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My Downfall is Rooted in Your Desperate Need

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It felt like walking into a wall of grief and Dick froze at the bottom steps of the batcave.

Tim noticed him first and half turned, his mask off and eyes red. “Dick,” he started but Dick had already seen the cracked and broken red helmet sitting in the middle of the cave, Bruce's shoulders slumped like he would never figure out how to stand up again.

“When?” was all Dick could ask.

“When?” Tim repeated in confusion.

“Last night,” Bruce said and Dick turned, already walking back up the stairs. “We couldn't--” Bruce started and Dick wasn't in his costume yet so it was simple enough to get back on his bike and roar away from the manor.

-0-

“I heard,” and Dick didn't feel like talking when Roy sat down next to him, and Dick shouldn't have been surprised because he picked a dingy bar in Star City for a reason.

“I don't feel like talking about it,” Dick said instead, and he had switched from beer to whiskey.

“I can tell, because you're actually drinking,” Roy said.

“I wasn't there again,” was all Dick said and when Donna showed up within the hour he tried to be surprised. “You're a horrible friend,” he told Roy, or he tried to but he might have slurred the words slightly.

“I'm taking you home,” Donna decided and Dick tried to protest when she picked him up, cradling his head on her shoulder.

“Traitor,” Dick shot off at Roy again, who just watched him with an arched brow and something like pity in his eyes and Dick would have punched him if he could. Instead he ended up curling closer against Donna.

“When was the last time you had this much to drink?” Donna asked.

“Don't know,” Dick sighed.

“Have you talked to Bruce?” Donna asked. “Do you know how—”

“No,” Dick broke in. “To both questions. It was bad enough the first time,” and he stopped, because the first time Jason had died he hadn't even been on the planet and Bruce hadn't bothered to contact him. He had read the news, so much like he had read about Jason becoming Robin in the first place.

He had missed the funeral. He wondered if there even would be one this time.

It's not like Jason had ever been declared legally alive after coming back, violent and a little mad and desperate. And Dick had fought him, because it felt easier on both of them to take Jason's rage at face value.

He keened, sudden and hurt when he realized he would have to separate the times Jason had died into a first and now a second.

“Oh, darling,” he thought he heard Donna said softly.

-0-

When he woke up, dry mouthed and aching, he found Guy Gardiner sitting next to him, his feet propped up on the edge of the bed he was in, and reading a pulp book. “The hell?” Dick managed.

“There's water,” Guy said, not looking up from the book. “And painkillers if you can reach them.”

“I'm not hallucinating this, am I?” Dick asked, fumbling on the bedside table.

“I got roped into baby sitting your tragic ass when I followed Kyle over,” Guy replied, flipping a page.

“Tragic?” Dick asked, wanting to arch his brows but deciding against it.

“Mourning then,” Guy said and turned another page.

Dick grunted and he got his hands around the water bottle and retreated back under the covers with it.

“You know, I know what it's like to lose someone you love,” Guy said.

“I don't love Jason,” Dick said, automatic because it was easier than asking himself what he did feel about Jason.

“Bullshit,” Guy said, like it was ever that simple. “Doesn't matter how you do, but if someone fucks you up that much you either hate or love them in one way or another.”

“We don't know each other,” Dick said after a moment. “You can't make that call.”

“Sure,” Guy said, and his feet were still crossed at the ankle on his bed but he finally looked up from the book. “You know, I never really got over losing Ice the first time. Can't imagine losing her a second time.”

Dick rolled over so he wouldn't have to look at him. “I'm glad you got her back,” Dick said lamely because he didn't agree with his own words at all. He wanted to know why he couldn't have kept Jason—

“Almost didn't,” Guy said.

“You know, I really did not think you were the type to talk about this,” Dick said after a beat.

“True, I'm usually not,” Guy said. “Fuck, am I not. But Donna and Kyle had to leave and you look pathetic and okay, I'm a sap at heart. I will kill you if you ever repeat that, mind.” Dick grunted again, and he curled up in himself underneath the blanket.

“So why didn't you almost get her back?” Dick asked, because the silence had gone on just a little too long.

“Well, it had nothing to do with why she eventually came back,” Guy said. “But we almost got her back sooner. It happened because Booster started playing around with Dr. Fate's stuff and got us sent to the underworld. Or hell. I don't know, it wasn't a fun place but I didn't really ask.”

Dick frowned at the wall, trying to remember if he ever heard this story before. “Then what happened?”

“We found Ice,” Guy said. “I don't know, it's a bit of a blur but I think the demons felt so sorry for us they let us go, and we could take Ice with us.”

“What?” Dick sat up, forgetting for a second how much his head ached.

“You ever hear of the story of Orpheus?” Guy asked.

“He was Greek, wasn't he?” Dick asked, trying to remember which story that was.

“He walked into Hades after his woman,” Guy said. “And Hades said he could walk right back out with her soul as long as he didn't turn around and look to make sure she was following.” Dick stared at him, something rising in his lungs and threatening to choke him. “He turned around and she vanished. Well, they gave us the same deal. We could walk out and she would join us if we didn't turn around and look, not once.”

“You looked,” Dick said.

“One of us did,” Guy said. “It still haunts me a little. What could have been.”

“How did you say you got there?” Dick asked and suddenly found himself shoved back against the bed with a green fist.

“Oh hell no,” Guy said. “You're staying there until Donna and her puppy get back. I was trying to show sympathy, not give you ideas.”

“Did I say I'd gotten any ideas?” Dick asked, opening his eyes wide.

“Stay where you are,” Guy said.

-0-

“I may have made a mistake,” Guy said, Donna's arms crossed and Kyle blinking at him.

“May have?” Donna asked.

“I don't know what he's talking about,” Dick said, leaning against the doorway, his arms crossed over his chest.

“You look better than last night,” Kyle said and Dick managed a smile for him.

“Thanks,” he said and Donna took one look at his expression and with her hand on his arm steered him back and away from the other two. She didn't stop until they were on the roof of her apartment building, Dick staring over the city.

“You're not okay,” she said, forcing Dick to turn back around to meet her eyes.

“No,” Dick agreed. “God, how could I be? You remember—”

“I do,” she said, wrapping her arms around him and as always Dick sagged against her, tucking his chin against her shoulder. “I remember. I always liked him, you know?”

“I did too,” Dick whispered. “Just never seemed like it mattered, after.”

“What did Guy say to you that freaked him out?” Donna asked after a while, and Dick didn't pull back.

“Nothing,” Dick said and Donna pushed him back to give him a narrow eyed look. “He just talked to me about Ice is all.”

“Dick, you almost never drink,” Donna said, and Dick leaned against the roof edge. “And last night, you could barely stand.”

“I know,” Dick said.

“I'm gonna miss him too,” Donna said. “I am. But please, Dick, don't do anything stupid.”

“I won't,” Dick said and she didn't believe him at all.

Which was fair, considering.

-0-

“I am not sure I've seen you here before,” Doctor Fate remarked, when Dick leaned against his doorway. “Can I help you with something?”

