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the art of failure

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It's one thing if Dick was ignoring him. Jason's been stirring up trouble lately, enough to get Bruce’s attention definitely, but he can understand if Dick was at least smart enough to know he's out of his depths with Red Hood. It's another to just not see Nightwing around at all.

It's a whole different fucking book to find out Nightwing retired.

Robins don't retire. They just don't have it in them. Jason can vouch for the fact that they'll sooner die doing something straight fucking stupid before retirement even comes to mind. Dick especially. Dick wouldn't know what retirement meant if it bit him in the fucking ass. He almost thinks Dick’s dead, that Bruce tried this bullshit ‘retired’ rumor to hide the fact that even his best, golden son died in his idea of ‘care’. That's not the case, fortunately or otherwise.

Jason still sees him around, obviously now located in Gotham as opposed to his precious Blüdhaven- and it's definitely Dick. He's really not surprised that it's difficult, even for him, to find out what could have driven Dick to retire completely. Bruce is good at hiding things and has clearly gotten even better over the years. All Jason can find are scraps of nonsensical rumors and blatant lies. Regardless of why, it's obvious it's true.

Dick is around but he's not a vigilante anymore.

In the end, Jason isn't sure why he cares so much. So Dick retired, that doesn't affect him- he keeps saying to himself as it obviously affects him very much. It just doesn't make sense and it bothers him in a way that crawls under his skin. He's not sure if he just wants a reason to be angry or if he wants the confrontation or if he's looking to reopen all those wounds his death left but Jason waits for an opportunity to talk to Dick alone.

It's not easy but then again, Jason doesn't go out of his way for it, either. When he does see Dick, he always seems to be with someone else, usually Drake or one of the other Bat kids. Annoying. The opportunity does eventually present itself, though. Gotham’s big but when Jason has some free time, he'll have a look to where Dick might be and hang out for a while. He keeps this weird pattern now that he never did before.

Today, he's on a nice rooftop for brunch. As nice as rooftops in Gotham can be. He eats here often and the rooftop seems to be strictly for Dick and his guests- like the ‘good’ son of a rich man he is, Jason notes sourly. His guest isn't Drake or one of his buddies, though, and Jason goes blind in rage when he sees Bruce at the table with him instead. He can't help it. Jason has seen Bruce face to face more than once now and he hates it every time.

It's difficult to get a reign on himself, to stop himself from doing something stupid like ruining their brunch just to piss Bruce off, but he manages just barely. If he talks to Bruce with Dick around he'll never get the answers he wants and he knows it. Dick will shut him out completely if Jason openly gets into it with Bruce. He's always taken their dad’s side. By the time Jason can see straight again, it looks like Bruce is leaving already, meal half finished and Dick half socialized.

Jason can read his lips from where he loiters patiently and he hates that he can hear Bruce’s rough, grumbly voice clear as day in his head.

‘Something’s come up,’ he says unapologetically. Jason can't see Dick’s lips from here but he assumes the answer is something overly forgiving. ‘We should do this more often, though.’ What, so he can leave in the middle more often? Bruce hasn't changed much but Jason already knew that. He looks away, annoyed, as Bruce and Dick talk a little more before Bruce finally leaves.

Jason moves in closer. Once he's gone, Dick stops trying to hide his obvious disappointment and visibly becomes dejected. He shoves a whole strawberry in his mouth and shortly after, irritably shoves the leafy part back out with his tongue. Just to make sure Bruce really is gone, Jason waits another minute and a half before actually beginning to make his way down to the lower rooftop.

As silent as he moves, the second he hops down onto the roof behind him, Dick is alert. Jason stops as Dick turns minutely in his direction. A quiet pause passes. Dick turns the other direction, suddenly gripping his fork more like a weapon than a utensil, and Jason just waits. Whatever he's waiting for, a reaction of any kind really, never happens. Dick looks fully over his shoulder, stares at Jason a moment, then scans the area before turning back. His grip lightens like he hadn't found any threats and the tension in his shoulders loosens.

There's no way.

Jason takes a step forward. Dick clutches his fork again and this time, looks squarely at Jason without hesitation. He doesn't say anything, though, and Jason stays dead still. His helmet absorbs the sound of his breathing and while he's not sure how good Dick's hearing is now or how loud his heart actually is outside of his own eardrums, the padding of his gear hides that, too. There's no way for Dick to know he's here. He hates that he's right and when he waits long enough, Dick turns away from him again. This time he doesn't relax, he's obviously unsettled, but he goes back to eating without acknowledging that Red fucking Hood is standing on the same roof as him.

Dick's blind.

This time when Jason walks forward, he doesn't stop. Dick jolts, more out of discomfort than surprise, and he turns to follow the sound of Jason’s steps across the roof.

“Bruce asked you not to sneak up on me,” Dick comments. He doesn't really think Jason is one of the waitstaff here but he's also not going to openly give away the fact that he knows he may very well be in danger. Jason turns off his voice modifier. He doesn't want Dick to immediately take him as a threat, he tells himself, and speaking in Red Hood’s voice after, for as far as Dick’s aware, trying to sneak up on him is pretty threatening.

“I'd hate to get on his bad side,” Jason replies. Dick seems perplexed, a slight tilt to his head as he tries to place Jason’s voice.

“Who are you?” he finally asks. No, of course he wouldn't recognise Jason's voice. The last time he heard him was nearly ten years ago and ten times as many packs of cigarettes at least. Jason never had his hopes up. He waves a hand in front of Dick's face but Dick doesn't respond to it, simply looking at where he's heard Jason's voice coming from. Not even low light vision; he's completely blind.

“Care to take a guess,” Jason says. Dick frowns. He watches, or pretends to, as Jason scrounges the table for something halfway decent looking. Ultimately, he's not that much of a picky eater and he tilts his helmet back enough to shove some food in his maw. All this fancy shit Bruce tries to buy Dick’s patience and understanding with leaves a bad taste in his mouth but free food is free food.

“Not really,” Dick answers eventually. He has yet to release his attack grip on his fork but unless Jason actually does something threatening, he's too stupid to protect himself preemptively. Whether or not he still can isn't up for question. Dick is focused on his mouth, or more specifically where his voice is coming from, and Jason has no doubt in his mind Dick can throw that fork with enough accuracy still to hit what little face he's showing to eat.

“I'm hurt,” Jason says flatly and Dick frowns even more. He doesn't realise how honest it actually is until he says it. Even if he wasn't blind, would Dick recognise him? He's not the spindly, soft faced kid he used to be. He's few things he used to be.

He can't do this.

“I'll see you around, Dickie,” Jason says before Dick gets a chance to say anything else. He's already moving to the edge of the roof when Dick gets to his feet, likely spurred by the sudden movement. “Can't say the same for you.”

 

Jason has to mentally regroup. He should leave it, he got what he wanted; Dick isn't Nightwing anymore because he can't see anymore. That's all he was looking for. Now he's looking for more. How did Dick go blind, what the hell is Bruce doing about it, why is ‘replacement Jason’ acting as his keeper? Not to mention a thousand other questions that gets Jason’s blood boiling just thinking about them.

Which is why he finds himself at Dick’s apartment a couple days later. It didn't take too much to track it down, in fact he just sort of followed Dick home one day. Why he's living on his own halfway across the city from his family makes Jason boil all over again. The lights are all off but- Dick’s blind, why would the lights be on? He lets himself in silently through a window.

Dick's hearing is exceptional.

“Hello?” Dick says somewhat aimlessly. Much like at brunch, his grip on his book changes to something far more offensive. Again, Jason makes sure his modular is off first.

“Hey, Dickie,” he replies, flipping a lamp on.

“You,” Dick scoffs. Even if he doesn't recognise him as Jason, he still recognises him from their last encounter. “Who are you?” he practically demands this time. Jason considers just telling him. There's no way Dick would believe him and all that would happen is a messy conversation of Jason digging out every mean bit of knowledge he has about the family to prove his identity.

“Still don't recognise me?” he says in false hurt. “Breaks my heart-” Dick is just as fast as he used to be- faster, maybe, but Jason is faster, too. Without warning, Dick throws the book slightly lower than Jason's face. He almost thinks it's him being too nice but when Jason moves out of the way, the lamp smashes behind him. Dick is using the darkness to his advantage- something he doesn't know is pointless to Jason's hood. Fighting Dick isn't in his plan, though, and neither is fighting Bruce.

Jason lashes out swiftly, throwing a still sheathed switchblade from his pocket across the room and knocking Dick’s phone off the table. Both items go clattering across the floor and Dick draws back swiftly.

“Let's not go callin’ daddy,” Jason says plainly. “I'm not here to hurt you. Ain't no reason to get Bats involved.” Dick freezes. A silent moment passes. Of course, he'd never openly confirm that. He's not that stupid. “What's wrong, Nightwing?”

“Who are you?” he demands again.

“How did you go blind?” Jason returns, getting straight to the point. Dick is already ill at ease with his presence, no reason to make him even more tense by dancing around the subject. The sooner Jason is satisfied, the sooner they can both be done with this.

“I asked first,” Dick replies.

“Answer my question and I'll answer yours,” Jason promises, perhaps not with any intention of a completely honest answer but an answer all the same. Dick gives him an annoyed look. “You stopped being Nightwing because you went blind. What happened?”

“Why do you care?” Dick asks shortly.

“Call me curious,” Jason assures.

“I'd rather call you an asshole,” Dick says.

“That's not very ‘golden son’ of you,” Jason replies. Dick only frowns in further annoyance.

“If you obviously know so much about me, why don't you know what happened?” he asks. Jason shrugs.

“I've been gone a while,” he says. “Fine, I'll go first. Red Hood, ‘vigilante’.”

“I've heard of you,” Dick says, unimpressed. “What do you want?”

“Just some answers,” Jason promises.

“Why?” Dick insists again.

“I'm your biggest fan,” Jason says sarcastically. Whatever it is, Dick seems to take his presence as less and less threatening as they talk. Either that or he's come to the acceptance that if Jason wants him dead, there's not a lot he'll be able to do about this. He irritably plops back in his chair.

“It was an accident,” Dick finally tells him. “Vigilante work. I was trying to stop this guy and some chemicals he was working with got airborne. He didn't mean to blind me.” He laughs a little but Jason is far from amused. “He kept escaping Arkham just to work on a cure for me. Bruce finally just let him work.”

“Who?” Jason asks. Dick stops smiling again.

“Doesn't matter,” he answers. It does, actually, because Jason is suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to murder the man responsible for doing this to his brother. This is exactly what he hates about this family. Dick is blind, he can't do literally the only thing he's ever known anymore because of one idiot's ‘mistake’, and yet that man deserves his protection? He took everything from Dick. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Jason will find out on his own.

“Satisfied, ‘biggest fan’?” Dick asks scathingly.

“Nah,” Jason replies. He looks at the broken lamp briefly before picking up the book Dick threw at him. Thumbing through it provides him with nothing more than braille pages. This was custom made, Jason notes, freshly printed. That doesn't surprise him.

“You said you'd answer my question,” Dick points out.

“Red Hood,” Jason repeats. “Red if you're not feeling wordy.”

“What do you want?” Dick asks mildly. Jason sets the book down on the table next to him and Dick ever vigilantly follows every sound Jason makes with his non-functioning but still bright blue eyes.

“Maybe I'm just checkin’ up on you,” he offers. “Seein’ how you're doin’.” Dick looks unconvinced. Jason flips a few switches to see which one turns on the lights but none of them seem to. “Do any of the lights in your place work?”

“How would I know?” Dick replies with a fleeting gesture to his face. He always was pretty but now that he's older he's- still pretty but with a jawline that could kill.

“Point made,” Jason murmurs.

“Someone that's been gone a while, that I knew, and that seemingly has an interest in my personal well being,” Dick lists off as he gets to his feet. Jason moves out of his way as he heads for the equally dark kitchen.

“You're never gonna figure it out,” he promises. Who would rightfully guess their brother back from the dead? “Don't hurt yourself.”

