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Jason wakes in a rage. And justified, this time--listen, actually, all his rages are justified, some are just longer walks than others. This is a single short step off a steep pier because he’d been convinced this safehouse was… well, safe. Safe from the Bat’s all-seeing cowl. In fact, he’d been near delighted, because he remembered this hidey hole. Remembered through the blurry green haze of the Pits, remembered from when he was the only one who made Bruce smile. It had been Batman’s safehouse first, but he’d considered it lost when an up and coming faction of the Triad had discovered it.

Might be a problem, except Jason’s killed every member of said faction personally. And then he’d grinned, eating pizza in his boxers with a gun in his free hand. Because he’s pretty sure Bruce never stops looking for him, not as long as he rattles around so close to Gotham’s borders. Well. Within Gotham’s borders, but he’d been careful to dispose of the gang members just outside the city limits. All the more to twist the knife, he’d thought cheerfully, and practically skipped back to the top floor apartment.

God, he’d thought, stretching out across the small but perfectly soft bed. Bruce was an asshole, but even his safehouses were cushy. All his hard talk and his (grudgingly) admittedly hard walk; Bruce Wayne was a rich kid, and it showed. Jason closed his eyes thinking of little ways to drop clues he’d been here, in Batman’s city, in Batman’s safe places. Remind Bruce that Jason knows where the bodies are buried.

He dreamed of Bruce’s quiet praise, blue moon rare but sweeter than anything when it came; Dick’s cheesy jokes and wrestled noogies. Then he woke in a rage, and arched up in what would be an unforgivable tell if the bed wasn’t worth more than every paycheck he’d ever gotten in his whole life added up. It refused to creak and he rolled silently into a crouch, forcing himself to stay still and listen. It had been one of the hardest lessons for him to learn, as a Gotham street rat turned sidekick vigilante. On the streets, stopping meant getting caught, getting hurt, getting dead. Bruce taught him the value of it, to stop and hold and listen.

There’s someone in the kitchen. Their boots sound combat grade, and the air moves around them oddly: body armor. But they’re making a lot of noise: either new or injured. No way a newbie trips and falls into the Batman’s safehouse. Jason holds, just a little bit longer--ah, there it is. A drag of the left foot.

Jason comes through the doorway like a freight train, his body already in perfect position for a kick to the left knee that will crunch through the bone like tissue paper. He knows he’s silent, he knows he’s deadly, he knows he’s a badass motherfucker and he looks like one.

Which is why it’s so embarrassing when he jerks at the last moment, his kick going wide. His boot smashes into a cupboard and gets stuck; he wobbles, arms flailing, and just barely manages not to wrench his ankle before falling on his ass. He glowers at the ceiling, crumpled in a pile of debris.

Dick Grayson peers down at him, eating a banana with no hands. “Jay?” he says, impossibly muffled around the fruit. He bites down and a quarter of a banana falls on Jason’s face. He lets it hit, because, fuck it. He might as well have a banana sliding wetly down his cheek. This is just how his morning is going. “You okay?”

Jason slaps Dick’s offered hand away with extreme prejudice. “Fuck you.” He should have let the kick connect, he thinks poisonously. See how the goldenbird likes to be laid up in a hip-to-toe cast. Hell, he’s seen Dick bedbound before, he knows it drives the man insane. “How did--” he stops himself from finishing the question. Never admit you don’t know something; there are some useful lessons Bruce taught him. “--you hurt your leg,” he adjusts at the last second. He wipes his cheek with his jacket sleeve.

“My leg?”

Jason frowns. Dick’s voice is too spaced, too light. Even with their awkward unspoken truce--temporary, of course, until it suits Jason to break it--it’s off. Dick wouldn’t come to him like this, unguarded and without an undercurrent of disappointment. He’s in his Nightwing suit, which is more lycra and less kevlar than any of the many many masked morons to flit around Gotham’s gargoyles and leave their blood seeping into the soil through the cracks in the concrete. The suit looks okay, too; a few tears but nothing life threatening.