“Yeah,” Dick said. “Do you remember when Booster Gold sent himself and his team to some hell dimension?”

“Yes,” Fate said, tipping his helmeted head to one side. When Dick just stared at him, he tensed. “That was an accident. I will not purposefully repeat it.”

“I'm asking you to get me where I need to be,” Dick replied.

“Does Batman know about this?”

“No,” Dick said, pushing himself off the door. “And I don't care what he would say about it, one way or the other.”

“This is about the other boy,” Fate said. “The one who just died again.” Dick's whole body twitched and he looked away. “You're asking me to send you to hell, boy.”

“Yes,” Dick said.

“Assuming that is the plane of existence that boy's spirit even ended up in,” Fate said. “Demons are not kind. Just because they made a deal once does not mean they will make it again.”

“I'm going to try,” Dick said.

“You will be stuck in hell.”

“I'm going to try,” Dick repeated, jaw set and he sat down in Fate's chambers, fully not intending to move. “Are you going to help me or not?”

“I tend not to want to condemn people to hell dimensions.”

“I'm trying to save someone,” Dick said.

“With no guarantee—”

“How many of those do we usually get?” Dick asked and Fate crossed his arms, looming over him and Dick tipped his chin back.

“Grief makes people do strange things,” Fate said and Dick narrowed his eyes.

“Are you going to help me or not?” Dick asked and finally Fate shook his head.

“I will not be held responsible for what happens to you afterwards.”

Dick rose to his feet in one smooth motion. “Never would have asked for you to do so,” he said, serious and Fate glanced over his shoulder at him before shaking his head.

“You are going to regret this.”

“Or it could be exactly the opposite,” Dick pointed out. “And I'd rather try than not. Not this time.”

“Then come,” Fate said, turning away and Dick followed him.



 

Chapter Text

There were a lot of demons in hell, and Dick should not have been surprised but somehow he had expected it to be vast and less filled. But there were souls upon souls crowding the space and demons too and he tried to stick to the shadows, looking for Jason while not being seen.

It was of course, not going to work that way for long.

“Follower of the knight, son of the night,” a voice said behind him and Dick tensed, barely holding his head. “Strange to find you here, you should have more fear.”

“Etrigan,” Dick greeted, and his hands hung uselessly by his side.

“Funny, that I am not the one who you expect. When you come into hell itself looking for a soul as big as a speck.”

“You know a lot,” Dick said, turning his head all the way around to consider the demon squatting behind him, amusement still obvious on his face. “Considering I'm pretty sure I didn't tell anyone what I was doing or why I was coming.”

“Considering the souls that have entered here it is obvious. But you I think are not Orpheus.”

“You're the one who let them go last time,” Dick said, fully turning to face the demon now. “You have the authority and the power here.”

“To simply let you walk away and a soul to follow? Ah, I think it is better to let him wallow.”

“Do you ever get tired of that?” Dick asked after a beat. “You didn't use to talk in rhymes all the time.”

“It came with the promotion. Now why do you think I should let you go with out any commotion? Your boy hasn't even been found, though you might want to turn around.”

For a second Dick considered him before following his advice. Jason caught his gaze almost immediately, even surrounded by others as he was. He took half a step forward, before remembering he was standing on a ledge and stopped himself.

“Ah yes that is the one you came for,” Etrigan said. “Too bad you can't find the door.”

Dick turned back to him. His chest ached and he wanted to run down to Jason was and throw his arms around him like nothing else mattered. “You've made this deal before.”

“Making the same deal over and over is boring, I want something more inspiring.”

“Alright,” Dick said. “How about this? The original deal was no one could turn around to make sure the soul they were trying to save was following them, right? Or that soul would be sent back to the underworld?”

Etrigan inclined his head.

Dick took a deep breath. “If I turn around you keep both of us,” Dick said.

“Are you so important? Or are you ready to be forgotten?”

“Jason Blood was fine with following me,” Dick said after a beat and Etrigan laughed. “Besides, it means you'd have another soul for your, uh, kingdom.”

“Clever boy,” Etrigan said. “Go then, before you begin to annoy.”

And he gestured up a pathway Dick had not seen before, sweeping out of hell and up and away. “What, right now? How do I even know Jason will be able to find it if I started walking from here and he's down there?”

“You won't,” Etrigan said. “That's the point.” And he disappeared, leaving Dick there, starting at the path because he already knew he couldn't turn around.

“That didn't rhyme,” he muttered, before rubbing a hand over his face. “Okay,” he said to himself, squaring his shoulders back. “Let's try not to get stuck in hell today.”

He started walking.

He should have realized it would be hard to get out of hell, even with a demon's permission. The fear of the person not being behind you wouldn't have mattered if it was a short walk. Instead the pathway sloped up and Dick walked and walked until his legs ached and he felt like he couldn't catch his breath.

“Jason?” he asked, stopping and leaning his arms on his knees. “Jason can you talk?”

There was only silence behind him so he grit his teeth and kept going.

“I really suppose it shouldn't surprise me you can't,” he added, because the path looked the same no matter how long he had walked and there was hewn stone around them. The rough pattern varied just enough as they walked that he didn't think they were being tricked into staying in place. “It would defeat the whole purpose, wouldn't it? For you to be able to tell me you're there and following. I wouldn't want to turn around if you could just assure me,” and he stopped again, only silence around him.

“Damnit,” he muttered, hiding his face behind his hands. For a while he stood there in the darkness he created and breathed, squashing panic down. “I can't believe I have to rely on a demon keeping his word.”

He walked until he couldn't again, sinking down to his knees and pressing his forehead against them. Swearing, he pushed his shaking limbs back up, stretching out his back and focusing on breathing for a minute. He tried some of the calming techniques Tim had taught him, via Connor Hawke.

“It has to end sometime,” he told himself. “Or I could just sleep facing up and hope you don't like walk over me so I see you by accident when I wake up. But pretty sure that would break the point of the agreement,” and he glared at the stone above them. “Demons are still bound by their words, aren't they?”

Silence greeted him again and he pinched the bridge of his nose. “Get ahold of yourself, Grayson,” he muttered before he started walking again.

And he walked. And walked. And walked.

Just when he was about to sit on the pathway and howl in rage a door appeared in front of him. He stopped for a long moment, considering it, before he pushed it open and walked into a basement. Looking from side to side he frowned, wondering if this was a trick.

Dick?” he heard from behind him and he pulled himself up the stairs, mostly by the handrails. “Dick, what the fuck?”

He could feel his heart in his throat, terrified this was another trick. “Hi, Jason,” he said, more to himself than the voice behind him. Suddenly footsteps came behind him and he hurried up the stairs. He didn't stop or slow until he burst out of the building they had come up in, out into a busy street in the middle of the day. There were people walking and chatting along the street and when he looked up there was a blue sky.

With a sigh, he leaned against the brick wall behind him and let his legs give out, collapsing on the street.