“But you're not going to tell me,” Dick answers. “Hungry?”

“I could eat,” Jason agrees. “I'm not the same person I used to be. It doesn't matter.” He's not sure where his want to be angry and to be justified in his anger went but he supposes he's glad for it. At the end of the day, Dick was probably one of the few good things in his life before he died.

“I'm doing fine,” Dick tells him rather curtly like he's tired of being asked and just wants to be left alone. Even the fridge light is burnt out. He feels around for a moment but it's nothing but styrofoam eat out containers. Obviously he can't be expected to cook; he wasn't even good at it when he could see. Jason loiters in the door frame while he watches Dick effortlessly navigate his own kitchen. Moving anything would surely throw him through a loop and Jason is sure so would helping.

“Why aren't you living with Bruce?” he asks, crossing his arms as he leans. “Alfred basically did everything for you, anyways.” It's absolutely killing Dick to not know who he is and Jason knows it. Dick's a detective, though, and a good one. He'll put it together eventually but it's another story as to if he'll believe the conclusion he comes to.

“Got tired of being coddled,” Dick scoffs, slamming the microwave harder than necessary. “Not that moving out particularly helped. Bruce still keeps eyes on me.” Jason glances around minutely. If the place had cameras, Bruce would be here by now. “Relax, there aren't cameras. Anymore.”

“Anymore?” Jason repeats but this doesn't surprise him either. Bruce's favourite, now blind son insisting on living on his own? He'd have to keep an eye on him somehow.

“Took ‘em down after he found out I was gay,” Dick says. “The hard way.” Jason can't help but laugh.

“He caught you with, what, a one nighter?” he asks. He always knew Dick had a preference for dudes but last Jason knew, he swung both ways. Things change, he guesses.

“Yeah,” Dick replies and he laughs a little, too. “I shouldn't be laughing, I was fucking mortified. I was so angry.” The patterns he has now make sense. Watching him go about his business dishing out leftovers is obviously something he's practiced a lot, whether he wanted to or not. The fact that he can hear Jason coming from only the slightest sounds, can pinpoint exactly where to look for those sounds, and pick up on where to throw something based on a nearly inaudible click- he's been like this a while.

“And let me guess, Bruce was just an overwhelming fountain of support otherwise,” Jason says sarcastically. Dick sets a plate at his little kitchen table and then the other and Jason waits until he sits down to join him.

“What? You mean finding out I was gay?” he questions with a scoff. “Dad doesn't care. I doubt he even makes a distinction.” Sure he doesn't. It's not as though Bruce pays attention or talks to his own kid enough to be given a chance to say something stupid about it, anyways. Jason takes his hood off and Dick stares at him. It really is dark in here, he can only faintly see by lights still shining in from outside.

If Dick were anyone besides Dick fucking Grayson, this would obviously be an opportunity for an attack. They're so close together, if Dick really wanted to, he could go straight for Jason's face. He's quick and at this range, Jason isn't sure if he's quicker. More so, if Dick makes the first move, Jason would only have half the reaction time and considering how ‘innovative’ Dick can be, there's no telling what he'd try. These awkward sort of pleasantries they have going on can change in an instant.

“What are you lookin’ at?” Jason scoffs. “Not lookin’ at.” Dick looks borderline offended for a brief moment and honestly, maybe that was a little unnecessary. Jason's not going to take it back, of course, and definitely not apologise. Not his style.

“Sorry,” Dick says instead. Jason feels that irritation again; the favourite son, always just a little better. “Usually I can't hear you breathing. It's weird.”

“You saying that is weird,” Jason replies. Dick huffs a small laugh as he begins eating. Again, Jason wants to be annoyed at how the prissy Dick Grayson can't even eat leftover pasta like a normal person but it becomes clear quickly his ‘formal’ knife and fork technique is less about being prissy and more about being blind. He uses his knife to figure out where his food is. A lot of his expectations about Dick are going to need some reworking.

They eat quietly for a while.

It's Dick's phone that breaks the silence. It begins making an annoying buzzing noise from the ground where Jason had knocked it to earlier and he glances at it.

“I got it,” Jason murmurs as Dick moves to get up. He picks up Dick’s phone, unsurprisingly unscratched, and hits answer before it goes to voicemail. ‘Bruce’ seems like a call neither of them want him to miss. Jason puts it in Dick’s hand and Dick instinctively puts it on speaker before putting it down on the table.

“Dick?” Bruce’s voice still makes Jason’s skin crawl. It’s unfortunate that he is glad Dick can’t see the expression he makes just in reaction to it. “Is someone there?” For ‘keeping an eye on him’, this is a delayed call. Jason has been here quite a while now, if Bruce really had that close of an eye on Dick he should have known something was wrong way sooner.

“No,” Dick replies as he goes back to eating. “Just me.”

“Are you sure?” Bruce asks. Jason leans back to look out the window and then look to the front door. He keeps a hand on his helmet just in case but he hasn’t seen anything and more importantly, he hasn’t heard anything. If Bruce was around, he’d know it.

“I can check?” Dick offers.

“The neighbor heard something crashing,” Bruce says.

“I knocked over a lamp,” Dick scoffs. Someone got good at lying in the last decade. He might be blind but he can still roll his eyes with the best of them. “The ‘neighbor’ can mind his own business. Again.”

“The window sensor went off,” Bruce says. Of course there were sensors on the window. Jason feels stupid for not checking closer or, at the very least, not assuming that every entrance on this place has some way of telling Bruce who’s coming and going.

“There was a cat,” Dick murmurs, trailing off slightly. Bruce is quiet for a moment, perhaps deciding if he’s going to be buying this or not. Jason isn’t sure why Dick is bothering covering for him when he could full well tell Bruce that he’s here and have Batman here in mere minutes, sooner maybe, depending on where Bruce even is. Maybe he’s discerned Jason as not being a threat to him- which isn’t wrong but Jason doesn’t like it anyways.

“Okay,” Bruce finally agrees. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Dick promises.

“One of those nights?” he asks.

“Yeah,” Dick says softly. “One of those nights.” Jason could do without ever having been a part of this conversation.

“Damian could-” Bruce begins, only to stop when Dick sighs particularly loud.

“No,” Dick replies. “Thanks but I’m about to head to bed, anyways.” Always ready to send someone else in his stead.

“Alright,” Bruce relents quietly.

“Love you, dad,” Dick murmurs. An awkward pause.

“I love you, too, Dick,” Bruce answers. That doesn’t sound weird and forced at all. Jason withholds the violent scoff he wants to make. Dick hangs up and an even more awkward silence looms in the room.

“There’s things you can still do without your sight,” Jason comments as if off handed. “If he really wanted to, Bruce could have you doin’ something, not sittin’ ‘round in the dark by yourself.”

“Stop,” Dick says shortly. He doesn’t say anything else, not an explanation or excuse, a clear indicator that he has no interest in this conversation. Jason does, though.

“Stoppin’ you from being Nightwing all together is bullshit,” he goes on more pointedly. “He can’t expect you-”

“I said stop,” Dick repeats. He stops for a moment, exhales deeply, then continues eating. “Bruce didn’t stop me. I’m useless without my sight. I’d just be in the way.”

“That’s fucking bullshit and you know it, Dick,” Jason snaps.

“Just stop it,” Dick bites back at him. “I’m not talking about this with you.” ‘With him’. Jason scoffs mutely but drops the topic. He knows for a fact even if Dick knew he was his brother he would be dodging this conversation by any means necessary. Dick isn’t broken, even if he feels like he is, he’s just used to being the perfect son perfect at everything always. Not being able to see apparently ruins that for him.

Dick shakes the heavy silence first.

“Besides, shouldn’t you be happy? There’s one less ‘bat’ running around,” he comments. Jason doesn’t dignify that with an answer.

“I should go,” he says instead.

“Yeah, you should,” Dick agrees, a little meaner than he has been thus far. Jason can take a hint.

 

So, Jason doesn’t exactly have a good reason for seeing Dick again. He got the ‘more’ answers he wanted, not that he was happy with them, and Dick was right, he should be happy that Nightwing isn’t around to be another pain in his ass. He isn’t. That being said, Dick is still his brother and that should be enough of a reason to check up on him again.

That and obviously the rest of the family isn’t doing a good enough of a job. Jason has snuck up on Dick more than once now, could have absolutely rendered him heavily injured if not dead if that was really what he wanted to do, and none of them would have been able to do anything about it. Hell, he doubts they’d even know about it right away. As billionaire Bruce Wayne’s son and Nightwing’s alter ego, Dick needs way more of a watchful eye than that.

Again, Jason finds himself at Dick's window a couple days later. Considering its not ground level, this is actually not the easiest thing in the world and that's especially so with the box he's brought with him. This time, however, Jason takes the precious few seconds to dangle outside the window while he checks the sensor. A combination sensor; there's surely similar ones on all the windows and doors. If anyone, or anything, enters or leaves this place, Bruce will know about it. It was bold of Dick to try to pass Jason’s entry as anything to do with a cat and surely, Bruce didn't believe it for a second.

At least he's learned when to let Dick lie.

Jason stops what he's doing as Dick comes to stand next to the window, ‘looking’ out. For a moment, he just waits and for some reason, Jason doesn't move. It's automatic, he supposes, assuming Dick is staring at him for being caught in the act of doing something he disapproves of. In reality, Dick has no way to know where he is unless he makes noise.

“You gonna let me in?” Jason asks. Dick exhales shortly.

“Fuck, Red, you scared the shit out of me,” he scoffs. “I thought I heard something.”

“And what, you just decided to stand at the window like a fuckin’ dumbass?” Jason says as Dick opens the window for him. He hoists himself inside. “Good to see your self preservation hasn't gotten any better.”

“It's usually birds not dangerous, volatile vigilantes,” he answers.

“Ouch,” Jason murmurs back. “Dangerous and volatile?”

“You've been tormenting dad for weeks,” Dick says. Jason just kind of shrugs in agreement. He's not wrong, after all. “What are you even doing here?” he asks tiredly. Jason drops the box he's brought with him and Dick very quickly adjusts his stance for flight mode. “What is that?”

“A lamp,” he says. Dick stares at him. “I'm not being an asshole, it really is a lamp. To replace the broken one?”

“You brought me a replacement lamp?” he repeats incredulously. “Why?” Yeah, in retrospect, Jason sees how that was kind of pointless to do. It wasn't even actually his fault, anyways.

“Aesthetic?” he says before he realises this, too, relies on Dick not being blind. “I didn't think this through that much, ‘ight?” Dick snorts a small laugh.

“Thanks for the gesture, I guess,” he says and his grin is definitely amused. Same ol’ Dick with a smile that could melt ice off a tundra. Jason absently pulls out his knife to cut the box open. He pretends not to notice Dick’s jolt at the sound of metal being unsheathed. “Are you only going to stop by when you have a reason?”

“What's’it to ya?” Jason answers mildly.

“You have been tormenting Bruce for weeks,” Dick repeats. They shouldn't exactly be friends right now, no. If Dick knew what was good for him, or anyone else, he would have told Bruce immediately but he doesn't and he hasn't. That's a ‘why’ that still eludes Jason. Dick hasn't figured his identity out yet, either, and likely won't. Is he really lonely enough to make friends with someone he considers ‘dangerous’?

Well it is Dick.

“I can leave,” Jason assures but he doesn't even pause as he begins emptying out the lamp pieces to begin putting together. He turns on the lamp that's definitely already been replaced to work not in pitch blackness.

“No,” Dick says. “It's fine.” It really shouldn't be. Jason's not going to argue that with him, though. He'd like to be able to keep an eye on Dick without having to sneak around him. Maybe Dick sees this as some kind of ass backwards way of helping; maybe he has told Bruce and now they're keeping an eye on each other. As much as Jason would like to think Bruce wouldn't let Dick openly convolute with someone he knows is dangerous just for an upper hand, it doesn't sound that unlikely.

Is Dick really still clueless about who he is?

