He had thought he had been kidnapped.
He had thought he had been tortured.
He had thought he had been killed.
Because normal people- and yes, Dick was counting his family in that circle- didn't just fake their deaths for a case. He thought if anyone would get that, Jason would. He knew how many nights Dick had slung himself off rooftops and dove into raving mobs just to shut down his brain for a few moments after he had lost him the first time. He knew how many bruises and how many wounds Dick had sustained as a shadow of redemption after letting his Little Wing fall into that clown's hands the first time. Normal people just didn't.
Jason Todd was anything but normal.
He was half-naked and covered in what appeared to be someone's blood that wasn't his own, and ash in Dick's kitchen. His helmet was little more than plastic shards resting on the kitchen counter, and the gloved hands that were so familiar to him looked like they belonged to a stranger now as they grasped a spoon. If Jason didn't look a half-step from broken, Dick would have killed him.
Physically, Jason was a lot better off than he could have been. He had forsaken the domino mask that he normally wore under his helmet, and dark circles lined empty eyes. Bruises were peppered across his chest and stomach, but nothing that looked too serious or painful. There was a bandage that covered an already-stitched wound on his left bicep. He looked remarkably put together for someone who was internally falling apart.
Dick wanted to pity him.
He wanted to embrace him.
He wanted to wrap his hands around his throat and scream at him.
He chose anger.
He chose anger because he knew it was something Jason would recognize. Even after the time he'd spent at the manor being cared for by Bruce and Alfred, Jason rarely recognized kindness for what it was, and after years of living on the streets, he despised any form of pity. But anger was something he not only recognized, he appreciated. So Dick was angry.
Jason gave a smile that was more of a grimace.
Dick rolled his eyes almost comically because he knew. It wasn't an apology. It wasn't even close.
"You're angry," Jason states like Dick knew he would.
"Who wouldn't be angry? You came over one day and said, 'Hey, Dickie, what's for breakfast?' Then you ate all of my cereal, and by four you had faked your death."
Jason was eating his cereal now, too.
"Why do I sense you're angrier I ate your cereal than I faked my death?" Jason asked around a mouthful of Froot Loops.
Dick sent him a glare that Bruce would have envied.
"They're equal. You stood me up for dinner."
Jason gave him a crooked smile that said he was slowly coming back.
"That was three years ago."
"Then you better add ice cream to the date."
I’m going to need you to put on some underwear before you say anything else.
"This isn't an event, it's a high speed chase," Jason grimaced as he watched Bruce flit effortlessly from socialite to dignitary. He was all smiles and vacant eyes, empty words and hollow promises, as he entertained the guests at the latest Wayne gala. Technically, Jason was crashing. He was a corpse at a party, and he was supposed to have left long ago. Jason Todd was dead. All records agreed to this, and no one at the party recognized him for who he was aside from the Bat family- who were all walking on eggshells. Not just because of Jason, but because none of this was their kind of scene.
"It is necessary, Master Jason," Alfred reminded.
The elderly butler hadn't been the ex-Robin's first choice of companionship. He'd come here as Dick's "plus one," but he had barely seen the golden boy since they'd arrived. He would occasionally appear from a crowd of admiring older women who were trying to pair off their daughters like it was 1849 and give him a meaningful kiss before again vanishing to reign in the other Wayne wards. Despite their public displays of affection- much to Bruce's disdain- most of Gotham hadn't taken the hint that Dick and Jason were a couple. Hell, Jason had barely taken the hint that they were a couple.
That didn't excuse Dick's obvious absence as yet another "drunk" rich person came up to Jason asking for a dance and a night. He had decided if one more person tried to proposition him, he'd leave. He was little more than an ornament if all he did was stand against the wall and wait for his boyfriend to appear again.
Jason grumbled out a swear and flinched, expecting Alfred to admonish him for it. When none came, he realized the butler had vanished, too. Jason would think he was getting rusty if he didn't know Alfred's skills rivaled any bat's.
"Grayson sent me to find you."
Jason met Damian's glare fire for fire. The little demon had been more than a pain-in-his-neck for a long time, but they had found some illusion of middle ground with Dick. Damian saw him as an older brother, and Jason rubbed it in that he was banging him. The latest Robin took it slightly better than the "I've slept with your mom" comments Jason used to make. Slightly.
"Grayson ditched me. And since when do you run errands? Would you bring me back a drink if I asked?"
Damian smirked at him.
"Would you be dumb enough to drink it if I did?"
Jason nodded. Anything Damian gave him would be poisoned at most, drugged at least. He was an assassin at heart, and it wasn't in him not to take down someone he saw as a problem in his life. Despite Dick's assurances that Damian saw the both of them as his older brothers, Jason knew he'd take a shot at him the moment he let his guard down. He sighed.
"Where is Dick?"
To this, Damian flushed. That if nothing else was worth the night Dick had put him through.
"In his old bedroom. You remember where it is, I assume?" His tone was clipped, and the brat refused to make eye contact with him.
Bruce, over the years, had done a better job at accepting change.
The manor was still the same, and there was no chance of any of the kids convincing him that the gaudy red carpeting in the hallways was anything more than classic, but he was adjusting. He no longer immediately threw out anything new they added to the manor. The framed knife Jason had hung- the same knife he'd used against Bruce from what seemed like a lifetime ago- in the foyer had been moved to Bruce's study, but it hadn't been outright rejected.
This was a reassuring thing because Bruce could- and would- keep the boys rooms exactly the same as when they first inhabited them. Jason couldn't step in his old room without cringing, and so he had spent most of his time at the manor adjusting Dick's room to better fit someone over the age of twelve.
The biggest step had been the lock- mostly because of a horrid scene between the boys and Alfred, and Bruce hadn't deemed it modern enough to get rid of it the moment they left again. It was the same lock that Jason noticed wasn't in use as he opened Dick's bedroom door.
