The sigh Jason gave was deflated and wary as his blank eyes skimmed over the thick black text signifying an unread email waiting in his inbox for a moment of his spare time. There was no subject but the address it was sent from was familiar to him.
Great. Jason blew his cheeks out, in equal part wanting to delete the message and block Richard again (how did he unblock himself anyway?) and also let curiosity get the better of him. The family never sent him emails and hardly texts or calls, he didn't even know they knew how to contact him this way.
But no lie, he was intrigued as the cursor hovered above the message in consideration for a moment before he tentatively double-clicked it. Thanks to the slowness of the WiFi he was stealing from the neighbour, it buffered long enough for Jason to roll his eyes.
But then it opened to no text, no nothing, only a single shared link. He made sure his firewall and VPN were solid before clicking on it. You could never be too careful to avoid viruses.
Surprisingly, the link took Jason to Tumblr, of all places, and to a long post. Skimming over the text, he was asking himself what Dick was smoking to send him this when he caught what it was about with a start.
How to escape after being buried alive in a coffin.
- It could happen to anyone. People bury a person alive to scare them or to get rid of them. In this situation, rely only on yourself.
- Do not waste oxygen. In a classic coffin there's only enough oxygen for about an hour, maybe two. Inhale deeply, exhale very slowly. Once inhaled - do not swallow, or you will start to hyperventilate. Do not light up lighters or matches, they will waste oxygen. Using a flashlight is allowed. Screaming increases anxiety, which causes increased heartbeat and therefore - waste of oxygen. So don't scream.
- Shake up the lid with your hands. In some cheap low-quality coffins you will be able to even make a hole (with an engagement ring or a belt buckle.)
- Cross your arms over your chest, holding onto your shoulders with your hands, and pull the shirt off upward. Tie it in a knot above your head.
- As soon as the lid breaks, throw and move the dirt that falls through in the direction of your feet. When it takes up a lot of space, try pressing the ground to the sides of the coffin with your legs and feet. Move around a bit.
- Whatever you do - your main goal is to sit up: dirt will fill up the empty space and move to your advantage, so no matter what - do not stop and try breathing steadily and calmly.
- Get up. Remember: the dirt in the grave is very loose, so battling your way up will be easier than it seems. It's the other way around during rainy weather, however, since water makes dirt heavy and sticky.
What. The. Fuck?
The metal legs of Jason's chair screeched against the floor when he shoved himself violently away from the computer, his hands tight and squeezing tighter on the edge of the table.
What the hell? What - what the HELL?!
Without realising it, Jason was panting hard and heavy, his entire body shaking with a cold sweat while all the colour drained from his face. He tried to stop it, didn't mean for it to happen, but his brain took him right back there. The grave. The coffin. The rain turning dirt to mud that rushed into his airways and choked him.
His once broken fingers trembled as he closed them around the laptop and slammed it shut hard enough to crack the monitor. His eyes squeezed shut as if that eliminated the memories. Suffocating, constricting, blackening, killing...
Violently, Jason shivered when he remembered the shards of splintered coffin wood impaling his fingers at ungodly angles.
He swallowed, throat burning. He was screaming a lot then, in his head, out loud, and this fucking Tumblr post was making him relive it all in a series of flashbacks. It was stupid, it was just text in the cesspool of the Internet, and it was making him freak out like this.
Fuck Dick! What the fuck was wrong with him? Jason had thought they were on decent terms, especially since he'd helped out on a few tough cases at the cost of his own resources and time, but apparently not and the bitch had something he wanted to say.
With a jolt, Jason stood unsteadily, abrupt enough to send his chair reeling over backwards and crashing loudly onto the floor. The noise was still ringing out through his safe house when he roughly grabbed his jacket from the coatrack and swept out into the desolate hallway, as crummy and dark as his mental state.
Soon, he was getting over the traumatised flashbacks and replacing them with his go-to coping mechanism; indignant anger. Dick thought he was hilarious sending links like that, didn't he? Fucking hysterical that Jason was buried alive and barely crawled out without suffocating under six feet of dirt... that was worth the joke. It was so damn funny he wondered why he hadn't thought of it before.
Filled with a blaze of fury that burned hotter every second he dwelt on the email, Jason took his bike down to the BPD in the centre district of Dick's home city, bustling with people coming and going about their own individual businesses. No one did more than glance at the storm faced young man marching like a hurricane into the heart of police activity there; their lovely department.
When Jason came in, Officer Grayson was leaning on a desk and chatting with his coworker in a carefree and airy way, laughing lightheartedly at a comment they made that bore no long-lasting relevance.
Someone finally noticed Jason walking quickly through the cops-only zone, some officer whose fupa was spilling out of his belt and jeans. His handlebar moustache twitched as he addressed Jason.
"Hey, kid, you can't be here. What do you want?"
And that made Dick pay his little brother attention at last.
"Jay?" He pushed away from his colleague's desk, frowning in confusion because Jason never visited him here unless he needed his cop big bro to make something obvious go away. It wasn't anything he enjoyed doing but he would if Jason successfully twisted his arm far enough.
