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Just Lucky I Guess

Chapter Text

Jason stretched languidly in Roy’s bed and let out a contented sigh, taking a few long moments to just breathe in Roy’s honey and pine scent.

It had been quite a while since he and Roy had had this much time to spend together alone. Between missions, patrolling and school, dating a teenage vigilante could be tricky, let alone dating between vigilantes. But on this Saturday the stars had aligned in their favour. Bruce had taken Tim and Damian to the zoo, Alfred had the day off to meet some old friends who were visiting from England and Ollie and Dinah were on a business trip. With both of their houses empty Jason hadn’t wasted a single second after Bruce’s car had left the driveway, the burning desire he felt for Roy making him practically fly down to the Cave to take the zeta tube to Star City, where his boyfriend had welcomed him very enthusiastically.

Jason couldn’t help a smile from spreading across his face whenever he thought about how eager Roy was to be with him, how perfect their time together always was. They had been best friends practically since the moment they met and when their relationship had started to become something more about a year ago, it had felt like the most natural thing in the world. To say that no one had been surprised when they announced their new relationship status would be an understatement.

Dick had been ecstatic and was practically already planning their wedding (“My Little Wing is growing up so fast.”), Tim had said he was only surprised it took Jason and Roy this long to work it out (Jason had punched him in the shoulder for that comment. That’s what big brothers are for, after all.) and Alfred had seemed pleased and wished them the best.

Bruce had sighed and jokingly asked if he really had to date a Queen. (Later, when they were alone Bruce had asked him if Roy made him happy. When Jason told him “Yes, very much.” Bruce had hugged him and told him that was all that mattered.)

Damian’s only comment had been “You deserve someone like Harper”, which had obviously been intended as an insult but Jason chose to interpret as a compliment instead. (Take that, little gremlin.)

Still, over the next few weeks Roy reported that he bumped seemingly purely by coincidence into each of Jason’s brothers and they all gave him more (Tim) or less (Damian) subtle the shovel talk. Damian had actually brought a shovel along with his katana, which was both hilarious and terrifying.

He had laughed with Roy about the overprotectiveness of his brothers but it also made him feel loved and safe, something he had only started to experience since Bruce took him in. Overall the last year had been the happiest of his life.

Jason rolled out of bed and grabbed his discarded boxers from the floor, putting them on before he rummaged around in his backpack. Cliché as it was, he wanted a smoke. His search turned up a pack of cigarettes but no lighter. He could ask Roy for one, but he was downstairs, putting together a late lunch for them.

Jason had been told in no uncertain terms to stay in bed, relax and let his alpha provide for him. He had scoffed at this but hadn’t been able to hide his blush or the little shiver that ran down his spine at hearing Roy call himself Jason’s alpha. Roy had only smirked (the bastard knew exactly what he was doing) and leaned over Jason to capture him in a deep kiss that left him breathless before sauntering out of the room with a very self-satisfied look on his face as he headed to the kitchen.

Jason started looking for a lighter in Roy’s desk, which was really more of a workbench littered with various half-built gadgets than the desk of an average high-school student. He already had half a mind to use the soldering iron to light his cigarette when he opened one of the lower drawers of the desk and his brain ground to a complete stop at what he saw.

For a split second he was back in that rundown apartment in Park Row with Willis Todd screaming at him and his mother woozily petting his hair as she was clutching him protectively against her chest.

Without conscious thought his hand reached into the drawer and took the clear plastic bag out. Looking closer at it only confirmed his first instinct.

Why the fuck did Roy have heroin in his desk?

Maybe it was for a case? But a voice in his head that sounded way too much like Bruce told him to look at this objectively. There was no reason for Roy to store evidence for a case in his own room, it wasn’t even labelled as such. One bag was also hardly the scale of drug offenses Green Arrow and Arsenal took on.

Jason was examining the rest of the drawer and found exactly what he had expected (feared) in the back - needles, tubing and all the other paraphernalia a heroin user needed.

Jason squeezed his eyes shut and tried to still the tremor that was suddenly running through his hands.

Fuck, what had Roy gotten himself into?

Before Jason could come up with a plan how he should handle this, approaching footsteps sounded from the hall and Roy’s voice called out.

“Jaybird, if your pretty ass is out of bed I will be highly displeased. I know you Bats like to pretend you can live purely of justice and bad puns, but I happen to know that you sometimes need sleep, so...”

Roy trailed off, rooted to the spot in the open doorway, holding a tray stacked with food and staring at Jason who held the plastic bag of heroin in his hand.

For a moment there was silence before Roy asked in a much too casual tone, “What’cha looking for in my desk, Jaybird?”

Jason needed a few seconds to find his voice.

“I was looking for a lighter,“ Jason started slowly, stopping when Roy put the tray down on his dresser and hurried over to his schoolbag, pulling one out.

Was Roy just going to pretend that nothing was wrong here?

“Roy, why do you have heroin in your desk?”

Roy was still crouched over the bag with his back to him and Jason could see his muscles tense in response to the question as if he was preparing for a fight. When Roy stood up and turned towards him there was a smile so fake on his face Jason would have burst out laughing had the situation not been so serious.

“It’s from a case. Must have forgotten to bring it to the lab,” Roy said.

Roy had never lied to him and Jason could feel his heart breaking that he was doing so now. He needed to approach this conversation calmly and rationally. He had enough experience with drug users both personal and at Batman’s side to know that getting emotional and worked up would only lead to disaster.

“Roy, this isn’t labelled as evidence,” he pointed out, holding up the bag, “and the needles and all the other stuff in the drawer aren’t evidence either.”

Roy’s eyes shifted to the open drawer before coming back up to meet Jason’s.

“Jay, come on, it’s not like that. You know me.”

“Then what is it like?”

“You know…just trying out some stuff. Have some fun, relax a little from the night job. You don’t need to worry, I know what I’m doing.”

Jason had to take a deep breath to rein his temper in and not shout at Roy about what a colossal idiot he was.

“Roy,” Jason began, but Roy stepped closer and put his hand on Jason’s cheek, softly stroking his thumb over his skin. Jason turned his head slightly on instinct, taking in Roy’s familiar and comforting scent as he brushed his nose along Roy’s wrist in a gesture that was designed to transfer a scent marker between pack members or lovers. The alpha bent down the few inches between them and lightly grazed his lips against Jason’s with a pleased rumble.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured softly. “I knew this would upset you, that’s why I didn’t tell you. But I would never take any when I’m with you.”

Jason couldn’t believe what he had just heard and took a step back, lifting Roy’s hand from his face and letting it drop unceremoniously down.

“The problem is not that heroin makes me upset,” Jason said, only barely controlling his temper. “The problem is that it’s addictive as fuck and you don’t just do it for fun.”

Roy rolled his eyes. “Don’t be so dramatic, it’s not like I can’t go a day without it. I can control myself.”

Jason’s hands clenched into fists at his sides and his cheeks flushed with the anger that was suddenly burning through his veins.

“That’s what every addict says, I’ve heard it enough times. Shooting up in a fancy mansion is the same as shooting up in Crime Alley. How can you be this stupid?”

Roy’s eyes flashed and Jason knew he was angry now too. So much for calm and rational.

“I’m not an addict. And don’t act like you know everything there is to know about drugs. Just because your mom didn’t know when to quit doesn’t mean I don’t.”

“Leave my mom out of this,” Jason hissed out from between clenched teeth.

Roy must have sensed the true rage boiling up inside Jason and after a few moments of tense silence he averted his eyes and mumbled out a quiet apology.

“Sorry, that was below the belt. I shouldn’t have brought her into this.”

Jason took a few deep breaths to calm himself down and deliberately relaxed his tense muscles. He reminded himself that this was Roy, his boyfriend, his best friend. The boy he had loved since they first met four years ago. He needed help and support in a situation like this, not accusations and blame. Jason had to control his emotions regarding his personal history with drug users for the moment, helping Roy was the priority now.

“We need to talk about this. I know you don’t think you have a problem, but you have to trust me. We can get you help, I’m sure Ollie and Dinah will find the best -“

“Don’t tell them, Jay,” Roy interrupted him, voice urgent. “You can’t tell them.”

“They have to know, Roy. This isn’t something that just goes away.”

But Roy was shaking his head insistently. “No, I don’t want them to know. There is nothing to know. Like I said, I have it under control.”

Jason sighed. Roy was stubborn and pushing this issue now would only make the rest of the discussion more difficult. Telling his parental figures was important, but not as important as getting Roy help as fast as possible. If he needed time to tell them, Jason could give him that.

He reached out his hand, gently entwining his fingers with Roy’s.

“Okay, I won’t tell them,” Jason promised, squeezing Roy’s hand. “But we still have to get you help. I could ask Dr. Thompkins, she is always discreet. Also, we should probably run some blood tests. Have you been safe with the needles you used?”

Roy, who had relaxed after Jason’s promise, went rigid at the question and a stormy look descended on his face.

“What is that supposed to mean?” he asked, voice harsh.

“You know what it means,” Jason said, in what he hoped was a calm and reasonable manner. “Shared needles are one of the most dangerous aspects of a heroin addiction. And given that we had sex half an hour ago, I have a right to know.”

Unprotected sex. The words flashed through Jason’s mind like a neon sign. They hadn’t used condoms since Jason had switched to suppressants that also acted as birth control. They were exclusive, so why bother?

Apparently, a bitter voice in Jason’s mind said, because one of them was a drug addict.

“You don’t trust me!”

The words sounded like an accusation and a realisation at the same time. Jason opened his mouth to answer, but Roy was already barrelling on, his voice getting louder with each word.

“You think I would ever put you in danger like that? Fuck you, Jason!”

Roy ripped his hand away from Jason’s and stormed over to the pile of clothes they had left on the floor earlier. Picking up Jason’s stuff, he turned around and threw them into his face.

“If I am such an untrustworthy junkie, what are you still doing here? Get the fuck out of my house!”

Jason was too shocked by the sudden outburst to formulate a fitting reply. He needed to get this situation back under control, try to make Roy see reason.

“Roy”, he tried, “that wasn’t what I –“

But Roy didn’t let him finish. He just grabbed Jason by the shoulders and pushed him towards the door. Jason tried to lean against it, but Roy still had a few inches and several pounds on him, so he found himself in the hallway outside Roy’s room.

“Roy,” he began again, aware that his voice had taken on a pleading tone. How had this afternoon gone bad so quickly? Half an hour ago he had been in bed with his boyfriend, making love, and now he stood in his boxers in the hallway with his clothes in his arms and Roy glaring at him.

“Please lets just talk about this. You need help, Roy. I know this is hard but I will –“

“I don’t need your help and I don’t want it,” Roy snarled. “Now get out!”

Jason’s backpack was flung at him and then the door slammed shut in his face.

Chapter Text

Jason stepped out of the zeta tube into the Cave still in a daze.

He had gotten dressed in the hallway of the Queen estate, hoping the whole time that Roy’s door would open again and the alpha would come out to apologize and talk, but that hadn’t happened. Jason didn’t know how long he had waited, but eventually his body had brought him home on auto-pilot while he was lost in thought, trying to come to terms with what had just happened and how he should deal with the situation.

He was so lost in his own head that he was halfway across the Cave on his way to the stairs before he noticed he wasn’t alone.

“Back so soon, Little Wing?”

Dick was sitting in front of the Batcomputer, half-turned around towards Jason. There was a teasing smirk on his face and with a suggestive waggle of his eyebrows he tacked on, “I thought you would be busy until patrol.”

Of course his older brother knew where Jason would spend his day with the rest of the family out of the house. Normally the (correct) insinuation about Roy and Jason’s free time activities would have had Jason blushing and firing back a few good-natured quips at Dick about keeping his mind out of the gutter and worrying about his own (always chaotic) love life.

But today Jason just shrugged and continued on his way towards the stairs. At his lack of a reaction Dick turned his chair fully around to study him and a frown appeared on his face.

“Jay, everything alright?”

Jason stopped at the bottom of the stairs. There was no use pretending, Dick, like everyone else in the family, was too much of a detective to not pick up on Jason’s dour mood. For a moment Jason felt overcome with the urge to just tell Dick everything. He knew he could confide in his older brother.

Their relationship had come a long way from the rocky start when Dick had been constantly angry with Bruce and felt replaced by the addition of the young omega to the household. But over the years Dick and Bruce had worked out their differences (vastly helped by the distance Dick’s move to Bludhaven had brought with it) and Dick and Jason had become brothers once Dick had set aside his first reaction and made an effort to get to know the younger boy. By now Dick was one of the most important people in Jason’s life, one he trusted absolutely. He often confided in his older brother, especially with matters concerning his relationship with Roy (Yes, Dick’s relationships were always messy and mostly short-lived, but asking him for advice was way less awkward than going to Bruce or Alfred).

But telling Dick about Roy’s drug use was different. He was sure that Dick would try to help, but he was also certain that he would insist they tell Bruce, who would no doubt tell Ollie and Dinah.

Jason had promised not to tell them (or really anyone), and even though it might be with the best of intentions, Jason was sure that Roy would view him telling people before Roy himself decided to do so as a major betrayal. Jason didn’t want to further alienate him. His boyfriend could be stubborn as a mule and dangerously reckless. His reaction to such a perceived betrayal would no doubt be bad and get Roy no closer to accepting that he had a problem.

Jason would have to convince Roy that he needed help on his own. He’d give him a few hours to cool off, use the time to come up with a strategy on how to convince him and then call.

Decision made, he turned back to face his brother. As calmly as he could he said, “Roy and I had a fight, so I came home early. No big deal.”

Dick’s face instantly took on a sympathetic expression. He stood up from his chair and walked over towards Jason.

“I’m sorry Jay. Do you want to talk about it?”

Jason just shook his head.

“Do I need to go to Star City and kick Roy’s ass?” Dick asked in a light tone.

His eyes though were serious and didn’t leave Jason’s. His mood lifted a bit with the knowledge that Dick would do it too, if he asked.

“Nah, I can do my own ass kicking, thank you very much,” Jason answered in a haughty tone, smirking at his brother.

Dick smiled back at him and slung his arm over Jason’s shoulder. The alpha’s cinnamon and lavender scent settled around Jason like a warm blanket and he could feel himself relax as the comfort of pack surrounded him. Jason let himself be pulled against Dick’s side, automatically turning his head and bending down slightly to nose against Dick’s neck where his scent was more concentrated. It was a typical soothing behaviour, especially for pups and omegas. The fact that he had to bend down because he was now about the same height as Dick still managed to surprise him. He had finally hit a growth spurt a few months ago and was now well on his way to being the tallest Wayne child (at least until Damian grew up, they guessed). Dick in turn laid his cheek on Jason’s head, scenting his younger brother subtly.

“Of course you can kick ass, you learned from the best after all,” Dick declared pompously, making Jason roll his eyes.

“Yes, o great first Robin, where would I be without you?” Jason replied sarcastically, pulling his head back from his brother’s neck. “What are you even doing here? I thought you couldn’t make it this weekend.”

Dick made an effort to come to the Manor most weekends, to see his family and patrol with them, but sometimes the situation in Bludhaven simply wouldn’t allow it.

“The BPD busted the drug ring I was going to take down tonight,” Dick replied. At Jason’s incredulous look he continued in a slightly defensive tone, “Hey, not everyone in the force is corrupt, some officers do their job correctly.”

When Jason’s eyebrows just rose higher in disbelief Dick let out a sigh and gestured towards the Batcomputer.

“I was just looking into the backgrounds of everyone involved in the bust. Wanna help me find out if they really are the good guys?”

Jason didn’t even have to think about the offer. Working with Dick on finding corrupt cops promised to be a way better pastime than moping strategizing alone in his room.


By the time Bruce and the kids came home Dick and Jason had found evidence of three corrupt cops in the unit that carried out the drug bust. Jason only barely refrained from smugly telling his brother “I told you so” but his expression was gleeful enough to get the message across. Dick just let out a resigned sigh, shut off the monitors with a fiercer stab of his fingers than necessary and herded Jason up the stairs.

They found Bruce and their younger brothers in the kitchen, busy plating the pizza they had brought home. With Alfred out of the house, Bruce obviously had to resort to take-out for dinner. Given that something as unhealthy as pizza was normally not his choice, Tim and Damian must have badgered him long enough to make him indulge them (and shut them up, most likely).

“Hey B” Dick greeted, bumping lightly against Bruce’s shoulder in greeting before immediately bounding over to Tim and Damian. “You brought pizza for me. You shouldn’t have,” he declared with a wide grin, trying to steal slices from the plates they were preparing.

The ensuing scuffle only ended when they nearly pushed several plates to the floor and Bruce barked out a tired “Boys! Break any plates and you can explain it to Alfred.”

Properly chastised the three disentangled themselves and picked up the plates, carrying everything to the dining room.

Jason stayed back with Bruce. He had been standing next to their father since entering the room, sidling closer to his side in a silent bid for comfort while they watched his brothers’ antics. The time working with Dick had helped distract him, but he was still upset.

Bruce of course noticed his son’s uncharacteristic lack of participation in something involving both pizza and mayhem and slung a casual arm over his shoulders.

“Remind me to never again take only Tim and Damian on a day trip,” Bruce sighed with an air of deep exhaustion.

Jason could only snort in amusement as he tucked his face against Bruce’s neck, inhaling the strong scent of sandalwood and metal. He could feel Bruce lightly scenting him and he closed his eyes at the warm sensation of safety and happiness this action brought with it, the reminder that he belonged to a pack, was wanted and protected.

“Why, they fight the whole time? That shouldn’t surprise you,” Jason said in a wry tone.

Although to be fair, Tim and Damian’s fights had become a lot less volatile over the years. When Damian had first joined the family two years ago, there was the very real possibility (and in a few instances reality) of bloodshed between the two, whereas nowadays their fights had mellowed into mostly bickering. Their behaviour could even be called brotherly most of the time.

“Hrrn, no,” Bruce replied. “It was worse. They agreed on something and worked together. Apparently, they both consider the penguin habitat in the zoo to be inadequate. Tim had already hacked into the zoo’s system and was opening the doors for Damian to ‘rescue’ the penguins by the time I found out.”

Jason snorted in amusement and blinked up at his father. “And how much money did you have to donate to the zoo to get them home without the penguins?”

Bruce huffed and ruffled his hand through Jason’s hair, tangling the curls in a way he knew Jason would fuss about.

“I will have you know that I donated money to the zoo for a good cause and not to appease your brothers.”

His voice was stern, but the corner of his mouth was tugging up into a small smile.

“Sure old man, believe whatever you have to tell yourself to sleep at night,” Jason retorted with a grin.

“How was your day?” Bruce asked and the grin on Jason’s face dimmed.

“Fine,” he answered, keeping his voice deliberately neutral, “I helped Dick with some work.”

He pushed himself away from Bruce, stepping out of the embrace towards the door to the dining room.

“We should hurry before Dick eats all the pizza. The way he behaves you’d think there was no food in Bludhaven,” Jason said, trying to sound casual as he stepped into the dining room.

Jason was aware that his father knew he was keeping something from him, but he was counting on Bruce letting him get away with it. Bruce wasn’t really in his element when it came to emotional problems (he tried, but it took him a lot of effort to overcome his shortcomings in that area). He only instigated discussions on those matters when there was a very obvious need and he considered it absolutely necessary. Until then he would take his cues from his sons and Alfred. If Jason really needed to talk to him, he knew he could always do it (even though it might make them both uncomfortable), but right now his father wouldn’t force the issue.

Jason made his way over to the empty chair next to Tim and sat down heavily, immediately stealing a slice from his brother’s plate.

“Hey!” came the indignant reaction, followed by hands trying to grab the slice from his fingers.

“Too slow, little Timmy,” Jason sing-songed with a laugh, holding the pizza out of reach. From across the table Damian snickered.

“Shut up, gremlin!” Tim hissed at the youngest.

Damian and Tim were nearly the same height at the moment, which was a constant source of amusement for anyone but Tim.

Bruce let himself sink into his chair with a weary sigh, grabbed himself a slice of pizza and started a conversation with Dick, pretending he didn’t see his other children squabble like toddlers. Even Batman couldn’t win some battles.

With everyone at the table properly occupied, Jason sat back and focused on outlining his arguments for his phone call to Roy. He barely ate any of the pizza.


After dinner Jason made his way up to his room. He had an hour until patrol and he was intending to talk to Roy before then. Jason made sure his door was closed, then sat on his bed and went once more over everything he should and shouldn’t say to Roy.

The most important thing was to convince Roy that he needed help. Without that realization on his part nothing would change. Jason would reassure Roy that he wasn’t alone, that he would support him and not tell anyone before he was ready.

With a steadying breath Jason picked up his cell phone and dialled Roy’s number. It rang and rang until the voicemail message started to play. Jason hung up and tried again.

After the fifth time with no answer Jason flung his phone onto the bed, watching it bounce precariously close to the edge.

Roy always answered his phone unless he was on a mission or too injured to do so. Jason knew he was neither at the moment; so the only reasonable explanation was that he was deliberately ignoring Jason.

“Fuck,” Jason whispered, feeling tears start to well up in his eyes as he stared at his silent phone.

What was he supposed to do now?


Patrol on Saturdays was usually the highlight of the week. Tim and Damian were only allowed to go out in costume on the weekends, holidays or during vacation. Bruce had learned his lesson regarding sleep-deprived teenage vigilantes and school (surprise: not a great combination). Jason had been allowed to patrol on school nights since he had turned 16, but only with a strict curfew at 1 am, so weekends were still his favourite, when he didn’t have to turn in before the real fun began. Add in Nightwing visiting, and those weekend patrols became more family outings than work.

They were all already on the rooftops of Gotham, just splitting up to head into the different parts of the city. Robin was patrolling with Nightwing, Red Robin with Batman and Bluejay would be going solo and join up with one of the teams occasionally.

Jason was rather glad that he would be on his own for most of the night. He didn’t want to think about what was going on with Roy for at least a few hours, but he knew someone would notice his bad mood if they were with him the entire time. This way he could find some criminals, take out his frustrations on them, and then hopefully spend the rest of the night focused on the job instead of his crumbling relationship.

For the first few hours his plan seemed to work out perfectly. He had busted a small drug ring, getting in a good workout in the process that left his mind in that blissfully focused sharpness a fight always brought with it, and had then continued to patrol, stopping several small time criminals without any big fuss.

He was standing on a rooftop overlooking the docks, waiting for Batman and Red Robin to join him so they could take on the weapons smugglers currently unloading their goods across the street from him together when his phone started to vibrate.

It wasn’t allowed, officially, to bring a civilian phone to patrol, but Jason had gotten into the habit of it, using it to talk with Roy on particularly slow nights. He had stuffed it into his utility belt without thinking and now he was holding it in his hand, staring at the display.

The caller was Roy, of course, and for a brief moment Jason had the vision of Roy tearfully apologizing to him for everything, admitting to his drug problem and agreeing to get help immediately.

It was a nice fantasy, but Jason doubted he was that lucky or that Roy had changed his mind over the last few hours on his own. Still, he needed to talk to Roy, could use this as an opportunity to convince him, so he took a deep breath to steady himself and swiped his finger over the display to accept the call.

There was silence for a few seconds before a tentative “Jaybird?” came though the line.

Jason had to close his eyes at the nickname, the endearment only Roy used for him.

“Hey,” he answered and then he didn’t know how to go on even though he had thought about this conversation the whole day, so he simply fell silent.

Roy didn’t say anything for a long time either and the awkwardness of the moment was only outweighed by the heavy realisation that this had never happened before. They had always been able to talk to each other, whether as best friends or boyfriends, and Jason felt fear grip his insides.

He didn’t want to lose Roy, didn’t want him to destroy himself, so he had to say something.

Jason took a deep breath but before he could get anything out Roy spoke.

“I’m sorry about earlier, Jay. That…I shouldn’t have thrown you out like that.”

Roy sounded apologetic and Jason wanted to forgive him so badly, wanted everything to go back to the way it had been, but that wasn’t really an option.

“Okay. Yeah, that wasn’t cool, thank you. But we have to talk about the other stuff. Did you think about what I said?”

“Jay, come on. Can’t you just let that go for now?”

Jason wasn’t sure he had heard correctly. As he was thinking about an appropriate response that wouldn’t immediately end the conversation Roy went on without waiting for his answer.

“I could come over, we could spend some time together. I miss you and you left so early today. Don’t you want to continue where we stopped? Come on, babe.”

Roy was starting to ramble and there was something familiar in his voice that was niggling at Jason’s mind. The way he seemed to string his words together without thought, how his tone lilted and turned wheedling when Jason didn’t reply…

“You’re high right now, aren’t you?”

Roy’s words cut off and at the silence that followed Jason squeezed his eyes shut, feeling the hand that was holding his phone start to tremble.

“Dammit, Roy! How the fuck can you be such a selfish asshole?”

Jason hadn’t meant to say it, could hear the wobble in his voice that was a precursor of tears buried under his anger. He snapped his teeth shut with a click, dragging in a few ragged breaths to calm himself down.

He could do this, even if Roy was currently high. He was an addict, Jason knew how they behaved, he really shouldn’t be surprised he had sought an escape after their fight earlier.

“Roy-” he began, as calm and composed as he could manage, but Roy didn’t let him finish.

“Yeah, just say what you really think.”

Roy’s voice was bitter and hurt and Jason knew this conversation was going in the exact opposite direction he had intended. It was like he was watching a car crash in slow motion, knowing what would happen but powerless to stop it.

“I’m just a selfish junkie and you’re a prince of Gotham, so why are you even talking to me?”

Jason could hear the distress and desperation in Roy’s voice and he wanted to make this better, calm him down, but Roy was talking himself into a rage, his already drug addled mind spinning out of control, not even reacting to Jason when he called his name.

“You think you’re so much better than me, well, fuck you, Jason!”

“Roy, I don’t-“

“We’re not fucking bonded, you can’t tell me how to live my life.”

“I’m just trying to help-“

“I don’t need your help, I don’t need your condescension, I don’t need you.”

They both fell silent after Roy nearly shouted those last words. Jason felt like someone had punched him in the gut, he couldn’t breathe, and the world was turning blurry in front of his eyes.

“Roy,” he finally got out, voice watery with the tears that were now escaping his domino and running down his cheeks, “this isn’t you. We can talk about this when you’re not-“

But Roy cut him off, voice harsh and final.

“This is me and if you’re not okay with that you can go to hell!”

“What is that supposed to mean,” Jason said, feeling numb.

There was no answer for a long time and then Roy simply said, “Goodbye, Jason.”

Then the line went dead.

Jason stood there frozen, the phone pressed against his ear and tears running down his face, until a gentle hand on his shoulder snapped him back into the present.

He spun around, only now remembering that he was on patrol, out in the open, as his hands already came up in a defensive move but standing before him was only Batman.

Jason let his arms fall down limply and when he looked up at Batman, he could read so much sympathy on his face despite the cowl that he instantly knew he must have heard at least the last part of the conversation.

“What’s going on?” Bruce asked.

There was no gravel in his voice, only concern and worry - this was his father speaking, not the Dark Knight

Jason didn’t know what to say, knew he must look like a mess, and started to swipe viciously at the tears still running down his face.

“Hey,” Bruce said softly, catching his hands when the gloves started to leave angry red marks on his cheeks.

Jason didn’t even feel them.

“If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine, but-“

“Roy broke up with me.”

The words just burst out of Jason and once he said them out loud another wave of tears started to stream down his face and he was dangerously close to breaking down into sobs.

Bruce looked down at him, the lenses of his cowl emotionless as his mouth turned down into an unhappy frown before he pulled Jason against him into a firm hug.

“Sweetheart, I’m sorry,” Bruce murmured into his hair and Jason finally let out the first sob into Bruce’s chest armor, gripping the heavy cape tightly with both hands.

Jason could feel Bruce stroke slowly through his hair as he murmured soothing nonsense down at him that he didn’t even understand because he was crying so hard.

He didn’t know how long he was standing there, held in his father’s arms as he let his emotions out, but when his tears started to dry up and Jason was left hiccupping for breath, Bruce leaned back slowly and tipped Jason’s head up with the hand still on the back of his head, looking him over carefully.

When he seemed to come to the conclusion that Jason was finished for the moment he gave a small nod.

“I’m taking you home now,” Bruce said gently and when Jason immediately started to shake his head he only went on, voice slightly more insistent. “You’re in no condition to patrol. We’re taking the Batmobile home and Agent A will have some hot chocolate waiting for you, okay?”

“What about the weapons smugglers,” Jason said, and his voice was hoarse and faint like he had been crying for hours.

“Your brothers can take care of them,” Bruce said and for the first time Jason noticed Red Robin standing a few feet away from them, awkwardly pretending he wasn’t really looking at the crying mess Jason was.

“Nightwing and Robin are on their way, they should be here in a minute,” Bruce went on, focusing Jason’s attention back on him.

Jason really didn’t want them to see what a wreck he was too, so he nodded and with a small wave from Tim that Jason only returned half-heartedly they made their way down to the Batmobile.

Jason could feel his father’s eyes on him on the ride to the Manor, but he studiously looked out of the window. Now that he had purged the first wave of emotions from his system, he didn’t want to talk about it, couldn’t tell his father what was going on.

“Jaylad,” Bruce started when he had parked the car in the Cave, but Jason simply opened the door and got out, hurrying over to the showers.

He felt disgusting, his face smeared with dried tears, his domino sticking uncomfortably to his skin. All he wanted was a shower and to curl up in bed. He heard footsteps behind him, but he made it behind the privacy screen before Bruce caught up.

Jason took off his uniform mechanically, got under the shower and let his mind go blank under the hot spray. He knew he spent too long in there, but when he had finally started to soap up, his hand had brushed over a hickey Roy had left on his inner thigh that afternoon.

He simply stood there, staring at the mark, letting the water rain down on him as he tried to wrap his mind around how fast his life had changed in just a few hours. Without thinking he pressed a finger into the bruise, hissing at the slight pain, and new tears came into his eyes at the thought that he would never bear another mark like it from Roy.

When he finally walked back into the Cave, dressed in pyjamas and as composed as he could manage, both Bruce and Alfred were waiting for him.

“I’m going to bed,” Jason called before anyone could stop him to talk.

“What about your hot chocolate?” Bruce asked, and at any other time the way he was tentatively holding out the steaming mug with an oversized marshmallow peeking over the top would have been a hilarious example of Bruce’s awkwardness to Jason, but today it was inexplicably infuriating to him.

“I don’t want fucking hot chocolate,” Jason yelled, turning his back on them and sprinting up the stairs.

He knew it was childish, the clichéd teenager-reaction, but he couldn’t help himself. The fact that no one reprimanded him for his behaviour only made him angrier, because that just meant they were pitying him.

As he was pulling open the hidden door into Bruce’s office he could faintly hear Alfred’s voice echo from downstairs.

“Let him go, Master Bruce. He’ll calm down-“

His voice cut off when the grandfather clock swung back into the wall and then Jason was alone in the empty Manor. He ran to his room, slamming the door shut behind him even though there was no one to hear it. He threw himself on the bed, pulling the blankets around him and gave into the newest wave of tears.

Chapter Text

Jason woke up with his eyes feeling scratchy and his cheek stuck to the pillow. He didn’t know when he’d finally fallen asleep, but he had definitely still been crying when he’d succumbed to his exhaustion.

His sleep had been fraught with nightmares though, images of his mother with a needle in her arm lying cold on their bathroom floor overlaid with visions of Roy meeting the same fate, and he felt drained and anxious as a result.

God, he needed to find a way to help Roy. He would never forgive himself if he didn’t do everything he could and Roy met the same fate as his mother. He couldn’t lose another person he loved like that.

In the bathroom he splashed some water on his face but a look in the mirror told him that it was still obvious that he had cried the whole night, his bloodshot eyes and pale complexion giving him away. He didn’t even bother with brushing his hair; he simply didn’t have the energy for it.

When he went down for breakfast the whole family was already waiting for him. They all fell silent as he entered the room, looking at him with sympathetic smiles that already made him want to run back to his room.

No one said anything but he could feel everyone’s attention on him as he took his seat, deliberately ignoring them as he took a piece of toast and started to butter it. He wasn’t hungry and didn’t taste anything he put in his mouth, simply continued to mechanically eat his breakfast as the silence in the room got heavier by the second.

Predictably it was Dick who broke it first.

“Hey, Little Wing. How are you?”

His voice was soft and kind and Jason instantly felt himself tense up. He wasn’t in the mood to talk about it and he didn’t need anyone to pity him.

“Just peachy,” he ground out, not even looking up at his brother.

“It’s fine to be upset, Jay. Normal even. And if you want to talk about anything-“

Jason cut him off, glowering at his brother with more fury than he really deserved.

“I said I’m fine. And I don’t want to talk about it, especially not with you. When was the last time any of your relationships lasted more than a week, huh? You don’t know anything about this, so just shut up.”

Jason’s voice had gotten more vicious with each word and at the end he was practically snarling at Dick with rage. His brother was looking at him with wide eyes and he felt a slight pang of regret at the hurt he saw flash across Dick’s face, but he ruthlessly shoved that feeling down.

He just wanted Dick to stop talking for once.

“Jason!”

Bruce’s voice was firm, infused with the low tone of an alpha reprimanding his pack member, and Jason instinctively felt his shoulders come up and his head bow slightly in submission.

“You’re upset, but that doesn’t give you the right to talk to your brother like that. Apologize to him and then we can finish breakfast, without asking you anything if you don’t want us to.”

Jason stared mulishly at his plate for long seconds, hands clenching into fists under the table, but he could already feel his anger drain away.

“Sorry Dick,” he mumbled, looking shortly up at the alpha and receiving a small smile and a nod of acceptance from him.

Everyone shifted their attention back to their food, ignoring Jason for the most part, although he could still feel the occasional glance thrown his way. But they didn’t try to talk to him again and the fact that even Tim and Damian kept quiet and didn’t squabble with each other like they did at every other meal told Jason how miserable he must look.

For the rest of the meal he was just left sitting there without touching anything else on his plate, feeling exhausted from his little outburst. The second everyone else was finished he got up from his chair, turning his back on his family and practically ran up to his room to hide back in his nest of blankets. He didn’t even help clean up the table, which would have normally left him with a guilty conscience, but on this day that didn’t even register in comparison to the heartbreak that was already making him feel nearly physically sick.

Jason knew he was wallowing, but he couldn’t keep himself from staring at his phone for hours, desperately wishing it would light up with a call or a message from Roy.

By the time Alfred knocked on his door to tell him lunch was served, Jason hadn’t moved once from his cocoon of blankets.

When he stepped out of his room, still in his pyjamas and with no doubt obvious new tear tracks on his cheeks, the old butler looked at him with sad eyes.

“Oh, my dear boy,” Alfred said, cupping Jason’s cheek and softly rubbing away the tears with his thumb.

Jason could only sniffle and the old beta pulled him close into a warm hug, holding him long enough for Jason to compose himself.

“Thanks Alfie,” he said when he felt ready to face the rest of the family and the butler let him go with a small nod and a last squeeze to Jason’s shoulders.

Lunch was very similar to breakfast in that Jason barely ate anything and no one talked to him as he stared vacantly at his plate. He was aware of the worried looks everyone was exchanging, the note of distress that was noticeable in the scent of his pack members, but he just couldn’t muster the energy to put up a front for them.

He had planned on vanishing up into his room once again when the meal was finished, but before he could leave Dick spoke up, voice painfully cautious.

“Hey, why don’t we all watch a movie together? It’s raining outside anyway and I still have some hours before I have to leave for Bludhaven. Been a while since our last family movie afternoon.”

Dick was deliberately addressing the whole room, but Jason could see how everyone was checking for his reaction, waiting for his response. He didn’t really feel like watching a movie but hiding alone in his room, waiting for a call that wouldn’t come, was just pathetic so he gave a shrug in answer.

“Great,” Dick said, clapping his hands together and sounding way too cheerful for such a lacklustre response. “How about that new detective movie, that should be fun?”

Jason tuned out the ensuing discussion about which movie they should watch; he didn’t care anyway. In the small movie theatre they had in the east wing of the Manor Jason intended to take one of the lone armchairs off to the side, but he got pushed down on the long plush couch, exactly in the middle.

Before he could protest or get up Dick was sitting next to him, an arm thrown around his shoulders, and on his other side Tim sank into the cushions. Damian got pulled down on Dick’s other side, settling with only a token protest, and then Jason was squished between his brothers, surrounded by the familiar and comforting scent of pack.

Bruce draped some of the big fluffy blankets they had for exactly this purpose over all of them and then sat down in his own armchair, obviously watching over his brood. Even Alfred took a seat and when the movie began and his whole pack was with him, Jason felt his heart beat a little lighter and the anxiety that had made his muscles tense since the morning started to slowly seep out of him.

He might not have Roy anymore, but he still had his family.

Jason didn’t really follow the plot of whatever inane action movie they had picked, but by the time the credits rolled he felt so much calmer than before. His thoughts weren’t one continuous loop of heartbreak, worry and dread anymore and he felt relaxed and comfortable where he was snuggled into Dick’s side with the warm weight of Tim draped against him.

His eyes had been steadily falling closed for some time and he could feel his exhaustion pulling him towards sleep. He was only half-aware of the film ending until Dick’s hand began to card through his hair, pulling him back into consciousness again.

“Hey Little Wing,” he said softly, smiling down at Jason when he blinked up at his older brother. “I’m sorry, but I have to leave in a bit. Can I get up?”

Jason nodded sleepily at him, pushing himself into more of a sitting position. Dick ran his hand one last time through his hair and then pressed a soft kiss against the crown of his head before getting up.

“Everything is going to be fine, Jay. You’ll see.”

Jason gave him a small smile and then Dick turned to their brothers, giving each of them a hug and scenting them before he received the same treatment from Bruce. Once Dick had left Jason was also preparing to get up and retreat back to his room, but Bruce took the seat the younger alpha had just vacated, settling in between his two omega sons as he fixed the blankets back over them all.

“Why don’t we continue with the next movie? It’s a series, now I want to know what happens next.”

It was a blatant lie, but Jason could appreciate the effort and felt something warm bloom in his chest at his father’s slightly clumsy attempt to keep him with the rest of the pack in order to comfort him.

“Don’t you have patrol?” Jason asked.

Bruce just pulled him against his side and Jason could feel the rumble of his voice where his cheek was pressed against his father when he spoke.

“I can take the night off, don’t worry about it, Jaylad. I prefer to spend time with you guys, anyway.”

Jason let himself relax at that and felt himself drifting off again when they started the new movie, his father and younger brothers right there with him.

He woke back up when the movie was long since over, Tim snoring lightly against his side and Damian also deeply asleep on the other end of the couch. Jason was still tucked against Bruce, who was scrolling through emails on his phone. Alfred wasn’t in his armchair anymore, so Jason assumed it must already be pretty late if the butler had gone to bed.

“What time is it,” Jason mumbled quietly, shifting a bit to get his arm out from under Tim, feeling it tingle already with the return of blood flow to the sleeping limb.

“Almost twelve,” Bruce said just as lowly, looking down at Jason with assessing eyes. “How are you feeling, Jay?”

The question didn’t feel as grating as it did in the morning. The time with his family had helped immensely and he was sure getting some sleep had also been good for him. He was still heartbroken and sad, but his chest didn’t feel like it had been ripped open with a rusty knife anymore.

“Better,” Jason said simply, and then in an even softer voice, “Thanks, dad.”

Jason could hear the surprised breath Bruce sucked in and then felt a gentle hand brush back his fringe before a kiss was placed on his forehead.

“Any time, son.”

A comfortable silence settled over them and Jason felt like he could drift back off to sleep, but after a few minutes Bruce spoke up again, sounding more serious than he had before.

“Jay,” he said, waiting for Jason to look up at him until he went on, “I know you don’t want to talk about what happened between you and Roy, and I respect that. But I have to ask, did he…hurt you in any way or do anything-“

Jason was shaking his head before Bruce even finished his question.

“No, no he didn’t. You know Roy, he would never…he would never hurt me or something like that.”

He’s hurting himself, Jason wanted to tack on, but knew he couldn’t. Roy was hurting himself and it broke Jason’s heart that he couldn’t stop him.

Bruce studied him intently for a few moments and when he seemed convinced that Jason was telling the truth he nodded slightly.

“Okay,” he said, pressing another kiss to Jason’s forehead. “I didn’t think so, but I had to be sure. Whatever happened, you can always talk to me, whatever it is, okay?”

Jason nodded mutely and then deliberately looked away from Bruce, letting his eyes fall on the form of his sleeping little brother next to him.

“You think we should wake them up?”

“I’ll just carry them upstairs,” Bruce said, already starting to move the blankets away so he could stand up.

“I can take the little gremlin,” Jason offered, carefully sliding out from under Tim once Bruce had gotten up.

“Don’t call your brother that,” Bruce reprimanded, but there was no heat behind it.

Jason carefully slid his arms under Damian’s back and legs, lifting him up as Bruce did the same with Tim.

“God, he’s getting heavy. Soon we’ll have to upgrade him to big gremlin,” Jason said, hearing Bruce snort in amusement.


Despite the relaxing evening with his family the night before, the anxiety and hurt were back the next morning and only got worse during his day at Gotham Academy. In his classes Jason had a lot of time to think, and his thoughts mostly strayed to all the horrible ways Roy’s drug use would ruin his life or even get him killed. Next to that the hurt he was also feeling over the callous way in which Roy had ended things between them was a steady presence in his mind and he knew from the pitying looks his classmates were throwing his way that his scent must be screaming heartbreak – not that he could change that unless he wore scent blockers.

He barely caught anything of the material they were studying and when the final bell rang he was out of the door immediately. He had texted Alfred earlier that he had plans after school and didn’t need to be picked up, so he made his way to the bus station. He got on the line to the other side of the city, taking off his school jacket and switching it for one of his old threadbare hoodies Alfred was always trying to convince him to get rid of. He didn’t want to be recognized where he was going though and clothes that were nearly falling apart were generally best to not appear like the son of a billionaire.

When Jason walked into the free clinic in one of the more run-down parts of Gotham he felt the weirdest mix of Deja vu and sorrow. He had been in places like this so many times with his mother when he was young and now he was here because his boyfriend ex had been sucked into the same abyss she had.

He gave a fake name at the counter and settled in for the long wait. It would have been so much easier for him to just ask Leslie to perform the blood tests or even Alfred; they had all the necessary lab equipment in the Cave after all. But if he asked them for STD tests, they would all assume Roy had cheated on him, that that was the reason they broke up. And then he would have to tell them the truth, because he couldn’t let anyone believe Roy had done something like that, so…

Easier to just get the tests done like this.

And no matter how inconvenient it was or how long he had to wait, he needed to be sure he hadn’t gotten anything (and that Roy hadn’t, too).

When his (fake) name was finally called after hours of wait, an overworked looking nurse took his blood, told him to call in a few days for the results and then he was on his way home.

It was nearly dinner time when he finally arrived at the Manor and Jason was internally preparing himself for questions on where he had been, but as he entered the front hall he could already hear Bruce’s scolding voice coming from the living room.

When he peeked into the room he saw Bruce standing in front of his brothers, the three of them perched on the sofa in a row like ducklings, while Bruce, with his hands on his hips and a stern expression on his face, was clearly lecturing them about something. For a brief second Jason was wondering what Dick was doing here when he was supposed to be in Bludhaven, before Bruce’s words started to register.

“-not appropriate behaviour. You cannot break into other people’s houses just to confront someone about a relationship.”

“Since when,” Damian muttered at the same time as Tim said, “Technically, we didn’t break in, we took the zeta into their basement.”

Jason could see Bruce’s jaw clench even from the doorway but before their father could say anything else Dick also spoke up, his voice stubborn and unapologetic.

“You saw Jason yesterday, B. He is a wreck and he won’t even tell us what happened. If we have to break into the Queen estate and confront Roy to find out what happened, then I will damn well do it. He doesn’t just get to break my little brother’s heart like that and get away with it.”

All three of his brothers were staring Bruce down with the same determined expression and Jason felt something warm bloom in his chest. He knew his brothers loved him, would protect him out in the field and in civilian life, but hearing that they had gone to talk to Roy because of their breakup, because they were concerned about him, made gratitude and fondness bubble up inside him. He sometimes didn’t know what he had ever done to deserve this family.

Bruce meanwhile had pinched the bridge of his nose, letting out a long sigh before he looked back at his three sons. His expression had softened and when he went on his voice sounded like he was trying not to let his pride show through while he reprimanded them.

“I appreciate you three wanting to protect your brother. But you can’t just confront Roy because they broke up. We don’t know what happened, but Jason told me Roy didn’t hurt him, and I believe him. Whatever else went on is between them if they don’t want to tell us. So support your brother, but don’t take it out on Roy, understood?”

Dick, Tim and Damian still looked mulish, but they all eventually nodded.

“Fine,” Damian said, meeting Bruce’s eyes in determination, “but if he ever comes near Todd again I will eviscerate him.”

Bruce let out a heavy sigh but he didn’t say anything else to that promise.

Jason honestly didn’t know how to feel about it, either. He still loved Roy, their breakup had nothing to do with that. And he knew his drug use didn’t make the alpha a bad person, only someone who needed help. He didn’t want to see Roy hurt, that was the whole reason he was so upset about his addiction and even though he knew Damian would not really eviscerate him (maybe cut him a few times, but that was Damian) the thought alone of Roy getting hurt because of him didn’t sit well with Jason. All he wished for was to get him help and have things return to the way they had been.

Bruce meanwhile had sat down in the armchair next to his sons, his whole posture fraught with exhaustion now.

“Did Roy say anything to you?” he asked, looking slightly hesitant as if he knew he shouldn’t try to get any information about his son’s relationship this way.

Jason felt his gut clench at the horrible possibilities of what Roy could have said to his brothers. He didn’t want to hear it if he had said he didn’t love Jason anymore, didn’t care about him; the way he had ended things between them two days ago already hurt enough.

But still he was frozen where he stood, needing to hear it anyway. His brothers were exchanging glances, looking uncomfortable now, until finally Dick spoke.

“We didn’t really talk to him, he was in his room and wouldn’t let us in…and Ollie found us before we could break in.”

Jason saw the scowl on Bruce’s face at that admission, but Damian was already talking, so Bruce didn’t start another lecture.

“He yelled at us through the door to go away and that Jason was too good for him anyway, so we should be happy about their breakup…which is true in a way, so-“

“He sounded like he’d been crying,” Tim cut in quietly, and Jason could feel his own breath hitch. This was all such a mess.

“Sounds like they are both miserable,” Bruce said slowly, and all three of them nodded, even though Damian seemed to do so reluctantly.

“Just,” Bruce began, sighing deeply before he went on, “just be there for Jason and don’t get involved unless either of them asks you to. I’m sure they will work it out in time.”

That seemed to be the end of the conversation and before any of them could spot Jason he made his way up to his room. What he had heard left him with a new turmoil of emotions running through him; his own hurt at the breakup, hope that Roy might see sense if he was missing Jason so much mixed with the sobering knowledge that getting together again would only be possible if Roy got clean, his fear of Roy falling deeper into his addiction because of their breakup, the happiness at what his brothers had done for him…

It was all just so much and all Jason wanted was to forget everything for a few hours again. He went to take a shower and by the time he was finished dinner was served. Dick had already left when Jason made his way to the dining room and during the meal he made an effort to talk with his family and pretend he wasn’t feeling as miserable as he was, but the quick glances everyone exchanged and the heavy note of worry in their scents made it clear that he wasn’t successful.

When he immediately after went back up to his room again no one stopped him. Bruce didn’t even ask him if he wanted to join him for patrol and honestly Jason didn’t feel like he could handle that at the moment.

Instead he spent the evening once again buried in his blanket nest, trying to come up with a plan how to help Roy between bouts of crying about the whole situation when everything just got too much.

He knew it was already very late when his door opened slightly and Bruce looked in. He was freshly showered and dressed in sweats, which told Jason that he had just returned from patrol.

When he saw that Jason was still awake he opened the door further and stepped into the room, coming over to sit on Jason’s bed.

“Can’t sleep?” he asked, letting his hand run gently through Jason’s messy hair.

Jason hadn’t really tried so he just shrugged.

“Mind if I stay?” Bruce asked and Jason shook his head, moving over a bit so Bruce could sit up against the headboard, Jason leaning against his chest, his ear pressed over the familiar, steady heartbeat of his father.

He already felt calmer with the scent of his father surrounding him and Bruce started to lightly run his hand through Jason’s hair and down his back, soothing his racing mind and letting his body finally come to rest.

He only faintly heard the quiet “Sleep well, Jaylad.” that was murmured into his hair before he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

The next few days were mostly a blur to Jason. He went to school, came home and then shut himself into his room.

He still didn’t have an idea of what he could do to help Roy. Whenever he picked up his phone and even just thought about trying to call or write, his last conversation with the alpha flashed through his mind. The way he had said he didn’t need him still made Jason feel like a knife had been buried in his heart and he was just too damn afraid of Roy saying something like that again.

He knew he was being a coward but he just couldn’t help it.

At least his call to the free clinic had ended in good news, his blood tests had been negative for any STD’s, so that was one concern less.

Jason was aware that his family was worried about him, could see it in their short glances, hear it in their unusually careful voices, smell it on their scents, but for the most part they seemed to have decided to take their cues from him on how to deal with the situation.

Still, that Thursday afternoon there was an insistent knock on his bedroom door and when he opened it he found both of his younger brothers standing outside, a collection of boardgames in their arms, asking him to play with them.

He was too perplexed to do anything other than nod and as he followed the two boys down to the living room he thought about how heartbroken he must have looked for his little brothers to work together like that. Because something like this had never before occurred in the Wayne household since Tim and Damian lived here together and if Jason had been in a better mood, he would have been taking pictures to have proof when he told Dick about this.

As it was he simply sat down with the two of them and let them pick a game. He could tell how hard both Tim and Damian were trying; neither of them insulted the other even once while they were playing and soon Jason found that he really had fun just spending time with them.

With Dick’s return on Friday the whole weekend also turned into one long family outing. He was never left alone, someone always found an activity or other for them to do and just like the weekend before, it made him feel so much better, let him forget about Roy, at least until he was lying in bed at night.

The next week found Jason already coping better although he still hadn’t attempted any way to contact Roy yet. That changed when he overheard a conversation from Bruce’s office one evening.

He had only been meaning to ask Bruce about a special first print edition of a book he wanted to buy but couldn’t find in any of the antiquity stores in Gotham but when he had arrived at Bruce’s office the door had been slightly open and he had heard voices. Jason didn’t intend to spy, had only wanted to listen enough to determine if he should come back later or wait for a minute, but when he recognized the other voice on the speakerphone he felt himself freeze, listening in intently.

“-worried about him. I don’t know what to do, Bruce.”

Ollie sounded distressed and anxious and Jason could feel a heavy weight settle in his gut.

“These things take time, you know that. It’s only been a little more than two weeks,” Bruce said wearily, letting out a long sigh. “Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten what a breakup feels like.”

“No, but…I’ve never seen Roy like this before. He goes to school and only comes back late at night, shuts himself into his room, doesn’t talk with Dinah or me. I don’t even think he’s eating, Bruce. I just want to help him.”

Jason had to close his eyes at that. Was Roy really that miserable? Or were those symptoms of his addiction, which might have gotten worse because of what Jason had done. God, had he just fucked everything up more by confronting Roy immediately? What if he spiralled because of Jason, got hurt or even died as a result?

Fuck, he needed to fix this.

“Jason was a crying wreck the first couple of days and he’s still miserable most of the time. We found that getting him to do stuff with us helps, so maybe you and Dinah should try that.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Ollie sighed, “I just wish I knew what happened between them. They never seemed to have any serious problems. Do you have any idea what is going on with them?”

“No,” Bruce said, and Jason could hear the frustration in his voice. His father had never been good with being kept in the dark. “Jason only told Dick that they had a fight that day and later Roy broke up with him. That’s it.”

“Roy said Jason doesn’t want him anymore,” Ollie said slowly and Jason felt like the floor had been pulled out from under him. Had Roy only said that or did he really think so?

“No matter what, they’ll have to work that out between themselves. Until then lets just help them feel better.”

“Why is raising teenagers so hard?” Ollie asked and Jason heard Bruce huff in agreement.

“Honestly, I thought we had it easy with these two,” Ollie went on, sounding strangely sad, “I was sure they had been lucky, found the perfect partner on the first try, would get bonded and everything. Don’t tell me you weren’t also already planning for the Queen-Wayne grandkids, Bruce.”

“Wayne-Queen,” Bruce corrected, but Jason could tell that he was serious behind the slightly teasing tone.

If Jason was honest with himself, he had also been completely sure that he would be with Roy forever, which might seem naïve and idealistic at 16, but…it was Roy.

The conversation drifted to some business venture Wayne Enterprises and Queen Industries were both involved in, so Jason slunk quietly back to his room, sitting on his bed after he had closed the door, simply staring at his phone.

He needed to do something. He couldn’t be a coward forever, running away from what was necessary. Roy needed help and Jason was the only person who even knew about his problem, so it was his responsibility to help him. He was a vigilante for God’s sake, he regularly went out and faced criminals and meta-humans alike, how could calling the boy he loved be more frightening than that?

Without giving himself more time to think about it, Jason picked up the phone and dialled Roy’s number. It rang until the voicemail picked up and he felt his heart sink a little, but he wouldn’t give up so easily. Instead he took a deep breath and left a message.

“Hey Roy. It's…it's been a while and I would really like to talk to you. I miss you. Please call me back.”

When he had ended the call Jason was left staring at his phone, wondering if what he had just done was stupid or not.

Roy didn’t call him back, but Jason hadn’t honestly thought that it would be that easy. Instead he started to regularly leave him messages or texts. Simple things, like a short hello, funny stuff Tim or Damian had done that day, things he had read that might interest Roy.

He never talked about the drugs or their breakup, knowing that making Roy feel bad or guilty about those things wouldn’t make him any more likely to listen to Jason. Roy didn’t answer, but Jason could see that he read every message and he never blocked Jason, so he counted that as a good sign.

He just needed to remind Roy that he still loved him, was still there for him and hopefully he would see sense in time. If he could get Roy to talk to him again Jason was sure he could eventually convince him to seek help for his problem. Roy wasn’t stupid, he knew heroin wasn’t an answer to whatever problem he wanted to solve with it he was just…lost.

Jason still wasn’t happy, but his mood lifted a little once he had a plan and was actively doing something, even if it was just sending a daily message.

His family seemed to also notice that he was doing better and with each day that he didn’t spend crying in his blanket nest their behaviour around him became a little more normal again and they stopped tiptoeing around him like he might break.

That weekend Jason once again joined the rest of the Bats on patrol and the feeling of elation he had when he soared over the roofs of Gotham made him laugh out loud for the first time since his heart had been broken on that rooftop near the docks.

Life continued like this for a while, a mix of school, patrol, messages to Roy and family members who were still kind of careful around Jason but not so much that it got grating for him.

It was a Wednesday a little over a month after his last conversation with Roy when he finally got his first reaction from the alpha.

Jason had sat on his bed a long time after school that day, thinking about what he should write him. In the end he had simply gone with Happy Birthday, Roy. I wish you all the best.

It was Roy’s 18th birthday and Jason had felt a heavy weight of regret in his stomach as he sent that message. He had planned this day months ago, would have originally taken the zeta to Star City after school and spent the day with Roy. Now the gifts he had already bought were buried in the back of his closet, he had cancelled their reservation at Roy’s favourite restaurant and he had no idea what Roy was doing that day.

There had also been a big party planned for the weekend, all of the current and former Titans would have come, but Jason had already heard from Dick that Roy had cancelled that, too. He himself had avoided any other heroes (especially the other teenagers) over the last weeks. Breakups between members of that community were always talked about and he didn’t have any interest in hearing what the rumour mill was saying about them. It had told him enough when he saw his little brothers’ stormy faces as they had come back from a minor team-up the weekend before to know Roy and he were still being talked about – high school had nothing on superhero teams in terms of gossip.

Jason had been sitting with his phone still in hand longer than he intended, lost in thought, when the little dots popped up telling him that Roy was writing something in response to his message. The way Jason’s heart started to beat faster because of those three little dots should have been impossible, but Jason found himself transfixed, gripping his phone tightly and staring at the screen.

The little dots blinked up at him, stopped, started again, for what Jason was sure were at least five minutes. When the text message finally popped up, he didn’t know if he should be happy or disappointed.

Thank you

It was clear that Roy had written a lot of other messages, but what he sent was the most generic response possible. Frustrated, Jason put his phone down. It was progress that Roy answered at all, but at this pace, it would take years to really get through to him and they didn’t have that kind of time. Jason needed to change his approach, go at this more directly.

He didn’t see any other way but to confront Roy face to face, talk to him in person so he couldn’t ignore Jason and had to listen to him.

He couldn’t simply go to the Queen estate; having this conversation where Ollie or Dinah could walk in on them wasn’t an option. That only left him with seeking Roy out during the weekend when they both didn’t have school and Roy hopefully wasn’t home for some time. He would have to find out where Roy would be, but that wasn’t really a problem with the equipment he had access to…even if it wasn’t completely ethical to stalk his ex like that. It was for Roy’s own good, Jason told himself.

An opportunity presented itself already that Saturday, as Roy would be out with some friends to celebrate his birthday. Jason told his family he wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t join them on patrol during dinner. After a lot of fussing from Bruce and Jason’s repeated reassurances that he was fine, it was just a headache, no need to worry, Bruce and the other Bats finally went out into the city and Alfred also made his way down to the Cave, telling Jason to call should he need anything.

Jason waited for a few minutes to make sure he was really alone, then he threw back his blankets, got dressed and shimmied out of the window. He hadn’t done this often, but he knew how to get out of the Manor without triggering any of the security features.

He took a taxi to get into the city to a zeta tube disguised as an old phone booth. Thank God Bruce was paranoid and had insisted every League member had at least one zeta tube in their city and not only one in their house/hideout. Traveling to Star City with a car would have taken hours and he couldn’t exactly take the zeta in the Cave or arrive in the Queens basement. He didn’t necessarily want his family to know what he was doing in case it ended badly. They were already treating him like he would break down into tears if they so much as mentioned Roy in front of him, he didn’t want them to try to talk him out of this.

Once he got to Star City he followed the little tracker on his phone that was telling him where Roy was, feeling his nerves ratchet up with every step he got closer. He just hoped this wouldn’t end in disaster like their last time together.

Jason found Roy in a trendy nightclub that had a reputation for all kinds of illicit business being conducted right next to the dancefloor. It was a paradise for party goers and hardened criminals alike and Jason gritted his teeth as the bouncer eyed his deliberately chosen tight, low-cut jeans and slightly see-through designer top with a smirk.

Jason knew this scene, both from his childhood on the streets and his work with Batman. He was a young, good-looking omega who obviously had money. It didn’t matter how underage he was, he could get into any club he wanted if he made the right impression and his outfit practically screamed ‘I’m just here for a good time’.

“I need to see some ID, honey,” the bouncer said, letting his eyes rove over his entire body, and Jason had to push down the urge to deck this guy.

Instead he put on a smile and started to rummage through his jeans pockets, not missing how the bouncer’s eyes followed his hands and focused way too long on his thighs before Jason pulled his hands out and made an exaggerated sound of confusion.

“I had it just a moment ago,” he said, making a show out of patting his back pockets and feeling dirty at the way some alphas around him used that opportunity to check out his ass.

“Oh, here it is,” he said finally, after he thought the bouncer had gotten enough of a show, and pulled out two fifty dollar bills, holding them out with a raised eyebrow.

“Good thing you found it,” the guy said, taking the money and lifting the cord in front of the entrance for him.

“Shame if I had to send a pretty thing like you back home.”

The bouncer put a guiding hand on Jason’s back as he started to walk inside, letting it run down from between his shoulder blades to his lower back, and the only reason Jason didn’t break his hand was because he was here to find Roy and that was more important.

Didn’t mean he wouldn’t come back later in costume and arrest this guy, though.

Inside the club the music was nearly deafening and Jason carefully skirted around the edges of the dancefloor which was packed with people more or less dancing to the music (some were grinding so close against each other, Jason would rather call it fully clothed sex). In the few minutes it took him to make his way over to the bar he had spotted four drug deals going down and at least one negotiation happening between members of rivalling weapons smuggling rings in one of the booths.

This place was a total shitshow and the faster he could get out again the better. He didn’t even want to think about the headlines the gossip rags would run if the underage son of Bruce Wayne was spotted here.

At the bar he ordered a cocktail to blend in better and then he made his way further into the club, drink in hand and eyes scanning the crowd for that familiar head of red hair. Jason stayed as far from other people as he could manage, which wasn’t very in a place like this. It didn’t take long for him to feel claustrophobic in the packed space that was only illuminated by pulsing lights and was flooded with the scents of hundreds of people.

The overpowering smell of numerous alphas was so omnipresent, Jason seriously contemplated taking out one of the emergency scent neutralizers he always carried with him. It was really only a small strip of paper heavily scented with the smell of his pack that he could stick under his nose, but it would help him feel less hemmed in and vulnerable as his instincts told him to get away from all those unfamiliar alphas. He would never understand how most people didn’t seem to have a problem with being in a place filled with pheromones like this or how their senses didn’t go haywire like Jason’s did.

As he walked steadily through the crowd several alphas and betas tried to come onto him, but he ignored them all. Finally he spotted who he was looking for.

Roy was standing at a table with a couple of other alphas his age, drink in hand and swaying faintly along to the music. Jason thought he recognized a few of the others from Roy’s school, but he didn’t pay them any real attention, his eyes focused only on Roy.

It had been six weeks since he had last seen him, since everything had changed so unexpectedly, and Jason couldn’t tell if the swooping feeling in his gut was happiness or dread.

Roy looked like he hadn’t been sleeping, dark rings under his eyes that Jason could see even in the low light of the club, and his skin was paler than usual. Jason didn’t know if that was because of their breakup or the drugs and he wasn’t sure which option he preferred.

As he made his way over he could feel his palms turn sweaty with nerves and he left his untouched drink on a table he passed for fear it would slip out of his hand. He was still a few feet away from him when Roy looked up and their eyes met.

Jason could clearly read the surprise in Roy’s face, though it quickly turned into apprehension and then a blank indifference that hurt more than all those unanswered calls and texts over the last weeks.

“Jason,” Roy said when Jason had stepped close enough to the table that they could understand each other over the loud music blasting from the speakers.

Jason. Not Jaybird or Jay. Jason.

“What are you doing here?”

Roy’s voice sounded like he couldn’t care less and he was already turning slightly back to the people at his table, away from him.

Jason took in a calming breath, telling himself that Roy was just pretending in an effort to get under Jason’s skin, make him go away without having to confront the elephant in the room. That wouldn’t work on him and Roy should know that.

“I wanted to talk to you,” Jason said, keeping his voice as neutral as possible. Getting angry or accusatory wouldn’t help, as he had clearly seen in their last conversation.

Roy was just opening his mouth to answer when the alpha next to him spoke up, eyes focused on Jason in interest.

“Isn’t that the Wayne omega you were seeing, Roy? Thought you said you’d kicked him to the curb.”

Jason felt his fists clench at those callous words, his fingernails digging into his palms. Did Roy really describe it like that? Was he only the ex he had gotten rid of to him now?

“That’s not what I-“ Roy started, sounding momentarily incensed, but he cut himself off with a short look at Jason before he went on, “-yeah, that’s him.”

Jason knew he was staring, but he couldn’t help it, his eyes boring into Roy’s skull as the redhead refused to look at him. He was so distracted he didn’t really register the other alpha stepping closer to him until a hand came to rest on his hip.

“Can’t say I understand why Roy would let a fine piece of ass like you go, but I’ll gladly talk to you.”

Jason was so stunned he didn’t react for a second until he found his voice and ground out, “Excuse me?”

“Come on sweetie, you’re not dressed like this for talking.”

The guy had taken a step closer, crowding into Jason’s personal space and pulling him flush against him with the hand that had now wandered down to Jason’s ass. The heavy scent of alcohol and arousal hit Jason and he wanted to recoil, but a second hand suddenly gripped the back of his neck, pinching exactly where an alpha bit to force an omega to submit, making Jason go still on instinct and keeping him in place.

“Get your hands off him,” Roy growled before Jason could do anything else, and there was real danger in his voice now as well as an edge of possessiveness that made Jason shiver.

“Why, you’re not fucking him anymore, so someone else can-“

The alpha never got to finish his sentence as Roy ripped him off of Jason, throwing him against the table.

“I said, don’t fucking touch him!”

The low alpha growl Roy let out was a warning and a challenge rolled into one, and if Jason hadn’t been so surprised (and also turned on), he would have felt indignant at Roy stepping in to protect him like some weak omega from those prejudiced Hollywood flicks.

The other alpha got up from the table, straightening with a furious expression, growling right back.

“What, are you jealous, Harper? Slut like that, I bet he spreads his legs for every knot.”

Roy’s fist collided with the other alpha’s face and then he lay crumpled on the floor, blood streaming from his nose. The fact that the guy was still conscious and could curse up a storm told Jason that even though Roy looked murderous, the archer hadn’t used his full strength or the asshole would have at least a broken jaw.

