“Didn’t I tell you not to talk to strangers?” Jason asked.
John cocked his head, he looked more and more like Tim these days. “He smells like Tim,” John replied.
Jason sighed. “I see.”
“Can I come in?” Bruce asked.
“You’ve already come this far, you might as well,” Jason answered. “And you,” he said to John, “go wash up and start on your homework; dinner will be done in an hour.”
John nodded, but he didn’t in fact enter the house, he was looking at Jason and when Jason was just looking back at him, he crossed his little arms over his chest and sighed. “So…who is this?”
“That,” Jason said, pointing at Bruce, “is your grandfather.”
“Oh,” John said and then smiled at Bruce. “I didn’t know I had one.”
“Well, you have one and now he’s here, because he’s been loitering around your school. I’m surprised Mrs. Eagles didn’t have you arrested,” he said to Bruce.
“The old Wayne charm, I suppose,” Bruce replied.
“Is grandfather staying for dinner?” John asked.
“He might as well,” Jason said and stepped aside, so both John and Bruce could enter the house. John ran up the stairs to his room and Jason walked to the kitchen, because he was preparing dinner dammit and Bruce just had to deal with it.
“I’m surprised it took you three years to come and find me,” Jason said to Bruce, but he was glaring at the carrots he was cutting like they offended him. “I’m sure you knew for a while where I was.” It wasn’t even a question. Maybe Bruce didn’t go as far as putting a tracker in their arms, but he had other means and ways.
“I knew for a while, but I wanted to see how things go.”
“If I fuck it up with Dick and Tim? With John?”
“Jason-“ Bruce said.
Jason put the knife away, because it was probably not a good idea to have a conversation with Bruce with deadly weapons close by. He turned around to face Bruce, ass against the counter. “What? Jason, what?”
“You protected the boy.”
“His name is John. He’s my son,” Jason said firmly. “Of course I did, of course I do.”
“He’s not like other people.”
Jason laughed. “Hell, we are not like other people.”
Bruce nodded. “True.”
“You better be on your best fucking behavior Bruce, because if you make John feel in any way strange or wrong or defective, so help me god.”
“I wanted to meet him, that’s why I’m here.”
“And because in the last three years I haven’t fucked up and you’re probably wondering if I want to utilize these gifts my son has?”
Bruce was spared from an answer by John’s arrival in the kitchen. He took one look at them and scrunched up his nose. Boy could smell trouble.
“It smells funny in here,” he said.
“Open a window then,” Jason replied, because that was what they did: Aired everything out.
John smiled. “So, grandfather Bruce. How come you’ve never visited us before?” John asked Bruce.
Bruce’s name had fallen here and there in conversation, so he knew that Bruce was a part of Tim’s and Dick’s life, but Jason hadn’t been so forthcoming with his history with Bruce. With good reason too. He had hoped that Bruce would leave them the fuck alone. Get the message that Jason has turned over a new leaf and let him disappear. He should have known better. Bruce never left anything alone.
“I didn’t know if I would be welcome here,” Bruce answered.
“Jay is not too happy you came,” John confirmed and sat down on the kitchen floor in the lotus position, because Dick was a freak who thought their son yoga and other acrobatic shit.
“It’s because he didn’t call ahead,” Jason threw in.
“If I did, you would have told me to stay away,” Bruce said.
“Are you Jay’s, Tim’s or Dick’s father?” Jason asked. He was utterly fascinated by Bruce, by having a grandfather to call his own, Jason supposed. He, Dick and Tim did their best, but it was glaringly clear that their family was so very much different from others.
“I raised all three of them to some point,” Bruce replied.
“Explain,” John demanded.
“I took Dick in when his parents died, and then once Dick grew up and left the house, I took in Jay-“
“Because he didn’t have any parents either?” John cut in.
“There was no one who wanted to care for him, yes. So I took him in and then when Tim’s parents died, he was a teenager by then, I took Tim in as well. I knew his parents. They used to live next door.”
Hearing Bruce explain it like this…Jason didn’t even know what to do with that. But of course they couldn’t put all their history and all their secrets at John’s feet just yet. The boy was only ten after all.
“So, you’re my only grandfather then?” John asked frowning.
“I’m afraid so,” Bruce answered.
“Well, it’s better to have one than none, but I wonder how it would be to have a grandmother. Siska has a grandmother and she’s really nice.”
“Who’s Siska?” Bruce asked.
“My friend Siska, she’s super smart and super awesome,” John gushed.
Jason smiled and shook his head. Siska was just one of the misfits John had gathered around him. And a welcome guest at their house. They left John with Siska’s family for sleepovers as well, so they could have some adult time.
While John was telling Bruce all about Siska and his other friends Jason went back to preparing dinner. Dick would be home soon after all.
“So, I was informed by Annie that an older handsome man brought our son home today,” Dick said as he entered the kitchen and then stopped, stared and then crossed his arms over his chest.
It was clear to Jason that he had no idea how to react.
“Grandfather Bruce is staying for dinner!” John explained excitedly.
“Grandfather Bruce,” Dick repeated.
“Go figure,” Jason said.
“I already texted Tim. No idea if he read the text, but you know…” Jason cut in.
“Good,” Dick said and relaxed. “You could have called ahead,” he said to Bruce.
