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A Roomba By Any Other Name

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Jason never gets phone calls. It’s 2018, everyone texts. Even Alfred texts him. So when the call comes through just after 9 Jason is more than a little concerned. Especially when he spot’s Dick’s name on the caller ID.

“What’s up Dickface?” He asks in greeting, trying to not let any worry seep into his voice.

“Hey. Hi. Jason. How quick can you make it to my place in Blüdhaven?” Dick’s voice seems calm and somehow that worries Jason more.

“Uhh, half an hour?” Jason shrugs.

“Cool. See you then.” Dick hangs up the phone.

Jason stares down at the phone for a few seconds. That was weird. Really weird. Dick likes to talk. A lot. So having a conversation that short with Dick on the phone was just weird. Yah, he should really get to Blüdhaven ASAP.

It only takes him a few minutes to get back to his bike and then he’s tearing out of Gotham like a bat out of hell. It’s Tuesday night so the highways are quiet. Thank god for that because Jason is breaking pretty much every traffic law out there. When he finally hits Blüdhaven he’s run through just about every scenario in his head to why Dick had asked him to Blüdhaven. Most of them end in Dick being in peril and that’s pretty much the last thing Jason wants.

He stows his bike next to Dick’s building and grapples up to Dick’s balcony. He’s about to slide the patio open when he hears voices inside.

“Look, Gloria-”

“I expected better of you, Richard. You will be hearing more of this in the morning once I’ve talked with Eduardo.” A female voice yells. A second later the door slams shut and the apartment falls silent.

Jason winces. Sounds like Dick’s night isn’t going great. He cautiously slides the patio door open and enters the apartment. Dick wanders into the living room, scowling down at his phone. To Jason’s great relief Dick seems uninjured though his clothing seems suspiciously damp.

“’Sup Dickface?” Jason says as a greeting.

“Jesus fuck!” Dick drops his phone and gapes at Jason. He puts a hand over his chest and his face turns into a scowl. “Stop calling me Dickface.”

“Well, Dick,” Jason gestures at all of Dick then points at his face, “face. Dickface.”

Dick rolls his eyes so hard Jason is surprised they don’t roll out of his head. “Whatever.” He lets out a sigh and his demeanour switches from annoyed to defeated. “Glad you made it.”

“So what’s the emergency? I hope it’s good because I broke like... every traffic law.” Jason crosses his arms over his chest and leans back against the patio door.

“You what? You didn’t need to do that, Jay.” Dick frowns.

“You called me, asked me how fast I could get here and then hung up on me! What was I supposed to think?” Jason threw his arms up in the air in exasperation.

“Ok, yah, now that you put it that way I can see why you panicked.” Dick runs his hand through his hair. His hair that is normally perfectly styled. His hair that is currently sticking up in every direction. “Look, I just... I didn’t know who else to call.”

Jason steps forward and lays a hand on Dick’s shoulder. “Look, I know that things in the past between us have been... whatever... but the point is I’m here for you, Dickie.”

Dick offers Jason a weak smile. “Thanks. So. What do you know about dishwashers?”

“Dishwashers?” Jason’s eyebrows raise in question.

“Yah, dishwashers.”

Glancing back at Dick’s wet clothing Jason can just feel dread creeping in. “What did you do, Dick?”

Dick lets out a nervous laugh and heads towards the kitchen. “I like barely use any dishes so I usually just hand wash them. This is the first apartment I’ve had that’s actually had a dishwasher anyway so I was honestly kind of intimidated by it.”

The dread that was building in Jason’s stomach intensifies as he steps into the kitchen. Everything’s damp and most of the low cupboards are hanging open. Jason’s mouth falls open and he’s rendered speechless.

“I had just started on patrol when Gloria called me. I don’t even know how she got my number.”

“And Gloria is?” Jason asks.

“The divorcee that lives in the apartment below me. Anyway she’s yelling at me about water spots on her ceiling so I rush home and I step into the kitchen and just – there were so many bubbles, Jay.” Dick looks at him, fear in his eyes. “I have never seen so many bubbles in my life.”

Just the way that Dick’s staring at him, eyes wide and fearful it makes something snap in Jason and a loud laugh bubbles out. “You put fucking Dawn into the dishwasher?” He manages to ask between giggles.

“How was I supposed to know that you can’t put dish soap in a dishwasher?” Dick throws his arms in the air.

“Dickie that’s like...” Jason has to cover his face and swallow a few giggles, “It’s like basic adulting.”

Dick crosses his arms over his chest and glares at Jason. “I’ve never had a dishwasher before, even back at the manor. You know Alfred preferred to wash his dishes by hand. And on that note not like I ever had a normal-” Dick makes an exasperated shrug, “anything. Nothing in my life is normal. I grew up in a circus; my adoptive dad is Batman; heck I don’t even have any friends that don’t have an alter ego!”

Gently Jason lays a hand on Dick’s shoulder. “It’s ok, Dickie. I got you. Not like my life’s been any less weird. At least you haven’t died.”

“Well...”

Jason scoffs. “You only fake died.”

“I had to be resuscitated.” Dick counters.

“Whatever.” Jason pushes past Dick to inspect the kitchen. “Do you need help cleaning up?”

“Nah, I got most of it. And looking back I uhh really didn’t need to call you out here. Sorry to make you come all the way to Blüdhaven for no reason.” Dick stares down at the floor looking sheepish.

“It’s fine. Not like I had any big plans. Was probably just going to shoot some drug dealers or something.” Dicks eyes widen and he looks like he’s about to protest but Jason cuts him off. “like in the knee or with rubber bullets or something. I try really hard not to kill people any more.”

The squinty look Dick gives Jason has some doubt to it but eventually Dick lets out a soft sigh and gestures towards his living room. “I guess we could do, uhh, normal people things? What do normal people even do?”

Jason shrugs, “Beats me.”

The two stand in awkward silence, glancing around the kitchen.

“Oh! I have a thing. We can watch Netflix. And Chill.” Dick says excitedly.

Jason’s mouth drops open. “That- I don’t-” He splutters as he tries to find the right words.

“I used that wrong, didn’t I?” Dick covers his face in embarrassment. “It’s a sex thing isn’t it?”

Jason nods his head because he doesn’t have the words to answer Dick. Mostly because he would very much like to Netflix and chill but there was no way in hell he was admitting that. Ever.

“Ok. Cool. Let’s pretend I didn’t say that. So uhh just go sit on my couch and I’ll find some beers or something.”

Deciding that he’s just going to let this slide Jason saunters into the living room and plops gracelessly onto Dick’s couch. It’s surprisingly comfortable. He’s about to sprawl out when he realises that he’s still in most of his Red Hood gear. God he’s not going to watch movies in body armour so he starts shucking his gear until he’s down to a t-shirt, his pants and socks.

A couple minutes later Dick comes into the room, bag of cheese puffs tucked under his arm and carrying two beers and a bag of licorice. He sets everything on the coffee table and then goes about trying to get Netflix loaded up.

Jason grabs his phone out of his pocket to check his messages quick but winds up dropping it on the floor. He curses, reaches down to grab his phone and immediately brings his hand back up. “Jesus Christ Dick, have you ever heard of a vacuum?”

The sharp glare that Dick shoots him verifies that yes, he does indeed know what a vacuum is. “Look, I’m not home a lot, and when I am home I’m usually passed out sleeping. So what if I forget to vacuum sometimes?”

Making a disgusted face Jason grabs his phone off the ground and brushes a giant hairball and some crumbs off of it. “Have you ever heard of a Roomba? Because we’re getting you a fucking Roomba.”

“Those are one of the little robot vacuums, right? I think I have one of those in the spare bedroom.”