Dick was wearing a tie.
That was the single scrap of clothing he had deemed necessary to don before Jason had come in. Realization set in.
"Did you send Damian on a booty call? I will love you forever if you did. I could forgive anything."
Dick gave a long sigh that ended in a giggle.
Jason blinked, and Dick blinked at him in return. He figured he caught the highlights of that...whatever that was: Dick was drunk.
"Who knew the golden boy was a golden lightweight," Jason smirked, searching the room for Dick's clothes. Every time he made a discovery, he tossed it at the drunken mess to put on.
"I am not a lightweight, Jay!" Dick said with enough of an indignant tone to tell Jason he was slowly sobering up. "I don't drink. You can't be a lithe-weight if you don't partake," he slurred slightly.
Jason watched him skeptically. Even drunk and blundering, Dick was something to behold. Old scars formed new patterns on his pale skin, and it was hard to resist the temptation to trace every one. The light flush to his skin was anything but awful, and did wonders to highlight each new scar Jason had failed to notice. He cleared his throat when he realized he'd missed whatever Dick had said next.
"I'm going to need you to put on some underwear before you say anything else."
"I bet your eyes are green," Dick responded confidently.
Quick catch that cat it stole my wallet!
It started with Damian.
The little brat decided to become a humanitarian overnight, and he had begun to release his plethora of unusually found pets on the world to...help...people? Jason didn't quite get the point, and he was ninety-nine-percent sure it was Alfred's idea. So many animals in the Batcave was beginning to give it that smell that was normally associated with two-hundred-year-old ladies who were being devoured by their fifty cats. Bruce had sent the boys on some strange missions in the past, and it was not even remotely strange that they could all recognize that smell for what it was.
It continued with Tim.
It continued with him because Tim was busy with Titan work. This was supposed to be one of those times where Damian pretends he isn't plotting Tim's death and Tim isn't planning on abandoning the new bird-boy ten miles outside of Gotham to get a few hours of peace. You know, brotherly bonding. Jason was supposed to be at home sleeping off a broken rib and a bruised ego. Unfortunately, some mad man had turned Jump City into a toy replica of itself, and all the Titans were trapped in it, working to defeat the villain. There was a eighty-twenty chance of Tim handling it on his own, so the rest of the Bat-clan had left it to him and his motley crew. The next choice should have been Dick, but he and Damian got along pretty well now and it would defeat the purpose.
It could have stopped with Steph or Cass.
Stephanie was free. Her entire day was open and she had nothing planned until moonlighting with Cass later. She had offered to hang out with Damian and his army of furred creatures, but had ultimately been turned down when Damian found out she might just eat Batcow. It was unlikely, but a possibility. They had gone together to Smallville to drop the currently weirdest creature the demonic boy wonder had fought Bruce for. That still left the cat and the dog. Cass had simply stared. She held the expression of one who dared anyone to encroach on her personal time, and without a word, she had defeated them.
It ended with Bruce.
The Dark Knight. The protector of Gotham. The giant wall of muscle who told Jason he either had to spend time with Damian or sit down to a Sunday dinner at the manor. It was hardly a choice, but Jason knew he one he could live with.
So they entered one of Jason's nicer safe houses that he rarely occupied- mostly because he'd learned his lesson of letting Damian know where he lived. It was the same one that he'd ambushed him in before, and Jay was tempted to say hello to his belongings again. Instead, he locked the door behind his (adopted) younger brother and plopped on his bed.
"Todd, you cannot go to sleep," Damian informed him even as Titus sauntered into the bedroom behind him. Jason had always been partial to dogs. They had honest eyes and were all-around balls of love. Cats on the other hand, were mysterious little buggers who kept everything under their paws until they got ready to strike. Plus, you never read of Fido eating his two-hundred-year-old owner.
Jason would reply "Watch me," but Damian actually might, and he couldn't wake up to that. Instead, he replied with a muffled, "I can," from his pillow.
"Then what am I supposed to do?" he replied indignantly.
"Count the tiles on the ceiling? I don't care. Leave me alone."
Damian was silent for a full second, and just as Jason believed he might actually go, he continued.
"No, really, Tod-"
"Damian, if you do not let me sleep right now, I will bleach your Robin suit."
Damian gave a slightly unimpressed "Tt" before laughing.
"Fine. I'll be the one to spread news that the great Red Hood had his wallet stolen by a cat."
Jason opened his eyes in time to see Alfred jumping onto the fire escape.
He glared at the small child that was quickly becoming the bane of his existence, Roy Harper be damned. He stood and headed for the cat, already mentally preparing his revenge.
It would start with Damian...
"Quick! Catch that cat! It stole my wallet!"
It would start with Damian.
Fuck I feel like I got hit by a car… Wait I did? And it was your car?
Sorry for the long hiatus! I drop off the Earth sometimes, and it is impressively hard to climb back on! Thanks for the kudos!
He could have been in Blüdhaven right now, cuddling up to Dick and being told how impressive it was that he hadn't killed anyone in weeks.
He could have.
But he wasn't.
Instead, Jason Todd- deadly vigilante and recovering criminal-killer- was laying flat on his back and staring at curious eyes. Stephanie spoke.
"I...am pleasantly surprised you aren't dead."
"Fuck, I feel like I got hit by a car," Jason gritted his teeth as he sat up. His memory was kind of blurry after beginning to cross the street, but he didn't think someone would actually pull a hit-and-run in the middle of the day. Whatever had taken him out had to have been pretty impressive, though.
