Dick honestly doesn't know why this kind of shit always happens to him, it's like the universe is trying to punish him for some fucked up sin. That's the only explanation he can think of as to why he arrived home after a long night of patrol only to find Jason Todd sitting on his sofa, looking totally lost like a kicked puppy. After confronting the younger male about his sudden visit, he was staggered to find the man couldn’t remember a single thing about the past few years. He barely even knew who Dick was, he just knew he was Nightwing and, apparently, that was enough for Jason to consider him trustworthy.
Initially, the older man thought maybe he was from another dimension or timeline — they had dealt with time travel a few times already and, to be honest, Dick was almost used to it by now —, but he confirmed that this was, in fact, their Jason. Then he kind of expected it to be a trap or some sick prank, but nope, it was happening for real. And he had absolutely no idea what the hell he was supposed to do about it.
With Tim’s help, he managed to gather that, apparently, Red Hood was working on a case involving missing children and his main suspect was some weird magician girl who was doing pretty nasty stuff such as taking away her victims' souls to complete a crazy satanic ritual… or something like that. And Jason, being the complete idiot he is, decided it was a brilliant idea to follow the witch to her hideout and face her on his own.
Turns out she wasn't very impressed by his visit and easily got him, but instead of sacrificing his soul as it's expected from a creepy wizard she simply erased his memories. Like, half of his memories. Really, he forgot everything that happened after he died and some things from before as well. Dick's theory is that she only wanted Jason to forget about everything related to her, but something came out wrong with the spell and he ended up amnesiac. But who knows, maybe she’s just very extra and doesn’t give a fuck about proportionality.
Usually, Constantine was Dick's first choice whenever there's magic involved, but he's extremely slippery when it comes to Batman and his affiliates. Not even the House of Mystery was able to tell Dick where to find the man and that made him worry a bit considering John had never hid from him before. With Zatanna off-world with the League, Dick quickly ran out of resources. Which explains how he eventually found himself sitting in the kitchen staring at Jason in pure silence while the younger eats his breakfast.
"Aren't you going to eat?", Jason asked.
“I'm not hungry", Dick replied, still lost in thoughts.
"What are you thinking about?"
"How you ended up in my house of all places", he answered honestly.
There was a small pause until Jason spoke again.
"It was instinctive, I guess. I woke up in an abandoned warehouse and had no idea what had just happened, but I knew you'd help me once I could find you. Finding you was easy, I kind of knew the way to your place. And disabling your alarms was even easier... your security still sucks, by the way”, he said the last part with a smirk.
That was… unexpected, to say the least. Jason hated him, he had already proved that after trying to kill him four times. It really didn't make sense. Even though this Jason seemed to be unaware of their rivalry, Dick couldn't really get why he'd come all the way to Bludhaven instead of just going to the Manor. They weren't close before and if the only memories he's got are from his Robin days the logical thing to do would be look for Bruce, they were on better terms than Dick and Jason at that time.
"Why didn't you go to the Manor?", Dick asked, ignoring the younger's comments about his security. What does he know anyway?
"I don't know, I had the impression B wouldn't welcome me there."
Now that made a lot more sense. So, he may not actively remember, but he unconsciously still knows he shouldn't overstep specific boundaries. Maybe he didn't really lose his memories, they could just be a bit messed up. God, how he wished he had John or Zatanna there to tell him for sure what the hell is wrong with the guy and how they could fix it. Well, at least he hopes it's something fixable, otherwise he's going to have a hard time explaining this to Bruce.
"He's not around, he's on a mission with the League", Dick explained when he realized he had been quiet for too long.
"If he was here I wouldn't be welcomed at the Manor?", Jason tilted his head.
"Yes and no. Alfred would surely welcome you with open arms, but Bruce may have been a bit wary of you, although I'm almost sure he wouldn't kick you out or anything."
"81% sure", Dick said. Well, more like 18%, he thought. "Lately, you both have been… distant. Many things changed, you're not Robin anymore. Actually, you lead your own team."
"That sounds cool. But why am I not Robin anymore? And where is my team?"
"It's complicated. And I don't know where they are. We haven't had much contact recently, so I'm not sure what you have been up to with them."
"Oh, ok... could you maybe fill me in a bit about what happened in the last few years?", Jason asked, letting out a nervous laugh.
"Yeah, sure", Dick awkwardly replied.