“You think you just have a spare Roomba sitting around? What, do you just have a like bunch of random crap in there you bought and never opened?”

The guilty look on Dick’s face says it all.

“Oh no... do I even want to know what’s in there?” Jason asks, worry creeping into his voice.

“I get bored sometimes when I’m on stakeouts. So I online shop. Mostly on AliExpress.”

“What the hell is an AliExpress?” Jason blurts out.

Dick shifts nervously on the couch. “Steph introduced me to it. It’s just an online shopping site where you can buy like anything you can think of really cheap from China and then it will show up on your doorstep a couple months later.”

“You’re literally the son of a billionaire...” Jason trails off, unsure where to even go with his statement.

“Don’t knock it until you try it.” Dick says weakly.

“Yah, no thank you.” Jason crosses his arms over his chest.

“Well, that watch came from AliExpress.” Dick gestures at Jason’s wrist.

This is Jason’s favourite watch. It’s got a cool skull on it. He wears it everywhere (not that he would ever admit that to Dick). “Yah, whatever.” Jason mutters and makes a mental note to check out this site because OK maybe it can’t be all bad.

The room falls into silence again as Dick struggles with bringing up Netflix on his TV. Jesus the guy can hack any computer system but give him a regular old TV and a Roku box and it’s like watching someone’s grandma. It’s sad and Jason can’t bear to watch it for another second.

“Alright, let’s go set up this Roomba.” Jason gets up off the couch and starts heading towards the bedrooms.

“But...” Dick gestures at the TV where he’s just managed to load up Netflix.

“Netflix will still be here when we’re done. I can’t live knowing that you got Cousin It dwelling under your couch.”

“Yah, OK.” Dick says dejectedly and stands up. “It’s the first door on your right.”

They step into the room and Jason has to stifle a gasp. It is a disaster. Clothes are strewn across the floor, boxes and mailer envelopes are piled high on the bed (well Jason assumes it’s a bed but it’s hard to tell under all the packages), and Jason is pretty sure there is blood smeared on the dresser.

“Oh Dickie...” Jason puts a hand over his mouth to hide his look of alarm.

Nervously Dick runs his hand through his hair. “Yah, I may have let it get a little out of hand...”

“I guess that settles it. I’ll grab my crap tomorrow and move in.”

Dick gapes at Jason. “You’ll what?”

“Well, it’s obvious that neither of us are really great at this adult thing so I just thought maybe we could try it together? You know, between the two of us make one functioning adult?”

Nervously Jason shifts from foot to foot. He clearly did not think this through. But now that he’s said it it seems like a really good idea. Well maybe not really good but he likes the sound of it. Looking around the room again he concedes that it’s a terrible idea but well he already said the words so dammit he’s committed.

“Ok.” Dick squeaks out.

Swallowing a whoop of delight Jason claps Dick on the shoulder. “This is gonna be fun.”

Chapter Text

Turns out when Dick bought his couch he bought it in Gotham. He’d borrowed a truck from Bruce to drive it back to Blüdhaven. That had been nearly 3 months ago and he still has the truck.

The truck is new, larger than it needs to be, and a glossy black. Naturally Jason makes a joke about Dick overcompensating. Dick laughs. Well, the first time anyway. The subsequent dozen jokes seem to fall flat but Jason just can’t help himself. He’s kind of nervous.

He doesn’t have a lot of stuff. Some clothes, lots of books, an Instant Pot, and, if Dick’s expression is anything to go by, an alarming amount of weapons.

“This isn’t even all my weapons. These are just like my favourites.” Jason had tried to defend himself while Dick had loaded yet another gun case into the back of the pickup.

“I just hope we don’t get pulled over.” Dick had muttered as he surveyed the small pile he still had to fit into the bed of the truck.

They didn’t get pulled over. Even if they did Jason has the upmost confidence that Dick could charm his way out of an officer searching their vehicle. After all, who can resist Dick’s pretty face? Jason sure can’t.

“Turn here,” Jason points to the right.

“Really?” Dick shoots him a scathing look but turns anyway, taking the corner perhaps faster than he wants to.

“Hey, you don’t want me stashing all these guns in your nice respectable apartment, do you? I got a safe house just on the edge of the industrial district. It’s a holdover from my crime boss days.”

“Really, Jay?” Dick seems annoyed and ok yah maybe Jason should have told him he had a safe house in Blüdhaven but he kind of likes being able to disappear right under the whole bat family’s noses.

“Sometimes I just need to get away from B. You of all people should know how that goes.”

Dick makes a noise of agreement but doesn’t ask anything else except to clarify directions.

They pull up to one of the smallest warehouses in the district and Jason directs Dick to pull around back of it. There’s a giant red veiny penis spray painted on the overhead door.

“Fuck.” Jason gapes at the penis.

Dick tries his best to hide his giggles but it’s to no avail. “I guess someone finally worked up the nerve to say how they really felt about you.”

“Well fuck you too.” Jason mutters as he gets out of the truck. He digs through his pockets to find his keys and comes out with three different rings. Shit. How many of these are for safe houses that even exist any more? He holds up one key and squints at it. Yah he’s pretty sure that one got blown up.

“Everything OK there Mr Keeper of the Seven Keys?”

“More like seventy keys.” Jason grumbles. He tries nine keys on the lock before one works. “I’ll go open the overhead door so you can drive the truck in.”

Dick gives him a lazy salute and gets back into the truck.

The warehouse is dim on the inside since the only light is filtering in through the grimy windows high up on the wall. Jason flicks a couple switches and some of the overhead lights come on. He should probably get someone in to change the burnt out bulbs.

He hits the button to open the overhead door and it slowly opens up so that Dick can drive the truck into the warehouse. Once Dick is parked Jason closes the door again.

“Is that really necessary?” Dick glances between the truck and the door as he climbs out.

“Dude, this is your city. Would you really leave any of your stuff unattended?”

Dick shakes his head. “Point. Sooooo, anyway, what’s in the boxes?” Dick spins around and gestures at the pallets of boxes all around the warehouse.

“Party supplies mostly?” Jason shrugs.

Dick’s eyes go wide as dinner plates. “These are all full of weapons?”

“WHAT? NO!” Jason spins around and glares at Dick. “They’re like streamers and shit you put in pinatas!”

“Oh. Good. Because you know with you...” Dick shrugs.

“I’m not that dramatic, Dick.”

“Well there was a certain duffle bag full of heads that speaks a different story.”

Jason throws his arms up in the air and stalks off through the warehouse. “Unbelievable. You come back from the dead a little crazy and do ONE dramatic thing and then everyone’s gotta drag you for it until the day you die. Again. I didn’t come back just to have you all roast me.”

Dick yells after him, “Jay everything you do is dramatic!”

Yah Jason isn’t even going to dignify him with a response. Dick is one to talk what with how he likes to do all those fancy flips and jump off buildings and shit. So what if Jason may have worn a domino mask under his helmet for like a year just because of dramatic effect. Or after Bruce had “died” he’d gone around in his own Batman costume painting the town red only to lose a fight with Dick and dramatically fall off a cliff. Not to mention he’d donned one of Dick’s old costumes and run around killing people in it...

Oh god he really is a drama queen.

Jason whips out his phone and slams out a quick text to Roy.

Jason: Am I too dramatic???

While Jason waits for a response he unlocks the door that leads to the basement of the warehouse.

Roy: Oh jaybird...

Jason: What’s that supposed to mean???

Roy: you’re kind of answering your own question by using all the ??? jaybird

Jason snaps a selfie of him giving the finger and sends it to Roy.