“Your foot,” he clarifies, sliding smoothly to his feet and tensing his muscles. Could be mind control, could be shapeshifters, could be any number of serums or gasses. Could be zombies. Again.

Dick returns nothing but a blank look. He turns his back--his back--on Jason to rummage through the top cabinets. Jason bristles at the insult, mind controlled or not, and his palm goes under his jacket to rest on the grip of his right-hand baby. People let you down; guns extend your body and roar your rage and only jam when you don’t take care of them. “Fruit Loops,” Dick mumbles. Packets of instant noodles and boxes of protein bars rain down, bouncing against the counters and onto the floor. It’s so unbelievably amateur that Jason actually boggles at him for a full three seconds before stepping forward and gripping Dick by the shoulder.

“Hey, fuckbird, you--”

Dick moves so fast that if Jason hadn’t been trained by the people he’s been trained by, he never would have seen it. His hand jerks up, and even though he catches it coming Jason has always been slower than Dick. Apparently some things do stay the same, because he feels Dick’s glove, the iron grip of his fingers, close around Jason’s wrist. Jason twists, evading Dick’s second hand, then grunts with effort, jumping to brace a foot on the wall to avoid breaking his own arm. He shoves back hard and they go to ground again, Jason’s fall cushioned by Dick’s body.

“Jay,” Dick repeats with a soft sigh, and then a cold nose is poking into the back of Jason’s neck.

Jason abruptly misses the days where Dick greeted him with a screech of fury and a roundhouse kick to the ribs, instead of an armbar transition into aggressive big spooning. “Stop calling me that, we aren’t friends. We aren’t brothers.”

“No,” Dick agrees, his voice still slightly dreamy. His hand slips under Jason’s jacket and Jason goes still, almost cross-eyed. Dick drags two fingers of Nightwing’s glove, black shot through with the same brilliant blue of his eyes, down the barrel of Jason’s gun.

Jason makes a half-strangled noise, like some kind of fucking virgin. He elbows Dick in the nose and lurches to his feet, pulling the knife from his boot in the same motion. Dick stays sprawled out on the tile, lazily propping himself up on one elbow. His domino mask is crooked, blood runs from one nostril down to his lips. “I knew it,” Jason hisses. “I knew you were lying, I knew you always hated me, I knew--”

“I never hated you,” Dick interrupts. He spots the banana on the floor. “Ooh!”

Jason’s fists are clenched so hard he can feel his bones creaking, his fingernails cutting into his palms. “Liar,” he accuses. “You just admitted-- admit it. Just say it!”

Dick has scooped the banana off the floor. He blows a piece of lint off it and blinks at Jason, oddly serious for how befuddled he’s acting. “I never hated you. I was jealous.” He takes a bite of banana and turns, headed towards the window. “Until next time, little wing.”

Yeah fucking right. Jason throws a haymaker at Dick’s left ear, designed to pop his eardrum. See how the wondrous the prodigal son is when he can’t keep his balance well enough to do his fancy free flips and handsprings.

And this is why Jason avoids the ‘Haven just as much as he ducks in to pull on Dick’s pigtails. His rage makes him strong, but it--it makes him stupid sometimes. He can admit it, if only to himself. He wants so bad to land the blow that he forgets who he’s up against. And it’s Dick’s specialty, to be cute and charming and goofy-sweet, to be sneaky and deceptively slender, shorter than even the Replacement. Everyone forgets he’s faster than any mundane has any right to be, that his muscles look smaller than Jason’s but are roughly as dense a neutron star.

He avoids Jason’s blow like Jason’s moving underwater, and hits Jason three times three inches above his elbow, on the inside, the exact same place with his knuckle extended. Jason’s entire left arm from the shoulder down goes numb--but this is his specialty. He’s built like a brick shithouse and he celebrated death with a dip into pure insanity; there’s no crowbar in the world that can keep him down. So he takes the hits, turns into them, even, and knees Dick straight in the gut.