He's not proud to say he omitted a lot of things from Jason. He told him about dying and coming back, about him being Red Hood and about his partnership with Roy and Kory. He didn't tell him about the Joker, though. Or about his revenge tour and the multiple murder attempts against the family. Or about how Dick hadn't been on his side most of the time. Actually, he only told him the basics and made it sound way less tragic than it really was.
After he was done, both stood there in silence while Jason processed everything and Dick reflected on how screwed he was. He'd have to find the girl who did this if he wanted to mend things and he had to do that quickly. Jason was going to start asking questions soon and he sure as hell didn't want to be the one answering them.
After excusing himself, Dick went to the living room to start his own case. Tim had already sent him everything he could get from Jason's previous digging, now it was his turn to do some research. Tim told him he had already checked the warehouse where Jason woke up, but didn't find anything out of order there. Whoever they were dealing with seemed to be well prepared.
He was almost done recreating Jason's potential modus operandi, based on everything he read on the other's files. Glancing at the clock, Dick checked there was still enough time for him to finish before patrol, so he'd probably be able to start following some of these leads today.
"Are you going out tonight?", Jason asked, as if reading his mind, from where he had been sitting on the sofa all this time watching Dick work and occasionally helping him put documents and notes in order.
"Yeah, but I’m heading to Gotham. Are you coming?"
"You should start getting ready then, I'm almost done here."
"Alright, boss", Jason said, getting up and heading to the bedroom to get changed.
Dick couldn't help but worry about Jason's mental state at the moment. Since he arrived he had been acting too calmly through all of this, one would think he didn't give a damn about the fact that he couldn't remember the last decade of his life. Even when Dick was trying to explain what he thought happened to him he simply listened to everything quietly and then said they could wait for Zatanna to help him regain his memories, as if it was nothing. But that was only their first day, so maybe he still had to have an epiphany to understand what was really happening. Then Dick wouldn't be freaking out alone anymore.
Finally, he was done, so he went to his bedroom to get changed and was greeted by the sight of a semi naked Jason. Damn, he didn't realize until now how well the younger had grown up. Puberty did him many favors. Also, he didn't realize he was practically drooling over the guy until he saw him snapping his fingers in front of his face, with that stupid smirk adorning his handsome face.
"Like what you see, Goldie?", he asked, the grin never leaving his face.
"Yea– I'm mean, no!", Dick stuttered more at the nickname than at being caught staring. But why did he get so nervous all of a sudden? It's not like he had never seen a gorgeous man naked before, he should know by now how to control himself and it doesn't matter if Jason's tan skin highlights his defined muscles or if the bulge inside his boxers is so apparent that makes Dick wonder if he's hard right now or is just far above the average size. That's something he would love to find out, but right now he should be more worried about the fact he's still staring at him like a horny teenager.
Dick averted his gaze immediately and felt miserable as the heat emanating from his face made clear that he was probably redder than Jason's plump lips, that would look perfect around his now hard cock. He's doing that again, isn't he? Thinking about doing something he probably shouldn't with someone he definitely shouldn't. Damn…
Dick didn't even bother to wait for a reply before getting his stuff and heading to the bathroom to lock himself up and regain his composure. Man, what kind of alternative universe was he living at? He's far too old and comfortable with his sexuality to start having gay panics at this point in his life. And triggered by who was supposed to be his somewhat brother, who'd never made a single move on him like that before? Yeah, Dick was utterly screwed.
Eventually, he had to leave the safety of his bathroom to go do some investigation alongside the newfound reason behind his libido. Jason's memories wouldn't be restored if he spent the whole night sitting on his toilet, after all.
"Took you forever. Was it fun back there?", Jason asked. He was laying on Dick's bed, already fully dressed in his Red Hood gear, which made Dick feel half relieved and half disappointed.
"Shut up, it's not my fault this suit is hard to put on", Dick defended himself, desperately grabbing the change of topic.
"Actually, it is. You're the one who chose to wear spandex to fight crime."
"It's comfortable, practical and improves–"
"–your flexibility, yeah, I still remember this speech."
Dick merely rolled his eyes at him.
"Stop joking around, we've got stuff to do. Gosh, I forgot you were such a kid", he said, amused.
Dick was amazed by how easy it was to talk to Jason now. Even after the embarrassing scene from before they were still getting along so well and messing with each other. Maybe this is how their relationship was supposed to be if things had taken a different turn and they didn't have so many regrets between them. Anyhow, Dick was thankful he had a chance to know what it was like to be Jason's friend, something he had wondered about for years.