Bruce smiled. That tiny smile of his. “I wasn’t sure I would be welcome.”
“Well…” Dick said and shrugged. There was really nothing else to say. They have all lied to Bruce for three years. “What’s for dinner anyway?”
“Stir fried vegetables and meat. Lots of chicken for my little wolf,” Jason said with a glance at John. John beamed at him. He liked being called their little wolf.
“Great, I’ll wash up and then we can eat?”
“Yeah,” Jason answered. Dick always changed at work and he left his service gun at the station too. Partly because he didn’t want to have a gun with a child in the house, or more than one child, John’s little misfits were coming to hang out quite often after all. Partly because Dick didn’t really need a gun to be extremely dangerous. Dick still did the odd job with his superfriends and Jason learned to live with it.
While Jason threw the vegetables and seasonings into the pan John went back to questioning Bruce about his life.
John had no fear when it came to Bruce, Jason wondered if it was because he could smell Tim on him of if it was something else. Some kind of instinct he had.
He would ask about it one day when John was older.
Dinner was a lively affair, both John and Dick seemed actually delighted to have Bruce there. Jason knew that Dick kept in touch with Bruce, but this was different, because Dick didn’t have to lie anymore. He could share his new life and his son with Bruce now and Jason could see how proud Dick was. It made his heart skip a beat. Stupid Grayson being adorable, he thought.
Once dinner was over and then cleaned up John had a prearranged play date with one of his friends, so Jason brought him over.
“Is grandfather Bruce going to stay?” John asked.
“Well, he’s not going to live with us or nearby that is for sure.”
“Because your grandfather actually has a billion dollar company to run.”
John blinked up at him. “Really?”
“Really. He’s rich.”
“We’re not poor,” John pointed out.
“No, we’re not and that is partly because of Dick and mostly because of Tim. You see…Bruce told you the truth, Tim used to live next door. His parents had a million dollar company as well. And now it’s his.”
“Hmm,” John said. “So, we are rich as well?”
Jason had never thought about himself that way, but he guessed they were. He himself was working from home now. So they really were well off with three incomes and only one growing boy to care for.
“I guess we are,” Jason replied.
“But we don’t live in a big house or a big city or have fancy cars.”
“Do you want those things?” Jason asked.
John shook his head. “No.”
Jason nodded. He didn’t need those things either. He patted Jon’s unruly hair as John opened the Gate of the Meyer house. Little blond, adorable Alex Meyer was already in the door, grinning and waiting for John. So Jason left John in the Meyers’ tender care and went home to deal with the whole grandfather Bruce issue.
“John will stay at the Meyers’ house for at least three hours. Dick will pick him up later,” Jason said.
Bruce was sitting on his couch, in his living room, drinking coffee from his mug and Dick was right there across from him. Looking utterly relaxed.
Jason still didn’t trust the whole thing. Why did Bruce come? He had a funny feeling in his stomach that he didn’t like at all.
“Okay, so…you’ve seen our little house. You know I live with Dick and Tim and we’re raising our shifter son together, but I bet you knew that for a while. So why are you here Bruce?”
Bruce put the mug down. “There was an anomaly.”
“A disturbance, not unlike the one three years ago.”
“When Tim found John in that alley,” Dick said.
“Is it another kid?” Jason asked. Why didn’t Tim say anything about this? Did Tim not know? Hard to believe that.
“I don’t think it’s another child, Jason. I didn’t hear anything about children.”
“Could be a shifter like John,” Dick threw in. “So they could be a small animal.”
“Or it could be whoever the hell hunted down John’s biological family,” Jason said grimly. “And Bruce things it’s likely or he wouldn’t be here.”
“Well, fuck,” Dick said.
That pretty much summed it up, Jason thought. “You have any leads on that person?”
Bruce shook his head. “I have no idea how they look like or where they are now. I can tell you that they appeared close to the first rift from three years ago. The energy signature was similar.”
“How long did you know about John?” Dick asked.
“That you’re raising an orphan? A bit over two years, that he had anything to do with the first tear in the fabric of time and space? Just a few months. Tim is very good when it comes to covering things up. And as this thing didn’t disturb life in Gotham three years ago and seemed to be a onetime occurrence, I didn’t really feel the need to pursue it.”
“You trusted Tim to let you know if it was something dangerous or would become something dangerous,” Dick concluded.
Bruce nodded. “I understand why he wanted you, Jason, to take care of the boy. You are uniquely suited for this.”
Well, Jason thought, that was probably a compliment. “Thanks.”
“I also understand why he didn’t tell me about it. I’m not happy, but I understand.”
“Besides, Red Robin doesn’t answer to you anymore,” Dick said with a grin.
“Red Robin doesn’t answer to anyone except Red Robin,” Jason said. Except in bed then Tim liked to hand over control for some time to him and Dick, but this was hardly the time or place to think about Tim naked.
“Yes,” Bruce said.
“So, the scumbag that killed John’s other family is most likely here and trying to get his hands on our son?”
“It is the worst case scenario,” Bruce answered. “But I think it’s better to be prepared for it.”
“Thanks for letting us know, Bruce,” Dick said.