It lays him out, which is satisfying despite the fact that it only happened because he’s… whatever. Jason grabs him by the shoulder and hauls him up. Dick lolls in his grasp, pale and fumbling to get his own feet under him. “G’off,” he mutters, but with how pathetic he looks, it’s distinctly lacking heat.

“You had to come to the one safehouse I’m taking a nap in,” Jason grumbles, dragging Dick back towards the living room. “You and B fighting again or something?”

“We’re always fighting,” Dick mutters, his arm around Jason’s waist for balance. “But this was closest.”

“Oh? You’re coherent now?” Jason drops Dick face first onto the sofa, unsympathetic, and ignores Dick’s disgruntled noise into the cushion. Jason adds up the clues: he’d been disoriented but aware enough to bypass Jason’s security, disoriented but aware enough to recognize Jason, recognized Jason but responded with violence when threatened. “Scarecrow?”

“Ding,” Dick mumbles. He leans his head off the edge of the couch and vomits.

Jason make a disgusted noise.

Dick retches twice more, then flops over onto his back, sweaty and pale. “Banana,” he says, in his best impression of Bruce. It’s a very good impression. “Tastes the same coming up as it does going down.” He taps his nose. “Wisdom for the road, little wing.”

“I hate you,” Jason informs him. “If you choke on your own vomit and die while I’m getting you some water I’m not performing CPR.”

Dick cups one hand in front of the other, then splays his fingers out, wriggling them in a flourish. When he drops it, his other hand has his middle finger extended. “Ta-daa.”

“Yeah, you’re a real fuckin’ magician.” Jason points at him, Dick’s eyes crossing as he tries to focus on Jason’s finger. “No choking.”

“No choking,” Dick agrees, and Jason leaves him to return to the kitchen.

He kicks some of the debris aside, making his way to the fridge, and dials as he goes.

Tim picks up on the first ring, his voice terse and short. “What.”

“Timmers,” Jason croons, opening the fridge and retrieving four bottles of water. “Timmy, Timbo, Timberlina--”

“What do you want,” Tim snaps, interrupting. “I’m busy, Hood.”

Jason makes a mock wounded noise. “That stings, baby bee. It’s no way to talk to your biggest brother.” Despite himself, his tone changes to something raw and ugly “After all, you wouldn’t even exist without me.”

There’s a short silence on the line. “I don’t have time for your insecurity,” Tim says finally, and hangs up. Jason clenches his fist so hard it starts to hurt, then he takes a deep breath and gathers up the water bottles again.

“Don’t punch me,” Jason warns, leaning over where Dick has managed to prop himself up against the arm of the couch. He’s taken his domino off, and his eyes are sunken, the pupils too big and his blinking erratic. His hands shake when he tries to hold the bottle, until Jason makes an impatient noise, bats them away, and holds it steady for him.

“Thanks,” Dick rasps, when he’s swallowed a bottle and a half.

“You with me?”

Dick’s head jerks up and down. “For now.”

The vomiting helped, Jason figured. “I have bad news.”

Dick’s eyes snap to his face. “Bruce?” He starts to try and sit up, groaning with the effort. He reaches for one of his escrima sticks, fallen to the ground when he’s flopped onto the sofa. His hand trembles when he extends it, teeth gritted. “Damian?”

“Worse,” Jason says solemnly. “Tim doesn’t love me anymore.”

Dick stares at him. Then he slumps back into the sofa. “You’re such an asshole.”

“That’s me,” Jason agrees. He leans forward, licking the tip of his finger before sticking it into Dick’s ear and swiping up along the curve of it. Dick tries to bite him--Jason withdraws quickly. He’d finished what he was looking for anyway. “Where’s your comm?”

“Fell out,” Dick says shortly. He rolls over, putting his back to Jason.

Jason kicks the sofa with one foot, making it rock. “C’mon, don’t be like that. Didn’t you promise once to tell me a bedtime story?”

He had offered once, sneeringly, when Jason was Robin. It’d been during an argument, and Dick had said it to make Jason feel small and young and inexperienced. It’d worked, and Jason had flushed red enough to reveal his freckles before spitting out--god, he doesn’t remember. Something poisonous about Dick’s parents, probably. It’d been one of the worst fights they’d ever had, before Jason’s death.