“Are you trying to use me to get leverage on Bruce?” Dick asks and his voice is teetering that line of disapproved sounding like he expects an honest answer he won't like.

“Not everything's about Bruce,” Jason scoffs back. Dick looks unconvinced. “I'm not low enough yet to use Bats’ blind kid as leverage, thanks.”

Yet,” Dick repeats with an amused snort. “Sorry I didn't assume the mean vigilante tormenting my father is just hanging around because he likes me. Hank Renalds?”

“Who?” Jason answers blandly. “So what if I do like you and don't think your shitty family’s doin’ enough?”

“I'd tell you to mind your own business and trying to manipulate me against my family isn't going to work,” Dick assures. “Would I recognise you if I could see you?”

“Doubt it,” Jason says. “When’d you get so pessimistic?”

“I guess everything just seems dark to me now,” Dick sighs out. Jason turns to look at him and sure enough, Dick grins with far too amusement for his own shitty joke. He goes back to working on the lamp. Dick laughs quietly.

“Like I said, you want me to go, I'll go,” Jason promises.

“Tea?” Dick offers as he turns to head for the kitchen.

“If you're makin’,” he agrees. Jason looks around the room a little better with the light being on for more than a few minutes. There's white markings all over the floor and he wonders if Dick knows they're there. It's clear they're for indicating exactly where the furniture should be in case something gets moved out of place. They're worn in and it wouldn't surprise him if they've been here since Dick started living here: never move anything.

Sure, Dick navigates his own home with stunning precision and that definitely has to do with knowing the layout like the back of his hand, but he's not some glass gem. Jason also knows for a fact this stagnant living must be driving him stir crazy. Bruce, and hell the rest of the family too, seems to be treating Dick with kiddie gloves and Dick is letting them. It pisses Jason off.

“Red?” Dick questions curiously and Jason looks back at him emerging back from the kitchen with two mugs. He stops and stares- not staring, waiting. Jason realises, a little belatedly, Dick isn't asking his attention but his location. He can hear Jason working but doesn't know specifically where he is from that alone.

“Yeah,” Jason answers back and sure enough, that gets Dick moving again. How he can possibly think he's useless when he can pinpoint sound so easily is beyond Jason. He can still move, he can still think, just because he can't fling himself around the city doesn't mean there's nothing for him. Just look at Oracle.

Dick hands him a mug.

“If you're gonna make me drink unsweet tea, I'm not comin’ back,” Jason says. Dick snorts a laugh.

“What would I do without you,” he replies, taking his own cup and settling himself on the couch. “You know where the kitchen is. Do it yourself.”

“Alfred would be appalled at how you treat guests,” Jason murmurs, a joke he delivers maybe a little too deadpan but Dick laughs again anyways. His laugh always did make Jason feel better.

“Alfred isn't here, though, is he?” Dick assures. Jason exhales a small, amused sound of his own. He takes his helmet off as he walks past Dick to the kitchen. Dick follows the sound of his footsteps and when Jason returns, he looks at him in a way that definitely makes it seem like he's looking.

“‘ight, I know you can't see but you're definitely fuckin’ starin’,” Jason says. Dick makes a face of consideration but doesn't argue.

“I'm trying to put a face to the voice,” he explains. Jason sits on the coffee table and Dick tilts his head curiously for a moment before giving him a scolding look that's easily ignored.

“You wanna touch my face or somethin’?” he says and even he's not fully sure if it's a question or an offer.

“You wouldn't believe how much that really isn't all that helpful,” Dick assures mildly. “Unless you have, like, really distinct features or broken bones or something, faces all just sort of feel the same.” Jason shifts around to face the couch and by extension, Dick. He grabs Dick's wrist, a truly harmless and thoughtless gesture, and Dick yanks away so hard he almost dumps his tea in his lap. Jason pulls back in response, not as hard but hastily giving Dick his room back.

It's not silent when Jason can hear how hard Dick is breathing.

“Uh, sorry,” Jason offers because he really doesn't know what else to say. He was wrong; Dick is still fully aware he's a threat. The jolt he made hearing Jason pull out his knife was fully under the assumption that it was going to be used on him. Not being able to see him, Dick really thought Jason’s intention was to hurt him. He feels vulnerable and it shows all at once without warning and then not at all.

Dick exhales irritably.

“Don't do that,” he says plainly. “I can't see what you're doing, you know.”

“Give me your hand,” Jason says. Dick looks at him unsurely but ultimately, he willingly holds his hand out. This time, Jason thinks about what he's doing much more. He's careful when he touches Dick, makes sure he's not going to flip again and injure both of them, then brings his fingers to his face. He presses two of Dick’s fingers against the scar that cuts from the corner of one eye down across his cheek and over the corner of his mouth. Dick feels it tentatively and thoughtfully. Jason didn't have it before so he doesn't expect this to raise any questions about his identity.

“Ouch,” Dick murmurs as if he's one to talk. He's riddled with much worse ones- albeit not on the face. He's too pretty for that.

“I said the same thing,” Jason assures. Dick snorts a quiet but distracted laugh. His fingers stray away from the scar to Jason's jaw, feeling him out curiously. When Jason doesn't stop him, he continues to his cheeks then the bridge of his nose, his eye brows, then forehead and follows his hairline. “What happened to this not bein’ helpful?”

“Oh it's not,” Dick agrees. “I still have no idea what you look like.” Jason pushes his hand away.

“Enough,” he says mildly and Dick grins damn near mischievously.

“You offered,” he insists. “Your face feels nice if that counts.” If he knew Jason was his brother, if he knew how much Jason had changed, he surely wouldn't think so. He doesn't say anything and instead goes back to his tea. Dick stops smiling and awkwardly does the same.

"So, done with my ‘aesthetic’ lamp yet?” Dick asks.

“Almost,” Jason assures. “Then I'm replacin’ all the burnt out bulbs in your place.”

“Sounds like you plan on being around frequently enough to use them,” Dick comments with a suggestive arch of the brow.

“Sounds like having a pitch dark apartment is a safety hazard,” Jason replies. Dick is thoroughly unconvinced. “And what are you gonna do about it if I do, anyway?”

“You know I have a door, right?” he asks.

“Distantly,” he answers.

“I'm gonna order some food,” Dick says. “Hungry?”

“I could eat,” Jason assures. He watches as Dick slips off to the kitchen. It's weird, honestly, having wanted to be so mad at Dick and now- Jason looks at the window. Even opening it from the inside sets the sensor off. Bruce knows someone is here. He listens in to Dick speaking in the kitchen, not particularly quietly. As far as Jason can tell, there's no code; just Dick having a nice conversation with someone taking his order.

Maybe at some level, Dick does recognise him. Jason can't explain why else his brother would be stupid enough to try to make friends with someone like Red Hood. Dick has done some dumb things but if he truly thought Jason would hurt him, or anyone he cares about, he wouldn't be playing some game like this. Of course, Dick obviously doesn't understand how much Red Hood really, really wants to hurt Bruce.

Jason looks back as Dick pleasantly returns.

“Hope you like pizza,” he says.

“There are people who don't?” Jason answers. Dick laughs. Being this nice to someone ‘tormenting’ Bruce; Dick has to know on some level. He plugs in the new lamp right beside the other one and turns it on to make sure it works. “Now I'm done.”

“Describe it to me,” Dick urges in a tone far too dramatic to be serious.

“It's a lamp,” Jason replies blandly. “It's tall.”

“You have such a way with words, Red,” Dick hums sarcastically. “Thanks, though. Even if it's totally pointless, I do appreciate the effort.” Jason looks at the pair of mismatching lamps. This was stupid, definitely, but ultimately harmless, he guesses. It made Dick happy.

“Do thing one and thing two describe shit for you?” he asks. They obviously don't replace lights for him Jason notes as he begins working on changing out the ceiling one in the living room.

“Tim and Damian?” Dick murmurs. “If I ask, yeah. Why?” Jason shrugs, another gesture he realises Dick can't read.

“Curious,” he says simply.

“Are you going to tell me why you're so interested in me at least?” Dick asks. “Or ‘concerned’ about me if that's what we're going with.”

“Hard for you to believe someone actually cares what happens to you?” Jason asks back with more of a bitter bite than he strictly means. It's hard to help; as if everyone hasn't always care more about Dick.

“Someone like you? Without good reason, yeah, it is,” Dick agrees. “I don't know what you have against Bruce-”

“No, you don't,” Jason interrupts coldly. “Not everything's about Bruce, Dickie-bird.” The silence that falls is painfully calculating. It's hard to say for sure what Dick is thinking, if he's trying to remember someone Bruce wronged or if he's deciding if he truly does believe what Jason is telling him. This isn't about Bruce. Well, it's about his negligence to his own son but honestly, Jason doesn't think he could go through with using Dick like a token piece.

“Don't call me that,” Dick says, flat and leaving no room to argue. Jason wants to just out of spite, definitely, but he doesn't. He goes on changing light bulbs in silence. There's something different, meaner, about Dick and Jason isn't fully sure it just has to do with his sight.

The knock, fortunately, keeps the increasingly normal awkward silence short.

“Delivery!”

“I got it,” Jason assures.

“I'm not helpless, you know,” Dick comments but he sounds amused if nothing else. Jason makes a talking gesture with his hand that, as it turns out, is really just for himself. He hears Dick get up and move around behind him as he answers the door, though. There's a reason Jason doesn't use the door. Bruce might not have cameras on the inside, but he definitely is going to know who's coming and going from Dick's apartment.

Jason is immediately aware the peep hole has been replaced with something a little more useful. Additionally, it looks like Bruce, at the very least, can remote lock down the door. He wouldn't do the same to the windows, not when Dick is still fully capable of escaping if, and when, push comes to shove. Taking care of the angle of the camera, Jason answers the door and the guy delivering looks surprised. Most Gothamites know better than to be nosy.

“Uh, where's Dick?” the guy asks. Considering the phone conversation, it's not that surprising to find this guy on first name basis with Dick.

“What’re you, his boyfriend?” Jason replies shortly. “How much for the goods?”

“It's, uh, paid for,” he assures wearily. “Is Dick alright?” There's no reason this should rub him the wrong way, it's just some guy that probably sees Dick pretty often and has an ounce of empathy, but it absolutely does. Jason gives him a chilled, cutting look and the sheer amount of intimidation he puts out causes the delivery boy to shrink back.

“Are you tryin’ to suck him off, now?” he asks.

“Red!” Dick bites just as the guy is turning the same colour. Jason steps back as he hastily comes to do damage control, all but leering over Dick’s shoulder. “Sorry about him. I'm fine, thank you.”

“It's- uh, I'm glad you're alright,” the guy says, obviously doing his best to ignore Jason and obviously failing. Dick smiles. Bruce may not be attentive but he's definitely controlling. There's a reason this guy is so familiar with Dick and much like the neighbor, he's probably going to go off and tattle that someone is in Dick’s apartment. With Dick intent on covering for him, Jason doesn't see this as a particular issue.

The guy finally hands over the food to which Dick hands it to Jason anyways.

“Thank you,” Dick says politely and his sheer lack of interest in this guy is palpable. Just because he's blind now doesn't mean he doesn't have taste.

“Of course. Did you, uh, need help with anything today?” he asks. Jason makes an obscene blow job gesture with his tongue and hand and the guy somehow turns redder, urgently looking between him and Dick who, of course, is unaware of anything going on. As nice and attractive as Dick is, people actively pursuing him is nothing new- and just as annoying as Jason remembers.

“No, I think Red has everything handled,” Dick assures. Jason arches his brows at the guy suggestively before deciding Dick’s oblivious nature is doing a better job of breaking this guy’s heart than he ever could. He takes the pizza back to the kitchen table.

“Right,” he hears the delivery guy say slowly. “Well, if you do need anything-”

“I still have your number,” Dick assures in that way that assures he's never used it and doesn't plan to. He really hasn't changed, has he? As much as Dick is obviously a little more protective of himself, both in terms of his feelings and personal space, he's still the same charming, stupid Dick Jason remembers. He's always been way too busy thinking about his own things to actively notice when someone is crushing on him- unless it benefits him, of course.