“Don’t mention it. I really did want to see John for myself and how you’re doing,” Bruce replied, but he was looking at Jason. “I’m glad you’re happy.”
Well, fuck, Jason thought, now he felt the urge to hug it out or something. Bruce didn’t get up from the sofa, so Jason just took a breath. “Thanks,” he said.
“Well then. I need to catch a flight back to Gotham.”
“John asked if you’re going to stay, be a permanent fixture in his life, I guess,” Jason blurt out. His son wanted a grandfather and Bruce…well, he was the only one who qualified.
Dick smiled at him like he was proud, but then Dick was such a fucking sap.
“I would like that Jason,” Bruce said, standing up.
“We should set up a date then. Soon. Dinner?”
“Yes,” Bruce said. “I’m looking forward to it.” He reached out his hand and Jason grabbed it. Squeezed it hard.
“Oh shoot,” Tim said.
“We waited for you,” Dick replied, pouring coffee into three mugs. John was still sleeping upstairs but it was a Saturday and Tim always tried to make it home on the weekends. This Saturday was no exception.
“You know everything then,” Tim said, making grabby hands at the coffee. Dick handed a mug over and kissed Tim’s temple.
“We don’t know everything, we know what Bruce knows. But I bet you know more than him,” Jason replied.
“I tried to fix it,” Tim said.
Their little genius bird looked tired, Jason thought. “We could have helped, shit, Tim, we should have known about this. John could be in danger.”
“Run me through what Bruce told you, yeah?”
“Sure, but later. Did you sleep?” Dick asked.
“Yeah,” Tim said.
“Last night?” Jason drilled him.
“Yes, last night Jason.”
“How many hours?”
“Three?” Tim said, taking a sip from his mug.
“Is that an answer or a question?”
“It was around three hours. I wanted to be here before John woke up,” Tim answered. Stupid, perfect, genius bird, Jason thought fondly.
“I should take away that coffee and take you to bed,” Jason said.
Tim winked at him. “Later you can take me to bed and do all kinds of NC17 rated stuff to me.”
Dick handed him his coffee. It was only after six and they should all have been in bed. On any other Saturday when Dick didn’t have a shift, he and Jason would still be in bed. But it wasn’t any other Saturday.
“Is that the only thing on your mind, Babybird?”
“Well, it helps me relax,” Tim answered.
“And we will help you relax tonight, do not fear. John is staying at Siska’s house tonight. Tomorrow is the farmers market, so we’re taking Siska and her brother Jeremy.”
“Fair enough,” Tim said.
“Let’s start breakfast then,” Dick threw in. “You are going to take your coffee to the living room now. No phone, no laptop, just the soft afghan and the coffee, understood?”
“Yes,” Tim said with a soft smile.
Jason just had to kiss him then. Tim tasted like coffee and underneath that like Tim. Jason was painfully aware that he hadn’t kissed, touched or seen Tim in a week. For a moment he was tempted to take the kiss further, but then he remembered they had a ten year old boy upstairs that would wake up soon. It was better to shelve it for tonight.
He let go of Tim and gabbed breakfast ingredients from the fridge. Tim made himself at home on the sofa.
He could feel Dick’s eyes on him. “What?” He wanted to know.
“Nothing,” Dick said.
“You’re so gone for him,” Dick teased.
“Pot, kettle,” Jason replied, because Dick was equally gone for Tim. When this whole thing started he hadn’t expected to fall for Tim so hard. Or at all, really. It just kind of happened, but Dick was right, Jason was totally gone for them both and he would protect this, this little family, this little corner they carved out for themselves, with tooth and nail until his last breath.
“Can’t argue with that,” Dick said and kissed his cheek.
John came down twenty minutes later, probably because he smelled bacon and sausages. The boy ate as much as a grown man. He didn’t hate vegetables anymore, but he liked them better when they were covered or wrapped in some kind of meat. Jason and Dick got really good at making bacon wrapped anything.
“Tim!” John exclaimed, rubbing at his eyes. He looked adorable in his Superman pajamas and the messy hair, Jason thought. He launched himself at Tim, staying in his human form. Tim made room for him on the sofa and they snuggled under the blanket together.
“No breakfast in bed,” Dick told them.
“It’s a sofa,” John mumbled.
“Why are you up anyway? It’s not even seven, John.”
“I smelled bacon. Why are you up?” John asked.
“Because we waited for Tim,” Jason replied, piling bacon on a platter.
“Urgh, were you hoping for some alone time while I was asleep? For kissing and stuff?”
“We get plenty of that when you aren’t home,” Dick teased.
“Why were you waiting for Tim then?” John asked, always curious. Jason liked this about John, he liked a lot of things about their son of course, but John’s curiosity about everything was in his top ten.
“We wanted to tell him about grandfather Bruce,” Dick answered.
“Oh, oh, can I? Can I?” John asked, excitedly.
“Sure, go for it kid, but the pancakes will be done in a few minutes and maybe you two want to sit down at the kitchen table?” Jason replied.
John wriggled from under the blanket and grabbed Tim’s hand. Tim came willingly, clutching his empty coffee mug. He handed the mug to Dick, who rolled his eyes, but refilled it, and sat down at the table with John.
