a kick out of waking up in a well made nest and not whatever he can scrounge together from the trash of a nearby apartment building. Without opening his eyes, he pulls the Batman cape a little tighter around himself and does his best to ignore the throbbing in his leg, neck, head and gut. It’s a little difficult, but he’s imagined away worse.
He stretches out, thinking maybe his muscles are just cramped and hits the solid mass of a warm body.
The previous night’s events come back in a flash and he jolts fully awake. A heavy arm snakes around his waist before he can do more than scramble out from under the cape and pulls him snug against the person he’d kicked. Bruce’s scent, soothing, protective, and most importantly paternal, washes over him and he relaxes into it despite himself. His sorta-dad murmurs against his ear, “If you think you’re going anywhere right now, try again.”
“Little wing!” Dick reaches out and runs his hand through Jason’s hair. Again. Like the five hundred times he’d done it last night weren’t enough. Apparently the idiot hasn’t tried to detangle curls before and has no idea that he’s tying them into impossible knots. “I was so worried about you.”
“I couldn’t tell.” Jason tries to squirm out of the hold and away from the rush of possessive alpha pheromones that flood the very enclosed space under his bed from both of them. It’s gonna take him forever to air all the alpha stink out, if he’s allowed to stay. Much like last night escape is a futile effort and he gives up, collapsing against Bruce.
He very carefully scents the air. Just because they both smell like family to him, doesn’t mean he smells like a son or brother to them. Edgar Worthington said, after a girl adopted from Haiti by a different family presented as an omega, that going into heat makes alphas crazy. That once they get in deep, the only omegas they won’t jump are those related by blood. Adoption doesn’t count.The idea of either Nightwing or Batman going after him makes his stomach churn, but neither smells particularly interested. He’s not sore anywhere he shouldn’t be either, and he’s still fully dressed so maybe he’s safe.
Edgar Worthington isn’t the most reliable source of information anyway.
Which maybe sucks this time because he really wants to stay at the manor and he’s got two bargaining chips: Robin and his body. If he can’t be Robin or show Bruce a good time, then really he ought to just start packing. He doesn’t want to leave, but the same time he thinks he’d rather go than have his heroes be no better than Warret.
“Little wing?” Some of his anxiety over the whole situation must show because Bruce brushes his cheek against his shoulder and Dick rubs his wrist across his cheek. Which is just great, honestly. He didn’t smell this much like alpha even when he was regularly rubbing up against them.
He grunts, doing his best to sound okay and not like he wants to claw his way out of his skin. “You’re smothering me, you psychos.”
“If we leave, what’s to keep you from running off to get yourself sold on the black market?” Bruce sounds like he’s asking a question, when really he’s letting Jason know that he’s in big trouble. That’s fine, as long as his plan worked. Jason’s always been too much trouble. It’s one of the reasons Willis tried introducing him to a few alpha ‘friends’ after learning Jason was an omega.
“Did you save the kids?” He asks, yawning hard. He hates them for making him feel safe enough to get drowsy. He hates this stupid heat for making him vulnerable and full of fuzzy feelings.
“She got away, but we saved the kids.” Dick scoots closer, tucking the bat cape back around Jason. “You really need to rest a little bit longer, you’re in heat.”
“I had no clue. Is that what this is?” Jason snaps, mostly to prove to himself that he still can. This whole babying thing is nice now, but will just make it hurt more once they throw him out at the end of his heat. He doesn’t want to deal with it. “I’d sleep easier if I had enough space to breathe.”
“You’ve got plenty of space. Sleep, Jason.” Bruce commands and Jason finds he can’t quite resist the quiet lull of two alphas purring against him. Even if he kinda hates himself for giving in to his instincts so easily. Besides, it’s not like it makes much difference if they yell at him now rather than later.
He’s comfy now.
They’re gone when he wakes up a few hours later, but their scent lingers comfortingly. He lets himself bask in the feeling of pack for all of two minutes, and then he clambers out of his nest. It’s completely ruined, he’s going to have to tear it apart completely to remake it. Not now though.
Despite the itchy feeling under his skin that screams he needs to curl back up under the bed, Jason has things to do.
One of which is to follow the sound of shouting and alpha growls. At least they’re not throwing things this time. He creeps softly down the stairs and down a hallway until he reaches the manor’s living room.
Peeking in confirms that there’s fighting, but it’s between Bruce and Barbara. Dick has changed into something slightly less garish than his nightwing costume and is watching with an expression that’s almost uncertain. Both he and Bruce look worse for wear.
“If you cancel the dinner we could lose him for good.” Barbara hisses out, shrugging off Roy’s hand on her shoulder. “I understand why you want to cancel, but it could cost us the case.”
“I’m not letting that piece of filth into my home, not after learning...” Bruce is holding himself back from attacking, but just barely. There are a few scratches still weeping blood across his cheek, like he’d just escaped from a scuffle. “Jason’s in heat, I’m not letting a known child predator around him.”
“A heat that should be over by tomorrow morning, plenty of time to air everything out and get him ready for company.”
“There’s no way I’m letting Warret near Jason again.” Dick finally snaps and joins in on the conversation. He has several Bruce shaped bruises that weren’t there that morning. “Roy and I can take him to the penthouse or something while you guys do whatever you need.”
“Look. I understand that you’re both worked up right now,” Barbara’s voice wavers between calm and furious, “but Jason is fine. He’s upstairs sleeping off the heat and he’ll be right as rain. Right now, there are at least a dozen children about to be sold away from their families if we don’t do something. I’m not trying to be cold, I’m trying to save the children Jason was willing to sacrifice himself for.”
It feels like the blood drains from Jason’s body down to his feet, leaving his face and hands strangely cold. Nausea rises up in his throat and he manages to stumble down the hallway to a decorative bowl of fake fruit. He dumps the plastic apples and oranges to the ground and hurls up the little bit left in his stomach.
“My dear boy.” Alfred’s calming citrus and cinnamon scent wraps around Jason like a blanket as the elderly alpha rests his hand on Jason’s shoulder.
It’s the heat that makes him whine and curl against the butler, not that he’s actually upset. Everything aches and he just wants to go back to bed. He doesn’t dare though, not if they’re talking about the case behind his back. As much as he wants to avoid Warret like the alpha is a plague, He knows Barbara is right. He’s as certain of that as he is that Dick’s plan won’t work either.
If Warret has connected Baby to Jason Todd, the eccentric billionaire’s latest publicity stunt, then they could all be in a world of trouble. Jason didn’t have that many clients at all, much less those from the upper class, but there are still a few that would know enough that they could spread nasty rumors about Bruce. Hiding away won’t do anything but confirm the whispers. Despite all his best efforts, Jason is still a liability and a source of tension in the pack. What a shock.
To make things worse, he has no doubt that he’s the reason Bruce and Dick got into it while he was asleep. He usually is anymore. Guess Dick’s gonna finally get what he wants, maybe he’ll move back to the manor like Bruce wants and it’ll be like Jason never happened.
Thin, but not frail, arms wrap tightly enough around Jason that his thoughts begin to pull back together. “Hush, Master Jason. You’re safe and well here. They didn’t do any real damage to each other, and it certainly wasn’t your fault they gave into their tempers like children. Everything will be fine.”
“Alfred?” Jason doesn’t lift his head from his grandfather/mom’s shoulder, but he can hear Bruce approach. He can smell Dick a few steps behind him. “Is everything alright?”
“What do you think?”
Jason’s never heard Alfred snap at Bruce like that before and he flinches, pressing closer to the butler. He doesn’t dare look up at Bruce, afraid of the alpha’s disgust. Alfred’s hand rubs across his back and the touch feels good enough on his heat sore skin that he can relax a little.
Bruce kneels next to him and then his heavy hand joins Alfred’s. His deep rumble calms the sharp pain in his chest. “Jason?”
“Warret has to come over, and I have to be here.” He doesn’t want to talk about the memories Dick’s bruises and Bruce’s scratches dredge up, so he deflects before Alfred can bring it up. They need to talk about this anyway. “He doesn’t know who I am—was, for sure and if you cancel he’ll know something is up. Especially after the past few days.”
Bruce growls under his breath and that makes Jason straighten angrily. “Quit being stupid. I know I ain’t an alpha, but I can handle myself just fine.”
“Is that what you call what you’ve done this weekend?” Bruce doesn’t yell like Willis used to; it makes him sound more dangerous. “I leave and come back to find that you’ve hurled yourself head first into danger every chance you’ve gotten.”
“I was going undercover. It made sense, Bruce.” Jason stands and crosses his arms defensively. His instincts scream that he needs to hunch in and bare his neck to appease the angry alpha. The pulsing bite mark on his neck is a reminder of what happens when he challenges an alpha and doesn’t win. Instead he straightens his shoulders and juts his chin out defiantly. He’d rather fight and lose than roll over and show his belly. “They went after unpresented omegas, I was an unpresented omega. It fit, it worked.”
“It didn’t ‘work’, it nearly got you injured and sold.” Bruce softens for all of three seconds before he’s back to growling again. “For the time being you’re grounded. No Robin and no extra curricular reading. We’ll revisit this, and why you thought it was a good idea to withhold information that put you in danger, later. For now go to your room.”
He was expecting it. That doesn’t make it hurt less.
With his lips curled back and a throaty snarl, he balls up his fists. Yeah it’s stupid to fight his pack alpha, especially while in heat, but he doesn’t care. If he’s not angry, he hurts. And Jason’s tired of hurting. “No. You don’t get to tell me what to do. If it weren’t for me, Dick would still have Speedy McDumb-hat out wandering the streets half naked. Now we know who’s going after the kids and can nab them before they leave the city.”
“Jason.” Bruce gives a lower growl, a warning, that makes everyone stand up a little straighter.
Compared to that, Jason’s snarl sounds pathetic. Ignoring every instinct that says to back down, Jason launches himself foward and throws a punch that sends Bruce stumbling back a few steps. Blood drips from his pack alpha’s newly split lip. Bruce swipes at it, staring down at the red liquid smeared across his hand, and then dives at Jason.
It’s a short scuffle, one that ends with Bruce sporting a black eye and a few more bruises to his ribs and thighs. Jason, however, is uninjured and securely pinned. Somewhere between his attack on Bruce and the alpha’s victory, Alfred shooed the others away. So no one is there but Bruce to see tears sting at his eyes. He blinks them away before they can form and struggles harder. Bruce holds him firmly, far gentler than he has any right to be. He should be tearing into him, it doesn’t make sense. Eventually Jason goes limp and bares his neck.
Rather than sink his teeth in and shake Jason until he begs for mercy, Bruce merely nips his neck in warning before adjusting their positions to blanket Jason comfortingly. “You need to go back to bed, Jason.”
“Because I’m an omega?” He snarls.
“Because you’re my son, I’m worried about you, and you’re in heat.” Bruce answers.
Jason hates that his body is made to feel safest when he’s trapped. He hates that Bruce knows it now and can use it against him. “Not your son. Just some feral kid you pulled off the street.”
“Never say that, Jason.” Bruce presses his forehead against Jason’s comfortingly. “You’re my son, nothing will change that.”
“I can’t be Robin anymore.” Against his will, Jason’s arms reach up and wrap around Bruce, holding tight to the alpha’s shirt. “An’ ‘m too scarred up to be much use as a pretty decoration.”
“Good thing I’ve already got plenty of knick-knacks for Alfred to waste time dusting then.” Bruce breathes out a laugh against his cheek. It’s warm, but not unbearably so despite the way he feels like he’s burning up. “And I don’t need a Robin, Jason. I need my sons. One of whom keeps trying to get himself killed.”
The warmth that bubbles up in his chest has nothing to do with his heat. Bruce still wants him, for a while longer at least. “I’ve tried telling Dick he’s gonna get himself beat up if he keeps dressing like that. He won’t listen.”
“I think you’ll find he rarely does.” Bruce laughs again, sitting up and pulling Jason into his lap. The way Bruce wraps around him makes him feel safer than even Catherine made him feel. Bruce gives a heavy breath that ruffles his curls and then noses the top of his head. “You scared all of us. Dick thought you were going to be killed and tossed into the harbor.”
“Not my fault he assumed I’m an alpha.” Jason grunts, not liking where the conversation seems to be going.
Bruce pokes him gently in the ribs. “About that, how long have you known you were an omega?”
“Who says I did?” Now is feeling like a great time to go back to his room.