"What are you-"
With a sharp crack, Jason's fist splitting the corner of Dick's mouth open effectively shut him the fuck up before he could finish that sentence. Snapping his head back, he knocked the other away several strides and made him stumble, but not before every cop who was paying attention yelled at Jason and shot up from their seats to detain him.
And it was a damn joke, let him tell you, that four or five big men rushed Jason and grabbed his arms. As if he couldn't throw them all off and put them in the hospital, but he held back because he wasn't here to hurt anyone but Dick.
"What the hell's wrong with you?" Biting, Jason demanded of Dick angrily through his teeth while he wrenched to get his arms free from grubby mitts that enveloped them. When Jason pulled, the legion of hero cops pulled back harder until one almost dislocated his shoulder. With a sharp breath, he winced and muffled a grunt with his clenched jaw. Did he say he wasn't going to hurt anyone? Scratch that, if they tried that again, Jason was going to kick their knees in and not feel bad about it.
"Don't hurt him." Wiping a rivulet of blood from his lip onto the back of his hand, Dick instructed as he straightened himself out. It was left up to interpretation whether or not he meant Jason or the police he could maim with ease.
"It's okay, he's my brother." Dick continued, gripping Jason around his bicep and drawing him free to his own restraint. His fingers burrowed into Jason's muscle, holding onto him with such an easily breakable grasp.
"He just assaulted you." One of Officer Grayson's colleagues snapped, the one who grabbed Jason first and almost lost his ability to walk doing it. His face was bitter as unsweetened mead, glaring at Jason with an undisguised desire to slap cuffs around his wrists and process him into the legal system. Jason returned the scowl, his arm in his brother's hand like he was a naughty child being escorted off the playground after a brawl.
"Like I said, it's fine. I've got this." Dick repeated in a less patient tone, all but dragging Jason with him to the interrogation room down the hall. He shoved him in and locked the door behind, closing them into a small space with nothing but a table, two chairs and a murky one-way mirror residing on the wall.
"What?" Big brother sounded frustrated and tired when he turned to Jason with his hands on his hips, a wary dip in his brow as he regarded the problem before him. The corner of his lip and his jaw were bruising nastily, he would bear the marks for a while to come.
"You know what." Jason bit back with an unrelenting tip of his chin upward, narrowing his eyes as he folded his arms across his chest.
"You know what you did."
"Really? Well, I don't so you're gonna have to tell me." This playing dumb thing, it really wasn't cute. It was fucking annoying. It only made Jason more abuzz with rage, his fists clenching so tight they trembled and his nerves strained taut and visible from beneath his skin. Quickly, worriedly, Dick glanced at Jason's hands then returned to interlock their eyes.
"Why did you send me that stupid post about coffins and being buried alive? That's not fucking funny."
"Wh... what post?" His inky black brows knit with the inquiry.
"Jay, you know I'd never send you something like that-"
"Then who did?!" Jason didn't mean to yell or stomp his foot like a child, but it just sort of happened without his control. Dick was taken aback by his outburst but Jason couldn't find it within himself to care at all.
"Who's got access to your email other than you?"
"Sh... show me the post." With an exhale through his nose, Dick was pinching the bridge of it with a bowed head and tense line to his shoulders. He was bullshitting Jason, he knew full well what he was responsible for, but just to humour big brother, Jason opened up his phone and scrolled through the Gmail app, not having to go far to find the message in question. With the side of this thumb, he clicked it open and presented it with a self-righteous huff to Dick.
Leaning in, Dick scanned it over quick, reading only the highlights before he looked Jason in his eyes with grave, sincere severity.
"I promise you, I did not send this, little wing. I'm not that insensitive."
Staring at him, Jason searched but couldn't find any traces of dishonesty. Bear in mind, he'd been trained by both Batman and Talia al Ghul herself to spot any minor hints of it.
"Then who did?" It was tempting to give up some of his tension, it was getting a little bit painful to maintain, to be honest, but Jason was still very irritated and intended to look the part.
"I'm not sure." Dick rubbed the back of his neck with a wary sigh, going over the chances. Nice to see he was at least taking this seriously.
"Well... Damian is over at the moment but... But he wouldn't do something like this."
"Wouldn't he? He hates me, Dick."
"Why else would he do this then?"
"We don't know for sure-"
"Yes, we do." Darkly, Jason's eyes narrowed to glittering green slivers of anger.
"Because it was you or it was him. And it was him." As he said that, or snapped it, Jason shoved past Dick on his way to the door, only to have his arm snared by brother once more. Dick yanked Jason to his side, looking him dead in the eyes.
"Where are you going?" He asked, already knowing the answer.
"To see that brat and smack him upside the head. This isn't a fucking joke."
"No, Jason, you're not going to hit Damian. We can go talk to him, clear this up, but no one is getting hit." Dick spoke calmly but didn't lack the authority of a big brother coming between his younger siblings and a fight.
"I..." Trailing off, Jason stared at Dick, felt the sensation of having his bicep squeezed in a warning, and he rapidly deduced that he wasn't winning this one.
"... Fine." He blew his cheeks out in frustration, wrenching his limb free. He was going to fucking kill that pest, verbally if not physically.
"But I'm not going to say nice things."