"Well," Stephanie looked away and her eyes fell on the new purple monstrosity she had guilted out of Bruce. She had argued that her coming back from the dead definitely meant she got two birthdays and that he had been missing one. She hadn't expected it to work. That it had was a testament to how distracted their Bat-dad was becoming, and she planned on taking every advantage of his state of mind while she could. With Bruce, distraction soon became obsession, and after that point, they were all lucky if they saw him outside of patrols.
"Wait, I did?" Jason asked, and his eyes followed hers to the purple...vehicle that was undeniably hers. There was no mistaking the rage that was quickly replacing pain in his eyes. "And it was your car?"
Stephanie gave a sheepish giggle.
"What do you mean surprised you aren't dead?"
"I said 'pleasantly,'" she corrected. "Plus, it was you who walked out in front of me."
"It was a red light!" he argued while testing his body for any breaks. He seemed only bruised which meant he could get a safe distance before he set Stephanie on fire. Or at least her car.
"I was following traffic."
"There were no other cars."
"This usually works with Tim," Steph sighed, and a tic began to work in Jason's jaw that could have been from head trauma, but he was sure was from irritation.
"Who taught you how to drive?" he eventually growled out. He figured he should pay them a visit as well. And the DMV worker who thought it was a good idea to give Stephanie Brown a license.
She beamed proudly.
The skirt is short on purpose.
Dick gave a low appreciative whistle as Jason stepped out of the bathroom. Cass nodded thoughtfully and Stephanie began cackling. Jason sighed before looking in the mirror they had brought over from the manor.
As far as missions went, undercover work was never foreign to any of them. Even Damian had tried his hand at it with success, so it wasn't like Jason was surprised when Bruce had called him- okay, he'd called Dick for him because Jason and Bruce were having another standoff ever since the second Robin had fallen off the wagon and killed a drug dealer peddling to kids- about the job. Black Mask was holding some kind of party in which he had invited all of Gotham's underground. While Bruce and Dick were able to climb into old personas that wouldn't raise too many flags, Sionis could practically sense the Red Hood eighty miles away. Therefore, the Dark Knight and the first Boy Wonder thought it a good idea to create a whole new identity for him.
That meant heels.
That meant make-up.
That meant a skirt.
And that meant breasts apparently handmade by Alfred. Jason didn't want to know.
"I look like I'm not going home alone," Jason sneered. He had to admit, the expression looked even more disdainful with the scarlet smeared across his lips.
"You're not," Dick winked at him, and it caused Jason to roll his eyes though he couldn't stop the smile that crept across his face.
"The skirt is too short," he complained.
"The skirt is short on purpose. It's to distract from your voice," Cass answered while casually taking pictures with Stephanie's phone. She still forgot her own sometimes even though it was gift from her new family. Plus, since she spent so much time with either Stephanie or Barbara, it wasn't as if no one could get a hold of her most days. When they couldn't, it was usually on purpose.
"What's wrong with my voice?" Jason asked indignantly.
"Do you still wax your legs?" Stephanie asked instead and enjoyed the bright flush that illuminated the truth. She laughed. "Do you, Dick?"
"Do you think I could fit into these pants otherwise?" he joked, and Jason quit the room.
I can’t believe I’m sitting in space jail with you of all people.
"You never visit anymore, she said," Jason sneered.
"It'll only be for one Earth week, she said," Roy groaned.
They were currently sitting in a Tamaranean jail cell, chained to the wall and to each other. If they were surprised, they didn't show it. Kori's planet was currently locked in some interstellar war. Again. Despite what the princess of Tamaran said, it seemed that her beloved planet was rarely not locked in some kind of conflict with some other species. Granted, if all Tamarans acted like Kori, it wasn't hard to believe.
Maybe it was just Jason's luck. The whole reason he'd tagged along was because he was going bat-crazy. He couldn't sneeze without Bruce or one of the Bat-pack there to hold the tissue. Kill one villain out of (somewhat) righteous vengeance and suddenly everyone acted like you were one step away from Arkham. With his family, he wasn't even a full step. So he'd given Dick a quick kiss, packed his bags, and hopped in the constantly modified ship of the Outlaws.
To his credit, Roy seemed to be handling their current situation pretty well. It had been a full ten seconds before he had begun pulling at the chains again. A new record.
"Any ideas on how to get out of here, Jaybird?" he asked when his last tug came with no success.
"One. If you call me Jaybird again, I'm going to use your hard head to break out."
"How I missed our little talks."
"I can't believe I'm sitting in space jail with you of all people, Harper," Jason sighed.
"It isn't all that shocking. It's not the first time."
Jason gave a hollow laugh.
"Probably won't be the last."
"I can't believe you don't have some hidden explosive on you. You must be getting soft," Roy stated after another round of testing the chains.
"It's not that I don't. It's just not enough to break something made to hold a Tamaranean."
Roy grinned, and Jason thought there was something to the whole "soulless ginger" thing.
"Let me worry about that, Jaybird."
So why did I have to punch that guy?
I can't believe I haven't said it yet, but thanks for the kudos!!
The bar scene was Jason's thing.
He loved the high tolerance mixed with already low inhibitions, and for some reason, he loved to pick fights with the random guys that floated in near last call. It was almost like a hobby. Only Dick knew about said hobby, and he was maudlin that he couldn't witness his boyfriend doing it now.
Probably one of the Dakotas.
Roy had come in to their peaceful domesticity that had taken near saint-like patience to obtain, and shattered with napalm named Koriand' r. With little more than an unsealed envelope, he had swept Jason off to wherever the other Outlaw had needed them. He didn't think it was off-world, but the option was there. And Dick wasn't jealous- he wasn't, really- he was just...angry? He felt like a jilted spouse and because of Roy Harper of all things. The two had saved the world together for goodness sake. Then again, so had Roy and Jason.
But he was definitely not jealous.
