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Jason slowly enters Dick and Tim’s window. He doesn’t want to disturb them with the door, but he needs to talk to them.

In actuality, he really needs to vent to them. Bruce is irritating, Damian is a demon, and no one else that he can call is available. Granted that’s only four people, and Roy, Kory, Kyle, and Donna each have their own thing going on, but is it too much to ask for a little attention?

He creeps through the living room. Dick and Tim are strangely silent; usually one of them would have confronted him with a baseball bat by now. He wanders through the hallway and towards the bedroom. The door is almost totally closed, but not completely, which makes Jason feel fine as he pushes the door the slightest amount and it opens up, revealing a fucked out Tim and Dick on the bed, both of them sound asleep. Tim’s tucked into Dick’s arms, completely on top of Dick, head underneath his chin. Dick’s snoring loudly and somehow, it does not wake Tim up.

Jason had forgotten that Tim’s heat was this weekend. He’s about to turn away and leave, come back later and pretend like he never saw them, when he sees the small mark on Tim’s left shoulder.

He’s never seen Tim’s soulmark. He hasn’t seen Dick’s either, and it’s not very polite to ask.

It’s three small birds, arranged in a triangle. A blue one at the top, and then two red ones on either side. Dick is Tim’s soulmate, which means that Dick has that mark somewhere on his body as well.

Just like the one Jason has on his right shoulder.

There's a distant pounding, a roaring in his ears. He stumbles back out of the room, hitting the wall with a light thud. Jason can still see the bed where Tim is stirring; Dick pulls him close and Tim settles.

He has a soulmate.

He has two soulmates.

His soulmates are Tim Drake and Dick Grayson, the two people Jason has the biggest crushes on, despite knowing he would never have a chance with them. Why would they need Jason?

But apparently Jason is soulmates with them, which is all kinds of fucked up from the universe because how in the world is Jason on the same level as Tim and Dick ? How in the world can he deserve...?

He feels strange and feverish, and he's starting to have trouble breathing. He looks up at Tim and Dick, and then bolts out of the apartment. He can't stay here, he can't let them know.

They're going to try to accommodate Jason in their lives when he'll just be a burden on them.

He's not going to force himself on them.

It’s better to leave.

He gets up and stumbles down the hall, leaves through the window and locks it behind him.

There's something wrong with him. He thinks it's a panic attack, but panic attacks don’t make you feel feverish and give you stomach cramps. Then again, maybe it's just his kind of panic attacks.

Whatever it is, Jason just wants it to stop.

Without thinking, he runs to the nearest safehouse. It's only five minutes away, and he can get underneath the covers and try to forget all about this.

All about them .

He vaguely registers the strange looks that he gets as he runs through the streets, but he doesn't care. It's Gotham; a panicked man running through the streets is nothing new.

He barges into the building, storms up the stairs, and gets into his apartment and just barely manages to close and lock the door before he's running to the sink to throw up everything he ate yesterday.

He still feels strange.

He still feels awful.

Jason stumbles into his bedroom, falls down face first on the bed. He grabs one of his pillows and curls around it, hoping that it can get rid of this strange ache inside of him.

He whimpers, and he realizes he's crying.

Jason can't remember the last time he cried. He brings a hand up to his face to wipe his tears away, but they won't stop falling. He still feels strange, still feels feverish, and his back is still cramping.

And there's something between his thighs.

He frowns. His head is really starting to hurt, and he's having trouble thinking straight, but he knows there's something on his thighs, something thick and wet and strange. As gross as it is to think about, it doesn't feel like any sort of waste. With a grimace, he slides his hand into his pants to touch...

To touch something that if he didn't know better, he would say was slick, but it can't be.

Jason's a beta, not an omega, and anyway, he's twenty-four. He's way too old to be presenting for the first time. Impossibly old; he thinks the oldest known case is twenty-one.

But then a cramp hits, and Jason curls around the pillow, whimpering and squeezing his eyes shut from the pain, and he can feel more slick on his thighs.