One of the other alphas at the table helped him up and then they were faced with several angry looking guys coming to the aid of their buddy.

Roy wasn’t the least bit intimidated and Jason could tell he was just spoiling for a good fight – it wasn’t like they couldn’t deal with all of them without breaking a sweat.

Roy ducked the first clumsy punch thrown his way, taking on two of the guys at the same time, but when another one of the alphas tried to attack Roy from behind Jason had enough and kicked the guy in the gut, making him double over and spit a stream of insults at him.

That seemed to be enough for the others to extend their focus to Jason, who they had ignored up until now as only an omega and not a threat, but that didn’t hold true any longer.

Roy was still busy with his opponents, definitely winning, but he wasn’t dispatching them as efficiently (or ruthlessly) as he would hardened criminals. A crowd was starting to gather around them as Jason grabbed the arm of one alpha trying to take a swing at him and painfully twisted it behind the guys back. Jason could see people point their cameras at the fight and now they really had to go.

Jason kicked one guy in the back of his knee, making him crumple to the ground, and pushed the alpha who’s arm he was holding into another one, then grabbed Roy’s shirt and dragged him away from the other alphas now mostly lying on the floor, holding their various injuries and yelling threats of revenge after them.

Roy followed him without protest and moments later they were running through the crowd, bursting through a side door leading into an alley behind the club.

When the door fell closed behind them, silencing the deafening music and shutting away the roiling scent of hundreds of people, Jason and Roy stopped a few feet down the alley and suddenly Jason was painfully aware of his hand gripping Roy’s shirt, how close he was to the alpha, the familiar scent of honey and pine he had missed so much once again surrounding him.

Their eyes met and before Jason could react Roy was pushing him back against a wall, his mouth crashing onto Jason’s in a desperate kiss and Jason melted into him, kissing back just as passionately. His arms came up around Roy, gripping his back and pulling him even closer as his blood pounded through him in a mix of arousal and adrenaline rush.

Roy’s mouth was like fire on his, his hands digging into Jason’s hips relentlessly, and in this moment Jason wished they would never let go. When Roy ground their hips together Jason couldn’t hold back the helpless moan that escaped him, swallowed greedily by Roy as he was licking deeper into Jason’s mouth. Jason brought his hand up, burying his fist in the long red strands of Roy’s hair, making Roy gasp against him and he felt desire burn deep in his belly at the sound he hadn’t heard in so long.

Roy let his thigh slip between Jason’s legs and without thought he hooked one of his legs around the alpha, shuddering at the dragging pressure against his groin. Roy let out a low groan, pressing Jason even harder against the rough wall as his lips parted from Jason’s and he began to trail kisses along his jawline and down to his neck, leaving Jason breathless.

“Fuck, Roy,” Jason moaned, tipping his head back against the wall as his eyes fell closed, baring his throat for his alpha.

“I’ve missed you so much, Jaybird,” Roy gasped against his neck, teeth scraping lightly over Jason’s sensitive skin, making him let out a high omegan whine, a sound that was submission and demand for more in one.

“Me too,” Jason gasped, “you have no idea.”

Roy growled, possessive and pleased at his admission, and Jason shivered at the warm feeling that bloomed deep inside him at the sound. Roy’s scent was a heady mix of arousal and need and happiness and Jason knew his own would match.

When Roy’s lips closed over his scent gland, biting down lightly and sucking on his skin, Jason’s whole body clenched at the intensity of the pleasure that was cursing through him, clutching Roy tighter against him, grinding their hips together as he cried out Roy’s name.

The burst of alpha pheromones he could smell in answer from Roy was intoxicating and he wanted nothing more than to feel him even more intimately, have him inside him again. But there was also something in Roy’s scent that pulled him slightly back from the intense need pulsing through his body.

There was an unnatural edge to his smell, something chemical and familiar, and suddenly Jason remembered breathing in the exact same note from his mother as a kid when she held him close to scent him.

The realisation that he was smelling heroin in Roy’s scent was like a bucket of ice, pulling Jason harshly back into reality. Suddenly he could feel the rough brick wall digging painfully into his back, the crispy night air chilling his exposed skin, and he remembered why he had come here today.

“Roy,” Jason said, tone way less aroused than only a few seconds ago, but the alpha didn’t react, simply continued to trail sucking kisses along Jason’s neck.

Now Jason also became aware of Roy’s hand on his jeans, the button already open and in the process of opening the zipper, so he brought one of his hands down and lightly caught Roy’s.

“Roy, stop.”

The hand on his zipper stilled and the kisses stopped. For a long moment they just stood there, pressed together from hip to chest, breathing heavily. Roy’s lips were still on Jason’s neck when he finally murmured, “Yeah, you said you wanted to talk.”

His voice was resigned and for a split second all Jason wanted to do was tell him to forget about that, they should continue making out and go back to that feeling of elation being together gave them. But he knew they couldn’t do that, so he nodded silently, feeling Roy finally pull back from him, straightening up to look at him as Jason let his leg slide down to the floor again.

Roy’s eyes were filled with so much pain and longing Jason could feel it echo in his chest, felt his insides crumple at ever making the person he loved most feel like that. It only lasted for a moment though, then Roy visibly shut his emotions away, his expression going neutral as he let go of Jason and stepped back far enough so they weren’t touching anymore.

“I thought our last talk was enough,” Roy said, his voice cold, but Jason could hear the hidden note of sadness and self-loathing underneath. “You made your opinion of me very clear.”

“You know I didn’t mean those things how you interpreted them. Roy, I still love you. I just want to help you.”

Jason could see the coldness in Roy’s eyes start to thaw at those words and took a step closer, catching one of Roy’s hands lightly in his.

“Please Roy. You know this isn’t good for you. I’m not judging you, I just want you to get better.”

Roy’s gaze fell down to the floor as if he couldn’t bear to look at Jason anymore, but he didn’t pull his hand out of Jason’s.

“Jay, I-“

Roy’s voice was hesitant and he broke off with a frustrated sigh.

“I don’t know if I can get better.”

His words were quiet and Jason felt something wrench in his heart at the confession. He squeezed Roy’s hand tightly, intertwining their fingers as he stepped closer, right into Roy’s personal space, making him look up at Jason again.

“You can. It will be hard, but you can do this, Roy. I believe in you and I will be with you every step of the way. Just…please don’t give up on yourself.”

Roy’s eyes stayed locked onto his for a long time and Jason felt hope bloom in his chest. But then the alpha shook his head, looking sad and lost and Jason felt his heart sink.

“I can’t ask that of you, Jason. I won’t make you go through this, not with what happened to your mom. I love you too much for that.”

Roy was taking a step back and Jason was suddenly desperate, knew he had to stop him or it might be too late.

“Roy, please. I can’t lose you like this. Don’t you see that that would be worse for me than helping you?”

“I would never forgive myself if I dragged you into this. You don’t deserve this, Jay,” Roy said and there were tears now in his eyes. “I don’t deserve you,” he whispered and he looked like he truly believed it.

“That is bullshit and you know it,” Jason said heatedly. “This has nothing to do with your worth. You made a mistake, you have a problem, but this is nothing you can’t overcome.”

“It’s not that easy.”

Jason leaned forward, pressing a soft kiss to Roy’s lips and he could taste the salt of his tears, smell the sour note of despair in his scent.

“It won’t be easy, but you’re not alone. I love you and I will help you however I can. Ollie and Dinah love you and they will be there for you. Shit, I bet my whole family won’t be far behind. There are so many people who care about you Roy, you don’t have to do this on your own.”

Jason could see Roy wavering, could see the uncertainty in those green eyes, but after a few moments Roy looked away from him once again.

“I’ll…I’ll think about it, Jaybird, but I’m not ready for anyone else to know.”

His eyes came back up to meet Jason’s and they were still wet with tears and pleading now.

“Please, I know you’re right, but I just can’t…not yet.”

Jason let out a sigh, but he squeezed Roy’s hand. It wasn’t perfect, but at least Roy had admitted that he knew he needed help. That was the first step.

“Okay. I won’t tell anyone, I promised. But Roy, you need to get help. Quitting on your own is dangerous. We can look into programs, NA, whatever, but we need to do something.”

Jason could read the reluctance on Roy’s expression, knew he wasn’t yet on board with such a drastic step.

“At least think about it,” he said and that got him a hesitant nod.

They just stood there for long minutes, holding hands, leaning into each other and Jason let his head rest against Roy’s shoulder, breathing in that familiar scent. Roy was nosing into his hair, his free hand coming up to rest on Jason’s lower back as Jason let his hand grip tightly onto Roy’s shirt.

They stood together long enough that Jason knew he would once again smell like Roy when he made his way home, and that Roy in turn would bear his scent mark just the same, and he felt like something settled back into place deep inside him at that thought.

“You’re the only one I’ve ever wanted, Roy,” Jason said, quiet but firm, hearing Roy’s breath hitch slightly. “You’re my best friend and the love of my life. Don’t ever say you don’t deserve me again. It’s not true.”

Roy didn’t answer, but Jason could feel him pull them even closer together. He would just have to reiterate that sentiment in the future until Roy accepted it.

When they finally pulled away from each other it was with slow movements, neither willing to fully let go, and their hands stayed intertwined even as they walked out of the alley and without words turned towards the zeta tube.

“I should get back to Gotham,” Jason said reluctantly once they had arrived.

Roy just nodded and Jason leaned in for another brief kiss before he finally let go of the alpha’s hand.

Chapter Text

Jason made his way back to Gotham and into the Manor without problem. A look at the clock once he was back in his room told him that his family was most likely still on patrol in the city and as he had no missed calls, Alfred hadn’t noticed his absence.

After a quick shower he went to bed and for the first time in more than a month he didn’t feel an ache deep inside his chest as he lay alone in the darkness. He was still worried, knew Roy had a long way to go still, but he felt that the first step had been made tonight. And if they could accomplish that, they could make it the rest of the way.

He fell asleep before anyone came home, resting soundly for the first time since that fateful day a few weeks back.

Jason was still in a good mood when he made his way to the dining room the next morning, but as he sat down Bruce levelled a stern look at him and he felt the eyes of his brothers on him as well, and he immediately knew that his little excursion hadn’t gone as unnoticed as he had thought.

“Morning,” he said, trying to sound innocent, but he could tell by Bruce’s darkening look that he wasn’t fooled.

“How is the headache?” Bruce asked and Jason couldn’t help but cringe a little at his flat tone.

He could tell it would be no use trying to lie, so he decided to come clean immediately. Not like he had really done anything bad, especially if you took into consideration how this family normally spent its Saturday nights.

“I can explain-“ Jason began, but before he could get any further Bruce pulled out a newspaper and let it fall on the table, the headline turned towards Jason.

“Yes, why don’t you.”

Jason let out a groan as he read the bold top letters of the Gotham Gazette. Seriously, this newspaper was trash, why did Bruce even buy it?

Underage billionaire son starts fight in nightclub

Wayne son still a violent street kid after all these years?

Underneath there was a very well chosen picture of the fight someone at the club must have taken with their phone. Jason’s face was perfectly in frame as he was twisting the arm of one alpha and simultaneously kicking another in the back of the leg. In the background he could see Roy, but his back was turned and his name didn’t seem to appear in the article. News stories about the Waynes were far more interesting and liable to sell papers in Gotham than ones about the Queens, anyway, but Jason was sure that his family had recognized the redhead too. And, as he saw when he skimmed quickly over it, the article mentioned the club was in Star City, so it wasn’t really hard to figure out what Jason had done there.

“I went to see Roy,” Jason said and he could see his brothers exchange glances at that while Bruce’s expression twisted, a complicated mix between hopeful and apprehensive.

“That’s…something we will talk about later. First I would like to know why you snuck out and how you started a fight in that club. A club you are legally not allowed to enter, I might add.”

“Because I knew you wouldn’t approve of me going to talk to Roy.”

“Jason,” Bruce sighed and Jason wasn’t sure if that was disappointment or exasperation in his voice, but he didn’t really care.

“I know you wouldn’t have, so don’t deny it. I just needed to talk to him alone. And what’s done is done, okay?”

Bruce gave him a scrutinizing look but he seemed to come to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth fighting Jason on this, so he moved on.

“And the fight?”

“We won. What else?”

Jason knew he sounded like a petulant child, but he didn’t care. The headline already made him feel bad enough about the fight. Not because he had participated in it, those assholes had had it coming, but because the press was framing it once again like he was some savage kid Bruce just couldn’t control. The gossip rags had loved to publish stories like that when he had been new to the family, making him out to be a feral little omega with no self-control, asking the question of why Bruce would even want a problem child like that.

They had stopped largely after Bruce had sued every news outlet that published such a story, but the damage had been done. Gotham’s high society would never let him forget his roots, always bringing those stories back up, even if it was under the guise of ‘look how far that boy has come’, but Jason knew what they truly thought of him. This would just give them new ammunition and make everyone think they had been right about him all along.

“The article says you started the fight,” Bruce said and Jason felt himself bristle at that.

“So if it says that it must be true, right?”

“No one is saying that,” Dick stepped in, voice soothing. “We’d just like to hear from you what happened. It says you and I guess Roy took out six alphas without getting hit once.”

There was a smile on Dick’s face at those last words and Jason could hear the pride shine through clear as day, making his anger simmer back down.

“Yeah, they weren’t really a challenge for us,” Jason said and then he admitted in a slightly less assured voice, “and I guess technically Roy threw the first punch, but that alpha asshole had it coming.”

“How?” Bruce asked, still stern, but sounding more interested in finding out what had happened than angry with Jason.

Jason hesitated for a few seconds. He knew his family wouldn’t like the explanation and Bruce tended to overreact to certain situations, but he also didn’t want to lie.

“The guy said some things to me and then he grabbed my ass and…and scruffed me, so Roy pulled him off and punched him.”

Just as he had expected, Bruce’s expression darkened and his jaw visibly clenched as he let out a low growl. Jason could also hear Dick suck in a sharp breath next to him, his hand coming up to grip Jason’s shoulder reassuringly while both of their younger brothers had matching outraged expressions on their faces.

“He scruffed you?” Bruce ground out, tone dangerous and promising retribution.

Something deep inside Jason felt comforted and protected at the low alpha growl his father was using. It wasn’t that he couldn’t protect himself, but the knowledge that his father, his whole pack, would be there for him, still managed to surprise him at times.

“I could have gotten out of it, you know that, B,” Jason reassured him.

“I know. That is not the point,” Bruce growled.

Scruffing an omega against their will could be persecuted as physical or even sexual assault and with the stuff that alpha had been saying to Jason, it was definitely the latter. But there was always the difficulty in proving that it had been done without consent.

“I’m fine, B. It was just for a second. And I think Roy broke his nose, so he learned his lesson.”

“Which one was it?” Bruce asked, voice still filled with that aggressive edge, so Jason looked at the picture and pointed to the alpha.

He could see Bruce memorize that image for a few seconds and he knew his father would find out everything there was about that guy. Maybe he would even get a visit from the Batman and Jason didn’t feel the least bit sorry for him. He didn’t know why Roy would even hang out with a guy like that (or all of the alphas who had been there yesterday), but he was starting to get a better picture of how his boyfriend had started to slip into this whole mess.

“You’re really okay?” Bruce asked then, tone softer, looking up at Jason with assessing eyes. Jason nodded and his father seemed satisfied with what he saw, so he let it go, his whole demeanour relaxing a bit.

“You and Roy talked?” he asked after a brief hesitation and the switch from protective alpha to awkward father made Jason’s lips twitch up into a smile.

Before he could answer though he heard a quiet snort from the other side of the table accompanied by a snarky little “Talked, right”.

Everyone looked at Tim, who seemed startled for a second by the attention, obviously not aware that what he said had been loud enough for them to hear. He reacted quickly though, putting on wide, innocent doe eyes that would have fooled anyone but the people sitting at this table.

“What?” he said, but his little act was immediately broken when Damian chimed in, voice gleeful.

“Father, Drake has hacked into security cameras without permission again.”

“Shut up, you little snitch,” Tim hissed, but Damian just continued to look smug.

Bruce only held out his hand with a raised eyebrow and after a second of glowering at his younger brother Tim pulled out a tablet from under the table, handing it to their father. The alpha studied the screen for a second, let out a deep sigh and then turned the device so Jason and Dick could also see.

Jason felt himself blush as Dick let out an incredulous “Really Jay?” next to him.

Of course Tim had to find a camera that captured the alley behind the club and of course he had to stop the footage at a point when Jason and Roy were making out against the wall. At least the image was kind of grainy and from the quality Jason could tell there was likely no audio. He really didn’t want his family to know what they had discussed.

“You just went back to Harper after he made you so miserable?” Damian asked, his voice filled with incomprehension and an edge of anger. Jason could see variations of the same thought playing out across all of his family members’ faces.

“I didn’t just go back to him,” Jason said and he couldn’t keep the indignation from his voice. He wasn’t just some omega who ran back to his alpha no matter what they had done and his family should know that. “We talked, we’ll work on what was wrong. You don’t know what is going on, so keep out of it.”

His words might have been more aggressive than he had intended, but they seemed to give the others pause.

“Just…be careful, Jay,” Dick said eventually. “We don’t want to see you get hurt again.”

Jason nodded and soon everyone finally started in on their breakfast. Bruce was studying him for a few moments longer, but Jason met his eyes and whatever he saw there must have convinced his father he knew what he was doing, because he also let the matter drop.

At least the part about Roy, because when Jason reached for a piece of toast and started to butter it Bruce called his name, making him look back up at his father.

“You still snuck out yesterday, that means you’re grounded for a week.”

“B-“ Jason began, but Bruce wouldn’t let him finish.

“You know the rules. No patrol, straight home after school and no visits to Star City. I’m happy for you that you and Roy are back together, but this isn’t up for debate. Is that clear?”

Jason scowled, but he nodded his head sharply and looked back down at his plate, buttering his toast with more force than necessary. He had known this would be a risk if Bruce found out and a week wasn’t even that bad, but he really wanted to see Roy again after so long without him. And more importantly, he needed to get him to seek help, real, professional help with his drug problem and that would be a lot easier to discuss in person than on the phone.

Still, Jason and Roy talked and wrote a lot that week and Jason was convinced his boyfriend was on the path towards getting better. They had both started to research rehab programs and Roy had even gone to an NA meeting, but the one point he just would not relent on was telling anyone else. Jason didn’t know why he was so adamant about it, but Roy strictly refused any conversation on the topic Jason attempted. As far as Jason knew, neither Ollie nor Dinah had ever done anything worse to punish Roy than ground him, so he just couldn’t understand what Roy was so afraid of and he didn’t want to explain it to him, either.

But as long as his addiction was a secret, Roy couldn’t seek real treatment. Roy had tentatively brought up the idea of just quitting on his own, but Jason had seen how ugly that was. His mom had tried that a handful of times, either because she had decided in a rare moment of lucidity that she didn’t want to take heroin anymore or because they just didn’t have the cash for another dose. It had been horrible every time and of course it had never worked. Jason himself always had to go out and somehow get her the next hit back then once the withdrawal got too bad and he just couldn’t stand to see her in so much pain any longer.

He did not want Roy to ever go through that.

Still, despite the heavy weight of Roy’s drug use, they also talked like they used to a lot. They talked about school, their families, whatever big news there were in the superhero community, and Jason had missed the way Roy could make him laugh so much over the last weeks. The easy way Roy understood him, how little Jason had to say for him to hum in agreement or laugh at a punchline he had barely finished, it made him feel like a part that had been broken out of his heart had been put back into place.

He knew his family was still vary of this new development, especially Dick and Damian tended to grimace or scowl if Jason so much as mentioned Roy, but he was sure they would come around. Tim and Alfred seemed cautious, but they never said anything and Jason got the feeling they were trusting his judgement in this matter, something he appreciated very much. Bruce was obviously also concerned, keeping a closer eye on Jason than usual, and he had even initiated a few awkward conversations asking how Jason and Roy were doing now and if they needed any advice, which was nice in theory, but mortifying to live through – for both of them.

All in all, the week being grounded wasn’t terrible, but Jason still woke up the coming Monday already excited to finally go to Star City in the afternoon.

Of course, life couldn’t be that easy. When Alfred picked him and his brothers up from school his expression was pinched in the way that told them immediately that something was amiss. As he pulled the car smoothly into traffic he started to explain.

“There has been an Arkham breakout half an hour ago, your father is already helping the police. From the first reports it seems nearly the entire inmates of the B wing escaped, so he will definitely need assistance. Master Richard has already called in sick and is on his way, but you should also be ready to suit up.”

They all nodded, Tim immediately pulling out one of the tablets he always had at hand, starting to look into the situation.

It was only the B wing, luckily, which didn’t house the absolute worst Arkham had to offer, but the sheer number of escaped inmates presented a challenge for the police. Once they were back at the Cave Nightwing had already joined Batman out on the streets and the manhunt was in full swing.

Bruce ordered the three of them to come out into the city, but he had them do primarily perimeter control, making certain that the escaped convicts couldn’t get deeper into Gotham. Jason knew that Bruce mostly did that to keep Tim and Damian out of the fray, as he didn’t like them to be involved in real fights on their own yet, and Jason was tasked with watching over the two baby birds.

It wasn’t very exciting for them and Damian was complaining the whole time of course, setting Jason’s teeth on edge. When he had finally snapped at his little brother over the comms that he also had better things to do than babysit him, Damian had shut up, but it had left a bitter taste for Jason.

Dammit, why did everything always have to be so complicated? Now he was feeling guilty for taking out his frustration on his little brother on top of his disappointment of not getting to see Roy.

Most of the inmates were captured that day, but one rogue had also gotten free and bringing him back in took nearly a week.

As it was the Riddler there were no huge fights involved, but Jason and his family spent days following his newest clues, solving puzzles and playing his games. Jason texted Roy updates every free minute he got and Roy always had the snarkiest comments to Riddler’s farce of the day, but texting just wasn’t the same as seeing him in person. He just wanted to be with Roy again so bad.

He finally managed to get to Star City that Sunday. Ollie and Dinah were also home, welcoming him with very wide smiles that made everything seem kind of awkward, as if he hadn’t been there a million times before.

Roy must have also thought this was weird, muttering “Why can’t they just be cool” under his breath as he grabbed Jason’s hand and tugged him up to his room.

Jason had honestly intended to talk to Roy first, but the second the bedroom door was closed behind them Jason’s lips were on Roy’s, and before he knew what was happening they were lying on the bed, making out and starting to undress each other.

There was no doubt where this would have ended if there hadn’t been heavy footsteps in the hallway followed by a knock on the door.

“Hey, what do you guys want for lunch?”

Jason would have burst out laughing at the incredulous look on Roy’s face if he hadn’t clapped a hand over his mouth. Roy just sighed deeply before calling back an answer to Ollie’s question and then the footsteps walked away again.

It seemed they weren’t trusted alone in a bedroom any longer because every few minutes there would be footsteps passing Roy’s door or a knock and some question from Ollie or Dinah.

Jason wasn’t sure if they simply didn’t want them to have sex (which fair, they would have done that), or if they were making sure Roy and Jason weren’t getting into another argument or break up again or something.

Whatever it was, sex definitely wasn’t an option with the frequent check-ins, but they also made talking about certain topics a lot more complicated, because as soon as they heard someone Roy would clamp up, a look of fear on his face, and he wouldn’t continue the conversation until whoever had checked on them had been gone again for at least a few minutes.

Jason honestly didn’t know where this intense fear of Ollie and Dinah finding out came from and whenever he tried to talk about that, Roy just looked away and changed the subject.

In the end they hadn’t made a lot of progress that day, but as Jason simply laid in Roy’s arms, enjoying their closeness once again, he didn’t consider this a failure, but more of a natural step in this process.

Jason could feel himself begin to drift off, feeling content and warm and happy in this moment, feeling Roy’s warm weight against him and his scent surrounding him like a comforting blanket. Roy wasn’t far from sleep either, his breaths coming slow and even, tickling Jason’s neck where he was pressed close against his back.

“I like your new shampoo,” Roy eventually mumbled sleepily and it took Jason a few seconds to rouse himself enough to understand what his boyfriend had said.

“What?” he asked, voice amused.

“You smell…different,” Roy said, pressing his nose into Jason’s hair and inhaling deeply. “Sweeter. I like it.”

Jason laughed. “I’ll tell Alfred, he buys it. I don’t even know what brand it is.”

“Hmm,” Roy hummed and Jason could tell he would really fall asleep if he didn’t do something now.

“I have to go home in a bit,” Jason said, eying the darkening sky outside. It wasn’t like he had school in the morning, it was actually the start of the summer break, but Bruce had been very clear on his curfew this evening after the sneaking out incident two weeks ago.

“I know,” Roy said, and he sounded just as unhappy about it as Jason felt.

“Maybe you can come over this week,” Jason said, turning around to look at the alpha. “Bruce and Alfred leave tomorrow for a business trip until Friday. Dick stays over to babysit, but I’m sure he won’t mind.”

He wasn’t actually sure, not with the way Dick was still tensing up at the mere mention of Roy, but he could get his older brother to see reason…he hoped. Roy also seemed sceptical judging by the raised eyebrow he gave Jason, but he didn’t comment.

“Ollie mentioned some mission next week, so I’ll have to see about that, but I’ll call you, okay?”

Jason nodded, leaning forward for a kiss and then he reluctantly got up and headed home.

The way Bruce was very unsubtly hovering near the zeta tube when Jason arrived, pretending to be tinkering with something on the workbench, was kind of ridiculous Jason thought, but also very sweet.

“Shouldn’t you be out on patrol?” Jason asked, strolling up to his father and peering over his shoulder to see what he was doing.

“Dick has it handled,” Bruce said and Jason let out a snort.

“You can just admit you were waiting for me to come home,” he said, bumping his shoulder against Bruce’s.

“Hrrn.”

There was a long silence and Jason was about to head for the stairs when Bruce turned to him, face open and earnest in a way that made Jason pause.

“I don’t want you to think that I don’t trust you or your judgement. Because I do. I just…want to make sure that you’re really okay and won’t get hurt again.”

“I know that, dad,” Jason said softly, stepping closer so he could hug Bruce, because he knew how hard saying something like this was for his father. And hearing how much Bruce cared for him, loved him, made him so happy even after all these years.

Bruce hugged him back, letting his cheek rest on top of Jason’s head to scent him, and Jason closed his eyes as the bond of his pack was reaffirmed.

“You smell like Roy again,” Bruce grumbled eventually and Jason had to hide his eye-roll against his father’s chest.

“Don’t worry,” he said, looking up at Bruce with a smirk, “I’m sure Ollie and Dinah already told you that nothing happened. Or are you telling me these check-ups weren’t your idea?”

Bruce had tells when you knew what to look for and that twitch of his right eye was definitely an admission of guilt.

“Knew it,” Jason muttered, but there was no heat behind his words.

“Smartass,” Bruce said, ruffling Jason’s hair, but Jason only leaned back into the embrace, still smiling.

Chapter Text

Bruce and Alfred had to leave at noon the following day, so the whole family had a long breakfast together before. The way they were both giving Dick instructions on what to do, what to look out for and who to call in case something happened was kind of hilarious, especially coupled with the increasingly annoyed look on Dick’s face.

“Oh my God,” he eventually shouted, levelling a glare at Bruce who had just started to quiz Dick on the phone numbers of various paediatricians in Gotham – for the third time. “I know how to look after my little brothers, I’m not going to get them killed. You trusted me with outer space missions when I was 15, but you think I will fuck up in my own home? Come on, Bruce.”

Jason, Tim and Damian were all snickering and even Alfred’s eyes sparkled suspiciously. Bruce seemed to be speechless for a few long seconds before he eventually got out a mild “Language!”

Dick continued to stare at him, only stopping once Bruce mumbled a quiet “Fine” and went back to his breakfast.

They all said goodbye to their father and grandfather in the hallway, getting hugged and scented before the two left with a last “Don’t burn the house down, please.”

As soon as the car had left the driveway, Dick turned to look at his brothers, clapping his hands with a gleeful expression on his face.

“So, who is ready for the Manor Olympics?”

It was something Dick and Jason had invented years back during a very dreary week of summer holidays. It involved anything from ballroom skating to stair sledding and Bruce and Alfred had both forbidden it on pain of grounding until 30, so now they only did it when both of them weren’t around.

Tim and Damian lit up and Jason also had a huge grin on his face.

“Prepare to get annihilated, Dickiebird.”

“In your dreams, Little Wing.”

They spent the whole day tumbling, running and skidding through the Manor and when they fell on the couch in the movie theatre in the evening, they were all sweaty and exhausted, but Jason would rank this as one of his all time favourite days with his brothers.

Judging by the smiles and laughs all around the room, that wasn’t only his opinion. They settled down, Tim with an ice-pack on his ankle because he had twisted it in the antiquities obstacle race through the closed off north wing while jumping across some of the furniture there, but other than that no one had sustained any injuries. All in all, a very successful brotherly bonding day.

When Jason said so to Dick his older brother laughed and said “It can still get better” as he ruffled Jason’s hair before getting up and leaving the room. He came back with his arms filled with a mountain of junk-food and Jason could only stare at him with wide eyes, the expression mirrored by the other two.

“How did you get this into the house without Pennyworth seeing?” Damian asked, voice filled with pure awe.

“I have my ways,” Dick said smugly, opening his arms and letting his bounty fall on the coffee table.

Tim and Damian were rifling through it before the last bag of chips had even landed and Jason could only stare wide-eyed at this display of pure childishness before he looked back up at Dick.

“You know they will be unbearable with this much sugar in them, right?”

“That’s why I’m eating just as much sugar,” Dick said, grinning at him as he took a huge bag of marshmallows, ripped it open and shoved a handful in his mouth.

That is one approach, Jason thought as he elbowed between his brothers to get something for himself before all the good stuff was gone.


Jason woke suddenly, the churning feeling in his gut everything he registered, and before he even consciously decided to he had scrambled out of bed and into his bathroom, getting the toilet open just in time to be sick.

God, he was never eating this much garbage in one evening again, no matter what his brothers said.

When he made his way down to the kitchen he felt better already and seeing Dick slumped over the counter, his face practically inside his cup of coffee, made him feel vindicated.

“So how about that much sugar in the evening?” he asked, earning a groan from his older brother.

“It was worth it,” Dick mumbled, unrepentant, making Jason laugh.

Their younger brothers also looked hungover from their sugar-highs and the second day without parental figures in the Manor was decidedly less energetic.

Bruce and Alfred called in the afternoon, asking how everything was going, and by then they were all fine again and very convincingly affirmed that no mischief had taken place in the Manor, they would never even think about that. The heavy sigh Bruce let out was answer enough, but as long as there was no proof, they were good.

Roy had also called Jason to let him know that he and Oliver would be on a mission for a few days and that he would contact him as soon as he was back.

“I’ll miss you,” Jason said and he could hear the smile in Roy’s voice when he answered, “I’ll miss you too. I love you, Jaybird.”

“Love you too. Be safe.”

After he hung up he turned around to find Damian standing behind him, looking at him with a pinched expression.

“Dames?” Jason asked when his little brother didn’t say anything.

“He hurt you,” Damian began slowly, like he didn’t know how to put into words whatever he wanted to say. Jason waited for him to elaborate and after a few seconds the younger omega went on, “He hurt you more than I have ever seen anything else hurt you. And still you just…you still love him. How?”

Damian sounded so confused and earnest, like he had really tried to comprehend but couldn’t.

Jason blew out a breath. This wasn’t something that was easy to explain, but he would try for his little brother. He laid a hand on Damian’s shoulder, guiding him over to the sofa and sitting down next to him, then turned so he could look him in the eyes.

After a long moment of thought he began. “The people you love are always the ones who can hurt you the most, Dami. And Roy…I really do love him. And you’re right, he did something that really hurt me, but…but he is also doing everything he can now to make it better. And if you love someone you don’t just love them if they are perfect. If they make a mistake and they work on making it up to you, truly mean to do better in the future, you can forgive them. And I know Roy didn’t mean to hurt me, but sometimes things just happen, if that makes sense.”

Jason didn’t feel like he had done the situation justice, but Damian’s eyes were intently focused onto his, seeming to look into his soul, and he couldn’t look away. Finally Damian blinked and the spell was broken, it was just his little brother watching him.

“I think I understand,” Damian said, voice careful and quiet. “But how can you be sure it won’t happen again in the future? It was so bad, why risk getting hurt again?”

“If you think like that you can never have any friends or family, never love anything. Shutting yourself away like that…it hurts you more in the long run. And I trust Roy not to hurt me again, just like he trusts me not to hurt him. That's what love is, Dami. Making yourself vulnerable and trusting the other person not to take advantage of that.”

Damian seemed to contemplate his words for a long time and eventually Jason just pulled him into a hug, nuzzling his cheek in the distinct way omegas did to pups. Jason didn’t do that often to his little brother, especially as Damian normally bristled at being treated like a pup, but today he leaned into the touch, letting Jason scent him until he was satisfied.

“It sounds scary,” Damian whispered eventually, leaning against Jason’s shoulder, Jason’s arms around him.

“It is,” Jason confirmed, because it was true. “But when you find someone who is worth it, that is nothing in comparison to how happy they make you.”

Damian hummed, but didn’t say anything else.

That night they all went out on patrol together, and even though it wasn’t their usual MO, Jason asked to patrol with Damian. Dick had looked at him in surprise, but nodded without protest, so Bluejay and Robin were seen jumping across the rooftops of Gotham in the darkness later, while Nightwing and Red Robin were somewhere on the other side of the city. Jason just felt like he should stay close to his little brother after their talk and given how often Damian came to him that evening, bumping into him or even leaning into his side, he seemed to have been right.

They all had strict orders from Batman to only deal with whatever was absolutely necessary and leave any big busts until he was back in town, so it was a relatively relaxed night, and when they were home again Damian gave him a sudden hug after they had changed into their pyjamas.

“If he makes you happy, then I can accept it,” he said and then quickly let go, vanishing up the stairs.


Jason woke to a queasy stomach the second morning in a row and as he was bringing up what remained of his dinner he started to wonder if he had caught some kind of stomach bug. Last night he definitely hadn’t eaten a ton of junk food, so that shouldn’t have been the problem again.

He felt fine though when he made his way downstairs, so he put it out of his mind and instead began to prepare breakfast for him and his brothers. Not like he would ever trust Dick with meal preparation as far as he could throw him and the two little ones were even worse in the kitchen.

After breakfast Dick and Damian made their way down into the Cave and when they came back up they had the addition of Jon Kent with them. Whenever he came over to the Manor Clark and Lois insisted he take the zeta even though the little Superboy assured them all he would be fine just flying to Gotham, but that didn’t sit well with any of the adults.

Jason was just finishing the washing up, Tim drying off the plates next to him, when the three of them came into the kitchen, Jon excitedly bouncing next to Damian and already chattering a mile a minute about some new farm animals his grandparents had bought recently.

Damian was trying to remain stoic, but Jason could see the delighted smile trying to take over his face and he always found it adorable how the Super brought out the childish and carefree side in his little brother.

“Hey Jon,” Tim greeted, abandoning the rest of his work to walk over and give the little alpha a hug.

The scowl on Damian’s face was priceless and Jason exchanged a smirk with Dick. They had long since been betting on whether this childhood infatuation would turn into something more once Damian and Jon got a little older and Jason was very firmly convinced, but only time would tell.

For now Damian was practically dragging Jon away from Tim, who only shot his brother an amused look.

“Hey Jason,” Jon called, oblivious to what was going on next to him, waving over at Jason, and he turned around to wave back.

As he looked at him Jon’s expression suddenly changed however, the smile falling from his face as his brows wrinkled in confusion and then his eyes got huge as they snapped down to Jason’s stomach.

Jason looked down, but he didn’t see anything unusual, only some dampness and soap bubbles from the dishes.

“Something wrong?” he asked, looking back up at Jon.

“No,” he stammered out, gaze coming back up to meet Jason’s and he could tell the little alpha was trying to appear honest, but he just wasn’t good at lying. “Nothing’s wrong, just thought I saw something, but I didn’t. Hey Dami, lets go to your room, you wanted to show me your new easel.”

With that Jon grabbed Damian’s wrist and dragged him out of the kitchen.

“That was weird,” Dick said after a long pause and Tim nodded in agreement, all three still looking at the doorway.

“Yeah,” Jason said slowly, looking back down at his shirt, but there was nothing special there. A foreboding feeling was churning in his gut, but eventually he forgot about this little interaction and went on with his day, going for a run and then to the library to read.

Jason was in the kitchen again a few hours later, throwing together lunch for the five of them, when there was a soft noise behind him and he turned from the stove, finding Jon Kent once again looking at him with wide eyes.

“Hey,” Jason said, and when that got no reaction he tacked on, “What’s up?”

Jon was hovering by the doorway and now that Jason looked closer he could see that he was actually hovering. The kid was usually pretty good at controlling his more obvious powers, so for him to just be floating around the kitchen…something was going on and Jason wanted to know what.

“Is something wrong?” Jason asked, taking a step closer, and that seemed to snap Jon out of whatever trance he had been in as he finally really looked at Jason. His eyes seemed troubled, but determined, so Jason braced for bad news. Whatever this was, it was sure to be a headache, he thought.

“Can I talk to you?” Jon asked and Jason couldn’t help his quippy “You already are.”

The little eye-roll that earned him was better than the wide eyed worry he had been faced with before and he felt his lips quirk up.

“Sure, kid,” he said, voice now softer, “What is it?”

Jon hovered closer, seeming to notice what he was doing halfway through the kitchen, then dropped down and walked the last few feet, coming to stand uncertainly in front of Jason.

He had enough experience with Damian and Tim to know what to do in a situation like this, so he just waited patiently for the kid to say whatever was on his mind.

“This morning I heard…I mean, do you know…I’m not sure I should…”

Jon was biting his lip, eyes flitting up to meet Jason’s and away again as he bounced nervously in front of him, so Jason laid a gentle hand on his shoulder to calm him down.

“Just take a deep breath and then start again. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be fine.”

Jon looked uncertainly up at him, but he did take a deliberate breath and stopped bouncing.

“You’re pregnant, Jason.”

It took a moment for his brain to process the words and then Jason’s mind seemed to freeze. That…he couldn’t have heard that right, could he?

Those earnest blue eyes were still staring up at him and when Jason didn’t say anything Jon started to babble, trying to explain.

“I can hear the heartbeat, but my mum says I shouldn’t just tell people something like this, because of my secret identity, and because it is not polite, but you know about my powers and I don’t think you know you’re pregnant, because Dami would have told me and-“

“Kid,” Jason choked out, stopping the stream of words.

Wide blue eyes were still staring up at him and Jason felt his hand squeeze Jon’s shoulder without himself actively deciding to do so.

“Are you…are you sure?”

His voice sounded faint, was higher than usual, and he could feel himself start to get dizzy when Jon nodded.

“My teacher was pregnant last year and I knew before she did. I could hear the baby’s heartbeat and it sounds just like that,” he said, nodding down to Jason’s stomach.

Jason let his eyes wander down like he could suddenly see some proof himself, but there was only his t-shirt.

He was…Was he really pregnant?

Shit!

Shit, shit, shit!

Jason took in a few deep breaths, fighting back the fuzziness that was creeping in around his vision. He had to approach this calmly.

First he had to make sure he really was pregnant. He believed Jon, but he needed to be absolutely sure. And also find out if someone else already knew.

“Did you tell anyone? Damian?” Jason asked once he found his voice again and Jon shook his head.

“Good. Please don’t say anything to him, okay? Thank you for telling me, but don’t tell anyone else.”

Jon nodded.

“Are you okay?” the kid asked and Jason had to smile because he truly was his father’s son, always so concerned for other people.

“I am. Don’t worry. It’s just…a surprise.”

He squeezed Jon’s shoulder again before letting go. He intended to turn back to the stove, the food would start burning any moment, but suddenly two slender arms were wrapped around his middle and then he was being hugged by a ten-year-old half-kryptonian. Jason was frozen for a moment before he wrapped his arms around the kid, hugging him back.

Eventually Jon made his way out of the kitchen and up to Damian’s room again and Jason was left stirring something in the pot, barely aware of what he was even cooking, his mind a million miles away.

Could he really be pregnant?

Jon said he heard the heartbeat and…and now that he thought about it he had been sick two mornings in a row, which wasn’t very common for him, even with all the junk-food they had eaten. And Roy had said he smelled sweeter. Fuck, if his scent was already changing and he was experiencing morning sickness he was along a few weeks at least – which made sense given that the last time he had sex was on the day of their breakup…which had been about two months ago.

He knew suppressants and birth control were not infallible, but he was always so careful with taking his on time. And even if they hadn’t worked correctly, had he been in heat back then? Not a full heat, obviously, he would have noticed that, but if just the birth control part failed and not the suppressants, he could have gotten pregnant without knowing his body was in heat. While he was taking suppressants he barely even noticed them anyway, he was mostly just a little hornier on those days than usual - but he was 16, so being horny wasn’t really all that unusual.

He had to look up his last heat before the suppressants on his phone and then counted through the calendar and…yes, it fit.

Fuck!

Jason barely remembered anything from that point until the end of lunch, but suddenly he was sitting in a car on his way into the city after he had told the others he had to run an errand and that he would be back soon.

He drove to the nearest pharmacy, bought five different brands of pregnancy tests, handed the cashier a hundred dollar bill without looking at them and ducked out before they could hand him his change.

Back in the car he simply sat there for a few minutes, hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly his knuckles turned white, the plastic bag with the tests looming over him from the passenger seat.

The drive home was like a dream and then he was in his room, the door locked as he waited for the result of the first test, pacing from the windows to the bathroom door and back again.

After the 10 minutes were up he checked, saw the happy little digital smile and marched straight back into the bathroom, opening the next one.

An hour later he had five positive tests and was sitting on his bed, simply staring at them.

He was pregnant and…and he didn’t know what to do.

His first instinct was to call Roy, but before his hand had even touched his phone he stopped himself. Roy was on a mission, he would not answer anyway, unless Jason used the emergency override, and this wasn’t that kind of emergency, even if Jason was feeling like his heart would burst it was beating so fast.

Also, should he just tell Roy?

He didn’t doubt that his boyfriend would be supportive, but he had enough problems already. Roy was just coming to terms with getting help for his drug addiction, an unexpected pregnancy on top of that…Jason honestly didn’t know how that would play out.

Roy had confessed to him that he had largely started to take the drugs as an escape from the stressful life he led, although Jason was sure those assholes from his school also played a huge role in it. Roy had broken off contact with them after the nightclub incident, and they had tried to come up with ways to make his life a little less stressful, but an unexpected pregnancy would not help with that in any way.

He didn’t want Roy to fall even deeper into that dark hole because of something like this.

But he couldn’t keep a pregnancy secret forever, not unless…unless he didn’t go through with it.

Did Jason even want to have a baby?

Roy and him had talked about this, but only ever in the vague ‘sometime in the future’ way and yes, they both wanted children, but not now. Was Jason really prepared to have a baby at 16 – 17 when it would be born?

He hadn’t noticed, but his hands had wandered down to his shirt, both of them cradling the still flat expanse of his stomach, and Jason looked down at himself and tried to imagine a baby belly there.

If he had still been living in Crime Alley he knew that something like this would have been one of the worst things to happen to him, knew he couldn’t have gone through with having a baby while living on the street.

But he wasn’t in Crime Alley anymore. He was living in a Manor, was the son of a billionaire, so being able to support a baby wasn’t even in question. Whatever else he was worried about, he didn’t think Bruce would kick him out or anything like that for this. He might not be pleased, but Jason didn’t doubt that he and the rest of the family would support him. That had been made very clear to him just a few weeks ago, after all.

It really came down to whether Jason wanted to have the baby or not and…that was not an easy question to answer.

He must have been sitting on his bed for hours, going back and forth on the decision, listing arguments in his head for both sides and by the time a knock sounded on his door he still didn’t know what to do.

On instinct he threw the blanket over the pregnancy tests, hiding them just in time as Dick opened the door.

“Jay, where have you been all day? I haven’t seen you since lunch. Everything all right? You look a little pale.”

Dick was coming towards him and Jason didn’t want him to accidentally see what was under his blanket, so he stood up and went over to his desk, making Dick turn with him.

“I’m fine, I was just busy,” Jason said, hoping his voice didn’t give away the turmoil that was still cursing through him.

Dick was eying him carefully for a second but then he seemed to let it go with a small shrug.

“Jon just went home, so we can get ready for patrol. Tim and Damian are already in the Cave, so we should hurry before they leave without us.”

Dick was laughing as he said it, but Jason felt a heavy weight drop in his gut.

God, he hadn’t thought about patrol. He couldn’t…should he go?

If he didn’t he would have to explain it to his brothers and he just wasn’t ready for that yet. And they weren’t taking on any big players while Bruce was away, so it should be fine – nothing dangerous had happened last night, he was sure it would be the same this time.

Jason nodded a little hesitantly and then followed his brother out of his room, firmly closing the door behind him. He would need to get rid of the tests when he came back, make sure no one found them.

He changed into his uniform and they went into the city, all the while Jason felt tense and on edge. He patrolled with Tim this night, and his little brother must have noticed that something was going on judging by the constant looks he was throwing his way, but he didn’t say anything. Jason was just glad for the scent blockers they all wore, because he was sure his scent would be one big warning sign full of anxiety.

The night was quiet, only a few muggings and run of the mill petty crimes, and Jason felt himself relax – until something had to go wrong of course.

It was nearly time to head home, Tim and he were only doing one last sweep in the warehouse district, when they were suddenly surrounded by a whole slew of men who were looking like they had been waiting for them.

Jason wasn’t even sure if they belonged to a drug cartel, a rogue or one of the mafia clans of the city and he didn’t get the time to find out before they were under attack. He fought on instinct, forgetting everything else as he made sure Tim was okay beside him.

They had sent word to Nightwing and Robin immediately upon seeing the number of opponents they were faced with, so they only had to hold out until their brothers arrived.

The fight was going pretty well until one of the goons swung a crowbar at Jason – directly at his stomach. Jason managed to spin away, but all his mind could think about suddenly was what if that hit had connected?

He wasn’t conscious of what he did until he was on the rooftop high above the fight, Tim all alone down in the fray. Jason watched as his little brother fought off several attackers, and he wanted to go down to help, but he just couldn’t make himself move.

“Bluejay, what is going on?”

Dick’s voice came over the comm, he was panting, obviously running, but Jason couldn’t answer.

“Red Robin, report!”

“I don’t know,” Tim said as Jason saw him duck out of reach of a man three times his size, “Bluejay just…left.”

It wasn’t long before Nightwing and Robin arrived and dropped down besides Red Robin and together they managed to take down all of their assailants in mere minutes. Jason was still sitting frozen above them, unable to do anything but watch.

He couldn’t join the fight. He felt so bad about leaving his brothers like that, but he was pregnant, what had he been thinking? He could have lost the baby right there and…

Jason was starting to breathe too fast as panic was bubbling up inside him.

He didn’t want to lose the baby.

That realisation made his heart beat faster and his breathing easier at the same time. He didn’t want to lose the baby, no matter how complicated his life would get if he kept it.

By the time his brothers joined him up on the roof he had calmed down a little, but under their heavy looks he tensed up again. He could tell they were assessing him for injuries and when they asked if he was hurt Jason just shook his head. They all relaxed visibly at that, looking more confused now, although Jason could also make out the first hints of anger in Dick’s posture.

“We’re going home,” Dick declared and no one protested, so they all silently made their way to the Batmobile and drove back to the Cave.

Once they got out of the car Dick checked Tim over to make sure he was alright, Jason following them slowly to the medbay. Luckily he didn’t have anything worse than a few scrapes and bruises, but Jason still felt awful.

They all got changed in silence, but Jason could tell that this wasn’t the end of things. When he stepped back out of the changing rooms Dick was waiting for him, their little brothers a few steps behind him, and he looked furious.

“What the fuck was that, Jason?” Dick nearly shouted.

Jason could see Tim try to reach for his arm to calm him down, but Dick took a step away from him, coming closer to Jason.

“You just abandoned your little brother out there. You left him alone and just watched. What was that?”

Jason couldn’t form any words, his mouth opening and closing without any sound coming out, and he looked away from Dick, down to the floor.

“He could have been killed, Jason. You were supposed to have his back.”

Dick still sounded outraged, even as Tim was calling his name and telling him that he was fine. Dick’s scent was heavy with the disapproval of an alpha, making Jason feel the need to apologize to his pack mate.

“One of them tried to hit me in the gut,” Jason eventually got out and when he looked back up he could see three pairs of confused stares levelled at him.

“So?” Dick asked, voice still louder than normal. Then he continued softer, “You said you weren’t hurt.”

Jason shook his head. He looked at his brothers, saw the worry that was the root of Dick’s anger, the confusion and even fear in Tim and Damian’s eyes and he knew he had to tell them the truth.

“I’m…I’m pregnant.”

Dick’s eyes went wide and Jason could hear a soft gasp from either Tim or Damian, but his gaze was focused on his older brother.

After a few seconds Dick looked down at Jason’s stomach, then back up again, and Jason could feel tears come into his eyes as he wanted to explain, “Fuck, Dick. I’m pregnant, and he nearly hit me with a crowbar, and I just got so afraid. I didn’t want to leave Tim, but I couldn’t make myself go back. I just couldn’t.”

“Hey,” Dick said softly, suddenly that much closer to Jason, with his hands on both sides of his face. “It’s okay, Jay. No one blames you for that. Tim is fine and you did nothing wrong. Isn’t that right?”

“Yeah,” Tim chimed in, also next to Jason now. “I’m fine, don’t worry.”

“It was instinct,” Damian offered from his other side.

Dick pulled him into a hug and Jason went easily, letting his older brother support him as he felt the realisation set in once again. Telling other people suddenly made it feel so much more real, somehow.

“Could you two go upstairs and prepare some hot chocolate? We’ll come right up,” Dick said softly and normally their little brothers would have protested a dismissal like that, but today Jason just felt small hands squeeze his arm and shoulder briefly and then he heard their footsteps retreat up the stairs.

Dick just continued to hold him for what must have been at least several minutes before he slowly pulled back far enough to look at Jason.

“Are you okay, Little Wing?”

Jason nodded and he could tell Dick was studying him intently to make sure, but he seemed to be convinced by what he saw on his face, because he quirked a little smile at Jason.

“You always manage to surprise me, Jay.”

Jason couldn’t help the startled laugh that escaped him and Dick’s smile grew a bit.

“Yeah, that’s one way of putting it.”

Dick’s hand had come up to cup Jason’s cheek, softly rubbing the last few stray tears away with his thumb as his expression grew more serious.

“Jay, is this the reason you and Roy broke up? He doesn’t-“

But Jason didn’t let him finish, was already shaking his head.

“No, no that wasn’t it. Roy doesn’t know. I only found out today.”

“Today?” Dick asked, eyes going wide, but then he seemed to come to a sudden realization, “That’s why Jon was so weird this morning, wasn’t it? He knew.”

Jason nodded. “He told me he heard the heartbeat and later I bought some tests. I’m definitely pregnant.”

Dick blew out a breath, then pressed a soft kiss against Jason’s forehead before letting him go and stepping back.

“We’ll deal with that, Jay, don’t you worry. Why don’t you go up and see what the little monsters are doing, I’ll be up in a jiff.”

Jason eyed him for a second but nodded nonetheless, making his way upstairs and to the kitchen.

Tim and Damian were just finishing putting the hot chocolates on a tray and stared at him with wide eyes as soon as he entered the room. There was an awkward silence for a few seconds before Jason pointed to the hallway.

“How about we take everything to the sitting room?”

He got silent nods and luckily Dick joined only a few minutes later. Jason had the distinct impression of déjà vu as he was once again snuggled on the couch under a pile of blankets between his brothers just like he had a few weeks back, and today just like back then he felt so damn grateful for the comfort they provided.

The emotional rollercoaster of the day had left him exhausted and soon he felt his eyes get heavy. Nimble fingers plucked the half empty cup out of his hands and he thought he heard voices say “Goodnight Jay” and “Sleep well”, but by then he was already mostly asleep.

Chapter Text

Jason woke with an elbow digging into his side and his legs dead asleep under a heavy weight. When he blinked his eyes open it took him a few moments to recognize the sitting room. Looking down he found Damian sprawled across his legs and Tim laying half on top of him, both still deep in slumber.

“Morning,” a quiet voice called from off to the side and when he looked over he found Dick sitting in an armchair, coffee in hand, simply watching them.

Jason distinctly remembered his older brother also sandwiched on the couch with them, so as he failed to wriggle free he huffed, “How did you get out of this?”

Dick just grinned. “Acrobat, remember? I’m flexible.”

Jason grunted and started to gently lift Tim to the side a bit when he suddenly felt the now familiar churning in his gut.

“Dick,” he gasped in warning and his brother sprang up, recognizing the urgency in his voice, but it wasn’t fast enough.

Jason shoved Tim away, startling the teen awake, and then leaned over the couch, getting sick.

He heard the “Eww” and “Gross” from his little brothers, as Damian had apparently also woken up, and felt them scramble off the couch, but he couldn’t really pay them any attention right now.

When he was finally finished he looked up to find the three of them crowded around him with some careful distance, staring with expressions of distaste.

“Morning sickness,” he croaked in explanation and they all looked so surprised he couldn’t help but bark out a laugh.

Dick found his voice first, telling Tim and Damian to clean up while he pulled Jason from the couch and started to lead him to the bathroom to freshen up. There was some unhappy grumbling behind them but when they came back later the rug had been cleaned and looked mostly like it had before again.

They got breakfast and Jason could tell his brothers were trying to make normal conversation, but he knew what was on everyone’s mind of course.

“So,” Dick began hesitantly and Jason was bracing himself for some uncomfortable questions, but he didn’t expect where his brother went next.

“I might have panicked a little yesterday and told B and Alfie to come back home. I didn’t tell them why,” Dick clarified quickly, holding his hands up at Jason’s alarmed look, “but they should be here in a few hours.”

“Dick,” Jason said and then he didn’t know how to go on.

He had thought he had until tomorrow to tell his father and grandfather about the pregnancy. Yes, he wanted his dad, wanted him to make everything feel okay, but he was also dreading this conversation, because…because what if Bruce reacted badly? He didn’t really think he would be mad, but he could imagine his father being disappointed or upset and Jason really didn’t want to face that.

Suddenly he understood Roy’s fear of telling Ollie and Dinah a lot more. A baby of course wasn’t the same as a drug habit, but they were both things that would change a life irrevocably.

“It’s gonna be fine, Little Wing, you’ll see,” Dick reassured him and Jason could only nod mutely.

Jason felt jittery the whole morning and his brothers very obviously tried to distract him, but when the front door opened and they heard Bruce and Alfred walk in, Jason couldn’t help but jump a little and stare at the hallway in dread.

Heavy footfalls preceded the appearance of Bruce in the doorway, where he stopped and let his eyes take in his sons, crowded around some boardgame Jason had already forgotten the name of on the coffee table. Bruce’s whole posture visibly relaxed once he had seen they were all fine and then his eyes met Dick’s.

“So, what’s the emergency?”

His voice didn’t sound mad, more curious, but Jason felt his nerves bubble up anyway.

“Why don’t you sit down,” Dick said, standing up and guiding Bruce to the couch. “You too, Alfie,” he called and Alfred came in from the hallway, shooting them all curious glances but sitting down next to Bruce.

Jason was now standing next to the coffee table, feeling his palms turn sweaty and his heart rate pick up.

“Tim, Damian, go to your rooms, please,” Dick said, making them scowl, but they left with only minimal protest.

Then Dick also hesitantly turned for the door, so Jason caught his arm.

“Stay,” he asked and Dick nodded.

Jason was left standing in front of Bruce and Alfred, Dick next to him, wringing his hands and trying to find the right words.

Bruce’s eyes were focused on him and they were so intense that for a moment Jason was convinced he could look inside him and see the baby if he wanted to.

“What’s going on, Jaylad?” Bruce asked gently when no one had said anything for some time.

“I’m…” Jason started, but the rest just wouldn’t come.

He had to do this, so he shouldn’t make it harder on himself than it was. Just like ripping off a band aid, fast and painless. He pulled in a deep breath.

“I’m pregnant.”

The words came out in a rush and he could see how it took Bruce a second to register what exactly he had said and then his face took on such a shocked expression it would have been funny any other time.

It only lasted for a few moments though, then his eyes turned soft and there was so much sympathy and kindness in them Jason felt tears spring into his.

“I’m sorry,” he started to babble, and he didn’t even know why he said that. “I’m sorry, my birth control must have failed, I took it but…I didn’t mean for it to happen, B.”

“Hey,” Bruce said soothingly, standing up and stepping close to him. He laid his hands on Jason’s shoulders and bent down a little to look into his eyes. “I’m not mad and you have nothing to be sorry for. As long as you’re okay everything is fine.”

When Jason nodded hesitantly Bruce pulled him into his arms, one hand coming up to cradle Jason’s head as he scented him.

Jason could feel his nerves calm down with every second he was in Bruce’s arms, pressed into that familiar smell of sandalwood and metal, and when his shoulders had finally lost their anxious tension Bruce took a step back, sitting back down and pulling Jason with him to sit between him and Alfred.

Alfred was looking reassuringly at him, one hand coming up to run calming circles on his back.

There was a long moment of silence until Dick said quietly “I’ll go look what the others are up to” and slipped out of the room.

“Jay,” Bruce began, making Jason look back up at him.

“How long have you known?”

The question sounded purely factual, not like an accusation and no trace of anger, so Jason answered easily.

“Yesterday.” Then he went on, to preclude any other awkward inquiries, “I think I’m at about two months. Roy…Roy doesn’t know yet.”

Bruce simply nodded and Alfred patted his back.

“That is still pretty early, lad. No wonder you didn’t know sooner.”

Jason felt a smile quirk on his lips at the affirming words.

“Still wouldn’t know if Jon hadn’t told me.”

That startled a grunt out of Bruce and an “Oh dear” from Alfred, so Jason relayed everything that had happened the day before – including his failure to protect Tim on patrol. He still felt guilty about that and if Bruce wanted to punish him for it, he knew he deserved it.

“It wasn’t a good idea of you to go out,” Bruce said when he had finished and Jason’s gaze fell to the floor. “But you were in a complicated situation and overwhelmed by the news. It is understandable, Jay. And Tim is fine, no one got hurt, so don’t dwell on it.”

Bruce pulled him closer and then Jason was leaning against his father. “Everything will be fine, Jay,” he said softly.

After a while Alfred got up and left the room but Jason stayed with Bruce for some time, letting it sink in that his family now knew and that no one seemed to be upset with him.

“Jaylad,” Bruce said eventually, pulling him back out into the real world. He blinked slowly up at his father and got a small smile from him as the arm around him tightened.

“Jay,” Bruce began again, now sounding serious, so Jason sat up a bit more to face him properly. “You only found out yesterday, so I don’t expect a definite answer yet, but have you already thought about what you want to do? Whatever it is, I will support you and it is of course your decision, but we can talk about it if you like. There are options, son, and you don’t have to go through this alone.”

Jason blinked a few times and then leaned back against his father.

“I think I want to keep it,” he said quietly and Bruce just hummed above him, letting one hand trail through Jason’s hair. “I need to talk to Roy, but I think I want to keep the baby.”

“Okay,” Bruce said just as quietly.

They talked some more about the pregnancy, made a doctor’s appointment for the next week, but mainly Bruce just held Jason for as long as he needed.

The rest of the day was spent as a family and the others mostly did not bring up the pregnancy unless Jason did so first. In the evening however it became very obvious that something had changed because Bruce and all of his siblings changed to go out on patrol while Jason sat next to Alfred at the Batcomputer.

“I will appreciate your company very much, Master Jason,” Alfred said and Jason smiled at him as the Batmobile drove out into the night.

Jason helped run the comms and he knew he was still doing something important, but it would take some time to get used to this different role. But spending time like this with Alfred was also nice and he would never knowingly risk hurting his baby by going out in costume now that he knew he was pregnant. As it was, he had been lucky not to take a wrong hit in the past few months and he felt sick merely at the thought of what could have happened.

Everyone came back home safe that night and when Jason laid in bed later he thought about how lucky he was to have such a supportive family.

Now he only needed to tell Roy…


The next morning at breakfast he got a text from Roy that he and Ollie were back from their mission. For a split second his finger hovered over the call button, but these were news he didn’t want to relay over the phone, so instead he looked up at Bruce.

“Roy and Ollie are back home. I need to go to Star City today, B.”

“You can’t take the zeta tube, not while you’re pregnant,” Bruce said and Jason rolled his eyes.

“I know that. That’s why I’m telling you.”

Jason heard Dick snicker next to him as Bruce muttered “Excuse me for looking out for my kid” but there was no heat in his voice.

“You could take one of the convertibles and make it a nice day trip,” Alfred said, putting a new plate of fruit on the table. “The weather is perfect and neither of you has any other plans for the day.”

“That’s a 7 hour trip, Alfred,” Bruce said, but there was less reluctance in his voice than the words might have suggested.

“Not the way you drive, B,” Tim chimed in, making his brothers laugh.

They loaded up the car with enough snacks for the day (nothing unhealthy; Alfred was now even more insistent that Jason eat well than before) and got on the road.

The first hour Jason spent mostly looking out of the window as they drove out of Gotham and then onto the first long stretch of highway, overtaking trucks and other cars alike as Bruce kept the car constantly just above the speed limit. He played with the radio, switching between stations, staying longer on the ones that made that annoyed little frown appear on his father’s face until Bruce would bark a tired “Jay, please” at him and he would relent and turn to another one with a little smirk.

The drive however also gave him time to think and his mind was stuck on what would happen once they arrived in Star City. He wasn’t particularly worried about Roy in terms of him not wanting Jason or the baby after he heard the news, but he was worried about the effect this would have on his drug habit and the first tentative steps towards recovery he had taken. Jason also couldn’t fully predict how Ollie and Dinah would take the news.

They had always liked him, had supported his and Roy’s relationship from day one, but that didn’t necessarily mean they would want them to be teenage parents. What if they thought he was destroying Roy’s life with his decision to keep the baby?

Jason could tell his mind was starting to spin into ever darker corners, making up horrible scenarios of what would happen later, and he could feel the calm of the last day start to seep away and be replaced by anxiety.

He hadn’t even noticed how his leg was bouncing with nerves until Bruce laid a soothing hand on his knee.

“Everything okay?” Bruce asked, eyes still on the road, but Jason knew he had his father’s attention.

He bit his lip for a second before he could speak, his voice unusually small.

“Do you think Ollie and Dinah will be mad?”

Bruce cast him a short look before looking back at the road.

“No,” he said firmly. “Why should they be mad?”

“Because this will have a huge impact on Roy’s life. Because they might think I’m ruining his life, trapping him…I don’t know. We only got back together a little while ago and now I’m pregnant. That might seem…shitty.”

“Jay, you are not ruining Roy’s life. Or your own, for that matter. It might make some things more complicated, but you both still have every chance in life you had before. And also, this is not your fault. I don’t think I have to remind you that it takes two to make a baby.”

Jason could hear how hard that last sentence was for Bruce and when he looked over he had to laugh at the grimace on his father’s face. Bruce just sent him a sharp look, but Jason could see his lip twitch, making him laugh harder. Once he had calmed down Bruce went on.

“Trapping Roy would imply that you planned this and no one would ever believe that. That boy loves you. I know that, Ollie and Dinah know that. You wouldn’t need to trap him. And if my math is correct, you conceived this baby before your breakup, right? I know there is a lot on your mind, Jaylad, but you don’t need to worry about those things.”

Jason was silent as he let all the things Bruce had said run through his head. He knew his father was right with all of them, but he just couldn’t stop himself from worrying.

“And if they get mad, they should have stayed home with you two back then,” Bruce mumbled, making Jason choke.

“B,” he said, a mix of scandalized and amused.

“What, like I don’t know when this happened. I’m not stupid, you know,” Bruce said, and Jason felt his face turn red, but he was still smiling.

“Stuff like this happens, Jason. It’s not the end of the world.”

Conversation drifted from one topic to the next after that, from the Gotham Knights’ horrible current season to the last books Jason had read and the newest gossip from the WE offices. It wasn’t often that Jason got to spend so much time alone with his father and after a while he nearly forgot why they were on the road and simply enjoyed the trip.

As it was nearing lunch time Jason saw a sign for a diner coming up in a few miles and turned to Bruce with hopeful eyes.

“No,” Bruce said, without even needing to look at him.

“Oh, come on, B. It’s been ages since we went out to eat.”

“That is not going out to eat, that is roadside garbage. And we have food in the car.”

“But B,” Jason whined. He wasn’t above a bit of emotional manipulation. “I need some burgers and fries right not. I’m having a craving.”

Bruce let out a snort that he tried to cover up with a cough, but Jason knew he had already won.

“So a pregnancy craving, huh?” Bruce asked, shooting him an amused look.

Jason nodded solemnly. “A really bad one. Please Dad.”

Jason could see Bruce’s last defences crumple at the use of the word ‘Dad’ and with a heavy sigh he switched on the turn signal.