Dick found himself sitting in one of Gotham's seedier bars, partially to see if Jason would walk through the doors and partially to see if the rumors were true about the alcohol in the glass disinfecting the germs around the glass. He was really hoping on the latter because he was already on his third glass and he didn't want to tell Bruce or Alfred how he got lockjaw from a shot of Jack.
"You look like you're about ready to leave. Wanna leave with me?"
Dick rolled his eyes at the pick-up line that was as weak as his reasoning for being there in the first place. His eyes drifted to the empty bar stool that normally sat his very on watchdog. Tonight, it looked like he was on his own.
"I have a boyfriend," Dick replied with a thousand-watt smile to the man that looked like he bench-pressed Killer Croc as a past-time.
"I don't mind," the guy replied, and Dick threw back his latest shot because he was probably not going to want to feel his fist when it contacted with the man's face if it came to that.
"I do. I-"
The guy grabbed Dick's arm, and in the very next moment he was on the ground out cold. Jason shook his hand, knuckles bruised and eyes daring anyone else to get near his Golden Boy.
"Jason," Dick nodded as he ordered two more shots. Jason stepped over the unconscious man to sit beside Dick, and it was a compliment to the bar that no one bothered to complain about the short scene of violence.
They toasted and grinned.
"So why did I have to punch that guy?"
"You didn't know?" Dick laughed incredulously. Jason shrugged.
"Your face was doing that Nightwing thing, so I figured if I didn't you would."
Dick just continued to laugh.
I may have accidentally sort of adopted five cats.
Thanks for the comment! And for the kudos!
People thought Jason was impulsive.
Maybe it was the bombs rigged in empty buildings that he used as a distraction, or maybe it was the whole coming-back-from-the-dead-with-a-hit-list thing, but people always saw Jason as the more spontaneous of the Bat Clan. This wasn't true by any means.
Cass got bored and created new languages.
Stephanie decided to create a mosaic of herself out of the colored fiberglass from all their casts over the years.
Babs hacked into NASA and convinced several scientists that aliens like Martian Man-Hunter were actually humans who were covered in a light moss.
Damian...Damian took it upon himself to adopt entire animal shelters and incite local cat riots.
All because they were bored.
Dick? Dick was the good child. He spent his time picking up acts in the occasional circus and playing with elephants at the zoo. Dick was the dependable one because otherwise it would be Tim, and no one knew what Tim did in his free time now. The kid had discovered Batman's and Robin's identities when he was a child while there were still hundreds of villains and rich socialites trying every thing in their power to figure out the big secret.
So when it was barely five in the morning and Dick was calling Jason's phone not a full hour after they had come off of patrol, the vigilante was reasonably worried. When he answered, Dick sounded like he had been running.
"Hey, Jay," he laughed unsteadily, and the other man groaned loud enough for all of Gotham to hear. He knew that tone. That was the same tone Dick had when he had told him about Damian.
"I swear if Bruce has another kid somewhere, I'm going to drown it in the Gotham river before Damian has a chance to corrupt it," Jason growled, and he heard Dick give an uneasy laugh.
"Um...It's not Bruce."
There was a very long silence that could have been filled with anything. Apparently a baby.
"Dick, you did not-"
"No! No no no no! I don't think so...?"
Jason made a crackling noise that could have been him crushing his phone.
"I'm joking, Jay! Little wing! I'm joking, okay? I didn't knock anyone up!"
"Then...?" Jason's voice sounded as frayed as his nerves.
"I may have accidentally sort of adopted five cats? And they can't stay at the manor? Alfred is apparently very territorial. The cat."
There were so many questions Jason wanted to ask, but he settled with, "'Accidentally?'"
"I was swinging back to the manor when I saw this really cute kitten that had paint spilled on it, and it wouldn't let me take it home to clean up if I didn't take its friends. Now they won't go home. One kind of reminds me of you...You'll love them!" Dick tried.
"I am not taking in five cats," Jason stated with conviction.
"You know I hate that nickname."
"We're almost to your safe house."
"I will leave," Jason threatened, and Dick smirked over the phone.
"You only have five safe houses in Gotham. It'll be perfect! A cat for every house!"
Jason hung up on his ridiculous boyfriend and sighed. He was not keeping those cats.
I hope you know that my name is actually ________.
A little flashback from Jason's Robin days featuring a non-brooding Bruce Wayne!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Bruce blames Alfred's cookies.
According to Jason, he had never had a single cavity until he moved into the manor. Though maybe it was Bruce's fault, too. He had encouraged him to indulge a bit more. But could he blame himself? When he had found Jason, the boy barely weighed anything close to what a child his age should, and half of that was probably the dirt. He could be forgiven if he had all but shoved food down his throat.
They were all paying for it now.
"Broose," Jason slurred as they walked out the door of the dentist office. Despite the doctor's assurances that the gas would only make Jason light-headed at most and drowsy at least, the second Robin had been astonishingly aware for the entire time he was under the drill. It wasn't until they were on their way out that it seemed the laughing gas began to really take affect.
"Yes, Jason?" Bruce asked warily. He glanced around them to make sure they were alone. Most of the pedestrians around them seemed to not notice them.
"I hope you know that my name is actually Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fanna Bo Besca the Third."
And he really did try not to laugh at the ridiculous smile on his son's face as he said that. "Try" being the main word.
Jason looked somewhat-indignant. "You aren't supposed to laugh at royalty, Broose!"
"I...I'm sorry, Your Highness," Bruce replied after he reigned in his laughter. "When did this name change come about?"
Instead of answering, Jason's attention became captivated by a butterfly dancing in the wind.
"Broose," he whispered reverently. His tone reminded him of when Jason had first been offered the position of Robin.
"Yes?" Bruce replied, his voice just as cautious.