“You.” Bruce tightens his hold around Jason, as if reading his intent. “You said, and I quote, ‘they went after unpresented omegas, I was an unpresented omega’. Unpresented meaning, you hadn’t presented I assume. So how’d you know?”
Jason ducks his head. “Willis.”
“What?” The wrath boiling within that single word has Jason whining. Bruce shushes him and wraps him up a little tighter. “Why?”
“Wanted to make sure I was worth the investment, I guess.” Jason swallows back the rest of his whine. He might be an omega, but he isn’t a pushover. “Had a friend who had the drug and that was that. He went to jail a few years later.”
“Did... did he... sell...” Bruce can’t seem to get the words out, and that’s okay. He doesn’t need to.
Jason shakes his head, gaze focused on Bruce’s shoulder because he can’t meet his mentor’s gaze. “No. I didn’t start hooking until Mama got sick. And even then only when I had to. Mostly I stole cars and junked ‘em.”
Bruce makes a gargled growling noise that usually means he’s really upset. Like the kind of upset that’ll land the next thug in the hospital for months. Then he stands and starts heading back to Jason’s room, Jason himself tucked firmly against his chest. “You’re still grounded from any novel reading not for school. We’ll talk about you getting Robin back, right now I don’t feel particularly inclined to let you have it.”
“Sorry ‘m just a ‘mega.” Jason mumbles against Bruce’s shoulder, lulled almost to sleep by the restrained sway of Bruce’s gait.
He’s jolted back awake when Bruce freezes. “What?”
“Robin can’t be an omega, I know. I’m sorry.” Jason’s leaking tears again and it makes him so frustrated he could just snarl. It’s not fair. This is exactly the kind of hormonal crap that keeps him from the one he’s actually good at. “I know I shoulda told you, but I didn’t wanna give everything up yet.”
“Jason, you...” Bruce makes a strangled noise. It’s not one Jason’s ever heard from him before. “You thought I’d toss you out because you’re an omega?”
“Think about it, doesn’t really make sense to keep me does it? You gotta be able to rely on Robin. Can’t just skip entire weeks ‘cause I’m in heat or bleedin’ and the cramps are too bad.” He bites his lip so he doesn’t sniffle pathetically. “I ain’t a good wholesome omega either. Not someone can bring home to meet the family. Everyone’s already whispering about a rich single alpha taking in children, just think what they’ll say when the pup you plucked off the street corner turns out to be an omega?.”
“You’re not some feral stray to just be tossed out if you become inconvenient. Robin doesn’t even have a caste. Being an omega doesn’t make you less capable, being reckless and getting yourself hurt does. If you need to take some time off, that’s fine. ” Bruce... actually sounds offended. “They can say whatever they want. You’re mine. That doesn’t change just because someday you might carry children. If anyone dare says anything negative I’ll ruin them. Sue them for every penny they own as Bruce and visit them as Batman.”
Jason bites his lip, his stupid omega brain latching onto one word. “Yours?”
Bruce starts walking again, long strides that take them upstairs and down the hall. He seems happier when he answers, “Mine. Always.”
Bruce settles him in, helping to rebuild the nest he and Dick ruined with all their smothering. Unlike Dick, Bruce isn’t terrible at nest building. They manage to arrange it so Jason can stay completely within his nest and under the bed, while still resting his head on Bruce’s leg. The alpha pulls out a tablet to work on while he sits with Jason.
Even though he’s wrapped up in dozens of blankets and a bat cape, Jason feels like he’s finally cooling down. The itch under his skin is fading. “What’s that?”
“The information for this case. Before we make any decisions about Warret, I need to know what we’re dealing with.” Bruce absently rubs the scent gland on his wrist across Jason’s shoulder . It makes him stink of overprotective alpha, but he can’t quite mind. It feels too nice.
He yawns and fights to stay awake. “You’re going to have Warret over then? Good.”
“Maybe. We’ll talk later. Sleep.”
And even though he’s been doing little else since going into heat, Jason does. He sleeps through to the next day and dozes off and on until the fog feels lifted from his brain at around noon. Bruce is gone, but he’s left Dick and Barbara to watch over him. Dick is still hovering, fricken possessive alphas, but Barbara is 100% business. “We need to get you ready. Warret will be here in five hours.”
Jason shoots her a wicked smirk and scrambles out of his nest. He’s been waiting for years to have a shot at the man. He’s not going to waste it.
Tomorrow Will Be Kinder by The Secret Sisters.
Chapter 14: Quick Update-No chap sorry
So, I was hoping to have the next chapter up today, but this week has been absolutely crazy. DX My last day of work was yesterday and I'm moving tomorrow.
BUT I am about halfway through getting the next chapter ready. It ended up needing complete rewrite which is another reason it's taking so long. :( I should have it done by this weekend though.
Really sorry guys. Time management has never been my best skill and then I got called in four extra days at work so I had no time to pack.
Chapter 15: You Can Almost Hear It
Sorry it’s taken so long. >~< You guys are absolutely the sweetest though! All your kind comments are definitely what kept me motivated to keep working on this every chance I got. Unfortunately there just weren’t many chances...
I’m moved and settled into my new school. I’ve started classes though, and I am a biochemistry major (hence my username) so that’s going to take up a lot of my time. I already have a ton of homework so Idk what that means for scheduling updates. I’m also trying to update the outline so we’re back to not knowing how many chapters this is. We’re definitely in the final third though.
This isn’t my favorite chapter I’ve written. Originally I intended for it to be very different, but it ended up being more of a transitional chapter to set up the next one. There’s still a lot I ended up liking though, even if it is kind of rough.
Anyway, hope everyone is doing well! I’ll be working on replying to comments as I can. Have a lovely day!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Dick follows Jason down the stairs, keeping himself between the pup and Barbara. It’s a struggle not scoop the boy up and carry him off to the penthouse for a few days. It’s a wonder the boy has held up as well as he has. They shouldn’t be tempting fate and putting him through more. Bruce called the school at least and got him pulled out for the week.
Jason won’t be happy when he finds out, but it’s standard procedure regardless of how a child presents. A presentation always makes hormones and instincts wacky. It’s important to limit outside influences so the pack hierarchy can settle back down. Just one more good reason that they shouldn’t have Warret over.
Barbara reaches out to touch Jason’s shoulder, probably to stop him from sliding down the banister, and Dick growls and startles all of them. Barbara jerks away like she’s been stung while Jason simultaneously whirls to face him and rocks backwards a few steps. Dick blinks and swallows a few times to clear away the aggression.
“Sorry.” He holds his hands up awkwardly in surrender. “Sorry.”
“Freakin’ alphas.” Jason growls giving him the evil eye, but his shoulders slowly lower from where they’d hunched up by his ears. “You ain’t goin’ into rut, are ya?”
The question catches him by surprise. “No.”
“Good.” Jason scents the air, probably checking to see if he’s lying. Only then does the pup relax, his scent honey sweet. While still mostly milky, Jason’s slight scent change indicates his new status as an omega. Gradually it will shift into an adult scent, but for now Dick is glad he still mostly smells like pup. The boy looks Dick over before grumbling and tucking himself against Dick’s side. “Better?”
“Better.” Dick agrees, ducking his head to nose the top of Jason’s. He’s too small, he needs to eat. The urge to pick Jason up and hide him away from danger intensifies. Instead he settles for guiding Jason towards the kitchen. For some unknown reason, Jason lets him—albeit with exaggerated resignation that fades once they reach Alfred.
The butler is waiting for them with chili dogs set out on the kitchen table.
Dick reaches out to snatch Jason back, because there’s no way Alfred would ever let such food enter the house. Shapeshifter or mind control are the most likely cause of this deviance. His fingers brush Jason’s shoulder as the boy skillfully sidesteps and then run straight to Alfred with a whoop.
“You’re the literal best, Alfie.” The boy tackle hugs Alfred before heading to set places at the table.
Alfred adjusts his now rumpled suit, not looking up at Dick as though that could hide his grin. He continues fidgeting with his cuffs longer than is strictly needed as he says, “I thought perhaps an exception to the young master’s diet could be made given the circumstances.”
“I agree.” Dick nods. He’s almost afraid to offer any other comment. The butler cares, he always has and has always shown it, but he’s ever the respectable Englishman and doesn’t appreciate attempts to discuss his affection for his charges. This is especially true after he’s been frightened for one of them. “Bruce in his study?”
“He is. I was about to go fetch him.” Alfred nods, having regained his butler-y composure. “A young master Harper can be found outside practicing his weapon of choice as well if you would like to fetch him.”
“You really are the best.” Dick leans in and hugs the butler in a manner no more dignified than Jason had been. He looks towards Barbara pointedly as he asks, “Keep an eye on Jason for a minute?”
Alfred sounds a little less composed as he nods. He too doesn’t seem to trust Barbara alone with Jason. It’s... he feels bad, but not bad enough to risk Jason’s safety. “Always, Master Dick.”
Dick squeezes tighter briefly before releasing the older alpha and leaning to one side so he can see Jason. “I’ll be right back, Little Wing. I’m going to go get Bruce.”
“That’s just what I need. Another overprotective alpha riding up my butt.” Jason waves Dick off with a mutter. Three of his fingers seem to curl down out of reflex but Jason catches himself before actually flipping anyone off.
Dick bites down a laugh as he hears Alfred dry reply. “Am I included in the number of justifiably worried pack members currently traveling through your posterior, Master Jason?”
Jason’s startled swearing, followed by panicked apologizing, breaks all of Dick’s self control and he lets himself cackle all the way to Bruce’s study. It distracts him from the pain of leaving the omega behind. He immediately sobers upon reaching the imposing doorway. He shifts his weight from one foot to the other before gathering up his courage and knocking.
Dick pushes open the heavy door and stands awkwardly as he waits for Bruce to acknowledge him. Thanks to alleged abuse of league medical technology that can be neither confirmed nor denied, neither bears evidence of their scuffle. Physically, at least.
On a more social level, Dick is still feeling the repercussions. He bares his neck, still grateful Bruce hadn’t felt the need to bite. Another rush of shame twists his gut, because he hadn’t needed to bite Jason and had anyway. If he didn’t need to plead his case one more time, he would have left Alfred to fetch Bruce. “Bruce, Jason just presented. He’s a mess, even if he’s hiding it. Look, I’m a mess, you’re a mess, even Alfred is a mess—albeit a very well contained mess. Bringing Warret in could potentially be… catastrophic.”
“Not bringing him in would sentence at least twelve, more likely a number between thirty and fifty, to life as a sex slave for whatever alpha or beta deigns to purchase them.” Bruce shuffles a few papers, tucks a few books back into their proper places. The tightness in his shoulders, in his jaw, gives away the fact that he agrees with Dick.
That’s what’s so frustrating about this whole thing. Bruce knows he’s right, but at the same time Dick... Dick knows that Bruce is also right. There’s no good answer, and he hates it.
Bruce straightens and moves towards Dick, hesitating briefly before clapping Dick on the back. “It’s only for a few hours. Then he’ll leave and we can go tear him apart before dropping him off at the station.”
As awful as it is, that soothes a little bit of the rage still bubbling in Dick’s chest. Bruce must see it, because he ducks his head a little to rub his cheek across the top of Dick’s head briefly before releasing him and stepping away.
It’s always amused Dick how the big scary Batman that terrifies the underworld of Gotham is really just a socially awkward rich man who cares too much, but doesn’t quite know how to show it. Well, it amuses him when he’s not hurt because Bruce has decided to wrench control of his life again.
With a grin, he moves back into Bruce’s space and hugs him tightly and presses his forehead briefly to Bruce’s neck. Then he takes pity on the poor alpha and jerks his thumb in the direction of the kitchen. “What’d’ya say we go grab Roy and then rescue poor Alfred from Jason.”
“Is he finally up?” Bruce chuckles as he follows behind Dick. “I’m glad to hear it. I was starting to worry. He slept so much and when he was awake he was....”
“Heat drunk?” Dick offered.
Bruce stifles a smile, but can’t quite hide the quirk of his lips. “Very heat drunk. He spent a good few minutes laying out all the reasons you need a personal stylist.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Dick snorts his amusement, but it catches in his chest painfully. He wonders if that’s all Jason said about him. “For the record, he doesn’t seem to think you’re the fashion icon People Magazine claims you are.”
“I heard that too.” Bruce rubs the side of his face with entertained exasperation. “Along with a twenty minute lecture on why orange is the worst color to put in a nest that culminated in, ‘Because it’s yellow’s depressed cousin. That’s why, Bruce.’ Then I had to hide all the orange he could see since he wouldn’t stay in his nest otherwise.”