“Don’t tell Alfred,” Bruce said as they pulled into the diner’s parking lot.

The burger and fries were excellent and Jason even managed to ignore Bruce eating his with a fork and knife like a complete lunatic thanks to the years of training in Bruce weirdness he had.

They got back on the road and faster than Jason had thought they were entering Star City. Tim had been right, Bruce really had shortened the time considerably, even though he drove way more respectable in his civilian cars than in the Batmobile.

“Did you tell them we would come by?” Jason asked suddenly when they turned into the driveway of the Queen estate.

“No,” Bruce said slowly, shooting him a brief look. “I thought you would have told Roy.”

Which…yes, that seemed fair, but somehow Jason had forgotten that detail in all of his anxious worrying.

“Well, what is one surprise more, right?” Jason said and then they were parking in front of the house.

They got out of the car and walked up the steps, but Jason hesitated before ringing the doorbell. This was it. His and Roy’s relationship would forever change after this, no matter how well it went.

Bruce’s hand came to rest on his shoulder and after a reassuring squeeze Jason straightened up and rang the doorbell.

The Queen estate was not as large as Wayne Manor, but it still took some time before someone opened the door, especially as they didn’t have a butler like the Waynes did.

“Bruce,” Ollie said, surprise obvious as he pulled the door open, “Jason. What are you doing here? Did you drive here?”

He was peering behind them for a second, taking in the convertible with a puzzled frown, before assessing both of them with practiced eyes, no doubt looking for any hint that this was vigilante business.

“Ollie, can we come in?” Bruce asked and Ollie pulled the door open wider, ushering them inside.

“Yeah, sure. What’s going on? What are you doing in Star?”

Jason was throwing a look at Bruce, hoping that his father would lead the conversation here. He suddenly felt like he couldn’t say a word, his nerves coming back.

“We needed to talk to you. Are Roy and Dinah in?” Bruce asked, sounding like it was a completely normal occurrence for them to drive all the way over for a chat.

“Dinah is here, but Roy is out for a run. He should be back pretty soon, though.”

They made their way into the sitting room where Dinah looked just as surprised as Ollie to see them and after Bruce told her the same thing, she invited them to sit down on the couch as she got them something to drink.

Bruce made some small talk with them as they waited, but he wasn’t the best at idle conversations and Ollie and Dinah were obviously worrying about what the purpose of their visit was, so soon the room lapsed into silence. Jason couldn’t think of anything to say either and he ended up staring at the clock, counting every minute and wishing Roy would just come home already.

After what felt like an eternity they heard the front door open and shut, followed by loud footsteps in the entrance hall.

“Roy,” Ollie called, “could you come to the sitting room, please?”

The footsteps stopped, changed direction and then Roy came through the doorway. He was sweaty and in workout clothes and Jason had rarely been more nervous to see him.

“What’s up?” Roy asked, taking a few steps into the room before he stopped, brow wrinkling as he took in Jason and Bruce sitting there with his parents.

“Jaybird? Bruce? What is…” Roy’s voice was confused and then suddenly his face turned white and he took a step back, staring at Jason in horror.

“You told them?” he asked, voice nearly breaking with how frail the words came out.

It took Jason a moment too long to connect the dots. He had only been thinking about the pregnancy, how that reveal would go, he hadn’t thought about what this might look like to Roy.

“No!” he immediately said as soon as he understood what Roy meant, standing up and taking a step towards Roy, but his boyfriend was already backing away.

“No, Roy, I didn’t. This isn’t about-“

But Roy didn’t let him finish.

“I never thought you would do this, Jay. I know you’re not happy with what I’ve been doing, but…I am trying for you, isn’t that enough?”

There were tears in Roy’s eyes and his voice was filled with desperation and all Jason wanted was make this better, turn back time a few minutes and think before his boyfriend walked in and misunderstood the situation.

“Roy, please listen-“

Jason tried to reach for Roy, but he stepped further back, out of his reach.

“Like I said,” Roy said, giving Jason the saddest smile he had ever seen, “you deserve someone better than me. I’m sorry I can’t be who you want me to be but this…I can’t do this.”

With that he spun around and was running towards the front door.

Jason was so stunned he didn’t react for a second, but then he was running after him, hearing shouts of “What’s going on?” from behind him, but he didn’t care, he needed to stop Roy.

He made it out of the house just in time to see Roy straddle his bike and turn the ignition.

“Roy,” he called, starting for the bike, but before he had even made two steps Roy was tearing out of the driveway and onto the street.

“Roy!” Jason shouted in desperation, but he was already too far away.

“Fuck,” Jason yelled, spinning around towards their convertible still parked in front of the house.

Bruce, Ollie and Dinah were now also in the driveway, looking at him in various states of confusion and worry.

“Keys,” Jason demanded, holding his hand out towards Bruce. When his father didn’t react he bellowed, “Give me the keys, Bruce.”

“You’re not driving in this state,” Bruce said and Jason could feel rage boil up inside him.

“I need to go after him, so give me the damn keys.”

“I will not allow you to wrap this car around a pole and kill yourself,” Bruce said, voice hard. “You will explain what is going on and then we will decide what to do.”

Jason already had his mouth open to argue when Dinah cut in.

“Jason, I would also like an explanation. What is going on with Roy?”

It was the worry in her voice that got to Jason and he deflated. He was ushered back inside and then he was faced with three worried parents staring at him.

When he didn’t say anything Ollie let out a sigh.

“Lets start simple. Why did you and Bruce come here today.”

Simple, right.

This wasn’t how Jason had thought this would go, but he had no other choice, he supposed.

“Because I’m pregnant,” he said quietly, seeing the expected surprise on Ollie and Dinah’s faces.

“Oh,” Ollie said and then sat heavily down on the couch.

“I’m guessing Roy doesn’t know yet or you wouldn’t have come here like this,” Dinah said carefully after some time digesting the news and Jason nodded.

“Okay.”

She fell silent again.

“What did Roy think you told us?” Bruce asked and Jason could see the gears working in his father’s head, how he was already trying to work it out based on what Roy had said. He would most likely come to the right conclusion eventually, but they didn’t have that kind of time. With the way Roy had stormed out, Jason was afraid what he might do. Negative emotions and drugs were never a good combination.

He had promised not to tell, but in this situation he had no other choice.

“Roy’s been taking drugs,” he said, looking away from the shocked faces in front of him.

“Drugs? Are you sure? What…” Ollie asked, his voice sounding strangled.

“Heroin,” Jason said very quietly, hearing a pained noise from Dinah and a quiet “Fuck” from Ollie.

“That’s why you broke up,” Bruce said, voice neutral in a way that told Jason he was purposefully supressing whatever emotions he felt.

Jason looked up at his father and nodded.

“I’ve been trying to get him help. He knows he has a problem, he’s been trying, but he was terrified of telling anyone.”

Jason could see the pain and sympathy in his father’s eyes and Bruce nodded at him.

“He thought you told us and now he is devasted,” Dinah said, “you’re afraid he’s going to do something reckless.”

Jason nodded again, feeling tears spring into his eyes. Roy thinking Jason had betrayed him like this…he didn’t even want to imagine what he might do.

“I’m going after him,” Ollie said, standing up. “Do you have any idea where he might be?”

Jason shook his head but before Ollie was through the door Jason called his name, making him turn back.

“Please don’t tell him about this,” Jason said, gesturing down to his stomach. “I don’t want him to find out this way.”

Ollie nodded and then he was gone.

Bruce had sat down next to Jason, laying an arm around his shoulders and hugging him against his side and Jason buried into his father’s shirt, hiding his tears in the fabric. Why did everything have to go so wrong?

Dinah seemed to work through her shock after a few minutes and Jason heard her come over to sit on the coffee table, stroking a gentle hand over his back.

She and Bruce were talking softly while Jason got his tears under control and when he felt ready he turned towards her.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly, but she just gave him a comforting smile.

“Why don’t you tell us what happened from the start and then we can work out a plan on how to deal with everything.”

Jason nodded and then told them everything, from his discovery of the drugs in Roy’s desk, over his attempts to get Roy to seek help to his discovery of the pregnancy two days ago.

Neither of them interrupted him at any point and once he was finished he felt strangely lighter, like a heavy burden he hadn’t known he was carrying had been lifted.

“You got him to realise he has a problem and tried to get him help,” Dinah said, cupping Jason’s cheek to make him look at her. “You did what you could, Jason.”

“You’re not upset that I didn’t tell you?”

Jason knew his voice sounded small, but he couldn’t help it. He had been worrying about this for months, whether his decision to honour his promise to his boyfriend was the right one.

“I’m not gonna lie, I wish I had known about this,” Dinah said, sighing deeply. “But I know why you didn’t tell us. Based on Roy’s reaction today, your decision was the right one. You have nothing to blame yourself for, do you hear me?”

Jason nodded and she gave him a small smile.

“I’m going to look in Roy’s room for…whatever I can find, I guess,” Dinah said sadly, standing up and leaving the sitting room.

Jason stayed with Bruce and he was so grateful that his father didn’t say anything about the whole situation, didn’t question him further or comment on his decision to keep Roy’s secret, simply let Jason lean against him and collect his thoughts.

After some time Dinah came back, her expression grim as she put her findings on the coffee table. Jason had seen the drugs and supplies before up in Roy’s room, but he still had to avert his eyes when they were put down in front of him. Every time he saw things like those, they reminded him of his mom and here, now, with Roy’s emotional escape and the question what he might do looming over him, the sight of those things nearly made him sick.

He could hear Bruce and Dinah talking, but he didn’t really listen. He was too far inside his worry of what his failure to predict Roy’s reaction to the earlier situation might cause him to do.

Jason was brought out of his head by the sound of the front door opening and for a second he felt so relieved, but then he heard it close and only a single set of footsteps came towards the sitting room.

Ollie stepped through the door and if the fact that he was alone wasn’t enough to tell them that his search hadn’t ended well the flat line of his mouth and the defeated slump of his shoulders were.

“He’s not coming home,” Ollie said, voice grim.

Chapter Text

“What do you mean he’s not coming home?”

Dinah wasn’t shouting, but there was an edge of agitation to her voice that Jason had never heard from her before and he could sympathize; he felt his own lungs grow tight with worry and anxiety at Ollie’s words. How could Roy just not come home?

“I mean that he made it very clear that he doesn’t want to come back right now,” Ollie said, running a hand wearily through his hair.

“And you just let him? He’s our kid and he has a drug problem, Oliver. He can’t stay on his own.”

“Legally, he’s an adult,” Ollie retorted, and now his words were picking up steam, rising in pitch to match Dinah’s, “what would you have me do, knock him out and drag him home?”

“He needs help and you left him alone!” Dinah shouted, and Jason knew the anger in her voice stemmed from her fear for Roy and the frustration of being unable to do anything to help him right now, but he still couldn’t help but feel responsible for this.

If he had thought about how to tell everyone about the pregnancy a little more thoroughly, they wouldn’t be in this situation right now, with Roy out there on his own, and Dinah and Ollie glaring at each other. Announcing a pregnancy should be a happy occasion and even if he hadn’t been sure whether the Queens would be thrilled about their teenage son becoming a father, he had never intended to cause such a rift in the family. He had never meant to make Roy feel so betrayed and alone that he would leave his home.

Jason needed to fix this. Not only for Ollie and Dinah’s sake, but most importantly because of Roy. Who knew what he would do now? Jason would never be able to live with himself if his thoughtlessness would cause his boyfriend to go down a road he could not come back from.

“Where is he?” Jason asked and judging by the way Ollie and Dinah’s heads shot around to look at him with wide eyes, they both seemed to have forgotten that he was even present.

“Jay,” Bruce began placatingly next to him, but Jason didn’t let him finish, he knew what his father would have to say and he didn’t want to hear it.

“Ollie, where is Roy?”

There was a long pause and Jason could tell Ollie was trying to appear calm, but he had known the older omega for too long and could read the anxiety and worse, pity, in the strained lines of his face.

“I don’t think it would be a good idea to tell you, Jason,” he said eventually and Jason had to clench his hands into fists and bite his lip to keep his immediate reaction to that condescending tone under control. Throwing a tantrum would not help his cause.

“I need to talk to him, I know I can convince him to come back. Just tell me where he is and I will explain everything to him.”

He knew his words were falling on deaf ears before he had even finished speaking. Ollie’s expression had only gotten more closed off and Dinah and Bruce were also looking less than convinced.

“I don’t think Roy wants to see you,” Ollie said with an uncomfortable twist to his lips as if he didn’t want to say it. Still, his next words were firm, and Jason felt something crumple inside him as he heard them. “You going to see him would only make things worse right now, Jason.”

Jason could see the stony expression Bruce was directing at Ollie out of the corner of his eye but from the clench of his father’s jaw and the fact that he stayed silent he seemed to agree with the archer, even if he seemed unhappy with the way Ollie was framing it.

“Please,” Jason tried one last time, not caring that he sounded desperate. Roy was more important than his damn pride, “please, just let me talk to him. I need to fix this.”

“It’s not your responsibility to fix this,” Dinah said, voice now a lot softer. “We are Roy’s parents, he is our responsibility.”

“But-“ Jason began, but Dinah went on, now looking intently at him as she laid a hand on his shoulder and squeezed comfortingly.

“Jason, I know you love Roy and you want to help him. But in this situation the best thing you can do is let us handle it. You have enough to worry about as it is.”

The smile she gave him at those last words was a strange mix of happy and sad Jason had never seen before and he could feel tears start to gather in his eyes once again - damned pregnancy hormones.

“I’m not useless just because I’m pregnant,” he said with a thick voice, knowing he would not sway anyone in the room with his words.

“No one is saying that, Jay,” Bruce said, pulling him against his side.

“You know Roy sometimes needs some time to calm down,” Dinah said in a tone tinged with exasperation and fondness. And yes, Jason did know how temperamental the redhead could be. Still didn’t mean he had to like not being able to do anything at the moment. “And if he really was as afraid of us finding out as you told us, I think it is important for Ollie and me to talk to him and reassure him we aren’t going to kick him out or anything like that.”

“And I'm sure Roy would never want you to put your baby in danger because of him and there are just some situations you shouldn’t put yourself in right now,” Ollie tacked on and Jason knew he meant for it to sound apologetic and maybe even reassuring in terms of Roy caring about the baby (as soon as he knew about it), but all Jason could think of now was where Roy had run to that Ollie would imply it was dangerous for him to go there. Jason knew what kind of places drug addicts who hit rock bottom ended up in, but surely Roy hadn’t gotten that desperate already?

Bruce must have felt the way Jason tensed and the arm around him tightened as his father let out a low, warning growl.

“Queen!”

“I just meant you shouldn’t get into any arguments, you know…”

Oliver’s attempt to soften his earlier words was weak at best, but Jason didn’t call him on it. Neither did Dinah or Bruce, although they were both throwing pointed looks at him.

“Do you want to stay the night here?” Dinah asked eventually when no one had anything else to add to the conversation.

“No,” Bruce answered before Jason could even think about it. “We’ll go to a hotel. If Roy comes home maybe it would be better if we weren’t here.”

Jason didn’t want to but he had to reluctantly give in and soon found himself steered out of the house. After a short goodbye from Ollie and Dinah with a promise that they would let them know as soon as they had any new information he was back in the car.

Bruce left him in the passenger seat for a few minutes as he went back to talk quietly with Ollie and Dinah and usually the fact that they were so blatantly excluding him would have Jason jumping out of the car and demanding to be included, but on this day he simply stayed put.

This was all his fault, it wasn’t surprising that the adults didn’t want his help. Not like he had been able to help Roy in the past anyway, no matter how hard he had tried. In the end he had just made everything worse.

When Bruce finally came back his face was serious and Jason could see matching expressions on Ollie and Dinah’s faces. As he looked up Dinah gave him a last reassuring smile, but Jason didn’t think he could have mustered one back even if his life depended on it, so he averted his gaze and simply stared down at his hands.

The car was completely silent as they pulled out of the driveway, neither of them saying a word on the short trip to one of the high end hotel chains Bruce preferred. Jason usually gave his father shit whenever they stayed at one of these overpriced places, but today he barely even registered which chain they were checking into. One moment he was in the car, the next in some plush suite that was bigger than the flat he had lived in with his mom.

Jason just stood in the middle of the room as Bruce went to the connected bedrooms and bathroom, checking everywhere for god knew what in a display of his typical paranoia. Maybe he thought some ninjas would pop out from under the bed – wasn’t as if the day could get any worse if that happened, honestly.

Jason simply sank down onto the couch, finding himself staring at his phone, Roy’s contact open.

He could call him, explain what had really happened, try to convince him to go back home. But any explanation would have to include why he and Bruce had really come to Star City and just the thought of telling Roy over the phone that he was pregnant, of not being able to see his reaction (because he was convinced Roy would be happy, no matter what else was going on or how unexpected it was), was enough to stop him from actually doing it. Was it too much to ask to get to tell his boyfriend something like this in person, to want to share this moment? Or was that selfish of him to prioritize his own feelings in a situation like this?

Jason felt the urge to cry bubble up again and he was already tired of the way the pregnancy was influencing his emotions. He wasn’t usually so prone to break into tears. What else would change about him in the next months if his moods were already this affected so early on?

“Jay.”

Bruce’s voice was a little louder than normal and when Jason finally looked up his father was standing in front of the couch, looking intently at him, and Jason got the impression this hadn’t been the first time he had tried to get his attention.

“Yeah?” Jason asked, and even to his own ears his voice sounded far away, making a frown appear on Bruce’s forehead.

“Want to get room service?” Bruce asked after a long pause, words halting as if he was unsure how Jason would react. “They have ice cream,” he offered with a hopeful smile.

Jason didn’t really feel hungry or in the mood for any kind of dessert, but he could tell this was his father’s attempt at making him feel better and that thought alone made him smile tentatively back and nod his head.

“Sure,” he said, recognizing the obvious relief in the way Bruce’s shoulders relaxed. “But only if you get some too.”

They ended up with the biggest, most elaborate ice cream dishes Jason had ever seen and he was convinced dropping the name ‘Wayne’ had no small part to play in how extravagantly these dessert monstrosities had been constructed.

He and Bruce were sitting on the couch, simply staring at each of their plates for a few long seconds before Bruce reached for his spoon with a determined expression Jason normally associated with him going into battle.

“Get to it before it melts,” Bruce mumbled around a spoonful, already digging in for his next portion as he was casting Jason a challenging look, “or I’m gonna eat all of this myself.”

Jason couldn’t help but snort at the absurdity of his father, the feared Batman, sitting next to him and shovelling ice cream into his mouth like a kid, but he picked up his own spoon and started to eat as well.

By the time he had finished he felt like even one more bite would make him explode, but the mountain of sugar had also made him sleepy and sated, his mind becoming too slow to continue worrying, his body too content to hold onto the stress from earlier.

Jason let himself fall back against the cushions, breathing out a deep sigh as he closed his eyes, feeling Bruce mirror the position next to him.

“I don’t think the human body is designed to consume such ridiculous amounts of sugar,” Bruce groaned. “I’m gonna regret this tomorrow.”

“As if jumping from rooftops is that much healthier,” Jason huffed, his head tipping to the side to rest on Bruce’s shoulder. “Face it, you’re just getting old.”

“Hrrn,” was all Bruce had to say to that, but moments later Jason felt his father’s hand start to card through his hair and he let himself sink heavier against Bruce’s side. A kiss was pressed onto the top of his head and then he was being scented, thoroughly and slowly, his mind going quiet, blanketed in the feeling of safety Bruce’s scent and careful touches were giving him.

When Bruce finally seemed satisfied and stopped, Jason had ended up half curled onto his lap, nose pressed against the scent gland on his father’s neck, strong arms keeping him from slipping down with how boneless he had gone.

“This is nice,” Jason mumbled, his words slurred like he was drunk, and Bruce let out a contented hum at his words.

“It is, Jaylad.”

Jason knew he could fall asleep like this, just stay in the safety of his father’s arms and let his mind drift off, but sleeping like this on the couch the whole night would surely get uncomfortable for Bruce (and maybe also Jason) and Jason doubted his father would say anything (being physically uncomfortable wasn’t a big deal to a guy who ran around dressed as a bat and got beat up by metahumans regularly – what a shocker), so Jason would have to be the sensible one here.

He allowed himself a few more minutes of simply enjoying being held like this, but before he could really fall asleep Jason roused himself, sitting up slowly and shuffling back onto the couch next to Bruce. His father didn’t stop him, simply let him slip out of his arms while his intense eyes studied Jason’s every move, carefully gauging his emotional level.

“Thought we should use the ridiculously expensive beds you’re paying for instead of sleeping on the couch,” Jason said by way of explanation, still feeling his father’s eyes on him. “And I’m not sure your old bones could take a night on the couch. Don’t want to listen to you whine the whole time in the car tomorrow,” he tacked on with a slight smirk, earning an eyeroll from the alpha.

Bruce had of course made them take overnight bags with them for the trip, the man was never unprepared, so Jason changed into his pyjamas and then found himself on one of the massive beds the suite provided.

The bedroom wasn’t as big as his own at the Manor, but as Jason lay on the unfamiliar bed, the stylish but impersonal décor surrounding him, he suddenly felt so very alone and he knew as soon as he closed his eyes all those dark thoughts and doubts and worries from earlier would start to creep back in with nothing to take his mind off them.

When Bruce appeared in the doorway a few minutes later, also changed for bed, Jason already felt like he wanted to jump back out of bed and he wasn’t really surprised when instead of echoing Bruce’s “Goodnight” he suddenly blurted out “Can you stay with me for a bit?”

He was 16 and way too old for his dad to stay with him until he fell asleep, but on this day Jason couldn’t find it in himself to feel embarrassed about how needy he was being.

“Of course,” was all Bruce said, making his way towards the bed. He sat down on the other side, stretching his legs out next to Jason as he leaned back against the headboard, and Jason rolled over to be closer, settling down next to him.

“Go to sleep,” Bruce said softly above him, a hand once again carding through Jason’s hair. “I’ll be here.”

Jason didn’t know if it was the fact that he wasn’t alone anymore, Bruce’s familiar scent and the soothing hand in his hair, or the combination of all those things, but he fell into a deep sleep in mere minutes.


The first thing Jason became aware of as he woke up was how warm he was with the enormous furnace that was Bruce snoring next to him. The next was the churning in his gut that had him scrambling out of bed and racing to the bathroom.

He made it just in time to bring up the contents of his stomach and considering that the last thing he ate was a ton of ice cream, it was not a very pleasant experience. Jason was still heaving into the toilet when he heard footsteps and then Bruce crouched down next to him, rubbing soothing circles over his back and holding his hair back.

By the time Jason was reasonably certain that nothing else would come up Bruce already had a glass of water in hand, passing it to him with a quiet “How are you feeling?”

“Like I’m never eating ice cream again,” Jason grumbled, rinsing his mouth before he got up to properly brush his teeth.

He could feel Bruce’s gaze still on him, apparently making sure that he really was fine, but it wasn’t like this whole morning sickness thing was totally new for Jason at this point, so he just moved on with getting the horrible taste out of his mouth.

After he finished in the bathroom he already felt so much better and when Bruce tentatively asked him about breakfast he ordered nearly three times what he would normally eat, suddenly ravenous. Bruce’s eyebrows went up with each new item Jason put on the list, but he held his tongue.

They ate in relative silence, Jason too busy working through his mountain of food and Bruce still carefully watching him, but overall it wasn’t an unpleasant meal. Jason didn’t feel totally at ease, of course, but the full night of sleep and Bruce’s comforting presence had managed to calm him down considerably.

Now he finally felt like he could really think again, approach the situation with Roy and the baby in more of a rational manner.

“Did Ollie or Dinah send any updates?” Jason asked after he had finished his last bite.

He wasn’t very hopeful, he was sure Bruce would already have told him if anything had happened, so he wasn’t surprised when the alpha just shook his head.

“So, what’s the plan?”

“We’ll drive back to Gotham,” Bruce said and Jason had expected it, but his shoulders still dropped in disappointment. “Ollie and Dinah asked me yesterday to let them handle it for now and I think they are right. We all want the best for Roy, Jason. And at the moment they have the best chances of helping him.”

“I know,” Jason mumbled, and he knew he sounded like a petulant six-year-old, but he couldn’t help it. “It’s just…it’s Roy, you know? And it’s my fault he got the wrong idea yesterday.”

“Jay, look at me,” Bruce said softly, waiting until Jason met his eyes before he went on, “yesterday was a misunderstanding that you could not have foreseen. It was no one’s fault.”

“But-“

“And I honestly think it was for the best, in a way. Now we know that Roy needs help and as soon as he calms down, we can all work together to provide that. As much as you tried before, Jason, this isn’t something you two should have had to deal with on your own to begin with.”

That wasn’t completely how Jason saw it, but he didn’t argue with his father. He couldn’t change what had happened anyway, so there was no point in wishing for a different turn of events the day before. They just had to deal with the situation as it was now.

An hour later they were making their way through the lobby and Jason immediately spotted the paparazzi lurking outside the front entrance. They were subtle, knowing that hotel security would shoo them away as soon as they made problems, but between Jason’s vigilante training and his experiences as a Wayne family member identifying them was painfully easy.

He wasn’t sure if they were here for them or some other celebrity that was staying in the hotel, but he knew as soon as they saw Bruce Wayne walk out the doors, they would start taking pictures.

Now that Bruce had cleaned up his act, gone from ‘mindless airhead and party animal Brucie’ to ‘respectable parent and slightly dorky Brucie’ in the public eye, public appearances of him that weren’t planned were rare. Any picture of him would make it into the news, even a boring one of him and one of his sons coming out of a hotel.

Jason’s eyes went down to his stomach without even thinking about it, panic suddenly surging through him that his pregnancy would be somehow already obvious. It wasn’t, of course, he still looked the same as he had the day before, no trace yet of a baby belly, but just the thought of the press getting wind of this made him want to run back up to their hotel room and empty his stomach again.

Because it would be inevitable that the press would find out and then all hell would break loose. He could already see the headlines in his mind.

Scandalous teenage affair leaves Wayne heir pregnant and unmated at 16 or some sexist bullshit like that.

It would be awful and Jason was sure it wasn’t only him the press would drag through the mud. It had been a while since they had put into question whether Bruce was a fit parent, but this would surely bring that topic back up.

And if somehow the whole situation with Roy and his addiction came out…Jason didn’t even want to imagine it.

He knew he couldn’t keep the pregnancy secret forever, but he would be damned if he let Roy find out from the news that he was going to be a father. Even though Jason was hoping that Roy would come to his senses and come home before Jason was even showing enough that it was obvious he was pregnant. He really didn’t want to imagine what could happen to Roy if he spiralled for such a long time.

At least it was the summer break right now, which meant Jason didn’t really have to leave the Manor for the next months to go to school, or anywhere really, so the danger of paparazzi or classmates leaking the story was practically non-existent.

“We can take the personnel entrance in the back,” Bruce offered from behind him and when Jason looked up he found him also studying the paparazzi out front.

“No,” Jason said, going for nonchalant as he went on, “not like there is anything for them to see yet, right?”

Bruce was looking him over carefully for a few seconds, then he visibly slipped into his Brucie persona, the slightly ditzy smile and looser posture something Jason never saw on the real Bruce Wayne.

When he had first come to live with the man he had found the easy way Bruce could slip from Bruce to Brucie to Batman and whatever other personality he needed terrifying, never sure if he could really trust him. But it hadn’t taken long for him to identify what was real and what façade; he could even see the glimpses of the real Bruce Wayne through all of his masks now, the underlaying kindness and protectiveness and even awkwardness that made him himself. Now he mostly just found it funny when Bruce had to pretend to be slightly dim as he played up how he didn’t fully know how his company was run or seemingly didn’t even register when people tried to seduce him to get to his money.

They went out the door and as expected the camera shutters were clicking before they had even fully stepped out onto the sidewalk. Bruce pretended not to notice as their car was brought out but Jason could tell he was deliberately standing mostly in front of him to shield him from the cameras, which was nice, but not really necessary.

It didn’t take more than a minute and then they were sitting in the convertible, roof luckily up, driving away from the hotel and out of Star City.

Their arrival back at the Manor hours later found the rest of the family already gathered in the front hall when Bruce and Jason made their way inside from the garage. It was clear from their expectant and curious expressions that Bruce hadn’t told Alfred much when he phoned last night to inform the butler that they would stay the night in Star City and Jason certainly hadn’t told his brothers what had happened yet either.

“So, how did it go?” Dick practically burst out, eagerness and anticipation thrumming through his entire body.

“Are you and Harper going to get bonded?” Damian asked nearly at the same time, going for derisive, but there was still something Jason would call an interested edge to his voice. “Because these two idiots keep making bets, but I told them just because an omega gets pregnant doesn’t mean they have to get bonded, that’s just sexist.”

Normally Jason would find the show of solidarity from his only omega family member heart-warming and he definitely agreed with Damian, but right now just the idea of him and Roy getting bonded felt like a stab to the heart. At the moment Roy wouldn’t even talk to him, who knew where their relationship would go from there – if Roy even wanted to be with him again.

That thought was crazy and Jason told himself so very firmly. Roy loved him and they would find their way back together as soon as the bigger problems in their lives were dealt with. And what a stereotypical teenage reaction of him, to worry about his relationship status with a guy when Roy’s drug addiction and Jason’s pregnancy were so much more important issues to be concerned with.

Jason’s face must have given away that his mind had started to go down some kind of darker path, causing Damian to frown up at him. When he didn’t say anything in answer Dick and Tim started to unsubtly throw questioning looks at Bruce, and Alfred also stepped closer, obvious worry in his eyes as he looked Jason over.

“You must be exhausted from the long drive, why don’t we sit down for some tea?”

Jason gave him a grateful smile and followed Alfred to the kitchen, practically feeling the eyes of his brothers burn into the back of his head.

They all settled around the little breakfast nook that was mainly used when someone wanted to spend time with Alfred while he was busy cooking a meal and it was no different now, as the butler got to work to prepare tea for all of them. The second Tim opened his mouth to ask something Bruce shot him a look that had him snap it shut instantly, instead getting up to get out mugs for everyone.

No one spoke until the tea was ready and poured. Jason was holding the warm mug between his hands as Alfred finally sat down with the rest of them and when Jason didn’t say anything, his gaze fixed firmly on his tea, Bruce began to speak.

It didn’t even take him five minutes to recount what had happened the day before and most of what Jason had told him about the earlier events surrounding Roy and his addiction.

Bruce had asked him during their drive back how much Jason was comfortable with letting the rest of the family know, which he had found equally sweet and idiotic as a question. It wasn’t as if they could keep what was going on with Roy secret from the family and Jason honestly hadn’t even considered it to be an option or even wanted it to be one.

It still didn’t mean he was eager to tell them everything himself. He wasn’t ashamed of Roy, he knew that an addiction was a disease, but talking about the person he loved falling into such a destructive habit hurt and he was grateful Bruce took this burden from him.

When he chanced a look around the table as Bruce was just explaining how he and Ollie and Dinah had agreed that the Queens would handle the situation with Roy on their own for now Jason could clearly read the shock and various degrees of sadness on Alfred’s and his brothers’ faces.

It wasn’t easy to surprise any Wayne and Jason had in some way managed it twice in just a few days, which had to be some kind of record – something Jason knew he would gleefully bask in under different circumstances, but this wasn’t the type of shocked he could ever be happy about.

Because now that Bruce had finished talking everyone turned to face him and Jason found himself faced with worried and sympathetic expressions. Although, he also thought he could detect an undercurrent of anger in both Dick’s and Damian’s eyes, which wasn’t really all that unexpected considering both of them had quite the temper.

Jason squirmed in his seat as no one said anything until finally Alfred broke the oppressing silence with a quiet sigh.

“You carried quite a lot on your shoulders alone, Master Jason. I hope you know your family will always be here to help you in any way you and Master Roy need.”

Jason let out a breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding as his whole body relaxed with relief. The easy way in which Alfred reassured him, made certain to include Roy in his words, settled something inside him. He hadn’t really been afraid of his family’s reactions, but there had still been that little voice inside his head that told him to expect the worst. It was a remnant of his early childhood he had never managed to completely shake, even though with each year he lived in Wayne Manor it had gotten quieter as it’s doubts had proven unnecessary.

“Thanks, Alfie. I appreciate it,” Jason said honestly, knowing words could barely convey how much it meant to him that he could rely on his family in this situation.

“How are you holding up, Little Wing?”

“Fine,” Jason said immediately, taking in a long breath at the doubtful look Dick was levelling at him. He let it out slowly and started again, this time thinking about his answer before he spoke.

“Well, I mean it isn’t ideal and I’m worried about Roy but…but at least now people know and he can get help. That’s the most important thing, you know.”

“Yes,” Dick said and Jason had the impression it was a little forced, but his brother still reached out to place a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Roy’s wellbeing is important. But you can’t forget to look after yourself.”

“I’m not,” Jason said, brow furrowing. “But how can you expect me to not worry about my boyfriend?”

“Just-” Dick began, stopping and then going on, “I’m just worried about you, is all.”

“Of course you are, you’re like a mother hen,” Jason said, rolling his eyes exaggeratedly but also bumping his shoulder against his older brother’s.

“Does that make you my chick?” Dick asked, ruffling Jason’s hair, making him duck away with a laugh.

There weren’t any more questions concerning Roy after that, they all just sat together and drank the rest of their tea, the conversation turning to more mundane topics. When they got up to put their dishes away Tim briefly pressed close to Jason’s side, a silent show of support, and Damian made sure to catch his eyes and nod so solemnly, Jason got the impression he had just sworn an oath, before he strode out of the kitchen, calling for Titus to take him on a walk.

Alfred and Bruce were staying behind, quietly discussing something as Jason made his way towards the stairs, Dick right next to him. His older brother was silent, but Jason could tell there was something on his mind he wanted to talk about.

“What is it, Dickiebird?” he prompted as they were nearing their rooms and Dick still hadn’t said anything.

“You know I would do anything for you, Jay,” he said after a moment of hesitation and if he hadn’t sounded so sincere Jason would have instantly made fun of him for being the cheesiest person alive.

Instead he simply answered with an, “I know.”

“So if there is anything…” Dick said, letting his words trail off as they reached Jason’s door, coming to a stop in front of it.

“There’s really nothing you can do,” Jason said with a wry twist of his lips. “Some things are even beyond the mighty Dick Grayson, I guess.”

“I guess,” Dick echoed, and Jason couldn’t stand to see his brother so forlorn, so he stepped closer and wrapped his arms around him in a firm hug.

“The people I love being there for me is all I need,” Jason said quietly, feeling strong arms encircle him as well.

“That’s what you deserve,” Dick said just as softly, but Jason thought he heard an edge in his brother’s voice and the arms around him tightened even more for a moment before Dick let him go and turned towards his own room.

Jason frowned after his brother, but he didn’t stop him from vanishing into his bedroom and with one last look at Dick’s closed door he opened his own.

Now that he was alone Jason found himself sitting on his bed, reaching for his phone without thought. It was so ingrained in him to text Roy whenever he had time, but right now he wasn’t even sure if Roy would read his messages…or if hearing from him would make everything worse, so he placed his phone on the desk, deliberately too far away from his bed to reach without standing up.

Jason didn’t really have anything to do and he also didn’t want to wallow in his worries anymore, so he grabbed a book and settled down on his bed. He needed some time for himself and reading was always the best way for him to forget about everything around him.

A knock on his door pulled Jason out of the book he had surprisingly been able to lose himself in some hours later and when he looked up it was already getting dark outside and Damian was poking his head into his room.

“Pennyworth sent me. Dinner is ready.”

Jason nodded and put his book away before making his way down to the dining room with Damian. Tim and Bruce were already waiting for them as Alfred was placing the last dish on the table.

“And Master Richard?” he asked, casting an inquisitive look at Damian.

“He wasn’t in his room,” the youngest replied, shrugging his shoulders lightly.

“I think I saw him head down to the Cave earlier,” Tim said and Alfred let out a long sigh.

“I wish just one person in this family could refrain from working all the time,” he said, and the way Bruce ducked his head made it clear he knew very well who Alfred blamed for this tendency they all shared.

“I’ll get him,” Bruce said, standing up quickly and hurrying out of the room.

Jason shared an amused look with his brothers as he sat down – it was always a delight to see the mighty Batman cowed by mere words spoken in a calm, British voice – and then they all proceeded to fill their plates as they waited; no point in letting everything get cold.

Jason was just contemplating how disapproving Alfred’s eyebrow would get if he started to eat before Bruce and Dick joined them when his father finally came back. He was alone though and the stormy look in his eyes and the thin press of his lips had Jason’s stomach sinking, his appetite gone in an instant.

“Where is Richard?” Damian asked when Bruce only stood in the doorway for a few seconds, posture stiff with suppressed anger.

“According to the logs on the computer,” Bruce forced out from between clenched teeth, ”he took the zeta to Star City about an hour ago.”

“Shit,” Tim said quietly and Jason could only agree.

Dick’s overprotectiveness and his temper combined with Roy’s hot headedness and feelings of betrayal…this could only end in disaster.

Chapter Text

Jason was reaching for his phone before he even knew what he was doing, the only thought running through his head that he needed to stop Dick. But he didn’t find his phone in his pocket of course, because like a moron he had left it up in his room. He was about to ask one of his brothers for theirs, but Tim was already dialling when he looked up to do so.

“I already tried to call Dick,” Bruce said darkly from the doorway, “he didn’t answer.”

Tim got the same result and when he pushed the end call button Jason was sure he heard a quiet “that idiot” mumbled under his breath.

“B,” Jason said, turning to Bruce. As childish as it was, he still held that firm belief deep inside him that his father could fix anything.

“I’m going to Star City,” Bruce said the moment their eyes met and then he was striding back down the hallway towards the entrance to the Cave.

Jason and his brothers scrambled after him, Alfred following in a more dignified but still hurried fashion. The food behind them was completely forgotten.

Bruce was just making his way across the Cave, the rest of them several feet behind him, when they all stopped as the zeta started to glow and announced the arrival of Nightwing.

Jason felt his stomach drop.

The fact that Dick was back so soon was either very good or very bad…and knowing his older brother and his boyfriend, Jason wasn’t inclined to bet on the former.

Dick stepped out of the light and immediately froze like a deer in headlights when he came face to face with Bruce.

“Dick,” Bruce growled, deep and angry, an alpha demanding an explanation, and Jason could feel the instinct to bare his neck shoot through him even though the tone wasn’t directed at him.

For a split second it seemed like Dick was going to do exactly that, but then he instead straightened up, posture tense as he stared defiantly back at Bruce. In doing so he had also lowered the hand that had previously been held up in front of his face, giving the whole room a good view of his bleeding nose and what was soon going to be an impressive black eye.

“What?” Dick snapped, which was just idiotic given that everyone present knew exactly what Bruce was asking about, but that was precisely why Dick’s temper was so dangerous. When he lost it, he turned into one of the dumbest people Jason had ever met. And today that could have horrible consequences…

Bruce was just opening his mouth to respond but Jason was faster, barrelling past him and storming towards Dick.

“What the fuck did you do, Dick?”

Jason came to a stop right in front of his older brother, meeting Dick’s eyes with an angry glare, seconds away from baring his teeth and snarling with fury. He had the choice in this moment between getting angry or letting the terror he was feeling at the thought of what Dick might have done overcome him, so he went with the anger.

“What needed to be done and what no one else seemed capable of doing,” Dick hurled back.

“Dick-“ Jason snarled, but his older brother didn’t let him finish.

“Roy is a drug addict and everyone’s too cowardly to confront him about that, so I did. For god’s sake, he was taking freaking heroin around you even though he knows your history, Jason. Did you expect me to just let that go?”

“I expected you to think!” Jason shouted, pushing hard with both hands against Dick’s chest, making him stumble a step back. “I expect you not to act like a dick of an alpha, treating me like I’m some weak omega you have to protect.”

“That has nothing to do with it,” Dick seethed, stepping forward right back into Jason’s personal space, jabbing a finger into Jason’s chest as he made his point. “Roy has a drug problem, he got you pregnant, he has to face what he has done.”

“Tell me you didn’t fucking tell him,” Jason snarled, voice low and cold and dangerous in a way that made even Dick hesitate. “If you told him about the baby, Dick, I swear-“

“I didn’t,” Dick said, tone less hostile, but there was something sullen in it that made Jason’s teeth clench. “I didn’t get that far. Would have served him right, though.”

Only Bruce’s grip on Jason’s arm prevented him from punching Dick in the face.

“Calm down,” Bruce commanded, and Jason growled at him in fury, but he still let himself be dragged back a few steps, away from Dick and towards Tim and Damian, who grabbed his arms immediately to stop him from attacking Dick again.

“Dick, tell me exactly what happened with Roy. Right now!”

Dick bristled at the harsh order, but after a few seconds of him and Bruce staring at each other Dick seemingly gave in, breaking the staring contest to look away as his shoulders hunched in slightly.

“I went to Star to confront him,” Dick began. He crossed his arms and straightened back up, looking at Bruce with something like bitter vindication flashing in his eyes. “Found him hanging out with some douchebags from his school, all high as fuck.”

It was really speaking to the seriousness of the situation that neither Bruce nor Alfred had made a single comment regarding their language, Jason thought absentmindedly.

“I tried to convince him what he was doing was stupid and that he should just come home, let people help him,” Dick went on, a clear note of defensiveness in his tone.

“And then?” Bruce prompted when Dick stopped speaking.

“Then I mentioned Jay and everything went to hell,” Dick said and then fell silent.

“What did you say?” Jason ground out from between clenched teeth. Dick’s eyes briefly flickered over to him and there was guilt in them, clear as day.

“Just that he should know better and not drag you into stuff like this,” Dick mumbled, looking away and Jason knew there was more Dick wasn’t saying.

Bruce could obviously also tell because his brow settled into a deep scowl as he demanded, “What exactly did you say, Dick.”

“Look, it doesn’t matter, okay?” Dick nearly burst out, clearly uncomfortable. “I said some stuff, Roy said some stuff, and then he punched me, so I punched him back. There were other people there, so neither of us went all out, if you’re worried about our identities being revealed.”

“I never said-“ Bruce began, but Dick barrelled on, seemingly on a roll now.

“Anyway, as soon as he had a chance Roy took his stuff and bolted and I would have followed, but one of his friends tripped me up and once I was outside he was gone.”

Dick’s words were followed by a heavy silence and Jason tried not to think too hard about what could happen to Roy, alone, high, and emotionally compromised on the streets of Star City. He was not very successful.

“B, we have to-“

“I know, Jay.”

Bruce was already walking past Dick towards the zeta tube.

“I’ll contact Dinah and Ollie, tell them what happened, and then we’ll continue to look for Roy,” he explained shortly. Then his voice took on a sharp note, anger hidden underneath every word, “Dick, we will talk about your behaviour later. Wait for me in your room.”

“What,” Dick scoffed, visibly bristling, “I’m not a child, you can’t ground me.”

“You behave like a child, you get treated like a child,” Bruce shot back. When Dick opened his mouth to continue arguing Bruce growled at him, making Dick freeze for an instant. “I don’t have time for this, Dick. You will wait until I come back, is that clear?”

The nod Dick gave after several seconds was miniscule and his jaw was clenched so tight Jason thought his teeth might be cracking, but it was enough for Bruce who pressed a button on the zeta and then vanished in a stream of light.

Alfred was the first to move, walking over to Dick to check on his injuries.

Dick waved him off with a dismissive “I’m fine, Alf.” and then he turned to face his brothers.

To Jason’s surprise both Tim and Damian stayed firmly by his side, letting go of his arms, but not moving towards Dick. Instead, they both pressed closer against Jason and glared at their oldest brother.

“That was stupid, Dick,” Tim said and Damian was nodding at his words in agreement.

“You should know better than to confront an addict like this,” Damian added in his haughty manner that was usually reserved for particularly stupid criminals.

Jason felt something warm deep inside him at the support his brothers were showing him, even though he was still worried about the consequences Dick’s actions might have caused.

“Someone had to do it,” Dick repeated his earlier words and Jason wasn’t sure if he was trying to convince them or himself.

“Yeah, and it worked great, didn’t it?” Jason scoffed derisively. “You just made everything so much worse.”

“I just wanted to help you,” Dick nearly shouted, clearly getting agitated again.

“Then maybe you should have asked Jason if he wanted help first,” Tim yelled back before Jason could. Maybe Dick wasn’t the only Wayne kid with a bad temper.

“Fine,” Dick finally seethed, looking between his three brothers who were all glaring at him and Jason could swear there was a flash of hurt across his face before it turned back to bitter anger. “Fine, if you all think what I did was so wrong, then I’m out of here.”

With that he spun around and headed for his bike.

“Master Richard,” Alfred called after him, but Dick simply put on his helmet and straddled his bike, speeding out of the Cave without even a glance back at him.

“Father will not be pleased,” Damian said as they all looked after the taillight vanishing down the tunnel.

Alfred let out a heavy sigh before turning back to them and ushering them out of the Cave.

“Dinner is still waiting for you, young men.”

They reheated the food in the microwave (which Alfred only very grudgingly allowed) and then sat down for a very quiet meal. No one spoke much, everyone too preoccupied with the elephant in the room. By the time the dishes were cleared away Jason was itching to go down to the Cave and check in with Bruce, but he knew that wouldn’t do any good, so he simply slunk off to his room.

His phone was still lying on his desk and without thinking about it Jason checked it for messages, but there was nothing there.

His fingers hovered several minutes over Roy’s contact while he was internally debating whether he should reach out to him or not. Could his involvement even make this situation any worse at this point? What would he even say to him?

Finally deciding that he couldn’t stand this inactivity and feeling of helplessness any longer, Jason hit the call button.

It didn’t even ring, instead the line went instantly to voicemail. So Roy must have turned his phone off. Fantastic, that meant he had most likely taken measures so he couldn’t be tracked down easily.

Fucking Dick and his need to meddle. Now everything was just getting so much worse. Why couldn’t he have simply respected that Roy needed some time to cool off and then Ollie and Dinah could have talked to him and convinced him to get help, but no, the great Dick Grayson just had to get involved.

Jason sat heavily on his bed and let himself fall back into the pillows, staring up at his ceiling. He knew he wouldn’t get any sleep until Bruce returned with hopefully good news. There was an itch under his skin, the familiar craving for cigarettes, and he wanted so bad to smoke just one to calm himself down.

With a huff he got back up and marched out into the hallway, over towards first Tim’s and then Damian’s rooms. He threw their doors open, shouting “Come with me!” at both of them and then walked straight into Dick’s room.

Two pairs of footsteps followed him, both Tim and Damian eyeing him curiously as he opened one of the closets and began to search through Dick’s completely unorganized mountains of stuff.

“I need to let off some steam,” Jason explained, finally emerging from the closet, holding the bloodiest splatter horror game their brother owned aloft (one that the three of them were definitely not allowed to play). “Wanna join me?”

Matching grins were his answer and soon Jason found himself sandwiched between his little brothers on his bed, all of them with controllers in hand as they gleefully ripped zombies apart with chainsaws.

It might not be the same as going out on patrol or smoking, but it certainly took Jason’s mind off of things.

Hours later Jason blinked his eyes open to find himself buried under two very cuddly brothers and the blanket Bruce was just tugging over the three of them.

“B?” Jason asked, mind still fuzzy but aware that there was something important he needed to ask Bruce.

“Go back to sleep,” Bruce shushed him quietly, tucking him in firmly before pressing a kiss to Jason’s hair. “We’ll talk tomorrow, Jaylad.”

The soothing voice of his father and the two warm bodies next to him had Jason asleep again in seconds.


It was the elbow in his face that woke Jason up. Jason had fallen asleep often enough next to his brothers to simply shrug this off, remove the offending limb from his face, and go back to sleep, but as soon as he had shoved Tim’s arm off and closed his eyes again Damian shifted and now his bony knee was viciously poking into Jason’s back.

Sighing, Jason opened his eyes again, now properly awake, and began the arduous process of squirming out from between them without waking either of his brothers up. It took several minutes, but finally he was free and Tim and Damian were still snoring peacefully, so he counted that as a success.

Maybe the elbow to the face had also been a good thing, Jason thought several minutes later when his morning sickness had set in and he was rushing into the bathroom. At least this way he had already been awake and didn’t need to scramble out from underneath his brothers to get there in time.

When he came back into his bedroom he couldn’t help his grin at the way Tim and Damian had shifted into his vacated spot and were now cuddling with each other, still fast asleep. This would make for great blackmail material he thought, snapping as many pictures with his phone as he could.

Usually he would have sent the best ones immediately off to Dick, but just the thought of his older brother had Jason’s blood boiling. That pompous ass and his big brother complex, making things so much worse and-

Jason forced himself to stop thinking about it. Getting furious again wouldn’t help anyone. Instead, he quietly made his way out of his room and went downstairs to find Bruce. There must be some good news after his trip to Star City last night, right?

Bruce was sitting at the kitchen counter, talking with Alfred as the butler prepared breakfast, and with one look Jason knew there weren’t any good news this morning. It was in the slump of Bruce’s shoulder, the dark rings under his eyes and the way he clutched his coffee mug like his life depended on it.

“Jay,” Bruce greeted when he walked in, visibly straightening up and putting on a less serious expression than the one that had previously been on his face.

“Master Jason, did you sleep well?” Alfred asked from the stove and Jason muttered a mostly routine “Yeah, Alfie.” as he sat down next to Bruce.

“How bad?” Jason asked and the sigh Bruce let out made his heart sink.

“We didn’t find him last night,” Bruce opened with, voice tired and exhausted. “Dinah checked with every friend or acquaintance of Roy’s in the city she could think of and Ollie and I tried to track him down, but Roy’s phone is shut off and he deactivated every other tracker we could have used.”

That wasn’t really surprising to Jason, honestly. Though it was telling that apparently Roy had only gone so far now after his confrontation with Dick and not earlier after he had stormed out on his family. In some way he must have still trusted Ollie and Dinah not to use the emergency trackers each JL kid had to carry on them. And true enough, if Bruce knew that the trackers had been deactivated they must have tried to access them.

With that knowledge the hope Jason had of Roy coming to his senses and coming home on his own were crushed into pieces. Now he didn’t trust any of them anymore it seemed, which would only lead him into a worse situation.

“We think he took a zeta tube out of the city,” Bruce said, pulling Jason out of his dark thoughts. “A trip was logged shortly after Dick came back to Gotham, but the destination was wiped, which was most likely Roy.”

“That means he could be anywhere on the planet right now,” Jason said and even he heard the defeated tone in his voice.

“We will keep looking,” Bruce said, laying a hand on Jason’s shoulder and squeezing comfortingly. “Do you have any idea where he might have gone?”

Jason shook his head. No place really came to mind and even if they had ever talked about anywhere they might run off to, Jason was sure Roy wouldn’t go somewhere he had told Jason about. He was running away from him too, after all.

Bruce let out a heavy sigh. “We will find him.”

Jason wanted to believe him, but he knew if Roy really didn’t want to be found…it could take them quite a while to find him, even with all the resources Bruce and the Queens had access to. That was what you got when you trained your children for covert missions, Jason guessed. And Roy was also stubborn enough to keep running for a long time, especially after Dick hurt his pride or whatever had happened last night.

“Dick just had to make everything so much worse,” Jason huffed and he didn’t miss the downward twitch of Bruce’s mouth.

Oh, his father was pissed at Dick and a viciously petty part of Jason was very happy about that. Served him right for running in half-cocked when no one even asked for his help.

“He didn’t help, no,” Bruce said darkly. “And I definitely have some things to discuss with him. He should have known better than to confront Roy like that.”

“Alphas are just fucking stupid,” Jason muttered, earning a mild “Language” from Alfred, but also making Bruce’s mouth twitch up into a smile.

“Are you calling me stupid?” Bruce asked and as morose as the conversation had been, Jason couldn’t help but grin at his father teasingly.

“If he shoe fits…,” he said with a smirk and was instantly pulled against Bruce’s side, a hand ruffling through his hair roughly.

“Ungrateful little brat,” Bruce huffed as Jason tried to free himself half-heartedly with little success before he gave up and just let himself go limp.

“We’ll find him, I promise, Jay,” Bruce eventually murmured into Jason’s hair and Jason pressed closer, unable to answer through the lump in his throat.

They would find Roy, even if it took time, Jason was sure of it. The question was only what condition he would be in by then.

A distant thump followed by a yell had Jason snap out of his thoughts and as his head swivelled to face the door pounding footsteps were growing louder as they came closer from the hallway.

Bruce let out another deep sigh just as the door was thrown open, Damian barrelling into the room with Tim hot on his heels.

“Father, Drake is a liar and you cannot believe-“

“Damian attacked me totally unprovoked and-“

Jason moved to sit back fully on his own seat as Bruce stood up, one hand on his hip while the other was pinching his nose, eyes firmly shut as his youngest sons were arguing over each other.

“Boys,” Bruce said, sounding like he wished to be anywhere but here. Neither of them listened in the slightest.

No matter how dark Jason’s life got, at least he always had his crazy family for entertainment, Jason thought, settling back with a slight smile to watch the train wreck that was unfolding before him.

Chapter Text

“Jay.”

Bruce’s voice pulled Jason out of his thoughts. He brought his gaze up to his father, who was giving him a pointed look before nodding down at Jason’s hands, and only then did he notice that he had been twisting the cuffs of his hoodie and restlessly picking at the seams. Jason immediately let his hands drop with a grimace.

It was Roy’s hoodie and he really didn’t want to ruin that small piece of him he still had while he didn’t even know where Roy was.

“Sorry,” he murmured, hands now flexing at his sides, seeking some way to alleviate his nerves.

“Relax, Jay,” Bruce said, stepping in front of Jason and taking both of his hands in his, stilling his restless fidgeting. “You have nothing to be nervous about,” Bruce went on in a soothing voice, making sure to catch Jason’s eyes. “But if you are uncomfortable, we can reschedule.”

The elevator dinged and the door behind Bruce slid open to reveal the familiar corridor leading to the doctor’s offices of Jason’s omega practitioner.

Jason straightened up, shook his head sharply and marched out into the hallway, leaving Bruce to follow him hurriedly before the doors closed.

Bruce was right, there was nothing to worry about, this was just a doctor’s visit. Sure, they would be checking on his baby, but that shouldn’t make him feel so apprehensive. He wanted this baby, so why was he getting so jumpy all of a sudden?

Jason made his way to the reception desk where he was greeted with a smile and immediately told which room to go to. This was of course one of the best clinics in the city (not that Bruce would ever let him go to a doctor who wasn’t good in their field) and the staff knew him and Bruce by now.

And Bruce knew all of them by name, of course. Jason had never asked, but he was sure every staff member here had been checked so thoroughly the secret service would be jealous. He definitely knew everyone who had ever medically cared for any Wayne had to sign non-disclosure agreements.

As such, he wasn’t even worried that anything about his pregnancy would be leaked to the press, but still, there was this swooping feeling in his gut that made him restless and twitchy.

He could do this, Jason told himself firmly as he sat down on the medical cot, pressing his fingers firmly into the soft mattress to keep them from ruining his hoodie. He had faced literal supervillains, he could get through one measly doctor’s appointment.

Bruce was sitting in the visitor’s chair next to Jason, still looking Jason over with obvious concern, but thankfully he didn’t say anything. An orderly came in to draw Jason’s blood, making polite conversation with Bruce when Jason didn’t give more than monosyllabic answers and once he was gone the room was left in silence again.

“Jaylad,” Bruce eventually said but was interrupted when the door opened again, this time admitting Jason’s doctor.

Dr. Sumner was an older omega woman, a head shorter than Jason but still able to make people snap to attention with a look. She had a no nonsense attitude that Jason found grounding, always telling him clearly what was going on and never treating him like he was a dumb child ever since he had first started coming here for suppressants after his first heat.

“Jason,” she greeted, coming over to shake his hand first before turning to Bruce, “Mr. Wayne. So, contraception didn’t work, did it.”

Her frank words made Jason’s lips twitch up into a smile as he nodded.

“Well, it happens. Chances are slim, but someone has to be the lucky one. Should consider playing the lottery with those odds.”

Jason let out a huff of a laugh as she came back over to sit on the rolling chair in front of him.

“Money’s not really a problem for us.”

“I imagine it isn’t,” she agreed with a smile. As she went on her expression turned more serious. “Jason, if you have any questions at any point, just stop me and ask. Also, if you don’t want your dad present for something, tell me, okay? I know this is most likely a very stressful time for you and I am here to make sure you are all right, got it?”

Jason nodded, settling a bit more firmly into his seat.

“Okay then. Your blood tests will come back tomorrow and I will let you know if everything is all right. It’s just a precaution, mind you. Today I want to assess your general health and take an ultrasound to check on the progress of the pregnancy. Any questions?”

Jason shook his head and the next few minutes were spent with him answering questions about what symptoms he was already experiencing, how he was feeling in general and so on.

At the question if he knew when the baby had most likely been conceived Jason couldn’t help his blush and how his eyes flickered over to Bruce before coming back to his doctor as he stuttered out an answer. Not like Bruce didn’t know already but he still felt kind of awkward talking about the times he’d had sex in front of his dad.

Dr. Somner just nodded, made a little note, and went on with her next question.

“I remember you were going out with that nice Queen boy. Is he the sire? A male alpha, am I right?”

Jason felt a lump in his throat as he nodded. He knew it was important to know, pregnancies with beta sires were oftentimes more complicated for male omegas, so it made sense for his doctor to ask, but still. Just the thought of Roy left him feeling unable to breathe properly because of his worry.

“Is he not joining us today?” she asked and now her professional tone had given way to something more sympathetic.

God, Jason must seem like such a cliché; the dumb teenager who had gotten pregnant and dumped for it. Even though that wasn’t the case Jason couldn’t meet her eyes as he answered, afraid to see pity in them.

“No, he’s not coming.”

“Jason, can you look at me?”

The words were gentle but still firm enough that Jason raised his eyes, meeting his doctor’s gaze head on. There was no trace of pity visible in her expression, instead he could only read kindness and determination.

“I have seen a lot of young people get pregnant by accident over the years and if there is one thing I learned it is that they are always stronger than they think. I won’t lie to you Jason, a pregnancy is an exhausting process and it might be easier with a partner. But you don’t need one.”

There was such conviction in her words that Jason couldn’t help but believe her, unable to even look away. It felt like she was sharing immensely important knowledge with him and even though her words didn’t apply perfectly to his situation, Jason still felt like she had struck a chord within him.

“If you decide to have this baby on your own, you can do it. It will be your responsibility, your life that changes, but it will also be you that gets the reward of being a parent. So think carefully about what you want, but don’t let something like an absent sire factor into it, okay.”

There was a short silence, no one in the room seemed to even breathe before she tacked on in a much lighter tone, “And also, I think you’re never really on your own with a dad like yours, don’t you think?”

At that she nodded over towards Bruce who was practically hovering over her shoulder with a wink that had Jason smile back at her as he nodded in agreement.

“Great, so lets get this started,” she said as she stood up and went around the medical cot, motioning for Jason to lie down as she turned on the ultrasound machine.

“Shirt up please.”

Jason did as he was instructed, hissing slightly as the cold gel was put on his skin and then there was the strange sensation of the wand being passed over his stomach. It took a few moments but eventually Dr. Sumner found what she was looking for, stilling her moving hand and turning the monitor towards Jason and Bruce with a smile.

“There we have the little surprise,” she said and Jason’s eyes were absolutely glued to the screen.

The little black and white blob didn’t yet look like a human, really, more like a peanut, but Jason still felt his breath stop because…because that was his baby. There was an actual, little human inside him. The heartbeat was also audible, so much faster than that of any person Jason had ever heard, but still unmistakably a steady rhythm.

There was a baby growing inside of him!

A new life that he and Roy had made, together. And no matter what was going on with Roy, he still loved him and he already loved this baby that was a part of both of them so damn much, he didn’t think he could ever put into words how deep the feeling went.

Jason felt a hand on his shoulder and when he looked up he saw Bruce, now standing next to him, just as captivated by the screen as Jason had been. His father looked down when he moved and there was such a soft smile on his face Jason couldn’t help but smile back immediately.

Roy might have missed this moment, but in a way Jason was so glad that he could share it with Bruce, a man who lived for his family more than anything else.

“Everything looks perfectly healthy,” Dr. Somner announced, making them both focus back on her. “I think Jason was spot on. You’re now at about 9 to 10 weeks I’d say, which fits very well with your timeline. Do you want me to print you a picture?”

Both Jason and Bruce said “Yes” at the same time and Dr. Somner hit the print button on the machine with a smile. As she handed Jason the first picture her expression turned a little more sober again when she asked, “Going by your reaction, I would say you intend to keep the baby, Jason. Is that right?”

Jason nodded, eyes still on the little print out.

“Okay, then we have some more things to discuss.”

Jason cleaned his stomach up and pulled his shirt down, sitting back up properly for this last part of the appointment. The first thing they went over was how he should wean himself off the suppressants he was still taking over the next two weeks. It was dangerous to just stop taking them, so Jason hadn’t yet changed his daily dose, but during a pregnancy it was not advisable to influence the body’s hormones like that.

“Your body is going through some serious changes at the moment,” Dr. Somner explained, “and stopping your suppressants will add to that in a very significant way. It is not unusual for omegas to experience side effects as their hormones rebalance themselves, but if those continue for more than a month or if they get out of hand, I want you to contact me immediately.”

Given that Jason already had morning sickness that sounded like a lot of additional fun, but Jason didn’t voice his thoughts, only nodded in acknowledgement.

Next they discussed an appropriate diet (not that Jason had a problem in that department; Alfred would see to it that Jason was taken care of), what things in general Jason should look out for and when his next appointment should be.

Once they finally said goodbye and Jason was back in the elevator with Bruce, heading down for their car in the underground garage, Jason felt like his head was stuffed full with so much new information. Earlier he would have said that he had a passable knowledge of pregnancies and what they entailed, but after this talk, he felt like he was absolutely unprepared.

He had been focused on Roy so much since he had found out that he had barely even thought about what being pregnant would really be like. His life was changing right now, not in a few months when the baby would be born.

It was absolutely right what Dr. Somner had said. This baby was his responsibility and he needed to treat it like that. He couldn’t spend all his time worrying about Roy, who he couldn’t help at the moment anyway. Instead his energy would be better spent preparing for the baby.

Decision made, Jason turned to Bruce once they were sitting in the car, his father driving them slowly back up the ramp towards the busy mid-afternoon Gotham streets.

“Hey B, can we go to the bookstore?”

“Sure,” Bruce said easily, and Jason could tell that he was in a really good mood right now. He could probably ask for anything and get it.

“The antiquities one on 3rd street? You said you wanted a special edition they had.”

“No,” Jason said, although it was really tempting. He had wanted that collector’s edition of Pride and Prejudice for ages and the bookshop owners had only found it a few weeks ago. With everything that was going on, Jason hadn’t really had a chance to swing by the shop though.

“No, just a regular bookshop. Barnes and Nobles is fine, it doesn’t really matter.”

Bruce shot him a curious look but changed lanes so he could take them to the big shopping mall on the edge of the city.

Jason was very glad he was wearing Roy’s slightly too big hoodie, because it made it so much easier to hunch down into it to not be recognized as they were making their way through the crowd. Bruce was luckily also in what Jason and his brothers called his ‘dad outfit’ – washed out jeans, a flannel button down (Clark’s influence) and a baseball hat that overshadowed his face – certainly nothing that screamed billionaire CEO of Wayne Enterprises.

In the bookshop Jason made his way past the rows with the science fiction novels and the classics without a second look, even though he would have usually been lost in those sections within seconds. Bruce was silently following him, not asking where his son was leading him, but Jason had the suspicion that he already knew. You really didn’t need to be a detective to figure this one out.

Jason came to a stop several feet in front of the pregnancy and baby care section, letting his eyes sweep over the sheer number of books that were available, and sucked in a steadying breath.

He could do this. He was going to be a good parent, no matter what else was going on in his life, and he would start right now.

Bruce had also stopped right next to him, putting a hand on Jason's shoulder when he didn’t move.

“Everything okay?” he asked quietly, looking at the bookcases instead of Jason.

“Yeah, just thinking.”

Bruce hummed, his hand squeezing Jason’s shoulder lightly.

“So, what are we looking for?”

Jason didn’t know why, but suddenly he felt so grateful that Bruce was by his side for every step of this journey. He couldn’t have asked for a better father and that thought had tears spring into his eyes.

“Just, you know, the basic stuff,” Jason said, hoping his voice didn’t give away how all over the place his emotions were. Really, it was ridiculous how often he just started to cry since he had gotten pregnant.

“Okay, son.”

With that Bruce went to the closest shelf and started to look over the titles, leaving Jason the privacy to hastily wipe at his eyes before he joined him.

It took a lot longer than Jason had expected and at some point he thought that maybe he should have just ordered the books online, but he absolutely preferred to read through them first. Bruce didn’t really say much the whole time, only passed Jason books he thought might be useful or interesting, never questioning Jason’s decisions on which to take.

In the end they carried a stack of 23 books to the register. The cashier who rang them up was smiling more with each book she scanned and by the end of it she looked at Jason with an amused twinkle in her eye.

