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Dusk

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He's up on the mezzanine, watching the crowd below for one of Falcone's dealers, when Jason spots Tim. His first thought is the Replacement must be working a case on his territory, and he's pissed, but as he watches he realises that can't be true. Tim's dancing with the kind of friendly energy Jason associates with ecstasy, grinding against anyone who gets near enough. He's wearing black skinny jeans under a white sundress with little stars all over it - and isn't that a little revelation all on its own? - that's see through from the foam that fell from the ceiling earlier. There's a lot of glitter smeared around his face that catches the strobe lights, and even from here Jason can see the kid's pupils are completely blown.

He gets distracted, watching him, and only comes back to himself when he spots the dealer he's looking for weave past Tim towards the toilets on the ground floor.

Jason follows his mark with a pang of disappointment. He slips a domino out of his pocket as he follows the dealer into the unisex toilets, and it's clear as soon as the guy sees him he recognises Red Hood.

Jason crowds him against one of the sinks, conscious of the club kids milling around. Someone's getting blown in one of the cubicles, and in the queue for the others it's clear other couples have the same idea. People are applying make up at the sinks, snorting coke off the hand dryers, and generally milling around. It's almost busier than the dance floor.

The dealer leans back against the mirror, trying to put a bit of space between Jason and himself. Jason wraps his big hands around the sides of the sink, framing the guy, and leans in further.

"This is my territory," Jason says. "You don't work for me."

"I could," says the dealer.

"No, you couldn't. Falcone knows that. You gonna give him a message for me?"

The dealer pales, and gulps. It's clear he's thinking of the kind of message delivered in a body bag, but there's too many witnesses here for that (and the Replacement, out there somewhere). It's nice to know his reputation precedes him, though, and Jason lets him stew for a couple of seconds.

"You're going to give him a message," Jason says. "You're going to tell him to get the fuck out of Hood territory, or Hood is going to get up in his. He knows how messy I can make things." He lets go of the sink with one hand and sneaks it into the dealer's inside pocket, pulling out a baggy of pills. "I don't want his cheap shit around here. Everyone knows he cuts it with fucking laundry detergent."

He doesn't want any shit around here, which he's pretty sure Falcone knows, which is why he's risked sending a dealer onto Jason's turf. The easiest way to keep other people's drugs off his turf would be to have his own supply, but he's not willing to do that, so instead he gets to patrol all the nightclubs, kicking out guys who are more scared of their bosses than they are of him. Idiots.

Jason grabs the dealer's mouth with his free hand, using his hips to keep the guy pinned in place. He forced the dealer's jaw open, slipping a couple of fingers inside - right back to the guy's wisdom teeth - to stop him closing it. He holds the bag of pills open over his mouth and gives it a shake. Pills rain down the guy's front, bouncing off the sink and across the floor. He crushes the ones he can reach under his boot to stop the keener kids snatching them off the floor. Only a couple make it into the dealer's mouth, but that's enough for Jason. He doesn't actually want the guy to die of an overdose (at least, not with dozens of witnesses who saw him force feed him the pills), just to give him the kind of night that should make him rethink his career.

"Fucking tide pod shit," Jason says, pulling his fingers from the dealer's mouth and smashing his jaw shut. He holds the guy's nose until he's forced to swallow. If he's smart, he'll have kept the pills under his tongue so the reflect doesn't carry them down to his stomach. He doesn't look smart, though.

"If Falcone wants to bring this shit onto my territory, he better return the invitation, understand?"

Jason lets the dealer go, then, and steps back. He makes sure to stomp on as many of the rest of the pills as he can on the way out, but he's sure some have been 'rescued' already. He should let the bouncers know, so they're keeping an eye out.

He pockets the domino mask as he leaves the bathroom. It's ridiculous, really, but it's symbolic. The point is not to disguise the fact that the guy who entered the bathroom in jeans and a leather jacket was Red Hood, nor that Red Hood left the bathroom in the same jeans and leather jacket. The club is what makes him anonymous. Dusk's patrons are young and needy and scared of what the world thinks of them. They only talk about Dusk with other people they've seen there. It doesn't even have a sign over the door, and the queue to get in (when it does occasionally build up) is hidden by an alley.

Back on the dance floor he sees Tim again, still dancing. It's been, what, nearly two hours? Kid hasn't stopped.