Roy: lmfao

Whatever. Not like Jason cares what Roy says anyway. He’s an ass.

Speaking of ass, Dick chooses this moment to come looking for Jason. “Hey, where did you go Jay?”

“Down here!” Jason yells up the stairs.

His phone vibrates in his pocket and he ignores it in favour of unlocking yet another door and flipping on the light.

Dick comes into the room carrying Jason’s remaining weapons cases and glances around the storage room. “Cozy.”

Rolling his eyes Jason pushes on a hidden switch and the wall swings into the sewer tunnel.

“Dude, what kind of safe house do you have?”

“The safest kind.” Jason sets off down the dimly lit passage until he stops before an inconspicuous door. He pushes it open and steps into another dimly lit room.

“Really? A bomb shelter?”

“Yup. Belonged to some crazy mobster guy who built a shit tonne of them around the city back at the beginning of the cold war.”

“You talking about Richie Fallaci? Man I’ve lived here for a few years and I’ve only found 2 of his fabled shelters. How did you manage to get your hands on one?”

“I killed the previous owner.” Jason says flippantly.

Dick’s mouth drops open as he stares at Jason in horror. “That’s a joke, right?”

“Nah, he was one of the drug lords I took out early on when I came back to Gotham and was all Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. I acquired all sorts of neat shit then.”

The guilty look that Dick is giving him is making Jason’s stomach churn. God he hates it when the rest of the bat family gets like this. Looking at him like they want to make everything that happened go away. Looking like they’re actually sorry for everything.

Not wanting to get into a huge emotional thing Jason pushes open the door to the shelter, steps in, and flips on the light. The room’s small, probably about the size of a studio apartment. There’s a small bed pushed up against one wall, a small dresser next to it, a desk covered with various weapons, a small kitchenette and even a tiny bathroom with a shower that sometimes even has warm water.

“Mi casa es tu casa.” Jason drops his cases on the bed and gestures around the shelter.”

“This is surprisingly nice.” Dick glances around as he places the other weapons cases next to the bed.

“I managed to get some water hookups so that I could hide out in here when I needed out of Gotham for a few days. It’s not much but it’ll do in a pinch. Plus I got space to stash my bike or whatever car I’ve stolen upstairs.”

Jason is sure Dick is about to protest the stolen cars but then he sees it; sitting on the kitchen counter is a custom red Desert Eagle. “Oh baby, I’d wondered where I’d lost you!” Jason picks up the gun and glances it over affectionately. “I thought you got blown up in my one safe house.”

“Do your safe houses get blown up a lot?” Dick asks trying to not sound worried but failing.

Jason shrugs. “Not usually but sometimes a guy just has bad luck. And when you got a whole city full of nutjobs calling themselves super villains then sometimes shit just happens.”

Dick nods in understanding. He’s definitely had more than a few safe houses blown up just from collateral damage in a villain rampage.

They’re standing in comfortable silence for a moment before Jason explodes. “Oh my god what is your problem!” He pulls his phone out of his pocket and glares down at it

Roy: Jason what’s going on?

Roy: Jay is someone calling you dramatic?

Roy: It’s B isn’t it??

Roy: you only get this dramatic when it involves B

Roy: Ok or Dick

Roy: Well any of the batfam

Roy: Jaybird

Roy: Jay

Roy: Jason

Roy: Tell meeeeeeeee

Roy: Come on

Roy: What are you freaking out about???

Roy: Did you fill another duffle bag full of heads

Roy: Because we talked about that

Roy: Jayyyyyyyy

Roy: I will come to Gotham just to get you to tell me

Roy: I’m really bored tbh

Roy: Even if you tell me I might come to Gotham

Roy: JAYBIRD

Jason puts a hand over his face and groans.

“Everything OK?” Dick asks and none too subtly tries to glance over Jason’s shoulder at the phone.

Jason rolls his eyes as he hammers out a quick text. “Just Roy being Roy.”

Jason: Nothing, just Dick called me dramatic.

Roy: You mean Mr pretended to be dead so he could be a super spy and didn’t tell any of his friends Dick?

Jason: That’s a good point.

Jason: You should call him out on that.

Roy: I got u Jaybird

Dick’s phone buzzes in his pocket. He locks eyes worriedly with Jason before he pulls it out and frowns. He’s been put in a group chat with Jason and Roy.

Roy: YOU ARE ONE TO TALK GRAYSON. The only place I see more drama queens than with you bats is when I watch Drag Race. Idk why I put up with you all

Jason: i thought you had my back Roy!

Roy: I’m just stating the facts.

Dick: In my defense I am nowhere near as dramatic as Jason!

Roy: One word

Roy: Discowing

Jason: The hell is that?

Roy: [picture attached]

“The hell did you wear that?” Jason gapes at Dick.

Dick puts a hand over his face and sighs. “It was my first Nightwing costume. It was short lived. Wally called me Discowing in a stealth mission and then couldn’t stop laughing and blew our cover. I eventually conceded that it was terrible and got a new costume designed.”

Jason smirks back down to the picture he’d just saved to his phone. “I dunno man, it’s kind of so tacky and ugly it’s beautiful.”

Jason: Thanks for the blackmail pic Roy. We really got to go though. ttyl

Roy: Any time bro

“Honestly it kind of scares me that you two are friends.” Dick sighs as he slides his phone back into his pocket.

“Why, because we’re an amazing team?” Jason flashes Dick a giant smile.

“No, because you’re both trolls.”

Jason’s smile broadens. “We are at that, Dickface.”

Dick sighs. “Whatever. Let’s get out of here. I want some lunch.”

“I’m feeling burgers. Blüdhaven has a Batburger, right? I could really go for some Jokerized fries.”

“You’re unbelievable.” Dick can’t help but grin. “And yah, one just opened up. You’re buying though. It’s the least you can do for me since I’m helping you move all your crap.”

“Lead the way. If you’re real good on the car ride I’ll even buy you one of the kids meals with a toy.”

Dick rolls his eyes but the giant grin is still in place. If Dick doesn’t want the toy then Jason sure has hell does. He has a small collection of them in the bottom of his duffle. Not that he would admit that to anyone.

-x-x-x-

By the time they get back to Dick’s apartment building and have all of Jason’s things sitting on the ground Jason is starting to feel self conscious. It had seemed like a decent amount of stuff when he’d had his weapons but now all he was left with was 2 duffle bags of clothes and toiletries, a ratty box full of books, and his Instant Pot.

“Is that thing really that important?” Dick points at the Instant Pot.

“I nearly had to shoot a little old lady to get it. Do you know how popular these things were at Christmas?” From the blank look that Dick is giving him he clearly doesn’t. “Whatever. I’ll make you my famous chili and you’ll see.”

“If it’s so famous why haven’t I heard of it?”

Jason rolls his eyes. “Well Kory would finish off the entire pot herself if you’d let her.” He grabs the two duffle bags and starts towards the elevator in the corner of the parking garage. “Come on boy wonder, we got shit to do.”

Dick grabs the box and Instant Pot then nearly has to run to catch the elevator. “Real mature,” Dick snarks as he nearly tumbles into the elevator. Jason just grins at him.

When they get to Dick’s door there is a neatly folded note with “Richard” written on it in tidy cursive.

“You’re looking at it like it might explode.” Jason gestures at the note with his shoulder.

“It would almost be better if it was going to explode.” Dick sighs.

Jason’s eyebrows raise nearly into his hairline. “Ok?”

“Gloria.” Dick says forlornly.

“Gloria?” Jason asks, clearly not getting the significance of the name.

“Yah, the lady that lives below me.”

“And she’s terrifying because...?”

“You clearly have not spent enough time with elderly women who want to set you up with their barely legal great niece.”