“First time parent, huh?”

There was nothing accusatory in her voice, no dig at his age, but Jason still felt slightly embarrassed as he nodded.

“Well, only the good ones prepare like this, so that is going to be one lucky kid.”

Jason didn’t know what to say to that, only stammered out a “Thanks” and grabbed the first stack of books as Bruce paid.


Two weeks later Jason had worked his way through more than half of his new books and with each one he felt a little bit better prepared, but he also realized how little he had really known about pregnancies before.

Not that he wasn’t collecting first hand experience already. In addition to the morning sickness and the maybe a little heightened emotions (that commercial for toothpaste had been super sad, no matter what Tim and Damian said) he was also peeing more often than ever in his life and his skin felt so itchy at times, it reminded him of having chickenpox.

Also he really needed to start shopping for maternity clothes, because his belly had started to show and now all of his jeans were slightly too tight, which meant he could only wear his sweatpants comfortably. Not that Jason really needed clothes at the moment, he didn’t really leave the house after all, but Alfred was very insistent on him dressing like a proper gentlemen, as he said.

Though maternity clothes weren’t the biggest item on Jason’s list of things he worried about. The number one spot was still held by Roy. Bruce didn’t really tell him much, but Jason knew that Ollie and Dinah were searching for him and the fact that they hadn’t been able to find even a trace of him told them all that Roy was very determined not to be found.

Or he might be dead, a nasty voice in Jason’s head said, but he shoved it away. They weren’t bonded, but Jason was absolutely sure that he would know if something happened to Roy. He had to hold onto that belief or he would be going crazy.

As he couldn’t do anything to help in that regard, he instead focused on his baby preparations. Knowing what to expect with each stage of the pregnancy was one thing, another was baby proofing the Manor – and that was a task that seemed nearly insurmountable.

They still had a lot of time, but with the size of the house Jason felt that they needed every minute they could get. He hadn’t even noticed before how many breakable vases, sharp furniture edges and open sockets were strewn all over the place and now each time he entered a room he couldn’t help but see all the baby death traps each one held.

He had recruited Tim and Damian to help him fix that, so now most of the family bedrooms and the sitting room were at least kind of baby proof. Getting Damian to move his katana collection downstairs to the Cave had ended in a screaming match between them but ultimately Bruce had stepped in and brokered a compromise – the swords could stay upstairs until the baby learned to crawl, which was sensible, but left Damian scowling at Jason for hours.

Now though Jason found his youngest brother curled up next to him as he closed his latest book and took in his surroundings after hours of reading. It wasn’t unheard of for Damian to be cuddly, though he usually preferred Dick for such open shows of affection. But Dick hadn’t been back to the Manor since he had stormed out of the Cave.

As far as Jason knew, Dick hadn’t reacted to any of Bruce’s attempts to contact him either. Their father still clenched his jaw and got very quiet whenever Dick was mentioned and it strongly reminded Jason of his first time at the Manor, when the two of them had been constantly fighting. And while Jason didn’t like his father and brother fighting like this, he couldn’t say he felt bad about it. In all honesty, Jason was still mad at Dick and if he didn’t have to see him for some time, all the better.

But his continued absence left a noticeable hole in the family, Jason had to admit.

Jason looked down at his brother, curled against his side and eyes glued to his phone as he was playing some game. The kid hadn’t noticed Jason’s attention yet and usually he would have ruthlessly taken advantage of that to annoy or prank him somehow, but right now Jason didn’t feel like it.

This pregnancy was really screwing with his big brother instincts because all he wanted to do was wrap the kid up in a blanket and cuddle him closer. Damn hormones - his little brothers would never respect him again.

“I can hear you thinking from here, Todd,” Damian huffed and Jason finally overcame his indecision and ruffled the kid’s hair (very lightly).

“At least I can think and don’t turn my brain to mush with dumb games.”

“Tt.”

The kid might act like he was annoyed, but he was also leaning more heavily against Jason, so he just smirked and grabbed another book from his stack.

They stayed that way until it was time for dinner and later Jason found himself once again with his youngest brother leaning against him as they were watching a movie together, just the two of them. Bruce and Tim were out on patrol, Alfred monitoring them from the Cave. During the summer break the Robins took turns accompanying Batman and this night was Damian’s night off.

As Jason put his arm around Damian his only reaction was to snuggle closer. He had to miss Dick really badly Jason thought and felt the first stirrings of a bad conscious that he was the reason their oldest brother wasn’t around at the moment.

Although, Dick also hadn’t made any attempts to apologize. If he did, maybe Jason would consider forgiving him – but only if Dick reached out first, he was the one who had fucked up after all.

Jason put those thoughts out of his mind as he and Damian mercilessly mocked the martial arts in the movies they were watching until eventually Alfred ushered them both upstairs.

“Alfie, come on, since when do I need a bedtime?” Jason whined as he was trudging up the stairs, Damian a few steps ahead of him.

“Since your body needs all the energy it can get to support the baby you are carrying, I imagine,” Alfred answered dryly and Jason let out a groan.

He was rather tired – another side effect of the pregnancy – but he couldn’t just admit that.

“I’m not pregnant, why do I have to go to bed so early?” Damian complained and Jason had to bite his lip at the deep sigh Alfred let out.

“Because you are a growing boy, Master Damian. And if your father was more sensible, you would always have a bedtime.”

Damian huffed, but he knew when to admit defeat, so he simply continued to stomp to his room.

“Night Alfie,” Jason said as he opened his bedroom door, watching bemusedly as the butler followed Damian to make sure he really went to bed.

“Good night, Master Jason.”

Jason got ready for bed and less than a minute after lying down he was asleep.


Jason woke up feeling stiflingly warm and hemmed in by something wrapped very tightly around his ribs. Squinting his eyes open he found his bedroom still mostly shrouded in darkness and it took his eyes several long seconds to adjust enough so he could see what was lying in bed with him.

The wild mop of dark hair resting on his chest definitely belonged to Damian and Jason felt himself pause for a moment because what the hell was going on?

Sure, sometimes he and his brothers fell asleep together after a movie or something, but Jason distinctly remembered going to bed alone. The kid must have snuck into Jason’s bed in the middle of the night and that was not something Damian had ever done with him.

A spark of worry was starting to take root in Jason’s mind and he found himself looking closer at Damian, searching for any signs of distress or illness.

It wasn’t easy to make out in the dim light, but Jason thought there was a flush on the kid’s cheeks. And he was warm, very warm everywhere he was pressed up against Jason.

Was he sick?

Jason carefully extricated one arm from underneath the blankets and brushed Damian’s hair out of his face, sniffing the air as he did so to see if he could make out any clues as to what might be wrong with his little brother.

Damian’s scent, still so milky and young with that note of peppermint that was uniquely him, didn’t have any traces of sickness like Jason expected, instead there was a sharper sweetness to it that made him pause, looking down at his brother with wide eyes.

“You’re having your first heat, baby bat,” Jason murmured, continuing to brush his fingers gently through Damian’s hair.

Jason still remembered his first heat, how hot and uncomfortable everything had felt, the need for contact and pack that had him clinging to Bruce, Dick and Alfred for hours on end. It certainly explained why Damian had been so cuddly the day before.

Jason began to lightly scent his brother, rubbing his cheek over the top of his head and wrapping him in his free arm, affirming the pack bond and projecting a feeling of safety that was so important in this situation. A look at the clock revealed that it hadn’t actually been very long since they had gone to bed, which meant that Bruce and Tim were most likely still out.

That might explain why Damian had come to him, because most young omegas would first seek out their parents in this situation. Although, Jason mused as he looked down at the way his little brother was practically burrowing against his chest, curled half around the small bump of Jason’s baby belly, maybe it had more to do with Jason being a fellow omega and also pregnant.

Regardless, Jason would make sure Damian was okay during the next few days. He knew best what this situation was like after all, as the only one who had also experienced it in this pack.

Jason continued to card his fingers slowly through Damian’s hair, the repetitive motion and the warmth Damian was radiating making him drowsy after a while. He was just drifting off to sleep again, his hand brushing ever slower through Damian’s hair, when there were faint footsteps audible from the hallway.

Jason roused himself enough so that his eyes were back open when the door opened quietly and Bruce leaned into the room to check on him. He did that every night with all of them, Jason knew, and he could tell he had already been to Damian’s room and found it empty as Bruce’s entire frame seemed to lose tension once his eyes found Damian. Jason very clearly heard the sigh of relief his father let out.

“Still up?” Bruce asked quietly when his eyes met Jason’s. “Everything okay?”

“Dami is having his first heat,” Jason answered, just as quietly.

For a second Bruce stood frozen in the doorway, then he was next to the bed, sitting down behind Damian. With a hand on Damian’s back he bent down far enough to scent his son, adding his own scent marker to the one Jason had already left.

When he sat back up he immediately leaned forward and pulled Jason close, repeating the same procedure with him. Once he was done Bruce sat back, one hand on each son, and just looked at Damian for a long time.

Damian was unaware, sleeping soundly between them, but after a while of him simply staring Jason had to ask, “Dad, are you okay?”

It took Bruce several seconds to react and when he finally looked back up at Jason he didn’t seem to really see him at first, as if he had been miles away.

“Yes, yes, I’m fine, Jay. Don’t worry.”

“Are you sure?”

Jason’s voice was still quiet, but there was an intensity in it that should tell Bruce not to brush him off.

His father gave him a weird little half-smile before he looked down at Damian again.

“I just hadn’t expected this yet, honestly,” Bruce said. “You’re all growing up so fast.”

When he looked back at Jason he could see a sheen of wetness in his father’s eyes as he moved his hand from Jason’s arm to cup his cheek.

“You’re pregnant, Dami is having his first heat. Soon all my little birds will leave the nest.”

Jason had to swallow at the emotion in Bruce’s voice. His father was far from cold, but he wasn’t usually this open, especially about his personal fears.

“That’s still a long while away, old man,” Jason said, trying to sound reassuring. “And even once we leave, we’ll always come back home.”

Bruce nodded, leaning forward to press a kiss against Jason’s forehead. “See, you’re already smarter than me, Jaylad.”

Jason let out a little huff but he could feel his cheeks heat up anyway.

“Are you okay with Damian sleeping here tonight?” Bruce eventually asked when a comfortable silence had settled over them, Damian’s even breaths and Bruce’s calming scent lulling Jason back to sleep.

“Sure,” Jason said, his words slurring slightly together as he blinked his eyes back open. “Don’t think you could pry him off, honestly.”

He could read the longing clear as day on Bruce’s face so he went on as he settled back into the pillows, “You can stay, too. Bed is big enough. But don’t move too much or I will kick you out.”

“Thanks, Jay.”

There was the sound of Bruce laying down at the edge of the bed so that Damian was between them before Jason felt an arm settle across Damian and him. He was already mostly asleep when Bruce’s voice murmured very quietly, “Sleep well, Jaylad.”


In-heat Damian was apparently a very tactile Damian. While that was completely normal, the way he was focused on Jason was kind of creeping him out. Jason could barely make two steps without his little brother following him and the second he stopped moving Damian was there, glued to his side.

Jason had mostly switched between his pack mates during his first heat, but as Alfred explained during breakfast, while Jason could barely move his arms enough to get his food due to the octopus hold Dami had on him, young omegas tended to imprint on pregnant packmates like ducklings during early heats.

Tim had laughed at the comparison, prompting Damian to send him a withering look, but beyond that he didn’t move a muscle to attack his brother as he usually would have. It seemed Jason was truly trapped with a little omega clinging to him for the next 5 to 7 days, depending on how long this first heat would last.

That first day they spent mostly on the couch in the sitting room in a nest they build over several hours. In typical beta fashion Tim had started to bring blankets, pillows and clothing items from every pack member to them to build the nest with.

At first Damian had sniffed at it, citing that he didn’t need help building a nest, but after a stern look from Jason he had accepted the first blanket. When Tim brought one of Dick’s sweatshirts Jason felt a pang in his chest that their oldest brother wasn’t here for the occasion.

First heats and ruts were special and important in the way they solidified pack bonds and not having one member of their pack present must be hard for their youngest. Jason knew that Dick held a special place in Damian’s heart and he didn’t want the disagreement between him and Dick to impact his brothers’ relationship.

“If you want to invite Dick over, I wouldn’t stop you,” Jason mumbled as Damian added the shirt to the nest.

His youngest brother froze for a moment before shaking his head vehemently.

“You are not the only one who is mad at him. Until he apologizes I don’t want him here.”

Jason sighed but let it go. If the kid made a decision he wouldn’t go against it and if he was honest, he was kind of glad not to have to face Dick yet, especially as there had still been no news regarding Roy. Him and Dick getting into a screaming match would definitely not be the ideal first heat experience for Damian.

Once the nest was build they spent the rest of the day curled up inside, watching movies, playing games, whatever took Damian’s mind of the uncomfortable feelings. Most of the time he was right next to Jason, but he oftentimes would switch over to Bruce and sometimes Alfred. He even went over to Tim to get scented and the wide eyed surprise that quickly morphed into an expression of pure happiness on Tim’s face had tears shoot into Jason’s eyes (goddamn pregnancy hormones).

The week that followed was pretty similar, and with his days spent looking after his little brother and showing him the little tricks on how to feel better during a heat Jason didn’t have much time to think about anything else.

Once Damian’s heat ended Jason breathed a sigh of relief at being able to be alone for a couple of minutes again. Spending time with his brothers was nice, but a full week with another human being practically attached to his side was enough.

As it was, he already kind of had another human with him all the time anyway and it was really starting to become noticeable as the baby bump was seemingly growing with every day.

Simultaneously Jason’s worry for Roy was also growing. It had now been over a month since Roy had disappeared and they were no step closer to finding him. Why did his boyfriend have to be such a stubborn ass, who was also a genius?

Jason knew Bruce would tell him if he or the Queens heard or found anything, but he had still taken to asking Bruce every evening if there was something and each day his heart sank a little more when his father just shook his head.

He tried to distract himself with projects around the Manor, with recipes for baby food, with research on infant care, but in the back of his mind there was always this little voice telling him something terrible might be happening to Roy right now and he wouldn’t even know.

And then on an otherwise quiet Thursday afternoon Jason’s phone chimed with a message and his breath caught when he saw the name and read the notification.

Roy: Jay, I need your help.

Jason was frozen, couldn’t believe that Roy had finally reached out after weeks of no trace of him. He was just starting to type out a reply when his phone vibrated with the next message.

Roy: Please, I really need you. Can you meet me?

The address that followed was in Gotham and Jason was already on his feet, typing out a reply as he ran back to his room.

Jason: What’s going on? Are you in danger? Should I bring a change of clothes?

Roy: I’ll explain when you get here. Just come alone. Please.

His next three messages asking what was going on got no reply and Jason cursed loudly before changing into some clothes that wouldn’t stand out too much in the city. Thank Alfred for his new maternity jeans. Even though it was summer Jason put on one of his (formerly Roy’s) bigger hoodies over his t-shirt. He didn’t need to advertise his pregnancy and he didn’t want Roy to have a heart attack or something when he saw him.

Jason knew he should probably tell someone what was going on, but he was currently alone in the house, and that same voice that had been telling him that Roy might be in trouble was now telling him that every minute he wasted would make Roy slipping away again more likely.

And also, the last time a family member of Jason’s had come into contact with Roy it hadn’t ended well. If there was someone who could convince Roy to come back home it was Jason, he was sure of it.

Jason scribbled a note and left it on the kitchen table, telling his family where he had gone and that they shouldn’t simply barge in in case it would spook Roy. He had contemplated calling Bruce, but he knew his father would try to convince him to wait for them and Jason didn’t have that kind of time or the energy to argue with him. Roy had said he needed help and Jason would be damned if he ever didn’t respond to such a request from his boyfriend.

Before Jason left the house he still remembered to put on scent blockers, just to make sure that Roy didn’t learn about the pregnancy that way before Jason had a chance to tell him. Then he hopped into one of the less flashy cars in their garage and sped into the city.

It was a typically murky summer day for Gotham and when Jason parked the car and got out there were only very few people out on the street. He was instantly sweating in his too warm hoodie, but Jason had long ago learned how to tune something like that out, especially if there were more important things to focus on.

He made his way to the correct address, leaving the car behind and not caring that in this part of the city it would most likely be broken into or entirely stolen in the next hour. Who was he to judge car thieves?

Jason eyed the front of the slightly dilapidated café with a frown, wondering why Roy would have wanted to meet him here. He pushed the door open, letting his eyes sweep over the whole store quickly.

There were only three patrons inside and a bored looking waitress playing on her phone behind the counter. All of those observations were unimportant compared to the stupidly familiar baseball hat he spotted in the far corner.

Jason was halfway across the room without even thinking about it before he realized that the person wearing the hat wasn’t Roy. He couldn’t see their face, only the back of the hat and part of their shoulders, but that was definitely not Roy.

It was Roy’s hat though.

The alarm bells in his head went off a second before Jason heard the door being locked behind him. He swung around, ready for an attack, but there was simply one man guarding the door as two others were pointing guns at him.

For a split second Jason froze in indecision.

Two gunmen weren’t impossible for him to take down, even without armor, but he was currently 14 weeks pregnant and in his civilian identity. Even though he might still be able to move nearly as well as he had before, the risk of getting injured was too big as was the risk of his secret identity being exposed. But being held at gunpoint for whatever reason was also very much not safe.

“Don’t make any sudden moves, Mr. Wayne,” the waitress said and Jason turned slightly so that he could see her as well as the gunmen.

“Who are you? What do you want?” he asked, voice calm even though his heart was racing.

She didn’t answer, only nodded her head at one of the men guarding the door who started to walk towards Jason at her command.

Jason instinctively took a step back and bumped directly into the man who was wearing Roy’s hat. Before Jason could do anything else there was a sharp pain at the back of his neck and then the sensation of something cold spreading through his veins.

“No,” Jason breathed, genuine panic setting in now. “No, what did you give me? Please, I’m preg-“

Jason felt his legs give out and then everything went black.

Chapter Text

Jason was cold.

That was the first sensation Jason’s mind registered as he slowly woke up from his deep, heavy sleep.

No, not sleep, a faint voice inside his head corrected him, something that sounded like reason and instinct and Bruce. This wasn’t natural sleep, this was something else, something Jason had experienced only a couple of times before, this was…

Jason remembered the needle going into his neck and suddenly his whole body was alert, his mind spinning into overdrive while he kept himself purposefully still and silent, not even opening his eyes in case that someone was watching him.

He had been kidnapped. He had stupidly followed the instructions in a text message from someone posing as Roy (please don’t let it really have been Roy) and he had been kidnapped as a result of it.

Jason wasn’t a stranger to being taken as a hostage, he had been a vigilante long enough to experience it a couple of times. Even in his civilian identity there had been attempts made, on him and all of his brothers, though none had ever been particularly successful.

He knew what to do, had been coached by Bruce for every eventuality, how to behave depending on the type of kidnapper, which hidden codes to send if they allowed him contact with his family, how and when to escape in case it became necessary.

But none of those scenarios had ever taken into consideration that Jason might be pregnant.

What if the drug they had given him was harmful to his child? What if they decided to get violent because things didn’t go their way or simply because they were cruel? The stress or the drug or whatever else might happen were so much more dangerous to his child than they were to Jason. What if he miscarried because of this? What if it was already too late for his baby?

Jason’s pulse was picking up with each new thought, his breathing starting to become shallow with panic and oddly ineffective because…because there was a gag in his mouth that he now noticed, though he couldn’t bring himself to care about it in this moment.

With what felt like monumental effort Jason purposefully held his breath as he was starting to feel dizzy, trying to force himself to calm back down. He couldn’t lose himself to panic right now, his baby needed him to stay clear headed, to do whatever it took to get safely out of this situation. And he had to believe that the baby was fine, everything else would be…the baby was fine, he just knew it.

Once he was breathing regularly again Jason finally started to follow the protocol that had been drilled into his head practically the moment he had been taken in to live at Wayne Manor. First, he needed to take stock of his physical situation.

Jason was lying on his side on something relatively soft, probably a couch going by the feeling of cushions pressing against his back. He could touch their rough covers with his fingertips because his hands were cuffed behind his back. Straining against the metal bands Jason felt absolutely no give and he could already tell that he wouldn’t be able to easily wriggle out of them; he would most likely have to dislocate a thumb if he wanted to get them off. Even if that worked, though, he would be a long way from free, as similar restraints were bound around his ankles.

Thorough, Jason thought begrudgingly. Most kidnappers didn’t go so far to restrain an unconscious teenager.

Jason felt his chances of escape plummet the more he became aware of his surroundings. On top of the physical restraints and the gag there was also the sensation of some kind of cloth tightly bound around his head. He was blindfolded, so it wouldn’t even matter if he opened his eyes.

Seriously, what did these guys think Jason would do? Immediately run while screaming for help?

Jason could feel a headache begin to take root as the seriousness of his situation slowly began to sink in, though that could also be a side effect of the anaesthetic they had given him.

Apart from that he didn’t feel particularly bad. Luckily there were no aches or pains that would speak towards any injuries he might have gotten as he fell unconscious. Someone must have caught him, which was something at least.

He couldn’t feel anything in his pockets, his phone and keys obviously gone, but he hadn’t really expected anything else.

The cuffs were tight, but not painfully so. The only uncomfortable sensations came from his right arm, which was trapped under him and had fallen asleep long ago it seemed, and the cold that was slowly seeping into his bones, even though Jason was still wearing his hoodie.

As far as he could tell, there was nothing wrong with his baby belly, no pain or cramps, nothing that would indicate anything bad had happened, and for a second Jason felt nearly overcome with the urge to cry in relief.

He wasn’t sure if he would even feel if something was wrong, but he simply had to believe. Until he made it out of here, there wasn’t any other option.

With his condition accounted for as thoroughly as possible under the circumstances, Jason concentrated on what else he could sense about his surroundings.

The first thing that hit him was his own scent, the sweetness of pregnancy soured with fear and anxiety and he cursed internally at his kidnappers for taking off his scent blockers.

This would make it so much easier for them to tell if he was lying or how he was feeling, he would have to work hard to control his scent as much as possible if he didn’t want to be an open book. But that wasn’t always possible, not even with all of his training. Scent was intrinsically tied to emotions and controlling them while under pressure was damn near impossible. That’s why they always wore scent blockers while in uniform, because even the mighty Batman couldn’t completely control his body’s reactions.

Apart from his own scent Jason could only make out very faint and stale notes of other people, most likely left here quite some time ago. So his kidnappers wore scent blockers themselves.

Jason wouldn’t really have expected anything else. Combined with the blindfold this would make it very hard for Jason to identify them, which was a good sign, really. That meant they at least had the intention of letting him go.

If they really would though, that was an entirely different matter, Jason knew. There were a lot of things that could go wrong during a kidnapping. But even if they changed their minds, Jason was certain his family would come for him. Bruce wouldn’t rest until he found him.

Jason couldn’t hear anyone else in the room he was in, so he was presumably left on his own for now. He was guessing he was in a basement going by the cold and muggy air, but with the blindfold and his restrained limbs there was no way for him to explore any more. At least not unless he did something drastic.

At this point Jason floundered a bit because what should he do next? Bruce’s training had ingrained it in him to gather as much information as possible, true, but also to never show his hand unless absolutely necessary. Yes, he could slip his bonds (probably), but should he already do so now?

He had absolutely no idea what kind of room he was in, if he could even escape it and what would wait for him beyond whatever door was locking him in. He was pretty certain that he was alone, but there was also always the possibility that he was being watched right now and he couldn’t let his kidnappers see that he knew how to escape his cuffs.

If only he wasn’t blindfolded, that would make this situation a whole lot easier. He could take that off first, but again, what if his kidnappers saw and didn’t appreciate it? Normally he might not have minded riling scumbags up a bit and risking a few bruises if they got mad, but right now that simply wasn’t an option.

No, the best thing to do, he decided, was to slowly test the waters. See if someone reacted when he did something, and how, and then go from there.

Jason started to shift his position, rolling more onto his front and curling around his belly, making it obvious to anyone who might be watching that he was awake. At least this way he managed to get his weight off his arm, which immediately began to burn with pins and needles as blood flowed back into the limb.

Jason would guess he had been lying here for at least half an hour going by how strong the sensation was, letting out a little hiss that was muffled by the gag as he moved his shoulder a bit to counteract the stiffness that had also set in. That knowledge didn’t help him really though, as Jason had no idea how long he had been unconscious.

His arm hadn’t even stopped prickling before Jason heard a door opening. He went very still, listening intently as two pairs of footsteps came inside, paused shortly as the door was closed, and then made their way over towards him.

They were definitely watching him, then. That really didn’t make Jason feel any better about the whole situation.

The footsteps stopped and Jason could feel whoever was standing next to the couch looking down at him. His only visible reaction was to curl up a little tighter. Let them think he was scared, that might make them underestimate him. And, as much as it might grate on him, right at this moment he really was vulnerable and at their mercy, so it was better not to antagonize his kidnappers.

“I know you are awake,” the woman standing over him said and Jason recognized the voice from the café. She had pretended to be the waitress. “Sit up so we can have a proper conversation. Try anything and you will regret it.”

Her words were matter of fact, as if she was merely reciting a script instead of threatening a teenager with violence, and Jason felt something icy deep inside his chest. This sounded like she absolutely knew what she was doing and competent kidnappers didn’t issue empty threats. Those would only undermine their authority, so Jason didn’t doubt for a second that she meant every word.

Jason nodded and started the arduous task of sitting up, his restraints and the stiffness of his joints making his movements jerky and very clumsy. He didn’t seem to comply fast enough though, because suddenly a hand was gripping his arm, tugging him into an upright position. The sudden change made Jason’s headache throb and his stomach did a turn, nausea overcoming him from one second to the next.

He must have made a sound or an expression that gave a warning, because the gag was quickly tucked out of his mouth and without hesitation Jason leaned to the side and vomited on the floor (at least he hoped it was the floor). He wasn’t sure if this counted as pregnancy sickness or if it was a side effect from the drug - the only thing he knew was that he was absolutely miserable, his eyes tearing up behind the blindfold, stomach cramping and throat burning.

Once there was nothing left to bring up he was left gasping for breath, the sour smell of vomit now overpowering in the presumably small basement room.

“Are you done?” his kidnapper asked, her voice still cold and completely unfazed.

At least she didn’t appear to be mad at him, which was something, Jason supposed. Though he wouldn’t have minded a little sympathy.

He nodded silently, scooting to the side as much as he dared to get away from the mess now next to him.

“Your father is a very wealthy man, Mr. Wayne, so I presume you have been coached for situations such as this,” the woman said.

Jason nodded hesitantly when she didn’t go on.

“Then you know that it is in your best interest to follow our orders. Behave, and you will not be harmed. Struggle, backtalk, or try to escape, and you will regret it. We won’t take pleasure in hurting you, but no one here will take it easy on you just because you’re a teenager or because you’re pregnant. Is that understood?”

Jason swallowed hard and nodded again, shrinking back a little and letting his fear openly show on his face, knowing his scent was brimming with it already, too. These guys sounded like stone cold professionals. They would most likely keep their word, which was both good and bad.

Good, because as long as Jason behaved like the scared hostage they expected, he wouldn’t be harmed unnecessarily and they were also not very likely to hurt him by accident or out of anger.

Bad, because if they actually knew what they were doing, his chances of escape were pretty slim and a rescue could take some time.

Very bad in case something went wrong and they decided to cut their losses, because from the way this woman spoke, he was absolutely certain that they would kill him if it came to that.

“This is a simple business deal to us,” she went on, apparently satisfied that Jason was appropriately intimidated. “You comply, your father complies, and soon you’ll be back home in that fancy Mansion.”

Jason wasn’t so sure that that was how it would go, but he nodded regardless. More interaction wasn’t expected from him apparently, as she made a pleased sound before addressing the other kidnapper in the room.

“Get him cleaned up!”

With that her footsteps retreated and she left the room. A few seconds later a hand grabbed Jason’s arm once more and this time he recoiled, pressing himself back into the cushions of the couch. The fact that he couldn’t see whoever was touching him, that he was totally at their mercy right now, made his heart beat faster, every muscle in his body coiled in anticipation of a fight, even though he knew there was no point to it.

“I’m taking you to the bathroom,” a male voice said, calm, but with a thread of annoyance under it, “you’ve been told the rules. The next time you disobey you will be punished. Is that clear?”

It wasn’t like the guy had said anything to Jason before grabbing him but saying so would probably not help his situation.

“Okay,” Jason said, voice croaky from disuse and the vomiting earlier. Also, he only now realized how parched his throat was, the bitter aftertaste of sedation still lingering in his mouth.

“But,” he went on quickly before he could be grabbed again, “my ankles are still bound. I can’t walk like this.”

It was risky to ask something like this so early, but Jason really didn’t want to stumble his way blindly to wherever the bathroom was. And letting himself be carried would be even worse.

The guy made a huffing sound and Jason was already preparing himself for a hit when a hand grabbed his ankles, holding him still as the cuffs connecting them were opened and fell away.

“Now get up,” the guy said and Jason did, wobbling at first before his arm was once again grabbed.

This time he didn’t recoil and let himself be led without protest. It hadn’t been much, but if at least one of his kidnappers showed a little bit of kindness, Jason wouldn’t do anything to lose that if he could help it.

“You get five minutes,” the man said, stopping him after only a few steps. “I will remove your cuffs, inside the bathroom you can take off the blindfold and take care of your business, and once your time is up you’ll come out with the blindfold back on. Understood?”

“I understand,” Jason said.

Now that he thought about it he noticed that he really had to pee. At least he wouldn’t have to beg to use the bathroom, it seemed.

The cuffs were removed and Jason didn’t even think about fighting back as he was pushed forward and heard a door close behind him.

“Five minutes.”

As soon as Jason heard the muffled voice he pushed off the blindfold, blinking at the harsh light inside the bathroom until his eyes adjusted to the brightness.

After he relieved himself he looked around the room as he was washing his hands, seeing absolutely nothing that would be of any help to him. The walls were completely tiled, no vents or windows, so he really seemed to be in some kind of basement. Beside the roll of toilet paper, some soap, and a towel the small room had been emptied completely. Even the mirror had been taken down, leaving Jason to stare at the ugly mint green tiles.

Jason splashed some water on his face and rinsed out his mouth, trying to get rid of the horrible taste that had been lingering on his tongue before drinking from the tap. He hoped that the water was clean enough. It at least looked okay and there weren’t any weird smells, so he had to assume it would be okay.

Once he had quenched his thirst Jason took a deep breath and pushed up his hoodie and t-shirt, looking down at his baby bump. Even though nothing had felt wrong, seeing that there weren’t any bruises made Jason’s heart beat a little lighter. His free hand had automatically found his way to his belly, cradling it protectively.

“I won’t let anything happen to you,” Jason murmured down, keeping his voice low to avoid being heard from outside. “Your grandpa will get us out of here and then everything will be fine, don’t you worry.”

There was a heavy knock on the door and with a deep sigh Jason pulled his clothes back down and picked up the blindfold. He would get through this. They both would.

“I’ve got the blindfold back on,” Jason called, hearing the door open immediately.

He didn’t struggle as his arms were cuffed once again behind him and he was led out into the room. The man didn’t take him back to the couch though. Instead they walked through what was presumably the door his kidnappers had come in through earlier.

Jason thought they went through a short hallway first before entering a room in which other people were already waiting, most likely the other kidnappers from the cafe. Jason could hear them move and breathe, though no one was talking and he couldn’t smell any scents.

It made him feel so damn vulnerable to be blind, bound and surrounded, essentially defenceless. He hadn’t felt like this since Bruce had taken him in, since he had been a child living alone in the streets of Gotham, always wary of anyone bigger and stronger than him. He hated this, hated feeling scared and unable to protect himself and his baby, but there was absolutely nothing he could do about it right now.

“Sit,” the man leading Jason said, guiding him onto a chair. “Hold still!”

Jason didn’t resist as his hands were cuffed to the sturdy feeling furniture. From what he could hear there were at least four or five other people in the room, so struggling wouldn’t make any sense anyway.

Once the man stepped back Jason had the uncomfortable feeling of being watched, the prickling of his skin telling him that everyone in the room was probably looking at him. He really did not like this and he had to stop himself from hunching down, his instincts telling him to make himself small. He might not be able to control his scent and they definitely could tell he was afraid, but Jason wouldn’t cower. He was Bluejay, he was a Wayne, he wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.

“As I’m sure you can guess, we are going to call your father now,” the woman from earlier said, sounding almost bored. “You will not make a sound unless I tell you to. If you can’t behave there will be consequences and you’ll be gagged again. Is that clear?”

“Yeah,” Jason said. He wouldn’t have expected differently, honestly.

There was some shuffling, Jason heard several people move around the room and set something up next to him. If they were smart, and Jason was really beginning to think they were, they wouldn’t simply use a phone to call, instead using the internet and proxies to hide their trace.

Not that Bruce or Barbara wouldn’t be able to trace the signal back, but they would need time for that. And Jason didn’t know yet how much time his kidnappers would give his family to pay his ransom before disposing of him.

“Keep your answers short and stop talking immediately when I tell you to.”

Jason nodded and then there was the sound of computer keys followed by the dialling tone that was audible over some kind of speaker. So Jason would get to hear the entire phone call. He hadn’t expected that, but it wasn’t as if that would really help him, anyway.

After the third ring Bruce’s voice answered from the speaker.

“Wayne?”

Jason could immediately tell that his father was already on alert, although to most people it would simply sound like the clipped tone of a CEO who didn’t care for interruptions. If Bruce had already found Jason’s message and failed to reach him, an unknown number (or maybe Roy’s number?) calling him was sure to make him suspicious, Jason knew.

“Mr. Wayne, we have your son, Jason. First off, if you contact the police, there will be unpleasant consequences. I am sure we can handle this matter civilly without any outside influences, yes?”

Jason could picture Bruce clenching his jaw in his typical effort to control his emotions before a harsh exhale came through the line.

“I want to speak to my son first,” Bruce demanded, letting his concern shine through. This was still Bruce Wayne talking, not Batman, after all, even though his next words sounded a lot more like his other persona. “If you’ve hurt him-“

“You will agree to my terms,” the woman interrupted, voice cold and entirely unfazed, “or I will hang up and you will never see your son again.”

Jason felt a shiver run down his spine because he didn’t doubt for a second that she would go through with it. Bruce must have also been able to tell because he relented almost immediately.

“Yes, I agree to your terms, no police. Let me speak to my son now and then you can tell me what you want.”

For a few terse seconds Jason wasn’t sure if Bruce had angered the kidnappers in some way because the woman didn’t say anything, but then he felt a hand land on his shoulder, squeezing once, which he took as his sign to speak.

“Dad,” he said, unable to stop his voice from trembling slightly.

“Jay,” Bruce answered, sounding relieved and worried at the same time, voice now so much softer than only seconds before. “Jaylad, are you okay? Did they hurt you?”

“I’m fine, B. They didn’t hurt me but-“

A sudden grip on his neck made Jason freeze, the scruff forcing Jason to stop speaking.

“I think that is enough,” the woman said and Jason internally seethed. He hadn’t even done anything and there wasn’t really much he could tell Bruce, anyway.

“Jason?” Bruce called, his voice taking on a furious and downright terrifying tone Jason had never heard from his father when he didn’t answer. “What did you do to him? I swear, if you hurt my son, I will hunt you to the ends of this earth, do you understand me?”

“While I admire your fatherly instincts, they are unnecessary. Your son has not been hurt. Your grandchild has not been hurt. And if you do as I say it will stay that way.”

At the mention of the baby Bruce audibly sucked in a breath and Jason knew he understood just as well as Jason did that those words had been a threat, a reminder of what the kidnappers could take from their family if they wanted to.

“How much?” Bruce asked. Jason clearly heard how much it cost his father to remain calm, could practically feel his need to change into the suit and take on these kidnappers personally.

“30 million dollars for each of them. We will send you an address and you will deposit the money at the specified location in 24 hours. Any police involvement, false money, trackers or any other attempts to trick us, and your son will die.”

“How do I know you will let him go after I give you the money?”

“You have no other choice than to trust us, Mr. Wayne.”

With that the line went dead.

Chapter Text

The grip on Jason’s neck was released and he instantly leaned as far away from whoever had grabbed him as possible, hunching his shoulders to protect his neck.

The feeling of total helplessness being scruffed gave him, the way his muscles would go slack and how his whole body was overcome with the urge to submit, it was truly the worst thing people could do to him. Pain was something Jason had learned to deal with a long time ago but being at someone’s mercy…that was what his nightmares were made of.

He knew how to get out of a scruff of course, but blindfolded, cuffed to a chair, and surrounded by an unknown number of people who wouldn’t hesitate to hurt him or his baby, he hadn’t dared to do anything.

No one seemed to pay any attention to Jason now though. As soon as the phone call had ended there had been movement all around him. It was eery how his kidnappers were apparently so well versed in their procedure that they didn’t even need to talk about what they were doing. Or maybe they were communicating in some other way Jason couldn’t perceive because of the blindfold, but still – everything up to this point had gone so seamlessly, they were obviously an experienced team.

Jason heard equipment being moved and what sounded like bags being packed, which made an increasingly unsettled feeling crop up in his chest. What were his kidnappers doing? They had given Bruce 24 hours to deliver the ransom, there was no need for activity right now. This was typically the timeframe where nothing much happened during a kidnapping, Jason knew. Not unless things went wrong, but there had been no indication of that.

“Uncuff him,” the woman who was most certainly the leader of this group said to someone and a moment later Jason was freed from the chair.

He didn’t even think about struggling before his hands were cuffed once more behind his back; there still wasn’t really a great chance of success for any escape attempt he could make.

Still, he had been silently following orders for so long, he just couldn’t help himself from saying something as he was directed to walk back towards the door.

“What’s going on?”

The activity around him continued without even the slightest hint of hesitation and the person pulling him along didn’t relent, his question going completely ignored.

“Why are you packing? My dad won’t call the police, you don’t-“

The backhand hit Jason without any warning and he would have crashed to the ground if not for the tight grip on his arm.

“Gag him.”

Jason was really beginning to hate that woman’s cool and disinterested tone. A second after she spoke someone grabbed his hair, holding him in place as a gag was once again shoved into his mouth and tied around his head.

Jason couldn’t help the small whimper as the fabric rubbed over his freshly split lip and he could already feel the bruise that would soon take up most of his cheek. They were far from the worst injuries he had ever gotten, but they still throbbed with every heartbeat – a constant reminder now that these kidnappers truly didn’t tolerate any kind of misbehaviour from him and weren’t afraid to hurt him.

As if there had been no interruption everyone moved back to whatever they were doing until a few minutes later Jason could hear one person after the other leave the room. The hand still holding his arm tightening was the only warning Jason got before he was also lead through the door and then in a different direction than the one they had come from earlier.

They made their way up some stairs and then Jason heard the unmistakable sound of a van door being opened just a few feet ahead of him.

Dread pooled in his gut as his assumption was confirmed – they were moving him to a different location. That would make it so much more difficult for anyone to find him. He had already been taken from the café to wherever they were right now and if they moved him again, the trail would only go colder.

Even if Bruce had been able to trace the ransom call, Jason doubted he would get here fast enough to prevent this from happening, and with how thorough the kidnappers were, Jason doubted it would be easy to find their second location within the next 24 hours.

Jason was wracking his brain for some way he could stop this move, but there truly was nothing he could do. He had to let himself be guided into the vehicle and belted into a seat, a kidnapper sitting on each side of him.

He flinched hard as the door was shoved closed with a loud bang that echoed through his head with finality, not able to hide his reaction. Why did everything just have to keep getting worse?

As the van started to move Jason had to tell himself that everything would be fine, lest he fall into a panic. His family was made up of skilled detectives, they would be able to find him no matter how many precautions these kidnappers took. And if everything else failed, Jason didn’t doubt that Bruce would pay the ransom (even though it was an awful lot of money, even for them).

He just had to be patient and keep quiet, no matter how much that went against his nature. Keeping the baby safe was the highest priority right now.

To prevent himself from getting stuck in his head Jason concentrated on listening to his surroundings during the drive, trying to identify where they might be. He could hear other cars on the road, but there were barely any people audible, so he assumed they weren’t in the city anymore. Gotham proper rarely got this quiet, even during the night-time.

The van wasn’t going fast enough for them to be on a highway, but they also didn’t stop very often at traffic lights, so Jason thought they were most likely in the more rural areas surrounding Gotham. Any other city would have called them suburbs, but here they were too desolate and rundown to get such a fancy name.

If they truly were in that region Jason knew there was no hope that someone saw something suspicious surrounding his kidnapping and report it. The people that lived here did so because they wanted to avoid any kind of interaction with strangers. He was truly on his own out here.

If Jason’s internal clock was anywhere near accurate it took them about half an hour to arrive at their destination. The van slowed down and parked, the sound of a garage door closing behind them telling Jason that he was already locked inside a new prison with no chance of slipping away somehow during the transfer.

He heard people get out of the van, following without protest when he was finally tucked through the door, led into a house and then once again down the stairs into a basement.

If he hadn’t been awake for their journey, he would barely have been able to tell that they were in a different location, Jason thought, as he was sitting on a couch in a musty, cold basement again.

As far as he could tell most of his kidnappers were in another room, presumably setting up whatever equipment they had, but one person remained with him. Apparently now that he was awake his kidnappers didn’t intend on leaving him alone again, because he could hear whoever it was move around for a while and then sit down a few feet away.

Jason would have sighed in irritation if he hadn’t still been gagged. It was just his luck to be taken by the most paranoid kidnappers he had ever heard of, making all of his training useless.

With the gag and someone else in the room he didn’t even have the option of calling for Superman, which was the last resort that had been drilled into him and every other Justice League kid. It hadn’t yet gotten so bad that he would consider it, but just knowing that the option was there would have been something to keep him calm.

This way, sitting still, blind and gagged in the cold for what felt like hours already, Jason had nothing else to do than worry. He could feel his nerves ratchet up more with every minute he spent just imagining everything that could go wrong and he couldn’t even use the calming breathing techniques that usually would have helped him. Instead, he started to bounce his leg to at least release some of his nervous energy.

Jason didn’t know how much time passed this way, but soon he once again felt the need to pee – something that had started to occur a lot more frequently in the last few weeks due to the pregnancy. He debated with himself for maybe a minute if it would be smart to ask his kidnappers to use the bathroom, but there wasn’t really an alternative.

Since he was still gagged, his only available method to call attention to himself was to hum through the cloth. He was bracing himself for any kind of negative reaction to the sound, but his jailer only let out a sigh. Then footsteps were coming towards Jason and without warning the gag was pulled down to his chin, making him flinch back.

“What do you want?”

The words didn’t sound annoyed or angry, more like the guy was bored, and Jason internally breathed a sigh of relief. The voice belonged to the same man who had taken care of Jason after he had woken up - strange that one of the kidnappers seemed to be a dedicated babysitter, but Jason wouldn’t complain if it meant he could ask for things.

“I need to use the bathroom.”

Jason expected some kind of comment like “Again?” or something similar, but instead the guy just grabbed Jason’s elbow and led him across the room.

“You know the drill,” the man said as he was opening Jason’s cuffs and Jason nodded.

Then he was once more inside a bathroom, tugging his blindfold down after the door had clicked shut behind him.

He hadn’t really had much hope that he would find anything useful this time and he was proven right after one careful look around. This bathroom was just as barren as the one in the previous house.

Sighing, Jason took care of his business. As he was standing in front of the sink, about to drink from the tap, he stopped and contemplated whether he should ask for something to drink instead. There was always the possibility that anything they gave him was drugged, but Jason didn’t really think they would do that. It had already been proven that if his kidnappers wanted to, they could simply inject him with something, so why would they bother?

Until now at least his apparent caretaker had seemed pretty reasonable as far as Jason could assess, and this request would be a good test to see if Jason could ask for more things later on. He would need food too if he was going to be here for another day (even though he was hoping Bruce would find him sooner).

“Eh, Mr. Kidnapper?” Jason called through the door, very glad that none of his siblings heard him utter those words, “can I have something to drink later or should I just use the tap?”

The only answer for several long seconds was silence and Jason was already preparing himself for the door to be ripped open and some kind of punishment waiting for him on the other side when his jailer spoke, sounding slightly amused.

“You can have something to drink out here.”

Jason let out a long breath, tension leaving his body. That was good. Very, very good, because while drinking something other than questionably clean Gotham tap water was always preferable, this also meant that his jailer didn’t intent to gag Jason again, which was very much a relief. Being gagged wasn’t just uncomfortable, it made Jason feel so much more helpless when he already couldn’t see or use his hands. This way he could at least communicate, although he was fast learning that that might not be the smartest idea depending on who was in the room with him (seriously, if he ever got his hands on that woman once he was out of here…).

“Thank you,” Jason called through the door. It was always better to keep the goodwill of people who had control over him, after all.

With the blindfold back on he was once again cuffed, but this time his jailer let him keep his hands in front of him.

“So you can drink,” he had said, to which Jason had gratefully nodded. “Do something stupid, that changes again.”

Yeah, Jason could have guessed that.

Still, it was so much better to sit on the lumpy couch with a bottle of water in his hands, sipping occasionally on it as he listened to whatever else was going on around him. He couldn’t make out much from the other room, only hearing footsteps and maybe some muffled voices. At least it didn’t sound like anything was going wrong - there were no raised voices or frantic movements, so Jason thought he should be safe for now.

Safe enough that he asked for some food once his stomach started to grumble loud enough that his jailor must have heard it too.

The man let out a sigh, which Jason was beginning to suspect was just his default reaction to human interaction, but got up and walked out of the room, as far as Jason could tell. For a split second Jason thought about using this opportunity, maybe to get at least a look at the room he was locked in, but he hadn’t forgotten that there must have been cameras watching him in the first house, so he didn’t really think that it would be worth the risk.

“Are you allergic to anything? Here’s a sandwich with cheese, ham and some salad.”

That question wasn’t really one Jason had expected, but he simply shook his head as he held out his hands in front of him. Though it made sense for his kidnappers to ask, he reasoned. If he died due to anaphylactic shock, that would make life for them a whole lot harder, even if they could still rake in his ransom. People who left dead hostages were generally hunted a lot more viciously by both the police and whoever the family could hire than those who released them (relatively) unharmed.

The edge of a paper plate bumped into Jason’s open hands and he took it, careful not to spill the food onto the floor. Holding the plate and eating was impossible with his cuffed hands, so he put it on his knees and took the sandwich into both hands.

After the first bite it was as if his stomach truly woke up and suddenly he was so hungry, the sandwich was gone in mere seconds. It really must have been quite a while since he had last eaten.

“Do you want more?”

Jason bit his lip to prevent his instinctual answer of “Yes, duh.” from coming out and instead nodded silently.

He heard something swish through the air and land next to him on the couch, only long training keeping him from flinching away. Why people thought throwing something in the direction of a blindfolded person was a good idea he would never understand.

“Peanut butter cookies.”

Jason felt his eyebrows go up in surprise but he wasn’t complaining as he felt around for the package and opened it, relishing the smell of sugary goodness.

For a while he simply sat there, nibbling on his cookies (he didn’t want to eat them all at once; who knew if he would get more food later on).

Eventually he pulled his legs up, hugging his knees to himself to get a little warmer. Sitting still for so long in a chilly basement wasn’t really the most comfortable thing and he had started shivering even though he was wearing a hoodie.

A few moments after Jason moved he heard his jailor stand up, making him freeze. He had seemed nice enough until now, but maybe this was too much for some reason?

Jason prepared himself for repercussions, another backhand or to be dragged off the couch, listening intently to know where the man was in the room.

He didn’t come straight over to Jason, instead he walked a few feet across the room and paused. Jason could hear something rustling and then the guy headed towards him, making Jason tense up with each step he came closer.

He had been braced for a hit, so when something touched his hand he flinched, scrambling to the opposite end of the couch.

“Relax,” the man said, and he still didn’t sound angry. More exasperated, although it was hard to tell for Jason without seeing his face. Maybe he was just annoyed. “It’s a blanket, kid.”

Something touched his hands again and this time Jason held still long enough to register that it was indeed something woollen and soft.

“Oh,” Jason said, clearing his throat when his voice came out all scratchy. “Thank you.”

Jason took the blanket, first feeling around for the edges and the general shape, before he draped it over himself, instantly feeling a little warmer.

His jailor went back to his chair without another word and as Jason finally stopped shivering his mind turned over what had happened these past hours.

If not for the circumstances, he would describe his caretaker’s behaviour as kind. He hadn’t denied a single request of Jason’s and was reasonable enough to allow him a little more comfort. Maybe Jason could use that to find out some things, especially as one very important question had been ghosting through his mind since the moment he had woken up.

“Can I ask you something?” Jason started, going for polite and maybe a little naïve.

“Depends,” was all he received in answer.

It wasn’t a no, so Jason went on, trying to hide the nervousness that was suddenly itching under his skin. He just hoped he wouldn’t make things worse by asking, but he just couldn’t go on much longer without knowing.

“How did you have Roy’s phone and hat? Did you…did you do something to him or…”

Jason let the sentence trail off because he didn’t even want to say it. The thought had been on his mind for hours now, getting bigger and louder the more Jason tried not to think about it.

Was Roy somehow involved in this? Had he gotten so desperate as to turn against Jason? Or had something happened to him, had he been forced into something he didn’t want to be involved in? Maybe even been hurt so the kidnappers could get what they wanted?

Neither option was something Jason wanted to be true, but he simply had to know.

Silence followed Jason’s words and he was already coming to terms with not receiving an answer when the man on the other side of the room let out a considering hum.

“He’s the baby’s sire, isn’t he?”

Jason didn’t know what that had to do with anything but he nodded hesitantly.

“Do you know where he is right now?”

Jason felt like his heart stopped for a moment. What did that mean? Had they really done something to Roy?

“No,” Jason got out, his throat so tight his voice sounded strangled, “no, we’ve been looking, but…”

“The kid’s not in a good place,” the man said and he sounded almost regretful about it. “High-society children should really know better than to hang around with some people. A…low-level associate of our organization realized he could be useful.”

Translation: These guys were organized crime (which definitely explained their level of expertise) and a drug dealer from their cartel or whatever had recognized Roy. That wasn’t good and Jason was already dreading what the man would say next.

“First we simply wanted to ransom him, but some people thought it might be unlikely that the Queens would pay for their druggie runaway son. But you two have been together in the papers often enough and your father is richer than Queen anyway. Taking a phone and a hat from someone who’s high as a kite really isn’t that hard.”

That was better than Jason had hoped, even though hearing that Roy was so deep into his addiction that he wouldn’t notice being robbed was like an ice cold dagger through his heart. He could picture it vividly, Roy completely out of his mind, needle still in his arm in some rundown drug den. It was the same scene he had lived through countless times in his childhood and exactly what he had feared would happen with Roy out there on his own.

“You should really look for a different boyfriend,” the man said and Jason could tell it wasn’t even meant to be cruel, but it hurt more than the backhand earlier.

“Where was he last?” Jason asked, not even acknowledging those words.

If he could get some new information about Roy, this whole kidnapping would at least be worth something.

“Kid,” the man started with a deep sigh, but he was interrupted as the door opened.

Jason wanted to scream in frustration, demand an answer, but he wisely held his tongue.

“You’re needed outside,” a male voice said and Jason heard his caretaker stand up and leave the room in response, leaving him alone with the newcomer.

Footsteps were followed by the sound of a chair scraping across the floor and then creaking under someone’s weight.

“No more questions!”

Yeah, Jason had already gotten that message.

After that the hours dragged on in silence, only broken by the occasional bathroom break and the now almost hourly (as far as Jason could tell) rotation of the babysitter. Apart from the first one, none of them talked to him, which wasn’t only frustrating but also boring as hell.

Coupled with the blindfold Jason could feel himself start to drift off eventually, having to force himself to stay alert. He wouldn’t have thought that he could even think about sleep in a situation like this, but his body seemed to have other ideas.

Exhaustion must have finally won out, because suddenly Jason found himself slumped over onto the couch as someone shook him awake. For a dizzying moment he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t see anything, his hands already coming up to check on his eyes, when the bite of metal around his wrists and the scratchy couch his face was pressed against registered and he jolted fully awake as his memories came back.

Right, he was still being held by kidnappers.

The hand on his shoulder retreated and Jason cautiously sat up, wary of whoever was standing next to him.

“Look up,” that woman’s voice ordered and Jason instinctively tilted his head in her direction, a snarky remark about how looking wasn’t really possible for him right now on his lips, but he held himself back. He was pretty sure it was her hand that had left the bruise on his cheek and he didn’t need another one.

He heard a phone camera click.

“That should satisfy your father,” she said and Jason could tell she was anything but thrilled with Bruce, but as she just walked out of the room again without doing anything else, her irritation couldn’t have been too bad.

Jason let himself slump back against the couch, always aware of whoever was on guard duty right now sitting on the other side of the room.

If Bruce was asking for proof of life and his kidnappers had agreed to provide it, it couldn’t be that much longer until the ransom drop was supposed happen. He must have slept pretty long if that was true, which was confirmed by his grumbling stomach. After a bathroom break he was once again handed a sandwich, this time without any commentary or additional cookies, and after eating it Jason settled down to wait once more.

It was hard to tell, but about an hour later Jason thought there was something going on in the next room. He could hear people moving around more than previously and when he heard a car door slam upstairs, he knew it was time for the ransom exchange.

Would Bruce really have to pay 60 million dollars for him? And would the kidnappers really let him go once they had the money?

They had seemed professional enough until now that Jason thought they would, but criminals could be unpredictable. Until Jason was back home with his family, he couldn’t let himself get too complacent, no matter how well he had been treated or how boring the last hours had been.

After the car left Jason felt restless, the constant drumbeat of ‘This is it!’ pounding through his head. Whether through ransom or vigilante intervention, Jason just wanted this to be over.

The minutes ticked by and nothing happened.

The activity next door had died down and after what must have been 40 minutes his babysitter changed, just as usual, but as no one talked to Jason, he didn’t have an inkling who was now sitting in the room with him.

Maybe it wasn’t the right time yet?

The constant blindness and the time asleep had totally thrown off Jason’s time judgement. Maybe they hadn’t left to get the ransom earlier. Who knew how long it really had been since the call. Jason would just have to wait a little longer, he was sure-

The faintest noise from upstairs had Jason pause, concentrating on listening closer. He didn’t know what exactly it had been, but his senses were suddenly on high alert, some mixture of instincts and experience telling him that something was going on.

For long seconds nothing happened but then he heard the familiar swish of a Batarang from outside.

His family had finally found him and immediately the room next door was filled with the sounds of a fight. Jason threw the blanket off and got up, not wanting to be a sitting target should something go wrong, ignoring his jailor’s command to stay where he was.

Hurried footsteps told him that the man was coming towards Jason, so he was ready when a hand grabbed his arm, twisting out of the hold and simultaneously bringing up his knee hard into the man’s gut, relishing the pained groan he let out. He might not have been the one to hurt Jason, but he had still been complicit in holding him hostage, so he definitely held no regret about finally fighting back.

Jason was just about to take off his blindfold when the door slammed open and for a second he felt so relieved; the cavalry was here and he would finally go home, but before he could really do anything the man next to him was gripping Jason’s bound hands, trying to stop him from getting away.

Jason didn’t even need to think as he swept his leg out, pulling the feet out from under his jailer and toppling him to the ground with a hard shove. The man luckily let go of Jason as he fell, but the momentum was enough to unbalance him briefly, which meant that Jason couldn’t react fast enough as whoever had come through the door suddenly gripped his throat tightly, making him choke.

“Struggle and I’ll shoot,” the woman Jason had come to hate over the last day said lowly against his ear as she stepped behind him, one hand still cruelly digging into his throat, and Jason felt his blood run cold as something metal pressed against the side of his belly.

She wouldn’t do that, she couldn’t…

Jason nodded as much as he could, staying absolutely still otherwise. She pushed him forward, obviously intending to use him as a human shield to get out of here, snapping at the other guy still in the room to go check outside.

He got up with a groan and did as he was told, but he hadn’t even made it three steps into the hallway before there was the unmistakable sound of something solid hitting flesh, followed by the crackle of electricity and a body falling to the floor with a dull thud.

“Let him go!”

The voice that came from the door was calm and controlled, but Jason knew Dick well enough to recognize the fury underlying his brother’s words.

Nightwing’s mere presence was enough to make Jason breathe a lot more deeply despite the hand on his windpipe. He trusted his brother absolutely; he wouldn’t let anything happen to Jason or the baby.

“I’m not stupid, Nightwing,” the woman still holding Jason tightly said, tone as cold as ever. “He’s my only chance to get out of here. Let me through and the rich kid and his baby go home without a scratch. Don’t, and I’ll make sure neither of them leave.”

Jason felt her press the gun harder against his stomach and only his yearlong training gave him the control not to flinch away from it. Still, even though he could keep his reactions in check, he knew that his scent was an absolute mess of distress and fear, sure to trigger every protective alpha instinct Dick had.

Jason couldn’t see his brother’s reaction to the threat, but he clearly heard the low growl Dick let out.

When he answered though his voice was still even, the same reasonable tone Jason had heard Nightwing use in countless other hostage situations.

“There is no need to hurt him.”

Jason heard Dick slowly step to the side and in his mind’s eye he could practically see his brother with his hands up, trying to look as non-threatening as possible.

Something would happen, Jason was sure, he just had to be ready for it. Dick always had a plan, he wouldn’t have come in here if he didn’t.

“Drop your weapons,” the woman said, already smug with her perceived victory, “slowly!”

“Of course,” Nightwing said, and there was the soft sound of his escrima being laid on the floor, “we wouldn’t want too much speed.”

Jason didn’t know what happened, but one moment there was the woman standing behind him, her grip on his throat holding him immobile, the next cold wind rushed past him and he was stumbling back, trying to find his balance as he was suddenly alone.

A hand grabbed his arm and Jason instantly flinched back, cursing the scared whimper that left his mouth before he could stop it.

“Hey, it’s me,” Nightwing’s voice said and Jason’s whole body was flooded with such relief, his knees literally gave out from under him.

“Whoa there, I’ve got you.”

Dick’s other hand grabbed Jason and he was pulled forward into Dick’s arms as his older brother lowered them both down to sit on the floor.

“I’ve got you,” was whispered into Jason’s hair and he could hear the change from Nightwing to Dick in his brother’s voice.

The dizzying mix of relief, gratitude and happiness swirling through Jason was just too much and he didn’t even notice he was crying until the first sob broke out of him.

“We found you,” Dick said, sounding shaky.

One of his hands came up from his death grip on Jason’s back and seconds later the blindfold fell away, making Jason blink against the tears and the blinding light to look up and see his brother smiling down at him.

“You’re safe now.”

Jason gave him a wobbly smile back before burying his head against Dick’s chest and simply breathing in the familiar mix of leather and kevlar. He would have preferred Dick’s own scent, the smell of his brother and pack, but the uniform was enough to help him calm down for now. Dick was probably feeling the same, he was rubbing his cheek over Jason’s head in nearly frantic strokes, trying to scent him even though the scent blockers he wore made that impossible. Still, the gesture was enough for now to soothe Jason’s instincts, to tell him he was safe with his pack.

Jason was so out of it, he didn’t even notice that another person was standing next to them until they spoke, his trust in Dick so strong it let him tune out their surroundings.

“He okay?”

The voice was uncharacteristically serious and quiet, and when Jason looked up Wally was looking down at him with such concern he gave him a watery smile that he hoped was at least a little reassuring.

“I’m fine,” Jason said, earning himself a sceptical frown from the speedster as his voice came out all croaky.

“You sure?” Dick asked, leaning back enough so he could muster Jason, face clouding over as his eyes fell on the bruised cheek and split lip.

“They hit you.”

It wasn’t a question but Jason still nodded, quickly following with an explanation as Dick’s expression turned murderous.

“It was just a slap, it’s okay. But…but they did give me some kind of sedative when they took me.”

Here Jason couldn’t help his own worried tone, cuffed hands unthinkingly cradling his baby bump at the mere thought of possible side effects.

“I can take him to the hospital right now,” Wally said, already stepping forward with outstretched arms as if to pick Jason up, but Dick shook his head.

“No, no super speed while he’s pregnant. I already called Gordon, he’ll be here to arrest the kidnappers in a few minutes. I trust him to take Jason to the hospital. Is that okay?”

“Yeah,” Jason mumbled, although the need to be with his family was thrumming under his skin almost painfully.

He understood though that it was better if the commissioner took him in. There were enough ties already between the Waynes and Gotham’s vigilantes, each new one would only make both aspects of their lives more dangerous. And he trusted Gordon too, or he would never agree to this.

“Then at least let me get you out of those cuffs,” Wally said, zipping away to find the keys, even though Dick had the right tools on him to pick the lock.

Dick looked after the red blur with a fond smile before giving Jason a ‘What can you do’ kind of look, making him laugh.

Once Wally was back with the keys and his hands were freed Jason finally felt like he could breathe freely once again. The constant feeling of being restrained had been setting him on edge more than he had even realised

He was left rubbing over the bruised skin of his wrists absently while Dick stayed practically wrapped around him as they waited for the police to show up. When they finally heard the cars upstairs Wally zipped up to greet the commissioner and Dick reluctantly loosened his octopus hold and stepped a little away from Jason.

Gordon most likely knew who they really were but that didn’t mean they had to compromise their identities more than necessary.

“D- Nightwing,” Jason said urgently just as they heard footsteps come down the stairs, catching Dick’s wrist to get his attention. How could he have forgotten something so important until now? “They said they know where Roy is.”

Even with the domino it was easy for Jason to read his brother’s expression and following that sentence there was a mix of guilt and sadness and sympathy flitting across his face before it finally settled on determination.

“I’ll see what I can find out. I promise I won’t let you down again, Jay.”

There was no time for an answer before Wally and the commissioner stepped into the room, but Jason hoped Dick understood what he wanted to say as he squeezed his brother’s wrist firmly before having to let go.

Chapter Text

“Nightwing,” Gordon greeted with a short nod in Dick’s direction before focusing on Jason, very obviously looking him over for injuries as he crossed the room towards them.

He stopped far enough away however so as to not invade Jason’s personal space, which Jason easily recognized as the standard protocol to make victims feel safer. Gordon wasn’t a person Jason had ever been scared of, but he had to admit, after the last day it really did make him feel better.

“Jason, are you all right?” Gordon asked, and Jason nodded, hoping that he at least didn’t look as pathetic as he felt with the drying tear tracks making his face itchy and the swollen cheek that was still throbbing.

“Yeah, it’s just a couple bruises, nothing too bad.”

“He still needs to go to the hospital, commissioner,” Dick said, fully back in his Nightwing persona, “as you can see he’s pregnant and the kidnappers gave him an unknown sedative.”

Gordon was already nodding, his eyes flitting down to Jason’s baby bump and there was the faintest note of surprise on his face before he smoothed it back into the calm and professional exterior Jason was used to from him.

“I can take you right now, son, or we could wait for an ambulance if you would prefer it,” he offered, voice kind as he looked at Jason for an answer.

“An ambulance isn’t necessary,” Jason said quickly.

He really did feel fine. And even though he didn’t want to admit it to himself, just the thought of being in a closed off environment with strangers right now was making his skin crawl. Gordon was someone he knew, someone he felt safe with, so a car ride with him would be infinitely preferable to getting into an ambulance with who knows who.

“Okay then, my people have everything in hand here, so we can leave immediately.”

Gordon’s voice was deliberately low and soothing, and with most alphas Jason would have found this kind of treatment patronizing, but with him it felt so genuine and he knew the man really cared, so he just gave a nod in answer and stepped away from Dick to follow the commissioner outside.

Before he did so however he was reminded that Gordon wasn’t the only newcomer in the house as he heard the voices of the other officers next door and he hastily turned back, grabbed the blanket from the couch and wrapped it around himself.

Gordon just gave him a sympathetic look and ushered him upstairs, not even mentioning it, and Jason was sure he most likely just thought he was cold, but really Jason simply didn’t want there to be any chance one of the officers saw his baby bump. It was mostly obscured by his hoodie, yes, but if Bruce had taught Jason anything, it was that you could never be too careful.

And being sure that none of them saw was absolutely necessary, because if Jason knew anything about the GCPD, it was that most officers would sell their own mothers to make a profit and he absolutely did not want his pregnancy to be made public like that.

The doctors at the hospital would hopefully be trustworthy, but with them Jason didn’t really have a choice.

“I’ll inform Jason’s family, so they can meet you at the hospital,” Dick announced as he and Wally looked on while Jason got into Gordon’s car.

“I’m sure you will,” Gordon said so dryly Jason barely held back the amused snort that wanted to break out of him. Yeah, that man really was an observant detective, wasn’t he. “Tell them I’m taking him to Gotham General.”

They pulled away from the curb and Jason watched his brother and Wally get smaller in the rear-view mirror until they turned back and went into the house again. Hopefully they could find some new information about Roy down there or get one of the kidnappers to talk.