The trip to Gotham was shorter than Dick expected, the streets weren’t too crowded and they got there in half the usual time on his motorcycle. He was quite successful at ignoring Jason’s clinging to his waist and soon enough they were ready to finally start their search and the first place they checked was the warehouse where everything happened. Although Tim said he already went there and didn't find anything, it wouldn't hurt to double-check, just to make sure nothing important would slip past them.
A good half an hour later, none of them had found anything. The place was flawlessly cleaned up, no evidence left to hint at their suspicions. Not even Nightwing's fancy magic detector — courtesy of Zatanna — could sensor any kind of supernatural activity anywhere. Dick hated to admit, but if their opponent was smart enough to cover her own traces that well she shouldn't be underestimated. They'd have to keep their eyes open and raise their game if they wanted to gain any advantages against her.
"I was lying here when I woke up", Jason suddenly said, standing in the middle of the room. "I was still fully suited up and had everything with me, weapons, smoke pellets, grappling gun... everything. I remember taking a quick look around and noticed the room was totally empty, just like it is right now.”
Empty handed, they moved on to the first place Jason apparently went back when he was starting his investigation: a clandestine casino. According to his notes, that's where people of all types would go to get information about literally anything. Civilians, drug dealers, police officers, vigilantes and, most importantly, villainous magic users. Everyone frequented this place at one point in their lives and it seemed Dick's turn had finally arrived.
He wasn't shocked at all to learn Jason's been to this shithole before, it was totally his style. In fact, Dick bets this would be the kind of place where he'd actually come to spend his time off. Alcohol, poker and semi nude dancers must sound pretty much like paradise for him, in Dick's opinion.
Pushing through the crowd, they made their way to the bar. Jason ordered two drinks as soon as they sat down and said they should wait a bit, occasionally sipping on their cocktails to mingle with the rest of the people. Since this is more Red Hood's style than Nightwing's, Dick simply followed his lead.
After an hour and a few drinks, Jason nudged Dick and discreetly pointed to a guy sitting on the opposite side of the bar.
"I know that guy. Dunno if he was my informant or whatever, but I have a feeling he might have something for us", he whispered into Dick's ear, nuzzling the other's neck to hide the movement of his lips in case there was anyone watching them.
The motion gave Dick goosebumps, but this certainly wasn't the right moment to think about that. Instead, he decided to approach said guy and try his luck. Knowing Jason, he wouldn't have met with anyone in this place without at least his domino on, so they were safe for the time being. Actually, anything was safer than letting Jason rub against him.
"Alone tonight?", he asked, smiling friendly yet charming enough to let the guy know he's up for second intentions.
"Yeah, unlike you, it seems", the guy replied, glancing at Jason with a raised eyebrow.
So he had been watching us, Dick thought. Interesting.
"Oh, he's just a friend of mine. I'm Ric, by the way", he extended his hand.
The guy accepted, giving him an attractive smile. "My name's Sam, it's a pleasure to meet you", he shook Dick's hand, smile widening more and more. The guy was handsome, Dick had to admit. He was no Jason, of course, but decently hot indeed. If they weren't there on a mission, he'd definitely go for it.
"So tell me, Ric, what brings you here? A pretty guy like you doesn't belong to a beat up place like this", Sam said, sipping on his drink.
"I needed a change of air, the city gets boring when you spend all of your time there. I wanted to see new faces and I've gotta say I'm quite satisfied with what I've seen so far", Dick smirked at the other man, earning a chuckle from him.
"Gotta say the feeling is mutual", he replied. "Do you want to go somewhere else to talk privately?"
Well, that escalated quickly , Dick thought.
"Yes, sure", he gulped down his own drink and got up, subtly motioning Jason to follow.
Sam wasted no time in taking Dick to his place, which was fairly nice. They sat in the living room, upgrading from having cocktails at a bar stall to a good wine sitting on the sofa. Dick could feel Jason's shadow watching them from outside the window even if he couldn't see the other man.
Not for the first time, Dick was glad he could hold his liquor better than he let people believe, his family included. While Sam already looked tipsy, Dick was handling himself just fine. Soon he'd start spilling the beans and Dick was more than ready to take note of every bit of useful information he could get.
"So, how often do you go to that bar?", Dick nonchalantly asked.