Apparently Dick remembers the fight too, because he snorts. “Didn’t you promise to stick a pixie boot up my ass?”

Oh. Maybe he hadn’t insulted Dick’s parents after all. Jason doesn’t like to think about how some of his memories have big green holes in them, so he pushes on. “Offer still stands.”

“You’ll have to find a pixie boot first,” Dick mutters, and his whole body is trembling. “G-good l-l-l-luck with th-that.”

Jason frowns. He keeps his voice purposefully light. “Never said it had to be your pixie boot, big bird. Two perfectly good ones encased in glass right in the middle of the cave. Figure they’re mine anyway, if I want to sacrifice one to a higher purpose.”

Dick rolls over, still shivering, but his voice is clearer. “You don’t know?”

“Don’t know what?”

“He took down your case.”

For a second, it’s like he’d said it in another language. Jason heard the words, but it was like the letters were scrambled, or the sentence out of order. Then it clicks in his brain and all his thoughts are lost in the blood roaring in his ears. “He did what?”

Dick says something else, but Jason can’t hear it.

“--Jason!” Dick’s voice is right in his ear, too loud and too close. There’s a hand pressed to the back of his neck and a knee in the small of his back, pinning him chest first into the wall. Jason’s panting, harsh ragged breaths that whistle on the way out. “Breathe,” Dick demands, and annoyingly, the order works. Jason can feel his chest go loose, the invisible band around it disappearing. The black spots that were dancing around the edge of his vision slowly fade away.

“Get off,” he mutters, lacking any snarl or heat. “Or I’ll… I don’t know. Tell Babs about the pictures of her you used to keep under your bed.”

Dick startles in surprise. “You snoop!”

“Of course I snooped. I was a kid. It’s not like I took any of them with me, I wasn’t a creep.”

Dick steps back, disengaging his touch and letting Jason shake himself out. His knuckles are bleeding and there’s a jagged hole in the wall a little to his left, but Dick isn’t any more bruised up than he was before Jason blacked out, so it could be much worse. “Here,” Dick says, and passes him a water bottle. “You okay?”

“Fine,” Jason snaps, and glares, the plastic of the bottle crinkling in his grip. “Sit down before you fall over.”

Dick sits, slumping into the sofa with a groan. He puts a gloved hand over his eyes. “Comes in waves,” he warns. “Won’t be nearly as coherent or mobile in a minute, so if you’re going to breakdown again wrestle yourself back into sanity.”

Jason drains the water bottle. It makes his throat feel less scraped raw, his tongue less swollen. Then he shakes the nearly empty bottle in Dick’s direction, little droplets flying out and landing on Dick’s crotch.

“Mature,” Dick mutters, and flops around until he’s lying down again. “I hope you slip in my puke puddle.”

Jason sits in the armchair, elbows braced on his knees. “When?”

Dick knows what he’s talking about. “A couple of months ago. He didn’t tell you? I thought--” he breaks off, then starts again. “I thought it was because you talked to him about it.”

“I did.” ‘Talk’ might be a gentle word for what he’d screamed at Bruce during an argument in Arkham, of all places, but Dick doesn’t need to know the particulars. “I didn’t know he’d…” Jason trails off, shrugging. Isn’t that just like Bruce, to do it and not even tell him.

Lying on his back staring at the ceiling, Dick shrugs in commiseration. “You know what he’s like.”

Jason scowls. “Whaddya think, he burn the plaque along with everything else?”

Dick shrugs again, then yawns. His nose wrinkles. “It smells like puke.”

“Whose fault is that?” Jason shoots back, but he leans over and grabs a throw pillow (a throw pillow in a safehouse, for fuck’s sake) and tosses it over the vomit, covering it and slightly lessening the smell. “I need you to be pissed about this with me,” he decides.

Dick’s eyes, which had closed, open slugglishy. “W’hat?” he mumbles. “Why?”