Jason would have liked to be there himself for that, but his baby’s health took precedence. And as loathe as he was to admit it, he really didn’t want to face most of his kidnappers again right now, even though he desperately needed to know what they did about Roy. But he trusted Dick to get that information, so it was useless for him to worry about this now anyway.

Looking around Jason felt a little sense of vindication as he saw the small, dilapidated houses surrounded by mostly overgrown shrubbery and rusted fences lining the street. They really had held him in the ‘suburbs’, just as Jason had thought. He was kind of curious how Dick had found him, but that was a question for later. Right now he just wanted to see his family again.

The first minutes of the drive passed in silence, Jason simply looking out of the window and relishing in the feeling of freedom it gave him after the last day spent trapped in total darkness in a cold basement. He could feel the occasional glances Gordon threw in his direction to check on him, but the commissioner didn’t say anything until they were crossing the bridge back into the city proper.

“Jason, can you tell me what happened? You can give the detailed statement later of course, but it would help if you could already provide me with some information so I can charge the people who took you properly.”

Jason had known this would come so he quickly told Gordon the most important points of what happened. The older man didn’t interrupt him once or ask for more details when he was done, keeping his word of letting Jason set the pace for the moment, for which he was very grateful. He might have been used to crazy things happening, but this kidnapping had still left him kind of shaky if he was being honest.

From the way Gordon’s lips thinned and his forehead creased in a deep frown as Jason told him about the constant blindfolding and the gag, the backhand and the threat to shoot him, Jason was convinced that his kidnappers wouldn’t get out of prison very soon if the commissioner had any say in it.

Although, one of them had been pretty nice to Jason. Maybe he could later identify him and advocate for him to get a lighter sentence. The man who had given him cookies and that infernal woman definitely didn’t deserve the same punishment. But that was something Jason wouldn’t bring up today. For now there were more important things to deal with.

They parked in front of the main entrance of the hospital and Jason pulled the blanket tighter around himself as he got out of the car. He knew it wasn’t really logical, but in a strange way it reminded him of Bruce’s cape and made him feel more comfortable and less exposed.

Gordon led him into the building, careful to stay close without hemming Jason in, and as annoyed as he wanted to be at the treatment, he simply couldn’t feel anything other than gratefulness. Well, he supposed even with all the things he had already experienced, this kidnapping had still been a little much, especially in combination with everything else that was going on right now in his life.

Gordon explained the situation to the nurse at the check-in counter and mere seconds later Jason had been whisked into an examination room where a nurse immediately started to take his vital signs, informing him very carefully about what she was doing and asking for his consent each time she had to touch him. The commissioner was all the while standing next to the door, still keeping an eye on Jason while obviously not wanting to intrude.

Jason didn’t mind really, the presence of a familiar person was helping to keep him calm. It wasn’t like he was scared of hospitals, but he had never really been comfortable with them either. In his mind they were always linked to broken bones he had received from one of Willis’s drunken rages, or his mother overdosing, with overworked doctors treating him like a chore they just had to get done with.

Nowadays it was different of course, in no small part due to his status as a Wayne, but still; that low level of unease was always there, just under the surface.

He made it through the basic exam without problem though, breathing a little lighter when the nurse declared all his vitals to be perfectly fine. She was just prepping the needle to take a blood sample when Jason heard an unmistakable voice outside and he couldn’t help the way his whole body twitched, instinctively wanting to run towards it.

“My son Jason Todd-Wayne, where is he?”

Bruce sounded like he was seconds from just sprinting past whoever he was talking to, high strung in a way Jason hadn’t heard very often from his father.

“Mr. Wayne.” Gordon had opened the door and taken a few steps outside, calling down the corridor, “he’s back here.”

Fast footsteps approached and then Bruce came through the door, eyes immediately on Jason.

“Dad…”

Jason didn’t need to say any more before his father had crossed the room and was wrapping his arms around him, holding him close as Jason closed his eyes and let the familiar scent and warm embrace wash over him. His own hands came up to fist in his father’s shirt as he pressed his face as deep against his chest as physically possible. The last tension coiling deep inside him finally released and he sagged against his father like a puppet whose strings had been cut as he finally felt absolutely safe once again; nothing could hurt him as long as Bruce was there.

“I’m so glad to have you back,” Bruce said, his voice sounding oddly tight. “I love you so much, Jaylad. Please don’t ever scare me like that again.”

Jason made an indistinct noise, somewhere between a whine and a whimper, and Bruce began to scent him, rubbing his cheek comfortingly over Jason’s head and making soothing, low noises all the while.

Jason didn’t know how long they stayed like this, but by the time Bruce slowly leaned back, running his hands one last time through Jason’s tangled hair as he did so, he was covered in his father’s scent, in his pack’s scent, instead of the last stale remnants of that basement, which made him feel so much better.

Once Bruce was far enough away he looked over Jason’s face, cupping his cheek lightly to turn his head as he took in the bruise and split lip with a displeased frown.

“It’s nothing serious,” Jason reassured him, but the dark look that flitted across Bruce’s face nevertheless promised retribution to whoever had dared to lay a hand on Jason before he smoothed it over into a softer expression.

“Good,” Bruce said, leaning forward to place a gentle kiss against Jason’s forehead, “but you still have to be checked over.”

Jason wouldn’t have protested that anyway, but the forehead kiss had left him speechless, an odd lump forming in his throat at the blatant display of affection. It was by no means the first time Bruce had done something like this, but it still made Jason feel so lucky to have this man in his life every time, who had become a better father to him than Jason could have ever hoped for.

Jason nodded in silence, giving his father a small smile before Bruce turned around to the nurse and the commissioner. They had been standing on the other side of the room the whole time, talking lowly and very obviously trying to give them their privacy.

“Thank you for staying with him,” Bruce said, nodding at Gordon, “I am very grateful that you kept him safe.”

“It’s the least I could do. And really, Nightwing and Kid Flash did all the work, I only drove him here.”

“Still, thank you, Jim.”

“Well, you’re in good hands now Jason, so I’ll head on back. I will come by to take your official statement in the next few days, but for now Nightwing’s account should be enough to keep your kidnappers in prison.”

“Yeah, okay,” Jason said and after a handshake with Bruce Gordon left.

The nurse meanwhile had stepped back to the examination table Jason was sitting on, syringe still in hand, but before she did anything she first addressed Bruce.

“Your son’s vitals are all perfectly normal. I was just about to take a blood sample and then a doctor will check on the baby, but as far as I can tell everything seems to be fine.”

Bruce let out a relieved breath and thanked her with a smile, holding Jason’s hand while she drew his blood.

Usually Jason had quite a good handle on his fear of needles, the old associations still popping up in his head each time he saw the glint of sharp metal, but over the years he had mostly managed to push his irrational feelings down. On this day however, with his nerves already frazzled and the recent memory of a sharp pain at the back of his neck and the subsequent horrifying realization that he had been drugged, the panic was bubbling up inside him the second the cap was taken off the needle.

Several minutes later the nurse took the three vials of blood with her while Bruce delicately shook out his hand after the death grip Jason had had on it.

“Sorry,” Jason mumbled, ducking his head slightly, but his father only sat down next to him and put his arm around Jason’s shoulders, pulling him against his side.

“You don’t need to apologize for anything. I’m your father, it’s my job to be here for you when you need me.”

“Don’t get all emotional on me, old man,” Jason said, but his tone was fond and he let his head tip to the side to rest on Bruce’s shoulder. Bruce let out an exasperated sigh but also pulled him closer and let his head lean on Jason’s.

They didn’t have to wait long before a doctor entered the room with an orderly pulling an ultrasound machine following her.

“I’m the on-staff omega practitioner Dr. Müller, and you must be Jason.”

She was on the younger side, probably not even thirty, and her upbeat demeanour reminded Jason very much of Dick, but he didn’t mind her lighter attitude. He hated it when doctors stayed all serious and robotic; it made him feel like they knew something horrible about him that they just hadn’t told him yet.

Dr. Müller instead greeted both him and Bruce with a friendly smile before she began to ask Jason a few more questions and finally told him to lie back and pull his shirt up for the ultrasound.

When the image of the baby showed up on the monitor, the heartbeat echoing strong and fast, Jason breathed a heavy sigh of relief. He hadn’t really thought that the baby wasn’t there anymore, but there had still been that niggling little voice in the back of his head telling him What if? the whole time.

He felt Bruce’s hand squeeze his shoulder before his father asked, “Is everything all right with the baby?”

The doctor studied the screen for a few more seconds and then turned around to them, still with a reassuring smile on her face.

“Everything looks good. The baby’s heart rate is a little elevated, but that was to be expected with the amount of stress you experienced Jason. I would still recommend that we monitor you until tomorrow and wait for the results of your blood tests just to be safe, but I don’t think that there is anything wrong.”

“Those are good news,” Bruce said when Jason didn’t answer.

“You’ve got two very strong fighters here, Mr. Wayne,” the doctor said as she turned the ultrasound off and gave Jason wipes to clean off his stomach.

“That they are,” Bruce answered softly, now mustering Jason.

When he still didn’t say anything a little crease appeared on his forehead, but Jason just resolutely cleaned himself up and put his clothes back in order, not meeting his father’s gaze all the while.

“Someone will come by to take you up to a room in a few minutes, okay?” Dr. Müller said and after a mumbled “Sure” and a mostly convincing smile from Jason she took her leave.

“Hey,” Bruce said softly, waiting until Jason finally looked up at him before he went on, “those were good news, Jaylad.”

Jason nodded, though he couldn’t muster up another smile for his father. He would have been able to tell it was fake anyway.

“So what’s wrong?”

“I just…I want to go home. I don’t want to stay here, dad.”

Jason knew he sounded like a whiny little kid, but the second Dr. Müller had said that he had to stay something inside him had clammed up, an instant terror shooting through his veins. It hadn’t even been two days, but he just wanted to go home, be with his family, sleep in his own bed. Was that too much to ask?

He knew why he had to stay, knew it wasn’t rational to get so upset over a night in the hospital, but after the last day his nerves were apparently shot to hell. And just the thought of spending even more time surrounded by strangers…

“I know, sweetheart,” Bruce said gently, sitting down beside Jason’s legs, “I know you are upset, but this is for your health and that of the baby. I will stay with you the whole time, okay?”

Jason nodded shakily, sniffling as tears were once again running down his cheeks. God, he had cried so much already today, how were there even any left?

Bruce reached out to cup his cheek, his thumb gently brushing the tears away as Jason brought himself back under control.

It was just one more night, he could do it. He had been Robin for god’s sake. He was Bluejay. One lousy night in a hospital was nothing for him.

“But you can’t have my green jello,” Jason said, sounding deliberately petulant.

Just as he hoped it made Bruce laugh, the surprised and deep one that only his family really got to hear.

“You drive a hard bargain, kiddo,” he said, leaning forward to place another kiss on Jason’s forehead.

“That’s because I learned from the best,” Jason said, a grin slowly spreading across his face at Bruce’s fond “Oh?”

“Yeah, Alfred.”

“Smartass.”

Jason was taken up to a private room, which was ridiculously large and even had a couch big enough for the entire family in it (the perks of staying in a wing that shared your last name, he supposed), but Bruce still insisted on sitting next to Jason’s bed on a rather stiff looking chair.

Jason couldn’t really get up too much, as the doctor’s had attached him to a heart rate monitor for the baby and walking around with all the wires around his stomach was quite the hassle. He also wasn’t supposed to get up for anything other than going to the bathroom, which was a very strange parallel to his kidnapping, but now it was to give his body time to relax from the stress of the previous events.

He would have been even more relaxed at home Jason thought, but he kept that sentiment to himself. If something happened, it was always best to be at the hospital already, he knew that. Still, he was already counting the minutes until he could finally get out of there.

They had been settled for no more than ten of those when the door flew open and two blurs flew across the room, crashing into Jason.

“Master Timothy, Master Damian!” came the reproachful voice of Alfred from the open doorway, but Jason barely even noticed him buried under his two little brothers as he was.

“How do you always manage to get into trouble like that?” Tim asked, hugging Jason from one side, while on the other Damian was practically lying on top of him and glowering up at Jason.

“You are an imbecile, that is how.”

“I missed you too,” Jason said, laughing at the indignant little huff Damian let out.

Still, his youngest brother squeezed him tighter in response and Tim manoeuvred himself to lie more comfortably next to Jason, making it clear that neither of them would move any time soon. Not that Jason would want them to.

He had one arm around each of them, pressing his nose first into Tim’s soft hair before switching to Damian’s thick mop, inhaling both of their scents deeply and feeling the comfort of pack wash over him.

“We are all very happy to have you back, my lad,” Alfred said and Jason looked up to find the old butler standing next to Bruce, looking fondly down at them, and Jason smiled back gratefully.

“Boys, be careful with the wires,” Bruce said, but he sounded more amused than anything else.

Damian just made a little “Tt” sound, conveying his sheer exasperation at being considered anything less than mindful of the equipment, but he did rearrange himself a little to take some strain of the wires.

“Before you three settle down, I did bring a set of pyjamas for Master Jason,” Alfred said, holding up a bag, and Jason immediately started shoving his little brothers away so he could get up.

He loved cuddling with them, he really did, but he would love it even more if he didn’t have to wear a damn hospital gown.

After some mild grumbling from both of them he managed to free himself, shuffling towards the bathroom with his change of clothes and the heart rate monitor in tow.

“Do you need any help?” Bruce called after him, to which Jason replied with one of his most dramatic eye-rolls.

“I still know how to dress myself, dad.”

It might have taken a little longer than usual, but eventually Jason emerged wearing his own pyjamas and feeling a lot better for it. He got back on the bed and instantly Tim and Damian moved back into their old positions, snuggling right back up on both of his sides.

“We wanted to help get you out, but Father wouldn’t let us,” Damian eventually grumbled, and Jason felt such a deep sense of affection at the words, he couldn’t help but bend down a little to brush a kiss against the crown of Damian’s head. Tim hummed in agreement and Jason did the same to him.

“I knew you would come for me, I didn’t doubt that for a second.”

Jason felt Bruce’s eyes on him and looking up to meet his father’s dark gaze he could very easily read some form of regret and guilt in it. That wasn’t wholly surprising, Jason had honestly expected something like this from him. His father never did deal well with it when he thought he hadn’t protected one of them properly.

It wasn’t true, of course, but convincing Bruce could be like talking to a brick wall, so Jason searched for some other way to lighten the mood.

“Didn’t expect Wally though. Dick must be getting old if he can’t take out a couple of kidnappers on his own anymore.”

Tim let out a light chuckle and even Damian hummed in amusement, but Bruce’s lips barely twitched.

“They had the Manor under surveillance,” Bruce started to explain, and Jason wanted to tell him it was unnecessary, he didn’t care who of the family got him out, but he also knew that his father needed to get this off his chest, so he kept quiet.

“And while I could have gone out through the Cave, they also demanded that I personally deliver the ransom. We only found your location an hour before the drop off was scheduled, so we decided to use me as a distraction. Dick was the only one not at the Manor, so him and Wally getting you posed the lowest risk of exposing our identities.”

“Sounds logical,” Jason said, trying to reassure his father and assuage some of the needless guilt he was no doubt feeling. Bruce and his hero complex. “It worked out great, so I’m not complaining.”

Bruce still didn’t look too pleased, but Jason had expected that.

“How did you find out where I was being held?” he asked to get to a different topic, some kind of success story, and Tim instantly launched into a long and very technical description that boiled down to them tracing the ransom call and then retracing the van’s route to the second house via traffic cameras and some less than legal hacking of satellites.

“And I apprehended the men surveilling Father after Richard let us know they had found you,” Damian chimed in proudly, earning himself an elbow to the ribs from Tim.

“We did that together,” the older boy said indignantly.

“I did most of the work,” Damian replied haughtily and the ensuing prodding and shoving between them with neither willing to let go completely of Jason had their older brother laughing in mere seconds.

Even Bruce was smiling at his sons’ antics and they all soon settled down into a peaceful silence, the serenity of simply being together nearly making Jason feel as if he really were at home.

It wasn’t that much longer until Jason’s dinner was served, and he knew only Bruce and Alfred’s combined glares were keeping his jello safe from his greedy little brothers, so he ate it with as much theatrical enjoyment as possible, delighting in their identical scowls.

When a nurse came by an hour later to check on him she not so subtly reminded everyone that visiting hours also applied to the Waynes, so Alfred packed up the two very reluctant birds and ushered them out of the door with a promise to have Jason’s favourite cookies waiting for him when he came home the next day.

With no more wriggling little brothers in his bed, the warmth of the blankets surrounding him and his stomach full, Jason soon felt his eyes start to fall closed and it was getting harder to open them again by the minute. Bruce easily noticed his exhaustion and quietly got up to close the blinds and then switched off the main light in the room, leaving them in the soft glow of a bedside lamp.

“Go to sleep, Jay,” he said as he sat back down next to Jason’s bed, “I’ll be right here.”

The moment Jason closed his eyes though he was back in that basement, the darkness bringing back the phantom sensations of the blindfold covering his eyes and the cuffs around his wrists, and he instantly had to open them again.

“Jay?” Bruce asked, obviously concerned by the way Jason was suddenly breathing much faster, his hands gripping the sheets.

Jason should have expected something like this. He wasn’t a stranger to traumatic experiences after all.

He simply needed something to remind his brain that he wasn’t there anymore, that he was safe, and the unfamiliar bed and sterile hospital air weren’t all that great to reassure him. That was the entire reason why he had wanted to go home so badly.

Bruce was frowning at him and Jason knew his father would understand, but he didn’t want to talk about it, not now when everything was still so fresh and he was absolutely exhausted.

“Can you read to me,” was the first thing Jason could think of to say, and he realised while saying it that it would be the perfect solution to his problem.

Bruce’s voice would remind him that he was safe, that he could let his guard down, and he always loved to hear his father read out loud.

“Of course,” Bruce said, and Jason saw understanding dawn in his eyes, but his father didn’t mention it further, simply pulled out his phone and asked, “what do you want me to read?”

Jason didn’t really care, he wasn’t in a frame of mind to take in a story, so he picked the first thing that came to mind, a story that he knew so well it wouldn’t have any nasty surprises his mind could get stuck on.

“The Princess Bride.”

Bruce’s lip quirked in amusement and he quickly navigated through his phone, downloading the book. His free hand found one of Jason’s still gripping the sheets and slowly disentangled his fingers to instead hold his hand as he began to read.

With Bruce’s soothing voice flowing over him and his hand a warm, grounding connection, Jason let his eyes fall closed and was asleep in mere minutes.

Chapter Text

Jason woke to voices speaking in hushed tones next to him.

For the first few seconds the unfamiliar bed and foreign sensation of something solid wrapped around his stomach had him tensing up in alarm, his heartrate instantly picking up as panic started to take hold of him, but before he could react further he recognized the low, deep rumble of Bruce’s voice, the quiet noises of the hospital, and the relief was just as instantaneous. His whole body relaxed, the feeling of safety his father’s presence provided enough to keep him calm and let his memories catch up with him.

He was in the hospital for a night of observation. The baby was fine, this was just a precaution and he could finally go home soon.

Now that Jason was really listening, he realised that the other voice was just as familiar and equally as comforting, and Jason opened his eyes to find both his father and eldest brother sitting next to his bed, conversing quietly.

“Hey there, Little Wing,” Dick greeted with a wide smile as soon as he noticed that Jason was awake, “sleep well?”

Amazingly Jason had. He still felt tired, but more in the way one did after a lazy day of lounging around rather than the bone deep exhaustion that the past days had left him with.

“Yeah,” Jason answered, the word stretching long with a yawn that he couldn’t keep down, making Dick’s smile go soft.

“I’m so glad you’re okay,” Dick went on and Jason recognized the slight tremble in his brother’s voice and thus wasn’t surprised at all when he was engulfed in a firm hug seconds later, Dick practically lying on top of him now.

“You really scared me, Jay,” was whispered into his ear and Jason had to swallow at the tightness in Dick’s voice.

“I’m fine, Dickie,” Jason murmured back, putting his arm around his brother, holding on tight. “You got me out, everything’s totally fine.”

Jason felt Bruce squeeze his hand, only now noticing that his father was still holding it, and saw him use his other one to rub soothingly over Dick’s back. It took a while until Dick finally let go, sitting back up and rubbing unsubtly over his eyes, his gaze still bright with unshed tears as he looked once again at Jason.

“Just promise me you won’t do something like this again, okay?”

“Once is enough, trust me. The entertainment was dreadful, the service subpar. 0 out of 10 stars, would not recommend,” Jason said with a teasing smirk, relishing the snort of amusement that got out of Dick.

“You’re a dumbass.”

“That’s why you love me.”

Dick ruffled his hair in answer and Jason dutifully squawked in indignation and tried to swat his hand away, even though his curls were already in absolute disarray from sleeping.

Bruce just looked on, taking in their antics with an indulgent smile, and Jason could have nearly forgotten that he was in a hospital with the normal way he and Dick were fooling around.

Eventually though, after Dick had settled down next to Jason, the alpha a comforting warmth against his side, Jason couldn’t help but break the light mood. There were things he wanted to know, needed to know, and he simply couldn’t wait any longer until someone else brought them up.

“Did you find out anything, Dick? About Roy, I mean?”

Jason couldn’t help the hopeful lilt of his voice, although the unhappy frown on Dick’s face instantly told him that his brother didn’t have good news.

“Not yet, Little Wing. Wally and I searched through every scrap of paper in that house and we sent all the hard drives to Babs, but there was nothing. The commissioner wanted to process your kidnappers first, so I couldn’t interview them last night. But he said he’d let me talk to them later. I’m sure I can get something out of them, okay?”

Jason sank a little heavier into the pillows but mustered the energy to smile back at Dick and nod. It wasn’t his brother’s fault that they hadn’t found Roy yet, and Jason knew he did everything he could, but it was just so damn frustrating. The knowledge that the kidnappers had the information they had been looking for these past weeks made him want to march into the station himself and punch it out of them, no matter how stupid that would be.

He could wait a couple more hours, though. It wasn’t like he had any other choice, anyway. And Dick really was good at interrogating people, he would get one of them to talk.

“The guy who told me about Roy, he was nice the whole time.”

The incredulous look Bruce and Dick shared after that declaration made Jason roll his eyes.

“I’m not saying he was a good guy, relax. I wasn’t there long enough for Stockholm Syndrome. He just gave me cookies and a blanket and…doesn’t matter. But Dick, try to find him, I think he’ll talk to you without any problem.”

Dick seemed somewhat sceptical, but he nodded, his expression at least trying to mask his disbelief. Since there really wasn’t much more Jason could tell him he left it at that. And it wasn’t because he didn’t want to talk about his kidnapping, it was just…there were better things to occupy his time with, that was all.

It wasn’t much later that a nurse came by to check on Jason, Dick’s charm and warm smile the only reason he wasn’t immediately thrown out of Jason’s bed by her. Not that Jason was complaining, it was nice to have his scent and warmth so close after the coldness of the basement he had been held in.

Jason’s vitals were declared perfectly fine and with a smile the nurse asked him if he wanted to have his breakfast now given that it would still be a little while until his doctor would come by.

The only thing he really wanted was to go home, where Alfred’s absolutely superior food would be waiting for him, but his stomach was rumbling and he knew that it would still take hours before he could go home even if everything was alright, so he just smiled and told her he would like that very much.

After stealing at least a fourth of Jason’s breakfast (“I was out all night, I didn’t have time to eat.”) Dick eventually got up and told them he would be heading to the station to see if Gordon would let him talk to the kidnappers now.

“I’ll call the moment I find something, promise,” Dick said as he pressed a kiss to Jason’s forehead. Then he wrapped Bruce in a firm hug and even though he spoke quietly Jason still heard him say, “Get some rest once you get home, dad. He’s safe now.”

Bruce didn’t really acknowledge that, only hugged Dick back and murmured “Be safe” as he brushed a light kiss against his temple before Dick finally stepped back and strode out of the room with a last jaunty wave at Jason.

Bruce sat back down in his chair and now that Jason looked for it, his father’s exhaustion was glaringly obvious. It was there in the slump of his shoulders, the dark bags under his eyes, the tired smile he gave Jason. He most likely hadn’t slept or even sat down for a minute since the kidnappers had made their ransom call, and sitting vigil at Jason’s bedside hadn’t seemed to be very relaxing for him either as Jason would bet he had been on high alert the whole night.

Jason really should have noticed it sooner, and yes, their family was pretty used to sleepless nights, but the stress of a family member in danger must have been especially bad. Not just for Bruce, but for all of them.

He was just about to ask if Bruce wanted the yoghurt that still remained from his breakfast (because knowing his father, he hadn’t properly eaten in the last two days either) when Bruce’s phone vibrated and he answered it, his face clouding over in the few seconds the call lasted.

Once he hung up Bruce pinched the bridge of his nose, letting out a weary sigh, and Jason was already bracing himself for bad news when his father looked up at him again.

“That was Dick,” Bruce explained, voice tired, “the second he left the hospital he was mobbed by reporters. They know about the kidnapping and that you’re here.”

That…wasn’t as bad as Jason had expected, honestly, even if he wasn’t thrilled about it. Still, he had been a Wayne long enough to know that the press always got wind of stories such as this.

“Dick doesn’t think they know about the pregnancy, at least,” Bruce went on, and he sounded just as relieved as Jason felt.

He knew it was inevitable that his condition would become public knowledge soon, but apart from the problem of Roy still not knowing he also really didn’t want it tied up in this kidnapping story.

“Well, that’s something,” Jason said with a shrug, leaning back against his pillows and turning on the TV to look through the news as Bruce called his PR team and lawyers.

There wasn’t anything on the big channels yet, so Jason guessed they had at least a few more hours until the international press would run the story. Should be enough to get back to the Manor and spend the rest of the day in peace there.

Jason’s doctor came by about half an hour later and Jason could have cried with happiness when she declared him and the baby absolutely heathy and ready to go home. He still had enough self-control not to, although the way he jumped from his bed the second the baby heart-monitor was disconnected and immediately got the clothes Alfred had brought him out of the closet was a dead give-away.

“Easy there,” Dr. Müller cautioned, although she was smiling at his eagerness, “don’t push yourself too much, your body still needs some more rest. Besides, your dad has to fill out your release forms before you can leave, so you can take your time, Jason.”

Jason mumbled out an “Okay”, but the second his doctor and Bruce left to get the papers in order he was in the bathroom, changing his clothes in record time.

By the time Bruce came back Jason was practically vibrating with his eagerness to go home and Bruce wisely didn’t delay any further, simply took the bag with Jason’s clothes in one hand, slung the other over Jason’s shoulder, and then they finally made their way towards the elevators.

Bruce had already called Alfred earlier, so he was waiting for them in the underground parking garage, squeezing Jason’s shoulder warmly as soon as he was within reach while Bruce stowed his things in the trunk of their car.

“Lets get you home, Master Jason,” the butler said and Jason didn’t need to hear that twice.

Alfred had brought one of their more expensive SUV’s, a car that was outfitted among other things with tinted windows, and the reason for that became obvious seconds after they emerged onto the street. News vans were parked end to end along half a block there and reporters were barely kept from blocking the hospital entrance by security personnel.

Cameras flashed from all sides as they drove by, but there was no way anyone in the car would be visible to the outside, which made Jason smirk in vicious glee. He didn’t have anything against reporters in general, but those gossip columnists and paparazzi out there had made his family’s lives hell often enough that he felt an immense sense of pleasure at the knowledge that they wouldn’t get what they had been waiting for.

At least there weren’t any reporters camped out in front of the gate to the Manor yet when they arrived, although Jason would bet that in a few hours that would change. Wayne stories sold extraordinarily well in Gotham, so unless a bigger scandal came along, they would most likely be the top news story for about a week, give or take.

Bruce had already given his PR people the order to draft a statement for him to release, but that would never make the whole thing die down completely. Kidnappings were just too sensational for that.

Well, Jason could wait out the press. It wasn’t like he really needed to go anywhere in the coming days, and honestly, all he really wanted was to be home anyway.

Tim and Damian very unsubtly appeared in the foyer seconds after they had made their way inside from the garage and it quickly became apparent that Jason had two permanent shadows now. His younger brothers didn’t leave him out of their sight as Alfred made them all a light snack, as Jason went upstairs to put his bag away, as he went to Bruce’s office to see how things with their PR people were going.

Normally, Jason would have gotten annoyed maybe ten minutes into the incessant following, but after the last two days it was nice to have his little brothers by his side. He might not have let himself really give into it, but he truly had been terrified of what might happen to him and his baby the whole time he had been taken, but with Tim and Damian beside him those memories had no chance of coming back. Instead he only felt grateful for these two amazing boys and their dedication to keeping him safe. Also, their attempts to lighten his mood were quite entertaining, even though they were both terrible at telling jokes; it was the thought that counted in Jason’s opinion.

They found Bruce in his office as he was just finishing up a call, telling someone to release the statement to the press and to try to keep the story small, but the tone of his voice told all three of them that he didn’t really think there was any chance of that. He hung up with a sigh but mustered a smile for his sons as they stepped further into the room.

“You two keeping an eye on your big brother?” Bruce asked, sounding amused and proud at the same time as he took in the way Tim and Damian were practically glued to Jason’s sides.

“Tt, as he has proven, he needs thorough supervision,” Damian declared grandly with Tim nodding sagely in agreement.

Who would have thought that all it took to get these two to agree on something was Jason getting kidnapped for a day or two. And because Jason was a very gracious older brother he didn’t do more than roll his eyes very pointedly at Damian’s words. He knew they were coming from a place of love and care after all, so he could forgive their kind of insulting nature just this once.

Also, Jason could still tell how exhausted Bruce was, so starting a fight wouldn’t do anyone any good right now, either. Instead, Jason decided to use the current overprotectiveness of his family for good.

“You finished here, old man? We wanted to watch a movie in the den and thought you might like to join us.”

They hadn’t planned anything like that but asking Bruce to just get some sleep would never work so Jason had to improvise.

“Jay, I still have to deal with the press and-“

“C’mon dad, you know the best thing is just to ignore them,” Tim chimed in, picking up on what Jason was intending to do immediately.

“Yes, Father. Those imbeciles will forget about this in a few days, anyway.”

“And do you really want to leave Jason alone right now when he asked for his dad?”

That was laying it on a bit thick and Jason very pointedly let his elbow dig into Tim’s side to make his displeasure known at being used like that but judging by the way Bruce’s eyes went soft and he levered himself out of his chair it had at least worked.

“Okay, boys. What did you have in mind?”

That was how Jason found himself on the big couch an hour later, Bruce’s one arm curled around him, the other around Tim on his other side with Damian lying practically on top of their father, a warm blanket engulfing all of them and Wall-e playing on the TV as Bruce snored.

From the looks of it Tim and Damian weren’t far behind their father, both of them having trouble keeping their eyes open any longer, and Jason felt the heavy weight of sleep drag him further into the cushions with every minute as well. The last few days had left them all in some dire need for rest and there really was no better place for it than in a family nest, so Jason let himself snuggle closer against Bruce and drift off.

Some time later Jason felt something shift next to him and he blinked his eyes open to find Dick slipping under the blanket beside him, settling in with a contend sigh.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you,” Dick said, keeping his voice low so as to not disturb the others when Jason turned around a little to look up at him with sleepy eyes.

“It’s okay. I’m sure I got the most sleep out of everyone in this family during the last few days.”

The slight grimace on Dick’s face told Jason that he was probably right, which also meant that his older brother needed to get some sleep as well, though Jason wanted to ask him some questions first.

“How’d the interrogation go?”

“Pretty good. Not even bad guys can resist my charm, you know,” Dick grinned and Jason’s heart started to beat faster, because that meant his brother knew where Roy was. They could finally bring him home and things would be as they should again and-

“Where is he?” Jason asked, suddenly wide awake as he was trying to sit up, but Dick’s hands on his shoulders were firmly holding him back. “Dick, we have to go get him, what are you-”

“Hey, calm down, Little Wing,” Dick soothed, pulling him back down, “I already told Dinah and Ollie, they’re on their way to get him. I thought they had the best chance to convince Roy to come home, don’t you think?”

“Yeah,” Jason had to agree, the fight leaving his body just as fast as it had entered it as he let himself slump back against his brother, “I guess you’re right.”

Of course Roy wouldn’t want to see him. He still thought Jason had betrayed him to his parents. Just because it had been weeks, that didn’t mean he felt any differently about their relationship.

The most important thing was that Roy finally came home and got help anyway, not who convinced him to do it. Everything else could be dealt with later. And if Jason was honest, he wasn’t sure if he was even ready to see Roy again right now, in light of all the stress of the last few days. Maybe it would be better to let everything settle down a bit before that would happen.

“What do you want to watch?” Dick asked, picking up the remote. Wall-e had apparently been over for some time.

Jason just hummed. He didn’t really care, honestly.

Dick started to flick through the channels and inevitably came across a news channel where Jason’s face looked back at them. Jason let out a deep groan and Dick stayed on long enough for them to hear what the press had to say.

It wasn’t much, just that Jason had been kidnapped for ransom and been admitted to the hospital later on. From there it went into speculation on how badly he was hurt and whether Bruce had paid ransom and how much. The statement from the family had made it very clear that Jason was okay and there had been no ransom payment, but as it had been released a few hours after the story broke, no one really paid that much attention to it.

Overall it was just what Jason would have expected, but he still felt disgusted at the sensational way these people were talking about what happened to him in order to increase their viewing figures. At least they didn’t have any pictures beyond stock photos of the family and some exterior shots of the hospital.

There were also some current pictures of the closed gate to the Manor in there, which told Jason that reporters were camping out there in the hopes of getting to see any of the Waynes. Something that would definitely not happen. And given that it had started to rain pretty heavily in the last few hours, this futile wait outside couldn’t be all that comfortable, which had Jason smile in satisfied glee.

Dick finally switched channels again with an annoyed sigh, mumbling about how “real journalists would never” under his breath, which just made Jason’s smile grow bigger.

They settled on some inane quiz-show, bickering quietly about the correct answers while Bruce and their brothers slept on, thoughts about Roy and the press falling to the wayside as Jason teased Dick about his poor knowledge in literature and history, while Dick declared himself superior in the - according to him - much more important topics such as sport (hah!) and fashion (double hah!).

Eventually Tim and then Damian woke and joined in on their discussion and although soon they weren’t even trying to be quiet anymore, Bruce slept on like the dead. He really must have been exhausted if the ruckus of four arguing kids didn’t wake him up, which just confirmed Jason in his decision to trick him into getting some rest.

It wasn’t until Dick’s phone rang that their father finally stirred, asking sleepily what was going on, but everyone just shushed him because the name on the display was Dinah and Jason would swear his pulse was loud enough to be heard by the whole room when Dick finally swiped the ‘accept call’ button.

“Any news?” Dick asked without preamble, and Jason’s eyes were glued to his face, trying to determine what was said on the other end purely from Dick’s expression.

The call wasn’t very long and when Dick hung up with a short “Thanks for letting us know,” Jason was literally holding his breath as he waited for his brother to relay whatever he had been told.

“They haven’t found him,” Dick said and Jason felt the air leave his lungs in a disappointed sigh, leaving him empty and deflated.

Of course they hadn’t found Roy. Since when did anything ever work out the way Jason hoped it would? He had been stupid to hope, really.

“But they found the place where he’s been staying,” Dick quickly tacked on, laying a grounding hand on Jason’s shoulder. “The other people there said he left a few hours ago and told Ollie and Dinah a few places where Roy might be, so they’re going to keep looking for him. They’re close, Little Wing.”

“We’ll see,” was all Jason had to say to that.

He couldn’t allow himself to get his hopes up too much again. He had just been in the hospital because of the excessive stress and its dangers to his baby, he really shouldn’t put himself in this position of worrying too much right now. Ollie and Dinah would do their best and Jason had to concentrate on the things he could influence; namely, the well-being of his baby.

Judging by the concerned looks his father and brothers exchanged this answer may have been a little too morose to convince them that he was fine, which meant Jason wasn’t surprised when the rest of the day was spent with family activities very clearly designed to distract him and lift his spirits.

That was why they were all still in the den close to midnight. Dinner had long since been eaten and in the glow from the fireplace and with the rush of the heavy rain as a constant background noise the whole family, including Alfred, was sitting around a game of Clue on the coffee table, arguing about ‘Who dun it’.

Damian was just explaining how it had to be Professor Plum with the rope in the billiard room (hah, Jason had that room, so the little gremlin was wrong), when suddenly loud knocks sounded from the front door.

The way everyone’s head immediately turned in the direction of the foyer would have been comical if not for the tension that had overcome the room. Their front door wasn’t what one might call easily accessible, especially as the gate was currently very firmly closed and all perimeter alerts engaged.

“You think it’s reporters?” Tim asked uncertainly, not really addressing anyone in particular.

“They should know better,” Alfred said with a dark undertone, already getting up, but a firm hand on his shoulder from Bruce stopped him from leaving.

“I’ll get it, Alf.”

With that Bruce marched out of the room, Jason and his brothers exchanging glances before focusing intently on what was going on in the foyer.

Another bout of fast, almost frantic knocks sounded from the door, which abruptly ended as Bruce pulled the heavy door open.

“Bruce,” a breathless voice drifted into the house and Jason felt his heart stop because that voice… Could it really be?

“Bruce, please, I heard about Jason, is he okay? On the news they said he’s been kidnapped and brought to the hospital and you guys never go to the hospital unless it’s bad. I tried to call him but he didn’t answer and I went to the hospital, but they wouldn’t tell me anything, and fuck, Bruce, just…please. Is he okay?”

Jason was on his feet and sprinting towards the front hall without even thinking about it, needing to make sure that this was real, that after all this time this was really Roy he was hearing.

“Roy, calm down. Breathe, son.”

Jason heard his father’s alarmed voice just as he rounded the corner and then he didn’t notice anything other than the one person he had been yearning to see again for weeks.

Roy was pale and drenched from head to toe, rain water dripping from his hair and clothes as Bruce pulled him inside, but he was alive and here and Jason felt his knees go weak with relief at simply having him back after all this time and-

“Roy!”

Roy’s eyes met his and the world came to a standstill.

There was nothing but his boyfriend, the joy and exhilaration of seeing each other again, the pure need to get closer and from one breath to the next Jason was moving across the room, Roy meeting him halfway. Then Roy’s arms were around him and Jason in turn was holding onto the alpha with all his strength, never wanting to let go again. Roy’s honey and pine scent was like a balm for Jason’s soul and he couldn’t help but press his face against Roy’s neck, inhaling deep and feeling a deep sense of calm and belonging wash over him.

“You’re okay,” Roy mumbled against Jason’s neck, sounding like it took everything for him not to break down in relief. “I was so worried, I thought…but you’re okay, Jaybird.”

“I’m fine, Roy. Now I’m absolutely fine.”

Jason didn’t know how long they stood there, just holding each other close. It was long enough for the water from Roy’s clothes to soak into Jason’s, but he didn’t care one bit about that because it also allowed Roy’s breaths to lose their panicked edge, for the faint trembling of his limbs to give way to the warm and strong embrace Jason was used to.

When he finally pulled back a few inches Roy’s eyes met his and Jason was kissing him before he could think better of it, was just so glad to have him back; his best friend, his boyfriend, his alpha.

A soft throat clearing had them finally break away from each other, the reminder that Bruce was still in the room causing heat to spread across Jason’s cheeks. Roy also seemed to have forgotten their audience if the startled noise he let out was anything to go by and Jason couldn’t stop the laugh that suddenly broke out of him, feeling giddy with all the happiness that was coursing through his body.

Roy shot him a look, all faux indignation and fondness, and for just a moment it felt like nothing had changed, so Jason simply leaned closer to kiss Roy’s cheek in apology, still smiling wide.

He only noticed once he leaned back again how his baby belly had been pressed closer against Roy as he had moved and when he was finally far enough away to meet Roy’s eyes again they were huge and absolutely shocked.

Oh.

Roy’s hands were suddenly on Jason’s shoulders as he took a small step back, his eyes tracking down to the still small but nonetheless telling curve of Jason’s belly as he inhaled Jason's scent deeply and when he looked back up at Jason there was a vulnerability in his expression Jason had never seen from him before.

“Jay, are you…is it my…”

Roy couldn’t even finish the questions, his voice breaking with emotion at nearly every word.

This was definitely not how Jason had envisioned this moment, but now that it was here he followed his instincts, taking one of Roy’s hands and guiding it down to lie on his baby belly, letting his other hand palm Roy’s cheek in reassurance as he finally told his boyfriend what he had been longing to share with him for weeks.

“We’re going to have a baby, Roy.”

For a moment Roy seemed frozen and then without warning his eyes rolled back, his knees giving out from underneath him and he began to sink to the floor, Jason’s grip the only thing slowing his fall.

“B,” Jason cried out, but it wouldn’t even have been necessary because Bruce was already there, lifting Roy safely up into his arms.

“I’ve got him, Jay. I’ve got him.”

Chapter Text

“Master Bruce, take him into the den. Master Richard, first aid kit. Master Damian, towels. Master Timothy, water. Go!”

Jason turned around to find his brothers standing behind him, obviously having witnessed at least the last part of the dramatic reunion if their wide-eyed stares were anything to go by, but at Alfred’s command everyone immediately sprang into action.

Bruce carried Roy into the den, laying him down gently on the couch closest to the fireplace, Jason following just a step behind them. The alpha was looking pale but he seemed to be breathing evenly and when Jason reached out to brush a few strands of hair back from his face Roy let out a soft groan, his head turning into the contact.

“Master Jason, if you could give me some room, please.”

A firm hand guided Jason out of the butler’s way, Bruce drawing him around the couch as Alfred started to take Roy’s pulse and check him over.

Damian was the first one back, a mountain of towels haphazardly balanced in his arms, followed moments later by Dick and Tim also racing back into the room, everyone gathering in a half-circle around the couch and watching Alfred work.

The old butler didn’t spare any of them even a glance, his focus entirely on the unconscious boy in front of him, and with each second nothing seemed to be happening Jason’s heart beat a little faster.

Roy had only fainted, why did it take Alfred so long to look him over? Was something else wrong with him? Had he already been sick or injured or-

Bruce’s hand was rubbing in soothing circles over Jason’s back, his father very clearly intending to calm Jason down, keeping up a steady stream of quiet reassurances all the while.

“He’s fine Jay, don’t worry. He’ll wake up in a minute, you’ll see.”

It worked at least in so far that Jason’s breathing evened back out and the only outwardly signs of stress were his clenched fists and tense shoulders, but at least he wasn’t on his way to hyperventilating anymore.

When Alfred was finally finished Dick didn’t hesitate in stepping forward to offer him a hand but their grandfather only waved him away and stood up from his crouch on his own.

“I’m not that old, boy,” he said, making Dick grin sheepishly, before he turned to Jason and placed a steady hand on his shoulder.

“Master Roy is absolutely fine, lad. Just a little bit too much excitement coupled with what I’m presuming was a very stressful and sleepless month. He’ll come round in a bit, don’t you worry Master Jason.”

Jason let out a deep breath, all the tension leaving his body in one fell swoop, making him nearly dizzy with relief.

Of course Roy was fine; he’d just been surprised, that was all.

“We should however get him warmed up and dry, or he might just catch a cold,” Alfred went on and with that Damian stepped forward, holding out his bounty eagerly.

Jason grabbed one of the towels without hesitation, not even thinking of letting Alfred do this on his own, and knelt down next to the couch so he could start to dry off Roy’s hair. It was still dripping with rainwater, the cushion underneath starting to get soaked, and Jason knew come morning Alfred would not be very pleased about the now probably ruined upholstery, but that wasn’t really something he could change now.

While Jason dried off Roy’s hair Bruce maneuvered the redhead enough so that Alfred could slip off his sopping wet jacket, placing another towel underneath him before they laid him back down, and Dick took off Roy’s muddy boots (at least this wasn’t one of the antique couches, or Alfred would be having a heart-attack at the stains they left behind).

Jason was just finishing up, switching out the by now damp towel for a dry one, when Roy let out another groan and his eyelids started to flutter. Jason stilled, still kneeling next to the couch and now leaning over his boyfriend, watching as his brow furrowed and confused green eyes blinked open several times before they finally found his.

“You back with me?” Jason asked, smiling softly and stroking his thumb gently over Roy’s cheek where he was still cradling his head.

He just couldn’t help himself; after so long without him, the need to touch, to make sure that Roy was really back, was nearly overwhelming.

“Jaybird?”

The word sounded dreamy, like Roy still wasn’t fully aware of his surroundings, and one of his hands came up to cup Jason’s cheek as if he too had to make sure this was real.

“Is this a dream?” Roy whispered, and Jason felt his heart melt at the awed and gentle quality of his voice, at the way their eyes met and there was nothing else anymore, only Roy and-

“Wow, this is so cheesy,” Tim’s nauseated voice said from somewhere behind Jason, Damian’s sniffed “Tt, lovesick teenagers” chiming in, and Jason watched in amusement as Roy’s eyes tracked upwards and got wide as he took in their audience standing just behind Jason.

“Nightmare,” Roy breathed, and Jason only barely held back his snort of laughter.

“This is a nightmare,” Roy groaned, flinging an arm over his face as if that would hide him from the Waynes crowded around him.

“Are you calling my family a nightmare?” Jason asked, a teasing lilt to his voice.

“Only when they’re glaring at me,” Roy mumbled, words muffled by his arm.

“No ones glaring at you,” Jason said, shooting a pointed glance behind him with the clear message that he would not tolerate anyone intimidating his boyfriend.

It wasn’t really necessary though; his quick look only showed him a mix of varying degrees of concern and amusement in all of his family members’ faces. But with the way they were all looming over the couch, Jason could understand how Roy had gotten the wrong impression.

“They’re all just worried about you,” Jason explained, turning back around to Roy. “You’ve been unconscious for a bit. Are you feeling okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Roy said after a short pause, his arm finally falling away so Jason could see his face again.

He did look better than before with some colour returning to his cheeks the longer he stayed near the warmth of the fire, even though his clothes were probably still damp and cold, and he finally seemed to be fully aware of where he was again.

There was still a little furrow between Roy’s brows when he looked up at Jason though, the one that usually showed up when he was tinkering with one of his inventions and couldn’t quite figure out how the parts needed to fit together in order to make them work the way he wanted them to yet.

“I fainted,” Roy said slowly, and it nearly sounded like it was a question so Jason nodded at him, quirking an eyebrow at his boyfriend stating the obvious.

“Yeah. Quite dramatically, too.”

“I fainted,” Roy repeated, sounding as if he couldn’t quite believe it, but then his eyes went wide and he sat up so suddenly it nearly had Jason toppling backwards to the floor.

“I fainted because you’re pregnant.”

Ah, now Roy was finally back up to speed, it seemed.

“Oh shit,” Roy panted, his breaths coming quicker with every second, “oh fuck. Jay, this…fuck, Jay, how…?”

“Roy, breathe with me,” Jason commanded, kneeling up so he could meet his boyfriend’s eyes, taking one of Roy’s hands and placing it against his chest as he took measured breaths.

“You’re pregnant,” Roy repeated, voice getting higher with each word, his breathing still way too fast, “with a baby!”

“Well, I sure hope it’s a baby,” Jason quipped, though he still kept his breathing demonstrably slow and even as he quirked a smile at Roy.

“Calm down, Roy. Come on, you know how to do this.”

But Roy wasn’t listening, something like panic creeping into his expression.

“Ollie’s going to kill me,” Roy whispered before his eyes darted up to look at something behind Jason, “your dad’s going to kill me.”

“No one is going to kill anyone,” Bruce said, appearing next to Jason and also kneeling down, one hand beginning to rub soothingly over Roy’s back without any hesitation.

“I didn’t make any promises,” came a defiant mumble from Damian, quickly followed by him hissing at what sounded like an elbow to the ribs, but Jason didn’t spare that any thought, keeping his focus on Roy who was now staring at Bruce with what appeared to be genuine fear.

“Roy, there’s nothing you have to be afraid about. No one is going to punish you, do you understand me?”

Bruce was speaking in the deep and gentle baritone he always used to calm down any of his kids after a nightmare and his clear and reassuring words finally seemed to get through to Roy, who took a shuddering breath and nodded slightly.

“Good. Now, I want you to take in a deep breath,” Bruce said, slow and patient. “That’s it. And another. Good. Now try to match your breathing to Jason’s, can you do that for me?”

It took him a while, but eventually Roy brought his breathing back under control, matching it to Jason’s slow and even rhythm, tipping forward as if his strings had been cut when the panicked tension finally left his body to lean his forehead against Jason’s.

“It’s okay, I’ve got you,” Jason murmured softly, shifting his hold on Roy’s hand so he could intertwine their fingers.

It didn’t take long before Roy sat back a little, looking calmer but still guilty in a way that made Jason’s heart squeeze painfully.

“I’m sorry, Jay,” Roy said, his voice filled with so much regret and self-loathing it had Jason shaking his head before Roy had even finished speaking.

“Don’t apologize. It’s kind of on both of us, I’d say,” Jason joked, hoping to lighten the mood a little.

“No, I don’t mean the baby. That…that’s amazing, actually,” Roy said, his voice awed and a soft smile taking over his face without him even seeming to realize it, though it vanished again when he continued speaking.

“No, I mean I’m sorry for being such an asshole to you. I’m sorry for not being a better guy, not being what you deserve. I’m sorry for not being strong enough to just quit and dragging you into all of this shit again. I’m just…I’m so sorry, Jay.”

“Roy…” Jason began, his throat feeling tight suddenly, but then he didn’t know how to go on.

Most of what Roy had said was bullshit of course, he didn’t need to apologize for that stuff, but they also couldn’t just sweep everything that had happened under the rug and continue as if nothing had changed. There was so much they needed to talk about and suddenly Jason didn’t even know where to begin, overwhelmed after the emotional rollercoaster these last two days had been, these last 20 minutes had been.

Luckily Alfred stepped in, the butler appearing with a glass of water that he handed to Roy with the very clear instruction to drink all of it and the rather pointed comment that is was getting quite late already.

“You’re right, Alfred,” Bruce said, levering himself up to standing and pulling Jason up alongside him with a firm hand on his elbow. “We could all use some sleep, I think.”

“But-“

“No buts. Everyone is exhausted and tomorrow there will be enough time to talk about everything, okay?”

Jason gave a sullen nod, crossing his arms just to make clear how little he liked his father bossing him around, but a look at Roy and the dark circles under his eyes had him softening a little. Maybe Bruce was right; Roy looked like another surprise would knock him out again and they would have to discuss some pretty serious topics, so a night of sleep did sound good.

“Up to bed with you guys too,” Bruce said with a pointed look to the side and Jason heard Dick usher their little brothers out of the room and towards the stairs.

Alfred meanwhile was still looking Roy over with a critical eye, frowning at the slight shivers that were now running through his body.

“A warm shower and then straight to bed, Master Roy,” he ordered, taking the empty glass from Roy’s hands before guiding him up from the couch.

Roy swayed for a moment and Jason already felt Bruce tense next to him in preparation to catch him, but then Roy found his footing and gave them all a weak smile.

“Guess that was a little bit too much excitement,” he said, sounding bashful in a way that Jason had rarely heard from him.

“You’re certainly not the first alpha I’ve seen react like this, lad,” Alfred said reassuringly, patting Roy lightly on the back, and Roy’s smile got a little more genuine at that.

“Now come on, there is a guest room waiting for you with a warm and dry bed. We don’t want you to get sick now.”

Jason met Roy’s eyes and he could see his own surprise reflected in them. Roy being put in a guest room hadn’t really been what Jason had expected, but one glance at Alfred and Bruce told him that arguing this point would be absolutely useless.

Roy didn’t say anything either, letting Alfred guide him towards the door without protest, only stopping when Jason caught his hand as they passed.

“We’ll sort this all out tomorrow,” Jason said quietly, squeezing Roy’s hand in reassurance, “you’ll see.”

Something solemn and complicated that Jason couldn’t really interpret flickered behind Roy’s eyes for a second before the alpha straightened up, his expression shifting to one of determination.

“Yeah,” he said, holding Jason’s gaze for a long moment before shifting his attention down to look at his belly, his voice barely audible it was so soft when he continued, “we will.”

“Goodnight,” was all Roy said after that, brushing a brief kiss against Jason’s cheek, and then he and Alfred were gone, leaving Jason to stare at the empty doorway.

“Jay, come on, off to bed,” Bruce said, prompting him to move with a hand on his back.

Jason let himself be guided out of the den and up the stairs, feeling fatigue seep into his bones with every step he got closer to his room. This evening had not only been a little too exciting for Roy it seemed.

But no matter how exhausted Jason was, the unimaginable relief he felt at finally having Roy back far outweighed any tiredness he felt. His boyfriend’s absence had been burdening him for weeks and to see him again, to know that he was safe…it was enough to make Jason dizzy if he let himself revel in it.

“Are you okay?” Bruce asked when Jason was lying in bed, his father sitting on the edge next to him.

Usually Jason would have rolled his eyes and made some quip he didn’t really mean about being too old to be tucked in by his dad, but today, after the events of the last few days, it only made him feel safe and looked after in the best way.

“Yeah,” Jason answered, shrugging a little at Bruce’s sceptical expression, “a little surprised, but in a good way, you know?”

At that Bruce let out an amused snort, relaxing slightly as he patted Jason’s leg through the blanket.

“That’s a good way to describe the evening,” he said, leaning forward to place a kiss against Jason’s forehead. “Get some rest, Jaylad.”

That was easier said than done though.

Because even though Jason was exhausted and fell asleep only minutes after Bruce had left, he simply couldn’t stay asleep.

The first time he shot up in bed barely an hour after lying down, his pulse racing, the coldness of a basement and the bite of handcuffs still prickling along his skin.

He knew it had just been a nightmare, his brain dealing with the memories of the kidnapping, but it still took him long minutes to settle back down and bring up the courage to close his eyes again.

The second time it couldn’t have been more than half an hour of sleep before he was awake again, breath hissing between his clenched teeth as Jason stared at the ceiling and told himself firmly he was home, he was not there anymore, no matter what his stupid brain made him see.

After the third time Jason took one look at his bedside clock, groaned at the stupidly early time it displayed, and then threw back the covers so he could get out of bed on jittery legs.

This was obviously not working and if he wanted to get any sleep it certainly wouldn’t be here, alone, so he slipped out of his room, intend on seeking out his father for some comfort.

Except, once he was in the corridor, Jason turned right instead of left, his feet guiding him to the guest rooms in the hallway directly next to the family wing.

He knew it might not be smart, but with Roy right there, just a few doors away, Jason simply couldn’t keep himself from seeking him out.

His family could comfort him, but Roy was…he was Roy. His other half; a part of Jason that had been missing for so long and right now, in the middle of the night and with remembered terror ghosting through his veins, all Jason wanted was to feel whole again.

Roy was in the exact room Jason had expected Alfred to put him and when Jason quietly pushed the door open his eyes immediately met Jason’s in the dark.

Seemed he wasn’t the only one who couldn’t sleep.

“Can I -?” Jason asked a little hesitantly, suddenly painfully aware of all the things that still hung unsaid between them, but Roy was already nodding, flipping his blanket back in invitation.

The moment Roy encased him with the blanket, his arm a warm and grounding weight across Jason’s side, he felt like he could breathe again for the first time since he had woken up from his first nightmare.

They were both lying on their sides facing each other and in the dim light that fell through the curtains it was hard to make out any details, but Jason was certain Roy was staring at him, something intense and longing in his gaze that echoed deep inside Jason’s chest.

It had only been a little over a month, but it felt like an eternity since they had been close and Jason didn’t hesitate in wrapping his own arm around Roy and tangling their legs together, chuckling as Roy hissed when his cold feet touched his legs.

His humour dimmed a little though when Roy didn’t make any comment or threaten to kick him out of bed for his icy toes like he usually did but instead only continued to look at Jason, eyes wide as if he still couldn’t believe this was real.

“Is this okay?” Jason asked, suddenly afraid that he was moving too fast and overwhelming Roy.

Sure, spending the night together hadn’t been a big deal for them in a long time, but this still felt different, more significant somehow with everything that had happened. Maybe Roy needed some time alone right now after the shock earlier, and Jason barging in was overwhelming him once more.

“I can go if-“ Jason began, shifting a little back towards the edge of the bed, but Roy didn’t even let him finish before he interrupted with a frantic “No!”

“No,” Roy repeated a little more calmly as Jason froze, the alpha’s arm tightening around him and pulling him back, something desperate in Roy’s eyes as if he couldn’t even bear the thought of Jason leaving.

“Please stay. I really missed you, Jay, and I…I need you here. It’s just all so much right now, and I don’t know how to…”

“How to what?” Jason breathed, settling back down and running his hand gently up Roy’s back until he could stroke carefully through his boyfriend’s long red hair, trying to calm him down from his obvious distress.

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t recognize myself anymore and I don’t know how to come back from that.”

In the darkness of the night it felt like a confession, Roy’s words halting and slow as if it took all of his strength to get them out.

“I sometimes feel like I’m not in control of myself anymore. I’ve been doing things I knew were wrong, things I never thought I’d do in a million years. Fuck, Jay, I’ve turned into the kind of person I always despised, and even though I tried…I couldn’t stop. I just couldn’t stop myself, Jay.”

There were tears in Roy’s eyes and Jason felt his heart break as Roy’s breath began to hitch - this was exactly what he had feared would happen to Roy the moment he had found that bag of heroin.

Jason knew what addiction did to a person, how it could twist them into something they didn’t want to be but were powerless to stop themselves from becoming. And this self-hatred he could read so clearly in Roy’s words could be even more dangerous than the drugs he had been taking, could destroy more and have so much worse and lasting consequences.

“It’s going to be okay,” Jason said softly, pulling Roy against him as he shifted to lie on his back, cradling Roy’s head against his chest as his boyfriend began to cry in earnest. “You don’t have to deal with this alone anymore, Roy.”

Jason kept stroking Roy’s hair as he cried, holding him close as the alpha let out all the pain and frustration of the last few months, and in a strange way Jason knew that as painful as seeing his boyfriend so low was, it was absolutely necessary if they ever wanted to have a chance of moving on.

There was a reason that most addicts needed to hit rock bottom before they could get better, and as Jason felt tears soaking into his shirt and hands desperately clinging to him, he hoped to god that this was the lowest Roy would ever need to fall.

Jason didn’t know how long it took for Roy to finally tire himself out, his hitching breaths slowly tapering off into quieter ones, his panicked grip on Jason’s sides slackening and dropping off. He looked down when one of Roy’s hands trailed lower to the edge of Jason’s shirt, meeting his boyfriend’s still shining eyes and nodding slightly at the silent question he could read in them.

Roy’s hand moved the shirt up and then trailed over Jason’s belly, his touch so soft and irreverent that it made Jason’s breath stop.

When Roy leaned up to kiss him Jason met him halfway, silently wishing that this would be the last time he had to taste the salt of tears on his boyfriend’s lips, even though he wouldn’t change this moment for anything in the world.

When Roy pulled back he seemed more settled, the terrible sadness gone from his eyes, replaced by something Jason thought was hope and joy and determination mixed into one.

“I love you,” Roy said, pinning Jason to the mattress with the weight of the honesty in his gaze as surely as if he were holding him down. “I love you both so much,” he said, his thumb stroking slow circles over Jason’s belly, and now it was Jason’s breath that hitched, even though for a very different reason.

“I promise I’ll get better, Jay. I promise I won’t ever hurt you like that again, or leave you or-“

“Shut up,” Jason gasped, pulling Roy down into a desperate kiss, needing him to be closer, needing him to stop talking because Roy was saying exactly what Jason had been dreaming of for the last few weeks and his heart felt like it was overflowing and ready to burst from even one more word.

When they parted again they were both smiling and something felt like it had clicked back into place inside Jason, a part of him that had been cracked for so long becoming whole once again.

They still had a long road ahead of them and so many obstacles to overcome, but as Roy settled back down on Jason’s chest, his ear pressed over Jason’s heart and his hand still cradling his baby bump, Jason knew somehow that they could make it as long as they were together.

With Roy’s comforting scent and familiar weight grounding him Jason fell asleep in seconds and not a single bad dream found him the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

“Why am I not surprised?”

Jason was pulled out of the best sleep he’d gotten in ages by an obnoxiously loud voice and opened his eyes to find his older brother peering down at him from merely a few feet away, his hands on his hips and a look of mock disapproval on his face.

The scowl Jason turned on Dick in return was an instinctive reaction to the man’s stupid, annoying face and he was already opening his mouth to shoot something appropriately snarky back at his brother when the weight on top of Jason shifted and he was reminded that they weren’t alone. Roy was apparently still asleep and because Jason was more considerate than some people, he snapped his mouth shut and simply glared in the hopes that Dick would get the message.

He didn’t of course, only continued to stare and quirk an amused eyebrow when Roy moved where he was half lying on top of Jason, one arm and one leg thrown over him, his grip tightening possessively in response to Jason shifting slightly under him.

“What do you want?” Jason hissed quietly, resigning himself to Dick not leaving until he got whatever he had come here for - and also to be teased mercilessly later on. Not like simply sleeping in one bed should be something he and Roy had any reason to be ashamed about, but it still felt weird to have his brother see them somehow.

Dick was about to answer when Roy let out a faint noise, his voice still rough with sleep and muffled where his face was pressed against Jason’s neck when he mumbled, “Jay, wha’s going on?”

“Dick,” Jason said in explanation, glaring exasperatedly up at his older brother for so rudely waking them up.

“Now? ’kay,” Roy mumbled and then to Jason’s horror he felt his boyfriend’s hips roll down against his and-

“No!” Jason shrieked, shoving Roy to the side with one panicked push. “No, Dick, my brother.”

His brother who was standing four feet away, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, as Jason felt a burning flush take over his cheeks, getting hotter with every second they just stared at each other.

“Okay,” Dick said into the mortified silence, voice unusually high and a touch manic, “let’s just…pretend this never happened and that you two didn’t just make me regret my name for the first time in my life even though a lot of people have tried very, very hard before. Agreed?”

Jason nodded mutely, as did Roy, who was one hundred percent awake now, his face nearly as red as his hair.

“So, ahm,” Dick said, clearing his throat and still looking like he wanted to be anywhere but here. Jason could sympathise. “So, I came by to talk to Roy but I think I’ll just…”

Dick let that sentence hang, gesturing vaguely at the door behind him as he took a small step towards it.

“I mean,” Roy began in a rush, “we can talk. Just, let us get up and-“

Roy was in the process of pulling back the blanket when an expression of horror crossed Dick’s face and one of his hands came up to cover his eyes as he practically yelled, “please tell me you guys aren’t naked under there or I’m gonna have to stab my eyes out and bleach my brain.”

“Then you shouldn’t fucking barge into other people’s rooms,” Jason shot back just to be petty.

“Also we’re not naked,” Roy put in with a slightly hysterical edge, looking at Jason like he was crazy for not outright denying it.

Jason just shrugged. That one was on Dick for assuming.

“So, what did you want to talk about, Dick?” Roy asked, very clearly trying to steer the conversation into less awkward waters again. This morning really was going swimmingly so far.

Dick however was still shielding his eyes and didn’t stop until he had made his way blindly back towards the door, his free hand grasping around wildly until he found the handle.

“Nothing we can’t talk about later. I’m just gonna go and bash my head against a wall so I’ll forget everything that happened this morning. And you two should get up and dressed before Bruce or Alfred come to wake you up. If they can’t find Jay in his room, there’s gonna be panic.”

“We are dressed,” Roy tried again a little desperately, but the door had already closed behind Dick.

Once they were alone again Jason met Roy’s eyes and it took less than a second before Jason was giggling like mad.

“You thought,” Jason wheezed, barely able to get the words out because he was laughing so hard, “when I said ‘Dick’,” his sides and cheeks were starting to hurt from the strain of his laughter, “I meant-“

“I wasn’t awake yet,” Roy huffed indignantly as he tried to glare at Jason across the bed. The corners of his lips were tugging upwards into a smile though, which made for an absolutely ridiculous combination and had Jason only cackle harder.

“Well, at least you’re happy,” Roy lamented, now pouting like a toddler. “I’m going to be castrated by your family, cruelly, unjustly punished for being in love, and you’re laughing at my misery.”

Jason let out the most unattractive giggle-snort at Roy’s absolutely over the top dramatics, tears streaming down his face and his lungs becoming tight from all the laughter.

God, how he had missed this. Missed Roy and the easy way they had of fitting together, of making each other happy. Jason never wanted this moment to end, wanted to stay in this bubble of delirious joy that was making everything that had happened over the last weeks seem like merely a bad dream.

“You’re an idiot,” Jason gasped with the little breath he still had left, meeting Roy’s gaze through hazy eyes.

“True,” Roy agreed easily, his voice so painfully fond and absolutely honest, as if what he was saying was the most obvious thing in the world, “but I’m your idiot.”

Jason surged forward so suddenly that he practically bowled Roy over, toppling him onto his back with Jason on top of him. When his lips crashed onto Roy’s there was no finesse to it, he simply needed to be closer to this amazing boy who had stolen his heart so utterly and completely, needed to show him that he was Roy’s just as much as Roy was his.