"Do you think caterpillars know that they're going to become butterflies? Are they the same in their heads as when they were caterpillars? Or do they stop being their old selves? Do the caterpillars die?"
Alfred delivered the car before Bruce could approach the subject he thought Jason was trying to get at, and instead deposited his son in the vehicle. Before he even managed to climb in himself, the boy was out cold.
Though Jason didn't remember that day, Bruce still remembered the little boy who wondered about the caterpillars.
For those who missed it, "Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fanna Bo Besca the Third" is Dot from the Animaniacs. I figured it would have been popular when Jason was a wee lad.
Please stop petting the test subjects.
Halloween was something every Wayne manor resident- for however temporary- understood and respected.
The thirty days before what could only be considered the best holiday of all time- Jason's unbiased opinion, of course- was an all-out prank war for any who got caught within two hundred miles of Gotham or a Bat-Kid. No one was safe, and all learned to be wary in the month of October. This year, it seemed, was already well out of hand.
The first week of October, Cass made the first move. She loved all of her siblings, but the season was the season. She waited until she knew even Bruce was asleep, and she silently crept through the halls of the manor first.
Her first target was Damian because she knew he would most likely wake up at any moment and catch her. With a sly smirk, she went to work.
Next was Tim, who was staying at the manor while mending a broken arm, and then Alfred. She would have felt some pang of guilt at targeting the kind man if not for the pranks she remembered him playing on all of them last year. She still shivered when she saw a clown. After Bruce, she made her way out of the manor to pay a visit to Dick and Jason's apartment, and later to Steph and Barbara. No one would be safe.
The sun had already risen when Cass slipped back into the mansion, quickly hiding under her covers as her family awoke with pumpkin-orange hair and bright green bows.
Jason's revenge came with minions.
The henchpeople kind, not the weird yellow things that only occasionally had two eyes. They freaked him out enough that he wouldn't even watch Despicable Me
no matter how much Dick pleaded.
"Henchpeople" were also known as Roy Harper and Koriand'r. The Outlaws had only agreed to help their friend because he promised amnesty to them for the next two Halloweens if they did.
"Jaybird," Roy whispered as he and Jason moved silently through the vents of the manor. They needed to get to the Bat Cave without anyone knowing they were there, and the only place the paranoid Bat hadn't restored surveillance after the last "incident" was the vents and the sewer line. Since Jason preferred to smell slightly better than a septic tank, he chose the vents.
"I really wish you would stop calling me that," he replied through gritted teeth. He knew most of the family was out for PR reasons, but he still kept his voice down in case someone was still lurking about.
"How many Red Hood helmets do you have?"
Jason paused and looked back at his somewhat-friend. Though he looked innocent, Jason knew to never believe anything of Roy Harper at face-value.
"No reason, really. Just idle conversation," Roy lied. Jason glared.
"Harper, if you do anything to my stuff without my permission, you will be a cautionary tale."
"But I'm your best friend!" Roy smirked as they continued on their way.
Jason didn't reply until they had dropped down into the Bat Cave where Kori was already waiting. He hadn't asked her how she'd manage when she told him there was no way she was crawling through anywhere, but she seemed okay. Roy gasped as he looked around them.
"So this is the infamous Bat Cave."
"Let's get to work," Jason smirked."
Bruce will hold true that the reason that everyone's uniforms were dyed pink was for Breast Cancer Awareness.
"Please stop petting the test subjects, Grayson," Damian groaned as he went through the check list of the items for his own prank. He had already fallen victim to Cain, Todd, Pennyworth, and Grayson; and Halloween was days away. If he didn't get his revenge soon, the familial truce would be put into place and he would have to wait an entire year before being able to get another free pass.
The manor- and Gotham for that matter- had been in complete chaos in a different sort of way than what was the norm, but everyone was treating it as if it were any other day. No one had even blinked twice when Damian had bought five hundred pounds of canned chili, eighteen bags of flour, nine gallons of different colored paints, and several soft-shelled turtles- of which Dick was still petting.
"But, Little D, this one keeps smiling at me!" Dick smiled back.
"You do know that they are carnivores, don't you? Maybe that smile is it sizing you up to eat."
Dick watched where his fingers landed after that new fact, but he continued to pet them. "What are you planning with all this, anyway?"
Damian smirked in a way that reminded any who say that he was still half al Ghul.
That is the tenth demon summoning this week holy shit.
If you haven't noticed everything in the Bat-Cave must have "Bat" come before it. It must.
"That is the tenth demon summoning this week," Tim groaned as he rubbed a tired hand through his cowl hair.
He was used to maniacs making dirty bombs and psychopaths burning down buildings like matches. He'd take beating up Arkham's finest over this any day.
This was some alternate reality that he'd slipped into the one time he decided to go on a real vacation away from all the villains and monsters. Part of him thought it was some weird payback because how dare he attempt any form of relaxation while villainy was still afoot? Bruce would be appalled.
But Tim had been tired. He had gotten sick of all the chaos and madness of his world, and somehow he had slipped into another. And it was weird.
For one, Dick and Jason were a thing. Like seven-days-from-a-chapel-and-no-one-died-this-time-thing. Where Tim came from, they were barely able to stand in the same room without one of them going for blood. Weirder?
He was still all midnight brooding and vengence-for-breakfast, but he could also take a joke. There was also the rare occasion where he made one.
With all that, the occasional vampire raid and the rogue wizards summoning demons to rob banks was nothing. It wasn't like they (probably) didn't have vampires where he came from, and magic was far from foreign in his old life.
"Holy shit," Tim groaned when he realized he considered his home world to be "his old life."
"Rough night?" this reality's Dick smiled gently at him as he offered him a cup of coffee- "Black like Damian's heart," they joked.
