Dealing with Two Face’s men was always just shy of a nightmare, considering they oscillated between annoying and murderous as their leader’s split-personality flipped back and forth. Dick had been called in by Red Robin and had plunged straight into the action when he arrived, swinging his escrima sticks and dodging stray bullets. It took him, Tim, and Damian a solid half hour to round up all the henchmen, zip tie them, and grapple to the nearest roof to await the police.
In all the chaos, neither Tim nor Damian got a good look at him until he landed on the ledge beside them.
Tim frowned absently. “Did they give you trouble?” he asked, head tilted slightly, and Dick scoffed.
“Didn’t touch me,” he bragged, pulling his shoulders back a little, because sometimes it felt good to know that he was still on his game, he was still one of the best. Normally Damian would scoff at his bravado, but this time he just narrowed his eyes.
“Where is Todd?” Damian asked, and his voice was icy. “Is he hiding?"
Dick was thoroughly confused. “On his own patrol, I think. Why?”
Damian laughed, but it was the furthest thing from warm. “If it wasn’t Two Face’s men,” he spat. “That means he did this to you, doesn’t it?” His small fists were shaking, and when Dick looked at him in bewilderment, Damian pointed to Dick's face.
"Oh," Dick said softly, catching his meaning as he traced his fingers along the edge of the two-days old bruise that marked his right cheekbone. He had entirely forgotten about it until that moment. "No, Damian, it's not like that -"
"What is it like, Grayson?" Damian interrupted, tone biting and firm. "Let me guess, he didn't mean to? Just like he didn't mean to leave Drake for dead in the Tower, or kill all those people? Todd never means to, does he?" Dick stared, speechless, as Damian shook his head and pointed his finger at Dick's chest. "You are too soft with him, Grayson. You would let him get away with murder because you want to believe the best in him. He is going to take advantage of your foolish kindness and hurt you. He already has!"
Dick opened his mouth to respond, but he was interrupted again by the comm crackling to life in his ear. "I, uh," the voice over the line mumbled, and Dick's breath caught in his throat. "Babs gave me one of these to... Keep in touch. I probably should have told you."
Damian had the decency to look at least a little chastised as Dick breathed out, "Jason -"
"It's fine," Jason interrupted, his voice low and uncharacteristically vulnerable. "Damian is just... Looking out for you. He's right. I'm bad news." Dick made a noise of protest in his throat, but Jason pushed past it. "For the record, though. I had - I had a nightmare. I woke up in a panic and just... Lashed out. I didn't mean to hit him. I would never - I didn't mean to." There was a moment of silence, before Jason quietly added, "Doesn't matter, though. Hurt you anyways." The line crackled out, going dead, and Dick was left staring at Damian with his mouth open.
Damian shuffled awkwardly, wringing his fingers together. "I will not apologize for looking out for your best interest," he offered finally. "You are too easy on him."
Dick snapped. "You have no idea what he's been through!" he argued. "He's trying his best, but everyone judging him all the time isn't helping! For god's sakes, he hasn't killed in over a year!" Damian tutted in response, but Dick ignored him and spoke into his comm. "Babs, any idea where he is?"
Barbara hummed in response on the line, and Dick could distantly hear the clicking of her keyboard as she searched for Jason. "Looks like he destroyed the comm," she relayed. "I last tagged him at the address I'm sending you now - I'm guessing he's left since then, though. I'll look into security footage and see what I can find."
"Thank you," Dick said sincerely, before he turned back to Damian. "Every one of us has done horrible things," Dick told him firmly. "We forgive each other. We're a family. That's what we do." Dick didn't wait for Damian's inevitable response before he was running, taking off into the night in search of Jason.
Dick found Jason in the fourth safe house he searched. It was one that Jason very rarely used and Dick had never stepped foot in it before. Evidently, for good reason. It was one room, beyond dilapidated, and the only furniture was a mattress laid bare on the floor.
Jason was curled up in the corner furthest from the door.
Dick had witnessed several of Jason’s panic attacks throughout the course of their relationship. Jason’s anxiety had been his primary motivator in laying out a map of Gotham in front of Dick one night a month ago, his safe houses circled in red marker. “When I get like that, sometimes I just -“ Jason had whispered, and Dick had run his hands over the map reverentially, committing the coordinates to memory, before he wrapped his arms around Jason’s neck and pulled him to his chest.
(Jason’s trust made him feel like he was back in the Big Top, lit up from behind, the roar of the crowd soaring through his blood, like falling, falling, flying -)
“Jason,” Dick said softly. He got to his knees on the floor and crawled towards him slowly, keeping his profile low. Anything and everything could be a moving target when Jason got trapped in the part of his mind still controlled by the Lazarus Pit. Dick needed to assure Jason that he wasn’t a threat, wasn’t there to hurt him.
By the time he was halfway to Jason’s trembling body, Dick could hear his desperate, gasping breath, wracked with sobs. His eyes were wide and glassy, unfocused.
“Jason,” Dick breathed. “It’s just me. I’m not going to hurt you. Can I come closer?”
Dick stayed stock-still until Jason tipped his head a little, just the slightest nod. He smiled gently in response and moved forward until he was arms-length away. He lifted his hands palms-up, a peace offering. I’m not dangerous. I am not one of the demons in your mind.
Jason shook soundlessly before he darted out to grab at Dick’s wrist, gripping a little too tight. Dick tried not to flinch, but Jason caught his slight reaction regardless and withdrew into himself in a flash.
“Fuck!” he snapped, clenching his hand in his hair. “Can’t fucking stop - stop fucking hurting you. Jesus fuck, can’t even -“
“Hey,” Dick soothed, back to his gentlest tone of voice. “Hey, it was an accident. It’s okay. C’mere, hold my hand, it’s okay, just be a little softer, all right?” He let a quiet chuckle escape his lips. “I’m a little fragile, apparently.”
Jason wouldn’t meet Dick’s eyes, but he did drop his hand limply into his lap. “Not fragile,” he muttered. “‘M just a monster.” His breath ratcheted back up into a panicked pant, and Dick extended his hand, carefully, until he was just touching Jason’s ankle.
“You are the furthest thing from a monster,” Dick told him. “Monsters don’t read me French poetry.” He slid his hand up to his calf. “Monsters don’t do my laundry when I’ve neglected it for weeks.” To his knee. “Monsters don’t kiss me the way you kiss me.” The outside of his thigh.
Jason finally looked up. “How d’ I kiss you?” he asked, the words slightly slurred through his heaving breathing. He shifted almost imperceptibly closer to Dick, sliding his hand to his hip with the movement.
Dick couldn’t help but beam. “Like you worship me,” he admitted. “Like I’m something you treasure.” He normally wouldn’t be so bold or presumptive about Jason’s feelings for him, but that fact that he hadn’t lashed out at Dick, that he was letting Dick touch him even as panic took him through a mental field trip of his worst memories, was a vulnerability that told Dick more than words could how much Jason cared. Dick lifted and spread his arms, raising an eyebrow at Jason at the same time.
Jason’s breathing was nearing normal. “I do,” he said softly. “You are.” He hesitated before he leaned forward, letting Dick wrap his arms around him in a genuine, honest to god hug.
Dick tugged Jason until he was half in his lap, his head tucked under Dick’s chin, breath fanning against his pulse. “Little Wing,” he whispered into Jason’s hair. “There we go. It’s going to be okay. We’re okay.”
Jason sniffled a little, and Dick wove his hands through the curls at the nape of his neck. “Forever and ever,” he promised.