Dick knows he's charming.

Jason flips the box open and he hears Dick close and lock the front door again. He digs a slice out while Dick makes his way over. As much as Dick should be living with someone, it's pretty clear why he got fed up with living at the manor and it has a lot more to do than just ‘coddling’. Jason steps out of the way to avoid Dick walking into him. Dick takes a second to feel for the edge of the box, feels out the length of it, and then grabs a piece. The two of them standing around eating pizza directly out of the box almost feels like they're kids again.

“Shouldn't you have a cane or something?” Jason asks.

“I do,” Dick replies.

“Shouldn't you use it?” he specifies. Dick scoffs.

“Who says I don't?” he asks mildly.

“I've never seen you with it,” Jason says.

“How long have you been stalking me?” Dick asks. ‘Stalking’ seems a little mean- not incorrect but mean. He changes the topic.

“Delivery boy wants to get in your pants, you know,” Jason comments off handedly.

“No he doesn't,” Dick says in exasperation, like he's been told before just as fruitlessly. “He's just a nice kid trying to help.”

“Yeah, help himself into your pants,” Jason assures. That ‘kid’ was easily a couple years older than Dick but by voice only, that's obviously something Dick can't tell. Judging by how Dick acted when Jason tried to touch him, he's not too worried about someone trying to take advantage of him. He's still obviously capable of laying out most people.

“You sound like Tim,” Dick scoffs. The statement feels like someone dragging bad chalk down his spine. Jason silently sneers and that urge to want to fight, to want to initiate an argument Dick would have no idea the cause of, is back tenfold. Same ol’ oblivious Dick.

“I gotta go,” Jason says with a chill he can't help. Considering how bemused Dick reacts, he obviously hears the difference in tone. “Thanks for the pizza.”

“Yeah,” Dick murmurs and he sounds scorned almost, like a kicked, blind puppy. “Any time.”

Jason leaves before Bruce can send someone competent to check on Dick.

 

Annoying. Jason sits on the roof of Dick's building while he waits for the annoying guest to leave. He might be plain clothed today but that doesn’t mean he wants Mr. Replacement seeing him even if he can't recognise him. If he keeps hanging around Dick’s apartment in his gear, Jason knows someone's going to wise up eventually and that's going to make it a lot harder to check up on his brother. Wearing different ‘disguises’ isn't going to make Dick suspicious, anyways.

As if to prove his point, Jason has been loitering around way too long for Dick’s little seeing eye bird to not realise something’s up. He's even smoking. If Bruce knew in any regard that Red Hood not only knew about his blind son but was actively engaging with him in his own home, Jason knows he wouldn't be quiet about it. He'd growl and spit and ‘warn’ to high heaven.

He can't lose another son.

Jason watches as Drake finally leaves, still seemingly unaware of his presence. As annoying as the kid is, at least he's actually around. Maybe he does know. Dick has never been that good of a liar but if he's passed Jason off as a different, more ‘benevolent’ vigilante, they might, might, be wise enough to give Dick his space and begrudgingly accept Jason’s ‘eccentrics’.

Or maybe he's right and Dick is trying to help Bruce get a one up on Red Hood.

But that's seeming more unlikely by the day.

Once he's sure Drake is gone, Jason stubs out the remains of his cigarette and gets to his feet. He brushes himself off, grabs his bag, and begins the climb down to Dick’s window. There's no way for him to get past the sensor without triggering some kind of reaction, not without seriously getting into the hardware of it, so he doesn't bother trying. He just knocks.

“Red?” Dick questions wearily.

“Expectin’ someone else sneakin’ in your window?” Jason asks. Dick exhales shortly but, all the same, opens the window for him to climb through upon confirming his identity. The sudden knowledge that anyone with a good, clear voice recording of someone Dick trusts could be willingly welcomed in rubs Jason the wrong way.

“You see my concern,” Dick says and he crosses his arms stubbornly. “Still haven't figured out where the door is?”

“Nah,” Jason assures and Dick cracks a smile. He shakes the bag he's brought with him and Dick’s expression goes, extremely swiftly, from briefly alarmed to curious. As much as he knows Jason is a threat to him, even now he obviously doesn't want Jason to think he thinks that. “Hope your stove works.”

“I think so? What did you bring?” he asks bemusedly.

“Food,” Jason replies and Dick looks at him blandly. “Avgolemono turkey soup.”

“I-” Dick hesitates. If Jason told him now, he'd have to believe it, right? Everything Dick has ‘collected’ on his own, he'd have to believe Jason is his little brother back from the dead. “Haven't had that in a while.” It's one of Dick's favourites- not in a way that he’s list it if asked but rather in a way that it would require at least a dozen people physically stopping him from making himself ill on it.

Cooking is something Jason has learned to do quite recently. He’s good at it, at least he thinks so, and as much of a pain as avgolemono is to make, he doubts Dick is picky enough to not like it. Jason begins moving around the kitchen, now with an actual light source, and Dick quietly sits at the table to listen. Is it all the differences between teenage him and now him that’s throwing off Dick’s ‘masterful’ detective work? Maybe it’s his blindness.

Or maybe it just killed all confidence he had for any skill he had.

“You came over just to cook for me?” Dick eventually asks. Jason glances at him out the corner of his eye, Dick ever constantly following the sound of his movements; of his voice. He doesn’t say anything. “Why?”

A question they keep circling back to.

“Because you need to eat somethin’ ‘sides take out everyday,” Jason answers blandly. “And Alfred obviously ain’t stoppin’ by everyday.” Dick snorts a laugh.

“What do you want from me?”

It sounds- broken. Jason can’t help the way he stops for a moment, long enough for Dick to notice clearly, but not something either of them acknowledge. After all this time, after everything Dick is still capable of but unable to do, he doesn’t understand why anyone would go out of their way to help him if they’re not getting anything back; if he can’t be useful back. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn if that’s why he left Bruce’s ‘coddling’, as if Bruce ever coddled.

Dick just hopes they’ll forget about him.

“God, you still talk so much,” Jason murmurs. “What I ‘want’ is some help.”

“I’m not exactly cooking ready,” Dick scoffs back. Jason drops a bag on the table in front of him and Dick blinks curiously but, even with his inherent sense of danger, he can’t help but feel around. “What are these?”

“Herbs,” Jason answers shortly. “Pluck ‘em.” If Dick was planning on arguing, which perhaps he was, he decides against it. He might fumble with it in the beginning but it’s Dick and it doesn’t take him more than a couple minutes to get it down without trouble.

Now Jason doesn’t want to tell Dick his identity for a different reason. To his siblings, to his own father, Dick feels like an obligation and if he finds out Jason is his brother, he’ll just think he keeps coming around for the same reason. For the time being, it’s best to let him think they’re strangers or, at the very least, old friends.

“You’re not a Falcone, are you?” Dick ask.

“God no,” Jason replies. He seems relieved at any rate. “Watch the stems. Don’t. Don’t watch the stems.”

“If you keep doing that, you will hurt my feelings,” Dick says in a less than serious ‘matter-of-fact’ tone. “I’m very sensitive about my impairment, Red.”

“Shut up, blindy,” Jason scoffs back. Dick snorts a laugh. “Doesn’t anyone ever bring you real food? Drake was just here.”

“You’re like a guardian angel that came down just to nag me about my family,” he murmurs.

“Your family sucks,” Jason says.

“You suck,” Dick says. Jason scoffs louder but it just gets another laugh from Dick. “Are you ever going to tell me who you are?”

“I told you, Red Hood,” he answers mildly. “Who I was before doesn’t matter.”

“Were you always a vigilante?” he asks.

“I wasn’t a villain if that’s what you’re askin’,” Jason assures.

“It’s okay if you were,” Dick murmurs. “People change.” Sometimes too much.

“I wasn’t,” Jason says again, more annoyed this time. Dick leaves the topic alone. As much as he really would give someone who used to be a ‘bad guy’ a second chance, the situation here is almost exactly the opposite. From Robin to killer; Dick would surely have a lot to say about that. Jason takes the herbs out from under him.

“My family isn't that bad, you know,” Dick says softly after a while. It's always so fucking quiet in here. He can hear himself think. “I don't know what they did to you and I'm sorry-” He can be sorry for anything, can't he? “But they do a lot for me, Red. It might not seem like it to you, but they do.”

“I'm not interested in hurtin’ your siblings,” Jason assures him fleetingly.

“Just Bruce?” Dick says. Jason goes on cooking without a word. No, as much as Dick may act like it sometimes, especially when it comes to his own recklessness, he’s not stupid. Jason isn’t going to lie to him, doesn’t even want to, but openly agreeing with it is just going to end to another unpleasant conversation neither of them want.

It’s so fucking quiet in here.

“Don’t you ever listen to music or the news or somethin’?” Jason asks mildly. “It sounds like a fuckin’ morgue in here.”

“Not usually. It’s distracting and I like knowing what’s going on around me,” Dick assures with a nonchalant shrug. Most of his awareness is now based on his hearing, of course he doesn’t want to obscure it. “I listen to case files sometimes.” It’s so ridiculous and yet so very Dick.

“Solve any of them?” Jason asks.

“Not as many as I used to,” Dick says and sighs quietly. As much as he's not looking to make it his full time job to make Dick feel better, what is Jason supposed to do when he keeps acting like a kicked puppy?

“Maybe if someone was better at describing things to you,” he comments off handedly.

“Do you have anything to talk about that isn't criticising my family?” Dick asks and he pretends to look at his nails in boredom. “You could tell me about your day instead?” The thought of Dick wanting to hear how his day was is, honestly, briefly perplexing. It's more the thought that anyone wants to hear about his day but especially Dick.

“‘ight,” he murmurs. More shocking is, Dick listens. Jason, of course, leaves some things out but overwhelming, he just tells Dick about his day. Chasing down some dealers that he definitely didn't beat within an inch of their lives and definitely didn't kill any of. Cleaning out a warehouse definitely not so his own people can move the product for themselves. Harassing politicians. The usual stuff.

Dick doesn't so much participate as he just nods along and hums little noises of agreement. It's hard to tell if he takes Jason’s word at face value or if he knows well Jason kills and has suddenly decided that's not fully against his ethics.

“You keep busy,” Dick notes when Jason eventually trails into silence. “That's good.”

“Because it means I'm not botherin’ Bruce?” Jason replies mildly.

“Not everything is about Bruce,” Dick says.

“Fuckin’ brat,” Jason scoffs and Dick just grins at him. He doesn't mind the quiet as much anymore. There really isn't much Dick can help with, mostly because the difficulty of this recipe comes more from technique than excessiveness, but he tosses little things in front of Dick as he comes across them and Dick diligently figures his way through them.

The fact that Dick still somehow thinks he's ‘in the way’ pisses Jason off to no end.

“Here,” he murmurs exclusively to let Dick know where he is. Dick looks up at him curiously and when Jason holds a piece of turkey in front of his face, he perks up like a cat catching a whiff of tuna. As well as he can hear, watching him try to reach for the meat Jason holds out is a struggling effort at best. He saves them both the pain of this and instead, just shoves it in Dick’s mouth. This, of course, gives away Jason’s position and Dick instantaneously latches onto his wrist in what is actually a very painful grip.

Which he is immediately distracted from by turkey.

Jason waits about half a moment while Dick makes a content noise and chews.

“Can I have my hand back?” he asks. Dick quickly lets go, his face flushing pink. “Thanks.”

“Sorry,” he says softly. “That's really good, wow.” Jason clenches his fingers as he looks at his wrist. If he had felt threatened, Dick absolutely could have broken his wrist if not more- shattered a couple small bones in his hand. Dick may be stupid for letting someone like Red Hood this close to him but Jason supposes he's just as stupid. As much as Dick isn't malicious, the soreness in his wrist really drives home how scared and jumpy he is.

“Thanks,” Jason replies, a little too delayed and Dick awkwardly turns away.