Their kiss was messy and wild and had heat curl low in Jason’s stomach the way he hadn’t felt in so long. Some distant voice of reason kept telling him that going further with this now wouldn’t be the greatest idea, but suddenly all Jason wanted was to feel Roy again, his hands, his lips, everything, and damn whatever common sense was telling him.

Jason was pushing up Roy’s shirt without consciously deciding to do so, revelling in the feeling of warm skin against his, in the little moans Roy let out as Jason teased his fingers along his sides, the aroused scent that came from his boyfriend.

When Jason broke the kiss Roy let out a little whine, leaning up to capture his lips again, but Jason just smirked and bend down to kiss along Roy’s jaw and moving lower, tilting his boyfriend’s head with the hand tangled in Roy’s long hair to give himself better access to his neck and the source of that intoxicating smell, closing his lips over Roy’s scent gland and sucking lightly, savouring the deep groan that escaped Roy and the shiver that ran through the alpha’s entire body.

He continued to kiss lower, his lips tracing the familiar scar along Roy’s shoulder from a mission years ago, shivering as one of Roy’s hands slipped under Jason’s shirt and caressed his back, the other travelling lower to grip his thigh and pull him closer, making Jason moan at the delicious friction the move caused.

“Jay,” Roy finally gasped as Jason let his hand wander down further, from Roy’s chest along his abs to the waistband of his pyjama pants, “Jaybird, I don’t think we should-”

Roy broke off with another gasp as Jason let his teeth scrape over the sensitive skin on his collarbone, the alpha throwing his head back and tightening his grip on Jason’s thigh.

Jason continued his exploration downwards, moving beyond Roy’s bunched up shirt so he could kiss his way down his chest, but before he had even reached his navel he was stopped by a hand on his shoulder that pushed him away until he was sitting upright over Roy.

Looking down at his boyfriend Jason felt like his body was burning with desire, his blood pounding in his veins so hard he could hear the rush of it in his ears. He tried to lean down again but both of Roy’s hands were now keeping him away, making Jason huff in frustration.

“Roy,” Jason whined, and he knew it was cliché but he couldn’t help but stretch back and bare his throat, making himself instinctively inviting for the alpha underneath him, “please, what’s going on? Don’t you want this?”

Jason saw the flicker in Roy’s eyes, how they became hooded and dark, the way he bit his lip as he let his gaze travel from Jason’s eyes down to his bared neck and lower to where he was straddling the alpha’s hips, and for a moment Jason had the hope that they would continue to make out and more after that. But then Roy shook his head lightly, visibly composing himself before one of his hands moved from Jason’s shoulder to gently cup his cheek.

His touch was so soft and irreverent, the complete opposite of their heated writhing just moments earlier, and Jason found himself frozen in anticipation as he met Roy’s earnest gaze.

“I want you,” Roy said softly, his thumb stroking gently over Jason’s cheekbone, “I can’t even tell you how much.”

“Then why stop?” Jason asked quietly when Roy fell silent, quirking his lips in a teasing smirk that he hoped would break Roy out of the strangely serious mood he suddenly seemed to have fallen into. “We can lock the door if you’re worried about my family barging in.”

“As if a lock could keep anyone in this house outside,” Roy said, leaning up for a quick apologetic kiss before gently pushing Jason off his lap and sitting up fully himself. “Besides, then they’ll just kill me at breakfast. I know Alfred has that shotgun and isn’t afraid to use it.”

Jason rolled his eyes, the sudden coldness of Roy’s missing body a very unwelcome come-down after that heated make out session.

“I hate to break it to you, but the fact that we’ve been having sex isn’t really all that shocking to anyone anymore,” Jason remarked dryly, pointedly running his hand over his belly as he said it.

Roy didn’t laugh at the quip like Jason had expected though, only smiled a little half-heartedly before he turned away and started to get off the bed.

“Roy,” Jason said, stopping him with a hand around his wrist, waiting until the alpha looked back at him before he went on in a much more subdued voice, “what’s this really about?”

Yeah there was the risk of them getting caught, but that hadn’t really stopped them from being intimate in the past, not unless there was someone quite literally in the hallway right in front of the door. It could be that Roy simply was more nervous about Bruce and the others finding out because he was still unsure about his acceptance back after everything that happened, but Jason didn’t really think that was the case; not with the way Roy had responded the night before to Bruce calming him down.

“If you just don’t want to have sex, that’s fine,” Jason reassured when Roy didn’t say anything, letting his thumb brush in light circles over Roy’s hand, “but if there’s a different reason…you know you can talk to me, right?”

For a long moment Roy hovered next to him, one foot already on the floor, and the indecision was written clearly across his face, his eyes flitting from Jason down to the blanket and up again as he was quite obviously struggling with himself.

Eventually though he let out a deep sigh and slumped down to sit on the bed, keeping silent and chewing on his lip before he finally said so quietly Jason could barely hear him, “It just doesn’t feel right, you know?”

Jason didn’t really know, but he kept quiet, looking openly and encouragingly at Roy as he tried to find the right words to explain.

“The whole time just now while we were making out all I could think about was what a fucking asshole I’ve been to you. How much I’ve fucked everything up, fucked us up. It felt like…like I would be taking advantage of you if we had sex now.”

“You’re not taking advantage of me! I’m very aware of everything that-“

“No, maybe advantage wasn’t the right word,” Roy interrupted, sounding frustrated with himself. “More like…I would exploit your feelings for me, or… I don’t know, like we’d be pretending that nothing has really changed. I fucked up so bad and now you just…forgive me like that? That’s just-“

“Roy,” Jason said, voice quiet and firm, “you’ve done nothing that is unforgivable. I’ll admit we’ll have to work on our relationship in the future, things can’t simply go back to the way they were, but I’m willing to put in that work because I love you, okay?”

“I ever tell you that you’re too good to be true?” Roy asked after a few long seconds of silence, startling a surprised laugh out of Jason.

“Seriously Jay. I don’t know what I would do without you. And you’re right, this will take work, but for you, for the baby, I’m gonna do everything I can to make this right. I’m going to earn your forgiveness, whether you think it is necessary or not, I promise. Because I love you, more than I could ever really say.”

Jason was so caught in the earnestness of Roy’s words, the open affection and vulnerability in his eyes, he couldn’t help but to lean forward and kiss him again, though this time he kept it slow and tender, hoping to convey how much Roy’s words meant to him.

When he leaned back Roy looked dazed and dreamy in a way that had Jason’s heart skip a beat. They might have to work on some aspects of their relationship, but their desire to be with each other certainly hadn’t diminished over the last few weeks.

“Can I scent you?” Jason asked, knowing it wasn’t really necessary after spending the night wrapped around each other, but still feeling the sudden urge to mark Roy with his own scent deliberately, to solidify the bond between them in a way that would soothe Jason’s instincts that had been yearning for his alpha these past weeks.

“Yeah, of course. I’d like that.”

In a way this was more intimate than simple sex would have been, the way Jason let his wrist slowly glide over Roy’s cheeks and down to his neck, mixing their scents and creating that fragrance that was just them.

Roy in turn scented him back, movements just as careful and irreverent as the first time they had done this, making Jason’s instincts sing with each touch of their skin that this was right, this was what had been missing, that everything would be alright now.

When they were finished and more hugging each other than scenting, Jason glanced at the clock and it became clear that they should hurry up if they didn’t want Bruce (or worse Alfred) to come looking for either of them. Jason wouldn’t really care if they found him in Roy’s room, but he didn’t think Roy was in the right headspace to deal with that on top of everything else right now.

As they made their way into the hallway however the quiet hope that their sleeping arrangements wouldn’t be noticed by anyone except Dick were instantly dashed upon finding both Damian and Tim waiting outside.

“Harper, I demand an explanation for your deplorable…what are you doing here?”

The moment the door opened Damian launched into what was clearly going to be an impressive speech, but upon seeing Jason he faltered, looking from him to Roy and back with increasingly heavier disapproval, before finally settling his most intimidating stare on Roy.

“We will continue this talk later!”

With that he spun around and marched back towards the stairs, leaving the other three to look after him in silence.

“Well,” Tim commented wryly, “good thing I stopped him from bringing his katana.”

Jason just sighed, shrugging a little at the ‘See!’ look Roy sent his way. Fine, so his family was being a little overprotective right now.

“What were you guys even doing here?” Jason asked, even though he could probably guess.

“Waiting so we could talk to Roy,” Tim said without a hint of hesitation or regret, “make sure he was done being a selfish asshole.”

“Tim,” Jason growled, but Roy’s hand lightly grasped his arm and had him fall silent. A look at his boyfriend showed him a strained smile, but also determination burning in Roy’s eyes that Jason knew better than to argue with.

“He has a point,” Roy said before stepping around Jason and closer to Tim, giving him his full attention. His expression was absolutely serious when he declared, “I promise I’m done being an asshole.”

Tim was looking at him with calculating eyes as if he was trying to figure out whether he could believe him or not.

“And if I ever treat Jay like that again, I want you to send Damian and his katana after me. I’d deserve worse, really.”

That got a little twitch of a smile out of Tim, but he continued to stay silent for a few seconds longer, studying Roy with an intensity that rivalled Batman’s before he finally nodded once, the movement so sharp and deliberate it gave Jason the impression he had just watched his little brother swear an oath or something.

“Oookay,” Jason said, trying to ease the oddly serious mood that had fallen over the hallway, “now that that’s done, can we please just go and get breakfast? I’m starving.”

That got everyone moving finally, Tim taking the lead as they made their way downstairs. Jason could feel Roy tense up next to him with each step that they got closer to the dining room, so he reached out for his boyfriend’s hand, squeezing it in reassurance and holding on tightly as they entered.

Unsurprisingly, the whole family was already waiting for them, everyone’s heads turning to stare the moment they stepped through the door. Tim immediately vanished to his seat across the table, and then it was just Jason and Roy standing in the doorway, facing the assembled Waynes.

“Morning,” Jason said as nonchalantly as possible when no one else reacted in any way, deciding not to let the morning turn weird. This was just a normal meal with his family and his boyfriend, nothing that hadn’t happened countless times before.

Everyone else answered with some variation of “Good morning” as Jason took his seat, subtly dragging Roy along to the chair next to him. The alpha’s posture was unnaturally stiff, but he gradually relaxed as the others focused back on their plates after a pointed look from Bruce around the table.

“Did you sleep well, Master Roy?” Alfred asked as he poured each of them some tea, attentive eyes looking the young man over as he did so.

Jason didn’t miss the little snort Dick let out next to him or the scoffed “Sleep, right.” from Tim, and he didn’t hesitate in kicking his older brother’s shin under the table hard enough to make him gasp while glaring daggers at Tim until he looked back at his food with something approaching contrition.

“Yes, I did. Thank you very much, Alfred,” Roy answered, sounding painfully polite in a way he hadn’t since his first few visits to the Manor.

Alfred must have noticed the unusual tone as well, because a moment later he laid a hand on Roy’s shoulder as he went past, squeezing briefly before he made his way to his own seat, and while the gesture might have been small, from the old butler it meant a lot - a fact that everyone in the room knew very well, including Roy.

“I’m glad to hear it, my lad.”

That reassurance drained the last tension from Roy’s shoulders and Jason was glad to see him reach for a piece of toast and the cheese platter. He could use the calories, Jason thought, because Roy had definitely lost some weight over the last month. Not enough to be dangerous, but still noticeable.

Some light conversation picked up around the table, casual, mundane stuff ranging from Titus’ next appointment at the vet to Tim’s plans to visit a new skatepark, and Jason let himself enjoy the easy early morning atmosphere, feeling calmer than he had in a long time with Roy sitting beside him.

“Since when do you like blueberry jam?” Roy asked suddenly when Jason spread some on his bread, eyeing him like he had never seen him before.

Jason shrugged, taking a bite and enjoying the confused look on his boyfriend’s face.

“Sine I woke up and really wanted some blueberries last week. Seems our baby shares your horrible taste and now makes me suffer.”

The way Roy’s eyes went soft at that declaration was absolutely precious and Jason let his knee rest against his boyfriend’s underneath the table, feeling him press back as they shared a long look. He would have preferred to kiss Roy, but he didn’t think Roy would be comfortable with that quite yet in front of the whole family.

“So,” Roy asked, voice a little unsteady, “what else did I miss?”

“Not much, really,” Jason said, keeping his voice light. Making Roy feel guilty about something like this wouldn’t help any of them. “Mostly it was just morning sickness, though luckily I seem to be over that.”

“That can’t have been fun,” Roy said, wrinkling his nose a little.

“Not particularly, no. But don’t you worry,” Jason said, smirking a little, “that’s why you get to change all the diapers later on. You know, to keep this fair.”

Roy let out a snort at that, eyes twinkling with happiness, and Jason failed to keep the laughter out of his voice as he went on, “no, seriously. Every single diaper, your job. I won’t touch them, nu-uh. Puking my guts up for a month has to get me some perks later on, don’t you think?”

“Of course, Jaybird,” Roy assured, reaching for Jason’s hand under the table and intertwining their fingers. “That would only be fair.”

“So, Roy,” Bruce put in, clearing his throat and instantly stopping all conversation around the table, “how are you feeling today?”

Leave it to Bruce Wayne, socialite extraordinaire, international businessman and head of the freaking Justice League, to make a family breakfast awkward as hell in one simple sentence. Even Bruce seemed aware of it if the pained curl of his lips was any indication, and Jason felt the strong urge to bonk his head against the table at his father’s social ineptitude.

“Ahm, good,” Roy said, making it sound more like a question than a statement. “No more fainting at least, so that’s something I guess.”

Jason heard Dick chuckle a little at that and even Damian seemed amused enough to finally stop glowering at Roy, making the mood around the table immediately lighter.

“That is good to hear,” Bruce said, tone way less strained than before, a kind note to his words when he continued, “we were all very worried about you.”

That had Roy speechless for a moment, the alpha opening and closing his mouth without any words coming out before he just nodded and began to pick at his food, suddenly very interested in the last apple slices on his plate.

“Your parents were also very worried,” Bruce went on, words careful as if he wasn’t sure how Roy would react. “I called them last night. They were very relieved to know that you are safe and wanted to come over immediately, but I asked them to wait until today. They should be here in an hour though. Is that okay for you, Roy?”

Roy just nodded again.

“You can say no, Roy,” Bruce reassured, “if you need some more time I can-“

“No,” Roy said, straightening up in his seat and looking at Bruce, “I’m done running away from things. And I’d…like to see them, honestly.”

The rest of breakfast was a rather quiet affair after that, Jason’s hand never letting go of Roy’s under the table. Once they were all finished everyone headed back upstairs to get changed, and when Jason had to part from Roy to go to his own room he stopped his boyfriend briefly, leaning in to kiss his cheek.

“It’s going to be fine, trust me. And I’ll be there the whole time if you want me to.”

“Of course I do,” Roy said with a small, grateful smile, “Thank you.”

Ten minutes later Jason was dressed and heading over to get Roy when he already heard a loud voice coming from his boyfriend’s room. Apparently, Damian was having words with Roy as promised, though to Jason it sounded more like a one-sided lecture than a conversation.

At least there didn’t seem to be any fighting or maiming going on, so Jason was only marginally worried about what he would find once he entered Roy’s room.

It turned out to be Roy, sitting at the end of his bed with his hands folded and listening contritely to Damian, who was marching up and down in front of him like a general before his troops, pontificating and scolding in a way that only someone who had been raised as royalty could.

Honestly, it was a little adorable.

Damian hadn’t noticed Jason looking through the open doorway yet and when Jason raised an eyebrow at Roy, silently asking his boyfriend if he needed a rescue, the alpha only shook his head in a barely noticeable movement.

Well, it was Roy’s decision, Jason thought as he silently left again, making his way down the stairs and to the den. Bruce was already waiting, looking surprised for a moment when Jason entered the room alone, though it quickly turned into a resigned expression.

“Your brothers taking Roy apart?” he asked, sounding a strange mix of disapproving and proud at the same time.

“Apparently it was Dami’s turn now,” Jason said, and at Bruce’s worried frown went on, “last I checked they were both alive and there were no weapons in the vicinity, so lets hope for the best.”

At that Bruce let out an amused snort before turning serious again and beckoning Jason over to sit next to him on the couch.

“How are you? Is everything okay with-” Bruce asked, gesturing down at the baby bump and at Jason in general. “That was a lot of stress last night, so if there is anything-“

“I’m fine, B. Better than fine, really. Roy being back is…that was not how I pictured it happening, but it’s all I could have hoped for, really.”

“Hrrn,” was Bruce’s eloquent reaction to that, but he also put an arm around Jason and pulled him closer against him in a hug, so that was at least something.

“I’m glad that you’re happy,” he finally said slowly, and Jason could tell how carefully his father was choosing his words, “and I am relieved that Roy is not out there on his own anymore. But we can’t simply ignore everything that happened these last few weeks. Roy is not fine and you are also still in a…delicate state, so please, do not overtax yourself.”

“I know, B,” Jason said quietly, burrowing a little more into the comforting warmth of his father, “there is still a lot of work for us to do, for Roy to get clean, for me to…deal with last week. For us to prepare to be parents. But we talked last night and I think…I think we can do it, dad. It might not be easy, but we can do it.”

“I have every confidence that you two will,” Bruce said, and Jason felt his father brush a careful hand through his curls before a soft kiss was placed on top of them.

After a few moments of comfortable silence Bruce then said, “so, you went to Roy to talk last night, huh? Dick said something very different this morning,” which had Jason grab one of the decorative cushions and slam it into his father’s face, hearing his muffled laughter from behind the fabric.

“I’ll fucking kill that nosy, lying bastard,” Jason fumed while Bruce freed himself, lightly admonishing “Language!” and going totally ignored.

That was how Roy found them, with Bruce still chuckling and Jason red in the face from his little tirade.

“Am I interrupting something?” Roy asked, looking curiously between them, but Bruce just shook his head and Jason stretched out a hand, beckoning his boyfriend to sit down next to him.

“Dami leave you in one piece?” Jason asked as Roy sank into the cushions, earning him a huff and a pointed side-eye.

“Physically? Yeah. Mentally? I might have nightmares from his descriptions of what he would do to me should I ever make you unhappy again. Your brother really has a way with words, Jay.”

“Sorry,” Jason said, but Roy waved him off.

“It’s fine. He’s just worried about you and…he has a point, really.”

Jason wanted to say more to that, but Bruce had stood up, looking at his watch, and Jason knew it was time.

“I’ll go get Ollie and Dinah from the zeta,” Bruce said, watching Roy carefully as he did. “You two can wait here or come downstairs if you’d like.”

“We’ll stay,” Jason said when Roy failed to answer, and with a last nod Bruce left the room, heading for the entrance to the Cave.

Roy’s hand reached for Jason’s and like that they waited the few minutes it took until footsteps from the hallway announced the adults coming back, Roy’s leg bouncing with increasing speed the closer they got.

Bruce entered the room first, Ollie and Dinah only a few steps behind him, and they both stopped like they were frozen once they laid eyes on Roy. Jason felt him tense up next to him, his hand going tight around Jason’s, but then within the blink of an eye Dinah had crossed the space between them, kneeling down and hugging Roy like she never wanted to let go again.

“Thank god you’re safe,” she said, sounding so relieved it was nearly heartbreaking, and Jason watched Roy bury his head against her shoulder before his view of him was blocked by Ollie folding the both of them into his arms as well.

Roy’s hands came up to embrace both of his parents as well, never letting go of Jason’s, so he simply stayed there while the Queens were finally reunited, a feeling of warmth and happiness spreading through him at seeing them back together.

“I’m sorry,” Roy’s muffled voice came from between them, “I’m sorry I fucked up, I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment, I’m sorry-“

His words cut off with a sniff, and Jason was sure his boyfriend was crying, even though he couldn’t see him clearly past Ollie’s bulk and Dinah’s mane of hair.

“No Roy, never say that!” Ollie said, his words sounding suspiciously wet. He leaned back a little, encouraging Roy to look at him with a gentle hand on his cheek before he went on, “you’re our son and we love you. And nothing you do could ever change that, okay?”

Roy let out a little sob and finally nodded before Ollie pulled him closer, scenting him while Dinah murmured soothing words and stroked Roy’s back.

Jason looked away after a while, feeling like he was intruding on something very personal and private, even though they were all part of his family in a way. His eyes met Bruce’s, who was standing off to the side, hovering in an unusually uncomfortable manner, his uncertainty on how to react to such open displays of emotion from people other than his kids written plainly across his whole body.

“Drinks?” Jason mouthed at him, and his father gladly took the excuse and vanished from the room.

When he returned with a tray of refreshments the Queens weren’t huddled as closely anymore, Ollie back on his feet with a hand on Roy’s shoulder while Dinah was still kneeling, cupping Roy’s head and pressing kisses to his cheeks as if she never intended to stop.

“Jeez, mom,” Roy eventually said, trying to sound annoyed, but his soft smile and the warm flush to his face were telling a different story, “you’re embarrassing me in front of Jay and Bruce.”

Dinah just huffed, unimpressed, but eventually she and Ollie managed to tear themselves away from Roy far enough to take a seat on the adjacent couch, Bruce taking the armchair on Jason’s other side, and then they all seemingly just waited for someone to say something.

“So,” Roy eventually began, the single word shattering the silence that had fallen over the room, “you’re all gonna be grandparents soon, huh?”

It wasn’t the topic everyone had been anticipating and as such the tension immediately drained, Dinah letting out a surprised chuckle as Ollie laughed, and even Bruce was smiling warmly. Roy pressed a little closer into Jason’s side and Jason leaned back against him just as much, feeling so much comfort at seeing both of their families finally united like this.

“Yes. A little earlier than expected but you know. Just means I’m gonna be the hottest grandpa around,” Ollie declared, making Roy groan and bury his face in his hand while Jason nearly choked he was so startled by that answer.

“What, it’s true!” Ollie asserted loudly, which earned him an eye-roll from Bruce and a mildly condescending pat on the arm from Dinah.

“But all jokes aside,” Ollie went on, his tone turning serious, “it was a bit of a shock, I’ll admit. But we’re all very happy about the baby. You’re gonna have a great kid, I’m sure of it, and we will all support you guys however you need, okay?”

That had Roy swallowing, his eyes fixed on his parents, and Jason tightened his hand around Roy’s to silently make sure he was okay, receiving a small answering squeeze back before Roy took a deep breath and finally answered.

“Thanks,” he said quietly, genuinely, “you’re gonna be amazing grandparents, I know. And I wanna be a good dad, but right now I can’t because…because I have a problem.”

It sounded like it was the hardest thing in the world for Roy to say, but there was determination in his eyes when he repeated it, looking directly at Dinah and Ollie, “I have a problem and I want to get better, but I don’t think I can do it on my own.”

“And you don’t have to,” Dinah instantly reassured, reaching over and taking Roy’s free hand. “We will be with you every step of the way and get you the help you need. I’m so proud of you for admitting you have a problem, Roy.”

“There is an excellent rehab facility just outside of Star,” Ollie continued, “we already arranged everything, you can check in there any time.”

“Well, the sooner the better, right?” Roy said, to which everyone agreed.

That was how they all found themselves down in the Cave just a few minutes later, Roy picking nervously on his sleeves as Bruce fired up the zeta.

“Guess this is goodbye again,” Roy said, looking at Jason with a mix of sadness and regret, which had Jason leaning in for a brief kiss in the hopes of cheering him back up.

“Only for a little bit.”

“I’m still gonna miss you,” Roy said, his hand brushing softly along Jason’s arm and coming to rest on his belly, “gonna miss both of you.”

“Wait here a sec,” Jason suddenly ordered, turning around and running across the Cave and up the stairs, hearing confused questions echo up from behind him.

In Bruce’s office he started to pull open drawers, rifling through his father’s paperwork to find what he was looking for. He was sure there had to be a copy somewhere around here and…aha, success!

With his bounty clutched in his hand he made his way back, ignoring Bruce’s disapproving frown as he made his way towards Roy. He was pregnant, not an invalid, he was still capable of running up a couple of stairs.

“Here,” Jason declared, holding out the small piece of paper in his hand, “so we can be with you.”

Roy took it and the moment his eyes fell on the ultrasound picture, the little blob that was their baby, his breath seemed to stop and his face took on an expression of pure wonder that Jason didn’t think he had ever seen on him before.

Then he surged forward, pulling Jason into a deep kiss, murmuring “Thank you” and “Its perfect” and “I love you” and a string of other things that made Jason’s heart flutter.

They didn’t separate until Ollie pointedly cleared his throat behind them, and even then Roy leaned back in for a last chaste kiss before he took a step towards his parents who were already waiting next to the zeta tube for him.

“Come on, honey,” Dinah said, guiding Roy gently into the light.

With a last wave at Jason Roy disappeared, his parents following instantly behind, leaving Jason already feeling the absence of his other half again, but knowing that things would get better from here on out.

Chapter Text

Jason hated waiting.

There was something about not having anything to do and being unable to help that made him feel anxious and powerless in a way that reminded him too much of his years on the street, and as a result he was irritable and jumpy and downright mean if the hurt look on Tim’s face was anything to go by.

“Tim, I didn’t-” Jason began, reigning himself back in and trying to sound less hostile, but his brother had already turned around and was stalking out of Jason’s room.

Jason debated going after him, but if Tim didn’t want to talk to him right now he could understand. Instead he let himself collapse onto his bed with a thump, burying his face in his pillow and groaning in frustration.

It wasn’t Tim’s fault that Jason was in a bad mood. He’d only been trying to be nice really, and all he had gotten in return was Jason snapping at him like an absolute asshole.

He really had to get himself under control. There wasn’t even any reason for him to be so moody; objectively, everything was going pretty well right now.

It was just that it had been three days since he had seen Roy last, since his boyfriend had taken the zeta with his parents and then checked into a rehab facility.

Three days since Roy had called and told Jason that there was a strict “no contact” policy in place for at least the first week of detox and that he would call him the second he was allowed to. Three days since Jason had told Roy that he loved him and believed in him and then had to hang up, leaving him with nothing else to do but wait.

Well, some things to do, like finally give his statement to Commissioner Gordon and set up his new cell phone because the last one had been destroyed by his kidnappers, but nothing that really distracted him from thinking about Roy and what he was going through right now.

Jason knew what the first days of heroin withdrawal looked like intimately. Knew from watching his mom sweat and cringe and a few times even scream in pain, until he couldn’t take it any longer and went out himself to somehow get some money and another hit for her.

Roy’s situation was of course completely different - he wasn’t alone in some dingy apartment with only a scared eight-year-old to look after him. No, he was in one of the best clinics in the whole country (Jason had checked) with doctors and therapists looking after him, but still…Jason just wanted to be there for him, to make sure he would be okay.

The absolute lack of contact was also not helping, especially after weeks of not knowing where Roy was and what he was doing. It left Jason even more anxious, a small voice whispering in the back of his mind that Roy was gone once more, even though he knew that was bullshit.

God, he just wanted this infernal waiting period to be over and finally be able to at least talk to Roy again and-

“Dinner is ready.”

Jason was pulled out of his thoughts by Damian, who was standing in the doorway, a magnificent frown on his face.

“’kay,” Jason mumbled as he got up, glancing at his clock and realizing that he had spent nearly two hours simply moping on his bed.

This was really starting to get ridiculous. Roy was fine, there was nothing left for him to worry about.

Walking down the hallway Jason could feel the constant glances his younger brother was shooting at him every few seconds and he had to keep himself from snapping at him in irritation too.

God, what was wrong with him?

“You upset Timothy,” Damian finally said once they neared the stairs and usually Jason would have burst out laughing at the accusatory tone from the little brat – if someone was a champion at upsetting Tim, it was Damian – but this time Jason just stopped walking, pinching the bridge of his nose as he closed his eyes for a few seconds.

If Tim had been upset enough for Damian to bring it up, Jason really must have fucked up royally.

“I know,” Jason said, opening his eyes to find Damian staring up at him, his arms crossed in front of his chest and his gaze hard. “I didn’t mean to, I was just…I’ll apologize, okay?”

Damian didn’t say anything, intense green eyes studying Jason for a while before he nodded and uncrossed his arms, his whole posture becoming less tense.

“He was just trying to help you,” he mumbled as they started walking again and Jason felt something warm bloom in his chest at the way Damian was looking out for Tim.

His youngest brother really had come a long way since his first days at the Manor, when everything he had been concerned with had been proving himself as the worthiest heir and eliminating what he had deemed as the competition.

“I know,” Jason sighed, reaching out to ruffle his brother’s hair and receiving an indignant glare in answer, “thanks for standing up for him. You really are a great little brother.”

“Tt, obviously,” was all Damian had to say to that, but Jason didn’t miss the rosy hue that was rising on his cheeks.

Down in the dining room the rest of the family was already waiting for them, Bruce reading something on his phone while Tim was talking to Alfred.

The moment Jason and Damian entered Tim’s eyes flickered to Jason and then very pointedly moved back to Alfred, not even acknowledging that Jason was there or what had happened earlier.

Jason felt his insides twist in that unique way that only disappointing his family could achieve. He’d have to make this right, he knew, but grand gestures of contrition had never really been his strong suit. Why did Dick have to be back in Bludhaven? Their oldest brother was so much better at all that emotional stuff and practically an expert in settling disputes between his siblings (unless he was actively involved, then he was just as mulish and unreasonable as the rest of them).

Dinner went pretty much the same way it always did, except that Tim never once looked at Jason or talked to him, which made things pretty awkward the few times Jason tried to initiate a conversation, getting nothing but frosty silence in answer.

After the third time it happened Bruce threw a concerned look from one of them to the other, asking “Everything alright?” in that careful tone that said he knew it wasn’t.

“Of course,” Tim said, all fake casualness, and at Jason’s lack of an answer Bruce’s gaze zeroed in on him, apparently, quite correctly, deducing who was at fault here.

Jason let out a sigh before he turned to face Tim, his younger brother still steadfastly ignoring him.

“I’m sorry, Tim. I didn’t mean to snap at you.”

Still no reaction from Tim, only a raised eyebrow from Damian as if he wanted to say “That’s all you got, Todd?”.

Steeling himself internally Jason went on, knowing he needed the big guns this time.

“How about we watch some Star Trek tonight?”

That got a reaction out of Tim, the teenager’s eyes instantly meeting Jason’s, surprise and something vaguely manic in his expression. There was a reason why no one in the house ever mentioned that particular sci-fi franchise, and Jason was already resigning himself to a very, very long night.

“My choice which movies or series?” Tim clarified, a grin starting to take over his face as Jason nodded.

“With director’s commentary?”

“Yes, Timmy. Whatever you want.”

“Okay,” Tim said, looking gleeful as he dug back into his mashed potatoes with gusto, frosty ignorance gone as if it had never been there in the first place.

When Jason met Bruce’s eyes he could tell their father was curious about what exactly Jason had done that warranted this level of apology, but he didn’t say anything, simply nodded at Jason in approval and then also focused back on his dinner.

Five hours later Jason was seriously regretting everything he had ever done to upset his little brother, because this torture couldn’t only be because he had snapped at Tim this once, could it?

The two of them were sitting in the Manor’s movie theatre, Bruce and Damian having wisely fled to patrol through Gotham after dinner, the sixth episode of the evening flickering across the screen, and Tim’s voice showed no signs of getting weaker after talking constantly through all of them.

Jason loved the kid, he really did, but how could someone be into Star Trek this much? And don’t get him wrong, Jason liked the series just fine himself, but he probably would have enjoyed it even more if he had the chance to understand more than a couple of words on the rare occasion that Tim had to pause in order to take a breath.

But it was Jason’s fault they were here and he would make it up to his brother, so he sat there the whole time, making the appropriate noises whenever Tim looked expectantly at him, an “oh, that’s pretty cool” or “I didn’t know that”.

He would have given longer answers if Tim had paused long enough for him to speak more, even. And internally Jason could admit, some of the stuff Tim talked about really was pretty interesting, but did he have to do so in a near constant stream?

When the credits rolled Jason expected Tim to get up and put in the next disk, but instead his little brother stayed on the couch next to Jason, remaining silent for the first time since they had started this marathon. Jason got the distinct feeling that something had suddenly changed, so he didn’t say anything, simply watched Tim’s hands where they were nervously picking at the hem of his t-shirt.

“You know,” Tim began after the silence dragged on, the hesitancy of his words in stark contrast to the manic energy with which he had spoken the last few hours, “it’s not a bad thing to be upset after everything that happened the last few weeks. And if you wanna talk about something…”

The kid left that sentence hanging and Jason felt affection and gratefulness bubble up inside him, warming him to his core. His first instinct was to pull the kid closer into a hug and when Tim was nestled tight against him Jason dropped his nose into his hair, taking in the calming beta scent and adding his own scentmarker of older brother and pack on top of it, feeling the kid practically melt in his arms.

“I know,” Jason said quietly once he was satisfied and simply cuddling his little brother, “and I appreciate it, really, but I’m fine, Timmy.”

That had Tim pulling back far enough so he could stare incredulously up at Jason, his raised eyebrow making clear how little he believed him.

“Jay, you nearly eviscerated me just because I asked if you wanted to go to the mall with me. You’ve been anxious since Roy left and we all know you’re still not sleeping well unless dad is there. That’s not what I’d call being fine.”

That was the problem in a family full of detectives – they noticed everything.

“It’s-“ nothing, Jason intended to say, but Tim’s eyebrow only rose higher and he swallowed the word. Yeah, no bullshitting here.

“I’m dealing with it,” Jason said instead, which also didn’t seem to satisfy his little brother, but he didn’t voice his disapproval out loud.

Instead he leaned back against Jason, and for a few minutes they just stayed quietly like that, the comfort of pack enough to make Jason’s eyes begin to droop.

He really hadn’t gotten a lot of rest the last few days. The feeling of a cold barrel pressed against his baby bump kept him up and even when he managed to finally fall asleep, nightmares of being trapped in a dark basement or the images of Roy in withdrawal, in pain and all alone, had him startling awake after no more than an hour.

The only thing that really helped was crawling into Bruce’s bed each night, but for some reason Jason always tried to fall asleep on his own first before he inevitably gave up some time during the night and sought out his father.

“Are you afraid of leaving the Manor?”

It took Jason a couple of seconds to rouse himself enough to comprehend the words and when Jason didn’t answer Tim went on, voice still sounding soft and careful.

“I mean, the last time you were outside you were kidnapped, so it would be understandable. I’d totally understand if that’s why you snapped at me and-“

“No,” Jason said, cutting Tim off.

He really didn’t want to hear his little brother say that it was okay for Jason to treat him shitty just because he wasn’t feeling great. That type of thinking was too reminiscent of the way Tim had been behaving back when he’d been new to the Manor and taught that his feelings didn’t matter by a life with absent parents. Jason absolutely wasn’t going to let him slide back into that.

“No, I’m not afraid of going outside. And even if I was, I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”

Tim hummed, obviously not entirely convinced by Jason’s words, and Jason let out a sigh as he let his head tip back against the couch and looked up at the ceiling instead of the repeating title menu on the screen.

“I just didn’t want any paparazzi to spot us,” Jason confessed, the real reason for why he had been such an ass feeling petty in contrast to what Tim had thought. “The press is still running the kidnapping story and if they catch wind of the pregnancy on top of that…”

Jason let the sentence trail off, grimacing slightly at the media storm he was already envisioning.

Tim made a low sound, a mix of agreement and surprise, before he pointed out cautiously, “You know you can’t keep this a secret forever though, right?”

Jason let out a bitter scoff, closing his eyes – just thinking about the day these news went public already had him feeling exhausted.

“I know, baby bird,” Jason said, feeling Tim snuggle even closer at the nickname. “But right now it’s just...all so much at once.”

“Maybe you could use a break,” Tim replied quietly, also sounding like he was already half-asleep.

“Hmm, maybe.”


The next morning Jason could tell that something was going on by the unsubtle looks Bruce was throwing his way all through breakfast while Tim was nearly vibrating with something that Jason would tentatively call excitement, barely holding back a grin the whole time.

“So,” Bruce said once their plates were empty and everyone was about to get up, “I’ve been thinking it has been a while since we went on holiday and you guys are still on summer break, so why don’t we take a trip? The cabin is very nice this time of year.”

Jason raised an eyebrow at Tim who was innocently blinking back at him. Yeah, right, Bruce just happened to have this idea all of a sudden.

“But what about my pets? I can’t leave Batcow and Alfred alone here.” Damian asked, frowning at their father.

“Not to worry, Master Damian. I will be staying here. As much as I love to spend time with the whole family, an old man like me needs a break occasionally.”

“You’re not old, Alfie,” Jason pointed out, which got him a warm smile in answer.

“Well, maybe I would also enjoy a few days of peace and quiet,” the butler said with an amused little twitch of his moustache, making everyone laugh.

“Okay, then it’s settled. Boys, go pack your things, we are leaving in an hour,” Bruce announced, prompting Tim and Damian to hurry out of the room and up the stairs.

Jason hung back a little, and once they were alone he felt a warm hand settle on his shoulder, Bruce’s scent tinged with worry as he asked, “is everything alright Jay? If you don’t want to leave-”

“No,” Jason cut him off, meeting Bruce’s eyes and hoping his father could tell that he was telling the truth. Honestly, leaving everything behind for a few days sounded great.

“No, it’s just…you don’t have to do all this just because I’m a bit down. You’ve got work and patrol and-“

“Jaylad, none of those things are more important than you and your wellbeing. I hope you know that. And truthfully, the whole family could use this after the last few weeks. Hell, I need a break. When we couldn’t reach you last week and then the kidnappers called…”

Bruce’s voice broke off and Jason had to swallow at the pain he could read in his father’s eyes, reaching out on instinct and squeezing Bruce’s arm to reassure him that he was here, that everything was fine.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life, Jaylad.”

Jason tried to muster up a comforting smile, but he knew it was a brittle attempt at best. The truth was, for the first time in his life he really understood what Bruce was talking about, because Jason had been just as afraid for his child as his father had been for him during those long and uncertain hours trapped in the dark basement.

He didn’t really know what to say to make this better, to heal the wounds that were still so fresh, so in lieu of words Jason just leaned forward and hugged his dad, feeling strong arms tighten around him in answer. Yes, maybe a break would be good for everyone.

Nearly three hours later they were finally all sitting in the car with their luggage stored safely and Titus settled in the dog compartment in the back, leaving the driveway as Alfred waved goodbye from the Manor’s front steps.

They might all be trained vigilantes who could get battle ready in under two minutes, but they were still three teenaged boys, which meant that packing for a vacation was an entirely different and way more chaotic affair.

All in all it was a miracle that Bruce hadn’t just left without them after Damian’s third attempt to smuggle a katana into the car or Tim’s fervent arguments on why he needed to take no less than three laptops with him.

Jason just stood by with a smirk, using his father’s distraction to smuggle several bags of not-Alfred-approved snacks into the car. He knew Alfred would have called ahead and told the local housekeeper what to stock the cabin with, and he absolutely didn’t want to go however long they stayed without at least something unhealthy to munch on.

Once they hit the highway Jason settled in for the several hours-long drive, letting his eyes sweep over the receding skyline of Gotham and feeling something relax deep inside him with each mile they got farther away.

Tim and Damian were bickering as usual in the backseat, although there was nothing malicious in their voices so Bruce and Jason simply let them be.

Between the numerous bathroom breaks because of Jason (“Really, Todd? Again?” “I’m pregnant, shut up!”) their only longer stop was to get lunch and ice-cream, eating it under the bright August sun on the terrace of a little roadside diner that looked like it hadn’t been renovated since before Bruce had been born.

Out here, in the middle of nowhere, no one paid them any attention. In jeans, a t-shirt and a Knights’ baseball cap Bruce simply looked like a regular dad out with his kids and not a world-famous billionaire, and Jason had to say he enjoyed the anonymity their family never had in Gotham immensely.

After finishing their treat and taking Titus for a final walk they all piled back into the car and got on the road again, the landscape around them turning more rural the farther they went.

It might have just been Jason’s imagination, but as he looked around at his family, seeing the amicable way his brothers were playing a card game in the back and listening to Bruce hum along to the radio, he got the distinct impression that he wasn’t the only one who was feeling a little lighter now that they had left Gotham behind them.

Clearly Bruce had been right and they all needed this impromptu vacation.

The only thing missing was Dick really, but when Jason had called him and asked if he wanted to come along, his older brother had said that he needed to turn up for his job at least once in a while if he didn’t want to lose it and declined.

Jason still couldn’t understand why Dick even wanted to be a cop, but that was an old argument between them, so he hadn’t brought it up, instead promising his brother to bring him back some of the caramel treats he loved so much that were only sold in the little town near their cabin.

When they finally reached their destination the sun was already starting to dip down behind the dense trees, reflecting off the nearby lake and making it shimmer in a warm, rich gold hue.

Stepping out of the car Jason took a moment to simply take in his surroundings, letting his eyes rove over the dense forest behind the cabin and the calm water of the lake, taking a few deep lungful’s of the clean forest air and revelling in the picturesque scenery that was so unlike most of Gotham.

There was no human being around for miles and the next town consisted of barely more than a main street and a few hundred locals. Even the Manor wasn’t this remote and something about that thought made Jason feel so free all of a sudden, a sense of being trapped he hadn’t even been aware of slowly beginning to ease out of his bones.

“Come on boys,” Bruce prompted, already making his way to the front door with several large duffel bags slung over his shoulders, “lets get everything inside and then we can go for a walk. I really need to stretch my legs after that drive.”

“Tch, getting old, dad?” Jason called after him, hearing his brothers snicker as Bruce turned around to shoot a flat look back at Jason.

“You’re making me a grandpa, so don’t mock me for acting like one,” was Bruce’s rejoinder, making Jason huff a surprised laugh. “So get a move on, this old man wants to go to bed early for once.”

“Christ, Jay. You broke him,” Tim said once Bruce had vanished inside and they were all getting their own bags out of the car. “Going to bed early, what comes next? Knitting baby clothes?”

“Shut up,” Jason grumbled, though he couldn’t hide his smile at the mental image of Bruce knitting teeny tiny socks for his grandchild. Knowing him, he was probably an expert at the craft anyway and they would turn out eerily perfect. “This is just vacation Bruce. You know how he gets whenever we come here.”

And wasn’t that the truth. As much as Bruce was a workaholic during most of his life, when they went on vacation he committed to it with the same focus that he usually reserved for his kids or being Batman. It would have been scary if vacation Bruce wasn’t such a weirdly laid back person.

“Yes,” Damian said, lugging his suitcase with one hand while the other was trying to keep a very excited Titus from running off into the woods, “Father always seems different out here.”

“That’s because here he can just be Bruce,” Jason said, reaching out to help with Damian’s luggage only to receive a scowl in answer as Damian pulled the suitcase further away from him. Jason backed off with a shrug and an ‘it’s your funeral’ look at his youngest brother as he went on, “in Gotham he’s always also Batman or Bruce Wayne TM or Brucie. Here he’s just Bruce.”

“Kind of fucked up if you think about it,” Tim commented as he made his way past them and into the front hall.

“Yeah, but what about our family isn’t?”

Following his brother inside Jason couldn’t help but let out a quiet sigh as he entered the cool, climatised interior. The cabin might have looked like an olden day hunting lodge (because that’s what it used to be), but on the inside Bruce hadn’t held back with renovations over the years.

There was still some of the original rustic decor left as well as the wooden floors and the big fireplace in the main room that Jason was pretty sure was integral to the stability of the entire structure anyway, but aside from that everything from the plumbing to the security system was one hundred percent state-of-the-art.

Not that Jason was complaining. The first time Bruce had told him they would spend a week in a cabin, Jason had pictured something out of his regency novels with no electricity and them having to hunt for food, which had made him question Bruce’s sanity quite a bit.

Call Jason pampered, but after years of living on the streets with nothing but the things he could carry or steal from people, he had gotten used to the luxuries of Wayne Manor and very much liked not having to wonder where his next meal came from or whether he’d wake up completely soaked because it had started to rain in the middle of the night.

And he also really appreciated not having to share a room with his little siblings, because that would surely end in disaster, but even if they called this house a cabin, it was freaking huge. Not as big as the Manor, but still with enough room to make this a nice family vacation instead of the trip from hell.

Once in his room Jason only bothered with unpacking some sturdier boots, putting them on after a short bathroom break and heading back downstairs, straight to the kitchen.

Just as expected he found the pantry and fridge freshly stocked with mostly healthy food and by the time Bruce found him he had already polished off a yoghurt and some grapes.

“Don’t ruin your appetite before dinner,” the alpha said lightly, though it sounded more like something he only said because Alfred wasn’t here to do it.

“I’m pregnant, I can always eat,” Jason simply shot back as he grabbed a bottle of water for the walk before adding with a smirk, “and depending on who’s cooking tonight, maybe living off something else might be a smart idea.”

“Hnn.”

Once Tim and Damian were also back downstairs and everyone had put on sunscreen they headed out, taking a path that ran along the edge of the lake.

Titus was bounding ahead like crazy and rushing back to them in absolute excitement the whole time, sniffing the air in interest and dashing through the undergrowth next to the walking path while his humans stuck to a more leisurely pace.

Jason wasn’t much of an outdoors person, the concrete and brick of Gotham too ingrained in his bones for that, but even he could appreciate the tranquillity of the landscape here.

True to Bruce’s words they kept the outing relatively short and about an hour later they were back in the cabin, everyone visibly tired after the long day of driving but also pleasantly refreshed from all the fresh air and warm sunlight on their hike.

Dinner was thankfully a team effort, and not even Bruce and Tim could ruin spaghetti when Jason and Damian made sure they weren’t involved beyond chopping some ingredients for the sauce.

They ate outside on the terrace, watching the sky turn a brilliant red and orange as the sun vanished behind the horizon, and nobody protested when Bruce eventually ushered them back inside and up to their beds.

After brushing his teeth and changing into his sleep clothes though Jason only shot one short look at his freshly made bed before he headed back out into the hallway and towards Bruce’s room, knocking softly and opening the door at his father’s quiet “Come in”.

He had learned his lesson after the last few nights and he really wanted to get some good sleep this time.

Bruce only smiled at him when he saw Jason shuffling inside, not even waiting for him to say anything before patting the free side of the bed, and Jason gratefully sank into the soft sheets, curling up against his father’s side and immediately feeling the safety and comfort of pack and alpha enveloping him alongside with his father’s strong arm.

“Night, dad,” Jason mumbled, already feeling the heavy drag of sleep pulling him under.

“Night, Jay,” Bruce rumbled against him.

Jason thought he heard the door open again and small footsteps cross the room before something warm snuggled against his back, but by then he was already half-asleep and so comfortable that he didn’t even bother opening his eyes to check who it was.

Bruce was here after all, so Jason had nothing to worry about and let himself drift off into a deep and dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

“Get your filthy feet off of me!”

“If you didn’t steal all the blankets then I wouldn’t need to come so close.”

“It’s summer, why do you need a blanket?”

“Then why do you – stop pushing me!”

“Stop kicking me!!”

“Daaad, Damian is-” “Father, Drake won’t-“

“Shut up, I’m sleeping,” Jason grumbled, not even opening his eyes as he stretched his hand out to poke at the wriggling mound of blankets behind him.

On his other side there was a yawning lack of reaction, the steady snores emanating from Bruce continuing undisturbed, and really, why did the Dark Knight himself have to choose this morning to sleep through any and all noises around him? Couldn’t he deal with his terror children while Jason got some rest?

His poking didn’t have any effect on the two younger boys of course, the wriggling only growing more intense, and when a stray elbow found Jason’s shoulder, hitting him hard enough to probably leave a bruise, he finally had enough.

Turning fully around with a growl he surveyed his wrestling brothers for a second before deciding screw it, what they could do he could do better, and with a coordinated shove from both his hands and feet both boys went tumbling over the side of the bed and crashing to the floor.

Two dull thumps were followed by a moment of blessed silence, making Jason grin in triumph, ready to snuggle back into his pillow and fall back asleep, but then two very angry faces popped up to stare at him and Jason knew his chances of a quiet lie-in had just been shattered.

“Timothy,” Damian said quietly, a deadly edge to his words that Jason usually only heard out in the field.

“Yes, Damian.”

“I propose an alliance.”

The small nod from Tim and the matching evil smirks were the only warning signs Jason got before two blurs of dastardly little brothers jumped up on the bed.

“Dad,” Jason practically yelled as he tried to clamber over their father to get away from the two kids and their tickling fingers.

He was brave but not stupid; anyone in their family knew that an alliance between Tim and Damian was unmatched in its ruthlessness.

He wasn’t fast enough in his escape though, one pair of hands snatching his ankles when he was halfway across the bulk of the snoring alpha (seriously, how was Bruce still asleep?), and kicking out behind him did nothing to stop the fingers now running along the soles of his bare feet, making Jason break out into unusually high peals of giggles.

He tried to twist out of the hold, but a second pair of tickling fingers found his sides, and damn his little brothers for using his weak spots against him. With a shriek Jason collapsed down onto Bruce, who finally came awake with a startled gasp and a confused, “What?”

Jason couldn’t answer, unbidden laughter still leaving him breathless as he was winding himself helplessly under his brothers’ coordinated revenge, finally gasping out a “You win…stop, just…dad, help!”

Of course the tickling didn’t stop, not until Bruce barked out a tired “Boys, leave your brother alone.”

“But he started it,” Damian immediately protested, Tim nodding along and tagging on, “he pushed us off the bed!”

Jason was still trying to catch his breath, wiping tears from his eyes as he felt Bruce shift where he was still sprawled half on top of his father, sitting up while mumbling, “Have kids, they said. You don’t know what you’re missing they said. What I’m missing is some peace and quiet, is what I’m missing.”

Louder he went on, “I don’t care who started it, I’m ending it. Now, as we’re all awake and you seem to be so full of energy, we can make use of this early start. How does a five mile run sound?”

Horrible, Jason thought, the groans from his brothers making it clear that he wasn’t the only one to think so, but Bruce was already getting up, ignoring their protests as he opened the curtains and let the bright morning sunlight into the room.

“Chop chop,” Bruce said, having the gall to clap his hands at them and then going so far as to rip the warm blanket out of Jason’s hands.

“This is your fault,” Jason hissed quietly at his brothers as they all finally climbed off the bed. “Couldn’t let us sleep in for one morning, huh?”

He didn’t get a response beyond a haughty sniff from Damian and an annoyed eye-roll from Tim, and then they were each already hurrying to their rooms to change into their workout clothes, Bruce humming somewhere behind them.

That was another weird thing about vacation Bruce. Without nightly patrols and a fucked up sleep schedule, the man suddenly turned into a morning person, which was totally disconcerting seeing as the alpha usually didn’t manage more coherent words than a “Hrnn, coffee!” before breakfast.

Once they were outside and jogging through the woods on one of the familiar paths, Jason had to admit that it was pretty nice out this early though. Despite it being August, the air was still cool enough at this time of day to be refreshing and the trees offered enough shade to soften the early morning sunlight and give everything a kind of dream-like hue.

After the first mile Jason was simply enjoying the exercise, jogging next to Bruce who had fallen back a little to match his pace. He knew he was running a little slower than usual, but that wasn’t really unexpected during a pregnancy.

“You can catch up to them,” Jason panted around mile three, when Tim, Damian and Titus’ lead had become so big that they were barely even visible anymore, “I don’t mind.”

“No running alone, you know that,” Bruce said, sounding barely out of breath.

Jason was about to say something along the lines of not wanting to hold Bruce back because his father was clearly not even a little bit strained at the rather slow tempo Jason was keeping, but Bruce already went on, voice as dry as the Sahara.

“And besides, I’d rather not listen to your brothers bicker the whole morning. I prefer a little peace and quiet for once.”

“Guess that makes me your favourite,” Jason declared, grinning as he bumped his shoulder lightly against Bruce’s.

“Only when you’re quiet.”

“Rude!”

After breakfast and a nice long shower Jason felt like a new person. Seeing as they didn’t have any plans for the day and no obligations to meet, he grabbed a couple of books, a bottle of sunscreen, and a baseball cap with some obscure metal band’s logo on it that he had stolen from Roy months ago and went outside to lounge in one of the beach chairs near the lake.

In the back of his head there was still the niggling worry about Roy, what he was going through right now, but out here, surrounded by nature and the clear blue water, it somehow was far easier for Jason to convince himself that Roy would be fine, that everything was okay, and soon he was so deep inside the book that he barely even registered what was going on around him.

A shadow falling over him was what eventually brought Jason back to the present, blinking up in confusion to find Bruce standing next to him, a large parasol in his hands that he put down next to Jason blocking the sunlight.

“It’s past noon, buddy,” Bruce said, eyebrows creased in concern, “you really shouldn’t sit in the direct sun like that for hours.”

Honestly, Jason hadn’t even noticed how long it’d been or how hot it was getting, his mind too absorbed by the historical world he had been sucked into.

“Yeah, sure,” Jason croaked, needing to clear his throat because it was so dry.

“Did you drink something since you’ve been out here?” Bruce asked, his hand already reaching out to lay against Jason’s forehead to test his temperature.

“I’m fine,” Jason grumbled, though he didn’t pull back from his father’s fussing. “I put on sunscreen and a hat, I’m good.”

“Hrnn.”

That probably meant Jason didn’t feel too warm, but Bruce couldn’t just admit that he was right.

“Still, you need to drink something,” the alpha said, turning around and getting a bottle of water out of a cooler under another parasol a few feet away. Since when was that one there?

Jason had to admit, he did feel better once he had chucked the entire bottle. Huh, maybe he should have thought about bringing something beside a stack of books with him – he did know better really.

Bruce also seemed satisfied that Jason wasn’t going to keel over from heatstroke anymore, relaxing visibly when the bottle was empty and Jason stretched languidly on the lounge chair, feeling the stiffness in his joints after hours curled around his book.

“Wanna go for a swim?” Bruce asked, nodding towards the water, and when Jason looked over he saw Damian and Tim already splashing around in the lake.

“Yeah, sounds good. Just let me get changed.”

A short bathroom break and clothes switch later Jason was wading into the refreshingly cool water, getting splashed by his younger brothers the moment he was close enough.

Ever the dutiful older brother he obviously couldn’t let something like that go unanswered and within minutes a full on water war broke out, everyone splashing and dunking each other, their laughs ringing out across the clear blue water.

As usual, the moment Bruce tried to get them to calm down the three brothers joined forces against him, and soon the mighty Batman was spluttering as buckets of lake water were splashed into his face, only stopping once he admitted defeat.

After that Jason did actually swim a few laps, watching bemusedly as Bruce would heave either of the two younger boys up onto his shoulders or throw them as far as he could into the water. It was nice seeing everyone have fun in a completely mundane way.

“Okay, time to get out of the water,” Bruce decreed some undeterminable amount of time later, sounding slightly muffled to Jason where he was simply floating on this back with his eyes closed and ears under the water level.

He imagined this was what the baby was feeling like right now; weightless and warm and safe, and somehow he didn’t want this moment to end, wanted to stay in this little bubble of calm where the rest of the world seemed to be so far away as to not even exist.

“Jaylad,” Bruce said, now sounding closer, and a hand brushing against Jason’s shoulder had him finally opening his eyes and blinking up at his father’s shadowy figure against the blindingly blue sky behind him.

“C’mon, you can’t spend the whole day out here.”

“Can too,” Jason mumbled back, but he was already adjusting his position so he was standing again.

“Well, then you’re going to turn into a sunburned, shrivelled prune,” Bruce said lightly, ushering him towards the shore.

“I don’t get sunburns, you know that.”

“Yeah, but you can still get skin cancer, so no more arguing.”

Damian and Tim were already dried off and waiting for them, both of them looking just as pruny as Jason felt, and where the rest of them had gotten a nice tan over the afternoon, Tim’s pale skin was already beginning to shine red across his nose and shoulders.

“But I did put on the 50+ sunscreen,” the beta whined when Bruce inspected the flushed skin and tutted at him.

“No more going out without a t-shirt and sunhat. And stay in the shadows for a day or two,” was their father’s verdict, and Tim sulked all the way back to the cabin.

“I’m not allowed to stay inside with my laptop, but I also can’t go out in the sun. This is so unfair.”

“Hey, you need to look on the bright side,” Jason said, swinging an arm around his brother’s shoulders and grinning down at him. “If your class ever wants to put on a theatrical interpretation of snow white, you’re going to be the perfect lead.”

That earned Jason a disgruntled huff and with a firm shrug Tim threw off his arm and hurried off, Jason calling after him, “Skin white as snow, lips red as-

“Jason!”

“What, I was just trying to help.”

“I think he made a very fine point, Father.”

“…Why did I think a vacation with just the three of you would actually be restful?”

“Well, I feel very rested. How about you baby bat?”

“Yes, very rested indeed,” the brat grinned, mirroring Jason.

Bruce just looked from one of them to the other, something equally amused and resigned in his expression.

“Hrrn.”

It was too hot to really cook something for lunch, so they settled on some sandwiches and a deliciously cool watermelon as dessert, Tim’s sulking already forgotten after a few minutes at the table.

Afterwards Jason got out the book he had started earlier again, this time settling down on the patio in the shade and with enough water bottles in a cooler next to him to last him until the night.

He vaguely registered the rest of the family joining him outside, Tim carrying his laptop and Damian going out onto the grass to play with Titus, but he was once again too absorbed in his own world to really care what they did.

As far as vacations went, this was really his favourite way to spend his – it might not be very exciting or adventurous, but honestly he had enough of that in his regular life anyway.

Around six pm Bruce fired up the grill, the smell of fresh meat and vegetables sizzling on the flames making Jason aware how hungry he was all of a sudden.

Say what you wanted about Bruce’s cooking skills (and Jason had said a lot of things, most of them unflattering), the one thing the man excelled at was grilling, and whenever he had the time during summer he would use the opportunity to showcase that particular talent.

“Did I ever tell you guys how I had to survive in the desert and the only food I could find were lizards?” Bruce asked while Jason and his brothers brought the dishes out and set the patio table.

“Yes!” all three of them groaned in unison, but just like every other time Bruce ignored their answer and launched into the harrowing tale of him alone in the desert, only surviving due to his wit and grilling skills.

It wasn’t a particularly good story and they all could retell it word for word including the little pauses Bruce left for them to “ohh” and “ahh” at his heroics (whoever thought Bruce Wayne wasn’t dramatic had never had to suffer through story time with him…or seen his Batman outfit, but that was another point entirely).

Mercifully it wasn’t long before their food was ready and Bruce finished his boring-ass retelling, leaving them to eat in peace – or at least as much peace as there ever was to be had at their dinner table.

They were just in the middle of a very important discussion about which boardgame to play that evening (the fight about the game was as much tradition as the family game night during vacation itself) when Bruce’s phone rang.

For a split second Jason’s heart shot up into his throat because his first thought was that either Ollie or Dinah were calling to tell them something bad had happened to Roy, but as it turned out it was only Dick on the other end.

“Hey guys,” Dick greeted, grinning widely at them from the screen. “How’s the vacation?”

“Drake is so delicate, he’s already got sunburn.” – “Shut up, brat.”

“B grilled, so we had to endure the lizards again.” – “The lizards are a very fine story. Very educational.”

“Well, that sounds like fun. Sorry I have to miss it,” Dick said, looking with a smile from one of them to the next where they were now all crowded around Bruce to be visible on the call.

“You can always quit your job and come up here,” Jason said breezily, knowing there was no chance in hell of actually convincing his older brother of finally doing that. “Be a proper billionaire’s kid and live off your inheritance.”

“Yeah, I think I’ll have to pass on that. Sounds kinda boring to me. Guess I’ll just have to make do with you sending me some nice pictures while I’m working my ass off,” Dick said, putting an overly dramatic amount of woe in his voice. “You know, like a normal person.”

“Psh.”

“So, what are you guys doing tonight?”

“Game night,” the four of them answered simultaneously, making Dick grin.

“That sounds like fun. I vote for Twister.”

“You always vote for Twister, Richard.”

“Yeah, because it’s a great game!”

“No, because you can’t lose that game,” a voice said somewhere off-camera on Dick’s side of the call.

“You have company?” Bruce asked, and Jason rolled his eyes in tandem with his older brother at the sudden switch to the ‘dad voice’ from the alpha.

“It’s just Wally, dad.”

“Hey,” the speedster greeted, suddenly popping into the picture and leaning his head on Dick’s shoulder to see them. “How’s it going, Wayne fam? And what is that supposed to mean, ‘it’s just Wally???’”

“You know what I meant,” Dick huffed, shooting the other man a quick look.

“That I’m the best thing that ever happened to you, I hope,” Wally shot back, grinning at Dick.

“So, what are you two doing tonight? Working?” Tim asked, making them both look back at the camera.

“Nah, just take-out and a movie. Blud’s been quiet the last few nights, so I think I can stay in today.”

“That’s good, don’t overwork yourself Dick,” Bruce said, and that resulted in everyone staring in disbelief at Bruce, because what?

“Wow, I see vacation Bruce is in full effect,” Dick laughed, making Bruce grumble a little, but he didn’t disagree.

“Ah, food’s here,” Dick announced when his doorbell rang, all of them saying goodbye and waving suddenly and then the call ended.

“Tt, if Richard can take the night off from patrol for the speedster, then why can’t he come here?” Damian tutted after a short silence and Jason simply couldn’t resist to rib his little brother a little, the opportunity was just too good.

“You know what dinner and a movie is code for, brat. They’re totally bang-“ Bruce shot Jason a warning look and at the last second he changed his word choice to “-dating. Yeah, they’re totally dating, that’s a date night.”

“What? No, they’re just friends!” the kid protested, voice already getting agitated.

Jason didn’t even know if it was true, and even if it was, good for Dick and Wally, but for some reason Damian always got super riled up when Dick was seeing someone new, so he just doubled down, enjoying his little brother’s mounting distress over Dickie’s virtue or something.

“So? Friends can become boyfriends. And Dick has a thing for redheads, you know that.”

“It’s just like Jason and Roy if you think about it,” Tim chimed in, voice just a little too happy at the visible horror in Damian’s eyes.

“But…father, is that true?” Damian asked, turning to Bruce as if he knew all the answers in the universe.

“I don’t know,” he answered slowly, shooting Jason and Tim a look that made it very clear how much he didn’t appreciate what they had just done. “Dick is an adult, he can see whomever he likes, though.”

“Richard is a moron when it comes to choosing an adequate partner!” Damian practically screeched, and wow, if Kori or Barbara ever heard that, the brat better find a very good hiding place.

“What if he ends up pregnant?” Damian asked, voice hushed with muted horror, and what?

“Dick can’t get pregnant,” Tim said slowly, looking at their youngest as if he was going crazy, “he’s an alpha, remember?”

“Not him, you imbecile!” the kid hissed, glaring daggers at Tim. “West! He’s an omega. How do you know that suppressants and contraception work the same on him? He has healing powers, what if they interfere? Has anyone ever looked into that?”

“Dami, I don’t think-“

“We have proof sitting right here that contraception doesn’t even work on normal humans,” Damian explained, pointing at Jason’s belly.

“Well yeah, but-“

“I have to look into this,” the kid declared, suddenly standing up and turning towards the patio door. “I have to warn Richard in case the speedster has nefarious intentions. Maybe he’s just after our money, or maybe…”

Damian’s voice trailed off as he made his way into the cabin, Titus trotting along behind him while Jason, Tim and Bruce just stared after him, speechless.

“Great work, Jason,” Bruce ground out eventually, one hand pinching the bridge of his nose in a gesture of annoyance that was all too familiar to Jason. “He’s not going to let this go until he confronts Wally and Dick about it, I hope you know that.”

“Well,” Jason said slowly, trying to come up with a defence, “maybe they really are together?”

“That’s not the point!”

“On the plus side though,” Tim said, and Jason could already tell from his tone that whatever he was about to say would not help him in the least, “with Damian researching contraception it’s very unlikely that he’ll end up pregnant as a teenager like Jason, dad.”

“Thanks Timbo.”

“Don’t mention it.”

“Jason, go fix this. Now!”

With a sigh Jason got up, trudging inside as he tried to come up with something to say that would convince his youngest brother it had all just been a joke. As he went he also pulled out his phone and texted Dick, warning him that Damian might send him some weird questions.

What? Why?

He thinks Wally is using you to steal the Wayne fortune.

What the fuck??????

I’ll explain later. Have fun you two.

Jason felt his phone vibrate with another message when he slipped it back into his pocket, but he was now right in front of Damian’s room and dealing with him had priority.

Knocking on the door several times didn’t result in an answer from his brother, so Jason eventually just pushed the door open far enough to peek his head inside. Damian was sitting on his bed, one hand carding through Titus fur while the other was furiously typing on his laptop.

“Hey Dami,” Jason called, the younger omega not even looking up at him, “can I come in?”

“If you must, Todd,” Damian sniffed, though Jason could tell he wasn’t as hostile as he pretended.

There was something almost defeated or scared in the slump of his shoulders, and as Jason cautiously entered the room and approached the bed he wracked his brain to try to figure out his brother’s strange behaviour.

He’d expected to have something thrown at his head or maybe even a rambling explanation why Damian was right about Wally, but not this sullen stillness.