Jason finished the pancakes while John was telling Tim all about Bruce. John didn’t think Bruce was scary at all. John liked him, wanted to see him again soon. It was refreshing to see a boy gushing about Bruce like this.
“He’s going to come to dinner, next week probably,” Jason cut in, setting the plate with pancakes on the table. Dick had finished cutting fruit and set a bowl on the table before he sat down.
“Is he now?” Tim asked. He looked a bit more awake now. Probably the coffee, John was piling food on both his and Tim’s plate, because he knew Tim by now. Tim had a habit on munching on small portions as long as they were in front of him.
Tim’s plate was full of small pieces of fruit and bacon, John cut a pancake in four and put that on Tim’s plate as well.
“Who is the adult here?” Tim asked amused, as John poured syrup over his small bites of food.
“You work too much,” John said. “So it’s good to spoil you sometimes. Jay and Dick say so too.”
It was true enough, Jason thought.
Tim stroked John’s hair. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” John said and started on his own bacon.
Once they were done, and the dishwasher was loaded, they grabbed their coats and shoes, because Saturday mornings were for outdoor adventures. Sometimes they took some of John’s friends as well, but today it was only them.
“I’m so glad we’re taking the car,” Tim mumbled against the car window as he fastened his seatbelt.
John frowned. “You need to work less and sleep more.”
“Your son is right,” Dick threw in.
Jason started the car, waved to Mrs.Winterbloom and they were on the road to the botanical gardens.
“It’s still his favorite outdoor game,” Tim remarked. He was munching on a candy apple because the botanical gardens were having a fair.
“What?” Jason asked distracted. Tim’s lips were very shiny and very red and very inviting. He leaned over and kissed those inviting lips. Tim tasted sweet. But then Tim always tasted sweet.
Tim licked his lips like he was chasing Jason’s taste. “That tree and plant game you taught him years ago.”
“Well, maybe he’ll become a gardener or botanist or something,” Jason replied. “He can be anything.”
“Yes, he can, so can you,” Tim said.
“I am exactly where I want to be with exactly who I want to be with. I like this life.”
In the distance John and Dick fist bumped and John turned around to grin at them. Tim waved and Jason grinned back.
“I know. And I will do anything to protect this, Jason. I will.”
Jason grabbed Tim’s free hand and intertwined their fingers. “Hey, just because me and Dick aren’t in the game anymore – well mostly, it doesn’t mean you have to do this alone.”
“Last year on John’s birthday I was wondering if I should quit the game too, you know?”
Jason shook his head, because no, he hadn’t known and he was sure that Dick hadn’t known either.
“But you didn’t.”
“No, I didn’t and now I’m glad I didn’t. Because John is in danger.”
Jason nodded. He wasn’t going to ask how Tim made that decision. It had probably involved a lot of pro and con lists. Tim was methodical like that.
“I’m glad you didn’t,” Jason said. “Not only because John is in danger now and you can help us the best when you’re Red Robin.”
“Thank you Jason. I know you don’t want John anywhere near this whole vigilante business.”
“If you’re still going to be Red Robin when he’s older, say fifteen, then we will have to talk to him about it. Why you don’t come home, or why you’re sometimes injured or bleeding. He can smell that.”
“I know,” Tim said.
Jason kissed his temple like Dick had done this morning. “Don’t think about it now. Now we’re on an outing with our son and our lover and we’re here to have fun. Finish your candy apple and I might buy you some baklava later.”
“I’m not a kid, you know?”
“I know,” Jason said. “I wouldn’t do the things I plan to do to you tonight with a kid, but I do like to spoil you when you’re here.”
“You’re making me blush,” Tim said, biting into his apple.
“Liar,” Jason whispered. “But I might tonight.”
“Looking forward to it.”
After dinner Jason brought John over to his friend’s house and then went home. He was looking forward to his night with Dick and Tim, but first they had to talk about the person who was looking for their son.
When he came home, Dick and Tim were already in the living room with laptops and printouts.
Jason made coffee and joined them.
“Okay then, tell me what we have,” he said.
“We don’t have much, to be honest. There are still no security cameras in that area. I installed some right after John came through but they have been dismantled and probably sold for parts years ago,” Tim replied.
“But you did know about the new rift?”
“Some instruments to measure these things were well hidden around the area. Mine and Bruce’s. Once he found out about the first rift,” Tim answered.
“Makes sense. That’s how he knew,” Dick threw in.
Tim nodded. “I asked around in the area of course, but only got a vague description. I would also like to state that we don’t know if this man is here to hurt John or if he’s maybe family that survived.”
“John said his entire family was dead, Tim. The nightmares had been so bad in the first few months I was tempted to find a shrink.”
“I don’t like that we’re probably have to wait and see. I hate the waiting game,” Tim said.
“He might be a shifter. Magic seemed to be an everyday thing in John’s universe,” Jason said. He hated this as much as Dick did.
“Yeah, so if he’s a shifter…he could be a stray dog or a bird and we wouldn’t know,” Dick sighed.
“John would,” Tim said. “I’m sure John could smell another shifter.”
“Which also means another shifter could smell John…”
“It’s been three years and John isn’t in Gotham. We’re very far away from Gotham in fact,” Dick said. “Maybe we’re overreacting because he’s our son.”