“I, uh, I really don't mind you hanging around,” Dick assures. “I appreciate the help and all but just having some company that isn't-” Obligated. “Family is nice.”

“You must be real fuckin’ lonely if you're fine hangin’ out with someone like me,” Jason says.

“You seem like an okay guy, Red,” Dick insists with an amused smile. “Besides, sometimes dad needs a reason to think a little more critically.”

“Critically,” Jason repeats. “Uh huh.”

 

Jason keeps his distance for a while even if, he thinks, in the grand scheme of things a week really isn't ‘a while’. It's a combination of having other things to do that leaves him too exhausted to bother and intentionally not wanting to give Dick any ideas that he'll always be around. Besides, Dick is going to be a lot less forgiving when Jason actually starts hurting Bruce.

Still, he shouldn't be surprised. He knew Dick was lonely and he knows Dick is needy for attention. Before, there was never any lack of it for him but now that he's almost entirely put himself on house arrest unless he's with someone, obviously things are different. Jason really, really shouldn't be surprised Dick is desperate enough to get attention from anyone.

Not to say Jason isn't still royally pissed off.

Dick, sitting on his couch, with the fucking delivery boy nuzzled up to him. This sure as hell isn't a friendly social call considering professional pizza boy is pressed right up against his neck and his hand is way too high on Dick’s thigh. Dick used to have standards, at least. Bruce definitely isn't paying him to keep his son this kind of company.

Jason takes his helmet and heavy vest off without thinking about it really, leaving them on the rooftop before dropping down to Dick’s window. He doesn't knock, doesn't even hesitate, just flings it open and tosses himself inside. Dick is on his feet instantly and, fucking surprise, standing in front of his little friend protectively.

“Interruptin’ somethin’?” Jason asks scathingly.

“Red,” Dick replies, exhaling a small noise of relief. “I have a front door, Red!”

“Did seein’ me make your balls drop, buddy, is that it?” Jason says, all but ignoring Dick. Unsurprisingly, the guy moves away from him in a hurry when he moves closer. “What's wrong, wanted to make sure you got yours before someone else did?”

“Red, knock it off,” Dick demand. He grabs Jason's arm and Jason throws it off instinctively. “This really isn't any of your business.”

“Yikes,” Jason replies. “I'm hurt, Dickie-bird. Keepin’ some asshole from takin’ advantage of a blind guy not my business? How ‘bout ol’ Timmy boy? Is it his business?”

No,” Dick says irritably. “No one's taking advantage of me. You need to leave.”

“I just got here, baby. Now tell me, what's a thirty- thirty five?- year old man want with a twenty four year old, beautiful blind kid?” Jason urges. He makes to walk around Dick, to physically put hands on the guy, but Dick moves into his way again with extreme deliberation. “Nothin’ to say? Weird almost as if daddy Wayne put you in the perfect position to let Dickie rely on you without you actually having to do anything. Not good at pickin’ up guys that know better, eh?”

“I won't ask again,” Dick snaps at him. “Leave, Red.”

“Or what? You'll call dad on me?” Jason asks coldly.

“Yes,” Dick answers. Maybe it's an empty threat but it doesn't matter. Dick knows what kind of threat that is. He's not even angry. Jason knows angry and he knows they can argue for hours without getting anywhere; stubborn just like dad. No, Dick just wants him to leave.

“Whatever,” Jason says, patting Dick heavy on the shoulder. Dick shoves his hand off. “Good luck, birdie.”

 

It's the better half of two weeks before Jason comes around again. Two weeks of being annoyed; at Dick and delivery boy and Bruce but mostly himself, if he's honest. He knows he had no reason to react that way. What Dick does and who he does it with is no business of his. It still makes him so angry, though, and he's more annoyed about that than anything else.

He brings more food with him.

“Red?” Dick asks tentatively when Jason taps on his window. He's obviously not expecting anyone else but it has been a while.

“Santa,” Jason replies. Dick lets out a small, unamused sigh but, all the same, opens the window for him. Jason shakes the bag he has for Dick to hear. “I brought food.”

“Red,” Dick says and he sighs. “I'm sorry.” Jason had no plans on apologising. In fact, he had no plans on bringing it up at all. He should have known better than to think Dick would just let them move on like nothing happened. Jason walks past him towards the kitchen and Dick inherently follows.

“Nah, it's fine,” he assures. “You were right, it was none’a my business.”

“No, Red, I- you were right,” Dick insists. “I knew he was a creep and I shouldn't have- you were right to be upset.” That's not surprising. Dick isn't nearly as ‘playboy dumb’ as he comes off as being.

“Whatever,” Jason says noncommittally and he waves a hand briefly before remembering Dick can't see it. “No harm, no foul, right?” He thinks they're both fully aware Jason would have seriously injured that man if Dick hadn't stopped him. It's not the first time Dick has stopped him from doing something stupid and malicious and it won't be the last.

“Okay,” Dick replies, distinctly unsatisfied with how this played out but he drops it all the same. “What did you bring?” He's lonely. Jason knows that. The opportunity was there and Dick took it in a lapse of judgment. Honestly, it was probably because Jason had stayed away so long. Just like when they were kids, he steps all over Dick's feelings without meaning to.

“Guess,” Jason answers. Dick pouts initially but Jason pulls the cast-iron skillet from his bag and gives it a thump and Dick perks up curiously. He tilts his head as Jason sets it on the stove top and starts to get to work.

“A pan?” he says. He comes to stand nearly over Jason's shoulder and Jason nudges him out of the way a little.

“You got like two,” Jason replies.

“I can cook some,” Dick assures.

“That sounds like a disaster waitin’ to happen,” Jason says. He loudly sets a couple potatoes down.

“Potatoes,” Dick says but he looks puzzled when Jason does the same for the carrots. He wanders around, interested obviously, but trying to stay out of Jason's way. The fact that he's so starved for something to do he's like a kid redirects all of Jason's annoyance back at Bruce. He tosses down the package of meat and balls up the bag.

“Season these,” Jason instructs, grabbing Dick by a belt loop and pulling him towards the counter. He moves the salt and pepper audibly nearby and Dick seems surprised. Like last time, he's more than happy just to have something to do. Jason watches him more out the corner of his eye than anything as he peels potatoes. He doesn't consider himself a very patient person by any stretch of the word but things have always been different when Dick is involved.

Dick fumbles around, there's really no helping that, but he manages to get the package open and awkwardly position the meat. He makes a face at having to touch it but it quickly disappears when Jason looks over his shoulder to make sure they're good.

“Steak and potatoes?” he asks. Jason holds a carrot slice in front of his face and it takes a few seconds for Dick to notice. He takes it tentatively with his teeth but likely has already presumed what it is. “And carrots.”

“Bingo,” Jason says. Dick laughs.

“You don't have to keep cooking for me,” he assures.

“Gotta? No. Gonna? Ya,” Jason replies. Dick smiles as he carefully salt and peppers the two steaks. When he's done, he washes his hands and moves aside to let Jason do the heavy lifting.

“If it helps,” Dick says softly. “I wasn't actually interested in him. He was just there and I thought you'd gotten bored of me.” He says ‘bored’ but it sounds like ‘fed up’.

“I have shit to do sometimes,” Jason answers. It isn't a lie but he knows he stayed away a lot longer than he needed to. “Next time I'll text you or somethin’.”

“I'd like that,” Dick says with a smile.

They talk about something else.

 

Jason finds himself coming over every couple days to coming over every other day to just plain coming over everyday. It becomes a habit; he finds time during the day to pick up groceries and then spends the night cooking at Dick's house. He makes the mistake of texting Dick one day when trapped in a ‘meeting’ with some local gangsters and now Dick periodically texts him throughout the day. Jason always replies, eventually, so he supposes he's half to blame.

He gets comfortable.

It's so nice having his brother back, Jason forgets the kind of man Dick is. He isn't sure why; maybe because they don't bicker like they used to. Maybe he bought too much into Dick not being Nightwing anymore. Maybe he's just stupid.

Jason climbs into Dick's window as usual. He doesn't really knock anymore, Dick has become accustomed enough to hearing him that he doesn't need to. Which is why it's especially startling when Dick nearly shoves him back out the window. Jason catches himself easily and once he's not caught off guard, gives Dick a dirty look.

“What's your fuckin’ problem, Dickolas?” Jason snaps. Dick already looks pissed which, just inherently, makes Jason pissed. “Are you tryin’ ta fuckin’ kill me?”

“You said you were a vigilante,” Dick replies, angrily.

“What fuckin’ about it?” Jason demands before his brain catches up with recent events. He suddenly knows what this is about. “Dick, you don't seriously-”

“You're not a ‘vigilante’,” Dick barks at him. He tries to shove him again and Jason pushes his hands away irritably. “You're just a murderer.”

“They were drug pushers!” Jason snaps.

“You strung their bodies up!” Dick replies.

“They were targeting kids!” Jason assures.

“They belonged in prison!” Dick spits. This shouldn't be surprising. Dick never understood then and he doesn't understand now. The golden son that won't even take action against the man who took his life away. Everything is forgivable- except anything Jason does.

He doesn't say anything and Dick puts a hand over his eyes in frustration. Not for the first time, regrettably Jason's glad he can't see. They're both quiet. Dick is mad, definitely, but he also seems hurt and Jason isn't sure why. He knew about Red Hood already, knew he was out for Batman’s blood and surely knows this isn't the first time Jason has killed people. He has no reason to be making a big deal out of it now.

“You knew Red Hood didn't have a no kill code,” Jason says firmly. Dick, for maybe the first time, turns away from his voice. “They got what they deserved. And you know what, Dickie-bird, if I ever get my hands on the guy who did this to you? I'll do things much worse.”

“Get out of my apartment,” Dick says.

“What's wrong? Thought you could change me for the ‘better’ and now you have to run home to Bruce with your tail between your legs in defeat?” Jason asks sourly. Dick shakes his head in disbelief.

“For someone who insists not everything is about Bruce, you sure like making everything about him,” he replies. Jason can't help but sneer. “Do you really strive to make yourself so unlikable the only reason you can fathom someone wanting anything to do with you is to manipulate you?” He's forgotten how easily Dick can hurt without even meaning to; how efficiently he can dig into the source of an issue and twist. He doesn't even know ‘Red’ that well.

“The ‘justice’ system is a sham,” Jason bites.

“But you, righteous judge, jury, and executioner, are flawless,” Dick says sarcastically. “Get out.” Jason doesn't want to leave. At least, he doesn't want to leave until he knows Dick won't permanently stop talking to him. He'd always forgive Jason eventually, once he calmed down and thought things out better, he'd always find Jason and talk things out more calmly. Everything is forgivable, especially when it comes to Jason.

But Dick doesn't know he's Jason.

Jason moves forward a little too quickly and urgently, Dick jolts away from him. His eyes flicker around wildly as if he's trying to see and failing. He's always been afraid, that's nothing new, but again the reaction stands out all at once. It hits Jason hard how much Dick really thinks one day Jason's going to hurt him. He definitely knows Red Hood is a dangerous killer.

He's not even wrong.

Dick exhales tensely when Jason doesn't try getting any closer. He takes another step away and runs a stressed hand through his hair again.

“Get out, Red,” he says again, calmer this time as if he's afraid of making Jason any angrier. Maybe they're afraid of the same thing. Jason takes a step back and Dick focuses on the sound he makes as he does. Red Hood is unpredictable and Dick is- lonely.

“Sorry,” Jason murmurs. He's not sure what for or even if there's anything for him to be sorry about but he doesn't know what else to say to make sure Dick doesn't give up on him completely. He takes another step back towards the window. “I'm leaving.”

Dick doesn't say anything.

Jason leaves.

 

A couple days pass but all Jason can do is wait. He doesn't particularly like to, not in situations like these, but he learned to be a patient man long before he died. Long before he was Robin, even. He might not consider himself a patient man but he knows it. His annoyance grows but his anger doesn't- something he's coming to find often when Dick is involved. If Dick expects him to admit he's wrong, he's going to be waiting a long time.

