Jason is going insane.
He's been through a lot in his life, but the idea of lying in bed for another month the way the doctor's instructed him sounds impossible. He doesn't do sitting still. He wants to be doing something. And the fact that every part of his body aches so badly that even his pain tolerance can't keep up with that does nothing to dissuade him.
He's been out of bed a few times, but only under heavy supervision, with Slade and Bruce hovering around him. So he knows he can make it, just as long as he's very quiet and very careful.
He eases himself onto his feet, stopping to listen every few seconds to make sure there's no telltale pounding of feet coming up the stairs. He just needs to stretch. Just needs to... to do something. To get up. He has books at his disposal, but only ones he's already read, and his eReader is just down the hall.
He could just ask to get it, but he doesn't want to. He wants to get it himself.
He makes it out of his room and halfway down the hall before his legs really start trembling. Before he starts wondering if maybe, just maybe, this was a bad idea. His lungs feel like they're burning, and the muscles in his legs feel ready to buckle at any moment as he leans heavily against the wall. He can't make it. It's maybe another ten feet, but it's taking all his effort just to stay upright.
Tears prickle at the corners of his eyes and he lets out a noise of frustration.
Fuck. He can't make it. Ten feet and he can't-
"Jason?" Bruce asks from somewhere behind him, and then Bruce is suddenly there.
"Don't touch me," Jason says, swatting his hand away, but even that little bit of motion is too much. His right leg buckles, and he's already starting to fall when Bruce catches him around the waist, taking his weight.
Jason lets out a sob of frustration.
He expects Bruce to yell. To call for Alfred, or maybe for Slade. But instead he's silent, his face a look of intense concentration as he stares down at Jason as if he's a puzzle to be solved.
"Where were you going?" Bruce finally asks after what seems like forever. He shifts, slipping his arm across Jason's back and under his arm, letting him hold at least some of his own weight. It's a slightly more dignified position, and Jason appreciates that.
"I just -" Jason starts, but getting the words out seems difficult. How is he supposed to explain the frustration? Bruce's own hospitalization was nothing by comparison. He was in and out in the blink of an eye, with only some bandages to be tended to. He didn't need help for everything. He doesn't still need help just to go to the goddamn bathroom.
In a rare moment of insight, Bruce seems to understand even without Jason managing to vocalize it. He's careful as he does it, taking weight he probably shouldn't be, but he helps Jason hobble over to his room. He cracks the door open, helps Jason inside, and then carefully eases Jason onto his bed.
It's not really a viable option in the long term. The room's layout means it's a longer drip to the bathroom, and the bedroom itself is farther from help if he needs it. The bed's also much larger, which is great when Jason wants to spread out and awful for when he needs someone to change his bandages.
But it feels better to be in his bed.
He reaches over, fishing his eReader off the nightstand, and cradles it to his chest. He's already preparing a It's not just about the eReader to Bruce's inevitable You could have asked, but to his intense surprise it doesn't come. Bruce is still staring at him with that overly intense, broody look, but he isn't speaking. Just... watching.
Slade finds them almost a half hour later, a scowl already on his face.
"Did you let him out of bed?" Slade asks immediately. "The doctor said-"
"The doctor doesn't know all the experimental treatments we have," Bruce says. "He could manage a short trip to his own room."
Slade does not look convinced. Slade looks very firmly not convinced.
"It's fine," Jason says, pushing himself upright. "I can make it back."
"I'm carrying you," Slade says.
"Absolutely not," Jason says, bristling at the idea. "I'm not a child-"
"I carry people all the time," Slade says. "I carried Bruce that way. If his dignity can survive it, so can yours."
Bruce winces, and Jason's pretty sure that he didn't remember being carried that way at all.
Jason tries to stand, but the moment he puts any pressure on his legs they threaten collapse. There's no way he's making it out of his room on his own two legs, even with Bruce helping him. He tries to disguise it, but his frustration is too intense as he forces himself to exhale.
"Fine," he says. "But be careful."
"I'm always careful," Slade says as he scoops Jason up. "Now let's get you back to bed."
There's something painful about leaving his room behind again, but he cradles the eReader to his chest just the same, watching Bruce out of the corner of his eye.
Even as he and Slade leave, Bruce stays behind, staring at Jason's room, empty once again.