Shit.

Well, when he was younger, he always wanted to set a world record in something . He hoped it would be for having the most money in the world though, and he shuts down the bitter, hysterical laugh that is threatening to bubble up.

He grabs his phone from his pocket, hands shaking as his vision blurs. He's going into another panic attack, and for the life of him, he can't remember how to calm himself down.

There are only three omegas that he feels close enough to call. He can't call Tim, because as soon as he sees Tim he's going to try and blurt out the whole story and Tim doesn't need that. He can't call Clark, because he would blurt out the whole story to Clark, who would tell Bruce, who would tell Tim and Dick. He can really only call...

Kyle. He can call Kyle, because Jason trusts Kyle to keep a secret and himself not to spill the beans about this to Kyle.

He takes a deep breath, presses the call button, and brings the phone to his ear. It rings and rings and rings, and then finally goes straight to voicemail. Jason hangs up and tries again only to hear,  "Hey, this is Kyle! Leave a message at the beep and I'll call you back as soon as I can." With a disgusted sigh, Jason disconnects and throws the phone on the bed. He tightens his grip on the pillow, and tries to ride out the painful cramps.

Jesus Christ. He has a newfound respect for Tim, Clark, Kyle, and every single other omega he knows. Going through this every few months, spending three days curled into a ball except when filled with the need to be fucked? He doesn't know how they do it.

More slick is making its way down his thighs, and his pants are drenched right now. He forces himself to sit up, and stands up on shaky legs. He thinks that he must look like a newborn colt as he catches himself on the wall, his legs unable to support his weight. He manages to make his way to the bathroom. He takes off his clothes, flinching as he sees how much he’s sweated through his shirt and how sticky his pants and underwear are.

Jason looks at himself in the mirror. He's sweating and flushed all over his body and he can see the gleam of the slick on his thighs that's slowly trickling out of him. He's covered with the scars that's he's gained all his life, standing out starkly right now, white against the red blush. His cock is flushed and half-hard, and he's literally swaying back and forth, like a small breeze can tip him over.

He looks disgusting.

If Jason's an omega, and despite his deepest hopes, it really looked like it's the case, he doesn't understand. Omegas aren't tall and broad-shouldered, don’t have Jason’s perpetual frown and scars. They usually look like Tim, with his slender build and delicate features and long black hair. Or they're lithe, like Kyle, Oliver, Wally, and Hal. Even Clark, who's tall and broad like Jason, is soft and cheerful in everything he does, and doesn't look so harsh.

Jason's not them.

Jason didn't think he was like them.

(But it does make sense. Jason has never thought of himself as an omega, but he's had dreams of carrying Dick's child that left him waking up scared, and hard, and empty. He has had the impulse to calm and soothe angry alphas ever since he was little. He doesn't want to admit it, but something deep inside him seems to have known the truth long before Jason did.)

He manages to fumble the shower on, but he can't stand up. He collapses into the cold water, sighing with relief. His stomach cramps again and he wants to vomit, but he doesn't know if that's psychological or physical.

He pants and stares up at the ceiling, forces himself to think. Being an omega changes things. Being Dick and Tim's soulmate changes things. He doesn't think he should let anyone know about the former. He certainly can't tell anyone about the latter. He made a mistake by calling Kyle, and luckily the other man didn’t pick up. He'll figure this out.

He'll figure both of these things out.

He'll do it as soon as he no longer feels like he's on fire and every nerve in his body doesn't hurt and he doesn't feel like crying. He'll try to get his hands on suppressants and scent blockers after this, use them until he knows how he wants to handle this.

Jason shifts underneath the water. He's slowly becoming aware of the other aspect of heat, the one that goes beyond pain. The one that's begging for a strong alpha to hold him down and push his knot into him and fuck him until he's filled and sated and bred . Without even thinking about it, Jason's hand goes lower down the planes of his stomach, past and behind his cock, until his fingers are pressing lightly against his hole and he's about to push them in when the faceless alpha above him looks like Dick, is fucking him the same way that Dick must fuck Tim. Jason's eyes fly wide open with panic and he moves his fingers away. He can't think like that, he shouldn't think like that.