"Just wondering where they get the energy," Tim admitted. "Does Gotham sit on a ley line or something?"
Dick snapped. "You know, you aren't the first person to come asking that. There was a rich kid in an orange car last year..."
Dick trailed off as an alert on the Bat-computer signaled that someone was closing an illegal summoning ritual.
"...You aren't going to like this, Baby Bird."
Tim sighed. Some vacation this was turning out to be.
Please put me down it’s just a sprained ankle
Rain came down in sheets and felt like icy fingers clawing down his back. Lightning forked above him, and Jason couldn't believe he'd come out on patrol during this kind of weather. Dick was an idiot.
He was beautiful, and he was smart, and he could show-off with the best of them, but Dick Grayson was a complete idiot.
Thunder shook the fire escape he was on as if agreeing.
I bet Barbara never had to deal with this, Jason thought, and he would later ask her. They often sat around and talked about the paradox that was Dick.
"Do you have eyes on him, Red?"
Her sudden voice made Jason think that Oracle could read his mind. It's not the first time she had chirped in just as he was thinking about her, and her timing was becoming eerie.
"I don't have eyes on anything. Except I think I just saw a cruise ship sailing down Main Street. Think they'd give me a ride?"
Barbara gave a sigh long enough to have its own sitcom before it was covered up with a rush of typing keys and gritted teeth.
"His GPS signal says that he should be right beside you..."
Jason changed the vision on his helmet to infrared and did another sweep. He saw what he really hoped was a cat because if not, Gotham's rat problem was getting out of control. He followed its movements as it dashed into the alley and collided with a much larger pile of heat. Jason heard a flurry of swears that could only have come from his boyfriend, and he smiled despite himself. At least it wasn't his cash that was going into the swear jar this time.
"I found him," Jason replied before dropping down and heading in on his boyfriend.
Dick was mostly fine.
He had a few scrapes and bruises, but it was nothing a mug of hot chocolate and their bed couldn't fix. The real problem was the swelling around his ankle that looked painful even through the rain.
"Before you say anything, it's just a sprain, Jay," Dick stated quickly even as Jason removed his helmet to glare.
"How did this happen?"
Jason's voice is full of held-back aggression that would be let out with gunpowder if- when- he caught whoever did this. Dick looked sheepish before he physically swallowed his pride.
He couldn't be sure how much time went by before he finally took a breath again, and the only word his lips could form was, "What?"
"I was on my way back to the safe house because it wasn't like Two-Face was coming out in this weather when I thought I heard gunfire. I turned too quickly and slipped."
Jason pinched the bridge of his nose.
"And did you?"
"Did you hear gunfire?"
Dick gave him a lopsided grin because he knew Jason wasn't completely angry. "No, it was a cat falling out of a trashcan."
Jason took a deep breath, unsure if he could laugh in a situation like this.
"But you're Nightwing. You're supposed to be a graceful butterfly or something."
"Ye-p," Dick replied, popping the "P."
"But you're Nightwing."
And this time, Jason did laugh. If it were anyone else, Dick might have been offended. Instead, he simply took the hand that offered to help him up. In one smooth move, he was on Jason's back fireman's style.
Dick made a less than graceful sound, making Jason laugh harder.
"You can put me down! It's just a sprained ankle!"
Jason just kept laughing.
So what if I broke my arm I’m still doing it.
Cassandra Cain was the family badass.
It was as accepted as Alfred's cookies. It was such a commonplace fact that even Damian accepted it, and Bruce stayed out of such things.
The unfortunate thing about facts was that people felt the need to test them, no matter how ridiculous.
Cass did a back-flip-twist-kick-spin-slash thing and broke a wall?
Well, Tim just had to test the probability of such a thing happening.
Cass glared at a potential purse snatcher and the guy handed his almost-victim twenty dollars and an apology?
Damian could try that at least, right?
It was such things that always led to someone getting hurt. It was usually due to a mix of pride and male ego, but the stories from the aftermath was always good table talk for the now-mandatory family dinners. The favorite as of late was the time Cass punched through a glass window to catch a known rapist. It should also be stated that Cass herself never revealed the things that made her the family badass. She didn't talk about her patrols much at all unless it was something so ridiculous she needed to check her sanity. It was usually Stephanie who spread the rumors of Cass' exploits, and if some where exaggerated, well there was rarely anyone to prove it. But after the telling of the window-punching scene and the fact that Cass had come home that night completely unscathed, every Bat Boy decided he needed to test that out.
Bruce forbade them from using any of the high-tech equipment from the Cave to justify whatever they were seeking out of punching through a window. The kids thought it was because he thought it ridiculous, but Alfred knew it was because the head of the Wayne family thought it just as amusing as his kids when they tried testing all the things that Cass apparently did. He had the smartest kids in Gotham under one roof, and none of them thought to just check surveillance footage. They deserved whatever happened to them.
Babs and a Wayne credit card provided the glass windows.
The end was one broken hand, a broken arm, and several cuts between them all. Dick, Jason, and Tim had called it quits after that, but Damian?
Damian refused to admit that Cass could do something that he couldn't.
"Little D, maybe you should just give it to her," Dick tried, nursing his own broken hand. Damian glared at him.
"You arm's broken," Tim added somewhat apathetically.
"So what if my arm's broken, Drake? I'm still doing it," Damian stated with a tone of finality.
Jason would have tried to talk him out of it, but this was the same kid that had challenged all the old Robins to prove that he was the best. Plus, he'd be lying if he said that he wasn't cheering for the window.
"Go for it, kid," Jason smirked.
Why exactly do you need chloroform at 2AM?
"Why exactly do you need chloroform at 2AM?"