“Of course we’re fucking overreacting Dick,” Jason replied. “I want this guy found, I want him questioned and I want him gone.”
“Understandable,” Tim said. “I’ll fix this. I promise.”
“Don’t. It’s not your fault. It’s been three years and everyone, me and Dick included, thought it was a onetime freak accident. It’s not your duty to fix it, Tim,” Jason replied.
“You protect John here and I protect him out there,” Tim said, stubbornly.
“You also protect everyone else out there Tim,” Dick threw in. “You can’t do everything on your own.”
“If I didn’t have to sleep, I maybe could,” Tim said cheekily.
Jason rolled his eyes at him. “But you do have to sleep and when you’re here with us at home, you will sleep more than three hours, little genius bird.”
“I like when you call me that,” Tim said, straddling Jason in a smooth move.
“I know you do,” Jason replied just before he kissed Tim. It started out slow, but escalated fast. Tim’s fingers were tangled in Jason’s hair and he was pressing closer to Jason, his cock filling out. Jason could feel it against his own.
“I think we should take this to the bedroom,” Dick said from the sidelines.
Both Jason and Tim agreed with him, so they migrated to the bedroom.
John was back Sunday morning, because he wanted to spend as much time with Tim as he could.
They drove out to the forest nearby after they were done at the farmer’s market and both Tim and John were sending pictures every few minutes.
Jason wanted to roll his eyes at them but really, they were too adorable to handle.
“Are you itching to join them?” Dick asked from the sofa.
“No, it’s good that Tim and John have some alone time,” Jason answered.
“You wished he was home more often?” Dick asked.
“Don’t you?” Jason asked, after all Tim had been Dick’s lover first. Before John came into Jason’s life Jason had been pretty much alone.
Dick sighed and then stretched, made a handstand right there on their living room floor. He winked at Jason and then sat down on the carpet. “Of course I do. But to be honest since you started to raise John I actually see him more often and more regularly. He checks in more too.”
“Because John would worry otherwise and Tim doesn’t want him to worry,” Jason said.
“Yeah,” Dick replied. “But I also think he really likes this. This family we built, Jason.”
“Well, he better,” Jason said with a grin.
“I like seeing you like this,” Dick said, stripping out of his shirt.
“Happy,” Dick answered, flinging the shirt onto the sofa and unzipping his jeans.
“What are you doing?”
“Stripping,” Dick said.
“I think you should fuck me, that’s why I’m stripping, Jay.”
“Do you now?”
“Yes, I mean I can take care of it myself of course, I’m quite capable, but it’s more fun with you.”
“Maybe you’d like to take care of it while I watch?” Jason asked, because he liked watching Dick pleasure himself. Of course he wasn’t able to watch for very long before he just had to touch Dick, or kiss him or suck his cock.
Dick stroked his cock slowly and then winked at him. “Sure, I’ll give you a show, because I know you’ll take care of me, Jay.”
Jason groaned, pulled the armchair closer and sat down to enjoy the show.
“Ah, Mister Todd,” Siska’s mom said.
Jason blinked at her. She was coming over often enough to get one or both of her kids from a play date, or drop them off at their house, but there wasn’t a play date scheduled today and – something about her was just a bit off.
“I’m not one to panic easily, but there is this man loitering around the school and I know I should maybe talk to the police, but is Mister Grayson in?”
“I think you should come inside and have a cup of tea,” Jason said.
She nodded. “That would be lovely.”
After Jason made tea and called Dick from upstairs, she clutched her mug and smiled shyly at them. Thank god, Dick was still home, because he had a night shift. He could make people feel at ease better than Jason.
“Just tell us from the beginning,” Dick said.
“I feel silly now, because… I mean he didn’t do anything, but something about the man…it gave me the shivers,” she said. “I took a picture, I know I’m not supposed to take pictures of random strangers, but he was loitering in front of a school.”
“Can you send me the picture?” Jason asked, because of course she had his number and email.
“Of course. That’s why John is with my husband and Siska and Jeremy right now. I’m probably overreacting.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” Dick said. “Was he looking at some kids specifically?”
“Yes, at John and Jeremy, they were playing on the swings, while I was chatting with Mrs. Marpel about Siska’s latest test results. I just didn’t like how he looked at the boys, so I offered dinner. I knew that John usually walks home alone.”
“He insists he’s a big boy,” Jason said.
She smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I know. Anyhow, that’s why John was over for dinner today.”
It wasn’t unusually for her to offer, John had texted them countless times that he would come home later because Siska’s mom made this or that exotic dish.
“It’s fine, really. We know where he is and that he’s save with you and your family. Thank you for taking him home with you.”
“It’s no problem at all. Are you going to look into this?” She asked.
“Of course,” Dick said. “And not only because he was interested in our son as well as yours.”
“Thank you Dick,” she replied.
“It’s no problem at all,” Dick said.
“We should show this picture to John, maybe he recognizes him,” Jason said once Sikas’ mom was gone.
“Or maybe he’s just a random creep who likes to watch children on the swings,” Dick countered.
“I don’t like either option A nor B, you know?”
“Yes,” Dick said. “I know. Still, if it is the guy from the rift, we better know and deal with it.”
Dick was of course right.