Dick's not his, he'll never be his. Dick is Tim's, he’ll only ever be Tim’s.

He still feels unable to stand, but luckily, his soap, shampoo, and conditioner are within his reach. He moves as fast as he can to get himself washed and cleaned, but he remembers Tim complaining about showers needing to be taken twice a day sometimes in heat, if not more, while Kyle nodded his head in understanding. This is probably a futile attempt to get clean, but it's one that he has to do. He can't just sit back do nothing as his life tilts upside down.

When he finishes, he turns off the water and crawls out of the shower, just to throw up as his stomach cramps again. Already more slick is appearing, and he whimpers at the thought of doing this again in a few hours. Still, he manages to stand and use the wall to get back into his bedroom and into clean sweats, collapsing on his bed and getting under his covers as soon as he can. With a deep breath, he falls into a fitful sleep.

*

He wakes up when a hand touches his shoulder. Without thinking, pure panic and muscle memory moves through him. He leaps out of bed and grips the wrist, pulling it tightly behind their back.

"Ow, ow, what the fuck, Jason?" he hears faintly, and frowns. His vision changes from the Pit green it had been and he looks down to see Kyle. Kyle hisses as he gets his wrist back, rubs it and turns to look at Jason.

Now that he doesn't have terror coursing through him, he finds it hard to stand, falling back on the bed.

Kyle is still staring at Jason, a strange look on his face. "Jason, why do you smell like an omega?" he asks.

Jason shrugs, exhausted in body and soul. "I guess I am one," he answers bluntly. "Started this morning. I don't know why," (that's a lie) "and I don't know what to do."

Silence. Then, a strangled, "Jason, you're twenty-four . You should not be having your first heat at this age. Something is seriously wrong."

He knows that. He just doesn't want to think about it.

Jason curls around the pillow, and he wonders just how pitiful that must make him look as Kyle touch his arm lightly. "I don't feel good," he moans. "How the hell do you do this every three months?"

Kyle slowly moves his fingers up and down his arms and despite himself, Jason closes his eyes and sighs. It feels nice and it reminds him of when he was younger. His mother would curl around him when he had nightmares. "I take birth control that makes my heat every nine months, just like most heroes do. Tim's the exception because he and Dick like to fuck like rabbits during his heat. I mean, have you seen the betting pool about when you're going to become an uncle? I say he's going to be pregnant within the year, if there isn’t a newborn."

Kyle means well, he's trying to calm Jason down and joke about happy things, but the thought of Tim being pregnant with Dick's baby pulls a whimper from Jason.

Kyle must think it means something else. "Hey, do you want me to call him? He would be here in an instant and I gotta be honest, he'd probably be a bigger help than I am."

Of course, he would, and Jason hates the burst of resentment that comes through him. Tim's the perfect omega, the perfect soulmate. He presented when he was thirteen, hasn't ever taken birth control that changes his heats. Jason thinks he's only had three heats that have been disordered in all that time. He knows two were totally skipped, one caused by the stress of losing Jack Drake and one caused by losing his spleen. One of them was caused by Jason beating him almost to death and leaving the message "Jason Todd was here," forcing him into a critical heat that Dick had to help Tim through. He remembers that it was their first time. Tim was only sixteen.

He remembers Dick screaming at him when he was getting his ass kicked by an outraged Nightwing, and realizing why all the villains in Gotham were scared of Dick. He had beaten the Joker to death with his bare hands for simply thinking that the villain had killed Tim (and couldn't be bothered to return to Earth for Jason's funeral and certainly felt no motivation to kill the Joker for Jason), and he was willing to go much further to protect Tim.

Of course, Tim's going to have a baby with Dick soon, how could they not? They'll have a perfect baby with black hair and blue eyes and chubby cheeks and Jason will love them so much, will love them so much that he won't disrupt their lives by telling their parents the truth.