“Brotherly duty.” Jason crosses the small space between them, shoving Dick’s legs aside to sit on the sofa next to him. Dick kicks him in the side, then rests his legs in Jason’s lap. Surreptitiously, Jason brushes his fingers across the inside of Dick’s wrist, checking his pulse. “Remember when your dog died when you were with the Titans and Bruce didn’t tell you for like, six months.”

Dick scowls. “I found out on Christmas. Christmas Day. From you.”

And Jason hadn’t exactly been Mr. Sensitive about it. “I was trying to get you to storm out so I could have Alfred and Bruce to myself,” he says, and only realizes how truthful it is when it comes out.

“I figured,” Dick says simply, like he’s already forgiven Jason his jealousy and his bitter mean words and all the blood on his hands. “God, what a jackass. Ace was a good boy.” He shivers violently, his body locking up in a series of spasms.

Jason curls his fingers around Dick’s ankle, his foot bare, wonders where his boots ended up. He doesn’t know if the contact helps, but Dick’s always been a touchy bastard, so it’s probably not hurting. Dick goes boneless with a groan, aftershock twitches wracking his muscles. “You gonna pass out?”

“In a minute.” There’s lines of strain around his eyes and a pinched look about his mouth. Stupid stubborn bastard, on top of everything else.

“You don’t have to fight it,” Jason mutters gruffly. “Not about to leave your stupid ass in this state.”

“Too good t’me, little wing.” Dick’s voice is loopy again, spaced and dipping in an odd cadence. “I forgive you f’r killin’ my dog.”

“I didn’t kill your dog, moron. He died of old age.”

“I’m glad you were there,” Dick whispers, his eyelids starting to droop. “Poor boy, left him with Bruce and Alfred.”

Jason had--he’d forgotten about Ace. Not in the same way as some of his other memories, the ones the pit dissolved like acid, but in the normal way, a quiet fading due to time and distance. He’d only had a few months, and the dog was older, so it’s not like he was frolicking through the grounds the same way Damian does with Titus.

But. He remembers nights at the manor, when he wasn’t ready to go out as Robin yet, when everything was too dark and eerie and the wind whistled through the trees and slapped their leaves against the windows, the shadows rising jagged on the walls by the light of the moon. And Ace, who’d moved with stiff hips, resting his grey snout on the edge of Jason’s mattress, tail waving gently behind him, until Jason held the blankets up and hauled him up by the scruff.

Jason had never had a dog before, or even really interacted with one that wasn’t a street stray. It was something new, sleeping quietly with Ace’s reassuring warmth against his side, the quiet whuff of his breathing.

“You got a dog,” he says, pre-empting any emotional reaction this recovered memory can bring, “Demon spawn’s got a goddamn menagerie. Feeling neglected over here.”

Dick’s throat works several times before he manages to speak. Jason figures he’s very close to being out for the night. It’s how these things usually go. “Tim,” he rasps, and it takes him a considerable effort.

“No, I’m Jason.”

Dick opens one eye to glare at him.

Jason chucks him under the chin. “Not so funny when it’s turned back on you, is it prettybird?”

Dick rolls the one eye, then closes it again.

“Your dog,” Jason says, his fingers brushing against Dick’s knee, “your uniform, your name.” Dick’s Nightwing suit is different than Jason’s body armor, less layers and padding to weigh him down, the material lighter and woven tighter. It’s warm to the touch, rubbery and flexible when Jason drags a nail across it. Dick shivers again, then sighs. His face relaxes and his breathing evens out.

“I hated that plaque,” Jason says suddenly, “more than anything else. More than the Joker.” It’s so much more than he meant to say--than he’s ever meant to say, possibly in his entire life. “You better be too fucked up to remember this.”

Dick’s hand twitches, those blue stripes all the way from his shoulder to his fingertips, but otherwise doesn’t respond.

“A good soldier,” Jason says bitterly. “A blind soldier. Did he make you take that stupid oath too? Couldn’t even get me my own candle.” A moron, Jason thinks, not for the first time. As if Bruce had ever needed an oath to keep Jason’s loyalty. As if his blind desperate loyalty was ever in question before his mind got wiped away and came back wrong. A good soldier and never a good son.