“And I would like to know how he tracked John down. No one knew where he was from, and you moved here three years ago.”
Jason’s been thinking about that as well. “Magic.”
“Magic?” Dick asked.
“Magic. It seems it’s a common enough thing in John’s universe. So I’m guessing that whoever is tracking John is using magic to do so.”
“Great, just fucking great,” Dick said, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Yeah, we better call Tim and let him know,” Jason replied.
“Of course he’s a bad guy,” Jason said. Secretly he was relieved as well, because if it hadn’t been a bad guy, but a long lost uncle who was here to take John home, back to his universe, Jason really didn’t think he could have dealt with that. In a sane way, that was.
John had been very silent and very still once Dick had shown him the picture of the unknown man. Then he had been sobbing uncontrollably until Jason put him into bed with a hot cacao.
“Well, now we know and can handle the whole thing accordingly.” Tim was wearing the Red Robin suit but no mask, it always made Jason’s fingers itch to mess Tim up a bit. In a good way.
“What does that even mean? Send him back to where he came from?” Dick asked, frowning.
A few years ago Jason would have dealt with that kind of thing in his own very permanent way.
“If we can figure out sure-“ Tim began.
“No way in hell,” Jason cut in. “He killed John’s family. He probably killed other people too. He is here to kill or kidnap and use John for some evil fucking plot and then kill him for sure. Bottom line: he is not going back to his world to just live his life happily and murder even more people.”
“You want to kill him?” Tim asked.
“Of course I want to kill him,” Jason answered hotly. “But I don’t do that anymore.”
Dick smiled at him like he was proud. Jason didn’t think he would ever get used to that.
“We will find a way, Jason,” Tim said.
Jason nodded. He had no idea what Tim was plotting, but he would just let Tim do his thing.
“First we need to get John away from here,” Dick said.
Jason didn’t like that idea one bit, but he knew Dick was right. They had too many neighbors and friends here now. None of them deserved to be pulled into this mess. The guy had already tried to get to John once.
“Well, he will go after John,” Jason stated.
“He can smell me now,” John said from the stairs.
Jason nodded and then held out his arms. He didn’t even care that it was past John’s bedtime, or that he had seen Tim in his vigilante outfit. John flew into them and buried his head against Jason’s chest. “I will never let anything happen to you.”
“I know,” John said.
“Neither will Tim or Dick,” Jason whispered.
“I know,” John repeated. “He’s going to come after me.”
“I know,” Jason replied.
“There is a cabin, in the woods,” Tim said.
“Of course there is,” Jason replied.
Tim smiled. “I just rented it for this weekend, it’s quite charming. So let’s try to not fuck it up, okay?”
“No promises,” Jason answered and kissed John’s head. “Also: langauge.”
It wasn’t the best plan in the world, but there were three of them and only one bad guy and this bad guy, even if he had some magic tracker and could shift, was no match for the three of them. They had been trained by the very best.
“It’s going to be alright,” Dick said.
“I know,” Jason replied, because he would make it alright.
“Okay, so as I understand it he used some kind of blood magic to hunt John down?” Jason asked.
Tim nodded. “Yes. Fucked up, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s been three years, why now?” Jason wondered aloud. They had made it to the cabin alright and already set up cameras and other surveillance equipment. Dick was preparing dinner with John in the small kitchen. While Constantine was doing his thing. Of course Tim’s plan was to call in someone who knew what he was doing and Constantine was a sucker for children and he knew magic like he knew the back of his fucking hand. So there, John Constantine, Jason thought.
Tim shrugged. “Who really knows? Maybe he needed to figure out where John went, maybe they didn’t know the right spell until now? There are a million reasons for the delay. We know nothing. We also still don’t know why he’s hunting John, or why he’s killed John’s whole pack.”
“I don’t think this guy worked alone,” Jason said.
“You’re most likely right about that,” Constantine threw in. “I put some protective spells on this place, not sure how much they help but it’s better than nothing”
Jason nodded and Tim sighed: he looked over to the entrance of the kitchen and then at Jason. “I think there is no way around it Jason and I think you know it too.”
“We need to ask John some questions about his family,” Constantine agreed. “The more I know about his world and the magic they use, the better prepared we will be.”
They had left this part of John’s past alone, mostly because John hadn’t been willing to talk about it.
“Yeah, and once we’re done with that, we need to explain my vigilante outfit,” Tim said.
“I think that one speaks for itself,” Jason grinned.
“You know what I mean.”
Jason did know what Tim meant. He had just hoped that they would have a few more years before they had to explain Tim’s job to John, or what Dick really did when he was away on the weekend to help out friends. But now with Constantine here and John in danger and with all hands on deck so to speak there was no way they could just not talk about it.
John had pretty much forgotten or suppressed the events of the night he had been stranded in Gotham. He had never seen Dick in his Nightwing suit either.
“Okay, guys, it’s simple, but dinner is ready,” Dick said from the kitchen. There wasn’t a table in the kitchen so they helped Dick and John set up in the living room which had a table and a few chairs. Jason actually liked the little cabin. It was cozy.
John was mostly silent during dinner, but he ate like he usually did, which settled Jason’s nerves. It told him that John believed that they would make things okay again.