“Ok, that’s a little disturbing.” Jason concedes.

“And they invite you to Tupperware parties.”

“Yikes.”

“And once a Pure Romance party.” Dick says solemnly.

Jason’s eyes widen. “Ok, that’s some scary shit.”

Gignerly Dick pulls the note off the door and unfolds it. He glances over it while Jason leans over his shoulder to read.

Please come see me at your earliest convenience. Sincerely, Gloria Lucciano’

“Well that’s mildly ominous.” Jason mutters.

“You’ll go with me, right?” Dick spins around and looks at Jason with giant puppy dog eyes.

“Uhh, sure?” Jason is pretty unsure of agreeing to this but the happy smile Dick is giving him is making it worth it. Probably.

Dick unlocks the door and they hastily put all of Jason’s stuff in the spare room. Jason gives the small mountain of Ali Express packages in the corner a forlorn look. It’s like a UPS truck exploded in the room. But there’s hardly time to agonise over that because Dick has him by the elbow and is dragging him back out of the apartment and down the stairs to Gloria’s door.

The woman that swings open the door is so far from what Jason was expecting that he nearly lets out a nervous laugh. She’s honest to god a real life Lucille Bluth. He can’t believe that Dick’s crazy neighbour is Lucille Bluth. She’s got the perfectly styled chin-length brown hair, a perfectly tailored peach blouse and skirt, what appear to be real pearls around her neck and she’s holding a crystal wine glass full of wine. It’s not even 11AM. Who dresses like that to just sit around their apartment? Jason sure as shit wouldn’t. If he can get away with it he won’t even wear pants.

“Richard!” She smiles broadly at Dick and gestures to her living room. “Do come in! And I see that you’ve brought a friend?” She eyes Jason up and down like he’s a piece of meat.

“Uhh yah, this is my bro-ahh- friend. Room mate. This is Jason.” Dick stutters out.

“A pleasure to meet you, Jason.” Gloria holds out a hand.

Tentatively Jason takes her well manicured hand, brings it to his lips and gives it a gentle kiss. “It’s a pleasure to meet you too, Gloria.”

The smile Gloria gives him as she retracts her hand is absolutely predatory. Jason feels like he’s fucked up. By the way Dick is staring at him wide-eyed Jason’s pretty sure he’s really fucked up.

“Oh, you are a charming one. I’m afraid you’re a tad too young for me but I do have a great niece that is single.” She winks.

“I’m flattered, really. However I will have to decline since my tastes lay solely with men.” Jason says with more charm and confidence than he was aware he possessed. It’s like he was directly channelling Bruce Wayne at one of his fancy parties. He kind of wants to throw up.

Dick looks like he wants to die.

Gloria doesn’t miss a beat though. “Unfortunately I don’t have any great nephews but I’ll see what I can do.”

“Well with your exquisite taste,” Jason gestures around her pristine living room, “I doubt you could steer me wrong.”

Gloria looks impressed. “I see you have an eye for interior decoration? Well I do suppose that is an expertise of your people.”

Jason lets out a fake laugh which Gloria seems to buy and he walks around her living room, inspecting various items. “I see Tiffany has been a great friend to you. I just love these irregular lower boarder lamp shades, you know? People just don’t put the care into crafting things any more.”

Dick is grinding his teeth so loud Jason can hear it.

“Anway,” Jason moves to stand in front of Gloria and shoots her a radiant smile. “You asked us to come see you? Well I guess it was just Richard you invited and I’m just a pleasant bonus.”

“Oh it is indeed a pleasure to have you both. Follow me, please.” She turns on her heel and waves them into her kitchen.

The two men follow her in and Jason immediately notices why she called. He whistles at the large water stain on her ceiling above her dishwasher. “Well that is an obvious problem.”

“I’m so sorry.” Dick says solemnly. “I can of course pay for the repairs.”

This seems to be exactly what Gloria wanted as she gives him a broad smile. “I was wanting the whole thing replaced as there are some other... problem areas on it.” Her eyes flicked to another spot that looks suspiciously like a wine stain. “I will drop by with a quote in the next few days then. When will you be available Richard?”

“I’m uhh usually around near dinner time?” Dick says uncertainly.

“Wonderful. Now that that’s settled could I interest you boys in a drink?” Gloria starts reaching for a cupboard but Dick cuts her off.

“We actually have a busy day ahead of us since Jason just moved in today so we’ll have to come visit another day.” Dick says in a rush as he starts edging towards the door.

“Come on, Dick, we got-”

“Don’t forget about our plans tonight.” Dick gives Jason a pleading look and well Jason is only human and weak to that pretty face so he gives in.

With a sigh Jason turns towards Gloria. “It appears we’ll have to come back another day. Though it has been a pleasure. I look forward to discussing interior decorating with someone who has some style. Unlike Dickie here.”

Dick makes an offended noise but he quickly plasters a smile on his face as he turns to Gloria. “I look forward to catching up with you at a later time.” He grabs Jason by the wrist and practically drags him out the door.

As soon as the door closes behind them Dick stops dead in his tracks and hisses. “Your tastes lie solely with men?”

Jason shrugs. “Well I didn’t want her trying to set me up with her great niece and she was looking at me like a piece of meat. I panicked!”

“She’s going to think we’re together.” Dick puts a hand over his face and sighs.

Jason snorts. “Well you were the one to tell her we had plans tonight. Besides, it wouldn’t be the first time someone assumed that.”

Dick’s hand drops to his side and he stares at Jason. “What?”

“Seriously?” Jason looks at Dick incredulously but Dick seems genuinely confused. “Dude. Ok. We’re going to go upstairs to your apartment because I’m not having this conversation where anyone can overhear.” He starts heading towards the stairs, Dick hot on his heels.

“This is conversation worthy? Why hasn’t anyone ever told me about this before?”

Jason shrugs but that’s the only acknowledgement he gives. The two enter Dick’s apartment and take off their shoes. Maybe if Jason starts cooking or something he can distract Dick from having this probably awkward conversation. Yah that sounds like a great idea. He’s loathe to admit that he’s Bruce’s son but he sure as shit can see the family resemblance when he evades talking about personal shit like a boss.

“Jay.”Dick says but Jason ignores him and continues into the kitchen with Dick right behind him. “Jason. Ok we’re in my apartment. What do people say about us?”

“This.” Jason spins around and gestures at the lack of space between them.

Dick runs a hand through his hair. “I can’t help it. I’m just a physical contact kind of guy. I don’t mean to be in other people’s personal space it just sort of happens, you know.”

Jason raises an eyebrow. “No, I don’t. I’m not really the touchy feely kind of guy in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“Oh, sorry.” Dick backs up a step.

Letting out a sigh Jason leans back against the counter. “No, it’s fine. I’m used to it by now. Anyway, I don’t care what people think. I mean I could do a hell of a lot worse than Dick Grayson.”

“I’m going to choose to take that as a compliment.” Dick grins.

Jason grins back. Thank fuck it looks like he can avoid going into details. However it’s probably best if he changes the subject so Jason blurts out the first thing that crosses his mind. “So.” Jason glances around the apartment. “Gloria’s got a pretty swanky place for an apartment.”

“Well, that’s because this is actually a condo.”

“A condo? Wow. I never thought I’d see the day where Dick Grayson pretends like he’s a real adult and owns property. I thought you were just going to rent shitty apartments for the rest of eternity.”

“Yah, well, my old apartment building kind of started on fire so I had to move.”

Jason’s eyes widen. “The fuck?”

“Not vigilante related. It was just a regular cooking fire in the suite two down from mine. I just had some mild smoke and water damage but it was enough that I needed to find a new place.” Dick shrugs.