Jason's more annoyed that he knows that's not what Dick is waiting for.

Dick texts him first a few days later. Jason's mostly just glad his temper still hasn't royally fucked things up yet. Again, he think on some level Dick recognises him. There's no way Dick would be this nice to any ol’ common ‘murderer’. But, then again, it is Dick. He has too much kindness in his heart sometimes.

Dick< Busy?
Jason> Are you gonna call to yell at me

Jason knows he said some things he didn't need to. Doesn't he always? Killing may be against everything Dick believes in but he's always had friends who didn't feel the same. When it comes to people he likes, and trusts, he always seems to be able to look the other way even if it is with noisy complaining. Brother or not, Dick likes him.

Dick trusts him, or his judgement at least, and that's a little more alarming.

Dick< :/
Jason> Do emojis have the same impact when they're phonetically read out?
Dick< So you're not busy?
Jason> Tell me what you want first
Dick< You're being awfully mean to a blind guy…

As it so happens, he is fairly busy at the moment. Jason's not actually going to tell him that, though. He knows he had no reason to tell Dick how bad he wants to hurt the man that hurt him or how much he would given the opportunity. Dick surely already knows anyways. Reaffirming his aptitude for violence wasn't exactly proving himself worthy of trust.

Jason> And?
Dick< You haven't been around in a few days. Are you alright?
Jason> You didn't sound too thrilled to see me last time I was around
Dick< I know…
Dick< I'm sorry.
Jason> Aren't you usually

Why Jason allows himself to say anything to anyone ever is honestly a mystery. A few minutes go by and Jason is forced to contemplate what the hell is wrong with him. Now he doesn't want to tell Dick who he is for a different reason. Dick would be even more disappointed than he already is if he found out this is what Jason has become. More accepting maybe, but far more disappointed, too.

Dick’s resolve against killing has never been something Jason looked down on him for.

Apologising really isn't Jason’s style, though.

Jason> Soup?

A couple more minutes pass. He wonders if he'll have to make another exception for Dick.

Dick< I feel like you derive a special kind of enjoyment from watching me try to get soup into my mouth.
Jason> I can bring straws
Dick< Please don't.

They do what they both do best and don't talk about anything they don't have to.

 

In the grand scheme of things, maybe making a beeline for his brother's apartment when he's injured isn't the best of ideas. Considered how monitored it is, how likely he is to run into another sibling or worse, Bruce, the fact that Dick can't see and isn't exactly up for playing nurse- just in general everything about it is poorly thought through. Jason does it anyways, obviously.

At the end of the day, he's not looking for help but rather comfort and going back to a cold, lonely safe house in his condition sounds hellish. Dick's apartment, or rather Dick himself, is comforting. He can lick his wounds in peace and Dick will dote over him and Jason will be annoyed but not annoyed enough to make him stop.

Jason almost eats shit down the side of Dick's building trying to get in the window.

“Red?” Dick says with clear concern as Jason bumbles his way through the window. Maybe he should have used the door after all. Dick wanders towards him slowly, arms gingerly stretched out to find out where he is. “I smell blood. Are you okay?”

Jason takes his hood off and Dick hones in on his ragged breathing immediately.

“Peachy,” Jason snaps back sarcastically and he moves past Dick to collapse on the couch. Dick follows, feeling his way first to the edge of the couch and then tentatively finding Jason's arm. He feels him out slow and cautious, not wanting to hurt him by mistake. Holding Jason's wrist in one hand, he feels up his arm and across his chest with the other before he realises this might be a bad idea.

“Where-?” he asks softly. Jason pushes his hand down to his thigh and the mangy wound there. Dick reels back quickly at the warm, wet feeling of blood and frowns even more. He rubs his fingers together before reaching back down to feel it out. Jason jerks as Dick touches his injury more directly, letting out an annoyed hiss and making Dick yank back just as quick.

“That blood you smell? It's me bleeding,” Jason assures him irritably.

“Sorry,” Dick murmurs. He rubs his hand on his own pants to get rid of the sticky sensation on his fingers. “What can I do? How bad is it?”

“Not stick your fingers in it for starters,” Jason scoffs. Dick bites his lip. “It's not that bad, okay? Just hurts. Where's your med kit?” It's a lot more than just the gouge on his leg but Dick doesn't need to know that, either. He's bruised and scratched up to all hell, there's a good patch of road rash on his back and thigh and several puncture wounds across his shoulders.

Needless to stay, he bit off more than he could chew.

Dick gets up and wanders off. Jason tries not to get blood on everything in the meantime. This was absolutely a bad idea but it's a little late to turn back now. He'd do himself even more damage trying to get back out the building. Dick brings a first aid kit back.

He sets it on the coffee table and sits on the other end of the couch, carefully reaching out again to find where he is without touching him. Jason moves his hand into his reach and Dick latches onto it, squeezes his palm gently in worry. He's not sure when this became something he found comfort in again. One of the very, very few things now a days.

“I'm sorry,” Dick murmurs, reaching to stroke the inside of Jason's wrist with his other hand. “I can't- I don't want to hurt you more trying to help.”

“It's fine. Like I said, it's not that bad,” Jason assures. It might be a little worse than he's making it out to be but it's still nothing life threatening. He's been beat up before, definitely a lot worse before. Dick frowns and his eyes flicker about wildly like he's trying to look him over. Jason pulls his hand out of Dick's death grip and moves the medical kit into his lap just to give him something to do.

Dick stays completely quiet as he listens to Jason begin to clean and patch his wounds. Some of the familiar sounding rustling makes him more worried looking but he doesn't say anything. He's obviously trying to assess how much Jason is telling the truth and Jason isn't about to make that easy on him. He stitches up the wound on his leg, the only one that really needs it, and just cleans the rest of them. Bandaging them right now would be pointless.

When he moves to get up, Dick fumbles the kit to try to figure out what he's doing. Jason goes ahead and takes it out of his lap before he spills it all over the place. Dick exhales tensely.

“Relax,” Jason says. He didn't realise how much this would stress Dick out but he probably should have. He can't help and it's killing him. “Show me how ta work your tub.”

“Sure,” Dick replies, giving a nod and trying to settle himself. He gets up, reaches for Jason again just to touch his arm, then leads the way down the hall. Normally he navigates effortlessly and honestly, Jason hadn't realised how much of an effort that was. Now that he's distracted, Dick looks vaguely lost even in his own home going as far as to use the wall to guide him.

Jason feels kind of bad now.

Dick’s bathroom is a hell of a lot nicer than his own, though, so Jason gets over it. This tub is actually big enough for him to sit in without awkwardly hanging out like some asshole too big for his own body. Dick turns the water on and Jason is already starting to strip down. He's sore and warm water sounds heavenly.

“I'll clean the blood out when I'm done, don't worry,” Jason promises. Dick manages to scoff a small laugh. “Which reminds me, who cleans this place anyways? I know you don't and there ain't usually lights in here.”

“I do actually clean it,” Dick assures in faux offense. He moves over to the sink to wash his hands and in the meantime, Jason climbs into the tub. The warm, almost hot water immediately draws a groan from him. It stings his wounds and taints the water a pink color but it's so nice. Dick perks up questioningly and he turns back to Jason again. “Are you- in the bath already?”

“Yeah,” Jason murmurs as he sinks further in. “Whadda about it?” Dick flushes pink.

“You could have asked me to leave,” he says.

“What? Are you gonna peep on me, blindy?” he asks. “Be my guest.” Dick presses his lips together, obviously more than a little unamused. He just huffs though, turns away as if it makes a difference, and leans against the sink.

“I do my own cleaning,” he says again. “It's not like I have much else to do. Tim tells me where I missed spots when he comes over.” Jason rolls his eyes. He knows Dick doesn't want to be coddled but there's a huge difference between that and actually helping him. They could actually be letting him do something instead of sitting in his own self pity.

“When was the last time you went out and did something fun?” Jason asks.

“When was the last time you did?” Dick replies. Jason gives him a long stares he's sure Dick can feel.

“Sounds like you're suggesting we should go do something fun together,” he says dryly. Dick looks taken aback.

“I didn't-” he says, tripping over his own words more than a little. “I didn't say that. I mean, I wouldn't be against it, of course. That- yeah, if you want, I'd be fine with that.” Jason wasn't actually offering to do that but seeing Dick look so strangely pleased by the idea means he sort of has to now.

Where can he take his blind brother and actually have fun?

Jason sinks lower into the water until his mouth is submerged. A few seconds pass by and then Dick looks alarmed. He pushes off the sink and moves towards the tub. It's truly incredible how good his hearing has gotten. If Bruce had actually put the effort in to retrain him when he lost his vision, he'd probably be out doing stuff by now. It's not too late but Dick's going to have a tough time wanting to do anything anymore.

“Red?” Dick asks worriedly. Jason raises up a little again.

“‘m fine,” he murmurs. Dick exhales in relief. At least he can't see the blood Jason's gotten all over the place.

“You should get out,” Dick says. “You have some blood loss and the hot water is just going to make you faint.” He makes a good point no matter how much Jason stubbornly wants to stay in the warm water. He pulls the plug and waits for his blood tinged water to drain before rinsing himself in the shower. Dick finds a towel to hand him and pretends to look somewhere else while Jason pats himself dry.

“I'm fuckin’ huge compared to you but you got some extra clothes I can borrow?” Jason asks.

“Oh, um,” Dick hesitates. “Sure.” He motions for Jason to follow him further into the apartment. Jason glances around his bedroom, making no effort to not be nosey, as Dick rummages around. When he grows bored of this, he plops down on the bed. Dick turns to look at him curiously but ultimately doesn't say anything before going back to searching. Eventually he somehow finds what he's looking for and walks back to the bed to hand it to him. Jason understands his hesitation immediately.

“Are these Bruce's clothes?” Jason asks blandly.

“They're just clothes,” Dick says in exasperation. “They won't kill you.”

“I'm gonna look like an asshole,” Jason scoffs.

“So you'll match how you sound,” Dick says. Jason opens his mouth to reply, closes it, then starts pulling the clothes on. Dick smiles.

He knew Bruce was big but he supposes he never really understood how big. Even with Jason’s new post-death growth spurt, the clothes hang off him in places. At least they're casual. As much as he wants to give Bruce the benefit of a doubt and assume that he slept here at some point, he knows it's more likely something happened and Dick had to wear these clothes home.

“I'm going to order some food,” Dick tells him. “It's been a while since we've eaten out, anyways and you're hurt.”

“You don't have to twist my arm,” Jason murmurs back. He waits until Dick is out of sight before going back to snooping. Like the rest of the house, Dick's room is very clean cut and organized to make sure he can find everything and navigate easily. With enough poking and prodding, though, he finds what he's looking for- sort of.

Jason's willing to bet the safe at the back of Dick's closet has his Nightwing gear in it. He looks back out the bedroom door to see where Dick is and when he's ultimately not in sight, or hearing range, Jason examines the safe a little closer. Bruce definitely put this here, that's for sure. No tumbler, just a digital lock, likely with an opportunity to get it wrong- in case Dick hits the wrong buttons, of course.

He's also willing to bet opening this thing immediately gets Dick a call from Bruce. If he opens it, there's no way he can get away with lying about it- so Jason doesn't plan to. Six numbers and there's no way it's a date. Bruce is way too paranoid to let that slide.

Jason taps in a number and the safe opens.

“Haven't changed that much after all,” he murmurs to himself. Inside, sure enough, is Dick's Nightwing gear. His suit, his escrima sticks, his mask, and several other items useful to him from time to time. Jason pulls his costume out to look at it better. It's still in perfect condition, clean and ready to be used whenever Dick feels the urge. Of course Dick hopes one day he'll be able to go back.

It pisses Jason off even more that they've allowed him to wallow in his own misery.

“Hold on, dad,” Dick murmurs as he makes a beeline back to his room. Jason doesn’t even pretend he's not snooping. “N-no, I just wanted to look at it. I mean- you know what I mean.” He swats blindly at the bed to try to find Jason. “I didn't know it was a crime to look at my own gear. Did you rig my safe?”