Within seconds, Jason was in front of him, blocking out the sunlight. “What the fuck?” he repeated. “Dick, what did you do?”

Dick frowned up at him, suddenly happy he had walked into hell in civvies instead of his uniform because while they were getting a few odd looks, for the most part people were ignoring them. “I think that would be self apparent,” he said, fumbling out his phone and sending a blank text to Tim for Tim to track back to wherever he currently was.

He honestly had no idea where they were.

Instantly his phone lit up with Tim calling him but he ignored that, not taking his eyes away from Jason, who looked furious and hurt and shocked all at once. “I got you back,” he said, and had to close his eyes, exhaustion catching up with him.

His eyes snapped back open when Jason picked him up by his shoulders and slammed him back against the brick wall, Dick loosing the air in his lungs. He braced his hands on Jason's biceps and met his angry gaze. “I'm a little fuzzy on the details here,” Jason said. “Except I was in hell, I was dead and suddenly something convinced me to start walking. And then I just remember your back for a really long time.”

“Yeah,” Dick said.

“What the fuck did you do?” Jason snarled.

“I wasn't going to lose you again,” Dick said.

“Again? Like you cared the first time? I looked it up you know, my first funeral and you weren't—”

Even through his exhaustion and the ache of his whole body, Dick managed to get his fist up, punching Jason across his left cheek and making him stumble back. “I wasn't on the planet during your funeral,” he said. “And I didn't want to go to one now!”

Jason rubbed his cheek and narrowed his eyes at Dick. “You have got to be kidding me,” he said. “You expect me to believe you walked into hell just to get me back and what, that's it? Because you care? Yeah, like you ever did before,” and Dick threw himself at him, cutting Jason's legs out from underneath him and pinning him to the ground.

“Shut up,” he said. “You have no idea, don't run your mouth off like an idiot.”

“What actually made you do it, Dick?” Jason asked and his mouth twisted. “Guilt?”

“Fuck you,” Dick snapped.

“Because you know, that I can believe from you. You'd drown yourself in it if you could—”

“Is it so hard to believe someone cares about you?” Dick demanded.

“It's hard for me to believe you do!” Jason yelled back and Dick reared up. In his confusion, Jason grabbed his wrists and rolled them both over, slamming Dick down hard. “You have never—”

“You have no idea how I feel,” Dick snarled.

“Yeah? That why you're willing to fight me every chance you get?”

“Only when you've pulled a gun on me!” Dick said, twisting, but he was exhausted and Jason didn't appear to be. “Or when you wear my uniform and take my name to kill people. I've mostly just been trying to avoid you!”

“Oh yeah, that's really convincing me on the caring about me part,” Jason said, almost with a smirk and Dick kneed him in the stomach, flipping them back over and now more and more people were staring but all Dick could focus on was Jason.

“It's easier to avoid you than deal with everything you've allowed yourself to become,” he said. “That doesn't mean I wanted you dead. That doesn't mean I don't care about you, you self-deprecating moron.”

“Yeah? And when I was wearing the little green boots?”

“That was more about Bruce than you and you know it,” Dick said.

“Didn't have that problem with the replacement,” Jason said.

“That's because I couldn't do that again!” Dick yelled. “I couldn't let Bruce and my anger at him drive someone else away and get himself killed. I couldn't do that again, Jason, you fucking—”

Jason hit him in the chin, snapping his head back and allowed Jason to push him over and climb to his feet. “I don't care what you say, Dick, I'm going to find out why the fuck you did that. And it's sure as hell not because you care.”

Dick pushed himself up to sit, rubbing his chin as he met Jason's angry gaze. “Believe what you want then,” he said, holding Jason's eyes. “I'm just, I'm just glad it worked.”

“Damn you,” Jason snarled and stormed off, pushing a concerned passerby away.

“Are you alright?” someone asked, hesitantly stepping toward Dick and he waved them off.

“I'm fine,” he said. “Fine. Really. Calling my ride now, thank you.”

Someone else made a comment that sounded like he thought Dick was drunk and Dick gave him an angry and tight smile, picking up when Tim called him for the eighth time.

“Now you pick up,” Tim said on the other end. “What the fuck are you doing in Mid City?”

“Good question,” Dick said with a blink. “And strange. Can you come pick me up, please? I'll get somewhere less obvious.”

“B is at the watchtower, I'm sending him.”

“Uh, no,” Dick started to say.

“You've been missing for three days,” Tim said.

“I, what?” Dick asked, and he had been walking, sliding into an alley and before Tim could answer, Bruce appeared in the yellow glow of the watchtower's system, grabbing him and they winked back into existence on the watchtower.

“Gotta go,” Dick said into the phone, which was still connected to Tim somehow.

“Uh-huh,” Tim said and Dick snapped the phone closed, meeting Bruce's whited out eyes. Except just as suddenly Bruce was pulling back the cowl and Dick was treated to his full glare.

“Where the hell have you been?” Bruce roared, loudly enough Dick was pretty certain the whole tower could have heard.

“That's a long story,” Dick started and suddenly Wally was there.

“Uh, good to see you Dick,” he said. “B, Dick, I have some news though, that we just picked up. It was Supes, actually, who you know, saw him.”

“What?” Bruce growled, barely taking his eyes off Dick long enough to give a narrow eyed glare to Wally.

“Well,” Wally drew the word out. “Supes sorta didn't notice it last time, because of different issues and you know, choosing when to listen and when not to, but uh, he picked up some keywords and checked some footage and Jason Todd. He's alive. Thought you, uh, would want to know,” and just as fast Wally was gone again, leaving Dick and Bruce together.

Dick avoided Bruce's eyes.

“Dick,” Bruce said, low.

“So, uh, hell is not a nice place,” Dick said, staring intently at the wall over Bruce's shoulder. “Don't recommend it as a vacation spot.”

“Dick,” Bruce said and his voice shook. That finally got Dick to look back at him, and it felt a little like when Jason punched him.

“I refused to let him die again,” Dick said, and Bruce buried his face in Dick's shoulder and keened, desperate grief and rage spilling over and Dick stumbled back before he hesitantly brought his hands up to Bruce's shoulders, and then gently stroking his head. “It's okay,” he whispered. “B, it's okay. He's back now, you didn't lose him again.” He could forget his aching bones and the fact he lost three days with Bruce leaning heavy and pained against him. “It's okay,” he whispered again. “Jason's back. It's okay.”

Bruce finally pulled back, meeting his eyes. “I thought I lost you too. When you just disappeared.”

Dick forced a smile. “Nope, you got both of us back.” When Bruce gently touched his cheek with one gloved hand he closed his eyes. And almost immediately felt his body finally giving out as he collapsed again. Dimly he heard Bruce yelling and then he was out.

 

Chapter Text

Dick woke up, his head aching and his eyes refusing to focus.

“Oh look, sleeping beauty woke up.”

“Fuck you, Roy,” Dick said blinking his eyes at the ceiling and finally figuring out he was on the Watchtower still. “How long was I out?”

“About,” there was a pause. “Fourteen hours.”