“So you decided to move here? This seems kind of fancy for your tastes.” Jason is looking more closely at the appliances and yah they look high end and he’s pretty sure the cupboards are mahogany.

It wasn’t necessarily my first choice.” Dick concedes. “There’s someone smuggling designer jewellery, clothing, and housewares into Blüdhaven and then distributing them throughout the US. I figured getting in with some of the wealthier residents of the city might give me some leads.”

How’s that working out?” Jason is only half listening because he’s busy studying the chandelier hanging in the other room. He’d initially thought all the crystals hanging off it were just tacky plastic ones but now that he’s really looking those are definitely Swarovski crystals.

“It’s not. Well it wasn’t. Until I found out that the same smuggler is also smuggling in arcane artifacts.” Dick sighs.

“Isn’t that like a thing for Zantana to look into? Or-”

“Constantine.” Dick puts a hand over his face and is trying to cover the blush spreading over his face. “He showed up in my bedroom when I’d just gotten out of the shower. I was only wearing a towel. He wouldn’t leave so I could put some clothes on...”

Jason lets out a snort of laughter, “Well can you blame him” The withering look that Dick shoots him would kill a lesser man.

“Anyway he asked if I could help him look into it. And then asked me if I needed any help finding my pants.”

“Well, did you?” Jason can’t help but grin.

The glare that Dick is giving him is so cold he’s pretty sure the water in the nearby harbour is icing over.

“Well, I’m going to go unpack my shit and then take a nape since, y’know, we got plans tonight.”

You’re such an ass.” Dick sighs.

Takes one to know one.” Jason winks and heads to his bedroom.

Huh, he kind of really likes that he has a bedroom in Dick’s condo. It makes him feel like a legit person instead of some ghost just living in shitty safe houses.

Chapter Text

When Dick wakes from his nap he stretches his arms out and winces. Yikes. He needs a shower. Glancing at the clock he notes it’s just past 4. He’s got lots of time until he’s got to hit the streets as Nightwing so he can take a nice leisurely shower.

Probably one of his favourite things about this ridiculously expensive condo is the shower. It’s spacious, the water pressure is great, and, best of all, the hot water lasts forever. So of course he indulges in leisurely showers whenever he can.

When he deems that he’s done nearly 20 minutes later he hops out of the shower. He’s got time so he’ll just let his hair dry naturally and then style it. He hangs his towel back on the rack opens the door and comes face to face with Jason.

One of the greatest things about living alone is you can walk around your apartment naked. Alternatively one of the worst things about having a sudden room mate is that things that were acceptable 24 hours ago are now suddenly the worst mistake you have ever made in your life.

Jason’s eyes are wide and a bright red blush is forming on his face. Maybe he hasn’t seen anything. Maybe he’s so stunned that Dick is standing there that he hasn’t bothered to look down.

Quickly Dick glances over Jason. His hair is sleep mussed and he’s clad in only boxers and a dark shirt.

“Were you stabbed in that shirt?” Dick’s eyes widen as he stares at Jason’s left side.

Startled Jason looks down and sticks his finger through a large gash in the side. He inspects the dark stain around the edges of it. “Yah, probably.”

“Why would you keep a shirt you were stabbed in!”

Jason shrugs. “I don’t know man, sometimes I just take off my crap and throw it in a pile and forget what happened to it.”

“You forgot you were stabbed?” Dick asks incredulously.

Jason shrugs again. “It happens.” He points to the bathroom. “You done in there?”

Dick lets out a sigh. “Yah. Knock yourself out.” He steps out of the way and lets Jason into the bathroom. He’s halfway to his bedroom when Jason calls out his name. He stops and looks over his shoulder to lock eyes with Jason.

“And by the way, nice tramp stamp.”

Before Dick can say anything Jason closes the bathroom door and turns on the shower.

Dick wants to die. This roommate thing is a terrible idea. Also he’s going to kill Roy Harper.

-x-x-x-

Jason takes a long shower. Long enough that when he finally comes into the kitchen Dick has already finished making dinner. And by making dinner he cut up strawberries and put them in his cereal.

“That shower.” Jason says, looking content.

“I Know, right?” Dick grins. “Do you want some dinner?” He gestures at the cereal box and carton of Veggemo sitting on the counter.

“The fuck is that?” Jason eyes the Veggemo warily.

“It’s pea milk.”

Jason makes a face. “Yah no thanks.” He saunters over to the fridge opens the door and just stands there.

“It’s better than it sounds. It makes my Cheerios taste magical.”

“Umm Dick.” Jason starts to say something but then falls silent.

“Yah?” Dick is eyeing the cereal box considering having another bowl. What? Cereal is great.

“Why is there no food in your fridge?”

“There are pickles.” Dick says, trying his best to look offended. “And hot sauce”

“Yah, four half eaten jars of pickles and hot sauce do not count.”

Dick crosses his arms over his chest, “Look, vegetables tend to go bad in my fridge so I buy pickled ones. Plus they are really tasty. Have you ever had pickled asparagus?”

From the blank look Jason is giving him Dick’s pretty sure he’s never tried it. Actually it seems like Jason is not a fan of pickles. What kind of monster is he? Who doesn’t like pickles?

With a sigh Dick gestures towards the cupboard next to Jason’s head. “There’s cereal in the cupboard.” He mutters ‘pickle hater’ under his breath.

“Ok, I get that you have cereal. But why do you only have cereal?” Dick shoots him a glare so Jason hastily adds, “and pickles and hot sauce.” Jason shuts the door, turns around, and stares at Dick accusingly.

“Uhh because those are my favourite foods?” Dick shrugs.

Jason continues to stare at him with his arms crossed over his chest.

“I don’t like to cook?” Dick says weakly.

Jason is still staring at him and honestly it’s making him kind of uncomfortable.

“Ok, I’m kinda nervous about cooking since the fire.”

“You’re nervous about cooking because your neighbour had a kitchen fire?” Jason leans against the counter. It’s probably supposed to make him look less intimidating. It’s not working.

“Ok, I may have lied. I started the kitchen fire. I was trying to make pasta but I forgot it on the stove and the box fell against the pot and then there was fire and I had a bunch of hot firefighters over for dinner.” Dick says in a rush.

“Oh Dickie.” Jason puts a hand over his face and sighs into it.

“It was only a small fire.” Dick crosses his arms over his chest and frowns at the floor.

“Alright, so I guess we know who’s going to be doing the cooking. Or at least supervising until you’re off of probation.” Jason pushes off the counter and opens the first cupboard like he was going to rummage through it. “Why is everything haphazard in here?”

Dick glances at the shelves. There are coffee mugs all over the shelves, plates stacked on top of bowls, a baterang, some cutlery, a bottle of conditioner, and even a couple boxes of cereal.

“When I moved in things just kind of went wherever.” Dick shrugs.

“You’ve been living here for months. How do you live like this?” Jason turns to look at him, a hint of desperation edging into his voice. “Are all of your cupboards like this?” Jason doesn’t even wait for Dick’s answer, just starts flinging cupboard doors open and making little wounded sounds with each new disaster he finds.

“Hey, I’ve been looking for that!” Dick grabs one of his spare gloves out of a mixing bowl.

“This... we are going to fix this. But we gotta find food first. So I guess that means we’re hitting up a grocery store. Where are your flyers?” Jason starts glancing around the kitchen. He pokes behind a stack of dirty bowls on the counter and lifts up an empty cereal box to see around it.

“My what?”

The look Jason is giving him is so strikingly familiar Dick feels instantly guilty. Well, it’s not a look Jason gives him often, it’s one that Dick has seen on Barbara’s face more times than he can count. It’s the “Why are you like this?” look.