He's crying again, he realizes, sobbing actually. Kyle's above him, and Jason's trying to make out the panicking and soothing words, but all he can do is cry, grip the sheet with one hand and hold the pillow closer with the other. His stomach hurts so much, he feels so empty inside, and he feels like his head is about to explode.

He doesn't know how long and hard he cries, he just knows that somewhere in the middle of his crying jag, he ends up in Kyle's arms, held close while all the pain and misery he's ever felt . . . well, he can't get rid of it in one crying jag, but there's a lessening of it, just a little.

Jason doesn't know what he's going to do.

He doesn't know how long he cries, but eventually he stops. That's probably more out of dehydration than anything else though. He's lying on Kyle's chest, and Kyle doesn't seem to mind the large wet spot on his shirt. He's rubbing Jason's back with one hand, the other carding through Jason's hair.

"I won't call Tim," Kyle says, sounding a little teary himself. "I don't care what the reason is, I won't call him."

He knows Kyle just said he didn't care, but he still feels like he owes him one, but he can't think of anything to say other than, "He's too good."

"I'm sure not as good as you think," Kyle says. "And you know he would never judge you."

Jason shakes his head. That's not the point. "I just . . . I'm just not like you guys. Or Clark or Wally or Hal or Ollie."

"And what are we?"

"I don't know." Jason starts to cry again. That's a surprise. He honestly thought he had no more inside him. "But it's something better than me. It's not broken ."

"Fuck, Jay. You're not broken. Yeah, I'm terrified that this is your first heat and we really need to know the reason why, but you're not broken."

Kyle's not going to listen to reason, so Jason drops it and moves on to his next concern. "Are you going to tell anyone?"

There's a beat of silence, and Jason's stomach drops. "Who?"

Kyle sighs. "I'm only going to tell him if you don't, but Jason, you need to go to a doctor."

"No, I don't."

"Yes. You do. Twenty-one. That's the oldest known case of a first heat, and even then it was a cause for medical worry. Twenty-four? Jason, this is major . I'm not letting you let this go just because you don't want to be a bother."

"Who are you going to tell?"

The silence stretches and finally he says, "I'm going to tell your father about this if you don't. Not a single other soul, but you need a doctor and Batman will make sure you get one who's discreet and good ."

Jason gives a humorless laugh. "He's not going to care."

"Bullshit. You know he will."

Jason realizes that he's not going to win this argument. "Will you be waiting for the end of my heat, or calling him as soon as I fall asleep?"

Kyle is quiet for a moment. "What do you want me to do?"

Jason doesn't want him to tell Bruce anything, but he already knows that Kyle isn't going to let it go. "Call him now. Might as well get this over with."

He closes his eyes and listens to Kyle reach for his phone and start to call Bruce, and somehow, he falls back to sleep.

*

He wakes up to a rough, callused hand carding through his hair, and Jason blinks his eyes open. He's groggy, still in a hell of a lot of pain, and he feels disgusting between the slick on his thighs, the sweat on his body, and the tears on his face. He would take another shower if he could stand, but he doubts his body would support him now, even leaning against the wall.

He turns away from Kyle's chest to look up into his father's face. Bruce gives him a weak smile, but Jason can't find the energy to do anything other than close his eyes again.

"Jay," Bruce says, preventing him from going to sleep again. "Jay, I'm sorry, but I need you to answer a few questions."

"Like wha'?" he mumbles.

"Do you know what set off this heat?" Jason lies and shakes his head. "Do you remember ever feeling anything like this? A pre or mini heat?"

Jason opens his mouth to tell the truth this time, to say no, but a memory flickers in the back of his mind. When he came back to life, when he was lying in the hospital, he remembers a fever, he remembers. . . .

The memory leaves him, but Bruce is the world's finest detective. "Jason, what is it?"

"Before the Pit," he says. "There might have been something, but I don't know exactly."