He heads for his safe, his hand finding Jason's back, and his conversation stops.

“I'll have to call you back, dad,” he says. He grips Jason's shoulder- hard. With his new injuries, that hurts quite a bit actually. A few moments of silence pass after he hangs up. He reaches past Jason to feel for the safe, making sure it is, in fact, open. Another lapse of silence. Finally he says, “you opened my safe?”

“You should think of a new lock code,” Jason comments. Another pause.

“Put it back,” Dick says. “It was locked for a reason. You shouldn't have done this.” He sounds so disappointed and that gets Jason more than anything. Of course, his instinct is still anger first.

“Relax, would you? I was just snooping, I'm not stealin’ from you,” he assures mildly. “I don't need any of this shit.”

“Just-” Dick says and he lets out a stressed breath. “Please, stop. I don't-” He makes an absent gesture at the safe before turning away from it and Jason. “I don't even want to think about that stuff anymore. Put it away.”

Jason knows what ‘fun’ thing they're going to do.

“I'm putting it back,” he murmurs. Dick sighs. He rubs the bridge of his nose as Jason puts the suit back and closes the safe again. As always, Dick moves to forgive and forget.

“Do you want some tea?” he asks. “Food will be here soon.”

“Sure,” Jason agrees. He pockets Dick’s domino.

 

This is either the absolute worst idea or potentially something Dick actually really needs. For better or worse, Jason is already committed to doing it. The worse that could happen is- well, Dick could die but Jason doesn't see it coming to that.

He's checked the street twice, making sure he parks his bike out of view of any nosey cameras, and while he doesn't wear his hood, he doesn't take his tinted motorcycle helmet off as he waits. Dick rounds the corner tentatively and stops to listen for a moment. Outside of his apartment there's a lot more noise and while it doesn't seem to distract him, he's obviously more weary of his surroundings.

“Red?” he finally says. Jason pops his visor up.

“Ov’a here,” he replies and Dick wanders closer slowly but surely.

“What's this about?” Dick asks. He reaches out cautiously and Jason grabs his arm to supply him with some contact. Immediately, Dick tilts his head curiously and reaches to feel Jason's leather glove with his other. “What are you wearing?”

“You said we should do somethin’ fun together,” Jason reminds him. Dick looks surprised.

You said that,” he corrects swiftly. “What are we doing exactly?”

“You'll see,” he promises. His surprise turns to something a little more unsure. “When was the last time you were on a bike?”

“Like a-?” Dick begins, already reaching for Jason's face. Jason grabs his hand to stop him. He reaches back, grabbing the second helmet, and puts it in Dick's hands.

“Like a motorbike,” Jason assures. Dick feels the helmet out and by his face, he almost looks overwhelmed. It takes him a few seconds to turn his focus back to Jason and shake himself out of it.

“A while,” he answers. “It's been a while.”

“Do you trust me?” Jason asks.

“That feels like a loaded question,” Dick murmurs back. “What if I say no?”

“Then this is gonna be a terrifying ride,” he replies. Dick laughs a little but he nods.

“Yeah,” he says quietly. “Yeah, I trust you, Red.” Jason taps the helmet in his hands. As much as Dick hesitates again, he finally puts it on and situates it properly on his head. He looks uncomfortable at first, obviously not used to having his hearing distorted in such a way, but he smiles nervously in Jason's direction. Jason hands him the extra leather coat he's brought along and again, Dick feels it out thoroughly before putting it on. It's a little big on him but he obviously doesn't mind. He flushes nervously.

Jason mounts his bike and reaches to touch Dick's arm gently, alerting him to where he is before dragging his fingers down and taking his hand. He pulls Dick closer and with minimum trouble, helps him onto the back of his bike. Dick adjusts until he's comfortable and he inhales shakily.

“This feels weird,” he admits. “It's been a long time. It's- really different not being able to see.”

“Bad?” Jason asks. He shakes his head. “Good. Grab on.” Dick reaches back, looking for the proper place to brace himself and Jason rolls his eyes. “Grab onto me, Dick.”

“Oh,” Dick replies hesitantly. Nonetheless he leans forward, wraps his arms around Jason's middle and lets out another small, surprised noise. “Oh.”

“What?” Jason scoffs back.

“Nothing,” Dick assures at once. “Tim didn't mention you were, uh, so fit when he described you.” Jason snorts a laugh. He figured at some point Dick asked someone what he looked like, he's never asked Jason himself, but he can't even imagine how that conversation went down. It would have been great to hear, though.

“Probably figured it was all body armor,” he says. He revs his bike and Dick tightens his grip immediately. Jason reaches back to flick Dick's visor down and then his own and then they're off. For the first couple minutes, Dick clings to him tightly like he's afraid of coming loose otherwise. Then, slowly, he lightens up. He relaxes, breathes deep and just takes in what he can of the ride. He might be blind but he can still enjoy the feel; the sensation of the wind and vibration of the bike, the pull as they weave through the city, the sounds.

Dick rests his head on Jason's back, holding on comfortably and enjoying the ride.

Jason takes his time but not long enough to actually make Dick concerned about how far they're going. He needs to put some distance between where they're going and where the rest of the family usually expects Dick to be but he knows better than to take Dick completely out of the city- or even the district where he lives. He doesn't actually want Bruce on his ass tonight.

When they start to slow down, Dick lifts his head again curiously. Jason parks his bike in a garage and Dick turns his head back to listen to it close behind them. He lifts his visor again.

“Where are we?” he asks.

“‘round the corner from the museum,” Jason says.

“Are you taking me to the museum?” Dick questions curiously as he takes his helmet off. Jason leaves them both beside his bike.

“Nope,” he answers. He dons his own domino and slicks his hair back, ensuring the paint covering his vitiligo spot is holding. Today he doesn't want to be recognised as Red Hood or Jason Todd. From his pocket, he takes out Dick’s domino and puts it in his hand. “You need to wear this.”

“Why?” Dick asks slowly.

“Do you want all the ‘Bruce Wayne's poor blind son’ attention?” Jason scoffs. “How many more questions you gonna ask?”

“Start answering them and maybe less,” Dick replies begrudgingly. He puts the mask on, making a face beneath it and scrunching his nose. “You're not using me to rob a place, are you?”

“Yeah, I'm gonna use a blind kid as a scapegoat,” Jason agrees sarcastically. “Come on.” He takes Dick's hand and leads them outside. Dick takes something from his pocket that looks like a marker and with a flick of the wrist, it extends to a full length cane. Curiously, he uses it to scan around. There's not much to ‘see’ and once he's satisfied with whatever it is he was looking for, he retracts his cane again. Jason leads him away.

“Stairs,” he says. Dick follows him easily up the first flight and Jason lets go of his hand on the second. Using his key, he taps on the handrail as he passes each curve and Dick quickly picks up on the tell. He's never been here before, at least not in a very long time, but he navigates easily when given proper tools. It's exactly as Jason expected.

“This place didn't have an elevator?” Dick asks, somewhat annoyed looking.

“You really wanna get in an elevator in this part of Gotham?” Jason asks. Dick scoffs a mute noise back. Complaint aside, he's still obviously in good shape. That's also not surprising.

“End of the line,” Jason says. Dick comes up alongside him as he jams the roof access door open and takes them outside. “Follow me.”

“Where are you taking me, Red?” Dick asks a little more forcibly this time. He's getting nervous.

“Almost there,” Jason lies. “Ledge. Three feet.” He kicks the edge with his foot and effortlessly, Dick hops up after him.

“There wasn't an easier way to get here?” he insists. He follows Jason and the noises he makes at a decent pace, navigating the rooftop without even thinking about it. Jason doesn't even have to pull him.

“Gap. Sixteen inches. Jump. It'll be worth it,” Jason promises. Dick sighs. “Fence. Watch the top. Landing is clear.”

“Red,” Dick says impatiently even as he easily vaults the fence right after Jason. “This feels like you're just-” he stops, looks perplexed for a moment, then gives Jason a look. The gig’s up, obviously. Jason watches as Dick listens to his surroundings again. “Red, are you just taking me free running?”

“Maybe,” Jason replies coyly. Dick wanders towards a ledge, following the sound of traffic down below, and Jason grabs the back of his jacket to make sure he doesn't wander off. He pretends to look down before backing up again.

“Red,” he repeats, even more unsure. “I can't-”

“Already have,” Jason cuts him off swiftly. Dick inhales shakily. “You said you trusted me, right?”

“I knew I'd regret that,” Dick murmurs mildly. He reaches back to latch onto Jason firmly as if suddenly needing to make sure he stays upright. Much like on the bike, however, he just needs time to adjust. He takes in the feel of the wind, the distant noises of the city down below, the sensation of height, and he slowly relaxes again.

“Come on,” Jason says. Dick hesitates. “You miss this, don't you? Come on.”

“Okay,” he says quietly. Jason grabs his arm again, loosely but enough to give him some much needed contact, and guides him. Now knowing what's happening, Dick is far more unsure of traversing the rooftops but once he realises he was doing just fine before, it's effortless for him. Jason doesn’t know how long it's been since he's been able to do anything like this but Dick definitely doesn't look or move like he's out of practice.

With no where particularly in mind, Jason instructs Dick through the city slowly but surely. This might be the first time he's seen Dick actually enjoy himself since finding out he had become blind. It doesn't take long to be able to let go of him again. Dick trusts him to give competent enough instructs so he doesn't end up hurting himself or worse. Jason's always close enough to make a split second decision in case something goes wrong but overwhelmingly, Dick is equally as capable of following instruction. Between that and his ability to place sounds in his surrounding, it's absolutely amazing to Jason that he can still think of himself as unable to function as Nightwing.

He doesn't need anyone to hold his hand, he just needs a new way to be a hero.

Something Bruce should have helped him with.

“Easy,” Jason instructs. “You're gonna need a running jump for this one. Five feet gap, next building ten inches higher. Ledge is here.” He guides Dick to the edge of the building and he swallows nervously before nodding.

“Got it,” he agrees, nodding. Jason reaches down to squeeze his hand lightly and Dick smiles. He lets go and backs away from the ledge. Dick follows, listening to his steps as he goes and stops in the same place. Jason takes a running start at the gap and gracefully clears it with a single leap. Once on the other side, he snaps to let Dick know he's ready.

Dick swallows nervously but he's looking right at Jason. He takes a running start, leaps, and lands safely on the other side. The suddenness must catch him off guard though, because he stumbles violently and Jason quickly moves to grab him by his arms to stop him from tripping onto his face. There's a brief moment where he has to reorient himself before he blinks and turns his head up to Jason. He reaches out, placing his hands on Jason's shoulders in return and offers a small, sheepish smile.

Then, without warning, he leans up and kisses Jason. On the mouth. Fully.

Jason panics. He shoves Dick away harshly and Dick looks startled like that's definitely not what he was expecting. Jason feels way more alarmed, though. Dick turns a bright shade of red.

“Oh my god, I'm so sorry, Red,” he says urgently. All at once, Jason realises the unintended consequences of not telling Dick who he is. It seems so painfully obvious how not knowing that they're brothers has made so much of what Jason does come off as courting: being so over familiar, being so comfortable, being so nice. Dick thinks he's been flirting. Without the proper context, Jason realises some of his ‘jabs’ definitely do come off as flirty. He thinks they're old friends, or acquaintances at least, why wouldn't he think Jason was interested in him after everything?

“I'm so embarrassed. I thought- god, I don't know what I thought,” Dick rambles on when Jason is too caught off guard to speak. He looks embarrassed but he also looks utterly hurt. Jason might as well have been leading him on this entire time. He threw a hissy fit about Dick trying to sleep with someone else. “I'm so, so sorry. I shouldn't have- like, at all.”