“They come in the mail? Little booklets that say what’s on sale in a store?”

“Uhh, you could try that drawer?” Dick gestures towards the large drawer under his kitchen island. The drawer he only opens to put papers into. The drawer he is making him seriously reconsider some of his life choices right now.

Tentatively like he’s approaching a wounded animal Jason moves towards the drawer. He wraps long fingers around the handle and pulls it open. There’s dead silence for a good thirty seconds before he turns to Dick. “You know, normal people keep their baking sheets or like muffin tins or cutting boards in this drawer. Normal people do not put every single piece of mail they’ve gotten for the last few months in a drawer never to see the light of day again.”

Dick shrugs. “I always meant to get to it later.”

“Later.” Jason’s voice is completely flat. Dick’s starting to understand why criminals are so terrified of Jason. Sure he’s always kind of known in the abstract but right here, right now, he feels like he should be confessing to every wrongdoing he’s ever made.

“Ok, maybe never.” Dick concedes and stares at the floor. A floor he’s pretty sure he’s never mopped. Yah he should probably do that before Jason berates him for that too.

“Jesus fucking Christ.” Jason mutters as he starts pulling papers out of the drawer. It’s almost like he’s unloading a clown car. The envelopes and flyers just keep coming, and coming, and coming. “How long have you been here again?” Jason asks as he pulls nearly a comical amount of papers out of the drawer.

“Just under 4 months.”

Jason pauses for a moment, glares then goes back to pull the few remaining papers from the drawer.

“Well, maybe some of those are form my old apartment. I may have stuffed some of them in there to deal with la- never.” He’s already in trouble he might as well not lie to Jason further. Lying to Jason is just going to get you shot.

“I can’t believe you were Batman. I bet Bruce nearly had an aneurysm when he got back and saw what you’ done to the cave.”

Dick crosses his arms over his chest and glares. “I’ll have you know that the cave was in excellent condition when he came back. Hardly anything was out of place.”

Jason studies him for a moment before a smile quirks at the corners of his mouth. “Alfred cleaned up after you, didn’t he?”

“Only some of it.” Dick said with some bite. “Believe it or not, I do know how to clean. I’m just busy, you know? Being a vigilante is a lot of work.”

“Alright alright, I get it. We can fix this. Go get me your recycling bin.” Jason makes a shooing motion with his hands.

Dick walks out of the room towards the coat closet. He doesn’t have the heart to tell Jason he doesn’t have a recycling bin. Maybe he has an empty box or something. Anything really. He’s got a shoe box in his hand when to his utter surprise he pulls a small blue recycling bin out from under a pile of shoes. He definitely doesn’t remember buying this. Maybe it came with the condo? He does vaguely remember getting told about all the recycling bins the building had out back when he moved in.

Triumphantly Dick places the bin on the counter and grins at Jason.

Jason glances up briefly from his sorting to raise an eyebrow at Dick. “What? Are you expecting a medal or something? I was honestly expecting you to come back with like a shoe box or something.”

“I’m not that much of a disaster.” Dick lies.

“Alright then, help me sort this shit.” Jason plops a stack of papers in front of Dick.

They sort in silence for several minutes. Most of the papers are thankfully going into the recycling bin.

“I hope that all these bills are paid...” Jason gestures at a small pile of envelopes.

“Yah. There may have been an incident where my power was cut off once. Babs made sure that I had all my bills set up to be paid online after that.”

Jason pauses in his sorting to stare at Dick. “Please tell me that Babs doesn’t pay your bills for you.”

“No! I pay my own bills, thank you very much.” Dick says, offended. Jason just shrugs in response and goes back to sorting. They sort in silence for another moment before Dick adds, “Well she may send me reminders sometimes. Y’know, just in case.”

“Of course she does.” There’s a small smile tugging at the corner of Jason’s mouth.

When they finish most of the papers are in the recycling bin with the exception of the stack of (hopefully) paid bills, some take-out menus, and grocery store flyers.

Jason flips through the selection of flyers. “Fuck this place,” he mutters as he chucks one in the bin. He starts flipping through the flyers and muttering to himself. After a moment he holds out a hand to Dick. “Can you get me a pen and like a notepad or something?”

Sure, Dick can do that. He starts opening drawers and cupboards until he finds what he needs. He finds the note pad in the second drawer underneath his pizza cutter. The notepad’s shaped like a dick. It was a gift from Stephanie. She thought it was hilarious. She was right. The pens however prove more difficult. Probably because they’re sitting in plain sight on top of the refrigerator in Dick’s favourite Nightwing mug.

Jason does a double take when Dick hands him the notepad. “Should I be preparing myself to find a lot of novelty penis merchandise in your condo?” Jason glances around as if looking for more dicks.

“Well, it’s kind of a hazard of going by Dick...” Dick shrugs.

“Noted.” Jason sets down the notepad and begins scribbling down items as he aggressively flips through one of the flyers. He’s got some serious concentration tongue going on and it’s pretty adorable. “Alright.” Jason slams the flyer closed with enough vigour that it startles Dick out of his daydreaming. “Let’s grab your reusable grocery bags... you know what from that blank look I’m assuming you don’t have any. So I guess grab your keys and let’s hit the road, boy wonder.”

-x-x-x-

The ride to the grocery store in the Dickmobile is short and uneventful. Dick isn’t thrilled about the truck’s name but he can’t argue that it isn’t fitting.

The grocery store itself seems busy. Well, busier than what he’s used to considering he does most of his shopping right before or after he goes on patrol. Entering the store at 5PM is a whole new experience. Jason seems unphased. He grabs a shopping cart and pulls the shopping list out of his pocket.

“I guess we’ll just go up and down the dry goods aisles.” Jason surveys the store as if he’s assessing a battlefield.

“What?”

Jason gives him a look. “Just follow me.”

Before Dick can protest Jason is already off down a random aisle and Dick nearly has to run to catch up. He mostly just follows behind Jason as he glances around the aisle, at his list and occasionally puts things in the cart. He seems to be putting a lot of things in the cart. Things that Dick’s pretty sure he’s never bought in his life. Things he feels deep down he probably should have been buying all along. Things that probably would have helped him cook actually edible food.

Watching Jason in this way is almost surreal. He seems totally relaxed as he wanders the aisles. Dick can’t think of the last time he saw Jason like this. It shoots a pang of guilt through his chest. What kind of a shitty brother-friend-whatever is he to Jason that the only time they hang out is related to their night jobs? God, was it when Tim “died”? While watching Jason consider two different jars of jam Dick resolves that he’s going to be a better brother-friend-whatever to Jason, no matter what.

It’s when they get to the cereal aisle that things go wrong.

“Hey, wait up!” Dick says as he jogs up to the cart and puts 4 boxes of cereal in.

Jason gives him a look. “That’s not even on sale.”

“So...?” Dick doesn’t see the problem. These are his favourites. He should be able to buy his favourites because that’s what he deserves.

“And don’t you have like nothing but cereal in your cupboards?” Jason crosses his arms over his chest.

“You can never have too much cereal, Jay.”

By the look Jason is giving him Dick’s pretty sure that he doesn’t agree.

“Look, I’ll own that my cupboards are missing a lot of essentials and that’s solely on me. But do not deprive me of cereal or there will be consequences.” Dick even tries to use his best Batman voice to make sure Jason knows how serious he is about the cereal.

With a dramatic eye roll Jason mutters a “whatever” and goes back to pushing the cart down the aisle. They’re at the end of the aisle when Jason says, “Don’t use your Batman voice on me, it won’t work. You’re as intimidating as a kitten.”