“And you’re on watching duty?” Dick asked, his eyes slowly focusing.

“Sure,” Roy said. “Mostly because Bats is pacing around and growling and making life miserable for any poor fuck who walks in his path. So you know, his usual worry. I have to say, it’s impressive you put him into that state twice in a week.”

“I didn’t mean,” Dick started and Wally appeared by Roy’s side as Dick pushed himself up on his elbows and regretted it.

“Oh good, you are awake. You have a bat approaching, think of your excuses fast.”

“My—” Dick started but Wally was gone.

“I’m going to see if I can make it out of here before Bats arrives,” Roy said, rising as the door slid open again, Bruce on the other side with a scowl. “Damn. Okay, I’m still leaving,” he said, and tried to go sideways around Bruce, who completely ignored him, all his attention focused on Dick who really wished he was sitting up for this.

“You collapsed,” Bruce said, mouth pressed into a thin line.

“Sorry,” Dick said. “I knew I wasn’t in great shape, and I guess it just caught up to me.”

“Why were you in such bad shape?” Bruce asked, still not taking Roy’s vacated chair, staring down at Dick and Dick had to swallow his resentment of that down. “Where were you for three days?”

“I didn’t realize I had been gone that long,” Dick said.

“You’re not answering the question,” Bruce said, pushing the cowl back and somehow that made it worse, as he glared down at Dick.

“I know,” Dick sighed and let himself collapse back against the bed, looking at the ceiling instead of Bruce. “I’m sorry. I don’t really know how to answer the question. There was something I needed to do, and everyone would have just tried to stop me.”

 “If you knew we would disagree or find it foolish, why did you do so anyway?” Bruce asked.

“Because I knew you’d at least appreciate the results, if not agree with the methods,” Dick said and cringed when he realized how vague he sounded, and how open to interpretation that would sound.

Bruce finally sat down beside him and Dick didn’t dare turn his head. “Jason,” he said. “You walked out the instant you knew. Didn’t bother to check on anyone, didn’t contact me, didn’t even ask how he had died.” Bruce took in a shuddering breath and Dick wanted to turn his head, reach out to him, but forced himself to remain still. “Dick, I had lost Jason again and then you disappeared the next day. I thought I’d lost both of you in that same instant.”

“I’m sorry,” Dick told the ceiling. “I really didn’t realize it would take any time. I thought—I thought I could simply—get in and get out.”

“There are reports,” Bruce said softly. “That Red Hood has been spotted. Criminal channels are full of chatter of him, because they were convinced he was dead. He’s been lying low but they know he’s back. Clark confirmed it for me. I’ve confirmed it for myself. He left a message for Alfred at the manor.”

Dick had to clear his throat before he could speak again. “Good.”

“Dick, I almost lost both of you,” Bruce said and he sounded so lost that Dick finally turned his head to stare at him.

“I’m sorry,” Dick said.

Bruce cleared his throat and stood up again, glancing at the gently beeping machine behind Dick. “It seems your only issue was exhaustion. You were dehydrated severely and malnourished. But with rest and food you should be fine in a few days.”

“Bruce,” Dick said.

“I don’t know what you did,” Bruce said. “And I figure you aren’t going to tell me.”

“No,” Dick agreed.

“I am not even sure I—” and Bruce shook his head, which Dick was grateful for. “Red Hood is back, for good or ill.”

“Bruce,” Dick said, hand twitching like he would reach out.

“But,” Bruce let out a long breath. “I am glad Jason is back.”

“So am I,” Dick said, looking at the ceiling again. He ignored the way Bruce was looking at him sideways, folding his hands over his chest instead.

“You should rest more,” Bruce said, and left, the door swishing shut behind him.

-0-

“Yes, Alfred, I’m fine,” Dick said, holding the phone between his ear and shoulder as he got the key into the lock of his apartment. “Really. I’ll come by for dinner in a couple days, okay? Yes, thank you for ordering me groceries, it’s nice not to have to do that right now. Yes, I promise I’ll cook—I do remember how.”

He dropped his bag to one side, his keys on the table and froze with one hand on the phone.

Jason shifted, the bulk of him against the wall across the room and sometimes it still surprised Dick that Jason was taller than he was now. Sometimes, no matter how many times he had tangled with Red Hood or seen Jason on the streets, he still expected the scrawny little kid that had gazed at him with adoring eyes once.

“Alfred, I gotta go,” Dick said. “No, no problem. I’m just home now. Okay, okay, as I said, a couple days, alright? Bye, Alfred,” and he clicked his phone shut, not taking his eyes away from Jason.

When Jason didn’t say anything, Dick shook his head. “Hi, Jay.”

“Don’t,” Jason snapped.

“You call me Dickie-Bird all the time,” Dick said, deliberately turning his back on Jason and going to the kitchen cupboards, curious about what Alfred had sent over. Tim had informed him by text that he had unpacked everything himself that morning. “So I still get to call you Jay.”

He felt the prickling of his shoulders, forcing himself to appear unconcerned that Jason was at his back. “And hey, this time you didn’t come at me with a gun first.”

“I said that was a stupid plan at the time,” Jason said. “I’m not apologizing for it again.”

“Wasn’t asking you to,” Dick said, finding a box of crackers and pulling it down. He set it on the kitchen island that was between himself and Jason and forgot to open the box or eat any of them.

“Than what are you asking of me?” Jason asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

Dick blinked. “I’m not asking anything of you,” he said, one hand still loosely resting on the cracker box.

“You come drag me out of hell,” Jason said, taking a step forward and Dick forced himself to remain still. “And you expect me to believe that you don’t want a damn thing from me?”

“Yeah, because I don’t,” Dick said. “I just wanted you back in the world. You are now.”

“I don’t want to owe you,” Jason said.

“You don’t,” Dick snapped. “You don’t owe me a thing—”

“Even you aren’t that stupid, Dick,” Jason said, and took another step. Dick tipped his chin back slightly but there was still the kitchen island between them. “You brought me back to life. There has to be some reason for that. You and I haven’t gotten along—ever—”

“That’s not true,” Dick said, and he had crushed the top of the cracker box.  

Jason’s face twitched. “Fine, whatever. Certainly not recently.”

“I hate to remind you that our last few encounters started with you stealing my identity and killing people, turning all the cops of New York against me, on top of the killing people with my name and costume deal, and then you came at me with a gun when you had intel instead of just dropping by and having a conversation,” Dick said, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Well maybe because of the first part I didn’t figure the second one was that odd,” Jason said. “Figured you wouldn’t want to see me.”

“I wouldn’t have minded except for the gun part,” Dick said.

“You and Bruce—”

“This isn’t about me and Bruce,” Dick said, shaking his head. “I have my own reasons, especially then, for not wanting a gun pointed at my face. The fact you were the one pointing only made it worse.”

“And why is that?” Jason sneered.

“Look,” Dick shook his head. “I don’t—I don’t want to have this fight with you, Jason. I don’t care if you believe me when I say I don’t want anything from you, but I don’t. I just wanted you alive and in the world. That’s all.”