Jason's voice was low and gravelly partly from his younger years of smoking, but mostly because his family insisted on calling him on his nights off. Granted, the only reason he was off was because of the broken leg he'd gotten from a very ambitious leap he'd taken off a building. He'd caught the bad guys and made it to the Cave before he had even registered it. Still, it led to him spending more time with Babs and less time out in the field. The only real upside was the extra sleep that he was supposed to be getting.
"We aren't at that level in our relationship where you can ask me that," Tim replied flatly over the phone.
"But we're at the level where you can call me this early in the morning for chloroform?" Jason asked skeptically.
"You can ask anyone for chloroform. I could ask Dick for chloroform."
"Then why didn't you?" Jason questioned and hated that he was becoming more aware. It had taken him hours to shut down the nocturnal part of himself and go to sleep.
"Don't be ridiculous. Dick doesn't have any chloroform," Tim scoffed.
Jason made an indignant noise in the back of his throat before replying, "What makes you think I do?"
There was a moment of silence before Jason sighed.
"Why don't you just get some from the Cave?"
"Because then a certain someone might suspect something."
This time the silence was much longer, and only because Jason was trying to keep the grin out of his voice.
"You're going to use chloroform on Damian?"
"I may or may not be attempting to put it towards such a purpose," Tim replied, and Jason realized Damian was probably with him.
"Why?" Jason asked, already sitting up and stretching.
"Because I ran out during Stephanie's birthday party yesterday and forgot to refill," Tim replied in a tone that said that he would explain no more of that day.
"No, why are you going to use chloroform on Damian?"
"Jason," Tim stated, and that one word held all the explanation he needed. Jason nodded even though he knew Tim couldn't see it.
"Fair enough. But I want a video."
"Fair enough," Tim echoed before hanging up.
I’m like 75% this won’t explode on us.
Jason didn't know why he hung out with Roy Harper. Even the good days were usually filled with an excess of gunpowder. And the bad days?
The bad days were like today, when they were staring at the rapidly decreasing timer on a dirty bomb.
This is what I get for trying to have friends, Jason thought as he held the bomb steady. Roy was busily trying to disarm it while Kori was fighting off the rush of terrorists trying to stop them. He knew his conscience wouldn't let him just leave the bomb to decimate all of Washington D. C and probably the whole of the Eastern coast, but he liked to think he could have enough self-preservation to leave before the timer dropped low enough that he couldn't escape the blast. Their ship wasn't too far off, and he figured he could clear the area in time.
"Stop making that face," Roy smirked. "I'm like seventy-five percent...this won't explode on us."
"Well, that's comforting," Jason sneered.
Roy snipped a line and the timer stopped. Before they could celebrate, however, the bomb made a loud beep and the countdown continued with five minutes less than when it stopped. Roy gave an uneasy laugh.
"Okay, seventy percent."
"Sixty-seven percent," Roy amended.
If it weren't for the years of training he'd had from Batman and the years he'd known Roy, he'd have taken his chances with running.
"I'm going to kill you," he replied instead.
"Aw, Jaybird. You have such an explosive temper."
Jason looked at his unfortunately best friend, dumbfounded.
"You did not just make a bomb joke right now."
Roy laughed before snipping another wire. This time the timer slowed, but not by much. Jason had had enough. Most of the terrorists had either been vaporized or otherwise burned into submission, so he didn't feel at odds with calling Kori over. She seemed amused that they hadn't handled the bomb yet.
"I can fly it into space," she offered.
"No!" Roy growled the same time Jason nodded.
"I've almost got it!" Roy insisted even when Kori took it away from them and began flying up. As she disappeared into the sky, Jason could have sworn he was pouting.
Jason didn't know why he hung out with Roy Harper.
You need to stop leaving dead bodies in my kitchen.
I wanted to finish this by Halloween so that I could start my new...project...but oh well. I'm ever the procrastinator anyways.
Dick smiled because otherwise he'd be adding Jason to the number of corpses that had found themselves in his kitchen lately.
"Does it help that I'm not the one that killed him?" he asked with a shaky smile of his own. "He's probably not even dead..." Jason kicked the body to check, but the man didn't respond. "Would you believe that I found him this way?"
"Why did you bring him home?" Dick asked, his fake smile still plastered across his face.
It was unnerving to say the least, and Jason held on to the hope that Dick wouldn't kill him. He would like to believe that Dick would kill him, but Jason had been gone on a lot of Outlaw missions lately.
"He was the head of the latest drug ring pushing into Red Hood's territory."
"You're like a cat bringing home dead rats," Dick smiled brightly.
Jason bit back the retort that had tried to break free. He could sense a fight coming, and he really didn't want one over a dead drug dealer.
"You need to stop leaving dead bodies in my kitchen," Dick continued.
His smile was the same one he used when he was going up against the kind of Gotham scum that he couldn't beat with an escrima stick. His paparazzi smile.
"It's not that big a deal," Jason sighed. "I'll even clean up the blood when I'm done!"
"Done. With. What?" Dick questioned, and Jason was afraid his boyfriend's face was going to split and they'd have two clowns to contend with. "Why are you bringing dead bodies into my home?" He noticed that one of his guns was a little too close to Dick, and Jason began to subtly move towards it before Dick thought to shoot him. If he would wasn't the question.
"It's a normal tactic. Make them think their boss is still alive and control everything from the shadows."
"That doesn't answer my question, Jason. Why my kitchen."
The younger Robin nodded towards the living room.
"I didn't think I could get blood out of the carpet."
Dick picked up the gun.
I understand the whole sleep talking thing but what I don’t understand is the princess dragon dream and why I’m in it.
Bruce wasn't licensed for this.
Well, under another persona he was, but as Bruce Wayne? This wasn't what he signed up for.