"Quite frequently. It's a nice place once you get used to it", Sam replied. His speech was slurred, something Dick considered a very good signal, as nasty as that sounds.
"I see", he laughed, "Well, I'm still getting used to these kinds of places, you know? I bet you could give me a few tips here and there to help me socialize with the right people. I love to make connections."
Sam giggled when hearing that. God, he's such a lightweight , Dick thought.
"Trust me, you don't want to make connections with the people who frequent this kind of place. They're always bad news, Circe's the living proof of that."
"Who?", Dick asked.
"Circe. She's an old friend, we used to drink together the whole night. She always liked studying magic and this kind of supernatural shit, even though I always told her not to play with those things… of course she never listened to me. Last time I heard she was trying to learn dark magic with some charlatan she believed to be a wizard and since then I haven't heard from her. That's why you need to be careful with who you talk to, you know, trust one wrong motherfucker and you'll end up like Circe.”
"I'm sorry about your friend, it sucks to lose a good drinking partner, those are rare nowadays", he tried to lighten the mood a bit. "I hope she's ok, though. When did you say was the last time you heard from her?"
"A few days ago, when she told me she was 'getting the hang of things with her new teacher’”, he said the last part with a poor imitation of a female voice. “After that she simply disappeared, I tried calling once or twice but she never picked up. I have no idea how to reach her now", he said, lying on the couch with his eyes closed.
Any hope Dick had of taking advantage of the mission to get laid disappeared as Sam looked more and more sleepy. Maybe he shouldn't have let the guy drink that much, after all. At least he made progress and now they had a main lead to follow, maybe even a suspect.
Dick waited for Sam to fall asleep and unlocked his phone, searching for this Circe girl's number. He found a few calls they shared a while ago and traced one of them to an address. He wrote it down and put the phone back where he found it, erasing any signs of him from the device. Then he made for the window and got out through the fire escape, heading to the roof where Jason was probably waiting.
"How was it?", he asked as soon as Dick put his foot on the rooftop.
"I think we're on to something, actually. I've got a name, an address and a background story. Do you know someone called Circe, by any chance?"
"There’s a goddess called Circe in Greek mythology. She’s a sorceress."
"Then I guess we may have found our suspect. He told me his friend disappeared after getting involved with a guy who promised to teach her more about magic. She calls herself Circe, so maybe that’s an alias inspired by this goddess. Or a huge coincidence. The important thing here is that we have a starting point and maybe at her place we'll find more information. So, wanna go check it out?"
"Yeah, sure. Lead the way, Boy Wonder."
Dick was a bit surprised when their address turned out to be a fine penthouse at one of the few wealthy neighborhoods in Gotham. He didn't know exactly what he was expecting, but it certainly wasn't that. Maybe an abandoned cottage in the middle of a forest… is there even a forest somewhere in Gotham? He was not sure, but made a mental note to look this up later, just for general knowledge.
“Ok, we’re here”, he announced to Jason, who seemed just as puzzled as him. “Let’s check this out.”
They easily snuck in through the balcony window and came across one of the most disorganized living rooms Jason has ever seen in his entire life. There were open books and sheets of paper thrown all over the room, it was as if Dick had been the one living on this place for the past few weeks. Even the kitchen, from what he could see, was apparently in a pitiful state as well. How can anyone live under such pathetic circumstances he didn’t know.
“Wow, that's…”, Dick trailed off.
“Yeah…", Jason agreed.
"Let's take a look around the place", Dick walked towards the bedroom, leaving Jason alone to understand the mess in the living room.
Eventually, Jason found his way through the disarray and, after what seemed hours, both men were done inspecting the whole place. Whoever this Circe girl was, she seemed to be in a hurry to leave and never made it back here. Maybe she was in trouble? Whatever it was, there weren't any hints left in the apartment they could follow to find out what happened to her.
"Did you find anything?", Jason asked.
"No, you?", Jason shook his head. "Fuck, what now? This was our best lead and turned out to be a waste of time", Dick's voice reflected Jason's own exasperation.
"I don't know, maybe we should try to find Constantine again? Since Zatanna is unavailable right now…", Jason suggested.
"I can try to talk with the House of Mystery one more time, see if I can convince it to take me to him."
"Alright. Where should we go now?"
“Let's spend the night in my old apartment, it’s where I stay when I come to Gotham.”
“Ok, then”, Jason agreed, following the other man back to his motorcycle.