"Okay, that's good to know," Bruce says. "That's something we can build on. Right now though, we should get you to the hospital."

Jason whines, high and pitifully, and both Kyle and Bruce still. If he could, he would blush. He sounded like an omega then, a young one. It’s a sound that’s typically made when they need comfort from a parent. It's a noise that Jason never thought would be coming from his lips, and it's not a noise that he thinks should be coming from them. Bruce growls lowly, and then proceeds to lift Jason up. Jason's head lolls to the side, resting against a shoulder.

"Do you need any help?" he hears Kyle ask.

"Do you know how many heats I helped Tim with before Dick took over? I got this."

"He really doesn't want to go to the hospital," Kyle adds. "Did I- Did I make the right call?"

"You told me my son needed me. That's always the right call."

Bruce leaves his apartment, still carrying him, and it sounds like Kyle following quickly behind. "I'm coming with you. He's my friend and he called me."

Bruce stops in the middle of the stairs and turns towards the sound of Kyle's voice. There's silence and Jason can only imagine the glare that he's being subjected to. Finely there's a short, "Don't get in the way."

Time blurs after that. Jason's in the car, head in Kyle's lap. Then he's in the hospital, taken to  private suite, and there are doctors around him, asking questions and saying things that Jason can't understand and he might as well go back to sleep now, so he does.

*

He wakes up on soft sheets, hearing a heart monitor, and the pain feels dulled. He sees the Gotham skyline sparkling like stars in the window, Kyle sleeping on a cot, and Bruce awake in a chair next to his bed, face illuminated by the blue light of the tablet he's working on.

"Bru'?" he manages to get through dry lips, and before he finishes, Bruce is up and getting a straw and cup ready for him, placing it in between Jason's lips so he can drink the cold liquid. He closes his eyes in delight at it.

"Hey there, Jay," he whispers, one hand lightly touching his face. It's nice, nicer than Jason would have ever thought. He smells Bruce, he smells the alpha, the father . Jason remembers even when he was little, liking Bruce's smell so much more than Willis's. Bruce was the first alpha that Jason had ever trusted, had ever loved, had never feared. Even after everything, those memories still can't leave Jason. "How are you feeling?"

"Better," Jason says, voice hoarse, leaning back onto the pillows. "I don't hurt so much."

Bruce's face collapses into relief. "That's good, Jay, that's really good."

It is, but despite the relief, there's still a line of tension in Bruce's shoulders. "What's wrong?" There's no need to drag this out, it might as well get out in the open.

"When the doctors were examining you, they noticed something." Fear flares up in Jason. His soulmark? Legally, they can't say anything to Bruce about his soulmark looked like. Besides, he has a cover over it. There's no need to look behind it unless medically necessary, which he doubts it would have been. But Bruce's next words weren't what he expected. "They found a suppressant in you."

He frowns. "A what? Bruce, I didn't know I was an omega, how could I possibly be suppressing it?"

Bruce sighs and sits back down. "It looks old, and like it's been in you way too long. They had to remove it because they didn't want it hurting your body anymore. I'm doing tests on it now, but they said because of its age, it was only barely functioning. Any major emotional shift was going to override the hormonal control it had over you, and kick start your heat." There's a pause, a space for Jason to say what it was, but Jason purses his lips together and refuses to breathe a word. "They think it was put in when you had a pre or a mini heat, and those are common in malnourished children presenting late. But since you would have remembered that, it must have been-"

"Before the Pit." There's a silence that settles in Jay, that stutters his mind. Someone did this to him. Someone took his body and changed it without him having a single clue about it. They took something away from him, his heats, his knowledge of who he really is. Of course, he isn't defined by his dynamic, but. . . .

But this isn't a new heat. It's an old one coming back with a vengeance. He feels his eyes pricking, and tries to blink the new tears away. (Seriously, he has not cried in years, why is this all happening tonight?) One or two still manage to escape, and softly, Bruce wipes them away.