After dinner Tim and Jason cleaned the table and they all migrated to the soft coach and armchairs in the main living area. Constantine hovered at first but then got his cigarettes out and nodded to the door. Jason waved him away. Constantine grinned at him before he left for the small front porch.
“So, you might wonder why Tim was wearing –“ Jason began once they were alone.
“The Red Robin suit?” John cut in.
“Yes,” Jason answered.
John shrugged. “I guess because he’s Red Robin?”
“Yes,” Jason said. “He is Red Robin and that is why he’s often away.”
“And when Dick is going to visit friends?” John asked, because he was a smart boy after all and catching on fast.
“Then he’s teaming up with other heroes,” Tim answered.
“Ah, okay, so…what is your codename Dick?” John questioned.
“Nightwing,” Dick said with a smile.
“Oh,” John said and turned to Jason.
“I’m not in the game anymore-“
“I remember now,” John said. “I mean, the night I came here, you were there, Tim and you were scary and nice and then you were there too, wearing a red helmet and your leather jacket. You gave me the jacket,” he added softly, looking at Jason.
“Yeah,” Jason replied.
“Is this why you’re not wearing it anymore?”
“You seemed to have forgotten the whole thing, and I was done being Red Hood anyway,” Jason answered.
“But I need you to remember now John, okay? We need to know why this man who uses magic to track you down wants you. Do you have any idea?”
“Any idea why they killed my whole pack?” John whispered.
Dick pulled the boy closer so he could hug him. John breathed a bit easier once he was plastered to Dick’s side.
“Yes, I know it’s hard, John,” Tim said gently.
John took a deep breath. “I don’t remember much about that night. I mean, everywhere was chaos and my mom, and she looked like you Tim, she really did…so…my mom said to run as soon as the portal opened.”
“And you ran,” Tim said gently.
“Yes, because she said she would be right behind me, but then I was alone and then you were there.”
“Why were you naked?” Tim asked.
“I don’t know. I wasn’t when I ran into the portal,” John answered.
“Maybe you can’t take anything with you with this kind of portal?” Dick mused.
“Dad used to go as a dog or other kind of animal when he used the portal,” John whispered.
“So was this normal for your world? To use portals?” Jason asked. Constantine was back with them, but he kept his distance. Jason knew that he was taking in every word nevertheless.
“My family did it a lot,” John answered.
“Your family was very strong, am I right?”
“I – don’t understand,” John said.
“I mean, people knew and respected your parents? Your pack?”
John nodded. “Yes, my dad was the next pack leader and everyone loved mom because she could heal people.”
“With magic?” Constantine wanted to know.
John nodded. “With magic.”
“Everyone in your pack could shift, right?” Tim asked.
John nodded again.
“And other people on your world could do it too?”
“Yes,” John answered.
Jason was wondering where Tim was going with this, but he kept his mouth shut. Tim was obviously going with this somewhere.
“How many people in your pack could do magic?” Tim asked.
“Only my mom and well…she was teaching me.”
Ah, Jason thought. Now they knew why John was being hunted.
“You never did any magic at home,” Jason said.
“I didn’t want to. It’s not done here. You didn’t seem to like magic much,” John replied.
Jason remembered now that John had called magic a good thing. Probably because his mom had been teaching him. It had been fun for John, until the night his pack was killed. Because if they hadn’t been killed his mom would have come for him.
“I don’t hate it,” Jason explained. “Just didn’t have a very good experience with it, is all.”
Tim grabbed Jason’s hand and squeezed.
“Now that we know that a portal to your world can be opened do you want to –“ Tim began.
“No,” John said, burying deeper into Dick’s side. “No,” he repeated a bit softer.
“Okay,” Tim said.
Jason had no idea what to say or do to make things better right the fuck now for John, so he just sat a bit closer to his son on the couch until John’s breathing event out.
It was a waiting game after that. They knew that the man was coming for John and they knew now why as well. To use their son for his evil plans. Jason would not stand for any of this and he knew that Dick and Tim wouldn’t either.
Constantine had been asking a few more questions about the kind of magic John's family used, but John didn't know that much and he wasn't able to perform any spells Constantine showed him either.
“I want to play outside,” John said, pressing his hands against the window.
Jason shook his head. “Too dangerous, but once this is all over, we can come back here, or another cabin in the woods for a weekend. You can even invite some of your friends.”
John turned his head to look at him. “Really?”
“Yes, really,” Jason answered.
“Siska, Jeremy and Alex,” John said, nodding his head.
“Sure. I think we can manage four kids, between three adults.”
“Will Tim come too?” John asked.
“Yeah, I’ll make sure he does,” Jason answered, looking at his son. Tim and Dick were patrolling now, Constantine was in the house and Jason was aware of his eyes on them, but he couldn’t be bothered to think about what people thought of him. Jason wasn’t going to let John out of his sight. He wished this whole thing would be over and soon.
Jason hadn’t been sleeping at night since they came to the cabin. He knew that Tim wasn’t either. How Tim functioned like this was a mystery, but Jason knew that Tim had his back. So had Constantine for that matter.
It was something – not really a noise, that startled Jason. Maybe it was a smell or a shift in the air. The alarms hadn’t gone off, but he knew that the intruder was inside the perimeter.