“Found anything interesting?” Jason asked as he sat down at the edge of the bed, nodding his head toward the open laptop.

“Tt, research into speedster metabolisms is woefully inadequate. I’ve already sent the Justice League a message that they need to dedicate more resources to it.”

“That’s…very practical of you. And I think the speedsters would appreciate it, too,” Jason said cautiously, testing the waters.

“I guess,” Damian mumbled, pushing the laptop closed and focusing his full attention on petting Titus instead.

“You don’t really believe Wally would ever do what you said earlier, do you? Accusing someone of getting pregnant with such a motive, even hypothetically…that’s kind of shitty, Dami.”

Damian didn’t look at Jason, just kept on petting Titus, which was a clear sign that he was feeling guilty, but still – Jason needed to make sure that his little brother understood this point.

“You know, people could say the same thing about me. That my pregnancy wasn’t really an accident and that I did it to trap Roy or something.”

“But that’s not true!” Damian said, whipping his head around to stare at Jason. “You wouldn’t do something like that.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t. And neither would Wally.”

This time, he got a nod and a quiet “I know” from his brother, which was at least one hurdle overcome. But still, judging by the dejected slump of Damian’s shoulders, something else was going on here and Jason was determined to find out what seeing as this was kind of all his fault.

“You know, I’m not even sure if Dick and Wally are really together. I was just teasing you because I know how you get when Dick starts seeing someone. But even if they were dating, would that really be so bad?”

“Tt, Richard can do much better than West,” the kid harrumphed, but Jason could tell his heart wasn’t in it.

“Hmm, not really. Have you seen his apartment? Anyone but a speedster wouldn’t have the reflexes to traverse that minefield of old clothes he calls a floor. Really how anyone would be interested in that human disaster I’ll never understand,” Jason joked, nudging his little brother with his elbow and getting a weak smile in answer.

“He really is a pig. No wonder Pennyworth refuses to clean his room in the Manor.”

“Yeah, you know something’s bad if even Alfie doesn’t want to deal with it.”

For some time they just sat there side by side in silence, Damian still petting Titus while leaning a little more against Jason with every passing minute. When Jason went so far as to card his fingers through the younger omega’s hair and his only reaction was to press deeper into the touch he decided that he could risk digging a little deeper.

“What was this really about earlier, Dami? You seemed pretty upset at the prospect of Dick and Wally dating.”

When no reply came from Damian Jason wasn’t surprised, but he still stayed with him, continuing to stroke his brother’s soft black hair and beginning to scent him a little, feeling the need to do something to make that slightly anxious tint in his brother’s scent disappear.

“You and Harper,” Damian suddenly said, startling Jason because the pause had been so long he hadn’t expected him to answer anymore, “where are you going to live once the baby is born?”

“What?” Jason asked, confused what that had to do with anything.

“Are you going to move out?”

“I guess so?” Jason said, voice uncertain. “We haven’t really planned that far ahead with everything going on and…wait, that’s why you got all scared? Because I might move out?”

“I’m not scared,” Damian said firmly, although the hand tightly clutching Titus’ fur sent a different message. “It’s just…first Richard moved out and now he only visits on the weekends if he has the time. And once you and Harper have the baby you’ll be your own little family, and you’ll have even less time than Richard to come home, and if Richard finds a mate and has kids he won’t even have time on the weekends, and then one day Drake will move out and you’ll all be with your new families and-“

“Hey,” Jason broke in, turning on the bed so he was face to face with Damian, bending down slightly so he could look into his eyes, “breathe kid. C’mon, you’re panicking. Match my breathing. In two three four, hold two three four five six seven, out two three four five six seven eight. Good, now again.”

It took a couple of cycles, but eventually Damian was breathing regularly again, the horrible gasping that had overtaken him thankfully gone.

This really wasn’t something Jason had expected. Tim was their prime candidate for abandonment issues, something he had struggled a long time with and still sometimes showed, but Damian…well, if Jason thought about it, it also made sense for his youngest brother.

He had been dropped off at the Manor by his mother, ripped from the life he knew and tossed into a totally different one from one day to the other, the only family he had ever known giving him up without even batting an eye.

He might have learned over time that his childhood with the League had been anything but good, realized what a real family looked like now that he was with them, but that wouldn’t make the pain of being simply handed over by his mother any less real.

If there was someone who could understand loving a mother despite her flaws though it was Jason, even though Catherine’s faults had been completely different from Talia’s.

And with his older brothers now becoming adults and starting their own lives, no wonder that Damian made some uncomfortable connections to his past. They weren’t correct of course, because neither Dick nor Jason were abandoning him, but trauma didn’t always express itself rationally. It recognized some kind of parallel and went from there to create the worst case scenario in one’s head, whether it was justified or not.

“Dami, I want you to listen to me, okay? Because what I’m going to say now is important. First, it doesn’t matter how old we get, where we live, if we have our own families, we are always going to be brothers. You, me, Dickie, Tim. That doesn’t change just because our lives change. We are each other’s constants, no matter what happens, yeah?”

Jason waited until he got a nod from his little brother, his eyes wide and trusting in a childlike way that Damian rarely showed so openly.

“Good. Second. When I move out at some point, you can bet your ass that I’ll visit constantly. My baby needs to know their awesome uncles, but also, do you really think I can go long without Alfie’s cooking? No way. I’d come back from beyond the grave for his cookies, trust me.”

“You’re ridiculous, Todd,” Damian snorted, but the nervous tension was slowly seeping out of his frame and there was a smile on his face and that was all Jason had really wanted to achieve.

“Well, and third,” Jason added, feeling the need to be honest when they were already talking about this topic and wanting to share something that he had been a little anxious about himself already. “Dami, I’m turning seventeen this month. I still have to finish high school. I don’t even know what I want to do with my life afterwards. Do you really think me and Roy are just gonna move out with a newborn and try to figure this out on our own?”

“Probably not,” Damian said quietly, now studying Jason as if he hadn’t considered that point at all beforehand. “Does that mean that Harper will move into the Manor?”

That was a very good question to which Jason didn’t have an answer yet, because while he certainly hoped so, with everything else going on he couldn’t see their parents simply agreeing to such a drastic change from one day to the other.

“I don’t know yet,” Jason admitted, letting himself lean back against the headboard next to his brother with a sigh. “Hopefully yeah, but I haven’t even talked to Roy or Bruce or anyone really about that, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

“Well, he may have my permission to move in,” Damian said in that oddly formal tone he used when he wanted to sound more mature that usually made Jason want to snicker; this time though it only made his eyes sting with a sudden influx of tears at his brother’s words. “It is his responsibility to look after you and your child, so it is only sensible for him to move into the Manor.”

“Thanks kid,” Jason said, his voice a little croaky, “I appreciate it.”

Damian didn’t turn to look at him, staying seated right beside him, but a small hand suddenly reached for Jason’s, squeezing his when they connected.

“As you said Todd, family is constant. We take care of each other.”

Yeah Jason thought as Damian let his head rest against his shoulder, that’s exactly what families did.

Chapter Text

“So,” Bruce said loudly, pausing until he had everyone’s attention before going on.

They were all sitting around the kitchen table for a hearty breakfast, Tim and Damian bickering loudly just like they did every morning while Jason enviously eyed Bruce’s full cup of coffee though trying hard not to let on that he was doing so.

He hadn’t slept all that much the last few nights and was now starting to feel the drain. Stupid as it was, his brain had latched onto Damian’s questions about his plans for the future during their little heart-to-heart and now wouldn’t let him rest as his mind puzzled over that.

It probably was a pretty normal thing to worry about the future when a baby was on the way so he hadn’t really mentioned it to anyone and he also didn’t think his family had noticed either, but right now he still wished they hadn’t gotten up so goddamn early for another morning run – or at least that he could have some good old-fashioned caffeine to help him wake up a little more.

It took Jason a couple of seconds to register that Bruce had even spoken and was waiting for some kind of reaction before he managed to sluggishly drag eyes that felt as dry as the Sahara up to look at his father, blinking a few times to clear his vision.

“I thought we could visit the Hempstead farm today,” Bruce proposed, letting his gaze wander from one of them to the next to check for their reactions. “I heard they had foals just a few weeks ago and it’s been a while since we made the trip.”

That of course had Damian’s eyes instantly get all round and hopeful, their youngest practically vibrating with excitement as he leapt from his seat and took off towards his room with a shouted “Yes! I’ll get ready at once, Father.”

Tim wasn’t far behind, seeming just as eager as he ran up the stairs, and well, Jason couldn’t really say no under those circumstances, even though he wanted nothing more than to go back to bed right this second.

“Sure,” Jason agreed, trying to muster at least some enthusiasm as he got up and started to pick up the dishes his brothers had just abandoned like the little brats they were. “Sounds like fun.”

It wasn’t an especially long drive to the farm, but out here on the narrow roads leading through woods and the occasional hillside Bruce for once didn’t drive as if the speed limit was a mere suggestion, and so Jason spent the pleasantly scenic journey with his head leaned against the window, watching the landscape go by and letting himself get lulled into that pleasant headspace between sleep and wakefulness where his mind could just drift.

Luckily he didn’t need to talk to anyone for the duration of the drive as Damian was happily regaling them with facts about newborn horses from the backseat without leaving enough of a pause for anyone to get a word in edgewise anyway.

With the amount of knowledge the kid already had about animals Jason thought he should seriously consider a career as a veterinarian if he ever let go of the notion that his only possible future was to be Batman and the CEO of Wayne Enterprises.

Funny how easy picking a career seemed to be when it came to his little brother, when for himself Jason somehow didn’t have a clue what he wanted to do with his life despite thinking about it non-stop for the last two days.

Rationally he knew that he still had a full year left until he graduated high school and could take his time planning, but with the baby on the way the need to have at least some basic plan for what he wanted to do was now a constant worry in his mind.

How naïve had he been to not put a single thought into something as essential as his future career plans? Knowing how to swaddle a baby and what age appropriate toys were was all swell and good but being able to provide for his child was just as important.

And yeah, Bruce was filthy rich, so it wasn’t like Jason would need to get a job immediately (he would most certainly go to college first, that much he had known since he’d been twelve and been gifted the opportunity to finally get an education again), but he absolutely didn’t want to become one of those rich-people kids whose only occupation it was to spend their parents’ money.

Jason wanted to build his own life, be independent and make a living, but what exactly that would look like…well, that was exactly his problem because he had absolutely no idea.

Literature had of course always been his biggest passion and studying the subject at college had been a dream of his since he’d written his first book report, but Jason was enough of a realist to know that a degree in English Lit was probably not one that would lead to what people considered a…promising career unless he was very, very lucky.

He could become a teacher in that field of course – that would be the grounded and most practical choice if he really decided to pursue this avenue – and truly the idea kind of appealed to him as it was an occupation that would allow him to help people, particularly kids, but he honestly wasn’t sure if he could take years upon years of hormonal eighth-graders butchering the works he loved.

That sounded more like a nightmare to him than a dream job.

An academic career would be much preferable in regard to the student body, but with universities you always faced the problem of finding a position in the first place, which wasn’t such a great prospect in terms of stability right now.

Because, no matter what Jason might want to do, he always would have to take the baby into account from now on.

Even going to college, something he had always been certain he would do (and surely succeed at if he might say so himself) would be a lot more stressful with a kid at home, even if he had a partner and a family who’d help raise them.

On top of that, he also didn’t know what Roy planned on doing really – the alpha had always been even more relaxed about his future plans than Jason, approaching the idea of what he’d do after high school with more of an ‘I’ll deal with it when the time comes’ sort of mindset.

Probably something to do with tech and engineering, though Jason couldn’t see Roy study those fields at college honestly. His boyfriend was more of a hands-on type of person, not someone who learned well in a classroom.

That was the reason why they graduated in the same year even though Roy was a year older than him – the alpha wasn’t stupid, far from it, he just didn’t do well with standardized tests and subjects that were entirely based on learning things by heart rather than understanding the concepts behind them.

So apart from having no idea what careers either of them might pursue or where they planned to live or how they would make money (seriously, two sleepless nights and Jason didn’t have a single answer to these questions, which was starting to drive him crazy), there was of course also the big question of what their futures as vigilantes would look like.

Jason and Roy were both inactive right now and for Jason it would stay that way until at least a few months after the baby was born, but what about after that?

Combining parenthood, school and eventually college, probably moving out to live on their own at some point AND vigilantism? That sounded like a lot even to Jason, and he was used to leading a pretty stressful life.

It probably should’ve been obvious to Jason a lot sooner, but for the past few weeks he’d been worried about such different things that it only now dawned on him how much work being a parent actually was, and not just in the hands-on type of way like getting up in the middle of the night to change a diaper.

Somewhere in these last sleepless nights he’d had the uncomfortable realisation that while mature for his age he still was a teenager at the end of the day and when faced with all these uncertainties he had to admit he was feeling more than a little overwhelmed right now.

He kept telling himself he still had time to figure things out, and a family and boyfriend who would support him no matter what, but still…having a baby suddenly seemed so much more daunting of a task somehow just because of that one conversation with his little brother.

“DAMIAN, wait until… Why am I even trying?”

Bruce’s half-shout startled Jason out of his circling thoughts and back into the present, only realising that the car was parked fight in front of the main house of the Hempstead farm once he blinked a couple of times to shake the last dredges of haziness off.

Just like the cabin they were staying at this house looked old and rustic, though Jason knew from past visits that inside it was downright cosy and remarkably well kept. The stables were off to the right behind the main house, beyond which the pastures and training grounds for the horses lay.

To call this a farm wasn’t technically correct, as they mainly had horses here apart from a couple of chickens and a few terribly spoiled cats, but Jason had never heard anyone refer to it differently, so a farm it was.

Next to Jason Bruce muttered something that sounded a lot like a swear under his breath as he unfastened his seatbelt and climbed out to follow his youngest who was practically flying he was running so fast towards the stables.

Yep, working with animals would really be ideal for the kid.

Just as Tim and Jason also got out of the car the front door of the house opened and a stout woman a few years older than Alfred stepped out, her face creasing in confusion for a second as she took in the parked SUV before a warm smile spread over her face when she finally saw them.

“Bruce!” she called in a loud and sonorous voice, her hands stemmed into her hips as she went on in a faux-disapproving tone, “ and here I thought you’d forgotten the way up here. It’s been too long, deary. Now come here and give and this old woman a hug or do I have to do everything myself around here.”

Bruce was already moving while she spoke, dutifully crossing the distance between them until he was close enough for her to engulf him in what looked to be a downright bone-crushing embrace.

“Hi Helen,” Bruce said, sounding a little winded, and Jason had to hold back a laugh at the way his behemoth of a father was utterly trapped by an elderly omega woman who didn’t even came up to his shoulders.

When she finally released Bruce and stepped far enough back so she could look him over from head to toe her forehead wrinkled in disapproval, one hand poking teasingly at Bruce’s stomach. “You need to eat more, son. No meat on these bones,” she scolded lightly. “All these muscles are all well and good, but you could use some more padding, if you know what I mean. Hugging you is like running into a brick wall. No wonder you’re still single, don’t you think boys?”

At this point Jason and Tim had also come over and were both grinning widely at their father’s suffering, nodding dutifully when Helen winked at them.

“Absolutely,” Tim agreed, obviously trying and largely failing to sound serious, while Jason was openly laughing by now.

“Good thing I baked a fresh pie just this morning then. You’re staying for lunch, aren’t you?” Helen asked, though there was no doubt on whether they truly had a choice in this.

“I wouldn’t dream of missing your pie,” Bruce answered, which earned him a fond smile and a pat on the cheek.

“I see Alfred has managed to instil some manners in you at least. Now, let me look at you boys. It’s been too long since you’ve visited.”

And it was true, they hadn’t made the trek up here away from Gotham for nearly a year – too busy with rogues and aliens and everyday life to even think about going on vacation for quite a while, though they probably really could have used one exactly for those reasons.

Before that visits to the cabin hadn’t been regular per say either, but they’d usually made the trip up to there and thus also to the farm every couple of months to get at least a little bit of a breather from the stress of their hectic lives, something they all sorely needed more often if the last few days were anything to go by.

“Oh, look how much you’ve grown,” Helen gushed after she’d hugged Tim in greeting, the beta dipping his head down shyly as he mumbled something about still being small for his age.

“Nonsense honey, you’re perfectly fine. And besides, size isn’t all that matters in life, no matter what some people tell you.”

That startled a laugh out of Tim, and with a conspiratorial wink Helen moved on to give Jason a hug as well.

Her arms were just as comforting and steady around him as he remembered, though Jason marvelled at the fact that he was now almost a full head taller than her and had to bend down to hug her back – truly, a lot had changed over the last year.

The biggest change of course was given away by his scent and the small bump under his shirt, and Jason could pinpoint the exact moment Helen noticed as she practically froze against him for a second before her hug turned even tighter.

“Oh my,” Helen said quietly when she pulled back, her voice coloured with surprise though her expression was still as warm and open as Jason was used to, “congratulations honey.”

“Thank you,” Jason mumbled a little shyly – this was the first time someone who wasn’t family or a medical professional found out about the baby and he kind of didn’t know how to react.

“Could’ve sworn you were still a little boy the last time you were here and now look at you! On your way to becoming a parent. You’re making me feel old, Jason.”

“Well, it wasn’t really planned,” Jason said with a small shrug, feeling heat crawl up his cheeks even though Helen’s tone was anything but accusatory or misgiving - on the contrary, she sounded deeply kind and delighted, with a teasing edge to her words that had Tim and Bruce smile in amusement behind her back.

Leaning in a little closer she stage-whispered “I figured”, making Jason laugh in surprise as she winked good-naturedly at him.

“But when do Wayne men ever plan on having kids, ey?” she asked with a twinkle in her eye and a pointed look over to Bruce. “Say, did I ever tell you the story of how Thomas reacted when he found out Martha was pregnant?”

“No,” Jason and Tim said simultaneously, eagerness evident in both of their voices.

Helen and her wife Clarissa had been childhood friends of Martha’s, and as such they always had a plethora of great stories about their grandparents to tell.

“Oh, then you’re in for a treat, my dears,” she declared, smiling wide as she draped an arm across Jason and Tim’s shoulder each and started to steer them towards the stables. “But first let’s make sure your little brother hasn’t absconded with all of my horses already.”

Unsurprisingly Damian was so entranced he barely even noticed when they all walked into the stable – the kid was like a moth with a flame when it came to animals, which was absolutely adorable in Jason’s eyes – but Clarissa did, the older alpha woman who had been watching Damian with benevolent but attentive eyes smiling at them when they joined them.

That was naturally followed with another round of hugs, another set of raised eyebrows once Jason’s condition became obvious, another heartfelt congratulation.

Seriously, if everyone reacted like the Hempstead’s once they found out about the baby Jason would be eternally relieved, though he already knew deep down that it wouldn’t be the case – teenage pregnancies were much too controversial a topic for that, though it wasn’t something he wanted to think about right now so he shoved the thought to the back of his mind (he was on vacation after all).

Instead he stepped over to join Damian, holding his hand out tentatively to let the mare his brother had been brushing the whole time sniff him.

After a few seconds of deliberation she apparently came to the conclusion that Jason was an acceptable human being and butted her nose against his hand in an evident demand to be petted, which Jason happily obliged.

“I thought you were here to see the foals?” Jason asked lightly, laughing as the horse nosed at his pants pockets’ in the hopes of finding some treats.

“Don’t be an idiot, Todd,” Damian scoffed, though there wasn’t any bite in his voice; not even twenty minutes around animals and the kid sounded as deeply relaxed as he ever got.

“The foals are outside on a dedicated pasture for them and their mothers. Jasmine is only inside because she sprained her fetlock and has to recuperate for a few days,” the kid explained, one hand pointing down at the mare’s right hind leg as if Jason could even tell there was anything wrong just by looking – unlike his little brother he hadn’t grown up in what amounted to a palace with private stables attached to it.

“Oh yeah, sure,” Jason just said, nodding as if he could absolutely see Damian’s point, before focusing back on petting the horse.

“Father,” Damian called once he seemed satisfied with his work, placing the brush on a nearby rack and stepping around Jason so he could see Bruce outside the box, “we will go riding today, won’t we?”

“Oh yeah, B, can we?” Tim chimed in, his head shooting up from where he’d also taken to petting Jasmine on the opposite side, his best puppy-dog-eyes now directed at their father.

“Of course,” Bruce answered immediately with an indulgent look on his face before he seemed to remember himself and turned to Helen and Clarissa. “I mean, as long as it’s okay with you.”

“Sweetie, what else do you think we have all these horses for. Decoration?” Clarissa said with a good amount of sarcasm that had Bruce shrugging impishly in answer – it was always fascinating to Jason to see his father interact with these two older women who’d known him since he’d been in diapers because without fail he would revert back to a something of a shy schoolboy around them.

“Jason can’t go with you though,” Helen said apologetically, her kind eyes meeting his. “Sorry deary, but pregnancies and horseback riding don’t mix very well.”

“I figured. Guess I’ll have to find something else to do while you guys are out.”

Not that Jason was particularly sad about not getting to sit on a horse all day and have his butt and legs ache for days afterwards. Out of everyone in the family he was the worst rider and everyone knew it, which wasn’t that surprising given that he’d only picked up the skill after Bruce had adopted him.

Bruce, Damian and even Tim had learned when they’d been children – something universal for all rich people Jason surmised - and Dick had of course been taught to handle and ride all manner of animals back at the circus.

Also, Jason wasn’t that much of a horse person if he was being honest. Dogs or even cats were more his speed – pets that could be kept in the city had always seemed so much more sensible to him, because deep down Jason could never shake off the part of him that saw the world with the eyes of a kid who’d spent the first half of his life in the concrete and brick jungle that were the Narrows.

With Bruce’s agreement there was no stopping Damian and Tim as they practically raced towards the side room where all the gear for the horses was being kept, Clarissa following them with unhurried steps to supervise.

“Don’t you also want to go, B?” Jason asked when Bruce didn’t make any indication of joining the three of them.

As far as Jason could remember Bruce had never missed an opportunity to go riding whenever they’d visited the farm in the past – a sport that is both fast and can end in serious injury was exactly Bruce’s cup of tea - so he was a little surprised to see him hanging back now.

“Hmm, no,” Bruce said slowly, both of his hands in his pockets and his entire posture deliberately casual. “I thought we could spend a few hours together, just the two of us. Maybe look at the foals while your brothers are out?”

“Okay,” Jason agreed slowly, his hand stuttering to a halt in its gentle strokes through the horse’s fur. Was Jason imaging things or was Bruce acting kind of weird all of a sudden?

“Great,” Bruce said a little too loudly, clapping his hands together in a display of excitement that was so foreign for him, Jason could feel his eyebrows climb up in confusion. “I’m just gonna get the sunscreen from the car so Tim doesn’t burn any further and then we can go.”

With that Bruce vanished back outside, leaving Jason to stare after him for a couple of seconds in bafflement.

A nudge from Jasmine got him to start petting her again, moving his hand in long, even strokes along her neck while he tried to think of a reason why Bruce could suddenly be acting so strange. Maybe he had some sort of bad news to break to Jason and wanted to do so when they were alone?

It was exactly one week since Roy had gone to rehab today, so maybe Bruce had already heard something from Dinah and Ollie and was waiting for an opportunity to tell Jason. Or maybe-

“So honey,” Helen said, and Jason nearly jumped out of his skin because he’d honestly forgotten she was still there, though he managed to keep his reaction mostly hidden – being tired really wasn’t helping him in the attentiveness department. “How are you doing? I remember my first pregnancy, and it sure was quite a lot to deal with, even though I was a fair bit older than you.”

Jason couldn’t help but let out a somewhat bitter laugh at that. He’d had a lot of things to deal with these past few weeks alright, though in his case it mostly hadn’t even been connected to the pregnancy (or well, not that alone).

“Yeah,” he agreed with a sigh after a somewhat weighted pause, “that’s one way to put it.”

“If you ever have any questions you can always call me, deary. I know you have the internet nowadays and also your dad and Alfred, but sometimes it’s best to ask someone who’s experienced the same thing firsthand,” Helen said, one hand reaching out and squeezing his shoulder comfortingly. “The only good thing about getting old is that you have advise for just about any situation life throws at you, so I bet I could give you a tip or two.”

“You’re not old,” Jason disagreed with a laugh. “If Alfie has taught me anything, it’s that age is just a number. And you certainly don’t look a day older than forty-five, if I may say so. Must be all the clean country air.”

“You’re a charmer through and through Jason Wayne, just like your father,” Helen said with a fond smile as she patted him on the cheek.

Jason was just about to retort with some sort of quip about Bruce being the most socially inept person alive (which was true, he just hid it well in public), when the man himself came back into the stable, unknowingly halting Jason from speaking.

After a somewhat awkward pause Jason asked “Ready to go then?”, petting Jasmine goodbye and following Helen as she showed them the way to the pasture where the foals and their mothers were grazing.

Once there she told them a little about each of the horses, Bruce asking questions that quickly went further than Jason’s admittedly limited knowledge (and interest) allowed him to follow, so he busied himself with holding out some treats in the hopes of enticing the animals closer.

It wasn’t long though before Helen went back to the house, citing a need to prepare lunch, but Jason hadn’t missed the pointed look Bruce had exchanged with her as if he’d asked her to leave them alone.

In the distance there were a couple of people training with their horses, one riding area was teeming with little kids who seemed to be having their first riding lessons, but Jason and Bruce were now practically at the furthest reaches of the farm, no human close enough to overhear them, which Jason doubted was a coincidence.

Which was why Jason expected Bruce to do something then, say whatever he was so obviously planning on saying, but for long minutes nothing happened. Bruce was just leaning against the fence next to Jason, watching the horses in silence.

By the time two curious foals wandered up to them and eagerly devoured the apples Jason held out to them he couldn’t stand the silence any longer and decided to break it – better to get whatever this was over with than having to wait any longer.

“You really think it was a good idea to bring Dami up here when these guys look so adorable?”

“I think I can handle your brother,” Bruce said, smiling a little at Jason, but doing nothing else to further the conversation.

“Guess Batcow could use some company,” Jason mused, soldiering on and trying to get a rise out of Bruce. “Bathorse wouldn’t be the worst addition to the family I suppose.”

“Hmm.”

Well, okay then. So much for lightening the atmosphere.

“You know you can always talk to me Jaylad, right?” Bruce asked after several more heavy seconds of silence, his voice grave and serious in a way that stopped whatever flippant answer Jason might have normally come up with in its tracks.

“Yeah, I know,” Jason said slowly, turning a little so he could look at Bruce and try to figure out what was going on here.

“Okay,” Bruce said, his face so neutral Jason could tell it was deliberate, “that’s good.”

Silence fell once again and Jason felt like Bruce was waiting for something from him with the expectant way he was looking at him, but he had absolutely no idea what precisely that could be.

“Is there something you want to talk about?” Bruce asked eventually, his veneer of casualness not enough to make his words come across as less pointed than they were.

“No?” Jason said, forehead wrinkling as he tried to figure out what Bruce was on about. Nothing new had really happened since coming to the cabin, so what was there suddenly for them to talk about?

“You could also talk to someone else if that would be more comfortable for you. Talk to someone professional maybe. You’ve experienced a traumatizing event, it is only natural-“

“Wow wow wow, slow down there,” Jason exclaimed, holding his hands up to stop his father’s words. “What are you on about? Why do you suddenly think I need therapy?”

“It was just a suggestion,” Bruce said carefully, though Jason noticed he didn’t deny it.

“Okay, why are you suddenly suggesting I need therapy then?” Jason challenged, crossing his arms in front of his chest as he stared up at Bruce. “We’re on vacation, everything’s going great, why would you-“

“You haven’t been sleeping,” Bruce said softly, interrupting Jason’s little tirade.

“Okay. So?”

“Jason,” Bruce sighed, sounding as if there was something tremendously heavy weighing him down, “I know it’s only been a little over a week and I don’t expect you to be fine just like that, but the fact that you can’t even fall asleep any longer while you’re with me and your brothers has me concerned. That is not a good sign. I know,” and here Bruce paused for a second and swallowed hard, as if he had to prepare himself to say the next words out loud, “I know I’m not the best at helping people deal with trauma and emotional problems. I know that. It was stupid of me to think you’d be okay just because we left Gotham for a few days, and if you don’t want to talk to me I understand, but Jaylad, please don’t ignore this. I just want you to get better.”

For a moment Jason was speechless at Bruce’s open concern and the way his father had just so readily acknowledged his own faults, something he wasn’t known to do without thorough reason behind it.

Jason’s first instinct would’ve normally been to laugh this off as a clear misunderstanding. Sure, he wasn’t sleeping, but not for the reasons Bruce was thinking, and he definitely wasn’t so traumatized as to need a therapist all of a sudden.

He didn’t say that though because he could tell how much thought his father had put into this, how worried he must have been to broach such a subject (because Bruce was right – he wasn’t the best at talking about emotional problems and when it came to the subject of therapy he didn’t have a single leg to stand on).

“And I thought I hid that better,” Jason mumbled with a somewhat self-depreciating half-smile, trying to lighten the mood before he had to explain himself.

“I’m Batman,” Bruce answered, lips quirking a little, “I notice everything.”

Jason sighed, turning away from Bruce so he was leaning with his back against the fence, staring out into the rolling hills of green that surrounded the Hempstead farm.

It was so unlike Gotha out here; you could see for miles, no skyscrapers blocking the view, no pollution weighing down the air – it was as picture perfect a piece of earth as Jason had never even imagined he’d get to see for himself when he’d been younger, and still, he felt so damn tired right now that he could barely appreciate it.

Maybe Bruce was right and he really needed to talk about what was going on. Dealing with it on his own had obviously not been going so well if he looked so tired Bruce was already thinking Jason needed therapy.

Next to him Bruce had also turned, mirroring Jason’s posture, and for a few moments they just stayed that way, two Gothamites looking at the unfamiliar fields of green surrounding them, before Jason finally pulled in a deep breath and spoke.

“I haven’t been sleeping, you’re right. But it’s got nothing to do with the…with what happened. It’s nothing really, it’s just…you’re gonna think it’s stupid.”

“I won’t, I promise,” Bruce said softly, and Jason would have laughed at how cliché this was if he didn’t also know deep down that Bruce was being absolutely honest right now.

“Fine,” Jason mumbled, though he didn’t continue right away, instead focusing on his sneakers as he tried to rub away a stain in the grass.

“Jason-“

“What do you think I should do after high school?”

“What?” Bruce asked, sounding perplexed, and Jason could practically feel his father’s confused gaze bore into the side of his head.

“What do you think I should do after high school?” Jason repeated, this time in less of a rush as he turned his head so he could meet his father’s eyes.

“College,” Bruce said after a little bit of a pause, his brow wrinkling as if he was trying to figure out whether this was some kind of trap. “You always said you wanted to go, Jay. I don’t understand-“

“Yeah, but what am I gonna study at college?” Jason cut in, feeling the anxiety that had been keeping him awake for days prickling under his skin as his hands tightened around the rough wood of the fence. “And what about after college? I’ve never even thought about what I want to do with my life, where I’m gonna live, what kind of job I’d like to get. I have a baby on the way and no future planned. How can I become a good parent when I don’t even have a clue on how to build a life for my family, huh?“

“Jaylad,” Bruce said, his tone placating in a way that had Jason’s hackles rising instantly, “you still have a lot of time to decide those things and besides, you know you won’t ever have to worry about money or-“

“I know we have the money!” Jason shot back, angrily kicking at the ground with enough force to send a wad of grass flying. “This isn’t about fucking money, Bruce. It’s about building a life for my kid, for my family. Knowing I can look after them, provide for them…be a real parent and not just a dumb teenager playing house.”

“Okay,” Bruce said slowly, apparently finally taking the time to really consider Jason’s words. “Okay, I think I understand what you mean.”

“Do you?” Jason scoffed, toes digging into the hole he’d just created in the ground as he avoided his father’s piercing gaze.

“Yes, actually I do, Jason,” Bruce said and there was something in his voice that had Jason looking back up at him, taking in the expression on his father’s face that was far more serious than it had been just moments before.

“Worrying about the future, planning ahead, thinking about security and stability – Jason, that’s exactly what being a parent means.”

“Yeah, but what good does worrying do if I can’t even come up with any actual solutions to those problems?” Jason huffed. “How good of a parent can I be if I can’t figure any of this stuff out?”

“You’re going to be an amazing parent because you worry about those things, Jason!” Bruce said, his voice filled with such conviction it made something tighten deep inside Jason’s chest.

“But-“

“I’m gonna let you in on a secret Jason, and I want you to listen very carefully now,” Bruce went on without even letting Jason finish his sentence, and Jason stayed quiet when he felt one of Bruce’s hands squeeze his shoulder to ask for his attention.

“No parent has everything figured out. You do your best to provide for your child, do everything to keep them safe and happy and healthy, but at the end of the day no one knows what the future will bring. You can’t plan life Jason, and you don’t need to. You’re going to have a baby soon, yes, and it will be your responsibility, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t my child anymore, that I won’t look out for you anymore. You don’t need to do this completely on your own, sweetheart, so never be afraid to ask for help when you’re struggling, okay?”

“’kay,” Jason mumbled, a lump suddenly in his throat as he blinked tears from his eyes - damn these stupid pregnancy hormones for making him so emotional all the time. “Okay, dad.”

Bruce’s hand moved across Jason’s shoulders and then he found himself pulled against his father’s side, the grounding scent of sandalwood and metal enveloping him as he instinctively ducked his head under his father’s chin.

For some long moments they just stood there together, Bruce holding Jason in a half-embrace while Jason let his father’s warmth and steady heartbeat sink into him and chase away the weariness the last few sleepless days had left him with.

Maybe he had been putting too much pressure on himself. Figuring out your entire life probably wasn’t something that could be done overnight, no matter how much Jason wished right now he could.

He wasn’t even sure where this need to plan everything had come from all of a sudden – he’d known about the baby for weeks and never worried about more than learning how to actually take care of the kid, the details of the life they might lead something rather vague and far away in his mind.

But these last few days it had suddenly become all he could think about. There’d been something pushing him to figure this out, a voice deep inside Jason’s head telling him he had to take control of his life or things would start going wrong, because hell, they already had so many times before just those last few weeks, hadn’t they?

Yes, Roy was back home and on his way to getting better, yes the kidnapping had gone over without any serious repercussions for either the baby or Jason, but those events just showed how fast things could break bad, didn’t they? Showed how little Jason could do to keep the people he loved most safe and that sort of helplessness he’d been feeling in that dark basement or during those long weeks when Roy had been missing wasn’t something he ever wanted to experience again.

Planning his career wouldn’t really help with that, sure, but it wasn’t like there was much else he could do right now and maybe, subconsciously, Jason had been trying to wrest at least some amount of control back from the universe after everything that had happened and damn it, Bruce was probably right – that sounded like he was still somewhat traumatized.

He could admit to himself that he hadn’t yet really dealt with the kidnapping, but right now he also didn’t want to – they were on vacation, and Jason wanted to enjoy the time out here with his family and deal with everything else later (yes, he knew that probably wasn’t the healthiest approach, but whatever – he’d earned a little bit of avoidance).

“B?” Jason asked quietly, his voice sounding scratchy even though he hadn’t let the tears in his eyes fall.

“Hmm?”

The deep rumble in Bruce’s chest made Jason sink even heavier against his father, closing his eyes as he asked, “How do you do it? Look after the four of us, run a company, run the League, be Batman. I only thought about having a baby while going to college for about two days and I’m already terrified.”

“Honest answer?” Bruce asked, sounding a strange mix of tired and amused. “Alfred. Without him I’d have probably given up on parenting after about two weeks with Dick. That boy was driving me crazy like you wouldn’t believe.”

Jason let out a snort, snuggling a little closer to Bruce as he conceded, “yeah, without Alfie this family would crumble. But hey, you do have your uses. You’re the only one who can reach the highest shelfs, so you know - it’d be really inconvenient without you.”

“High praise indeed,” Bruce laughed, ruffling Jason’s curls before pressing a kiss to the top of Jason’s head.

“You’re a good dad, B,” Jason said eventually, when the warm sunlight and the steady beat of Bruce’s heart were doing their best to lull him into sleep.

“As will you, Jay. As will you.”

Sleeping while standing up wasn’t really a good idea though, no matter how comfortable Jason was right now, so eventually Bruce gently disentangled him before steering him towards the house. There they grabbed a large picknick blanket and some refreshments before setting out to find a nice place to settle down, finally doing so in the shade of some trees near the training areas from where they had an ideal vantage point to watch the beginner’s class of little kids ride their first wobbly rounds under the constant supervision of the trainers.

Jason felt a little bad that Bruce sat here with him instead of getting to enjoy his time on the farm by doing stuff he liked more, but his father once again assured him he preferred his company, so that was that.

They watched the kids for a time, Jason remembering his own dreadful first attempts at sitting on a horse (it wasn’t as easy as it looked, okay? And Dick doing handstands on a galloping horse right next to him hadn’t been helping his concentration one bit), and for a time Jason got lost in just watching the kids and trying to imagine his own child coming here one day for their first riding lessons.

Would they be as excited as that blonde girl, eagerly skipping around until it was their turn to get on the horse? Would they stand back shyly like that black-haired boy, holding onto their friends’ hand when it was their turn and only approaching the animals together?

In his mind’s eye he saw a little kid with Roy’s red hair and maybe Jason’s eyes, cheeks round with baby-fat and a brilliant smile on their face as they ran around the farm, happily exploring the world around them.

This, this was all Jason could ever hope for he thought, one hand subconsciously rubbing over the small bump of his stomach.

A happy, healthy child, growing up with a loving family.

Yeah, a good career would be nice, helping people as a vigilante would be nice, but at the end of the day Jason knew he would always put his child’s safety and happiness first, no matter what else happened – which amounted to some kind of plan for the future, Jason supposed.

“B,” Jason said, eyes still following the black-haired little boy who had finally made it up onto a horse and was now proudly waving at his friend, making Jason smile with him.

Off to his side Bruce grunted slightly to indicate he was listening – the weirdo was doing push-ups in the August heat, as if a morning run wasn’t enough exercise even during a vacation.

“We should come back up here more often,” Jason said, “it’s a great place for little kids.”

“That it is,” Bruce answered easily, never once pausing in his steady movements, though he did turn his head to smile at Jason.

It wasn’t long before one of the numerous cats roaming the property stalked up to Jason and imperiously laid herself across his lap, instantly melting into a furry puddle when Jason began to pet her.

With the purring feline on his lap and the warm breeze rustling through the leaves around them Jason wasn’t surprised that he soon felt his eyelids get heavy again, exhaustion catching up with him and his brain finally allowing him to rest after his calming talk with Bruce.

As such the next thing he became aware of was Bruce shaking him awake, telling him it was almost time for lunch.

“You didn’t need to stay with me the whole time,” Jason grumbled as they trudged back towards the house. His nap had been refreshing, but it certainly hadn’t made up for two nights without sleep. “It’s your vacation, too, you should do some stuff you enjoy. I would’ve been fine.”

“Jason,” Bruce just sighed, shooting him a look that was a mix between incredulous and fond, “I always enjoy spending time with you. Even when all you do is snore.”

“Hey,” Jason exclaimed loudly, trying to shove at Bruce, but his father slipped away with an agility no man his size should really have. “I don’t snore!”

“Sure, if you say so,” Bruce said lightly, his hands held up placatingly, though there was a mischievous twinkle in his eyes that had Jason huff in indignation.

Before Jason could argue any further though Bruce swung an arm across his shoulders and pulled him close again, steering him further towards the house.

“C’mon, let’s see what your brothers have been up to. Maybe you were right and Damian is already trying to hide a foal in the car.”

“Well, they’re not that much bigger than Titus, so that’d probably fit,” Jason mused, grinning openly as Bruce sucked in a startled breath and then noticeably picked up the pace.

Would serve him right for claiming Jason snored.

Chapter Text

“You two are so gonna get grounded.”

“Shut up, Jason.”

“No patrols for the rest of summer break, I’m telling you.”

Tt, as if, Todd.”

“Probably until Christmas if you break that ugly vase – that’s a family heirloom you realize?”

“If you’re so concerned then why are you just sitting there instead of doing something to stop us, huh? Or better yet, why don’t you just leave?”

Jason only smirked gleefully as his younger brothers scowled at him while making himself demonstrably more comfortable in the armchair he was occupying.

“I’m on vacation and it’s not my job to babysit the two of you,” Jason explained as blasé as possible even though he was still grinning at the dark looks his brothers levelled at him. “Also, I was here first, innocently reading my book and behaving myself, so why should I have to leave? Besides, then I’d miss the fireworks once Bruce finds out, so no dice, squirts.”

“There’s nothing to find out, we haven’t-“ Damian began heatedly, but Tim stopped him with a firm hand on his shoulder.

“Ignore him, Dami. Jason’s just jealous ‘cause he can’t even ride a skateboard, never mind do a kickflip. Now come on, you nearly had it that last time.”

“Only because I’ve never really tried,” Jason called across the room. “If I wanted to I could do it. Can’t be that hard.”

“Then why don’t you try it right now?” Tim asked sweetly, kicking his skateboard pointedly in Jason’s direction with a mischievous smirk.

“Because I’m pregnant moron,” Jason shot back, gesturing at his belly with the book still in his hand.

Both of his younger brothers had the audacity to outright roll their eyes at him in response, the little shits.

“How convenient,” Tim mocked, making Damian snort.

“Who even wants to do a stupid kickflip,” Jason muttered under his breath, though his brothers had already turned away and were now back to ignoring him as Tim once again showed Damian how to properly execute the trick while Damian watched attentively.

They were in the cabin’s spacious living room, most of the furniture and even the rug shoved out of the way up against the walls to create a large, empty space in the centre - Jason and his armchair had practically been trapped in a corner so the kids had enough room to practice.

This morning they had woken up to sheets of rain pouring from the sky, and while Jason was content to just stay inside and read a book, his younger brothers had chosen this as their entertainment for the day; because practicing skateboard tricks indoors sounded like such a phenomenal idea where nothing could possibly go wrong...

Jason wasn’t sure what he found most surprising about the whole situation, honestly – the fact that Tim had brought a skateboard to a vacation in the middle of the woods in the first place (traditionally not a great location to practice the sport) or that Damian was actually listening patiently to Tim’s explanations and following his instructions.

They’d been at it for nigh on two hours already and while Jason had expected carnage and maybe even a fistfight in the beginning things were surprisingly peaceful; though he did have to wonder how it came that Bruce hadn’t yet wandered in and put a stop to this.

Probably only because their father had disappeared into his office shortly after breakfast, mumbling about having to deal with something important at work – they might be on vacation, but he was still the CEO of Wayne Enterprises and also one of the founding members of the Justice League, so none of them had really been too surprised to see him leave; a full week on vacation without any interruptions had been too much to ask for apparently – and since then they hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him, which meant it was most likely something rather serious he had to take care of.

As Jason watched Tim spin a lazy circle around the room his book stayed forgotten in his lap, paying attention instead as the beta once again pointed out the correct stance and footwork to Damian before performing a perfect kickflip and coming to a stop in front of their youngest.

“You just need to give the board a little bit more spin when you jump upwards, then you’re gonna nail it. Got it?”

“I think so,” Damian said, nodding seriously before taking the board from Tim and then pushing off to do a few laps around the room himself.

The kid wasn’t half bad Jason had to admit. Sure, he wasn’t as good as Tim yet, but Damian had a natural grace that translated well to the board.

It wasn’t a given either to succeed at any sport even with all their training – swinging across rooftops and knocking thugs out required entirely different skillsets than riding a skateboard did.

Jason himself had only ever tried it once himself, back when Tim had first gotten really into it, but he’d honestly never found the sport to be all that appealing. If he wanted an adrenaline rush and a good workout he could just go on patrol and otherwise he had never been interested in sports the way Dick or even Tim were, so he’d never had any desire to try it again.

He was happy to leave skateboarding to Tim (the kid could use a hobby that wasn’t just staring at computer screens anyway). The beta was right at home in that scene if Jason was honest, and apparently now Damian was also starting to genuinely enjoy it, going by how eager he was to learn from Tim.

The kid had an adorable expression of concentration on his face as he circled the room round after round, his tongue poking out from between his lips and his forehead all scrunched up as he looked intently down at his feet, positioning them just as Tim had shown him. He was becoming visibly more confident with every minute on the board, until finally, in one fluent movement he bent his knees, kicked off from the board and then landed perfectly back on it after it had done a full rotation.

“You did it!” Tim yelled, hands shooting up into the air in excitement as he beamed proudly at Damian.

“It seems you’re a somewhat decent instructor, Drake,” Damian mumbled, trying to appear nonchalant though the shy little grin on his face spoke volumes about how pleased the younger omega really was with himself.

“Great job, Dames,” Jason praised, genuinely proud of his brother despite his earlier teasing. Smiling he gave him a thumbs up before fishing out his phone from behind the seat cushions. “Think you can do it again so I can get a video? Gotta show Dick what he’s been missing out on.”

Damian nodded eagerly, pushing off again and doing some more laps around the room to build up momentum as Jason began to film. Just as he was about to attempt another kickflip though the door was suddenly pushed open and Bruce stepped inside.

“Jason, you in here? I’ve been looking all over for-“

Bruce never got to finish his sentence because he walked right into Damian’s path, causing the kid to swerve out of his way in order to avoid a collision, his arms windmilling wildly as he desperately tried to keep his balance before finally crashing right into a bookshelf.

Damian tumbled to the floor with a yell, an avalanche of books following him down, and only Tim’s quick reflexes stopped the precious and very heavy vase that had also been on one of the shelves from smashing right into their brother’s head.

A shocked silence gripped the room, everyone frozen to the spot for a couple of seconds until Damian let out a groan that galvanized them all into movement again.

“Damian, are you okay?” Bruce asked a little frantically while already crossing the room in huge steps and crouching down next to his youngest.

Jason was also scrambling out of his armchair, climbing over the couch that was wedged between him and the others to hurry over, while Tim put the vase on the floor and then knelt down next to Damian.

The younger boy was blinking up at all of them dazedly, one hand reaching for his head as his expression scrunched up in pain.

“Ow,” Damian muttered, flinching back as Bruce carefully began to run his fingers through his hair to check for any injuries.

“There’s a pretty big bump here,” Bruce commented, his fingers stilling at the back of Damian’s head. “One of the books must have hit you good, chum. Do you feel nauseous? Dizzy?”

“Don’t have a concussion,” Damian mumbled, sitting up slowly with help from both Bruce and Jason.

“You sure?” Jason asked, looking into his brother’s eyes and trying to determine if his pupils were behaving normally.

“Yes,” Damian hissed, shooting Jason an annoyed look, which wasn’t as effective as usual though with the way he was simultaneously blinking back tears. “It’s just a bruise, I’ll be fine.”

Given that Damian’s eyes looked normal and he wasn’t slurring his words or puking his guts up Jason was inclined to agree. Bruce must have come to the same conclusion because their father let out a relieved breath before slumping back to sit on his heels, the lines of worry slowly smoothing out on his face.

He also finally took in the rest of the room properly, his expression turning from relieved to weary as his eyes tracked over the rearranged furniture before coming to a stop on the now abandoned skateboard wedged halfway under the couch.

“I’ll clean everything up,” Tim was fast to assure, already grabbing as many fallen books as he could and cramming them into his arms. “This was my idea, I’ll take full responsibility-“

“I’m not mad, Tim,” Bruce interrupted with a sigh, reaching out to squeeze the beta’s shoulder reassuringly. “Though you should know better than to do any sport without the proper safety equipment,” he commented with a pointed look towards the lack of a helmet on both of his younger sons.

Tim grimaced slightly. They all knew he only ever wore protective gear at the skatepark when using the more dangerous courses and not when he was just riding around casually, and while he was good enough to get away with that most of the time, their youngest brother quite obviously wasn’t yet.

With a chagrined look at Damian Tim nodded and then got up, putting the first armful of books away.

“I’ll clean this up,” he repeated, expression resolute, and they all understood this was his way of making up for Damian getting hurt even though it hadn’t really been his fault, so Bruce just patted him on the back as he stood up.

“I appreciate it, Tim,” Brue said earnestly, making Tim nod slightly before he ducked away to continue cleaning up.

“Damian, let’s get you an icepack.”

Bruce gave his youngest a hand up, steadying him as he swayed a little on his feet.

“I’m fine,” Damian mumbled again, but he didn’t protest as Bruce led him towards the door. “I will help you clean up later, Timothy,” he promised over his shoulder, and Jason didn’t miss the way Tim visibly relaxed and a small smile appeared on his face at the unusual use of his first name.

Sometimes his little brothers were pretty darn cute Jason had to admit…not that he’d ever say so out loud.

“Oh, Jay,” Bruce called suddenly, pausing halfway out the door to turn back around, stopping Jason mid motion where he’d just started to sort the books Tim had simply stuffed into the bookshelf without rhyme or reason. “Phone call for you,” Bruce said, pointing into the mess of fallen debris on the floor, and now that Jason knew what to look for he saw Bruce’s cell phone peeking out from under the horribly crinkled pages of 1984 where his father must have dropped it in his hurry.

“Ah, no,” Jason sighed, picking up the book and carefully inspected the extend of the damage – did it seriously have to be one of his favourites that got affected the worst in this little accident?

While doing so he also jammed the phone between his head and shoulder, mumbling a distracted “Hello?” as he tried to smooth out the worst of the crinkles.

“Wow, don’t sound so excited. And here I thought you’d be missing me and couldn’t wait to talk,” an amused voice answered him, and Jason nearly dropped the book again he was so surprised.

“Roy?”

“The one and only,” Roy quipped back, and Jason could practically see the grin on his boyfriend’s face.

“Well, wasn’t like I knew it’d be you on the phone,” Jason shot back, the simple fact that he was talking to his boyfriend enough to put a smile on his face. Putting the book away and taking the phone in hand so he could concentrate fully on the conversation he admitted in a softer tone though, “’Course I’ve been missing you. Been thinking about you every day.”

“Awww,” Tim cooed from somewhere beside him, causing Jason to shoot him a glare that only got him a wide, unrepentant smirk in answer. “You guys are soooo adorable.”

Knowing there wasn’t any sense in quibbling with his brother right now and given that he’d waited for more than a week to talk to Roy again Jason turned his back on Tim and stalked out of the room, summarily ignoring the snickering that followed him (though he couldn’t stop himself from making a very distinctive gesture with his hand back that would have gotten him in severe trouble if Bruce or Alfred had seen it; Tim only snorted with laughter).

“Missed you too, Jaybird,” Roy said as Jason was taking the stairs two at a time to get to his room, and Jason didn’t know how it was possible for such a simple sentiment to make his knees go weak, but it absolutely did.

“How are you?” Jason asked once he’d closed the door firmly behind him, ensuring he had at least some measure of privacy for this conversation. “How did everything work out? Are you feeling okay? I looked into the clinic you’re at, it’s got excellent ratings and the staff-“

“I’m fine, Jaybird,” Roy interrupted his stream of words, sounding a little less upbeat than he had earlier. “It’s…it wasn’t a great week, but I’m over the worst and doing okay.”

“That’s good,” Jason said with a relieved sigh, settling down on his bed and staring up at the ceiling before asking gently, ”do you want to talk about it?”

Roy let out a huff of air, a mix between a laugh and a groan if Jason interpreted it right – what he wouldn’t give to be with Roy right now; that’d make this conversation so much easier – before he went on in a somewhat sardonic tone.

“Sure, if you wanna listen to me describing being sick every couple of hours and shivering pathetically under a mountain of blankets in the middle of summer, then yeah, let’s talk about that.”

Jason of course had already had a good mental picture of what Roy would have most likely been going through, knew both from research and personal experience what withdrawal looked like, but that didn’t mean his heart wasn’t aching to hear Roy talk about it. He never wished for his boyfriend to have to go through something like this, even if he knew it was ultimately a necessary step for him towards getting better.

Still though, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t listen to Roy talk about it. And it also didn’t mean he would let him get away with the self-loathing that was so apparent in his words.

“If you want to talk about it, we can,” Jason said quietly, though his voice was deliberately firm. “You know I will always be here for you, no matter what, right? So if you want to tell me about your shitty week, about all the side effects and how bad it really got, then please do that. I won’t think any less of you for going through this. In fact, it’ll only make me respect you more, Roy. I know how hard this is. I’ve seen people try and never-“

Jason had to pause for a few seconds, swallowing against the lump that was suddenly in his throat, Roy interjecting a soft Jay which he resolutely ignored.

He had to get this out. It was important that Roy knew he wouldn’t be alone in this, no matter what.

“I know how difficult this is,” Jason started again, his voice brimming with honesty and conviction. “And I am so proud of you for taking this step, Roy. I won’t ever let anyone make you feel bad about needing to get help, least of all yourself, do you hear me? Talking about this won’t be easy for either of us, but it’ll help in the long run, so whenever you’re ready I’m here to listen, okay?”

“I…yeah,” Roy replied softly, his voice thick with emotions. “Yeah. Thank you.”

Those last words were barely more than a whisper and then Roy fell silent again for long seconds.

Jason didn’t say anything either, knowing that his boyfriend sometimes simply needed time to work through his thoughts and emotions before coming to a decision and he didn’t want to put any unnecessary pressure on him.

“I appreciate the offer,“ Roy finally started again, sounding both profoundly touched but also a little overwhelmed. “Truly, I do. I appreciate you Jaybird, so very much. You’re the one who gives me the strength to get through this. You and the baby. But…but can we just not talk about it right now, please? Today I just need to think about something else for a while, okay? This past week has been so much already and I just need…just…just tell me about what was going on earlier. What was that commotion?”

“Oh that?” Jason answered after a short pause, giving himself a moment to swallow his disappointment before projecting as much lightness into his voice as possible.

It was Roy’s right to decide when and with whom he talked about his problems, and if he wasn’t ready Jason could accept that, even if he might have wished otherwise. If a distraction was what Roy needed right now instead, Jason would do his best to give him that.

“Tim and Dami thought it’d be a good idea to skateboard indoors. Spoiler alert, it wasn’t.”

Roy let out an amused snort, which prompted Jason to start an admittedly somewhat over the top retelling of the day’s events, feeling his worry lessen a little with each laugh and chuckle he got out of his boyfriend.

Things weren’t back to normal (or whatever approximation of normal their lives ever resembled), but they were heading in the right direction.

After Jason had told Roy all about his little brothers’ antics from the last few days of vacation, including Damian’s fruitless attempt to convince Bruce to let him take a few of the farm chickens home with them--

“Why on earth does he want chickens? Wouldn’t his cat shred the poor things to pieces?”

“According to Damian that wouldn’t happen because, and I quote ‘his pets are behaved better than most of Gotham Academy’s student body’, which yeah, he might have a point, but still. B wasn’t very impressed.”

“Bet that was an entertaining drive home.”

“You have no idea.”

“Though I have to admit the idea of a Batchicken is pretty funny. Imagine putting a little cape and domino on one of them.”

“Pff, yeah, that’d be awesome. Also, together with all his other pets Dami would have the full set to reenact the Town Musicians of Bremen, which’d be pretty cool.”

“…the what?”

“You seriously need to up your fairy tale game before our baby is here, Harper.”

“Well, excuse me for not knowing obscure European fairy tales. Not everyone has a fancy library in their house like some people.”

“But you do!!!”

--they fell back into silence, though this time it was a lot more relaxed and comfortable than the previous ones.

If Jason closed his eyes and only concentrated on listening to Roy’s breathing he could even pretend that his boyfriend was right there next to him, and for a couple of minutes he did exactly that. As cheesy as it sounded, one of the things he missed most was simply spending time with Roy, and even though this was a poor substitute, Jason would take what he could get.

“The second day was the worst,” Roy suddenly said, and even though he was speaking quietly his voice was still jarring after the long silence.

“Okay,” Jason simply responded, his tone deliberately neutral.

It was just an acknowledgement to indicate he was listening without commenting in any way on what Roy had just told him for fear of causing Roy to lose his courage.

“And it wasn’t even the physical stuff. I can deal with that, Jay,” Roy went on eventually, sounding a little shaky but also determined, as if these words had been waiting deep inside him and now that he’d started talking he couldn’t stop until they had all come to light. “Hell, I’ve had injuries that were so much worse, but the cravings…I never noticed before how much I really needed the stuff, you know? And once the cravings really hit, it felt like there was something crawling under my skin, an itch that I couldn’t scratch no matter how hard I tried. Getting another hit was all I could think about, Jay. It’s still-“

Roy broke off, and Jason could hear how much admitting this was costing him, how honest Roy was being here both with himself and with Jason.

“But you made it through that first week,” Jason said, hoping to project as much encouragement and confidence as possible over a phone line. “And I know how hard that is, but I also know how strong and determined you are. Once you put your mind to something, nothing can stop you, babe.”

“Are you calling me stubborn?” Roy asked, and Jason could tell how touched Roy was even despite his weak attempt at humour, though he wouldn’t call him out on it. As he said earlier, he’d be there for Roy in whatever way he needed.

“If the shoe fits…” Jason offered mildly.

“I hadn’t truly realized how hard this would be,” Roy finally admitted. “Even when I got here I just thought I needed to get through the physical stuff and then everything would be fine, but…but that’s not…I mostly feel fine again but I still want another hit so bad, Jay. It scares me how much I’m just thinking about how good it would feel to take more and that…what if that never goes away? What if I will always keep thinking about this fucking stuff and how good it made me feel?”

Those last questions were barely whispers, and Jason didn’t need to be with Roy to know how truly terrified he was at the prospect of his addiction following him for the rest of his life, which, yes it certainly would.

But that didn’t mean things wouldn’t get better.

“You won’t always feel like this, Roy. I promise you, over time those cravings will fade and there will come a time when you’ll barely ever even think about this. And even if you do, if the cravings come back, I’ll always be there for you, I swear to you, Roy. No matter when, you tell me and we’ll deal with this together, okay?”

“Okay,” Roy agreed quietly, and Jason thought he sounded a lot less frantic and distressed than before, which made Jason in turn feel a little more calm and relieved.

He knew his words wouldn’t be enough to make Roy be fine and dandy just like that, but he hoped he at least provided him with enough strength and encouragement to deal better with this difficult situation; that’s what a partner was for, after all.

“You really are the best boyfriend I could have ever hoped for,” Roy said, and Jason felt his cheeks warm a little at the compliment. “Once I get out of here I promise I’ll also be there for you and the baby. You’ve been dealing with that all on your own so far and that’s just not right.”

“The best thing you can do for us is to get healthy, Roy. Then we can deal with everything else together, alright?”

“Yeah, I know. I just wish I could be with you right now. How are you and the little one? Did you feel it kick yet?”

Jason could tell that Roy needed a change in topic, something happier for him to focus on, so he didn’t protest the switch. They would have enough time to talk about the more serious aspects of their lives later - about Roy’s addiction and it’s long term effects, about their relationship in general and the challenges of teenage parenthood facing them in the future – but for now Roy just had to get better, one day at a time.

Jason hadn’t felt the baby kick yet, but there were still more than enough baby things he could talk about. The excitement and happiness in Roy’s voice whenever he asked for more information or commented on whatever Jason had just told him was unmistakable and made Jason feel warm and content in turn.

When a knock sounded from Roy’s side of the line some time later the alpha let out an annoyed groan before reluctantly announcing, “Sorry Jaybird, but that’s my cue.”

“Do you know when you’ll get to call again?” Jason asked, hoping that this time it wouldn’t be another weeklong waiting game.

“Probably in a day or two,” Roy answered, and Jason let out an audible sigh of relief at that. “Depends a little on what my doctors and Ollie and Dinah say, but I’m being a good boy, so you know. Hopefully it won’t be too long.”

There was another knock and muffled voices in the background, causing Roy to rush through his next sentences.

“Listen, I really have to go now, but I’ll call as soon as I can, ‘kay? I love you, Jaybird. You and the little one.”

“Love you too,” Jason said and then the line clicked off.

For a few seconds Jason didn’t move, keeping the phone pressed to his ear as if that could keep Roy close to him, but eventually he let his arm sink down to rest on the blankets.

Roy was fine.

That was the thing he had to focus on right now, not the fact that he was already feeling his absence again like a stab to the heart.

Roy was fine, not perfectly healthy again, but in as good a place as anyone could expect after a little more than a week of being sober.

The next few minutes Jason spent just sitting on his bed, giving himself time to let that fact fully sink in. Hearing Roy and talking to him himself had done so much more to assuage Jason’s worries than simply knowing his boyfriend was in rehab and looked after ever could – he would still be concerned for him, still think about him, but right now it felt like that heavy weight he’d been carrying with him since he’d first opened that drawer back on that fateful day in Roy’s room was finally lifting for good.

And even though hearing about the withdrawal Roy had to go through, was still going through, had brought up old memories for Jason, the knowledge that Roy had made it a full week was bolstering in a way he couldn’t have foreseen. His mom had never made it more than a couple of days (largely because she had never received the help she would have needed, unlike Roy) and even though Jason knew the statistics on relapses and long-term sobriety he felt deep down that with this first difficult hurdle overcome, they could make it the rest of the way too.

As he’d said earlier, once his boyfriend set his mind on a goal he would move heaven and earth to achieve it, and Jason was no different. Together, as a team, as a family, they would make it through this, and come out all the stronger for it, Jason was sure of it.

When Jason made his way back down to the living room some time later less than subtle looks brimming with curiosity greeted him the second he stepped through the door, though no one actually said anything.

“How’s the head?” Jason asked as he passed behind his youngest brother who was sitting on the once more properly placed couch, a forgotten icepack resting on the coffee table in front of him.

“Fine, it was merely a book after all,” Damian replied, sniffing haughtily as if even the implication of something so mundane injuring him was preposterous.

“Glad to hear it,” Jason said, handing Bruce his phone back before letting himself sink into the cushions next to Damian.

Not even a full minute went by in which Jason was busy trying to figure out what movie was currently playing on the TV before Tim caved and asked, “How’s Roy?” trying to sound casual but failing spectacularly.

Judging by the sharp look Bruce sent his third son he had not been supposed to ask, though Jason really didn’t mind. He’d be just as curious if their roles were reversed and even though his brothers (and father) could be overprotective assholes when it came to Roy, he also knew that they liked him and cared about his wellbeing.

Tim was just worried.

“Roy’s good,” Jason answered, not going into too much detail, only relaying enough information to assure everyone that Roy was doing fine and getting better, and the way everyone in the room visibly relaxed at his words had Jason smiling unconsciously.

There were far more people looking out for Roy than he might think and with both the Queens and the Waynes in his corner he’d have all the support he could ever need to help him get healthy and stay that way; because that was simply what family did – pick you back up if you stumbled and made sure you wouldn’t falter again.

Chapter Text

The next day there was no morning jog, the forest still muddy and drenched from the rain that was only just petering out. Instead the four of them had a fast breakfast before piling into the car once more, a loudly barking Titus and their somehow significantly more unwieldy luggage securely stowed in the back - it was finally time to head back to Gotham.

As picturesque and beautiful as the cabin and its surrounding countryside were, it just wasn’t home, and after a week away Jason was feeling pretty eager to get back to the Manor. Sure, the time out here had helped him, the distance to the events of the last few weeks and the change of scenery being exactly what he’d needed to refresh his spirits, but now he felt ready to finally head back and get on with his life.

Also, as much as they all liked vacation Bruce, after a week the scales tended to tip from ‘relaxed, fun dad’ to ‘clearly worried about everything back home but doesn’t want to ruin things for his kids so just tries to hide it dad‘ (yeah, not the best thing Jason had ever come up with, but nonetheless accurate), so it really was for the best if they didn’t stay that much longer.

The drive back was long, loud, and kind of exhausting, and as such a collective sigh of relief was heard when they finally pulled into the Manor’s driveway late in the afternoon – home again at last.

Getting out and lugging all their stuff from the garage back into the house wasn’t helped by the overly energetic Great Dane jumping around them, the dog going crazy at both being back home and finally getting out of the car.

In the foyer they were received by Alfred, who was watching their hampered parade trudge inside with only the faintest twitch of his moustache that they all knew meant he was internally laughing at them.

“Welcome home, Masters,” the butler greeted primly, not lifting a single finger to help Bruce in his struggle to balance the numerous bags slung over his arms while avoiding Titus – nothing more amusing than seeing the mighty Batman bested by his son’s pet after all. “I hope your vacation was as restful as my last few days here.”

“Restful, sure,” Bruce deadpanned, resorting to pushing Titus out of the way with one foot so he could make his way past the dog, and then promptly escaped up the stairs without another word.

“Don’t mind him,” Jason said, letting the single bag he was carrying drop down to the floor - the only thing he’d been allowed to carry despite his insistence that a little bit of luggage certainly wouldn’t harm the baby, but he’d been outvoted - and stepped forward to give Alfred a hug. “Bruce is just grumpy ‘cause these two pestered him the whole drive home about wanting to incorporate skateboards into their vigilante equipment.”

“Ah, I see.”

“It would give us a strategic advantage,” Damian insisted for probably the 100th time that day, Tim nodding bemusedly next to him.

“I take it your little misadventure yesterday hasn’t dissuaded you from pursuing the skill then, Master Damian?”