“He didn’t.” Dick could honestly just die at how adorable that is.
Bruce looks like he feels similarly, even if he doesn’t know how to actually express it. “He did. I had to stash everything in the room next door.”
“I’m definitely teasing him about this when he’s older.” Dick is already reaching for his phone, making a note to himself to take pictures. “There’s Roy. Do you want to meet up at lunch?”
Bruce glances out the sliding glass doors to spot the archer, and then nods. Before he leaves, the older alpha pats Dick on the back, subtly scenting him. “Don’t take too long.”
He waves bye to Bruce, pushing down his instinctive anger at being scented without having given consent, and pauses to wave Roy in through a window.
The red head puts his things away and jogs up. “Everything okay?”
“Jason’s up, so we’re eating lunch now.” Dick shoves his hands in his pockets and leads them down a hallway. His teeth grind together. “I think we’re also going to be finalizing the plan for tonight now that we have Jason’s input.”
Roy slings his arm around Dick’s shoulder’s and nuzzles against the alpha’s cheek. Calming omega pheromones flood walkway and despite himself, Dick relaxes. Roy’s voice even drops down into a gentle half purr that omegas use on upset packmates. “I know you think Jason is just a kid and he needs protected—ah ah, I’m speaking— look, you’re not wrong. He’s just a little pup, honestly he’s probably just barely old enough to have presented, and you’re right. He should have been protected. He wasn’t though, his family was crap and he’s done what he had to. Now he has information that can help save all these children. We can’t not use it.”
“He’s been traumatized enough, we don’t need to make him relive it all.” Dick grits out, clenching his fists. His own frustrated, angry scent rises up around them. They’ve stopped walking. “What if Warret recognizes him and tries something, what if he doesn’t recognize him and tries something anyway. How can we put Jason through that again?”
“We’re not. You’re here, Bruce and Alfred will be here. I highly doubt you’re going to let the boy out of your sight. While you’re doing that, Babs and I will be working to gather together enough evidence to find the other kids and put this scum behind bars.”
“It’s still not okay.”
Roy hesitates and then nods. “It’s never going to be okay. We just need to make the best of it, and make sure he’sokay.”
Dick gives a miserable nod and buries his face against Roy’s shoulder. “Quit being smart.”
“Quit brooding.” Roy turns his head and nips Dick’s ear in a friendly chiding manner. “Thought your family called you the sunshine child.”
“Jason’s the sunshine child now. Besides, I’ve earned a little moping time.” Dick protests, pulling his head out of Roy’s range while still leaning on him. The nearness of an omega, even if it’s not his, is doing more to keep him settled than anything else. After another deep breath of Roy’s scent, Dick steps away. “Jason made Bruce hide anything orange, we need to take pictures. For research purposes.”
Lunch is served, with Jason firmly pressed against Bruce’s side. Jason protests this, loudly, at first but eventually gives in with one last growl. He once again refuses to serve himself, instead tugging on Bruce’s sleeve gently to signal he’s ready to eat.
Now that he knows Jason is an omega, Dick recognizes it as a survival behavior. It’s something that he’s unfortunately seen many traumatized omegas do after they’ve been saved. It’s a way to appease their alpha, by showing they won’t touch anything without permission and by remaining dependent on their alpha for everything they need. It’s not a natural behavior either, though many movies and T.V. shows portray it as such. Hollywood has normalized it as a romantic submissive behavior, but every omega Dick has seen do this religiously has either been starved into it or had it beaten into them.
He doesn’t want to know what was done to Jason to make him so scared of feeding himself at the manor, but he does want to tear apart whoever did it.
Roy clears his throat and pushes his plate towards Dick. With a significant glance towards Jason, he asks quietly, “Wanna serve me?”
No, he doesn’t particularly. But, if Roy thinks this will help then he’s willing to try it. So he fills up Roy’s plate, ignoring the way doing so eases some of the stress in his shoulders. This is so Jason might feel more at ease. Then he serves himself, sneaking a quick glance at Jason. The pup is watching them, his tiny freckled nose scrunched up adorably.
When he catches Dick’s gaze, Jason jerks his attention back to his plate.
The silence is awkward for a moment and then Alfred comes to the rescue, clearing his throat lightly. “Might I inquire as to the dietary restrictions for our dinner guest tonight?”
Though Alfred is clearly addressing Bruce, who looks like he’s trying to remember, Jason is the one answering. “Warret’s lactose intolerant. Was hungry once, and there was a woman who liked using cream when she... anyway, I was hungry. Turns out he doesn’t like food in bed anyway.”
Though everyone else has turned green at his explanation, Jason shoves an entire chili dog into his mouth and starts trying to soak up all his ketchup with fries unconcerned.
“In that case, might I suggest steak with garlic Parmesan cream sauce and mashed potatoes with ice cream for dessert?” Though Alfred’s tone remains mild, the anger in his scent—though well hidden— is caustic enough to peel paint.
Jason is the first to respond, laughing until tears stream down his cheeks and it fades into quiet sobs. Bruce pulls the young omega up onto his lap worriedly, giving Alfred a quick nod. Jason doesn’t fight him, pressing in closer. “That sounds perfect, thank you.”
Alfred hesitates, then nods. He turns to leave and then pauses again, “When you’ve finished eating perhaps you can join me in the kitchen, Master Jason? I could use your advice with the spices.”
“Sure thing, Alf.” Jason lifts his head slightly, rubbing at his nose with an embarrassed flush. “Be right there.”
“Take your time, dear boy.” Alfred turns back around, taking brisk steps towards the pup. He bends down and briefly bumps his forehead against the pup’s. “You’ve gone through quite the ordeal and your hormones are still adjusting. Now,” Alfred pulls back, all business once more, “finish eating. Once you’re done we’ll need to find you clothing to suit your new status and we can purchase the ingredients we need on the way home.”
“Okay.” The smile Jason gives is half hidden against Bruce’s chest and watery, but still stronger than it was. “Better not put me in anythin’ ugly though.”
“I would never.” Alfred chuckles and then takes his leave under the excuse he needs to take inventory and call the tailor, but Dick can see his hands shake.
The rest of the meal is subdued, with Dick still filling Roy’s plate for him. Jason doesn’t eat much more, just a few bites Bruce manages to coax into him. Between protesting that he isn’t hungry, Jason rubs his face against Bruce’s shoulder in a self-soothing action that will pick up the alpha’s scent. Everyone pretends not to notice so he won’t be embarrassed.
Finally, Barbara shoves her plate away. “We’ve danced around this enough. Warret and his new fiancé will be coming over tonight. The Wayne’s are supposed to entertain and distract while Roy and I investigate, but we don’t have an actual plan.”
“She’s coming?” Jason shudders. It’s almost imperceptible, but Bruce wraps himself around the omega a little more firmly. “Even Willis wouldn’t have anything to do with her.”
“Do you know who she is, Jason?” Roy asks softly. “Your dad knew her?”
“Willis,” Jason puts an almost angry emphasis on the name, “never let me near her. Said... he said a lotta things. I don’t know anything about her, except she scared Willis and Mama both.”
“Jason, this is important.” Babs does her best to keep the frustration out of her voice, but Dick still picks up on it. He gives her a low growl in warning that she shrugs off. “Do you know anything about her?”
“She’s rich, Willis complained about it a lot.” Jason growls at her as well, but he stays pressed against Bruce. “I only saw her once before last night, I don’t know much else. I think she’s from New York.”
“You’re doing fine.” Bruce murmurs against Jason’s hair, causing the pup to squirm uncomfortably. “Do you know anything else we need to know about Warret?”
“I don’t know... Not a lot of his clients actually like him. He’s kinda... rough.” Jason crosses his arms, staring holes into the table. “He only took me back to his place instead of a hotel a couple times, and I didn’t get to explore much, but his office is on the second floor. He...” The pup hesitates and then presses on, “he likes pictures. Probably has them stashed somewhere in his penthouse.”
Before anyone can respond with more than a reflexive snarl, Jason has jumped from Bruce’s lap. He’s halfway to the kitchen before he hesitates and turns back. “I’m gonna go help Alfred now.”
“That’s fine, Jason. Thank you for your help.” Bruce reassures with a smile that looks a little too strained to be real.
Jason responds with a flash of an answering smile and then dashes to the kitchen, calling out for Alfred loudly.
Dick is still trying to swallow down bile and Roy presses tighter against him. The omega seems to be searching for comfort as much as giving it.
Barbara’s expression is equally twisted, and her voice is cold as she shoves her tablet towards Bruce. “I found the blueprints to the penthouse he’s been staying in. Hopefully it’s the one Jason is talking about.”
Then she leans back in her chair, crossing her arms. “So this is what I was thinking...”
Dick leans forward to listen to the plan. He can’t go after everyone who’s hurt his little wing, but he can go after this man. And they’re going to destroy him.
Title from Glorious by Stephanie Mabey.
Chapter 16: You’re The Food At The Feast
It took a couple extra days, but I don’t hate this chapter now. I had to go through a few drafts because I needed this to end a certain way, but I also don’t want to take away Jason’s agency either. It’s not a perfect chapter, but I think it’s probably as good as it’s going to get.
Also. Warning, Warret’s back and he’s a really nasty guy. There’s a few mentions of non-consensual touching and then a brief paragraph where Warret makes his intentions clear. Very brief. It’s sectioned off with **** and that’s all you’ll miss if you skip it, so stay safe.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Do I actually have to wear this?” Jason tugs at the gentle, but deep, scoop of his new dress shirt with a puppy growl. The warm blush color of lace over silk brings some color up to his freckled cheeks, while the tailored fit hints at subtle curves Jason will someday grow into. He follows up by shoving the stretchy lace sleeves up to his elbows again after they slip down.
Alfred smooths the neckline down, leaving most of Jason collarbones exposed, and then adjusts the sleeves back into place again. As bad as Dick’s bite had looked originally, it’s already almost healed. Alfred insists that it’s best to leave it open to the air at this stage, but it’s barely noticeable. “I’m afraid so, Master Jason. This was the best the tailor could procure on such a short notice. You’ll have something better made for the next dinner engagement.”
“I’m not worried about how it fits.” Jason throws his head back. Dick winces at the crack it makes hitting the wall. That had to hurt, though Jason doesn’t give any indication of it. “I looked less like a slut when I was one.”
“You don’t look like a... slut, little wing.” Dick chides, his chest seizing painfully. He wraps himself around Jason, swallowing the small boy up in his embrace. Trying to be comforting, he rubs his cheek across the top of their pup’s head. “Compared to what some of Bruce’s dates wear you look like a grandma. A very cute Grandma.”
“I worked with some of Bruce’s dates, I know what they are.” Jason pretends to gag at being scented, but he sags into the hold despite it. “At any rate, I certainly smell like one. I reek of alpha.”
“You’re ours,” Dick answers unrepentant, but does lift his head, “and you look nice. It’s a good color on you, and a flattering fit.”
”Saying something about your sense of fashion would be too easy. I look ridiculous and it itches.” Jason wiggles backwards a little, tucking his head underneath Dick’s chin comfortably. “I’d like to see you wear something this goofy.”
“‘Fraid all my dress clothes are alpha style right now.” Dick sighs dramatically, grinning at Alfred over Jason’s head. The British alpha doesn’t roll his eyes, but he does twitch his mustache in the equivalent. Dick loves it. Then he turns his attention back to the slightly squirmy omega in his arms and turns serious. “If you want, I can get some omega dress shirts though. Maybe we can get matching outfits... oh! I bet we can talk Bruce into getting some too.”
“Talk me into getting what?” Bruce himself enters Jason’s room already dressed business casual for dinner, his massive bulk hunched in on himself. He looks, and smells, almost... uncertain. Dick raises an eyebrow and gets an almost imperceptible shake of Bruce’s head in return so nothing’s wrong.
This is just Bruce being Bruce. Sadly enough, their pack alpha is better at being Batman or even Brucie, than he is at being himself. That’s always been the source of some of their worst arguments.
But they’re not arguing right now. Even if Dick wanted to, and he doesn’t, Jason is so hypersensitive to pack dynamics. Already he’s slightly trembling in Dick’s arms, so when Alfred clears his throat pointedly Dick gives the pup one last squeeze and then steps back as he answers so Bruce can greet Jason properly. “Some omega style dress shirts. Thought we could all match when we get to present him to your society ‘friends’.”