"It was probably the League," Bruce continues. "I'm going to look into the hospital that was caring for you after you woke up, but that’s just a precaution. I don't think they would have done this, but the League . . . the League would have. I've been trying to get into contact with Talia to question her about this."

Jason nods, but he still can't fully put the puzzle together in his mind. It doesn't fit. He should have been having heats for years. He's been a beta for years. He's felt fine. He's never felt anything other than a beta.

"Jay, I know this is a lot," Bruce says. "I can't even imagine what this must be like to find out, but it's going to be okay. I can call Tim here if you want me to, he's been doing this for years and he can help you with any questions you might have."

"No." He's tired of being asked if he wants Tim. He wants Tim more than anything in the world. But his emotions are too weak and he doesn't trust himself not to blurt the whole story out the moment he sees him. He doesn't care that Bruce, and Kyle who's been awake for at least the last five minutes but is kind enough to let Bruce talk, think it's strange. "I don't want anyone else to know."

"It's not going to change anything," Bruce says. "No one's going to think less of you and-"

"I fucking know they're not going to think less of me!" Jason snaps, the silence in him bursting into a pocket of red rage, but it leaves as quickly as it comes. He turns away from Bruce and Kyle and the window, looks at the shadow-filled wall. "I just . . . I just need to figure this out about myself before I tell anyone else."

"Okay," Bruce nods. "I won't tell. We won't tell." He glares at Kyle, who's stopped pretending to be asleep and gives a nervous nod. Jason can see Bruce's glare. It's a promise to ruin Kyle if he breathes one word of this to anyone. He turns back to Jason, puts his hand back on Jason's cheek. Without thinking about it, Jason leans into it. "Well, Tim's heats started when he was thirteen and his parents never wanted to be there, so I have a lot of practice helping out with new heats."

Bruce just assumes he's going to be there to help Jason, that it's not even a question. Perhaps he should be angry at that assumption, but he can't be. He's just so glad that Bruce isn't going to leave him to deal with this alone.

"Is it hard?" he finds himself asking. "Doing this?"

Bruce turns to look at Kyle, who looks caught out at the attention. "Um, no? I mean, it is a little frustrating when you have to plan out your heats and the heats themselves are exhausting, but you know, you're either having hot sex or you're having some nice me time and catching up on things you've meant to do for months. So you win some, you lose some." He shifts on the cot. "But that's probably not what you mean, is it?"

Jason shakes his head.

"Well, it's not a hundred years ago. We don't have to worry about being bought or sold or being considered ruined if we're raped in our heats but not being seen as victims, " Kyle spits that last word out, like there's something more there. Jason makes a mental note to poke around later, and from the corner of his eye, he sees Bruce's face and knows that Bruce plans on doing the same.

Kyle looks down at the cot, takes a deep breath, and then pushes on. "But there are still assholes who think just because you're an omega, they can bend you over and have their fun. And you do have to deal with insults and comments about how you only achieved anything by sleeping your way there from obnoxious alphas who're convinced that they're inherently better than you because they have a knot. And you hope and pray that if your soulmate is an alpha, they’re not one of those alphas."

Jason doesn't know what to say about that, and he knows Kyle can see that as his mouth twists into a humorless smile. "I know that sounds harsh, but it's the truth. I mean, both Clark and Ollie had a kid from rape, and who knows how many other heroes have come close, not to mention all the civilians who can’t even defend themselves the way we can."

Kyle takes a deep breath and his hand flutters across his stomach. "I don't want to say that you're lucky for not knowing about this until now, because you're not. It's fucked up that someone did that to your body and they kept a part of you locked away from yourself all these years. But it's hard growing up an omega, in so many small ways, and it's something that you didn't have to deal with it."

"I grew up in Crime Alley," Jason butts in, and Kyle tilts his head.

"Yeah, but you didn't grow up an omega in Crime Alley, and you know that made a difference."