The easiest way to sort this out is by just telling Dick the truth. Jason still doesn't want to do that. If it wasn't bad enough that Dick was going to think Jason was just around out of obligation, now he's going to feel bad about not recognising Jason- enough to actually come onto him. It's not like Jason can outright reject him, either. Dick would also never talk to him again, more out of sheer embarrassment than anything else. Every outcome to this situation is bad and Jason should have seen it coming weeks ago.

It shouldn't be surprising but the idea that Dick is so lonely, so eager to have someone pay attention to him, that he's grown attached to Red Hood of all people makes Jason's stomach roll.

So while Jason's brain is telling him to just tell Dick the truth and get it over with, he absolutely doesn't do that. He can't now. They're way past the opportunity for that. He ducks down to kiss Dick, a little harder than he means to, and Dick jolts. If he plays along for now, he doesn't have to hurt Dick’s feelings or leave him absolutely mortified. Then he'll just-

Then he'll just do everything in his power to make Dick as unattracted to him as possible as fast as possible.

A flawless idea. Nothing can go wrong.

“Red?” Dick says questioningly. “I don't-?”

“It's fine,” Jason replies shortly. “You surprised me, okay? People don't usually- I'm not exactly an attractive guy.” Dick snorts a small, amused laugh. He reaches up to touch Jason's jaw and gently feels for his lip with one hand, finding that long scar and following it up to the edge of his mask. Jason does his best not to grimace.

“Even if I wasn't blind, I don't care what you look like,” Dick assures. “As much as the tabloids would like you to believe, I'm not that shallow. You can pretend to be an ass all you want, I really enjoy being around you, Red. I- this- all the things you keep doing for me- I haven't been happy like this since, uh, since I lost my sight.”

Oh Jason's fucked up. Jason's fucked up so hard. He's fucked up so many things in his life but none as bad as he's fucked this up.

“Thank you, Red,” Dick says. “For this, for everything. You make me feel like less of a burden.” Jason honestly can't believe how much he's fucked this up.

Wait. No. This is Bruce’s fault.

Dick pushes his fingers into Jason's hair and leans up to kiss him again. Everyone always calls Dick a good kisser and honestly, that's definitely something Jason didn't need to know first hand. He responds, just enough to make sure Dick doesn't think he's put off, but that's a slippery slope. The slight reciprocation leads Dick to deepening their kiss, his hot tongue working some kind of magic in Jason's mouth that makes him weak in the knees.

He grabs Dick's jaw in his hand, pushing them apart quite forcibly.

“Dick,” Jason rasps and he's surprised how out of breath he sounds.

“Sorry,” Dick replies with a little laugh. His fingers tighten in Jason's hair briefly before sliding down the back of his neck and resting on his shoulders again. “Got a little carried away.” A little.

“Let's go,” Jason says. Getting Dick back home from here isn't particularly difficult and Jason does it in a bit of a blur. He's too stunned and disorientated to form proper thoughts let alone to work out a way to get himself out of the mess he's gotten himself into. His face is a solid red and behind him, Dick follows along in a pleased, blissful state.

He holds on comfortably tight during the ride back.

Jason needs to ditch him immediately and figure something out. That was the plan, anyway.

“You were right,” Dick says as he takes his helmet off. “I did miss that and it was fun. Thank you again, Red.”

“Don't mention it,” Jason assures.

“Are you coming in?” he asks. Absolutely not. “We can order some food. I, uh, could use some help icing my knee after that, actually. It's been a while since I moved around this much. I'm sore.” Fuck. Dick laughs a little and Jason sighs inside his own helmet so Dick won't hear. He lifts the visor.

“Yeah,” Jason says. “Okay.” Dick smiles. They head inside with Jason safely hidden under his motorcycle helmet. Once back to the relatively safety of Dick's apartment, Jason rips it and his domino off, dropping them on the coffee table and ruffling his hair in both hands. He can't believe he kissed his brother.

Dick is clearly fine with giving him a refresher. He puts a hand on Jason gently, more to find where he is first, and then moves to rest his hands on his chest again. Before now, Jason really never took notice of how small Dick is or rather, how big the pit made him in comparison. Even more reasons as to why no, of course Dick would never recognise him as his brother in a million years even if he could see. He leans up again and gives Jason another shallow kiss on the mouth and Jason leans back.

“Red?” Dick murmurs. He backs off a little. “Sorry, too much? It's- it's actually really hard to read tells without body language.”

“No, it's fine,” Jason assures fleetingly. “You just deserve a lot better than me, Dick.”

“Is this really what we're doing?” Dick asks and he looks thoroughly unamused. “Don't. Seriously? Don't, Red. Don't try to put me up on some unobtainable pedestal now.” Jason doesn't say anything. “When I first lost my sight, I tried to think of the silver linings and I thought, maybe people would start seeing me as their equal instead of- you know what? Nevermind. Sorry, Red, that run was more cathartic than I thought. I shouldn't be making you listen to all this.”

This is the first time since they were kids that Dick has actually confined in him.

Dick starts to back off and Jason grabs his wrists instinctively. He's far beyond thinking through the repercussions of his actions anymore. He needs to deal with what's happening now, and he'll deal with the fallout later. Again, Jason kisses Dick, less forcibly this time but still just as sudden. He pulls back again and Dick laughs.

“Stop apologisin’,” he says. “I said you deserve better than me, not that you're gonna find it, blindy.”

“You know, one day you're gonna have to stop pretending to be an asshole just to push people away,” Dick says but his tone is more amused than anything. Jason scoffs mildly in response and Dick kisses him again. It's not a fluke. Again, he tentatively lets Dick explore his mouth and again, it makes Jason weak and warm. He can't believe he's getting the best kiss of his life from Dick.

Jason tries to think of anyone else but the kiss has him so dazed, it’s hard to think at all let alone to try to come up with someone he’d actually want to kiss. Dick wraps his arms around Jason’s neck, trying to find some leverage, and Jason awkwardly puts his hands on Dick’s waist. When he pulls away, again Jason finds himself more breathless than he wants. Dick huffs an amused sound.

“This okay?” he asks. What Jason should be doing is using this as an easy out and taking the excuse to leave as soon as possible. However, he’s clearly an idiot who likes making everything worse on himself and is apparently easily disorientated by one good kiss. He nods and Dick smiles back at him. Jason does flinch this time when Dick reaches for his face but it’s not something he notices. Without his domino on, Dick can follow the expanse of his scar properly, tracing it with his fingers gently before moving on to caress his jaw and then his neck.

He moves further down and Jason feels paralyzed. Dick’s hands follow down his broad chest curiously, to the waistband of his jeans, and then further. It obviously is more of a surprise to Jason than it is to Dick that he’s already semi-erect. He can't believe he's gotten hard for his brother. Dick palms him through his jeans and Jason closes his eyes briefly, trying to make another effort to imagining anyone else. It's hard to do when he's so hyper focused on Dick unbuckling his belt and starting on his jeans.

With a content hum, Dick gets down on his knees. Jason’s having trouble thinking at all let alone to any kind of helpful extent. Dick presses his face briefly into Jason's stomach and audibly inhales his scent.

“You smell so nice, Red,” he murmurs, hooking his fingers in Jason's belt loops and nuzzling his face into the crook of his thigh. Fuck, fuck, fuck-

Fuck,” Jason rasps. Dick smiles. He presses his mouth against Jason's quickly swelling cock through his boxers before pulling them down and letting his cock bounce free. This is bad. From this angle, Jason can't see Dick's eyes behind his domino but he can see the peek of his tongue as he licks his lip. This is so bad. Dick wraps his fingers around his hard cock to explore its shape.

He's a freak, that's it. He's a sick freak. There's nothing he should find arousing about his blind brother on his knees in that stupid domino feeling out his cock.

“Wow, you're, uh, a lot bigger than I expected,” Dick says, his face flushing a dull shade of red. Jason truly can't believe how hot this is and how screwed in the head he is. The fact alone that it's his brother should be the biggest turn off in the world and finding out that it isn't is far from Jason's favorite thing. Neither does the intrusive thought that the only thing that would make this better would be Dick in his Nightwing gear.

Dick kisses down the side of his cock and nestles his lips at the base, breathing in his scent again. His hands slide down the front of his legs and he pauses for a moment before feeling his thighs more fully. He manages to fluster even more somehow and he squeezes Jason’s thighs firmly.

“That's-” he says then repeats, “wow. You have really nice thighs.” All this flattering is getting Jason more than a little riled up. If it's not enough that he's usually just too unpleasant for people to like, let alone compliment, the idea that he's so sheerly Dick's ‘type’ is a big stroke to the ego. Beautiful, charming, out of everyone's league Dick Grayson likes his thighs and his scent and his cock.

He's so fucked up.

Dick follows Jason's length back to the tip with his mouth and, gripping his thighs as he does, takes the head between his lips. That tongue that kisses so well does more than that. Jason doesn't exactly have deft fingers when he's dealing with his own arousal and Dick is easily finding places with his tongue he didn't know about that make him groan. He seems particularly pleased with himself as he sinks further and further down.

Without his sight, it's immensely clear how much he relies on his hearing even now. He looks focused, listening to Jason's breathing and the breathy curses he makes and adjusting his tactics to match. It's not like Jason is that hard to please when just seeing Dick like this nearly sets him off. Of course his brother is good at this, there's a reason he's such a popular playboy. Jason covers his eyes with a hand and tilts his head back as Dick takes his cock into his throat like it's nothing.

“Fuck that's good,” he groans. “Shit, Dick.” Dick hums contently in response, nearly taking Jason out at the knees with the sensation, and digs his fingers into his thigh tightly. Jason spares a look down between his fingers. He takes Jason in full easily, shiny lips stretched around the base of his cock and his throat bulging slightly behind his adam’s apple. It's a lot to deal with all at once. Jason doesn't even know what he's supposed to be doing with his hands during this.

Dick pulls off slow, leaving Jason's cock slick with spit, and he catches his breath for a second- something Jason decides is a good idea. Even if that's difficult with Dick’s lips still resting on the head of his cock. It's also short lived. Dick sinks back down to the root again in a single, undeterred movement, then begins to bob his head in long strokes. The first few are shallow then he pushes further and fucks his throat on Jason's cock.

Jason covers his mouth with his hand, unable to do anything but watch. He not going to last much longer at this rate. Dick looks so good. He tosses his head back again and groans behind his fingers. When he comes without warning, Dick makes a surprised little noise and hurriedly pulls back so he can swallow properly.

“Oh fuck,” Jason breathes out in a ragged voice. Dick holds the base of his cock as he pulls off, mouth slick with spit and cum. He hums contently as he quickly reaches down to unbutton his own jeans, fishing out his cock and stroking himself in hand. Jason tries not to shudder too noticeably as Dick leans his head against his thigh while he hastily finds his own end.

Red,” he groans. Jason’s stomach drops. “Fuck you're hot.” Dick still has no idea who he is. This is so bad. Jason bites his palm with a cringe as Dick mouths at his thigh, moaning against him hotly. He comes easily and afterwards, pants against Jason’s thigh. This is a lot worse than bad.

He's really fucked himself into a corner here.

“That was-” Dick pants, still trying to catch his breath. His voice is hoarse already. He reaches up to take his domino off, holding it in his lap and rubbing the edge with his thumb. “Really nice, Red. Thank you for tonight. It was a fun date.” He even thought it was a date. He took his brother on a date then took advantage of him being blind. Jason should have stayed dead.

“Yeah. Listen, I gotta go,” Jason says. Dick sits back on his knees and Jason hastily tucks himself back into his pants. “Do you, uh, need anything or- anything?”

“No,” Dick murmurs, shaking his head. “Red-”

“You didn't do nothin’,” Jason assures curtly. “Somethin’s just come up. Vigilante stuff. You know the deal.”

“Right,” Dick says. “Okay. I'll see you tomorrow?” No.

No, no, no, no, no.

“Yeah,” Jason agrees. “Course.” He's a dumb fucking shit who doesn't know how the hell to control his fucking mouth. If he knew what was good for him he'd never show his face around here again. Dick smiles.

“Good luck,” he offers.

Jason's going to fucking need it.