“I’ll have Alfred call the tailor tomorrow.” Bruce Wayne, the most alpha of alphas, doesn’t hesitate before agreeing. He leans down to swipe his cheek against Jason’s before pressing their foreheads together lightly, “You look nice, Jaylad.”
“I look ridiculous.” Jason huffs, but when Bruce pulls back the pup tucks himself against Bruce’s side with a pleased churr that everyone pretends not to hear. “You need somethin’, old man?”
Bruce hesitates and then takes a half step back to kneel in front of Jason. “If we were doing this properly... That is, you’re my... Both of you boys are my family,” Bruce dips his head briefly toward Dick before turning his attention back to Jason, “I wish we’d been able to do a lot of things differently for your presentation. I know I should have a ring made for you, but—“
“You don’t gotta sweat it, B. I understand.“ Jason gives Bruce an awkward smile. “Honest, I’m just happy to be here.”
“No, no. You misunderstand.” Bruce rushes the words out, grabbing one of Jason’s hands and pressing something into it urgently. “I want you to wear the Wayne crest. I promise I want you. Please.”
“Bruce?” Jason’s voice trembles. The poor kid looks like he might vomit as he stares down at the gold ring resting in his palm. It’s a claiming ring, originally meant to track which pack each omega belonged to in a time when omegas were little more than ornamental babymakers. Now the rings are merely a pretty tradition marking an important rite of passage; a tool used to sooth an omega’s need to belong. Designed something like a class ring, a tiny ruby is set in the center of the one Jason holds. The Wayne crest decorates one side, the other has the image of a carnation. Dick recognizes it from the one time he snuck into the room that had belonged to Bruce’s parents. He’s pretty sure he knows the name etched on the inside of the jewelry.
Bruce takes the ring and slips it onto Jason’s finger. It’s a little loose, but will stay. “It was my mother’s. I can still have one made for you, but I thought that at least for now it would work.”
“Bruce.” Jason stares at his hand and then clutches it to his chest. The young omega blinks quickly, but it doesn’t quite stave off the tears. Panic twists his expression into something almost angry. “What if you have an omega kid someday and they—“
“I have an omega son now.” Bruce soothes, lightly cupping the back of Jason’s neck to scruff him. Then he presses their foreheads together more firmly than before. “Mine.”
“Aren’t they cute?” Dick whispers and lets Alfred shepherd him out of the room. They hear Jason’s hiccuped agreement as they step outside.
Alfred shuts the heavy wooden door behind them and nods firmly. “Quite.”
“And you must be the Jason I’ve heard so much about.”
It’s harder than Dick imagined to not kill Warret where he stands while the impeccably dressed alpha bows low over Jason’s hand and presses it to his lips. Jason blushes prettily, which is honestly unnerving in and of itself, and Dick bites his lip to hold back the growl.
Jason tips his head back to shyly look over his shoulder at Bruce. “You talk about me?”
“Of course I do. I talk about both my boys.” Bruce, with a wide Brucie smile, steps between the alpha and omega and tugs Jason until the pup is tucked against his side. Though it’s an extremely protective action, somehow Bruce manages to make it appear indulgent and almost careless. Then their alpha turns his attention back to Warret and the woman standing next to him. “Can’t tell you how glad I am that you were able to make it, Warret, and of course it’s lovely to meet you, Miss Kiara. I can’t say how excited I am to meet the alpha who’s managed to get fuddy duddy Warret so lovesick.”
“Fuddy duddy Warret?” The woman laughs giving her fiancé the side eye. She has the barest remnant of a black eye peeking out from under makeup. Dick wants to tear her throat out.
Bruce laughs with her and throws an arm around Warret’s shoulder, squeezing just on the side of too painful if Warret’s wince is anything to go by. “Much as I love your fiancé, he’s a little bit of a stick in the mud. Always insisted on being the designated driver. A horrible wingman too, one time at a party—“
“Ugh. Gross.” Jason complains, moving closer to Dick. The annoyed expression Jason wears is nearly impeccable except for the faintest tremor at the corners of his lips. As soon as he’s within arms reach, Dick wraps his arms around Jason and rests his chin on the pup’s head. The boy shoulders him aside, but Dick hold tighter and Jason gives in with another noise of disgust. “No one wants to hear about the time you banged five blondes, Bruce.”
“It was only three.” Brucie replies with a roll of his eyes, waving one hand dismissively. Ever the generous host, he turns his attention back to their guests. “Would you like to join us in the parlor as we wait for dinner? Alfred’s really outdone himself this time.”
Bruce crooks his arm to offer it and then pauses to glance between the alpha pair, looking twice as comical to those who know the alpha isn’t as earnest as he appears. “Ah, that is... who should I escort?”
“That’ll be me.” Warret laughs and rests his hand playfully in the crook of Bruce’s arm. “Though I’m sure you’re not surprised.”
A strange expression flickers across Bruce’s face before fading back to Brucie. Dick feels a brief pang of sympathy. Warret is the closest thing Bruce had to a friend as a civilian, to realize that his friend had molested at least one child... to realize that child was his son...
Dick has no idea how Bruce manages to stay so in control, how he restrains himself from shredding the alpha into tiny pieces. Jason tries to wriggle free from Dick’s too tight grip with a strained grunt. Guiltily, he loosens his hold.
“Shall I escort you, Mr. Todd?” Kiara bows low, lower than she would reasonably be expected to as the leader of her pack. Her smile is soft and warm, lacking the cold irritation she’d displayed the night before.
Jason flinches, hesitantly accepting the offered arm before Dick can snatch him back. “Thank you, Alpha Kiara.”
“There’s no need to be so formal. You can call me Kiara.” She places one hand over Jason’s and squeezes gently.
Dick shoves his hands deep into his pockets and breathes deeply through his nose. At the same time Jason’s free hand twitches into a fist and then the fingers stretch out deliberately. Dick brushes his shoulder against Jason’s comfortingly as he tries to draw the woman’s attention away from his puppy brother. “Bruce said you’re from New York?”
“That I am.” She grins. “SoHo born and raised. Met Steve at a charity event and followed him back to Gotham. How did you boys come to live with Bruce?”
“Bruce took me in after my parents died. Accident at the circus we worked at.” Dick shrugs lightly, taking a seat at an open couch while Bruce and Warret chatted from plush armchairs. He found Jason when he went back to Crime Alley to pay respects to his parents.”
Kiara guides Jason to sit next to Dick. Her hands slide across the omega’s arms in an unnecessary caress. Dick gently, but firmly, pulls Jason snug against his side. The action just barely cuts off Jason’s growl. Soon enough he’ll be able to let Jason at her, but for now they need to show restraint.
Bruce expects him to not attack an alpha who’s already proven that she’s willing to hurt their omega during his heat. Only Bruce would be able to actually control himself that flawlessly. Kiara’s mouth tightens and Dick winces apologetically. “I’m so sorry. Jason presented on Friday, it’s been... a bit of a learning process.”
“Oh my.” Kiara’s eyes are artificially wide, her mouth remains tight. “I feel honored you had us over so soon, I can’t imagine.”
“You and Warret are basically family.” Bruce’s smile doesn’t fade for even half a second. “We wouldn’t dream of postponing.”
“Dinner is served, if you would proceed to the dining room.” Alfred stands in the doorway, impeccable as ever.
This time Kiara accepts Bruce’s arm. Dick escorts Jason, but he can’t fix the seating arrangements. Jason sits next to Bruce, but Dick is required to sit at Bruce’s right hand. That leaves the boy forced to sit next to either Warret or Kiara.
Warret sits down next to Jason and tries to engage the omega in a conversation about his classes. It hurts to watch the normally animated boy fumble over his words. “It’s... it’s not a bad book I guess... ‘s a classic for a reason, but he’s just not likable.”
Dick doesn’t catch Warret’s answer because the food is served and the alpha cuts off immediately. It’s amusing to watch the displeasure make its way through Warret’s expression.
Even more amusing is Jason’s brief, wicked grin of triumph. He’s pretty sure he even sees the boy bite back a chirrup. It’s gone in seconds and the omega stares up at Warret, biting his lip. “Bruce let me pick supper today, ‘s one of my favorites.”
“It looks delicious.” Warret assures the omega, taking the risk to brush his knuckles against Jason’s shoulder. “Now, you were saying?”
Dick spends most of the meal half listening to the conversations around them. He responds when prompted, but keeps most of his focus on monitoring Jason. He tries to ease up, knows that he’s behaving suspiciously. He fails. The boy is only picking at his food,eating barely anything.
Bruce is caught up in a conversation with Kiara so thats why Dick’s the only one who sees Warret purposely tip his wine over onto Jason’s shirt when the pup twists in his seat to ask if Alfred needs help with dessert. The boy jerks back with a yelp. Despite his protests at needing to wear the shirt earlier, his face crumples at the stain.
Warret dabs clumsily at the stain with his napkin. He has a plethora of empty apologies, but none of them calm Dick’s ire. Jason pulls back, his breathing carefully controlled as he looks over his shoulder at Bruce. There’s still the glimmer of unshed tears as he hunches in on himself and asks, “Can I go change?”
Bruce cups the back of Jason’s neck briefly, just a slight squeeze to offer comfort. “Of course. Hurry back though, we wouldn’t want you to miss dessert.”
“I would never.” Jason grins, for real this time, and then runs off.
The conversation resumes, this time the topic being one of Bruce’s most recent trips overseas. Ten minutes later Warret excuses himself to use the restroom. Bruce offers to show him the way, but Warret laughs and declines.
Another five minutes pass, dessert is served, and Jason has still not returned.
Dick stands abruptly and starts walking towards the stairs. “I’m just going to check on Jason.”
“I’m sure he’s fine.” Bruce starts weakly, but Dick knows he’s worried too and just playing a role.
Kiara laughs and shrugs a shoulder. “Warret said you were an only child, Bruce, so you can’t understand. I’m sure Jason’s fine, but you might as well let him go after the boy. He won’t be happy otherwise. When my little sister presented as an omega I couldn’t be separated from her for weeks.”
“You have an omega sister?” Bruce asks, waving Dick off.
Dick’s already out of the room, taking the steps two at a time and then careening down the hallway. His blood runs cold when he hears Jason yelp.
“Shut it, you little snot.” Warret growls, the sound carrying easily down the maze of hallways. “Did you really think that dirty as you are you can play the part of an ingenue? Thought I wouldn’t recognize you?”
“Lemme go, Warret. I ain’t gonna—“ Jason gives a small gasp that turns to a cry of pain. “I don’t wanna.”
“Good thing it’s what I want, hmm? What would Brucie say if he knew just how bad you are?” Dick turns the corner to see Jason pinned to the wall while the alpha mouths at his neck. Warret straightens a little to roll his hips against the small boy. “Then again, maybe it’s why he keeps you around. Are you Daddy’s good little boy?”
Dick runs faster, snarling.
Jason takes advantage of Dick’s appearance and kicks hard at Warret’s ankle, jolting the alpha sideways. Before Dick can reach them, Jason knees Warret in the balls and shoves the groaning alpha backwards. Dick reaches the omega’s side just as the boy smashes his foot down on Warret’s face, just watches when he does it again.
As Jason winds up for another attack, Dick pulls him up into his arms. Jason is a snarling mess, but Dick holds on tightly. Warret stays limp, knocked out cold. “You can’t kill him, little wing.”
“I don’t want to kill him.” Jason hisses, fisting his hands in Dick’s nice shirt. The blouse he’d changed into, a pretty powder blue lace with a high collar, is torn with a few buttons missing. “Just hurt him really bad. He ruined my clothes.”
If he wasn’t crying, Dick might have laughed. He wants to turn around and beat Warret to a pulp, but the need to get Jason to safety is stronger. “He’s plenty hurt, little wing.”
“Dick, look out.” Jason releases his shirt to force Dick’s head to turn. A vase crashes against his face and he collapses. The world shifts around him in a red, blurry mess.
A small blue-ish blurr attacks a larger one.
Jason screams. Bruce shouts.
Everything goes black.
Title from Icarus by Emma Blackery
Chapter 17: I’m Just Action, Other Times Reaction
I promise I’m getting to comments! I’ve got three tests tomorrow and theni won’t have homework due for several days, so I’m hoping to get to replying over the weekend. Thank you all for all your lovely comments (and kudos/bookmarks) I promise I see them and appreciate them more than I can ever express. :)
This is pretty much the climax I think. I’m not super happy with it, but I think it’s as good as I can get it for now. We get Jason and Bruce’s POV in this chapter.