Jason calls Tim. “N is at my location,” he says, as soon as he hears the line click.

Tim makes an annoyed noise. “And you couldn’t have told me when you called earlier because…?”

“What? I can’t want some Dick in my life? You baby birds the only ones who can make a claim on this big ole--”

“Ew,” Tim says, cutting him off. “I’m on my way--”

“Hood,” Bruce says, and Jason’s fingers clench around the phone. “What is Nightwing’s status?”

“Footloose and fancy free, B. You doubt me?”

There’s a short silence. “Maintain his condition until Red Robin arrives.”

“Hey,” Jason says, his mouth running without input from his brain. “How come you never got me a dog?”

The silence turns surprised.

Jason clears his throat, glad no one can see him blush. “ETA?”

“Fifteen minutes.”

“Acknowledged.”

“Jason,” Bruce says, and he must be in the Batmobile but it’s still--names in the field.

“Forget it. I don’t know why I asked.”

“You,” Bruce says, and his tone is almost stumbling, unsure and cautious. “You didn’t sleep for three days after we put Ace down. I didn’t want…” he trails off.

“I get it,” Jason says, his heart pounding in his chest. He’s gripping Dick’s knee so tight he’s surprised Dick hasn’t stirred at the stimulus. “Nothing matters but the mission, right?”

Before he hangs up, he hears Bruce suck in a breath, wounded.

“Harsh,” Dick murmurs. His eyes don’t open.

“Faker,” Jason accuses, and Dick’s lips twitch up.

“You wanna know why it hit him so hard?”

Jason wants to know so bad he can taste it. “What do I care?”

“Because it’s what he said to me when I asked him why he--” Dick breaks off. “You know I missed your funeral, right?”

“You had better things to do. No skin off my back.” When Dick had ‘died’ Jason dropped everything to make it to his memorial. Then he and Roy had gotten blackout drunk and woken up in jail. On a different planet.

“He didn’t tell me.”

Jason blinks. He runs Dick’s words through his head, frontwards and then backwards. Then he sighs, slumping down and letting his head tip back. “Jesus. This whole family is a big fuckin’ mess.”

Dick hums in agreement, then grimaces. “I think I’m gonna throw up again.”

Jason frowns. “Like, right now, or just in general?”

Dick makes a thoughtful noise. “Definitely by sunrise.”

Jason forces his fingers to relax, smoothing them in little circles on the inside of Dick’s knee. “I’ll give you twenty bucks if you can hold it until Tim gets here. Fifty if you ralph on his cape.”

“Done,” Dick says, and raises one hand up, fingers curled, pinky stuck out.

Jason links their pinkies together; a solemn promise. Dick’s breathing a little harder, but doesn’t seem to be in acute distress, so Jason sits there, staring at the ceiling in the dark, thinking about Dick’s funeral and the sick sunken way it made his chest feel.

 

Against his hip, his phone buzzes. He slips out from under Dick’s legs, and the laxness in Dick’s face and the stillness of his body makes him pause, check Dick’s pulse one more time, his rough calloused fingers against the soft skin under Dick’s jaw. “Timmy’ll look out for you,” he promises, and lays his brown jacket over Dick’s chest. “Seeya around, Big Bird.”

Dick’s mouth curls up at the corner. “Careful, Jayce. I’ll start to think you care.”

“For fuck’s sake,” Jason grumbles. He’d really thought Dick was out that time. “You asked for this.” He licks his finger, sticks it into Dick’s ear and watches the disgust roll over Dick’s face.

Then he leans down and ruffles Dick’s hair. “Twice for flinching,” he mutters, and kisses Dick’s sweaty temple.

 

Tim’s standing at Dick’s side when he returns from the bedroom, fully dressed and his guns in his holsters. “Hood,” he greets tersely.

There’s an empty syringe in his hand, which bodes well. Tim’s always had a knack for creating antidotes on the fly. Jason whistles a little as he crosses the room, mood buoyed. Maybe Roy’s free for a drink.