Dick cant help it, he pouts. “I’m plenty intimidating.”

Jason gives him a look over his shoulder. “Right.” He keeps walking.

“Jaaaay,” It comes out more of a whine than anything.

“Look.” Jason stops and turns around. “I know you can be intimidating when you want and honestly when you’re angry I want nothing more than to steer clear. But the B voice? Just gonna piss me off more than anything and the last thing we need is to have it out over something so stupid.”

The fight goes out of Dick and he smiles softly. “Alright, I totally understand. That was a dick move on my part.” Jason rolls his eyes at the pun. “I’ll just have to get my way using my limitless charm and good looks.”

“Oh my god.” Jason huffs and starts pushing the cart again.

Shrugging Dick follows him. The two of them continue on as they were, Jason filling the cart and Dick mostly just spacing out. They’re standing in front of the pasta when Jason blurts out. “Shit, I missed getting peanut butter.” Jason looks back down the aisle and sighs.

“I can go get it, I remember seeing that.” Dick doesn’t remember. But he’s sure he can find it. From the look that Jason is giving him he clearly doesn’t believe him. “Hey, I was trained by the world’s greatest detective. How hard can it be?”

Jason shrugs. “Alright. I don’t care if you get two jars but if you don’t get me crunchy I will probably shoot you.”

Dick’s pretty sure Jason’s joking about shooting him. Probably. He hopes.

“You got it.” Dick shoots him finger guns as he backs out of the aisle. Jason makes a face before he turns back to checking his grocery list.

God, what is he even doing? He’s Dick fucking Grayson and here he is acting like some teenager that has never flirted in their life. Where did those finger guns even come from? Does he even normally shoot people finger guns?

It’s a flash of familiar blue that catches his eye. Dick stops  mid stride and turns to stare at the display. The display looks innocent enough, just a little 3 foot endcap full of novels. Romance novels. Romance novels with a man on the cover that bears an alarming resemblance to Nightwing.

“Oh my god...” Dick takes a tentative step forward and reaches for a novel with a ‘NEW’ sign underneath it. His fingers hover right above the book. A small voice in his head tells him ‘if you don’t touch it then it can’t be real’.

Someone accidentally hits him with their cart and starts apologising profusely but Dick just smiles kindly at them and tells them that it’s alright. When he finally manages to convince them it’s really alright he notices that his hand is resting on the book. Slowly he wraps his fingers around the side of the book and pulls it off the shelf.

Looking at it closer is almost worse. From the shelf he could pretend that he was misreading the cover. But now... now the cold hard truth is staring him in the face.

“Under the Red Cowl by John Peter Jackson,” Dick reads aloud. In a sort of mute horror he flips over the book and reads the back.

Now that Nightflyer, AKA Rick Ryder, AKA the world’s top male supermodel, is out from under the shadow of his former mentor Bat Knight he’s ready to have some down time. But the streets of Blüdhaven are never quiet and Rick finds himself biting off more than he can chew when a new gang of vampire smugglers enter the scene. To make matters worse The Red Cowl seems to have moved over from Gotham and is working the case too.

Is The Red Cowl here to help or to hinder? Red says it’s to help but Rick isn’t so sure. If their explosive past is anything to go by then Rick’s sure he’s in for a bumpy ride. Can the two of them set aside their differences long enough to save Blüdhaven before the city literally has it’s life drained away? Though if Rick’s being perfectly honest there is something that he’d be more than happy to let Red suck on.

Dick nearly drops the book.

“Oh my god” he mutters as he pulls out his phone, snaps a picture and sends it to Babs with an accompanying “????????!!!!!!!!!??????????”

Dick waits for an eternity for her to respond. Ok, maybe it’s like 30 seconds but Dick is having a crisis. So he does what any reasonable person would do in this situation, he starts flipping through the pages of the book and reading random passages. Well, not so random passages, he’s looking for ones where Nightflyer and Red Cowl are together.

Most of the early interactions are just them slinging banter back and forth. There’s some innuendo but nothing too graphic. It’s not until page 86 that things go horribly wrong.

Red Cowl drops to the ground next to Rick and puts a hand over the bullet wound. “Shit, this isn’t good.”

It’s fine,” Rick tries to get up but searing pain shoots through his shoulder. “Ok, maybe a little less than fine.”

Alright dumbass, I’ve got a safehouse not far from here, we can get you patched up there.”

I still don’t know if i trust you, aren’t we supposed to be enemies?”

Red lets out a sigh. “We were never enemies, Rick.” He reaches up and undoes the clasp on his mask. He pulls it away and Rick finds himself gazing into familiar green eyes.

Rick grasps at Red’s arm, only wincing slightly at the pain of moving his injured arm. “Jensen! I thought... You were dead. I mourned you. How... no, you can’t be alive.”

A faint smile spreads across Jensen’s face. “Come on, dumbass, let’s get you fixed up and I’ll tell you everything.”

Dick skims through a few pages and oh my god there they are having sex. Thank god his phone takes that moment to ping with a message.

Babs: Oh, I see that finally came out

Dick: WHAT DOES THAT MEAN

Babs: The book. I see it’s in stores.

Dick: YOU KNEW ABOUT THIS???

Babs: Yes? JPJ is a really popular super hero writer.

Dick: WHY DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS? BABS. THERE ARE BOOKS ABOUT ME. MULTIPLE BOOKS. THERE IS A WHOLE SHELF FULL OF THEM. AND THIS BOOK IS ABOUT ME AND JASON HAVING SEX.

Babs: You really don’t know about these books do you... they’ve been around almost since B first put on the cowl. Well, super hero romance and erotica that is.

Babs: The fake Nightwing ones have been really popular lately. Especially since JPJ started writing them. He started out writing fanfics and everyone was really excited when he got signed for full novels.

Dick: fanfics?

Babs: You know, when people write stories about their favourite shows, movies, books, or celebrities for free on the internet.

Dick: this is seriously something people do in their spare time?

Babs: well you fight crime in an outfit so tight you can’t even wear underwear.

Dick: touché

“Excuse me.” Someone says from behind Dick and he nearly jumps out of his skin.

“I’m sorry!” He all but leaps out of the way as a woman reaches past him to grab one of the books off the shelf.

“Oh, I see you’re a fan of John Peter Jackson too!” A brilliant smile spreads across her face as she looks at Dick expectantly.

“Umm yah, of course. Just can’t put down his books!” Dick plasters his best fake smile on his face and prays the woman doesn’t ask him to elaborate on say his favourite scenes or anything.

“He is the biggest fan of the actual Red Hood, aren’t you Dickie.” A voice says from behind Dick. He spins around and locks eyes with Jason. Jason winks.

“Ummmahhhuuuuuhhh,” Dick snaps his mouth shut because he can’t seem to make coherent noises any more.

“Really?” The woman looks between Jason and Dick. Oh god she’s probably waiting for one of them to elaborate. He’s gotta say something before Jason makes this worse.

“Yah, he-”

“I have a tattoo!” Dick says, perhaps louder than he needs to. The woman’s eyes widen slightly. “I mean, he uhh may have saved my life? At least once. So I thought hey it was the least I could do. You know, show my support. I think he’s just really misunderstood. People see the Red Hood and think ‘oh, that’s a man that likes crime’ but really I think he’s a nice guy. Or he seemed nice.”

God he’s babbling and Jason isn’t stopping him. Why isn’t Jason stopping him? Dick glances over at Jason who looks like he’s trying his hardest not to burst into hysterical laughter.

Desperately Dick looks back at the woman and blurts out. “Would you like to see? The tattoo! Would you like to see my tattoo?”