Thank you all for being so patient with me! We might have to go to a once every two weeks update to finish this out, but I’ll keep you posted.
Warning, towards the end of his POV Jason has a panic attack and experiences a little bit of dissociation.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jason feels sick.
He wants to curl up under his bed and hide away. He can’t. Instead he’s trapped in Warret’s bruising grip after his attack failed. The feeling of helplessness hurts more than the fingers digging into the back of his neck and the side of his hip. He’s Robin, magic.
This shouldn’t happen anymore.
“Warret, I’m... I’m sorry. Stop, I’m sorry.” He gasps, squeezing his eyes shut against the tears so he can’t see Bruce’s anger or the blood that dribbles from Dick’s temple. The younger alpha is collapsed at Warret’s feet, and Jason isn’t sure when he started caring about the older boy but... but he does. He’s terrified that he’s gotten Dick killed. “Please stop.”
“We’ll take care of your apologies later, Baby. You agree with everything I say, or it’ll hurt a lot more later.” Warret hisses in his ear, nuzzling against his cheek. The alpha’s spiced scent is overwhelming, his fury only makes it worse. Every breath Jason takes feels like he’s breathing in hot peppers. Warret flashes Bruce a grin. “Sorry, Brucie. Jason and I were playing around and Dick misunderstood. Just making sure Jason’s okay now.”
Jason hiccups in a breath, silently pleading with Bruce to understand what really happened. For a second he thinks Warret’s going to try nuzzling his neck again, but the alpha’s head pulls back. No doubt he’s not brave enough to try in front of people who can actually stop him.
“Jason, it’s okay Jason. I’m here.” Bruce’s alpha voice cuts through Jason’s racing thoughts. He hesitantly looks up, getting a brief smile from the alpha. Then Bruce turns to glare at Warret. “Release Jason. Alfred is calling the police.”
“Bruce, be reasonable.” Despite his even tone, Warret’s fingers dig in deeper, pulling a yelp from Jason’s lungs.
Bruce takes a few careful steps closer. Jason’s only known him for maybe a year, but he’s never seen the alpha so furious. It’s probably because Dick got hurt, he’ll turn on Jason next for letting it happen. That has to be it, because otherwise that means Bruce actually cares about him and that’s almost more terrifying. “I mean it Steve. Let Jason go and step away from Dick.”
Warret gives up any pretense of civility. The alpha’s fingernails break through skin and blood dribbles down Jason’s neck. Only hard earned practice keeps him from keening when Warret growls, “He was mine first. I fed him, paid him and the ungrateful whelp turns around to crawl into your bed. Best give him up Brucie unless you want to get hurt. Pampered alpha like you might chip a nail. He’s told me how much he hates it here anyway.”
“I didn’t.” Jason finally manages to make his voice works, clawing uselessly at Warret’s hand. He knows how to break free, he knows he knows, but panic has taken control. Tears drop unbidden down his cheeks and he hates himself for being so weak, Bruce will never let him be Robin again. “I didn’t. Bruce—“
“Shut it.” Warret takes his gaze off Bruce to snap his teeth at Jason’s face, the bite just barely grazing his nose.
It’s turns out to be a crucial mistake. Bruce snarls and dives forward in a tackle. Jason is crushed beneath the two alphas before he can finally scramble out of the writhing heap.
His chest too tight to properly breathe. He’s never seen Bruce in a true battle for dominance and it’s terrifying. Bruce isn’t holding back either, playing to the role of playboy alpha, he’s smashing his fist into Warret’s face with all the power of Batman.
Jason’s pinned in place, on his hands and knees like a deer in the headlights. Dick’s head bumps into his side when the alpha tries to roll over. It’s his brother’s quiet whine that snaps Jason back to his senses. He can’t freeze, he’s Robin.
He’s better than this.
Warret nearly steps on his hand as the alphas grapple. Forcing air into his leaden lungs, Jason draws on every ounce of adrenaline running through his veins to pull a groggy Dick Grayson out of the way. The dueling alphas roll into the space the unconscious one had just occupied.
“Alpha Kiara, perhaps it’s best to wait for the men to return in the dining room.” Alfred’s voice rings out louder than it needs to be, a warning.
Jason half drags Dick over to a table of expensive Wayne heirlooms and forces him under it. The space is just barely large enough to accommodate the two of them. The tablecloth helps to conceal them from the fighting alphas. He doesn’t think Bruce is gonna hurt them, but... alphas get aggressive after a fight. He doesn’t wanna take the chance, and he definitely does doesn’t want Kiara to find him. He can still feel her appraising gaze calculating his worth, breaking down the different parts that make him up and assigning a monetary value to each one.
Kiara’s feet pass by them in a rush, followed by Alfred’s.
Jason bites down on his tongue to hold in a whimper. This prompts Dick to open his eyes and clumsily nuzzle Jason’s neck, pulling him close like he’s a teddy bear. Unlike all the times with Warret and the other alphas he used to see, this actually feels comforting. He wants to sink back into it with a whimper. “Shush lil’ wing. ‘S okay.”
“Shush yourself big bird.” He growls back quietly, flinching when he hears a nasty crash. Blood drips down his neck from Dick’s head wound mixing with that welling up from his own cuts. After a moment’s mourning for his already ruined shirt, Jason pulls it off and presses it against Dick’s temple to stop the bleeding. “We gotta stay quiet.”
He doesn’t want to watch, to see what’s going on, but experience has taught him that not knowing is dangerous. Dick is still pretty much useless so it’s up to him to keep them safe. After guiding Dick’s hand to put pressure on the head wound, he drops to his stomach and peeks under the lacy white tablecloth.
He’s just in time to see Kiara move to attack Alfred.
Before he can think, Jason’s launching himself across the room. He headbutts her in the gut before she can do more than take a few steps towards the elderly alpha. The pain of the collision explodes behind his eyes, his vision blurry and disoriented. Somehow he staggers to his feet and growls.
She snarls back and he wants to tip his head back to bare his neck, but instead he dives at her. He claws at her face and tries to tear chunks out of her arm with his teeth. He’s not sure how well he does, the world too much of a swirling vortex of red and pain.
She slams him into the wall and the world flickers out for a second.his vision clears in time for him to see a punch come straight for his face. He gasps out a pained breath, rolling out of the way before snatching up a heavy, medium sized statue. He swings it at her head and scrambles backwards, never before has he been so grateful for Bruce’s habit of hording ancestral knickknacks.
Alfred, shot gun in hand, steps in front of Jason and points it at Kiara. The female alpha doesn’t move, Jason’s not sure she’s still breathing. He chokes back a whine at the idea of having killed her. She would have deserved it, but... he doesn’t want to have done it.
“Go take Master Dick out of here.” Alfred’s alpha voice is somehow more terrifying. “We’ll find you when it’s safe.”
For just a second, Jason hesitates. Then he sees Warret tear a chunk out of Bruce’s shoulder. He turns and runs to Dick, the idiot halfway out from under the table and calling for him. Jason helps him to his feet and then leads the injured alpha in an awkward shuffle down the hallway.
He finds an used room and shoves Dick under the bed, all the way back to the corner. He wants to go keep guard at the front, but Dick grabs him in an octopus hold and refuses to let go. Giving in, Jason tucks his face against Dicks stomach and tries to pretend it’s just Willis and Mama fighting again.
Minutes, though it feels like hours, later they hear the thud of boots and calls announcing the arrival of the police. Sometime later they hear their names being called, but Dick snarls when Jason tries to leave their hiding place.
“I found the kids!” An officer shouts, his face all that Jason can see as the beta half crawls under the bed with them.
The officer reaches to pull Jason out, but he pushes back against Dick trying to get out of range and snaps his teeth. The man pulls back as Jason starts up a low, throaty growl. Dick joins in seconds later, still mostly out of it and following Jason’s lead.
“Here, let me see them.” Bruce pushes the man out of the way in a rather restrained manner all things considered. His face is completely bloodied and several bruises have already started to swell. He reaches out for Jason only to pull back looking hurt when Jason snaps at him too.
Panic swells in Jason’s chest. This is about the time Willis would beat him until any thought of rebellion disappeared. Bruce is better than that, he knows this and yet he can’t breathe, can’t focus. All he can smell is blood and angry alpha. Everything feels distant like cotton, or like he’s under water. Someone says something and the words make sense when he’s hearing them, but they don’t stick in his brain long enough for him to actually understand what’s said.
He curls up, covering his head and protecting his vulnerable stomach and keens.
What might be seconds, but feels like hours, pass and the gentle chuff of a sire calling to his pups breaks through Jason’s haze of panic. He uncurls slightly and pauses. Bruce just gives him an encouraging smile and calls to him again. That gets Jason to scramble over to the alpha curling up in the safety he offers.
Dick is a few seconds behind him, sandwiching Jason comfortably. The words are still running together in a jumbled mess, but they’re soft and warm instead jagged glass. Safe his instincts purr, the feeling settling deep in his bones.
He clings to Bruce tightly as he lets the cottony feeling of not real fade away.
It takes fifteen minutes for Bruce to finally calm Jason down. Fifteen minutes of feeling helpless while the boy shakes apart in his arms; fifteen minutes of frantic whines, but not a single tear.
His heart breaks as he rocks gently, meeting Dick’s worried gaze.
”It’s okay, Jaylad. I’ve got you.” Bruce smooths down the pup’s wild curls before scruffing him gently.
Jason shudders again, rubbing his cheek against Bruce’s neck. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. You’ve done nothing wrong.” He soothes, protectively curling further around the boy when he realizes his shirt is missing. “What happened to your shirt?”
“Dick was bleedin’ out an’ I— Dick!” Jason twists around frantically, probably searching for his brother.
The young alpha is nearby, getting his head looked at. When he hears Jason, he stiffens and makes an aborted movement towards them. “Over here. It’s okay.”
The baby omega collapses back against Bruce’s chest with a strangled noise. Bruce wants to bundle the little boy up and hide him away, but the officers carefully approaching remind him that he can’t. Even if they were alone, Jason isn’t likely to let him anyway. Still, he snatches up the quilt on the bed next to them and adjusts their positions until Jason is cuddled close and mostly out of sight.
It was bad enough that Ste— Warret had halfway undressed his son. He definitely doesn’t want these strangers seeing the omega’s bare skin. Jason doesn’t seem to complain, his arms wrapped tightly around Bruce’s middle.
“Mr. Wayne, we’re going to need to take a statement.” The officer in charge, Frederick his name tag says, crouches down next to them. He’s subtle about it, but he’s still scenting the pair. Something like understanding crosses over his features and he keeps his tone gentle. “Depending on what’s in that statement we need to know whether you want to press charges.”
Only Jason’s flinch against his chest keeps him from immediately pressing charges. Instead, he rumbles comfortingly and then nods. “Is it alright if he stays?”
“I can’t imagine separating you two would do anyone any good.” The officer gives a brief smile and then flips to a new page in his notebook. Describing what he saw happen is agonizing. He should have known better than to send Jason off by himself. He should have insisted on accompanying Warret to make sure he didn’t get ‘lost’.
By the time he’s finished his statement, Dick has been cleared and his eldest son has tucked himself against Bruce’s side. The young alpha’s statement isn’t long, but the description of Warret rutting his hips against Jason’s side has all the adults involved quietly growling.
Then it’s Jason’s turn to speak. Bruce isn’t sure he’s going to at first, Jason can be contrary when hurt or scared, but he does. “I... he was looking at me odd all through dinner, basically since he showed up.”
“What do you mean by that, sweetheart?” The officer’s voice is soft and coaxing, like Jason is just another battered omega. Bruce wants to growl, because Jason is hurt and scared but not helpless. He feels Dick pinch his side and stays silent.
Jason gnashes his teeth at being called sweetheart and then ducks his head. “He kept looking at my neck, and my chest, and my... my crotch. But I just ignored it ‘cause there’s nothin’ I can do to make him stop, and then he got his drink all over my new shirt and ruined it so I had to go change. I was trying to be quick, but guess I wasn’t quick enough ‘cause he caught me in the hallway and cornered me. When I tried to push him off he ripped my shirt and then tried to...” Jason's face goes red, though it’s probably less to do with the act he’d been asked to preform and more to do with talking about it. “He wanted me to suck him off.”
Bruce and Dick both snarl.