Kyle's right, and Jason looks down at his knees. Kyle gets up and grips one of Jason's hands in both of his, but he doesn't make Jason look at him and for that he's grateful. "Look, Jay, I love being an omega. I'm proud of my dynamic and I wouldn't change it for the world. All of the crap that comes along with it is far outweighed by the good, and most omegas would agree with me. It's not a curse or something to be ashamed of. I won't breathe a word of this to anyone, but I'm there for you the moment you decide it's time to start telling people. Never doubt that."

Jason won't. He can't. Kyle's here for him right now, and he's going to be here for him always, no matter how much of a burden Jason is going to turn out to be. Bruce has a hand on Jason's shoulder, helping to keep him grounded.

"You can't go back on suppressors," Bruce says. "Probably not for the rest of your life. But I'll get strong scent blockers, and I'll make sure you have an ironclad alibi whenever you go into heat. No one will know."

"Am I still in heat now?"

Bruce nods. "Yes. The doctors gave you some medication that's slowing down your heat to help you get the rest you needed. But now that you're awake, I'm sorry Jay, but you need to go through it. That means feeling the whole thing. You barely escaped a critical heat. Now, I've already informed Tim and Lucius that I have unexpected business to take care of in Austria, and you had the contacts I needed. No one should be looking for us, though Damian will probably try."

Of course the brat will. He can never mind his own business.

But the only person that Jason thinks is good enough to figure out Bruce's lies is Tim, so as long as he finds them believable, he's in the clear.

But something Bruce said scared him. "Critical heat? How would I-?"

"That's another thing we need to discuss," Bruce says, shifting awkwardly in his seat. "Due to the line of work we're in, most omegas that you know have someone to help them if they're ever beaten hard enough to force their body into a critical heat. Now it's usually their soulmate, but you don't have one yet. We need to talk about who you would want to help you through it."

"No one," Jason says. "I don't want anyone to touch me."

Bruce wants to argue. Jason can tell. Bruce has statistics and facts and common sense on his side. If Jason is ever forced into critical heat, just like the one Jason sent Tim in years ago, then Jason's options are either find an alpha to knot him or risk death, and Bruce won't let him die again. If Jason hasn't chosen someone that he trusts, then Bruce will find someone to knot him because he would rather have Jason hate him with every fiber of his being than put him back in the ground. If Jason hasn't chosen someone else, Bruce will ask Dick to do it because Bruce won't be able to do it himself and Dick will do it because he would also rather have Jason hate him than be dead again and Tim will let him for those same reasons. If Dick helps him through a critical heat, Jason will tell him the truth and he'll ruin so many lives.

He knows this, and right now, he doesn't care.

He just wants to get through this heat, and then he'll make sure that will never happen. He doesn't know how, but he will.

Jason settles back against his pillow and closes his eyes. He doesn't know how long it'll be before the heat comes in, so he's going to get all the rest he can before it starts.

*

Jason wakes up feeling like he's on fire. He's whimpering before he's fully conscious, tries to wrap his arms around himself, but even moving feels like too much. He's aware of a wall of muscle behind him, the smell of an alpha that he recognizes as father . He leans back, noses his face into the crook of Bruce's neck, and feels arms coming up to encircle him.

He hurts so much. He didn't know that pain could feel like this, and he was beaten to death with a crowbar and forced to crawl his way out of his own grave. His stomach is just one continuous cramp, and his thighs are coated with slick.

There's a cool cloth on his forehead, and it isn't much in the long run, but it's something that Jason can focus on. "Hurts," he chokes out, and his throat feels like sawdust and nails.

"I know, kiddo," he hears next to his ear. "I know."

He's moved and he screams for that awful moment, but it ends with him laying down on top of his father, a hand on his forehead keeping the cloth on and another rubbing his back. He curls up tightly, and whimpers as he weakly clutches at his father's shirt.

"I don't wanna do this," he mumbles into the strong chest. "I can't do this, I just can't do this."

"You can, Jay. You're so strong, Jason, it amazes me."