The woman’s face lights up even more. “Of course!”

So here Dick is, 26 years old, standing in front of a rack of romance novels and lifting up his jacket and shirt so a stranger can see what is essentially his tramp stamp. A tramp stamp of the Red Hood’s stylised bat symbol. It’s not his finest moment. But when he turns back and sees the delight on the woman’s face he only feels slightly embarrassed.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting that.” She giggles.

“What can I say, I’m full of surprises.” Dick winks at her.

She looks like she’s about to say something but then frowns and glances around. Dick’s about to ask what’s the matter but then Jason has an arm wrapping around his waist and what the actual fuck?

“We should let you get back to your shopping.” Dick glances up to see a smile on Jason’s face but it seems a little forced and ok yah he can see why the woman looked uncomfortable.

“Of course!” The woman forces her own smile. She looks at Dick and the smile becomes a little more genuine. “I hope you and your... I hope you two enjoy the book.” She gives them a little wave. “it was nice talking to you.” And with that she is turning around and heading down one of the aisles.

“it was nice talking to you too!” Dick yells after her.

“That’s a man that likes crime?” Jason hisses once the woman is out of earshot.

“I panicked!” Dick hisses back. “Also! Try finding out that people write about you having sex with other people!”

Jason raises an eyebrow. “Yah, I’ve known about that shit for years.”

Dick gapes. How is he the only person that doesn’t know about this? Making a disgruntled sound Dick puts a hand over his face. After a few uncomfortable seconds of silence he realises that Jason still has his arm wrapped around his waist.

“Dude.” Dick scowls up at Jason.

“What?” Jason snaps back.

Dick tries to pull away but is stopped by Jason’s firm hold on his waist.

“Fuck.” Jason nearly leaps away, cheeks red.

“Also, you didn’t need to scare her off.” Dick puts his hands on his hips.

Jason lets out a strangled noise. “Did you really want to be standing here talking bout your fictional sex life with a random person?”

Dick wilts a little. “Ok, point.” He scrubs a hand over his face. “Anyway, we should finish our shopping before it gets too late. We do have our, ahem, night jobs to go to.”

“Good point.” Jason plucks the book out of Dick’s hand and throws it in the cart.

Eyes wide, Dick grabs for the book but Jason blocks him with his body. “Why are you buying that?” Dick squeaks out.

“Well you seemed curious.” Jason shrugs.

“It’s about-” Dick moves closer to Jason and whispers. “It’s got us having sex in it!”

Jason just raises an eyebrow.

“Ugh, fine whatever.” Dick does an exasperated shrug and storms off down the nearest aisle. It’s not until he’s standing in front of the peanut butter that he even remembers why he’d went off on his own in the first place. Just to spite Jason he grabs the most expensive jar of organic crunchy peanut butter he can find.

When he finds Jason a few minutes later looking at dishwasher tabs he doesn’t even acknowledge Dick. Rude.

“I like lavender.” Dick says.

Jason spins on him, offended look on his face. “You do not wash your dishes in lavender. What kind of monster does that?”

“Lavender is calming?” Dick gestures at Jason’s aggressive stance. “Obviously something you need.”

“I’m not-” Jason puts whatever tabs he’s holding into the cart and starts heading down the aisle. “That’s just wrong.” Jason mutters.

Rolling his eyes Dick follows behind.

They shop in companionable silence for several minutes. Dick is casually texting Babs, getting a brief history on the publication of fake Nightwing romance novels and erotica. Dick’s not sure how he feels about all of this but the more he thinks about it the less surprised he is that it exists. And really how is this any worse than the tabloids following him around as Dick Grayson and trying to pry into his private life? At least these people writing fanfics and novels actually like him.

“Yo, Dickface.” Jason snaps his fingers right in Dick’s face.

“Jesus.” Dick hastily shoves his phone back in his pocket and glares at Jason. “What?”

Rolling his eyes Jason gestures at the produce department. “What vegetables do you like? Or I guess is there anything you refuse to eat?”

Dick glances around the produce department and realises 2 things. 1) he has no idea what half of these vegetables are and 2) he hasn’t bought vegetables in a really long time that haven't come precut in a tray with dip.

“Uhh, I don’t really like mushrooms?” He offers weakly. “But it’s not like a hate thing. It’s more of an I’ll eat them if they’re there I guess.”

Jason’s giving him this look. Honestly Dick is getting tired of these looks. He’s been in a grocery store more this one night than he has in the last 2 months combined. He’s had an existential crisis. And as much as he may like Jason he is starting to totally rub him the wrong way.

“Look, Jason, I don't-”

Jason puts a hand over his mouth and Dick is almost going to bite it when Jason retracts his hand and holds it out in a defensive gesture. “Just chill. It’s only produce. Why don’t you go pick out some bread?

“Sure.” Dick shrugs dramatically and storms off. Ok maybe he’s being a little bit over dramatic.

He tries to find his zen while he considers different loaves of bread. After taking a few deep breaths he feels better. He picks up a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread and then realises he has no idea what kind of bread Jason even likes. Glancing around his eyes land on Jason who is holding up a... long green and white vegetable. Dick has no idea what it is. Maybe he’ll just get a couple loaves? Yah that sounds good.

A couple minutes later he returns to the cart and carefully places a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, a loaf of ancient grain bread, and a bag of mixed bagels in the top of the cart.

“Nice.” Jason gives him a thumbs up.

Dick glances in the cart and sees at least 5 vegetables he can’t name. “Sooo, we good?”

Pulling his shopping list out of his pocket Jason glances it over again. “I think so? Unless there’s anything else you can think of?”

Dick shrugs. There’s so much stuff in the cart that he can’t even tell what may or may not be in there.

“I think I’m good.”

-x-x-x-

It takes them excruciatingly long to get through the line at the store. Dick is still smarting over how much that cart of groceries cost. Sure his bank account can more than take it, it’s just a wound to his pride that he was missing this many essentials.

“You wanna talk about it?” Jason breaks the silence.

There are a lot of things that Dick wants to talk about. He however doesn’t want to guess which “it” Jason is referring to in case he opens a whole new can of worms he didn’t intend to.

“The books.” Jason elaborates after another minute of silence.

“Not really. Just wondering why people want to write about me? it’s not like I’m Batman, or Superman, or even like The Flash. I’m not one of the Justice League. I’m just some guy that used to be Robin and now fights a losing battle in Blüdhaven.”

“Of course people wanna write about you. You’re friggin Nightwing.” Jason says it like this should explain everything. It doesn’t.

Dick frowns. “Ok but then they should want to write about The Red Hood too.”

“Nah man.” Jason gives Dick a sad smile. “They don’t know what to do with me. Is he a villain? Is he a hero? Is he a friend or an enemy of the bats? Who fucking knows. And I don’t blame ‘em. Feels like I don’t know some days either.”

The truck falls silent because neither of them know what to say. Jason’s gripping the steering wheel so tight his knuckles are turning white.

“Jay.”

Jason gives him a quick glance, “S’ok, Dickie. You don’t gotta-”

“You’re a hero. You’ve always been a hero. Even when you were clouded with rage and vengeance there was always so much good in you. I know you struggle and I want you to know that all of us do, just some of us are better at hiding it. And you... I’m always in awe of you because you’re always so true to yourself. You always do what you feel is right and stick by your decisions. And that, in my books at least, makes you a hero.”

They fall silent again but Jason’s grip on the steering wheel does gradually loosen. After they’ve parked and Jason has unbuckled his seatbelt he whispers a soft “Thanks, Dick.” before he pulls open the truck’s door.

Smiling after him Dick whispers back, “You’re welcome, Jason.”