The tiny omega in Bruce’s arms reacts instantly, stiffening and throwing his head back to bare his neck. The boy breathes out a whimper, not looking Bruce in the eye.
Bruce wants to kick himself. Instead he makes another soothing rumble and brushes his cheek against Jason’s, despite the flash of pain that explodes across his battered skin. “You’re okay, Jason. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I didn’t want him to.” Jason mumbles, hiding his face against Bruce’s chest. His tiny hands fist in Bruce’s shirt. “I told him no.”
“I know, Jaybird.” He rubs the shaking boy’s back and looks up at the officer. “Is that all you need?”
“If we could have the shirt as evidence, that will probably help speed things along.” The officer shuts his notebook and tucks his pen behind his ear. He chews on his lip, glancing down at Jason. “Pictures of injuries sustained will probably help if you intend to press charges.”
Jason flinches again imperceptibly. Bruce tightens his arms as he mulls over the options. He doesn’t particularly want to put Jason through a trial, especially not this close to the adoption. He also doesn’t want Warret walking away. “You can have the shirt. We’ll be talking to a lawyer about our options.”
The officer hesitates, but then nods. “We’ll be getting out of your hair now. Take care.”
”You too.” Bruce replies automatically, standing. He shifts Jason onto his hip so he can keep Dick tucked against his side. He searches the room before moving towards the pack’s elder. The man is finishing up his own testimony. “Cancel my appointments for tomorrow and let me know what Barbara says.”
“Of course, Master Bruce.” Alfred dips his head, gaze settling on the boys. “Would you like some tea brought in once this is finished?”
“That would be great. We’ll be in my room.” Bruce gives his own father figure a weak smile and stars the short, but agonizing, walk to his bedroom. Warret hadn’t held back and Bruce wasn’t wearing his usual armor, so his injuries are extensive.
Worth it though.
Bruce settles Jason down in the middle of the bed before moving towards his wardrobe to grab the boy one of his shirts. When he returns, Dick has wrapped himself around his younger brother and started scent marking him.
Bruce smiles slightly and helps Jason pull the shirt on. Then he tugs them all under the covers and wraps himself protectively around his sons, spreading his own scent across both of them. Gradually Jason and Dick both relax enough to fall asleep, Jason even giving short spurts of purrs every few minutes.
In a little while Bruce will have to go be Batman, will have to go rescue the poor childen currently living a nightmare-ish existence at the hands of Warret and Kiara. He’s chafing to go out and beat up the thugs who hurt the pups for sport, but he has to wait for the information that Barbara and Roy are gathering.
Dick shifts closer, tucking Jason in a little closer to them both in the center. Jason wrinkles his nose and kicks lightly to stretch out his legs. Bruce can’t help his smile as he brushes their hair out of their faces. As eager as he is to go dole out justice, for now he’s content to just breathe in the scents of his children.
Title from Nothing to Remember by Neko Case
Chapter 18: I’m Not Entirely Thrilled
Oof, guys. I suck. I’m really sorry I just kind of dropped off the face of the earth for a month. I’m not going to get into it, but I had a lot going on, got sick, and I was really struggling with a few aspects of this chapter.
But I’m back now and we’re on the home stretch. Everything is sorted out, but I’m not sure how many chapters it’s going to take to get through the rest of the bullet points I have. I’ll do my best to get the rest of it out on time, but I make no guarantees. I’m definitely going to try to have a better game plan in place for the next multi chapter fic.
So I did change Roy’s origins a little from what I knew. Idk how current my knowledge was though. Anyway, basically Roy is half Native American in this. I have various reasons for this, but yeah.
Warnings are in the author notes at the bottom. Stay safe guys.
Also, I just got a tumblr if you want to chat. Bc I love chatting with y’all. I’m workingchemistry there too.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Barbara wants to leave Steve Warret a smear on the floor, almost more than she wants to murder Kiara. They’re both sleazy, disgusting people involved in child trafficking, but there’s no evidence that Kiara Davis... indulges in her merchandise. But Warret... he has a whole photo album dedicated to his ‘conquests’. Scanning quickly through the pages shows that Jason features prominently, and that he wasn’t flippant when he’d said the man was rough.
She slams the book shut, keeping the contents of her stomach in place through sheer will.”
He likes pictures.’ Jason had said.
Guilt for every unkind thing she’s ever thought about the omega hits like a truck, even if she’s been justified for each one. She’s the almost adult, maybe she could’ve been more understanding. Even if Jason has cut holes into all of her sweaters for no reason, mixed dye into her lotions, and constantly picked at her for only being a beta female.
Of course... given his own secondary gender, perhaps that last one was a bit of proactive self defense.
She hefts the photo album in one hand and has to fight with herself not to chuck it into the fire place and use it as kindling. There’ll be time enough for that later, once they’ve got these criminals locked up where they can’t hurt children anymore. She tucks the book into the satchel she’d brought specifically for carrying evidence. “I found those pictures Robin mentioned. You finding anything, Speedy?”
“Not yet. Her encryption is rather thorough, assuming it’s her.” The redhead archer responds, still cheerful in spite of their mission. It’s a little bit of a weird feeling, not that Dick and Jason aren’t cheerful in suit—because they are, but they’ve always sobered a little when faced with a case like this. The cheer strains at the edges of his eyes and mouth, making her think it’s a defense mechanism.
The facade drops abruptly as he growls out a curse under his breath and shifts to type more furiously. He’s maybe not as good as her with computers, but he definitely rivals both the Robins. An impressive feat, given his mentor.
She’s tempted to take over, but they’d divided the tasks the way they did for a reason. They both agreed that she was more likely to spot traps while searching the apartment. After all, this is Gotham and who understands the Gotham criminal psyche better than a bat? So she forces herself to continue combing the penthouse until she hears his chirrup of triumph.
She twitches a small smile at the noise and stands at his shoulder while he starts copying files onto a flash drive. “Good job. This should definitely be enough to get them locked away. Do you see anything about where the kids could be held?”
“Just let me check.” There’s some more furious typing and a warehouse pops up on the edge of Gotham. “They’ve been keeping the kids here, but they’re going to be moved out of state soon. It looks like the run in with Robin’s sped up the timeline.”
She swears quietly. “We’ll have to act tonight.”
Roy nods wincing. “If we want to be sure to get the kids out. Even if we were to arrest both of them now, they’ve already set up everything to have the poor pups smuggled out of the state where we’ll never see them again.”
“That’s...” she hesitates, pressing the heels of her hands into her eyes. The pressure helps relieve her headache a little. “That’s going to be less than ideal. Dick and Bruce are both still too focused on Jason after his heat, their hormones are all over the place.”
“They’re no worse than Ollie or Dinah when my heats hit. It’s actually kinda cute.” Roy shrugs, pocketing the flash drive and shutting down the computer. “Jaybird deserves to have people fussing over him. Lord knows the poor boy’s had to have spent most of his life terrified of going into heat.”
“Maybe so.” She concedes, readying her grapple. “But you can’t deny it’s an inconvenience.”
“Not necessarily. They’re handling things back at the manor just fine.” He shrugs his bow off his shoulder and readies an arrow. His commitment to a theme is almost irritating, just use a grapple gun for heavens sake.
She’d said as much to Jason once and he’d accused her of being jealous of Dick’s latest redhead acquisition, specifically of being jealous that Roy could give Dick pups. He’d taunted that was the why Dick had really left her. Said that she’d better get used to being an old maid unless she’s interested in betas too.
After shaking off the old hurt, she follows Roy out the window and onto the nearby roof. Their footing is sure on the treacherous roofing as they travel by rooftop. “How do you figure it’s not an inconvenience? The kid’s stuck drooling over any alpha that gets close enough, ready to present at the drop of a hat and while Bruce and Dick are preoccupied with tearing the heart out of anyone who approaches him.”
Roy doesn’t reply until after they’ve grappled onto the next roof. His tone is colder than she’s ever heard it. “We’re gonna pretend that wasn’t incredibly sexist. A heat isn’t anything like TV and books make it seem. The omega doesn’t go mad with lust, and neither do the alphas. You just... want to be safe, you want your family close so you know they’re okay. You’re kind of horny, sure, but... it’s not just that. You’re just... tactile. Even if Jason did want Bruce that way, and I can just about promise that he doesn’t, you know Bruce would never even think about touching Jason that way.”
She flinches and nearly misses the ledge. That stung. “I didn’t mean that. I just meant they’re a cocktail of raging hormones, and that’s dangerous when out in the field.”
Roy pauses to help her up and then shakes his head. “Look, I know it’s hard to wrap your mind around when you’ve never experienced a heat, but it’s not... Jason’s fully capable of taking care of himself even when he’s in a proper heat, which he’s not right now. Self control and higher thought doesn’t just disappear because he’s ovulating.”
They drop to the ground and stow their equipment away quickly before mounting the cycle they took into the city. Roy hesitates a moment before wrapping his arms around her waist so he won’t fall off. “I know Bruce and Dick were being... less than pleasant earlier, and you have a valid point about them getting distracted. You should definitely have a talk with them about that, but you can’t let Jason hear you say anything disparaging about his heats. Caste isn’t that big a deal for you since you’re the ‘normal’ one, but... Jason grew up on the streets. He’s already heard more than enough about omegas being a liability. He’s not going to want to be treated like an omega.”
That gives her pause, as she snaps her helmet on and starts up the motorcycle, because she’s never thought omegas were a liability. She’s just been taught to recognize that omegas and alphas can’t always be trusted to make rational decisions, and... and that sounds terrible now that she’s actually put words to it. As a beta, she’s never formally presented and she remembers when her scent was still young enough that alphas would assume her to be an omega. They’re funny stories to tell, but now she’s trying to imagine what it’d be like if that was her whole life and suddenly they’re less funny. Her words are warped slightly by the com system, the only way to communicate over the engine, as she asks, “Did you? Hear a lot of negative things about omegas growing up?”
“Mm. No. My mother was Navajo, and when my parents died I was raised by her brother until he died and I met Oliver.” Roy says with an odd tone of voice, probably to indicate he knows she knows this. “The Diné are matrilineal, those of us who can carry children hold a special place in the community. But even though I didn’t present until after I was with Oliver, I’d still never been given a reason to think that being an omega is akin to a death sentence.”
And she wants to argue that Jason had his mother to teach him otherwise, that he’s a smart kid and should know that caste doesn’t matter. But Barbara’s never been stupid. She can see that if people were treating Jason so terribly when they thought he would turn out an alpha, of course he would see being omega as, if not just straight up a horror, then at least not as being a positive.
They’re silent the rest of the way back to the manor, where Alfred is wating for them. She drops the satchel on a desk like it burns and Roy starts loading up the data they’d gathered onto the bat computer.
“Are they still schmoozing upstairs?” She asks idly as she stars stripping down out of the leather. It’s not until she’s just managed to wiggle out of the pants and slipped on sweat pants over her workout shorts that she always wears under the uniform, that Alfred replies.
“They’re resting in Master Bruce’s room, and there they shall remain for another hour at least while we set up things for them.” There’s something off about Alfred’s manner, but she struggles to place it.
”Thanks.” Barbara accepts the tea tray she’s handed. It’s a long shot, but she offers, “We’ve got it handled here for a little bit while we download everything, if you want to rest. Can’t have been easy dealing with everyone.”
“It... I must admit it was not.” Alfred’s stoic composure fractures for a second before it’s firmly back in place. “In fact it was rather trying, all things considered. Master Bruce and the... guests got into a brawl over the boys.”
Barbara rests her hand on the elderly alpha’s shoulder. “Then you’ve definitely earned a break. Roy and I will come find you if anything important comes up.”
“Thank you, Miss Gordon, Master Harper. I think I will take a moment.”
Barbara and Roy both pretend not to notice that Alfred’s hands are shaking. Instead she serves them both tea, and he pretends to be busy with the computer until the alpha’s footsteps have faded away.
She looks over at the omega. “Pull up security.”
“Already on it.” He shoots her a lopsided grin, but its not a particularly happy one.
Together they watch Warret spill his drink on Jason’s new shirt, the one she’d heard him half complain/half brag about to Roy. After a couple seconds, the boy leaves the room and Roy fast forwards to find the fight, but he slams pause when they see Warret get up and leave— alone.
Barbara is most definitely going to have words with Bruce and Dick. She takes over from Roy, sifting through footage so they can watch Warret walk through the hallways, pausing a few times to scent the air. She tenses when the alpha catches the pup leaving his room.