He doesn't feel strong. He feels weak and pathetic. He doesn't know how he's going to survive this pain and this fear, but he tries to focus on the feel and the smell of the alpha below him. It's the smell of safety, and he doesn't want to let it go.

He shakes, and all Bruce does is rub his back and hold him.

Is this what Tim's heats were like until he started spending them with Dick? Just him and Bruce and comfort?

Is this what they would have been like if Jason had presented before Ethiopia? If he had never died?

He doesn't think it would have hurt so much.

"How long this gonna be?" Jason forces out, words jumbled together.

Bruce sighs heavily. "At least a couple days, Jay, but don't worry. I'll be here the entire time."

He whimpers again at the thought of this pain happening for a minute longer, and the arms tighten around him just a little bit more.

"Hey, it's okay, it's okay," Bruce whispers in his ear. "I'm here, I got you."

Lips brush the top of his head, a soft kiss is delivered, and Jason sinks into his father's chest.

The fever is overwhelming. It's burning every part of his body, but he still feels himself shaking in Bruce's arm and he grasps for the sheet that Bruce ends up having to find and tuck in around Jason. "Why do I feel cold?" His teeth are chattering. Why are his teeth chattering?

"It's because its your first heat. Your temperature fluctuates and you'll feel like you're burning up when you're ice cold and freezing when you're a furnace. It should level out over time."

"Should?"

"I'm going to be honest, Jay," Bruce's voice is deep with sympathy. "There's a very good chance that you'll never have a typical heat. The doctors are very worried about how long that suppressant was in you. It was heavy-duty, one for people who have irregular or terrible heats and it's better for their bodies if they don't have to deal with it for a couple of years. It shouldn't have been put in your body before you hadn't even started a heat and then left there for eight years."

"So what does that mean?" He hates how his voice trembles, but he can't stop it. It's terrifying finding out that he's an omega. It's even more terrifying to find out that he's an omega who might not even work right.

Jason feels the slight uptake in Bruce's chest as his breathing gets heavier. "There could be trouble conceiving one day. There's also a much greater risk for miscarriages and stillbirths. Your heats will probably be irregular for the rest of your life, and will likely fluctuate between very light and very heavy. Typically something they would put you on a suppressant for, but your body won't ever be able to handle one in your system again. And for better or worse, it's pretty much a guarantee you'll go into early menopause."

Jason doesn't even know if he wants kids, and now he has to confront the fact that he might not ever be able to give birth. He doesn't know much about how the omega body works, he never got the talk from anyone because everyone in his life thought someone else was taking care of it, but he's able to piece a lot of it together.

He stays curled up on Bruce’s chest, but the pain dies just enough that it makes opening his eyes a viable possibility. The blinds are closed, but he can tell that the sun is just starting to rise. Bruce has probably stayed up the whole night just to be there for him, just to make sure he isn’t alone. “Where’s Kyle?”

“I got him a hotel room, told him to get a good night’s sleep and something to eat. He’ll probably be here in a few hours, but I can call him if you need me to.”

Jason shakes his head. “No, it’s okay.” He bites his lip, and then asks, “What was Tim’s first heat like?”

“Tim had already presented when he came to me and insisted I needed a Robin. I wasn’t around for his first few heats.” Bruce hesitates before he says his next words. “But I don’t think it was very pleasant. Jack and Janet weren’t happy when they discovered he was an omega. He was surprised when I said that he could become my Robin. He didn’t think I wanted an omega by my side. Didn’t think I would trust him to pull his weight.”

The idea that Tim wasn’t fully capable of doing anything that was thrown at him was preposterous. Jason had seen that brilliant mind go to work, kick ass, and take names, both mentally and physically, to many times to count.

“And after he became Robin?”

“I was always there for him. I wasn’t going to let him suffer alone.” Bruce actually sounds offended that Jason would think he would do anything else.

“And if this had happened to me ten years ago? If I had presented when I was Robin?” He’s starting to cry again, but he doesn’t care.

Bruce wipes the tears away. “I would have been there for you too.”