He looked over to where John was sleeping curled up against Dick. Tim was looking at him. Wide awake and deadly silent.
Constantine was awake as well. He was whispering, probably working on a spell. Maybe the magical alarms had been triggered, there was no way Jason could tell.
Jason was sure that Dick was awake now too, but he didn’t move and his breathing didn’t change. He would stay with John while Jason, Tim and Constantine would deal with their intruder.
Constantine signaled them to go outside. Jason was torn, but Tim nodded, so Jason followed his lead.
Constantine mumbled another spell and then closed the door. “Sealed and I put a sleeping spell on John. I think its better he doesn't see or hear any of this.”
Jason nodded. “Good thinking.” He wasn’t keen on using magic on his kid (or in general really), but this was an unusual situation. Constantine was right: John didn’t need more horrors he could dream about in his life.
“Where is he?” Tim asked.
Constantine nodded in the direction of some thick bushes and trees.
Jason nearly felt sorry for the bastard now, he and Tim were a force to be recon with, but with Constantine on their side the guy didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.
Jason was wearing the full Red Hood suit, but better because Constantine spelled their suits against the most common curses as well.
He didn’t think that he would have been able to slip into the Red Hood persona so easily after three years of not even thinking about the Hood, but it fit like a glove.
Jason took a deep breath as they advanced on their enemy and then let it out slowly.
It was time to end this mess.
Once they took the guy down and got all the information they needed and some Jason didn’t want to know at all and didn’t think he could scrub from his brain in a million years, Constantine sent him to another dimension.
Tim had asked if it was hell, not that it mattered much to Jason where he would end up as long as it wasn’t anywhere nice.
“It’s not hell. But close. I hope he’ll think about all his sins there, mate. Between fighting for his life that is.”
Jason was really satisfied with that.
“We owe you,” Jason said, squeezing Constantine’s hand.
“I will collect someday,” Constantine replied with a grin.
Jason had to admit that he liked that grin.
“We should clean up,” Tim threw in and Jason nodded. There was blood on all of them. John didn’t need to see them like this.
They made it to the cabin and took turns in the bathroom. Dick was just looking at them once they were all showered and dressed again. John was still out like a light.
“Is it done?” Dick asked eventually.
“Yes,” Jason answered.
“He won’t be looking for your John again, and neither will anyone else from that dimension. I made sure of it, once we had the right spells,” Constantine said.
Jason could hear the relief in Dick’s voice. It echoed his own.
It seemed that things could go back to normal again.
Their normal anyway.
“Grandfather Bruce is here!” John yelled from the door.
Jason shook his head. It would probably take some time for him to get used to that particular title for his former mentor.
“You don’t have to yell, John. Who else would it be?” Jason said.
“He brought a friend!” John yelled again.
That made Jason pause, but a second later he could hear Alfred’s voice and he smiled. “Let them in, John.”
“Right!” John yelled back.
Jason shook his head. Dick was grinning as he tossed the salad and dressing together.
“You can show Bruce your plant collection and botanical books,” Jason said, once the front door was closed and everyone was in the living room where Jason could see them.
“Would you like to see them grandfather Bruce?” John asked a bit shyly.
“I would love to see them,” Bruce answered.
Maybe having Bruce in their lives again, wouldn’t be so bad, Jason thought as he wrapped thinly sliced bacon around figs and pears.
“Do you need some help, Master Jason, Master Dick?” Alfred asked.
“You’re a guest here,” Jason replied. “Besides we totally mastered the art of cooking for a ten year old boy.”
“You were always very talented in the kitchen, Master Jason,” Alfred replied.
“Dick makes more than cereal now too,” Jason said with a laugh.
“I’m awesome at snacks and school lunches,” Dick said with obvious pride. Jason just had to pinch his ass. Dick grinned at him.
Alfred just smiled softly at them.
Tim burst through the door as Jason set down the last platter on the kitchen table.
“I thought you said you wouldn’t be able to make it,” Dick commented, as Tim took of his shoes and jacket.
“Kon,” was all Tim said before he came into the kitchen, kissed first Dick, then Jason and then John’s hair.
“Just in time too,” John grinned up at him.
“Wouldn’t miss this thing for the world,” Tim replied, grabbing a glass of water and then sitting down. “Did John show you his botanical collection?”
“Yes, he did and I am most impressed,” Bruce replied.
“Grandfather Bruce said he’ll take me to Japan when I’m older! To look at the gardens there.” John threw in excitedly.
Jason nearly rolled his eyes. Of course Bruce would promise something like this. “It’s good to have a rich grandfather, isn’t it?”
Bruce gave him a look. “I took you skiing and to all kinds of other exotic places.”
Mostly for missions, but Jason couldn’t deny that some had been for fun as well.
“I’m sure you two will have a lot of fun,” Dick threw in. “You could use a vacation too, Bruce.”
Bruce just stared at him for a second.
“And you will look after our son well,” Tim added. It was really just a thinly hidden treat.
Bruce nodded. “Of course.”
“Try this bacon wrapped pear, grandfather Bruce,” John said, showing the plate in his direction. “They are soooooooooo yummy.”
Bruce only hesitated for a moment before he did.
Maybe, Jason thought again, it wouldn’t be too bad to have Bruce back in his life.