Tim’s watching him.

“Your hood looks stupid,” Jason tells him, not for the first time. “Stop copying me.”

Tim doesn’t so much as blink. “He’s got a black eye.”

“Yea? So? Since when has that kept any of us down.”

“He didn’t have a black eye when I saw him last.”

Jason snarls. “Listen, Red, if you--”

Dick stirs, silencing him in his tracks. “Timmy?”

Tim’s attention snaps off Jason like he’s forgotten Jason even exists. He crouches. “How are you feeling?”

Dick reaches a hand to him. “Tim,” he mumbles, voice cracking. “C’mere?”

“I got you,” Tim reassures, settling onto his knees and smoothing Dick’s sweaty hair off his forehead. “Are you--”

Dick throws up. It hits Tim’s chest with an audible noise, splashing on his cape and his pants. It drips down to the carpet. Dick slumps back onto the sofa, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, breathing hard. Under the paleness of his face there’s a distinct satisfaction.

“Holy shit,” Jason says, admiring. He reaches a hand out. “Put ‘em there, Dickie, that was goddamn magical.”

Dick slaps their palms together.

“I should have let you die,” Tim decides. It’s unclear which of them he’s referring to. “I’m going to change.” He stalks off for the bathroom, grimacing.

Dick’s eyes are slitted, just barely open enough to see anything at all. “You gonna stick around?”

Jason shakes his head, shifting on his feet. “Not in the cards.”

“Could be. If you wanted.” Dick’s voice is quiet, and wanting, but even. No guilting, no pleading. A sincere invitation. If he looked at the bottoms of Jason's boots he'd see the fresh blood speckled there.

Jason sighs. “Can’t always get what you want, Robin.”

Dick smiles, small and bright. “Ain’t that the truth, Robin.”

He watches Jason leave, one hand raised in goodbye. Jason doesn’t return the gesture. He makes sure the door is locked behind him.

 

His bike is hidden in an alleyway. Batman is standing in front of it.

Jason slows to a stop a few steps away. “God, you’re repressed. He’s fine, by the way, since you probably can’t bring yourself to ask.”

Batman might as well be one of the gargoyles on the rooftops, he’s so still. “I’m tapped into Red Robin’s comms.”

“Of course you are.” Jason jerks a thumb behind him. “Do you mind? I’ve got places to be.”

He doesn’t move. Jason steps up, almost nose to cowl. He’d left his own mask upstairs; there’s an extra helmet in a secure compartment on the back of the bike. “You should have told Dick I’d died.”

Batman shifts on his feet. For a normal person, that’s a full body flinch of surprise. “I did.”

Jason rolls his eyes. “Within a few days, B, not a month after the funeral.”

Batman’s eyes narrow. “The funeral.”

When Jason was younger, he found it comforting. Bruce always cut straight to the heart of the issue, even if you weren’t really sure yourself what the heart of the issue was. “Yeah. He should have been able to come to my funeral.”

“I didn’t think you two were that close.” The lower half of his face, visible under the cowl, twists oddly, almost like he’d wanted to smile. “The last time you’d fought in the Manor, Agent A threatened to retire.” Jason has no memory of that whatsover. Batman must see it in his face. His fingers, curled into a fist, clench once before releasing. “I didn’t know you’d want him there,” he offers.

“Yeah, well.” Jason clears his throat. “You were an only child.”

Batman steps aside. It’s so surprising Jason doesn’t move for a full second. Then he shakes himself, starting forward. Bruce waits until he’s got one leg slung over his bike before he speaks again. “Did you want a dog?”

Jason pauses, straddling the bike, the breeze cold on his exposed face and arms. “I don’t remember.”

Bruce nods, accepting it as truth. Jason starts the bike, the roar of the engine cutting through the quiet night. It’s starting to drizzle, icy cold raindrops and all the stars wiped out by the clouds.

“I should have gotten you a dog,” Bruce says, nearly lost beneath the noise. It’s said offhandedly, almost musingly. It sticks in Jason’s head all the way to Star City.