He turned, meaning to walk away and somewhat hoping Jason would just leave when Jason reached out, snagging his arm and yanking him back around. Dick tensed, ready to struggle but there was no more violence outside the initial move.

“You spent three days in hell, Dick,” Jason said. “For me. Don’t walk away and expect me to just believe this isn’t going to come back. Just tell me what you want so we can all get it over with.”

“You know what? Fuck you,” Dick said, pulling his arm and Jason didn’t let go. “You want to know what I want from you? I want my little brother back. I want to know you aren’t out there, killing people, and that you aren’t going to come after me or anyone else in the family with a damn gun again.”

“That’s not,” Jason started, fingers flexing. “That’s not going to happen.”

“I know it’s not,” Dick said. “That’s why I’m not asking for it.”

“That boy, the one that you called little brother?” Jason said, and when Dick looked at him his eyes had a green tint that made him frown. “I’m pretty sure he didn’t come back either time.”

“Jason,” Dick said, more wary. “Jason, let go of my arm.”

 Jason’s fingers dug in tighter and he didn’t let go. “Promise me you didn’t do this so I would owe you.”

“I did this for me,” Dick said softly. “I wanted you alive, no matter what our relationship is otherwise. I hated it when you were dead.”

“You hated it when I was alive too,” Jason said.

“No,” Dick started to protest and stopped. “Fuck. I was—when you came back, I could barely hold myself together. Yeah, for a while I wished you had never come back at all, because you hated us, all of us, you hated me. And you were doing terrible things.”

“I’ll probably do terrible things again,” Jason said.

“I don’t—Alright, I care, but I’d rather you have the chance to maybe not do terrible things,” Dick said. “Then to know it’s actually over.”

“You make no damn sense,” Jason growled.

“I actually like to think I’m a pretty straight forward type of person,” Dick started to say when Jason yanked on his arm and he braced himself, ready to flip himself over Jason and away, trying to take stock of the situation if he could break Jason’s grip—

Except when his chest collided with Jason he didn’t do anything except freeze, Jason’s mouth covering his, Jason’s free hand holding his head in place.

He could hear his own heartbeat jackrabbiting in his ears, and Jason’s hand was warm and a little painful on his arm and all of that felt dim and far away compared to the heat of Jason’s mouth as he slowly slid them together. Dick had no idea how to react, and vaguely realized this wasn’t at all how he had expected Jason to kiss, shocked he had considered it at all.

He would have expected harshness, Jason biting his lips, if he had thought of it at all.

But even though Jason did not let up the pressure, it was unerringly gentle at the same time, and Dick had curled one of his hands up under Jason’s back, grabbing the fabric of his jacket over his shoulder blade.

His mouth dropped open, and for just a second he swallowed Jason’s groan before Jason abruptly stepped back, breaking all contact.

They stared at each other warily, Dick feeling like his hands were itching. “Jay,” he started.

“No, fuck, shouldn’t have done that,” Jason said, shaking his head.

“Okay but you did,” Dick said, and he was reaching out before he realized it, Jason taking several quick steps back. Dick immediately dropped his hand. “Jason. Jason come on, sit down, or something, we can—”

“We can what?” Jason snapped and shook his head. “No, no I need to go. Thanks for saving my life,” and he was already half out the window.

“Jason, please!” Dick called after him and he hesitated, before shaking his head and he was gone.

For a while Dick stood, staring at his own window before he walked over with a sigh, slamming it closed and yanking the curtains over it viciously angry at it for existing.

He walked back to the kitchen, knowing because Bruce and Alfred had both lectured him that he should eat. But instead he ended up sitting against the door stove on the floor, his head in his hands, for a long time.

 

Chapter Text

“So has Guy come back from Oa yet?” Dick asked, sitting across from Donna and turning the coffee around instead of actually drinking.

“No,” she said. “Kyle sends me messages from time to time, but they’re there for the foreseeable future. I think avoiding Batman only has something to do with it.”

“You and Kyle,” Dick said, offering the words and leaving them hanging.

“It’s not really anything anymore,” Donna said. “Don’t get me wrong. He was sweet while it lasted, and we’re still on amiable terms, but I don’t want it anymore, and I don’t think he does either. He kept looking at me like I was going to disappear and that’s stressful after a while.” Donna’s gaze sharpened. “But how are you?”

Dick hummed, because it had been three weeks since he saw Jason. Bruce had finally stopped checking on him every time he seemed to think of Dick, which turned out to be about every hour or two as long as Bruce was awake. Tim was still seething at him through polite texts and Alfred had insisted he come to dinner no less than three times.

Barbara had informed him she was going to start bugging his place again if he did something so stupid ever again.

He reminded her he’d found most of the bugs last time and deactivated him and her smile had only proved he’d missed a couple. He was also fairly certain Bruce had left a few more in his apartment and when he found the first one he sat on his couch and laughed until he cried about how protectively terrifyingly creepy his family was.

“I’m fine,” he said, instead of anything else.

“Dick,” she said, folding her hands on the table and staring at him.

“Relatively speaking,” he said. “Patrols have been going well, I’m healthy, most of the bads are tucked into their respective prisons and there hasn’t been a major break in a couple months now.”

“But how are you doing?” she asked, “Beside all that. You went through a lot of trouble, you actually went into hell, for someone who thinks you hate them.”

Dick blinked rapidly at her. “You talk with Jason?”

“Sometimes,” she said. “We worked together on the Titans, you know that. After he came back, and after I came back, well, I sought him out a few times. We talk, not often. He came to find me a couple weeks ago.”

“And what did he have to say?” Dick asked, trying to be casual, and acting like his throat wasn’t clogging up with something too close to panic.

“He wanted to know why,” she said, watching him. “I said to ask you.”

“I think he asked me first,” Dick said. “Didn’t give him an answer he liked.”

“What did you say?”

“That I just preferred this world with him in it.”

“That wasn’t always the case,” Donna said, her eyes too knowing.

“What do you want me to say, Donna?” Dick asked. “What does he? I didn’t like finding out he had replaced me as Robin, not the way I did, from a newspaper. But that was always about Bruce, not him. I never wanted to take it out on him.”

“And the second time?” Donna asked, soft.

Dick looked away, studying the wall on the far side of the café as it if had answers for him. “You weren’t here.”

“Does that mean I cannot listen?” she asked. “You reacted badly, I’ve gathered that much.”

“What wasn’t I reacting to badly?” Dick asked, expression darkening. “I almost quit. Completely. Between your death and everything—everything that came after it, by the time I ran into Jason after he came back, I had put on my uniform in the first time for a year. And I still wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do.”

“You of all of us always seemed the most sure you wanted this life,” Donna said.