Jason was lounging on the most uncomfortable chaise in the world in Bruce's study in full Red Hood attire. Despite their somewhat amiable relationship recently, Jason still trusted Bruce about as much as he trusted clowns. Still, Dick had insisted that they "talk" after Jason continued to have a certain kind of dream.
It wasn't nightmares. Jason could repress with the best of them, and his brain rarely reminded him of the less-than-enjoyable highlights from his past since he and Dick got together. Besides, Jason was a big boy. Even if he was haunted by fiery explosions and dark coffins, he'd never say it aloud. No, this dream was something so much worse, and it had bothered him enough that he had come to the one man he would really rather never expose a weakness to. Which lead to the Red Hood gear.
"I understand the whole sleep-talking thing," Bruce finally spoke. Jason certainly did not flinch at the sudden baritone. "What I don't understand is the princess-dragon dream and why I'm in it."
Dick had called and given Bruce the main gist of Jason's dream because he really doubted his boyfriend could manage full sentences around the man who had trained them both. How little faith he had because Jason was gearing up to finally get it off his chest.
"It's not 'the princess-dragon dream.' It's the princess dragon dream. As in, the dragon is a princess," Jason explained.
Bruce's face remained the perfect mask of stoicism that he had perfected over the years, and he said the two words that he would learn to regret. "Go on."
Jason took a deep breath and let it all out.
"I'm a knight and I'm hired to go save this princess. No one tells me what she looks like, but I guess I already know because I start on this obscenely long quest. I kill a fairy, I babysit for a giant couple while they go out on their first date in years, I do the cinnamon challenge with a dwarf and win. You know, normal fairy tale stuff."
Normal? Bruce thought but remained silent. It was rare that Jason was so open, and he wasn't going to ruin it.
"After all of that, I have to climb the world's smallest mountain. I keep calling it a hill and getting cursed at by wizards who insist that it's a mountain. When I make it to the top, there's Dick. He's wearing a tiara and fake horns and he declares himself the dragon princess. This is widely accepted so I grab him and we're going back down the hi-mountain then there's you. You have a dagger and I say that you won't throw it because then you'd hit Dick. You throw it anyways and it ricochets off the tree behind me somehow and cuts my neck. I'm bleeding out when I wake up."
The ending scene is so familiar, Bruce wants to throw a paperweight.
"I said that I was sorry for that years ago," Bruce stated. His tone could have been described as indignant if he weren't Batman.
"Tell it to the dragon princess."
I’m sorry that I got way too into playing house and accidentally kissed you passionately.
Thanks for the kudos!
I’m sorry that I got way too into playing house and accidentally kissed you passionately.
Dick could laugh at the text message. He probably would have if it weren't for the fact that he was staring at the sender and sitting at a dinner table with their whole family.
There was a strict no-phone rule at family dinners. Ever since that time Steph and Tim had ignited a year long paparazzi war because they had tweeted several pictures of Dick eating a banana. It had shut the internet down for days, and there were even news reports on it. Bruce, to his credit, barely reacted.
He did not remove every piece of fruit from the house because of it. They just so happened to have aligned that way.
The penalty for being caught with your phone varied from having it destroyed in the blender to having your messages read aloud to the entire family by Alfred.
It wasn't all bad. The kids got to hear Alfred read Clark's texts to Bruce last week, and it certainly wasn't journalism they were talking about.
Jason's face was completely stoic as he took a sip of water. It had taken a lot of effort and a lot of promises of extra bread to get Jason to come at all, and Dick couldn't believe he was so willing to risk the all-knowing Alfred Pennyworth catching him and reading the text.
Jason made a small noise in the back of his throat when he read the text, but played it as his reaction to Tim's story about his latest escapade in Jump City. Alfred raised a brow at him, but he gave his best glare towards Tim.
"A soft-shell turtle could have figured that out, Replacement."
His response seemed to satisfy Alfred, and he quickly sent Dick a reply.
You're one of those people that make others write long texts and then reply with one-word answers, aren't you?
Dick couldn't resist the laughter that bubbled up at the response, and suddenly all eyes were on him. Jason looked smug, and Dick gave him a cryptic smile.
"Sorry, just 'soft-shell turtle' is the best you could come up with, Jay?"
Once the attention towards him died down, he couldn't resist texting back:
If he expected any visible reaction from Jason, he didn't get one. Instead, the evil jerk looked way too innocent.
"Alfred? I think Dick's been texting."
The words silenced the new conversation that had begun to bubble up, and all eyes looked from Alfred to Dick like a tennis match.
"Master Dick?" Alfred asked coolly.
"Jason was doing it, too! He was texting me," Dick defended, holding up his phone to try and show the butler the evidence.
"I only see your messages, Master Dick," Alfred informed him. "I thought you would know better."
Dick looked dumbfounded at Jason and caught him slipping some kind of device into his pocket before casually taking a bite of bread.
The punishment happened after dinner. Alfred shredded his phone in the blender in front of all of them, sighing about having to buy a new blender again. Dick was certain he saw a money exchange between Jason and Babs while he was forced to listen to Alfred's lecture on how the oldest should be setting better examples. Yes, they really should.
"I am really sorry about the kiss thing," Jason smirked as Dick looked longingly at the bag Alfred had poured his phone in. He had waited months for that phone to come out, and it was even a special Nightwing case the company had designed as a collector's edition. They didn't even sell those anymore.
"But not about my phone?" Dick sighed.
"No. That's what happens when you're a douche-texter."
"That's not even a word."
"Do you know what is a word? A couple of them, actually? 'Thank you, Jason, giving me a mind-blowing kiss while playing house.'"
Dick looked up at him- since when had his Little Wing gotten so tall, anyways?- and he could kick the arrogant jerk.
"I'd compliment you, but I don't worship the devil," Dick glared before grabbing his bagged phone and leaving the kitchen.
Jason's laughter followed him.