“Alfred said they’re fine.” Even to her own ears, her voice sounds too uncertain. She has to breathe through her nose when Warret pins Jason to wall and ravishes his mouth, before ripping the poor boy’s shirt to mouth down his jaw and—
She breathes in a shaky breath and fast forwards. Alfred had mentioned a brawl, that meant they had to have stopped Warret, right?
“There. Dick’s showed up.” Roy breaths and they both relax just a little, Roy giving a quiet cheer when Jason gets the better of the alpha.
Then Dick pulls the pup away too early. She can see Warret twitching and she wants to scream at him for being such an idiot. This right here was why she didn’t want to deal with Dick and Bruce out in the field.
It’s not a surprise when Warret bashes Dick in the head, but she still jumps. Warret has Jason pinned against him, but before he can do anything more, Bruce shows up. Despite her reservations about his usefulness in the field, she’s beyond relieved.
Bruce wouldn’t let Warret have Jason. The boy has to have been saved.
There’s no audio in the manor, the potential for a hacker to get ahold of everything said in the manor is too great a security risk, but she can tell from his body language that Warret is trying to reason with Bruce.
Bruce on the other hand immediately sinks down into a fight ready stance. She watches the alpha’s eyes track over the evidence of Warret’s attempted assault. Then Warret snaps at Jason and its like a flip switches. Gone is Bruce, the man standing there is Batman. He launches at Warret and Jason struggles to escape from the tangle.
She tries to stay aware of Jason’s presence on the screen, watches him struggle to protect both Dick and Alfred, but she’s hyper focused on Bruce. Sure she knows that Bruce is scary, but she’s never been scared of Bruce. Never once, not even before she started working with him, had she ever looked at Bruce—or Batman— and been scared. Right now, she’s developing a healthy respect.
She’d known, objectively, that he pulled his punches even when he was out on patrol. She hadn’t known just how much he pulled them. Even though Warret was managaing to get in blows, he didn’t stand a chance. By the time the cops showed up, Bruce was bloody and bruised; Warret was barely breathing.
Roy whines quietly beside her as she clicks the window off.
“Alfred said you’d returned.” Bruce’s voice behind her makes her jump. She whirls around to see Bruce, face swollen almost beyond recognition. He twitched a smile, probably at her fright, before turning his gaze to the screen. “What did you find?”
“She’s arranged to have the kids moved tonight.“ Barbara answers while Roy pulls the plans up for Bruce to read. After a hesitation, she reaches for the photo album. “We also found evidence of... We found the pictures Jason mentioned. I don’t... I don’t know what you want to have done with them.”
Bruce opens it and then slams it shut with a low, rumbling growl.
“Everything okay, boss?” Jason chirps from the top of the stairs. He slides down the banister before jogging the rest of the way over.
Barbara hears Bruce swear underneath his breath, but she won’t call him out on it. He strides the rest of the way over to Jason and pulls the pup tight against his side. “I thought you were asleep. Where’s Dick?”
“I snuck away while he was talking to Alfred.” Jason grumbles and rubs his head against Bruce’s side almost absently. She can see Bruce wince, but she doubts Jason does as he no doubt bumps his head against very bruised ribs and the alpha gives no other indication that it hurts. “I think I liked it better when he hated me. Like, I’m gonna go insane if he doesn’t lay off. He’s tangling my hair and I’m going to scream if he calls me a li—“
“Little wing?” Dick sounds frantic, thundering down the stair case despite the fact that he’s normally silent. “I can’t find you.”
Jason groans and looks up at Bruce pleadingly, but gets only a raised eyebrow in response. With the weary sigh of one deeply inconvenienced, the omega replies, “I’m down here.”
“Jaybird.” Dick practically purrs the nickname as he leaps across the room to run his fingers through Jason’s curls. “Give me a little warning next time, little wing.”
“What the frick frack snick snack give a dog a bone is a ‘little wing’?” Jason growls, showing admirable restraint when he doesn’t bite Dick’s fingers off.
Dick flashes a wide grin, the one that means he’s particularly proud of something. Barbara’s already cringing. He gestures to Jason, “Little wing,” then he gestures to himself, “Nightwing.”
For a moment Jason doesn’t move, Babara’s not even sure he’s breathing. Then the pup inhales sharply and turns to search for his pack alpha. “Bruuuuce.”
“I can’t ground your brother because he’s given you a nickname you don’t like.” Bruce chuckles as he scrolls through the data Roy recovered from Kiara’s computer. He’s not looking at Dick while he says it, so he doesn’t see the younger alpha’s reaction. Barbara does. A look of utter longing crosses Dick’s face before being replaced by annoyance. It would appear that they haven’t quite made up then.
Jason saves the rest of them from making a response when he trots over to the computer. “When do we suit up?”
“There is no ‘we’, you’re grounded.” Bruce replies evenly. “You’ll be staying in.”
“Like hel-ck I will. You need me, I gotta keep you safe.” Jason prods at the open wound on Bruce’s shoulder.
The alpha flinches slightly, but doesn’t budge. He does, however, soften. “It’s not your job to keep me safe. It’s my job to keep you safe. You’ll be safest here.”
“Nowhere is safest. ‘ve already been attacked here.” Jason growls. “Don’t leave me behind.”
Bruce continues to stare at Jason impassively, but Barbara recognizes it as a hesitation. The alpha’s gaze flicks over to Dick’s, and then to hers and Roy’s.
“I’d feel better if he stays with us.” Dick replies in sign language and then shrugs one shoulder.
She and Roy both just shrug.
Bruce looks back to Dick and then down at Jason. He doesn’t reply for a solid three minutes. “You’re not to get involved unless I say so.”
“Anything you want, B.” Jason promises as he scrambles to go get ready.
Bruce slumps as soon as the omega is gone. “Barbara, grab the photo album. We’ll turn it over to the police tonight after the raid.”
“But what about...” She nods her head in the direction Jason fled. “He’s in there.”
Dick, who was reaching for the album jumps back like he’s been stung.
Bruce swallows hard and shakes his head. “As much as I’d like to save him from needing to deal with it all, I can’t in good conscience destroy evidence that might be the key to getting that man locked up. Not to mention, it would ruin any chance for Jason to charge him.”
“Are...are you going to press charges, Bruce?” Dick sounds small and he nuzzles against Roy’s neck when the omega presses against his side.
Bruce clenches his hand. “I... I think we should, but that’s... ultimately it’s up to Jason. I’m not going to force him to relive everything that scum has done to him in court before judge and jury.”
Dick nods with a quiet whimper. Roy’s scent swells in a soothing response.
Barbara hears Jason’s voice taunting her. You’ll never be able to give him the pups he wants. She digs her nails into her leg and then moves to Bruce’s side. The alpha is studying the warehouse blueprints.
After taking a second to reorient herself to the big picture, she asks, “Where do we start?”
Vague mentions of child pornography and abuse.
They watch the security footage of the attempted assault which is blocked off by ***** as per usual.
Title from Pardon Me by He is We.
Chapter 19: Au nom de l’amour
Welp. This is it guys. An epilogue and this fic is done.
I’m honestly just so happy that we’ve gotten this far. Dunno if I said this or not, but when I started this fic I was in a massive slump. I’d been working on an original work for two years at that point and it just wasn’t coming together the way I wanted. I was honestly ready to give up on writing and then I stumbled back into the world of fan fiction sometime in January. I read a few ABO works with Jason and the rest is history.
I honestly didn’t expect anyone to read this (wasn’t even going to post it originally) because it’s not porn or even a ship, but here we are. All of you lovelies have stuck around and it’s been amazing. ^.^ I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the likes, kudos, bookmarks, and hits. Even just knowing that someone’s found the idea interesting enough to click on warms my heart.
Hope you’ll all stick around for the sequel, bc I’ve been dying to tell it. It’s a time travel fic set in a Gotham by Gaslight time period and I’m so hyped.
Mild warning, there are mentions of an auction and kids in cages. Nothing graphic.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Dick is put in charge of keeping an eye on Jason. Probably because he’s not willing to let the boy out of his sight anyway and it doesn’t make sense to have two people watching him. They’re crouched on a rooftop overlooking the warehouse. It’s normally used to house equipment that needs shipped out. Bruce and Barbara looked into it and it’s not likely the owner knows that it’s being used as an omega kennel. So that’s one less loose end to tie up.
They’re wearing coms, but the others are on a separate line to try preventing Jason from getting bright ideas.
Jason bounces from one foot to the other, his cape wrapped tightly around himself to ward off the rain. His dark hair is plastered to his forehead, pulled straight by the weight of the water. It’s longer than Dick had thought. “I’m getting freaking soaked. Why didn’t you make this with a cowl?”
“Aesthetics.” He replies, mostly because he knows it will drive the kid insane, while shifting position ever so slightly to avoid leg cramps.
Right on cue, the omega throws his head back and growls quietly in frustration. “Fine. Why not a hood?”
“Hoods aren’t conducive to acrobatics, little wing.” He ruffles the kid’s hair. “We don’t want you choking because it got caught on something.”
“Don’t want me drowning either.” Jason huffs again. He looks adorably angry, though of course Dick can’t tell him that. “Capes are a choking hazard too, why do I have one of those?”
“Aesthetics.” He insists again and holds out an arm to coax the boy closer. Cautious as a spooked doe, Jason crouches down and let’s Dick tuck him under an arm. He rests his chin on the boy’s head, using his body to mostly shield Jason from the rain. He searches for something to say that will distract the omega from any half baked plans to join in on the rescue despite Bruce’s orders. “Y’know. All this rain reminds me of Scotland, except Scotland is pretty.”
“You’ve been to Scotland?” Jason’s head tilts slightly as he tries to look up at the alpha. The tiniest bit of awe creeps into his voice. “Did B take you?”
“Not to Scotland.” He chuckles, trying to resist the urge to show off all his worldly knowledge. “You know I was part of a traveling circus, little wing. We usually stopped through Scotland every year or two.”
“What was that like?” Jason shifts position slightly, but he definitely holds still better than Dick did at his age.
“Not being trapped.” Jason murmurs, pulling his cape a little tighter.
Dick sucks in a sharp breath and hugs Jason just a little tighter, testing how much the prickly boy will allow. “You tell me, kiddo. You’re never gonna be trapped again if Batman has anything to say about it.”
“Should he have a say?” Jason chews on his lip. “You’re not a... you didn’t get adopted. Things got so bad you left. You won’t even come back. I... I like him better than Willis, but that ain’t gotta mean he’s good. An’ I’m tired of... I’m just tired.”
“B and I have our issues, but he’s a good man. He was always good to me.” Dick nuzzles the top of the Jason’s head, he’s furious with himself because he’d never thought about what his fights with Bruce would look like to the pup. “He isn't going to hurt you, or let anyone else hurt you. He hasn’t in all the time you’ve stayed with him, has he?”
“Willis wasn’t always bad. Sometimes, sometimes he was good. That’s why Mama stayed.” Jason’s words can barely be heard over the quiet pattering of rain as he hunches up into a ball. “She stayed, and then she died.”
“That’s not gonna happen to you, kid.” Dick promises fervently. “If you ever feel like that, I want you to call. I promise I’ll drop everything to come get you.”
“Swear an oath?”
“Any oath you want.” Dick promises, rubbing his wrist up and down Jason’s side. With the scent blockers on, he can’t really scent him but the motions of it might help. “But you’re not gonna need it.”
Jason hums and shifts again. “They’re taking too long.”
“B said to stay out here.” Dick chides, not liking the look in Jason’s eyes. One second he’s practically wrapped around Jason and the next the omega has slipped from his hold and is escaping down the side of the building.
Swearing, he makes his descent as well, his fingers just barely skimming the cape as Jason does a cheerful little flip. His fingers clench and he taps into the other comm line, “Robin incoming. I’m going to try grabbing him. Everything okay?”
“Keep Robin out.” Bruce is nearly silent, keeping his words just loud enough to hear. “We were wrong. The kids aren’t being transported, it’s an auction. Seven visible guns.”
Dick bites back a snarl and doubles his speed to catch up with Jason. He’s a hair too slow and the omega slips in through the window with ease. Heart in his throat, because why does this boy keep insisting on throwing himself into danger, he slips into the warehouse.
Jason is perched halfway across a beam, waiting for him with a wicked smile. “Took you long enough.”
“B is going to kill me. We need to wait outside.” He tries to grab for the pup again, but Jason scrambles back further.