“I did—I am. I am. But I wasn’t then. I was so,” he ran a hand through his hair and shook his head. “I was borderline suicidal by the time Bruce packed Tim and I onto a boat and took us on a cruise. Everything had gone wrong, everything. I’d lost,” and he shook his head again. “And there comes Jason, wearing my colors and cutting people’s throats. I just, I didn’t react well at all. I wished he had stayed dead. I never told him that but I think,” Dick covered his face with one hand. “When he left he called me brother and thanked me and I had wished him dead.”

“So you might understand why he was surprised,” Donna said, even though her expression blanked out. She reached out, taking both of Dick’s hands and waiting until he looked up at her. “Dick.”

“It’s not your fault,” Dick said. “It’s not anyone’s. Or it’s a lot of people’s. But yeah, I know I handled it badly, I handled everything badly at that point. Fuck, B even fired me off my team and as much as I hated it, and still hate it, I know it was the right thing to do.”

“Have you really talked to Jason?” Donna asked. “Since he came back?”

“Never really had the chance,” Dick said. “Always too busy, and he was alternating between being helpful on an unpredictable basis, and killing people.”

“I’ve known you since we were kids, and even I’m not sure why you walked into Hell, listening to the way you talk about him,” Donna said, and she still held Dick’s hands.

“Because he’s still my family,” Dick said softly. “And I’m a very selfish person.”

“Maybe you should talk,” she said.

“We just don’t have that much to talk about,” Dick said.

“If you say so,” Donna said and Dick smiled, because he didn’t want to think about Jason’s anger, or the way he had kissed him.

“I’m glad to know that you and he talk sometimes though,” Dick said. “It’s… somewhat reassuring.”

She looked at him like she didn’t really buy what he was selling, but leaned back in her seat anyway and picked her coffee up again.

-0-

Dick had almost managed to put it from his mind when he was on patrol a couple nights later, crouched on the fire escape of an old building in New York. He still wasn’t sure if this was the city he wanted to settle in, but he almost knew it was well as he’d known Blüdhaven.

He’d never know another city as well as he knew Gotham.

He tilted his head, listening to the police scanner he’d patched into earlier that night.

“Funny finding you here,” he heard and tipped his head back to find Jason standing on the landing of the fire escape above him. For a second he stopped breathing before straightening as Jason swung down to his level.

“Somehow I think it’s less funny and more planned.”

“Always so on top of things, aren’t you?” Jason asked.

“Sometimes,” Dick agreed, and they were standing as far apart as they could on the little landing. “What brought you out tonight.”

“Oh, some scumbags down the road,” Jason said. “New drug, full of terrible poison, peddling it to kids.”

“Do you need any help?” Dick asked after a moment, the flare of anger that never seemed to go away in his chest at Jason’s words.

“Don’t think you like my methods,” Jason said and his shoulders were tense. “Besides, already took care of it.”

Dick opened his mouth and thought better of what he was going to say. “That’s good,” he settled for.

Jason crossed his arms over his chest and Dick tensed, ready to spring off the fire escape at a moment’s notice if he had to. “That’s good? That’s all you got?”

“I don’t want to get into a fight with you tonight,” Dick said.

“No? But another night would be fine?”

“I’d rather not fight with you at all, but I’m not taking my chances on that happening,” Dick said. “So no, I certainly don’t want to tonight.”

“So what do you want from me?”

“Is this another way of asking what you owe me?” Dick snapped. “I already told you—there’s not anything I want from you, not specifically. You’re the one who sought me out tonight so how about this time you tell me what you want?”

“Anyone tell you you’re sorta a dick recently?”

“Fairly often, yeah,” Dick said and surprised himself by being the one to step forward. “What do you want?”

“That’s a question you have never answered in your damned life, why should I?” Jason asked, his shoulders going up defensively.

“Because you came here,” Dick said. “What were you looking for?”

Jason wasn’t wearing the full face mask, just the domino and somehow Dick was still surprised when he found himself being kissed again, Jason’s hands warm on the side of his face and his back rattling against the fire escape railing. Eyes widening, Dick’s hands flailed before he slid them around Jason’s back and curled them over his shoulders.

“This is what you were looking for?” he asked when Jason let him catch his breath.

“No,” Jason said, but his eyes were dark and he gave Dick plenty of warning before kissing him again, inching slowly closer and Dick watched him the whole way, closing his eyes when Jason finally covered his mouth.

And it was achingly gentle, Jason’s hands cupping his cheeks and he kissed Dick like he expected him to disappear at any time. Like he was breakable.

When Jason drew back this time, Dick tightened his grip on his back, not letting him pull back. “Dick,” Jason said and they both cringed.

“Come back with me,” Dick said suddenly. “We shouldn’t talk about this out here.”

“Do we have something to talk about?” Jason asked and Dick resented the white out lens on his mask.

“Yeah,” he said, swallowing past his dry throat. “Yeah, we do.”

Chapter Text

Dick pushed open the window and climbed through first, making sure he had taken down the defenses around the frame. He stripped his mask off as he waited for Jason to bend down and follow him. Quickly he cast his eyes around, trying to figure out if he had missed any of the cameras or bugs since his last major clean sweep.

“Surprised you don’t have safe houses,” Jason said, sounding casual and not removing his mask. He pulled the curtains over the window and Dick found himself staring.

“Perhaps,” Dick said, turning away and flicking the living room light on so they were no longer in darkness.

“I can almost hear Bats screaming about your uniform near the window,” Jason remarked and Dick started to back around, opening his mouth when he felt Jason come up behind him, hands going to the hidden catches at his waist.

“That’s what curtains are for,” Dick said, but he was distracted by Jason undoing his top from the pants of his uniform.

“And you trust your allies that much too huh?” Jason asked and his finger were on Dick’s bare skin, the leather of his gloves catching.

Sucking in a breath, Dick turned his head, trying to see Jason’s face. “They’d know where any other safe house was anyway.”

“Seems dangerous,” Jason remarked. “If anyone found you here, you don’t have anywhere else to run.”

Dick broke away suddenly, taking several steps away from Jason and trying to breathe.

“Shit,” Jason said behind him.

Tugging at the bottom of his uniform top, Dick wasn’t sure whether to pull it off or tie it back down and kick Jason out the window and go back to patrol. “It’s not your fault.”

“Said something wrong,” Jason said and Dick finally turned back around.

He breathed a few times. “I said, I said we should talk.”

“You did,” Jason agreed.

“And you don’t agree that we need to?” Dick asked, frowning and Jason was there again, warm and solid against Dick’s front.

“Rather just skip it,” Jason said.

“That’s a terrible,” Dick started and broke off when Jason kissed him. Dick frowned, but his eyes had slipped closed anyway, and he let Jason back him up against the wall. Because it was easier to let Jason pin him there, his mouth warm against his, one hand trailing down Dick’s side to his waist again and the skin on Dick’s stomach jumped.

Jason’s other hand was at his arm, trailing down to the catch on the edge of his glove. “Who’s idea was this anyway?” Jason asked.

“What, this?” Dick asked, unsure for a second.

“No,” Jason said and his fingers kept going down the bright blue stripe until his fingers where on Dick’s. “This.”