Jason makes his way over to the bar and grabs a couple of bottles of water. He lets the bartender know he's dealt with the dealer, but to watch out for ODers tonight. The bartender looks more pissed than grateful, reminding Jason a bit of Dick, which makes him happy to break the conversation off there.

He has to lever a few people off Tim to give him the water. He takes it, blinking up at Jason for a second before apparently deciding not to care. His pupils are still massive, and Jason can see now the glitter on his face must have started out in a domino mask shape, which makes him smirk. Tim smirks back, as much as he can with his wet lips stretched around the water bottle. He drops the empty bottle on the floor, grabs Jason's hips, and starts grinding against Jason's thigh.

Fuck it, he's already paid his dues this evening. Why not have a bit of fun?

#

By three am the club is starting to clear out. Tim's coming down, but he's still handsy, and he's still hard. He's starting to realise that he might feel differently about Jason's thighs in the morning, but it's too late to do anything about it now so he might as well enjoy it while he can. He's always liked those thighs. Bare legs flashing across roof tops in the Gotham night, a very different physique to his predecessor, and adolescence had hit Tim like a freight train in his dark room, staring down at those thighs slowly emerging on the photographic paper like a magic trick. Red lights still make him horny.

He knew this was Jason's territory, of course. Every night he'd been working the case over the last three weeks he'd been conscious that Dusk was on Jason's turf, but he hadn't seen him once. He'd thought it would be a safe choice tonight, too: no chance of running into Dick or Bruce here. He hadn't expected to see Jason, either, but it was working out okay.

The fall air slaps his sweat damp face, cold and damp, and a whine escapes his throat. He doesn't even remember leaving the dance floor. He's still moving like he can hear music, but it's only his ears ringing. Everything smells weird and the street lights glow with a hum, or hum with a glow. He wants to touch them, but Jason's got his heavy arm around Tim's shoulders, pinning him to the sidewalk.

"How," Tim tries, and starts again, and tries again. "How do you do that? With your arms so heavy?"

"How do I what?"

"Do..." Tim gestures. "All your limbs are heavy. How do you move?" All his own limbs are heavy. God, he's tired.

"I'm a strong guy," Jason says, which Tim guesses makes sense. "What were you doing in there?"

"Letting off steam," Tim says. It's not true, but Jason doesn't know about the case, and it's better it stays that way. He wrapped it up last night, but he hasn't filed a report yet, so anyone checking will assume he's still working on it. Perfect alibi. That's a weird work. Alibi. A-lee-bee. All-ibbi. Al-eye-bye. A-lie-bye. A layby?

"On your own?"

Oh, right, Jason.

"Yeah."

"Do you know what you took?"

Tim nods. "Leftovers from a bust last week," he said. "Tested it at home." Leftovers from Larry.

Jason huffs at him.

"Are you judging me?"

Jason looks at him then, holds him with a gaze that's as heavy as his arm. The silence stretches out longer than Tim is comfortable with, but he knows his perception of time isn't great right now, so he stays quiet.

Jason sighs.

"You cold, Replacement?"

Tim nods.

Jason shucks off his leather jacket and slings it around Tim's shoulders. It's huge on him, longer than his dress, and it's warm.

"I want a cigarette," Tim says, to see what happens.

"There's a pack in the pocket," Jason says. "Where am I taking you?"

Tim wrinkles his nose at the question, and thinks about it. He sure as hell doesn't want to go to the Manor in this state (oh god, if Damian saw his dress. Oh god, Jason's seen his dress) and he doubts Jason would want to go there either. He's got a safe house nearby, but he doesn't want Jason to know he's got somewhere in Jason's territory, either. There's the Nest, but that's way over the other side of the city and he's cold and tired.

"Replacement?"

"The subway," Tim says. He can double back to the place nearby if needs be; otherwise he can ride it over to Burnside and take the worker's tunnel to the sewers, and the place he's got in a cellar over there. It's an old bar that's been condemned but not torn down; the tunnels date back to prohibition and if it wasn't for the fact the place is damper than the docks he'd be using it almost daily. Well, that and the risk of running into Steph too often. Everyone's so territorial in this town.

Oh hey, they're at the subway. How'd that happen?

Jason presses a metro card into Tim's hand. "I'm trusting you to get yourself home, okay?"

Tim nods. "I'm trusting you to... I'm trusting you too," he says. He doesn't know what with.

Jason turns him towards the steps, and Tim feels his eyes on him as he descends, making sure he doesn't trip over his own feet. It's... not a bad feeling.