Just as the omega goes to protest, gunshots rain out on the crowd. The thugs on the stage to keep everything under control, don’t react. Bought out or planted, one of the two. The children lined up in cages yelp and whimper. Dick wants nothing more than to drop down and free them, but the attackers seem to be purposefully aiming away from them so that might be the safest place for now.
This time when he lunges for Jason’s arm he succeeds in capturing the boy and hauling him close to his chest. For just a moment Jason stays there, trembling. Then the boy jerks out of his grip and crouches down. “That’s Rykker. We gotta stop him from getting the kids.”
“You also need to stay outside while this gets dealt with.” Dick hisses, dividing his attention between Jason and the attackers. They’ve stopped shooting and are instead waving their guns threateningly. Now that Jason’s pointed it out, he can definitely see that Rykker is the one behind all of this as the beta takes the platform and leans on one of the cages. He curses himself for having lost track of what the man was up to. “Just... Switch your comm line.”
Jason hisses out a quietly triumphant, “yes” as he does so.
Dick chooses to ignore that. The boy isn’t going to do anymore than provide information and then Dick’s taking him straight out that window to wait out the raid. “Batman. Robin knows the beta behind this.”
Jason hesitates before launching into the carefully designed formula Batman requires in his reports. It turns out that the omega knows a lot more about Rykker than he did about Warret. The beta was one of Willis’s business partners on occasion, typically when that occasion was Willis needing to trigger a heat in someone.
The way Jason dances around it leaves no doubt in Dick’s mind that the heat inducers Rykker supplied the alpha were primarily for Catherine and/or Jason.
“He’s definitely got several warrants out for him, at least... he was laying low a year ago, before I met B.”
“Go outside. We’ll meet you in a few minutes.” Bruce shoots a look up to the beam Dick and Jason are perched on. Then he drops below, down onto Rykker as the beta is explaining where the ‘customers’ can go to find the omega children.
Gunshots ring out and Dick has to flatten himself to the beam in order to avoid being hit as roughly half of the hired thugs start shooting up into the rafters. In front of him, Jason does the same. The second the bullets let up, the boy drops down below like Bruce had.
Dick swears and scrambles down after him, doing his best to keep anyone from taking a cheap shot at the boy. Bruce is going to kill him if Jason dies. Roy joins his side and together they manage to keep the more dangerous members away from the boy without letting him catch on that’s what they’re doing.
Barbara is doing her best to keep people from fleeing, but that’s a five person job all on its own, and she’s also got to deal with some of the thugs. At Dick’s nod, Roy goes to help her. They’ve managed to take care of those who could do the most damage to Jason,
By the time Bruce has managed to get most of Rykker’s thugs tied up and is going after the beta, Dick and Jason are pretty much done. He lets Jason take care of the last one and while he helps Bruce subdue the pimp. When they look back to make sure the pup hasn’t gotten himself in too much trouble, they find Jason standing over a pile of unconscious henchmen.
The tiny omega throws back his head and laughs, skin flecked with blood. Then he flips over to land on Bruce’s shoulder. He perches there contentedly, rubbing at the wet on his face and smears it into a pink mess. None of it seems to be his.
Bruce, Dick can tell, is torn between pride and lecturing Jason into next week.
Dick on the other hand is hit by just how small Jason is next to Bruce. He lunges forward and snatches Jason down from Bruce’s shoulder and hugs him. The pup squirms and tries to break free, but Dick squeezes harder. “You, little wing, are so grounded.”
With Warret, Kiara, and Rykker all safely behind bars, everything starts to slow down. Roy stays the rest of the week with Dick, only occasionally needed as a buffer between Dick and the other members of his family. Barb has to go back home, but she still drops in to visit twice and Jason seems to be getting along with her a little better... maybe.
All too soon, it’s time for Dick to go back to work and Jason back to school. That Sunday night, Jason spends most of the dinner chattering about all the homework he’s going to have to catch up on. The weird child seems excited for it. Bruce even gets Jason to serve himself tiny portions of food if Bruce is holding the platter for him. It’s not much progress, but it’s something.
Then dinner is over and he can’t put off leaving any longer.
Bruce and Alfred wait by the door to bid him and Roy goodbye, but Jason has disappeared. Bruce looks vaguely apologetic as he tries to explain away the boy’s absence, but Alfred puts a stop to it with a mild, “I imagine one might find Master Jason in the attic if they were to look.“
“Thanks Alf.” Dick takes only a few seconds to dig a book out of his back, write a message to the boy with his number on the front page, and then set off in search of the wayward pup. It’s odd to think that a just a little over a week ago he’d intended to bribe the boy into staying away from him with the novel. Now he’s hoping to buy Jason’s forgiveness.
The pup is curled back up in the corner by the window, sucking on a cigarette like it will save his life. When Jason catches sight of him, he turns away. Dick doesn’t let himself become upset with the response, instead he sits down a few feet away. “I can’t stay, little wing.”
“Then why’re you still here?” Jason snaps, pulling his feet up closer and hugging his knees with one arm. “‘m sure there’s a whole city out there collapsing in on itself without the golden boy.”
“Bludhaven does need me.” Dick bites his cheek. “I’ll be back though, soon.”
Jason growls, seeming to curl up tighter, but he doesn’t respond otherwise. It hurts, but it’s understandable given that Jason seems to have had very few stable stable sources of support in his life. Dick leaving while their pack bond is still so new has to feel like rejection.
So he holds up the novel. “I thought you might like this. I brought it with me from Bludhaven.”
For a moment he thinks Jason will spit at him and reject the gift. It seems to be one his favorite modes of showing displeasure Dick’s found out over the course of the week. Watching Bruce wipe away the saliva off his face with utter resignation will never cease to be funny. Slowly, the pup uncurls and takes the novel. He scans the cover and then the blurb on the back, cigarette drooping from the corner of his mouth like an old mobster with a cigar. Then he grunts and tucks it under an elbow.
Dick hides his smile and hesitantly wraps Jason up in his arms. “I’ll be back in a week to see you and Bruce finalize the adoption, and then I’ll come back again a week after that when you testify against Warret. It’s not forever, little wing.”
The pup squirms with a few snaps of his tiny teeth, but then settles in Dick’s hold. His scent has already started to smell more like omega than vague milky sweetness. It makes Dick’s chest ache when the boy puts out his cigarette to start scenting him. Technically as the alpha he shouldn’t let Jason stake a claim on him, rather he should be the one staking the claim, but that’s always seemed like a load of bull so he holds still while the omega in his lap works intently.
Finally Jason pulls back and tucks his newest novel under his arm. “Guess we better head down.”
Dick stands as well, pausing to leave a little of his scent on Jason’s skin. He’s not quite ready to leave the boy yet. “Guess so.”
The rest of the goodbyes are just as hard. He and Bruce have made up, mostly, but there’s still some bad blood lingering between them. It’s a large part of the reason Dick’s heading back to Bludhaven sooner rather than later. Two unmated alphas in close proximity to each other are bound to butt heads, regardless of how much they love each other, and Dick doesn’t want Jason seeing them tear into each other.
He’s already furious at himself for having fought with Bruce in Jason’s presence before. He doesn’t want to make it worse. Jason needs alphas he can trust, not to feel like he has to keep the peace. Dick’s pretty sure there’s been too much appeasing of alphas in Jason’s short life.
Roy keeps him company to Bludhaven, spending the night before heading back to his own home Monday morning.
Dick’s finally alone, and he hates it. He putters around his apartment before settling down to work on case files. It’s an okay distraction until he can go back to work the next day. He still jumps across the room when he hears his phone start ringing, eager for the distraction. He glances at the screen, an unknown number, before flipping it open to answer. “Hello?”
“This the idiot?” Jason’s voice is fervent and hushed.
“Little wing!” Dick can’t help his wide grin, before growing worried. He hadn’t expected a call so soon. “Everything okay?”
“You gotta come break me out of house arrest, Dickie.” Jason whines, still keeping his voice low. There’s the sound of hangers clacking together and Dick thinks the boy is hiding in a closet. “They’re making me pick two books and I gotta give the rest of them up for a week.”
“That’s awful.” Dick tries to keep his amusement out of his voice. He shoves his casework back into a pile and fetches himself a pop from the fridge before finally dropping down onto his worn couch. He cracks the can open as he asks, “How’d your first day back at school go?”
He stays on the phone with Jason for an hour before the boy gets caught and sent to finish sorting through his books. It turns out Jason really was excited for his homework, but there’s an alpha pup he got into a squabble with.
He’s sad to get off the phone with the boy, but happily chats with Alfred. The butler informs him that the altercation was significantly more serious than an squabble and Jason now has a black eye. They can’t chat for long though because not ten minutes later Dick can hear Jason try to wheedle his way into keeping an entire series of six books.
Dick chuckles as the line clicks off, feeling lighter. Snatching up a pen from his coffee table, he makes his way over to the calendar on the wall and starts marking off possible days to visit the manor.
He’s wasted too much time already. Somehow he’s managed to get a second chance with Jason and he’s determined to make the most of it.
Sacred Heart by The Civil Wars
Means “in the name of love”
Also, it’s pop not soda. You can fight me on that. ;)
Chapter 20: I Need Something to Rely On
Here we are guys. It’s been an amazing time and I’m so sad to be done with this. I’ll probably be going back through everything sometime soon to take care of typos and sooth out continuity, but overall we’re done. Hope to see you in a few weeks with the sequel. Even though he’s grown in the fic coming up, this isn’t the last we’ll see of baby Jason. He’s too cute to leave behind. :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jason’s not really there as he follows the pup around. Everything feels so loud and wrong on his skin, but the tiny hand in his is firm so he can’t escape back to the scary room. It screeches sick green wrong, but Jason gets hurt when he leaves it.
“Come along, Rasha. We don’t have long before Mother realizes we’re missing.” The boy commands, tugging a little when Jason forgets to keep moving. Fog makes his thinking muddy sludge and he forgets things often.
Usually he’s happy to forget because the things he usually remembers are not nice. Laughing, and pain, and fire, and cold, and then wet squish. He doesn’t like these things. A tug on his hand distracts him from remembering the wiggling in his mouth and he stumbles after the boy again.
He’s tired and if he could, he would curl up in a corner to sleep. Always a corner. Open isn’t safe. In the open feels like buzzes against his sore skin. But there are no corners and his friend would be sad. The little pup, his little pup, is already too sad. Too sad and so angry. His scent usually burns like wet fire in Jason’s throat.
But not now.
Right now it’s cheerful and syrupy. Jason stumbles forward into the pup and buries his nose in the little one’s hair. The pup’s scent is still milky young, but it smells like safe. Jason likes to breathe it whenever he’s able.
“Rasha.” The little one squirms free. “We cannot scent each other, you fool. Mother will know I broke you out.”
Jason purrs his amusement and lets himself be tugged down another hallway and into a room. There’s a nest made in the corner and the pup lets go of his hand to lock the door, Jason thinks that’s a door. It’s hard to say. His brain is foggier than normal.
He shuffles to the corner and finds that the nest is perfect. The blue intertwines with the yellow to be soft, soft, soft and there is no orange to breathe fire into his lungs or green to scream laughter into his ears. He drops into the nest and shuts his eyes, ready to sink into the wet mist of sleep, but he’s startled by the pup scrambling into the nest. He curls up around the little one and nips his cheek fondly.
The pup nips his nose in return before burying his face in Jason’s neck.
He tells stories while Jason purrs and drifts between awake and asleep. Stories about bats and caves and little birds. They’re nice stories. Jason likes the boy’s stories more than he likes the ones the boy’s sire-who-is-a-mother tells. She tells nasty stories about bats who hurt and steal new birds from their nests. Those are not good stories. Those stories are wrong, wrong, wrong.
Jason has stories to tell, good stories about bats who rescue birds and make them excellent nests. He’ll tell them to the pup someday, when his tongue stops feeling like sea foam in his mouth. Right now, he’s happy to sleep.
“Are you listening, Rasha?” The voice sounds haughty, but hidden underneath Jason can hear the quivering of worry. Sometimes Jason just.... leaves, and that’s scary. Whenever he comes back from that, his pup is usually covered in blood of people who tried to hurt him while he was gone.
He doesn’t like when the pup is covered in blood from alphas who want. The pup is too little for blood and for knowing alphas want. So Jason digs deep and manages to hold on to here tightly enough to make his wibbly wobbly head bob up and down.
Somewhere Only We Know by Keane.