“You wore this too for a while,” Dick said and kept a surprising amount of bitterness out of his own voice.

“Yeah but,” Jason said and he brought Dick’s hand up, Dick letting him, curious to see what he would do. He kissed the two fingers covered in blue and Dick’s eyes widened, feeling his skin go too hot. Jason tilted his head and kissed Dick’s palm through the gloves, even though Dick could barely feel it. “It’s distracting.”

“It, it is?” Dick said, trying to focus.

“Yeah,” Jason said, and his voice had dropped, almost a rasp and Dick shivered. When Jason kissed him again he let his head fall back, Jason’s hand still holding his and his back still against the wall.

“Jason, come on,” Dick finally forced himself to say. “We have to—”

“About what? Dick, what do we actually have to talk about?”

“This!” Dick said and he wasn’t sure if he imagined the flicker of insecurity in Jason’s expression or not.

“What’s there to talk about?” Jason asked. “I want,” and he pressed Dick even further into the wall. “We can just leave it there.”

“No we can’t,” Dick insisted.

“Come on, Dick,” and Jason bit his ear, making him jump and swallow back his moan. “It’s just sex.”

“Between us?” Dick asked. “That’s not likely.”

There was a look in Jason’s eyes again, but then he smirked and nudged his face into the corner of Dick’s shoulder and neck. Dick twisted, wanting to see his face again. “Just enjoy it, Dick.”

“It’s not about that,” Dick said. “We have a lot of history, Jason, you can’t just pretend this is just—”

“Not pretending when it is,” Jason said and Dick could feel his breath against his neck. He thudded his head against the wall and tried to gather the strength to shove Jason away for that.

“You’re my brother,” Dick said.

“I mean if you want to make it kinky,” Jason said.

“Fuck you,” Dick decided on and Jason grinned.

“I mean, that’s the idea, right?” Jason asked, and Dick shivered again.

“I mean that things aren’t simple between us and never will be,” Dick said. “You held a gun on me, pretended to be me—”

“Well, I wore your Robin uniform too, so didn’t see why not,” Jason said and his tone was so forcefully light that Dick almost shoved him away. “You weren’t there, after all. I’m all about picking up your heritage.”

That time Dick got his hands on both of Jason’s shoulders and pushed him back, swallowing back his bile and panic.

“Dick?”

“Maybe you’re right,” Dick said. “Maybe talking is a bad idea.”

Except for a second Jason’s face opened into something pained and Dick opened his mouth to try and take that back when Jason forced his expression into a smirk. “Wasn’t that what I was saying?”

Dick shook his head, wishing he could focus on all the ways Jason’s expression changed, could figure out what they meant. “Jason—”

“Come on, Dick,” Jason said, and the light from the living room seemed too bright, and Dick tipped his gaze back to meet Jason’s eyes. “Just let go and have. I want this,” and he had a hand wrapped around Dick’s back, trailing down his spine. “So let’s just have it.”

“This isn’t some misguided attempt to pay me back is it?” Dick asked, the realization it could be feeling like a slap.

Jason blinked rapidly at him. “No,” he said. “Would it be?”

No,” Dick shook his head. “I just—”

“Maybe I just don’t believe in wasting chances again,” Jason said and Dick frowned. “Not the things I’ve wanted.”

“You’ve wanted?” Dick asked and Jason covered his mouth, as if trying to show just how much he wanted.

Dick wasn’t sure why that felt like a dam breaking. He wanted to ask more, wanted to know how long, but he swallowed his questions and wrapped his arms around Jason’s shoulders instead. Let Jason lead him out of the bright living room and into his tiny bedroom. Helped Jason get the gloves off without setting off any defensive measures. Pulled his uniform top up and off and didn’t miss the way Jason’s eyes darkened as he finally removed his mask once in the bedroom.

“You keep acting like you’re surprised.”

“Because I am,” Dick said, and he reached out, tugging one of Jason’s gloves off and when exactly had he decided he wanted this?

When exactly had he ever decided he didn’t?

“You really, really, shouldn’t be,” Jason said, and watched him go after the other glove before he shrugged out of his jacket and dropped it to the floor.

Dick traced the line of his shoulders, suddenly realizing how much more bulk Jason had now. He had been aware of it every time they grappled, because he couldn’t have ignored it. But he never let himself look, or become really aware that this wasn’t the gangly kid whose shoulder he’d thrown an arm around and lead on merry chases across Gotham’s rooftop just to see if he could keep up.

“Why shouldn’t I be?” he asked, wanting to turn a light on just to get a clearer look at Jason’s eyes.

“Oh, Dick,” Jason said and drew him close again. Without his uniform or Jason’s jacket in the way Dick could feel the shape of the under armor he wore through the thin shirt. “I really want to fuck you.”

Dick drew in a sharp breath, not sure why that felt like a jolt through his system considering where they were.

“But that’s not really a surprise, is it?” Jason asked, nuzzling against the side of his neck and Dick tilted his head. “God, you don’t even know, do you? Everyone wants to fuck you.”

“Jason,” Dick started, half a protest.

“I’ve wanted for so long,” Jason continued, as if he hadn’t tried to break in. “When I wore your colors every night, the same damn uniform you used to wear. And your new outfit, fuck,” and he dragged his teeth along the side of Dick’s neck, making him jump. “I would stare at your collarbone like it was the holy grail when you came around—I know the uniform I had was my own, B locked all yours up in a drawer, ever touching them, never looking at them.”

Dick tensed unhappily, trying to focus on his breathing and Jason’s hands were warm on his waist, somehow so much worse for being bare skin on bare skin.

“He did that with your room too. Locked it up like a shrine. When you came back, Alfred would air it out, but Bruce—Well I used to sneak in there when no one would notice, usually right after you left, before the dust had time to settle again.”

Dick wanted to point out Bruce did the same with Jason’s room after but stayed silent, Jason’s mouth moving to his shoulder. “I laid on your bed, and I bet you can guess what I used to do.”

The groan felt punched out of him. “I can,” he said.

“Bet you touched yourself there too,” Jason said and Dick bit back the sound he wanted to make. “Wonder who you thought of, because when I was there I certainly knew who I was thinking about. You hung the moon and the fucking sun to me when I was a kid. God, Dick,” and his voice broke on his name so Dick buried his face in Jason’s shoulder. “Whenever you came around it was like Christmas. I wanted you there all the time. And then,” he paused and Dick was too aware of how close they were, of how tight his skin felt and how much he wanted—“And then I came back and you hadn’t even come to my funeral.”

Dick jerked back, out of Jason’s arms, Jason watching him with dark eyes.

“Jay—”

“I really don’t,” Jason started.

“You brought this up,” Dick said, and rubbed his face. “We have to talk because you brought it up.”

“I didn’t mean to say that,” Jason said, sounding annoyed at himself.

“I told you, I wasn’t even on the planet,” Dick said. “Bruce didn’t even try and tell me. When are you going to believe me—”

Jason curled his hands around the back of his head and Dick didn’t even try and stop him when he yanked him forward, covering his mouth in desperation. “I’m trying,” he said, and Dick curled his fingers in his shirt, pressing up.