“No, of course not, Pennyworth. A Wayne does not give up so easily,” Damian affirmed, though he was obviously still a little sore about being perceived as anything other than competent because he tacked on, “the crash was obviously Father’s fault, not mine.”

“Of course,” Alfred agreed, sounding indulgent.

“You can just admit you like skateboarding with me,” Tim teased, a mischievous smirk spreading across his face as he let his bags drop and darted forward faster than Damian could react while holding on to Titus to ruffle a hand through the omega’s hair. “It’s cute that you want to spend some time with your awesomest big brother.”

Seconds later Tim was running up the stairs, cackling wildly as a fuming Damian sprinted after him. The younger was shouting Arabic phrases that surely would earn him a hefty fine for the swear jar, and it didn’t take Titus more than a second to go bounding after the two of them.

Seemed it wasn’t only the dog who needed a little bit of exercise after being cooped up in a car all day long.

“Well,” Alfred sighed, his eyes going up to the ceiling as a yell echoed from upstairs followed by the unmistakable sound of bodies hitting the floor, “it is nice to have some life back in the house I suppose.”

Jason snorted and went to pick up the dropped luggage (some of the stuff was his anyway), but a disapproving tut from Alfred and a deceptively strong hand on his arm stopped him.

“Alfie,” Jason whined unhappily, but the beta just raised an eyebrow at him, making Jason relent with a huff.

Just standing by and watching as the butler picked up several bags while Jason only carried the measly one himself felt weird – Jason had never been one to shirk responsibilities like that, especially if it meant leaving more work for Alfred of all people – but right now he supposed it was for the best.

“I can help cook dinner tonight,” he offered as they started up the wide staircase – he wasn’t useless just because he was pregnant and he didn’t plan on simply lying back and letting his family wait on him hand and foot for the next few months - for that Jason had grown up too self-reliant.

“I would very much appreciate it, my dear boy,” Alfred answered, smiling kindly at Jason, and he knew the older man very clearly understood his motivations, but what else was new. If there was one person Jason had no problems believing to be omniscient, it was Alfred Pennyworth.

When they made it to the second story landing it was surprisingly quiet given that two teenagers and a dog had sprinted up here mere moments ago in a mad chase, but upon rounding the corner into the family wing they immediately found the reason why.

Tim and Damian had apparently fallen into the clutches of one of the most inescapable forces on Earth, namely a bear hug from one Dick Grayson. Currently both of them were unable to do more than wriggle around a little as they were being thoroughly scented and Jason was just about to take out his phone and snap a picture for teasing purposes when Dick noticed him.

“Jay,” the alpha exclaimed, the smile on his face getting impossibly brighter. “Come here!”

Jason let out a deliberately deep sigh but trudged over nonetheless and so moments later he found himself also captured within the circle of Dick’s arms, their two younger brothers squished between them now.

“I missed you guys,” Dick said, rubbing his scent across all of them and giving no indication of planning to let go any time soon.

“Tt, you would have come with us instead of spending your time with West if that were true,” Damian grumbled, Wally’s name sounding like a curse coming from him.

Ho boy, so that was still a thing, huh?

Dick of course noticed his brother’s strange tone too, shooting an inquisitive glance at Jason to which he just rolled his eyes and shook his head a little – he wasn’t going to explain all of that right now.

“’Course I wanted to come with you guys, but you know I had to work Dami,” Dick placated, finally letting go so he could take a step back and properly look the omega in the eyes. “I would have come with you if I could have, I promise.”

“Tt, naturally. Our company is indubitably superior to the speedster’s,” Damian sniffed, though he did seem to be somewhat mollified judging by the way he was now leaning against Dick’s side, one of the alpha’s arms slung around his shoulders.

“Naturally,” Dick affirmed, a fondly amused lilt to the word.

“But if you’re so busy with work what are you doing here?” Tim asked next, frowning up at their oldest brother.

It wasn’t said maliciously, far from it; Tim was just too much of a detective sometimes to curb his inquisitiveness even if it might come off as impolite, though his family obviously knew not to take it personally (after all, they were used to Bruce who could be much worse in that regard).

“Enjoying Alfie’s company without having to share, of course,” Dick retorted with a laugh one hand ruffling absentmindedly through Damian’s hair and making it stick up even more than it already had.

“Grayson!” their youngest screeched, and then it was Dick’s turn to run from an angry little Robin, laughter echoing loudly through the hallway until they disappeared into the depths of the Manor.

So it was shaping up to be one of those kinds of days.

Well, while Jason did enjoy teasing his younger brothers just as much as any older sibling, he wasn’t exactly feeling up to running around the house like a madman right now. Instead of following the two of them like Tim and Titus did he just went down the hallway and slipped into his room, letting himself fall onto his bed with a satisfied sigh - home sweet home.

It was a couple of hours until Jason saw his family next as they all came together for dinner, and the time seemed to have been enough to calm everyone down somewhat.

While his brothers had spent the afternoon noisily doing this and that all around the Manor before relocating to the gardens after Alfred had come close to grounding them if the displeased twitch of his moustache had been anything to go by, Jason had simply laid on his bed for a while before unpacking his things and then helping in the kitchen like he’d promised.

He didn’t know if it was the pregnancy or just the long car ride, but he’d felt too drained to go running through the entire house; the serene hour spent just talking with Alfred and chopping vegetables on the other hand had been exactly what he’d needed.

The light risotto they’d prepared together was heavenly of course (nothing less would ever be served in the house of Alfred Pennyworth) and for dessert there was even some delicious, home-made ice cream that had all of them practically licking their bowls clean.

“This was wonderful, Alfred,” Bruce said; the alpha was considerably less grumpy after some time alone and a good meal.

They all knew that while he loved his family, Bruce still was at heart an introvert who needed his space from time to time – especially after being crammed into a car all day long with three bickering kids.

Indeed, they were all pretty relaxed now and on the way to a proper food coma if the laid back postures and slow blinks all around the table were anything to go by – all of them except for Dick, who was fidgeting in his seat next to Jason.

“Dick, stop it!” Jason eventually chided, one hand jabbing at the knee Dick was incessantly bouncing into his. “How can you still have this much energy? Didn’t you just chase the squirts around for a few hours?”

“Sorry,” Dick said, his leg stilling, only for his fingers to begin drumming on the table instead, like he truly couldn’t help himself, and while Jason was used to such displays from Dick and really didn’t mind now that his brother didn’t bounce his leg right into his anymore, he also didn’t miss the way Dick was shooting inquisitive looks towards both Bruce and Alfred every few seconds.

To Jason it seemed as if Dick wanted to ask them something but was holding back for some reason. For someone who’d been trained in the arts of undercover work Dick really was an open book around people he trusted.

“Okay, what’s going on?” Jason asked when minutes had passed and Dick hadn’t said another word but kept shooting those looks up and down the table.

Instead of answering directly though Dick only turned to Bruce, raising his eyebrows hopefully in a clear question of ‘Can I?’ and after a moment of consideration their father shrugged his shoulders a little and then nodded.

“Okay,” Dick said, swivelling back around to look at Jason with a vaguely manic grin on his face that Jason would have found scary if he didn’t know his brother well enough to read the sheer excitement written all over him. Accordingly, Dick’s next words practically burst out of him as if he simply couldn’t contain them any longer.

“We’ve got a surprise for you!”

“A surprise?” Jason asked, perking up at the unmistakable glee in Dick’s voice.

He honestly had no idea what this might be about given that his birthday was not that far away. Why would Dick (together apparently with Bruce and Alfred) have a surprise in store for him now?

“Yep!” Dick said, popping the p, and finally his up to now barely contained energy found release as he bounced up from his chair, reaching for Jason’s hand and pulling him along as he did so. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

They were out of the dining room and up the stairs in seconds, the sound of hurried footsteps following them. Jason heard Damian ask in a rather petulant voice why only Jason got a surprise, sounding no older than his twelve years for once.

It was a good question and Jason wondered the same thing, but as he didn’t have and answer and no one else said anything either there was nothing he could really do other than letting himself be pulled along by his older brother to find out. They made their way into the family wing, passing first Damian’s, then Tim’s and Jason’s rooms before coming to a stop nearly at the end of the hallway right in front of Dick’s door.

Jason frowned at it, wondering what type of surprise was apparently big enough that he had to be lead to it but would then be stored in Dick’s room when they had an entire Manor with a lot of available free space.

When everyone was assembled behind them, Tim and Damian looking just as clueless as Jason felt, Dick finally nodded to Jason, giddiness practically radiating from every fibre of his being, and gestured towards the door.

“Open it!”

Jason reached for the handle, pressed it down, pushed the door open and then just…stared.

“Dick,” he said slowly, his eyes moving from one side of his brother’s room to the other. “There’s nothing here.”

And there was nothing there. Dick’s room was completely empty, his furniture, his remaining posters, hell, even his curtains were gone.

“Yep,” Dick said again, a Cheshire grin on his face, and Jason managed to cut his eyes away from the strange emptiness in front of him to look instead at his oldest brother.

“I don’t understand.”

Dick’s grin softened a little.

“You’ll need a nursery in a few months and the rooms next to yours were occupied by me and Tim. So B, Alfie and I thought before we put the baby somewhere far away or make you move, why don’t I get a different room? So, that’s what I did the last two days; moved my stuff out.”

“Oh, that’s…” Jason had to swallow, his eyes prickling with emotion. “That’s very nice of you, Dick. Thank you. I hadn’t even thought about a nursery yet.”

Well, he’d assumed the crib would be in his room at first, but yeah, that certainly hadn’t been a long term plan. But for Dick to move out of his childhood bedroom for the baby-

“Thank you!” Jason repeated, pulling Dick into a hug, hoping it conveyed how deeply touched he was by this.

“It’s no problem,” Dick said gently, his scent projecting happiness and love in a way that made Jason feel all warm and content. When Dick pulled back though there was a decidedly mischievous smirk on his face.

“Also, this absolutely guarantees me the title of best uncle forever.”

That pulled a laugh from Jason as well as spluttering protests from both Tim and Damian, the two of them having up til now stood back quietly to let them cherish this moment.

While his brothers began the no doubt already doomed to be endless fight about who’d be the favourite uncle Jason stepped into Dick’s room, his baby’s nursery now, and looked around.

He’d been in here countless times of course, but with all of Dick’s things moved out the room suddenly looked different, like a blank canvas - a space just waiting to be filled with life.

Though now that he was inside Jason also noticed that the room wasn’t actually completely empty.

Hidden from view by the door there was a single piece of furniture already inside.

“The Wayne family crib,” Alfred said, him and Bruce having joined Jason while his brothers were still busy bickering out in the hallway. “I thought it appropriate, though if you would prefer a more modern model we can of course-“

“No!” Jason cut in, hastening to repeat in a less harsh tone, “no Alfie. That’s not necessary. I love it.”

He could tell from the gentle yet relieved smiles on both Alfred’s and Bruce’s face that this was important to them and that Jason had definitely made the right choice – though why anyone would choose not to use this crib he didn’t know; it was gorgeous.

Made from dark wood, intricately carved and an exquisite example of proper craftsmanship, Jason couldn’t even imagine ever turning this offer down – even if this crib hadn’t been a family heirloom, he would have been happy to let his baby sleep in such a magnificent piece of furniture.

“It’s perfect,” he said softly, stepping forward and letting one hand glide reverently over the smooth wood.

“Kinda hard to believe you ever fit in here though, B,” Jason joked, turning back towards his father and grandfather with a grin.

“Yes, sometimes it is,” Alfred said, sounding somewhat wistful as he looked from the crib over towards Bruce. “Fortunately though, I do still have a collection of photographs from that time.”

“Alfred-“

“A vast number, to be honest.”

“Alfred, please-“

“Say Master Jason, did you know that your grandmother had rather a penchant for photography, not unlike Master Timothy?”

“No, I didn’t,” Jason answered, a grin starting to creep onto his face at the roguish glint in Alfred’s eyes and the already resigned one in Bruce’s.

“An enormous oversight on my part, I must apologize. It is only right for me to rectify that now though. Would you like to see some of her work?”

“Sure, I’d love to,” Jason agreed, barely containing his glee.

“Excellent!” Alfred exclaimed, stepping back out into the hallway as Jason followed. “I believe there is a particularly striking piece of Master Bruce on a rug in front of the fireplace when he was no more than a few months old. A true classic.”

Jason practically snorted with laughter, and at those words his brothers also ended their squabbling, instantly more interested in following Alfred as he marched back towards the stairs, Bruce’s pleading falling on deaf ears the whole way up to the attic.

Yes, it was good to be back home.

Chapter Text

Once settled back at the Manor the days just seemed to fly by for Jason; it might have been the height of summer, the start of the new school year still a month off and even patrols not an issue for him currently, but somehow he found himself busy with one project or another pretty much every day, barely even noticing the first half of August go by.

Apart from keeping busy, having something to look forward to also made his days just seem to fly by even faster. Every afternoon at exactly 5 pm Jason’s phone would light up with a call from Roy, making him eager for each new day to pass by as quickly as possible so he could talk to his boyfriend again.

The conversations weren’t always the lightest or most pleasant ones they’d ever had – Roy’s mood was pretty fickle the first few days and sometimes he barely said more than a couple of sentences during the half hour they usually had with each other.

He never directly said so out loud, but Jason could tell that Roy needed something to take his mind off of rehab, and so he did his best to fill the silence with funny anecdotes, recaps of the books he was reading, whatever baby news he had to share, really anything Jason could think of to distract his boyfriend a little.

Given that Roy seemed in better spirits by the end of most calls Jason did like to think he was helping him deal with the situation, which in turn always left him with a warm feeling of accomplishment for the rest of the day.

Luckily though Roy’s mood noticeably improved the further he was into his rehab and the day Jason picked up the phone to hear him rambling in pure and utter excitement about the clinic’s own workshop he was now allowed to use as a recreational activity, Jason couldn’t help but grin the whole time. He listened fondly to Roy go on and on about the simple birdhouse he’d built just that morning – certainly not something that’d be a challenge for Roy, but just hearing him get excited about creating something with his own hands again…that was the talkative genius Jason had fallen in love with.

Roy sounded better each time they talked from that point on, and Jason too was steadily getting over everything that’d happened – his nightmares had become pretty infrequent at this point and the low level anxiety and worries had mostly faded away after his talk with Bruce.

His future might still be a little bit of a mystery to him right now, but with everything around him seeming to fall into place that prospect didn’t fill Jason with dread anymore. If he and Roy could deal with a drug addiction and an unexpected pregnancy, they could overcome anything that life could throw at them.

As such it wasn’t surprising that Jason woke on the morning of the 16th in a particularly good mood – Roy was doing well, the baby was fine, and today Jason finally turned 17!

Usually Jason wasn’t someone who got overly excited for his birthdays – sure, he liked the cake and the presents and even the parties, though this year there wouldn’t be one (Bruce and Alfred had asked him after Tim’s birthday party the month before if he wanted to host something at the Manor too, but Jason had rigorously refused. Most of the hero community already knew about the pregnancy, sure, so he certainly could have invited friends from that part of his life, but still – it hadn’t felt right to plan something as unimportant as a birthday party when Roy had still been missing, so that had been that), but no, those weren’t the reasons he practically jumped out of bed and hurried down the stairs.

No, the cause for his excitement was that Bruce had been hinting these past couple of days at a certain present, and even though Jason usually didn’t care a lot about fancy and expensive things, there was one particular area where he dreamed of owning something luxurious he would never be able to get himself, even taking into account his more than generous allowance.

Downstairs Jason was greeted by the customary chorus of “Happy Birthday” from his family, everyone already waiting in the dining room for him. After the hugs and the well-wishes they all sat down around the table, a breakfast buffet made up of each and every one of Jason’s favourites of course already prepared - Alfred was just the best like that.

It took a while for them to work their way through the food, and once Jason and the rest of the family were finished, only morsels and crumbs left on the plates, Jason leaned back, feeling full and content enough that he honestly considered whether he should just go back up to bed and sleep a little more.

That tiredness went away however when Alfred cleared his throat to get his attention before handing Jason the tastefully wrapped, suspiciously book-shaped package he suddenly had in his hands.

“Thanks, Alfie,” Jason murmured as he took the present and started to carefully unwrap it.

He didn’t know if it was a remnant of his upbringing, of how much getting even a single gift had meant to him during his childhood, but Jason always unwrapped each present methodically, even going so far as to not rip the packing paper if at all possible - and yes, he still reused that too, because why should he waste perfectly good paper just because he had access to tons of money now? He might be rich, but that didn’t mean Jason had forgotten the value of things.

Under the paper a truly beautiful collection of works from omegan writers of the 19th century came to light, instantly making Jason’s heart warm with appreciation and affection for his grandfather.

“I can’t wait to read it,” Jason said gratefully, already reverently paging through the old book - some of these writers he’d never even heard of, but he trusted Alfred’s taste in literature blindly, so he knew he’d enjoy every word. “Thank you, Alfie.”

“You’re welcome, my boy.”

“Okay, now comes our present!” Damian exclaimed from the other side of the table with an uncharacteristically high amount of glee and excitement in his voice that instantly made Jason wary.

Our?” he asked, confused, and in answer Tim just grinned at him toothily before both him and Damian suddenly stood and disappeared into the next room.

Shit, that couldn’t be a good sign.

“What are you guys-“

Jason didn’t even get to finish his question before his brothers re-emerged, now with a package held between them that was several feet long and also at least a foot wide.

“What the fuck is that?” Jason asked suspiciously as the two younger boys made their way carefully around the table with their cargo held between them before finally putting it down on the floor next to Jason.

“Open it!”

“If you two are messing with me-“

“It’s fine, Jaylad,” Bruce put in from behind him, his voice calm though there was a certain rumble to it that told Jason he was amused about all of this. “Alfred and I approved it.”

“Well, if you say so,” Jason muttered with a last look at his father to check whether this was all just a big prank before finally crouching down in front of the package and beginning to peel away the wrapping paper.

“How many rolls of this stuff did you need for this?” Jason huffed as he carefully unwrapped more and more of the box that was revealing itself underneath until he could finally make out the lettering on the side and then he just…stared.

“You got me a fucking body pillow?!”

Oh, Jason was so going to murder these stupid little brats; wring their little necks he would and then-

“It’s a special one for pregnancies,” Tim put in, and oh no, now that Jason was looking up at them, he could tell that they weren’t even joking – they were completely earnest about this, Damian practically bouncing on his feet as he stared expectantly at Jason, waiting for his reaction as he launched into an elaborate explanation that sounded so excited and practiced, he’d probably been planning this for a while.

“Studies show that nearly all pregnancies result in worsened sleeping patterns as well as mild to severe backaches due to the change in mass distribution, which the use of a special body pillow such as this U-shaped type can lessen significantly. It can also be used once the pregnancy is over of course, to alleviate the pain after giving birth, to help while nursing, or just because it is comfortable. Also-”

“Okay, okay, I get it,” Jason broke in, knowing once Damian got on a role it could take hours for him to stop explaining stuff. “Thanks. This is a really…thoughtful gift.”

Damian’s posture straightened in pride while Tim’s cheeks took on a happy red flush, and dammit, now Jason probably had to use this dumb thing in order not to disappoint his brothers, didn’t he?

“It’s not one of those anime ones though, right?” he asked suspiciously, frowning as he looked closer at the picture on the box – no matter how much he loved his little brothers, he didn’t love them enough for that.

“No,” Damian said, and the slightly disappointed tone of his voice made Jason look back up.

“They don’t have those in pregnancy shapes,” Tim explained, nodding sagely while suppressing a grin, and suddenly Jason was very glad he didn’t live in a world where his anime-loving youngest brother and mischievous fellow middle-child had found an anime-themed pregnancy pillow. Small mercies.

“Okay then,” Bruce said, having come over to stand behind Jason, a hand resting warmly on his shoulder. “That makes it my turn now I think. Happy Birthday, Jaylad.”

Jason turned his head only to be greeted by a small box held out to him by his father.

This was it. This was exactly what Jason had dreamed of!

Jason took the box, standing back up slowly as he opened it and-

“Car keys. Yes!” Jason exclaimed, Bruce wincing slightly at his volume, but still smiling when Jason looked back up at him with a smile so wide he could feel the strain in his cheeks. “Is it the Lamborghini? Please, please tell me it’s the Lambo, dad.”

“Well, why don’t you go and find out?” Bruce said, and the words hadn’t yet fully left his mouth before Jason was running out into the hallway and heading for the garage.

Rushing steps behind Jason told him at least his brothers were following him, Alfred’s exasperated “Careful!” already sounding far away as Jason took the last corner and pulled the garage door open.

The lights came on over the rows of cars (and yes, Jason knew he’d had access to most of them anyways, but having his own car was still something special) and taking a few steps inside Jason pushed the little button on the key, looking hopefully in the direction of the sports cars---only for the answering beep to sound from somewhere on his other side.

Confused Jason turned, pushing the button again, and right there in front of him was a gleaming new car, making the beep-beep again, lights flashing happily-

“Isn’t it perfect?”

Bruce’s voice came from right beside Jason as he stared slack-jawed at the spacious yet reasonable minivan parked in front of him.

“It’s…that’s my…”

“Yes!” Bruce exclaimed, sounding as enthused as Jason hadn’t heard him since Bruce’d found that rare collector’s edition Grey Ghost cape at an auction a couple of weeks ago. “I know you don’t like it when I spend too much money on new things we technically don’t need, but this is worth the investment, don’t you think? Top safety rating, hybrid engine, high efficiency, excellent handling and-“ Bruce was now steering Jason towards the car, hands on his shoulders flexing with excitement as he talked, “perfect for families.”

Looking in through the window Jason saw that there was a baby carrier already strapped into the car, making his disappointment ebb away a little.

Sure, it wasn’t the fancy sports car he’d been dreaming about since practically the week he’d moved into the Manor, but Bruce was right, this was a much more sensible choice considering he’d soon be having a baby. And it wasn’t a cheap car either, so Jason really had nothing to complain about – getting a car as a birthday gift would have been an outlandish pipe-dream to him just a few years ago, and he absolutely knew to appreciate how fortunate he was to receive something so valuable.

“It’s great, dad,” Jason said, turning around enough so he could hug Bruce in thanks. “And it’s even in red.”

“’Course it is,” Bruce said with a laugh, ruffling Jason’s hair lightly once he let go. “Why don’t we take it out for a spin? See how you like it?”

“Sure,” Jason said, pulling the driver side door open while Bruce rounded the car to the passenger side.

Tim and Damian were already clambering into the back, squabbling about who would have to take the middle seat with the baby carrier still strapped in next to them.

When Jason was just about to start the engine, mirrors checked and seat adjusted, Bruce pointedly looked out through the garage door that was just rolling open, squinting against the murky Gotham summer morning.

“You should probably put the sun visor down, Jay.”

“Geez B, I thought this was my car,” Jason muttered, though he did reach up to fold the visor down and-

“What the hell?” Jason yelped as something fell down into his lap; it was small but solid, and once he’d snatched it up and examined it the object turned out to be- “Car keys?”

Confused Jason blinked down at the sleek keys for a couple of seconds before looking up to find Bruce grinning at him, a gleam in his father’s eyes that Jason could only describe as mischievous.

“Are these spares?” Jason asked slowly – maybe new cars just came with spare keys tucked into the sun visor? Not like Jason had ever bought one before.

“No, you idiot,” came Damian’s voice from the back seat before his face popped up between Jason and Bruce’s. “Those are obviously the keys to the Lamborghini.”

“But…” Jason stammered out, looking from the keys in his hand to the one already in the ignition of the car they were sitting in and then up at Bruce, who was still smiling at him, “but you already gave me this car.”

“Yes,” Bruce said, reaching out to put his hand comfortingly on Jason’s shoulder, “because this car is sensible and will be useful to you and your family soon. But you were always supposed to get the Lamborghini, Jason. The day you first saw that car I knew it’d be yours someday, and I think turning 17 makes for a pretty good occasion, doesn’t it?”

“But I don’t need two cars,” Jason said, a voice inside his head shouting at him to shut up and just accept the gift he’d been dreaming of for so long, while that deeper part of Jason, the one that still bristled at wasting money on unnecessary things, told him how over-the-top owning two cars was.

“Jay,” Bruce sighed, ducking his head a little so he could meet Jason’s eyes before he went on, “it’s okay for you to have the things you want and the things you need.”

“But-“

“The Lambo has been standing in the garage for years anyway, which is a shame. It’s time that car gets out a little more – it’s a waste not to drive it if you think about it.”

“Well,” Jason said, excitement fluttering in his stomach as he wrapped his fingers around the keys in his hand, “if you put it like that.”

“Good,” Bruce smiled, his hand squeezing Jason’s shoulder once more before retreating as he settled back into his seat, “then let’s get going. Alfred said we needed some more milk, and we don’t want to keep him waiting.”

“No, we don’t,” Jason grinned, starting the engine and speeding out of the garage and down the long driveway – it wasn’t a sports car, but as it turned out even sensible family cars had quite a nice acceleration rate.

Some milk and other just as necessary purchases later (there was a reason why Alfred usually didn’t let Bruce supervise shopping trips alone– the man was just too much of a pushover to say no) Jason parked his new car (well, one of his new cars really and wasn’t that a trip?) back in the garage, Tim and Damian already clambering out of the backseat and squabbling about something or other again as they disappeared back into the Manor.

“It is a nice car though, right?” Bruce asked as he was getting their shopping bags out of the trunk, his voice decidedly casual though Jason could tell from the way his father had waited to ask until they were alone that his question wasn’t as unimportant as he was pretending. “If you prefer something different-“

“It’s prefect, B. Relax,” Jason laughed, bumping against his father’s side as he reached up to close the trunk.

“Good,” Bruce said, bringing his arm up around Jason’s shoulders for a second and bending down to lightly scent him before stepping towards the door to the Manor. “And with such a spacious car you of course won’t have any problem taking your brothers to school or wherever they want to go.”

“Hey!” Jason yelped, hurrying after Bruce, who just blinked innocently at him when he caught up. “Was this just a ploy to make me chauffeur Damian and Tim around? You sneaky bast-“

“Ah, Master Bruce, Master Jason. I see you purchased more than just the milk…”

Alfred didn’t even sound surprised, just resigned at this point, and with one woefully unbelievable “I’ll do better next time, Alfred,” Bruce stepped past the butler and towards the kitchen.

“Wait a minute, we weren’t done,” Jason called after him, only catching the smirk Bruce threw back in his direction just as he disappeared through a door before Alfred stopped him from following.

“Master Jason, you have visitors waiting in the parlour for you.”

That brought Jason up short. He hadn’t really expected any visitors – Dick would come by later, sure, but that was it.

“Who is it?” Jason asked, but Alfred just raised an eyebrow at him and inclined his head towards the parlour door, so Jason sighed and then turned to go receive whatever mysterious visitors were waiting for him.

Probably some of the Titans who felt bad about coming by for Tim’s birthday but not his, or maybe even Diana and Clark – they always had been more like family than colleagues to the entire Wayne clan.

Pushing the door open Jason prepared himself for anything from a gaggle of teenage heroes to his quasi aunt and uncle but was completely stunned when instead he found the one person he had known with absolute certainty wouldn’t be able to come to the Manor today.

“Roy?”

Chapter Text

Jason stood completely frozen in surprise, feet rooted to the spot and wide eyes focused only on Roy as the redhead practically flew across the room, crashing into Jason with enough force to nearly send the two of them tumbling to the floor as he caught him in a tight hug.

“Happy Birthday, Jaybird!”

Jason’s arms came up around Roy to pull him closer without even thinking about it, the only thought running through his head being that Roy was here, really here, and Jason wasn’t planning on letting him go again any time soon.

“What are you doing here?” Jason asked, still stunned with disbelief, and it only occurred to him how that question sounded when Roy leaned back far enough so he could look directly at Jason, one eyebrow raised playfully.

“If you’d rather I leave-“

“Shut up,” Jason cut him off, dragging Roy back again so he could kiss that insufferable smirk he’d missed for so long, feel it curve up into a smile of pure delight against his lips as the same joy at finally being back together filled Jason from head to toe.

He could have gotten absolutely lost then in Roy, in his warmth, his scent, his lips, but a sigh and a pointed throat clearing from somewhere further into the room snapped him out of his quest to press himself as close as physically possible to the alpha.

“You guys realize we’re still here, right?” Ollie’s voice called, sounding both amused and exasperated at the same time. “I mean, I’m not a prude, but I draw the line at watching my son dry hump his boyfriend.”

That had Roy turning around, one hand finding Jason’s to keep from letting go when he threw back, “seems only fair given what I’ve had to see the two of you get up to. Remember that time I came down to the kitchen and you guys were-“

“Be that as it may,” Dinah said loudly, the look she gave Roy pointed enough that it had him shuffling his feet a little before he rolled his eyes but dropped whatever he’d been about to say with a small nod of acquiescence, “we’re here for a special occasion, aren’t we? Happy birthday, Jason.”

Dinah crossed the rest of the room so she could also hug Jason, kissing his cheeks as she wished him well, Ollie following right behind to pull Jason into one of his patented bear hugs while congratulating him.

By the time Bruce found his way into the parlour to join them the four of them had migrated over to the couches, Dinah and Ollie seated on one, Jason and Roy on another, their hands never letting go of each other and now resting firmly intertwined on their knees.

Given the complete lack of surprise on Bruce’s face when he saw their visitors Jason assumed this had all been planned, which had a warm feeling of appreciation and gratefulness pulse in his chest – books and cars were great presents of course but getting to finally be with Roy again made Jason’s heart soar like nothing else ever could have.

And not only that, but looking at Roy now, Jason could tell how much better he already was compared to the last time he’d seen him. Gone was the sickly paleness of his skin, the strung-out shadows under his eyes, the undertone of chemicals that had soured his scent so much; today Roy looked healthier all over, with a spark back in his eyes that Jason only now noticed had been missing for some time already before their whole world had come crashing down all those months ago, and Jason was just so deeply relieved to have his Roy back.

He knew of course that they were far from over everything, that a drug addiction didn’t just go away after a few weeks in rehab, that the underlying causes which had made Roy feel the need to escape in such a way needed to be addressed once he came back home, but those were all things for later – right now Jason just got to enjoy seeing Roy back to his old self, and that was the best birthday present Jason could have ever hoped for…even though he hadn’t dared wish for it, given that it shouldn’t have been possible.

“How is it that you’re here?” Jason asked again, squeezing Roy’s fingers to reassure himself that this wasn’t just a dream. “I thought you had at least one more week in rehab.”

“I still do,” Roy confirmed, his thumb moving back and forth along the back of Jason’s hand in slow circles, his leg pressing even more closely against Jason’s, as if he too needed to convince himself that this was real. “I got a day pass to come visit; you could say I’m out on good behaviour.”

“Roy,” Ollie sighed, “you weren’t in prison.”

“Well-”

“You’re here today because you worked hard to get better and your doctors, Dinah, me, we all agreed that you did a remarkable job. Don’t sell yourself short, son.”

“No need to get all emotional, dad,” Roy huffed after a few seconds of silence, his words trying to be flippant, but the slight wobble in his voice and the sudden flush on his cheeks gave away how touched he really was by what Oliver had said.

“I’m proud of you too, you know,” Jason said quietly, leaning in close, which only made Roy’s blush deepen.

“I…thanks,” Roy murmured back, looking at Jason with something that was both gratefulness and wonder rolled into one for long seconds before he cleared his throat and announced louder, “but wait until you’ve seen the birthday present I’ve got for you. Then you can be proud of me.”

It was very tongue-in-cheek, very Roy to deflect like this, but as Jason watched his boyfriend get up to get whatever present he had brought, he knew that he would have to talk about this with Roy later – every book on parenting, relationships, and rehab Jason had read over the last few weeks (and there had been quite a few of them) had made it abundantly clear that communication and validation were some of the most important factors in all three of them.

Jason understood that Roy probably couldn’t see his rehab as something positive or even an achievement yet, he really did – but that didn’t mean Jason wouldn’t make sure to tell him every day for the rest of their lives how true it was and that there was nothing for Roy to be ashamed of.

Going by the looks and the quiet words he noticed all three adults exchange on the other side of the coffee table, Jason wasn’t the only one who had noticed either.

When Roy came back over he was holding a bag between his hands, the opening he presented just large enough for someone to reach in. There was obviously something in there, but Jason had absolutely no idea what it could be just by looking at the strange lumps it left in the fabric.

“Okay,” Roy said with a wide grin, nodding his head at Jason to indicate for him to stand up, “if you would reach inside the bag, please.”

“I didn’t know you did stand up magic,” Jason joked, giving Roy an amused look before he did as he was asked.

The first thing his hand touched was some kind of thin rope or cord in the shape of a loop with more rope leading deeper into the bag. Hesitating, Jason looked at Roy, asking “Should I- ?” to which Roy just nodded eagerly.

Pulling upwards the loop came out of the bag first, four strings branching off underneath attaching to a wooden ring before eight new strings led down further still to a number of little wooden figurines dotted along each one.

When the whole thing was out of the bag Jason simply stared at the gently swinging wooden birds for long moments, taking in their delicately carved feathers and beaks, each one painted lovingly by hand in beautiful shades of blue.

“You made me a mobile?” Jason asked, looking at Roy who was biting his lip, obviously waiting for a reaction.

“Well, technically it’s for the baby, so I hope that’s okay. I was in the workshop one night and I had this idea...I just thought it would be nice but if you don’t-”

“The birds…they’re Blue jays, aren’t they?” Jason broke in, watching as Roy nodded, an uncharacteristic shyness to the movement despite his show of bravado earlier.

“It’s absolutely perfect,” Jason said softly, his heart melting at the look of joy on Roy’s face. “Thank you!”

“You’re welcome,” Roy said with a smile so soft Jason couldn’t help but lean in for another kiss.

“We should go and hang it up. I wanted to show you the nursery anyway,” Jason offered, Roy nodding eagerly as he carelessly flung the now empty bag somewhere behind him – for all the virtues Roy possessed, tidiness had never been one.

“Do you guys want to come with?” Jason remembered to ask just before they’d made it out of the room, looking back at Ollie and Dinah. “See the nursery?”

Dinah waved him off, telling them to go on ahead because she, Ollie and Bruce had some things to discuss first.

“What do you think they’re talking about?” Jason asked when he and Roy were halfway up the stairs, Roy shrugging next to him.

“Probably how they’re going to handle things once I’m back home. In rehab they talked a lot about structure and stability as important aspects of staying clean, so you know – probably something about how they’ll handle my recovery and your pregnancy at the same time. I bet Bruce comes up with a visitation schedule or something.”

“He better not,” Jason said, squeezing Roy’s hand possessively, “I quite like having you all to myself again.”

When they made it to Dick’s old room Jason pushed the door open, Roy next to him letting out a quiet Oh as he looked around the nursery for the first time.

The crib was still the only piece of furniture inside, but over the past weeks they’d built in a door leading to Jason’s room to make caring for an infant easier. Afterwards the whole nursery had also been freshly painted, an opportunity which Damian had used to begin creating a beautiful mural along one wall. It wasn’t quite finished yet, but the mountains, trees and stars already there were absolutely stunning.

“This is amazing,” Roy said when he’d been looking at the wall for some time, taking it all in. “Damian really does have a talent.”

“He sure does,” Jason agreed, smiling at the thought. “And he’s surprisingly excited about the baby. I wouldn’t have thought he’d be so eager to help, but I didn’t even have to ask him for this; he offered completely on his own.”

“He’s a good kid,” Roy said a little absentmindedly, his hand running over the crib as he took in the details in the woodwork. “Maybe a bit prickly on the outside, but that’s pretty much on par for every Wayne.”

“Did you just call my entire family pricks?” Jason asked with a laugh, nudging Roy a little to the side with a bump of his hip so he could reach above the crib and hang up the mobile. Roy didn’t react though, just continued to look at the antique piece of furniture, his hands tracing the delicate carvings as if in some kind of trance.

“Roy?”

“Our baby is going to sleep here in a few months,” Roy said, his voice sounding far away.

Jason took a step closer, letting his arms slip around Roy’s middle as he hooked his chin over his boyfriend’s shoulder, looking down at the crib together with him as he hummed lightly in agreement.

“I just…I mean I’ve known for weeks, but it somehow feels a lot more real now that I’m standing here in an actual nursery.”

“Sometimes it doesn’t seem real to me, either,” Jason said, the words quiet and slow as he held onto Roy a little tighter, feeling the alpha lean back into him in search for comfort. “Sometimes I don’t think about the baby for an hour or two and then I see my belly and it just hits me again that we’re going to be parents soon.”

“Does it ever scare you?” Roy asked, and there was something so young in his voice, it reminded Jason that despite everything they’d been through they were still just a couple of teenagers who’d stumbled into this by accident.

“All the time,” Jason admitted.

Roy’s hands covered his in response, the alpha threading their fingers together, and Jason didn’t need him to say it out loud to understand that Roy felt the same.

“But then I picture the baby – our baby – with chubby cheeks, your red hair, maybe eyes that look like mine, and I feel so much love and happiness at just the thought of meeting this little human being that is a part of both of us. It doesn’t make me less afraid or worried, but I just know it’s worth it.”

Roy let out a little hum, his head turning so he could press a kiss against Jason’s temple, murmuring, “I always picture your hair,” before moving down to the corner of Jason’s mouth, “and your smile.”

Jason had to clear his throat to get past the lump that was suddenly in it, because Roy was right – standing here in the nursery and talking about their baby did make everything seem so much more real somehow.

“As long as our kid is happy I don’t care whether it’s your smile or mine.”

“Hmm. How about two kids someday then– make sure we get both options,” Roy mused, making Jason huff.

“First off, that’s not how hereditary traits work-”

“Okay, so maybe we’ll have to try more than twice; you like having siblings don’t you? We could have a big family just like-”

“-and secondly,” Jason continued, voice getting louder to cut Roy off while he also knocked his knee into the back of Roy’s leg in reproach, which only served in making the alpha grin impetuously at him, “after I’ve pushed out this baby, I’ll decide whether I ever want to go through that whole thing again, understood?”

“Sounds fair,” Roy hummed, nuzzling against Jason’s cheek in a way that was both placating and soothing, their scents mixing with each brush of skin against skin, “though I do have to admit I quite like seeing you pregnant. It suits you.”

Jason let out a snort, rolling his eyes pointedly even though Roy couldn’t see it with how close he was still nuzzling against Jason’s face.

“That’s just your alpha brain talking. We’ll see how much you like it once I’m the size of a whale-”

“Whales are magnificent creatures.”

“-and waddle around like a duck-”

“Ducks are very cute.”

“-and complain about my swollen feet and ankles all the time-”

“I’ll give you a massage whenever you want.”

“-and run to the toilet every minute-”

“See, my massages are so great you can run again instead of just waddle.”

“…Roy.”

“Hmm?”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Hmm, don’t think so. I fell in love with you after all,” Roy replied without missing a beat, and Jason couldn’t help but to turn his head and capture Roy’s mouth in a kiss that left both of them breathless.

“C’mon,” Jason prompted eventually, when he and Roy had spent so much time in the nursery that it was becoming clear that no one else would join them - either their parents had more things to discuss than Jason had thought, or they were simply giving the two of them some space – tugging Roy back into the hallway and down the stairs.

It was a nice summer afternoon and spending it outside in the garden seemed like a better idea to Jason than being cooped up the whole day. When they passed the dining room however Jason caught a glimpse of his presents from this morning still sitting around the table, making him stop.

“Hey, wanna help me get these upstairs first? I don’t think I can carry this monstrosity to my room by myself.”

“Is that a body pillow?” Roy asked after studying the enormous package for a couple of long seconds, sounding absolutely baffled. Then he looked back up at Jason, practically swooning as he brought one hand up to his heart as if mortally wounded. “You’re replacing me?! I thought what we had was special?”

“Oh, shut up,” Jason grumbled, though he couldn’t stop the corners of his mouth from twitching up at Roy’s antics. “Tim and Damian were just being nice. It’s for pregnancies.”

“So what you’re saying is your brothers want to get rid of me,” Roy said, smirking at Jason across the length of the package as he bent down to pick it up.

Jason opened his mouth to shoot something back, but something made him pause.

“Did you hear that?”

Judging by Roy’s confused look he obviously hadn’t, but Jason still went to the door leading back into the kitchen, opening it to check but there was nothing unusual there.

“I thought I heard something,” he said in explanation to Roy’s raised eyebrows, shrugging his shoulders a little, “must have been somewhere else in the house.”

Together they got the body pillow upstairs, Roy doing most of the lifting while only letting Jason hold onto the other end to balance the big package (“It’s a freaking pillow! I can help carry it.” “You’re helping by balancing it.” “But-” “Jaybird, please.”), bringing the thing into Jason’s room.

“You’re gonna need a bigger bed,” Roy said as they both stood at the foot of Jason’s bed, looking at the enormous pillow now taking up almost half of the surface.

“I mean, for me there’s enough space. But if you’re going to stay here,” Jason mused, drawing the pause out as Roy cocked an eyebrow at him, hands at his hips as he waited, “well, there’s always the floor.”

Roy let out a snort of laughter, opening his mouth to say something back, but Jason held up his hand, brow furrowing as he looked around the room. This time he was absolutely certain that he’d heard something, a muffled laugh to be precise, and if he wasn’t totally off it’d come from…

“You nosy little twerp,” Jason accused when he threw open the doors to his closet and found Damian crouched among the clothes. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“My duty as your brother,” Damian declared, seemingly utterly unimpressed at being found. He even had the gall to take his time in standing up, thoroughly dusting off his trousers under Jason’s increasingly heated glare, before finally deigning him with more of an explanation. “I told Harper I would keep an eye on him the last time he was here. Your hormones might mean that you’ve simply forgiven him, but-”

“Hormones?” Jason hissed back, grabbing Damian by the shirt and pulling him out of the closet. “I’ll show you hormones you little brat!”

Damian barely resisted when Jason dragged him towards the door, voicing not a single peep of protest when he was pushed out into the hallway, which had Jason narrow his eyes in suspicion at his brother – the kid wasn’t usually this easily cowed.

“If I catch you spying on us one more time-” Jason threatened, not missing the way Damian sounded way too nonchalant when he promised it wouldn’t happen again – and that was most definitely a tell, because Damian wasn’t one to just give up…not unless he already had another plan in place at least.

Catching the barest flick of Damian’s eyes to the side Jason turned, trying to figure out what his brother could have done.

Crossing the room in two swift strides Jason threw open the door to the nursery, a startled squeak and the sound of something approximately teenager-sized thumping into the wall enough to make him see red.

“Really?” Jason shouted incredulously, pulling the door far enough back so he could see Tim awkwardly crouched behind it, the beta rubbing his side where the door had just hit him. “You too?”

“It was Damian’s idea,” Tim said weakly when Jason pulled him up and shoved him towards their youngest brother.

“Drake, you traitor!”

“I told you this wasn’t a good idea from the start, gremlin!”

“Then why did you go along with it you-”

“I don’t care who’s fucking idea it was!” Jason yelled, and he must’ve looked as incensed as he felt, because both Damian and Tim instantly shut up, discomfort written clear across their faces. “Do shit like this again and I will hang both of you up by your balls, understood?”

Tim audibly swallowed and Damian was staring up at Jason with eyes like saucers, both of them nodding hesitantly when Jason just glared harder.

“Now scram!”

“I can see what you mean about just having the one kid,” Roy tried to joke when Tim and Damian had hurried away and the door was firmly closed again, but Jason could tell that the smile on his face was brittle in a way it hadn’t been just five minutes ago.

Curse his brothers’ overprotective streak for making Roy feel self-conscious and guilty about everything again. Couldn’t Jason and Roy have one single day where they could just be happy together? Just the one!

Screw it! Jason thought as he grabbed Roy’s hand, dragging him out of his room and down the stairs, ignoring Roy’s increasingly confused questions about what he was doing. He’d be damned if Roy didn’t have an amazing day for as long as he was out of rehab, and as it so happened, Jason knew exactly what to do in order to make Roy happy again.

“Jaybird, I don’t think…” Roy began, sounding reluctant when Jason opened the garage door and pulled him inside, “I’m not really supposed to go anywhere alone yet.”

“You’re not alone Roy,” Jason replied, squeezing Roy’s hand to make sure he understood he wasn’t just talking about today, “I’m with you, aren’t I?”

“Can’t argue with that logic,” Roy replied, still sounding a little hesitant, but nodding at Jason and squeezing his hand back when Jason looked questioningly at him.

“C’mon, we’re not just here to get away from my nosy brothers. I wanted to show you something special. You’re gonna love this!”

Of course Roy had seen the Lamborghini before; he and Jason had spent pretty much an entire summer a few years back studying all the cars Bruce and Ollie owned from top to bottom, so when Jason stopped next to it he just looked bemused for a moment.

“I haven’t been shut away so long that I’ve forgotten what a car looks like,” Roy joked, to which Jason only rolled his eyes before holding up his open hand, the car keys twinkling up at them.

“Well, you might know what this car looks like – but how about we take it out for a test ride? As of today it’s mine.”

“Bruce really gave you the Lambo? Fuck, why didn’t you say so earlier – ‘course we need to go for a spin!” Roy exclaimed, excitement instantly lighting up his face, and Jason felt something warm and pleased bubble up in his chest at the reaction.

“I thought you could drive,” Jason offered, holding the keys out to Roy when the alpha tried to round the car towards the passenger side, Roy taking them after a moment of hesitation.

“Are you sure, Jaybird? It’s your car, your birthday present, and I don’t-”

“I’m sure,” Jason said, pre-empting any discussion by crossing to the passenger side and getting in, watching out the window as Roy simply stared at the keys for long moments as if he needed to convince himself that this was real

“I can’t believe Bruce really gave up this car-” Roy sounded absolutely reverent when he got in, his hands almost hesitant when he brought them up to the steering wheel, “-she’s a beauty.”

“If you want me to leave you two alone-” Jason offered, quirking an eyebrow at his boyfriend while pretending to reach for the door, which made Roy chuckle but also prompted him to finally get on with it and turn on the ignition.

The first few miles of the drive on the streets closest to the Manor were of course nice, but a Lamborghini didn’t shine when just going forty miles per hour. As such Jason directed Roy to some of the private roads running through the woods belonging to Bruce – the ones where they regularly tested out the Batmobile after repairs and upgrades. These roads were made to withstand high-speed cars, so they could really push the Lamborghini to the fullest of its potential without worrying about endangering anyone.

With the trees blurring by outside the windows and the speedometer climbing higher and higher, Jason felt for the first time in months like he was flying again, that rush of grappling across rooftops and the elated freedom that came with it flowing through his veins once more.

Next to him Roy was whooping with glee, breaths going fast with excitement and sheer euphoria as he worked the car like he was born for it, and Jason couldn’t take his eyes off of him, of the absolute perfection that was Roy in his element, his whole being brimming with vitality and joy.

Transcended.

That is what he looked like Jason thought.

Transcended and unbelievably beautiful.

“What?” Roy asked after Jason had been simply staring at him for minutes, the alpha’s eyes straying from the road to glance at him for a second, though his hands were never anything but sure and steady on the wheel and gear shift.

“Nothing,” Jason said, before thinking better of it. “Just…you’re beautiful. And I can’t take my eyes off of you.”

Roy’s cheeks pinked at Jason’s words, and Jason’s heart felt full to bursting in that moment. Full with happiness and love and such a deep desire to be closer to this wonderful, amazing, beautiful man next to him.

“Take that left turn up ahead,” Jason asked and Roy did, taking them down a winding dirt road that led deeper into the woods belonging to Wayne Manor, rolling to a stop when the path ended in a small, deserted clearing.

Jason’s heartbeat was still going fast from the adrenaline rush of the high-speed drive and when he looked over Roy’s flush was still there as well, his breaths coming in noticeable pants.

Jason didn’t know who moved first, but suddenly they were both reaching for the other, fingers tangling in hair and hands grasping at clothes as their mouths met in a heated kiss.

It was like a dam breaking, all the pent up emotions of these last few months finally breaking free as they finally came together. Jason was barely able to get just one hand off of Roy long enough so he could undo his seatbelt, climbing over onto Roy’s lap as soon as he was free, the alpha letting out a pleased rumble when he did.

“You sure about this?” Jason asked when they parted for a second to catch their breath, remembering Roy’s hesitance to be intimate the last time they’d seen each other. “If you don’t want to-“

“I’ve never wanted you more in my life,” Roy answered without missing a beat, his hips rolling up against Jason’s, making him whine at the sudden spark of pleasure the friction caused. “You Jaybird?”

“Yeah,” Jason gasped, surging forward to kiss Roy again, the alpha letting out a heated moan against his lips when they connected, “been wanting you for ages.”

There was no finesse in their movements, no thought beyond needing to be closer, though Jason still had enough presence of mind to reach down, his hand fumbling for the lever that made the seat recline

He pulled it right as Roy’s hands were sneaking their way underneath his clothes, smirking as the alpha fell back with a gasp, staring up at Jason with a heady mix of surprise and lust that made Jason’s blood run even hotter.

“Ready for that test ride?”


Afterwards, with his breath still coming fast and the sweat only beginning to cool on his skin, Jason closed his eyes and just listened to Roy’s heartbeat thumping under his ear, letting himself bask in the glorious aftershocks of pleasure and satisfaction rolling through his body.

Roy seemed just as content to enjoy the afterglow, completely motionless except for the hand he ran up and down Jason’s back in lazy circles.

It was the complete opposite of their passionate love-making just moments earlier, but the serene quiet was just as perfect, and Jason found himself wishing that this moment would never end.

It was Roy’s quiet voice that eventually broke the silence, his words calm and sincere.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Jason said with a satisfied smile, pushing himself up so he could lean over Roy and look at his face. “Though I’m pretty sure I enjoyed that just as much as you did.”

Roy shook his head. “Not the sex,” he said, chuckling a little, “though I should probably thank you for that as well. Didn’t think you meant that by going for a ride.”

“Well, what better way is there to break in a new car?” Jason quipped, grinning when Roy snorted in amusement, though the alpha soon became serious again.

“I wanted to thank you for always believing in me,” Roy began, his words spoken with an absolute honesty that made Jason’s chest ache with affection. “If I didn’t have you I wouldn’t have made it through the past few weeks. You’re what gives me strength. You’re the reason I want to be a better man, and I just want you to know how grateful I am to have you in my life. Thank you, Jason.”

“Roy-” Jason said, his voice failing for a moment with how deeply touched he was. “I’ll always be there for you, I promise. I’ll always have your back, just like you have mine. But you’re also so much stronger than you think, Roy. Don’t ever forget that.”

Jason could tell Roy wanted to argue that last point, didn’t fully believe what Jason had told him, but in the end he didn’t say anything. He just smiled up at Jason, not as exuberantly as he had earlier while flying down empty roads at breakneck speeds, but soft and sweet in a way that had Jason leaning down to brush a kiss just as gentle over his lips.

They could have probably spent the whole day in that car, completely wrapped up in each other, but eventually the buzz of a phone reminded them that the outside world still existed.

“Text from Bruce,” Jason groaned once he’d rummaged around the floor to unearth his phone from among their discarded clothes. “It’s almost time for cake and tea. He says we better be back soon, or Alfred won’t be pleased.”

“Family time after this might get a little awkward,” Roy mused, reaching out to brush some of Jason’s no doubt absolutely tangled hair out of his face, laughing when it instantly fell back. “Think they’ll believe us if we tell them we just went for a very strenuous hike?”

“Probably not,” Jason said, smirking as he brushed a last kiss over the hickey he’d left on Roy’s neck and climbed back into the passenger seat. “But I bet it’ll be fun to try.”

Chapter Text

Jason was lying in bed, eyes still closed and his mind in that fuzzy state halfway between sleep and wakefulness, trying to puzzle out what had woken him – it had been neither his alarm nor Alfred, but he still thought something had to have pulled him out of his sleep too early – when he felt the strangest sensation trickle through him.

It was like bubbles popping inside a carbonated drink or butterflies fluttering against a net – something light but frequent tapping on his insides, though it was strangely only located…

“Oh,” Jason breathed, eyes flying open as he realised what was happening, “you moving around in there?”

Of course there was no answer to his question but Jason still felt the strangest urge to pull back the covers so he could look at his stomach as if he might somehow see the baby moving around that way already. Instead of doing so however he remained still, only letting his hands wander to lay down on the bump – he didn’t want to scare the baby into stopping by moving too much after all.

Now that he was concentrating on it he really could feel movement inside him – which was strange in a way, but also absolutely exhilarating, because that was his baby moving about and actually doing things – and dear god, but Jason felt tears prickle at the corner of his eyes, though there was also a big, stupid grin on his face.

He didn’t know how often he could have this realization, but once again it hit him that there was an actual little human being growing inside him, a little person that was now big and active enough to be felt by him.

“You’re a wonder, sweetheart,” he said quietly, sitting up oh-so-carefully, only moving far enough so he could properly look down at his ever expanding belly.

Reaching out a hand he grabbed his phone from the nightstand, shooting off a quick text to Roy. This was something he wanted to share with his boyfriend, even if he couldn’t be here physically.

The phone was barely halfway back to the nightstand before it was vibrating with an incoming call, and Jason couldn’t help but smile even wider as he swiped to answer and Roy’s excited voice was immediately sounding from the device.

“Is it still moving? What does it feel like? I could sneak down to the zeta and come over, I’m sure no one would even notice if I-“

“Roy,” Jason broke in, stopping the excited flood of words. “Breathe or you’re gonna hyperventilate.”

“Sorry,” Roy answered after a few seconds, sounding a little sheepish but no less eager, “this is just-”

“Exciting? Amazing? Terrifying? Yeah, I get it.”

“I wish I could be there with you,” Roy said wistfully, and Jason had to close his eyes for a moment from the feeling of sheer longing that was washing over him.

“Me too,” he answered truthfully, both of them falling silent for long moments.

It wasn’t like they weren’t seeing each other often; after Roy had been released from rehab a little over a week ago he’d actually been to Gotham nearly daily and they both understood why Roy moving into the Manor right away wouldn’t have been a smart decision, and yet - the heart wanted what it wanted.

“Is the baby still moving?” Roy asked eventually, and Jason was sure the impossibly big smile that came to his face when he answered “Yeah, quite a bit actually” was obvious in his voice.

“What does it feel like?”

“Like-” Jason began, searching for the right words to describe this totally new sensation which was quickly becoming one of the best things he’d ever felt in his life, “-like that swoop in your gut you get just as you jump from a skyscraper,” he finally settled on, receiving a huff of laughter from Roy in response.

“So our baby is like an adrenaline rush,” he said, sounding amused. “Sounds about right.”

“What else did you expect a mix of our genes to turn out like?” Jason asked, lying back down and closing his eyes, letting himself pretend that Roy was right there next to him in bed. “Mundane isn’t really in our vocabulary.”

“You might have a point there, Jaybird,” Roy answered with a laugh, and judging by the rustling Jason heard in the background he was also settling down in bed again.

“I think they can hear me talking,” Jason said, his free hand absently running across his belly as the fluttering inside picked up once again. “Feels like they move more when I talk. I could put you on speakerphone, see if the baby can hear you too.”

“Hi sweetheart,” Roy began when Jason had done so, and Jason could hear so many emotions at once in Roy’s voice he was barely able to identify them all – there was awe and wonder and happiness, all of them so intense it took Jason’s breath away.

“It’s your daddy out here. I don’t know if you can hear me, but I want you to know that I love you so, so much. You’re the best surprise of my life and I’m already so excited to finally meet you, little bean. Everyone is. Your grandparents talk about you all the time. They started watching online knitting classes to make shoes and hats for you themselves. The first ones are…well let’s just say it’s a good thing they still have a few months until you’re here, but they’re improving. And just last week…”

Listening to Roy talk with such pure adoration and obvious excitement Jason felt like the luckiest guy on the planet. After all their ups and downs over the last few months they had made it to this point where they were all just happy and safe and everything was coming together finally.

Yes, Roy was still working on managing his addiction and they were both trying to figure out what their life would look like in the future, but everything was under control right now and in some way Jason felt for the first time like they were a real, little family.

He absolutely loved it.

“I think the baby’s back asleep,” Jason said after what must’ve been a good ten minutes of Roy just talking to their child. The fluttering had actually stopped some time earlier, but he hadn’t wanted to interrupt his boyfriend – he quite liked listening to Roy talk, especially when he sounded so unabashedly happy.

“Little one seemed to really enjoy listening to you – got all wiggly when you started talking about that new foam arrow you’re designing.”

“Really? Aww, our baby’s going to be a little genius engineer, Jaybird!”

“Probably,” Jason agreed with a smile, deactivating the speakerphone and taking the phone back up to his ear, “it’s your kid after all.”

“Yeah, but it’s also yours. So maybe we’ll have a little bookworm who loves theatre just as much as you do.”

“Hmm, wouldn’t that be nice. Someone who actually enjoys listening to me ramble about Shakespeare and Austen and Bradbury besides Alfie.”

“Hey now, I enjoy listening to you, too. Those books make me fall asleep when I try to read them, but when you talk about them, I can listen for hours, Jaybird. I’d be thrilled if our little bean turns into as much of a nerd as you.”

“When did you come up with ‘little bean’?” Jason asked, barely suppressing a laugh. “Is that really the nickname you want to give our kid?”

“Why, don’t you like it? I’ve just been reading a little about how babies are made and develop, you know, and in the early stages they kind of look like beans, so…it seemed fitting.”

That was actually pretty sweet and Jason didn’t truly have anything against the nickname, but-

“Reading about how babies are made, huh? I think we managed that quite well on our own.”

“Oh shut up, you know what I mean.”

“Sure, sure. You were just innocently surfing the web in search for baby facts and whatever popped up popped up. Found out anything interesting?”

“A couple things actually,” Roy answered with a huff, though Jason could tell his boyfriend was amused rather than annoyed at the teasing. “For example, foetal movement is most often felt early in the morning or late at night at this developmental stage, because the carrier is more likely to notice in a relaxed state.”

“Hmm, that is indeed very interesting,” Jason agreed, pitching his voice as serious as possible despite the grin still on his face. “I stand corrected then – you’d never look up anything other than scientific facts, of course.”

“Here’s another scientific fact for you,” Roy went on, and Jason absolutely loved how easily his boyfriend just went with him here – banter had always been a hallmark of their relationship, even before they’d become a couple. “Apparently, pregnancy hormones oftentimes cause an increased libido. Say Jaybird, are you by any chance so interested in talking about making babies because you’re, well how should I put this, interested in repeating the process?”

“A very bold assumption for you to make.”

“That’s not a No I’m hearing.”

“No, it wasn’t,” Jason mused, “so where does that leave us?”

“Seeing as I played my part in getting you pregnant, it would only be fair if I helped you out with this, wouldn’t it?” Roy asked, trying to sound thoughtful and serious even though Jason could hear the cheeky grin in his voice clear as day across the line.

“It would only be fair,” Jason agreed, matching Roy’s tone. “And luckily I still have some time before I have to get up for school,” he tacked on after a quick glance at his clock - it was still pretty early.

“Excellent!” Roy declared, his voice getting noticeably deeper with an alpha timbre that made Jason shiver when he said, “then how about you get nice and comfortable for me, Jaybird.”


“Ah, Master Jason. I was just about to come upstairs to get you. We wouldn’t want you to be late for the first day back in school, would we?”

“Sorry Alfie,” Jason apologized as he rushed into the dining room, not even waiting until he was sitting down properly before reaching for a piece of toast and the marmalade.

“Are you feeling alright?” Bruce asked, lowering his newspaper slowly as he observed Jason devouring his second slice in under a minute while already reaching for another one with his free hand. “You seem a little…worked up.”

“M’fine,” Jason mumbled through his mouth full of breakfast, Tim and Damian wrinkling their noses in disgust at him from the opposite side of the table.

“Master Jason, mind your manners, please.”

“Sorry Alfie,” Jason repeated for the second time that morning, throwing the butler a sheepish look. “I’m just a little keyed up I guess. I felt the baby move for the first time earlier.”

“You did?” Bruce asked, his entire demeanour instantly softening from worried dad to proud grandpa.

“That is quite marvellous, Master Jason.”

“What did it feel like?” “Is it still moving?” Tim and Damian asked at the same time, and the rest of breakfast Jason spent answering their questions and promising to tell his family immediately the next time he felt the baby move, just in case it would be strong enough for them to feel it through his belly too.

“Okay, let’s go squirts. I’m driving,” Jason announced when he had polished off his breakfast (and probably half of Bruce’s too, but whatever - he was eating for two after all), grabbing his bag from beside his chair and already turning to head towards the garage.

“Master Jason, I can drive the three of you as usual, it is no-”

“Alfie, you’ve earned a morning off. And it’s better for the environment to make one trip less, isn’t it?” Jason wheedled, making his eyes big and earnest when the butler just raised a sceptical eyebrow at him.

“And I suppose this has nothing to do with you wanting to drive your new car?”

“…maybe that too,” Jason admitted, grinning when Alfred’s moustache twitched tellingly.

“Alright then. But you will take the minivan and not the Lamborghini, young man!”

“’Course,” Jason agreed easily – he loved his Lambo, but he wouldn’t turn into one of those airheaded rich kids flaunting their wealth at every turn just because he had a sports car now – catching Alfred in a half-hug that had the butler tut at him about rumpling his school uniform, which Jason skilfully ignored.

“Jay,” Bruce called just as he was about to leave the room, causing Jason to turn back.

“Yeah, dad?” Jason prompted when Bruce just stared at him quietly, his father’s mouth opening as if he was about to say something before closing again.

“Drive safe.”

“When have I ever not?” Jason quipped back with a wink, a special sense of pride bubbling up inside him when Bruce actually chuckled. “We’ll be fine. Don’t worry so much old man - it’s just school.”

The smile on Bruce’s face dimmed a little, but he didn’t say anything else, only nodded at Jason when he finally left.

Tim and Damian were already waiting in the car and judging by the victorious grin Jason received from Tim in the passenger seat and the way Damian was sitting in the back with his arms firmly crossed and an expression that couldn’t be described as anything other than a pout on his face, he’d just missed the age old argument about the seating arrangement. It was a little ridiculous how worked up both his brothers could get about something like that, but so long as no one was left bleeding on his new upholstery…who was Jason to tell them off?

“Seatbelts?” he checked just like Alfred did every morning before turning the ignition and getting them on their way.

With Damian sulking in the back and Tim’s nose disappearing in his tablet barely halfway to the gate, the drive to Gotham Academy suddenly seemed a lot longer than usual to Jason – probably because he was used to reading or talking with Alfred instead of staring at the horrible Metropolis Meteors bumper sticker on the car inching along in front of them.

Boring as it was with traffic into Gotham typically clogged and slow and the radio doing little to distract him Jason found his thoughts wandering, inevitably turning to whatever would greet him at school in barely half an hour.

He wasn’t stupid; he knew what he could expect the second he stepped through those doors, knew exactly what Bruce had wanted to ask him one more time earlier.

Do you really want to go?

They’d had this discussion, multiple times in fact, the first of which had taken place back on Jason’s birthday when they’d talked about future plans with Roy, Ollie and Dinah.

Roy wasn’t going back to school – Ollie and Dinah didn’t think it would be conducive to him staying clean to come back into contact with some of his classmates, and Roy had agreed. For him it was better to finish his diploma from home, where he could concentrate fully on his sobriety.

Bruce had offered Jason the same option, home-schooling and maybe even online college courses if he was interested, but Jason had been adamant that he wanted to finish high school at school.

He wouldn’t hide away like there was something shameful about his pregnancy; if people wanted to talk, they could talk. Jason was going to live his life, and screw whoever thought there was something wrong with that.

It wouldn’t be fun, Jason could admit that to himself, but he knew how to deal with snobby rich kids looking down their noses at him – he’d been doing so since Bruce had taken him in, though admittedly it had gotten less severe over the years, when it had become apparent to them that Jason simply didn’t let himself be intimidated.

And it wasn’t like Jason would walk into school with his baby belly and people would only find out then – in wise preparation they’d actually released a short press statement a few days ago to announce the pregnancy. Nothing flashy, no press conference or even any pictures, just a short piece issued from the Wayne PR department relaying the fact that the Waynes and the Queens would soon welcome an addition to their families.

So yeah, the world knew now and everyone had their opinions on social media, but Jason didn’t bother to read about who thought he was a slut and who considered him brave – people could say whatever they wanted.

But, Jason thought as he parked in the school parking lot, several students already pointing at the minivan with raised eyebrows and haughty smirks, snarky posts on social media platforms he didn’t use were still something different to having to spend the whole day surrounded by snobby assholes shoving their opinions in his face.

Not that he couldn’t deal with that – he had faced far worse than gossipy teenagers even before he’d ever met Bruce – but that didn’t mean he would enjoy it.

But it was the principle of the thing, Jason thought as he cut off the engine and dragged in a deep, steadying breath – he wouldn’t let other peoples opinion of him dictate how he lived his life; that wasn’t what either the Waynes or their vigilante alter-egos stood for.

He was 17, pregnant, and unwilling to apologize for it; the world would just have to deal with that.