“I dreamed about you,” he said and Jason stared. “When you—I dreamed about you. I felt like I was drowning, some days.”

“But you didn’t—”

“When you came back,” Dick started. “I didn’t even know, until after—” After Blüdhaven. After the Crisis. “The first time I saw you was in New York, Jason. I was stupid, I was hurt, and you turned the entire police force against me before I even picked up my suit again.”

“You disappeared,” Jason said.

Dick’s eyes darted around his face for a moment. “Blüdhaven,” he said finally. “Bruce said you were there when—I mean, when he finally started talking about it—but you thought—”

“I’ve thought a lot of things,” Jason said. “Right now, I’d rather not,” and Dick opened his mouth, wanting to protest, because this felt off, it felt wrong but at the same time he was pressed up against Jason’s chest like it was the only place he wanted to be, so he lifted his mouth to seek Jason’s again.

They broke the kiss to drag Jason’s shirt over his head, tossing it somewhere toward where his jacket had gone earlier, and Dick’s fingers fumbled with the under armor until Jason helped. “You should wear more of this,” Jason said.

“It’s built into the suit,” Dick started and Jason shoved him, Dick landing on the bed without realizing they had gotten so close. “I’m not totally,” he started and stopped when Jason dropped down between his knees.

“That’s a look I never expected to see,” Jason said, looking up at him for a second.

“No?” Dick managed as Jason unlatched his boots and pulled them off. The pants went next and Dick kept his eyes on Jason’s face the whole time, watching until Jason met his eyes again. “Tell me you don’t think you owe me,” he said softly. “Promise me that’s not why—”

“It’s not why,” Jason said and leaned forward, boxing Dick in and pressing Dick back against the bed as he straddled his waist, hands on either side of his head. “I think I expressed how much I fucking wanted you?”

“Yeah,” Dick said and when Jason kissed him, he wrapped a hand around the back of his head, the other sliding around his back.

“You’re a lot more comfortable with this than I was expecting,” Jason said, when he drew back and started kissing a trail down Dick’s chest. Dick twitched and arched upwards.

“I was dating Kory at the time,” Dick said.

“Yeah, and as adventurous as that sounds, it’s not the same,” Jason said, kissing Dick’s stomach.

“As another man?” Dick asked.

“It involved Harper, didn’t it?” Jason asked and Dick tensed all over. “Shit,” Jason said, pushing himself up on his hands. “Dick? I meant that as a—”

“Let’s not go there,” Dick cut him off and while Jason was frowning at him, Dick surged up, flipping them over and being the one to straddle Jason’s waist.

“I’m good with that,” Jason said, sounding out of breath and Dick arched his back to kiss his throat, making Jason swear and arch against him. “Please just—” and Dick pressed his head back into the pillow, biting his mouth and Jason groaned, his hands heavy on Dick’s back.

It was graceless and too much, the way Dick found himself moving his hips with Jason’s hands urging him along, their mouths still close enough to share panting breaths. Dick thought he had meant to do something more, but Jason was swearing and kissing him and they had half a rhythm built up between each other, Dick’s hands twisting in the pillow next to Jason’s head.

Jason’s fingers were digging bruises into the small of his back and Dick moaned into the next kiss. The way Jason swore again and tensed surprised him, because Jason was coming between them with his hands holding Dick against him and Dick’s mouth covering his.

“Jay,” Dick started, and Jason rolled them over. Dick sliding one hand up Jason’s arm. “Jason, you—”

He wasn’t sure what he wanted to say but Jason smeared a kiss against his mouth, down the side of his cheek and the hand not braced beside Dick’s head slid down, wrapping around his cock. Dick choked on air, seeking out Jason’s mouth blindly.

At first he tried to focus on Jason’s face, but the almost careful expression and the way his hand moved like he couldn’t imagine a better place to be or a better thing to do made Dick close his eyes. “You are,” Jason said and Dick turned his head, trying to hide his face in the pillow. “So fucking—”

“Don’t,” he said.

“Beautiful,” Jason finished, because he had asked him not to. “And I have wanted for so long.”

Dick made a strangled sound, arching himself up against Jason. “Seeing you fall apart is possibly better than I expected,” Jason continued. “So Dick. Why don’t you come for me?”

Shuddering, Dick whined, wrapping his arms around Jason’s shoulders, his eyes still closed.

“Please,” Jason murmured into his ear, hand still moving up and down his cock and biting Jason’s shoulder not to cry out, Dick curled around Jason and came, his grip on Jason’s shoulders keeping him up for a long suspended moment.

Slowly Jason lowered him back down against the bed, kissing him and Dick refused to untangle his arms.

He fell asleep like that sometime later, entwined around Jason and their mouths close enough to still be kissing.

-0-

When he woke up, his bed was empty and the curtain was open.

Sitting up, the sheets pooling around his waist he ran a hand through his hair and looked around, finding none of his uniform anywhere on the floor, and nothing of Jason’s. He ran a hand through his hair, looking around just in case and listening for the sounds of someone moving around the living room. There was nothing, just the light coming from the window and him.

His eyes went, as they often seemed to over the last few days, to the photograph he had framed a few years back and put with his small clutter of other photographs. It was wedged between one of the original Titans when they had gone out to a fast food joint in San Francisco, pretending to be normal teens, and a smiling Roy and Lian. The photo was of the one time he’s swooped into Gotham and dragged Jason out with him, over the protests of Bruce to take him skiing. At first Jason had grouched and complained but by the end he had been grinning at the camera like a fool and it was the only picture Dick had of them both in civilian clothes.

Pulling his knees up, Dick braced his elbow against one knee and propped his head up with his hand, staring at the photo as if in accusation for something before he let his head fall against his knees.

Chapter Text

Two weeks passed and Dick neither heard from Jason nor went searching for him.

He had plenty of cases to keep his attention, and almost convinced himself it was simply because he was busy. There was no reason to chase Jason down.

And he didn’t have the time to care about whether Jason wanted to come back or not.

“You seem pretty intent,” Tim said one night over the coms.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Dick said, clinching the zipties around the last thug’s hands before unhooking his grapple.

“Uh-huh,” Tim said. “Look, I was talking to O and she thinks she has that drug ring pinned down.”

“Great,” Dick said, swinging himself out of the alleyway.

“They’ve been trading out of a club,” Tim said and Dick heard the click of a few keys. “No idea where they’re mixing it, or where they’re supply is, but that’s one step closer than it has been.”

 “What sort of club are we talking about?” Dick asked, stopping on a roof and looking out over New York. He still found himself sometimes wanting to look out toward where Titans Tower had stood, no matter how many years it had been since the team left New York.

His apartment was on the other side of town from the one Kori and he had shared.

“Oh the usual underground club,” Tim said, Dick making sure his gaze was in the middle distance and not toward the waterfront. “Lets anyone in for money, prostitution, drugs, I’m pretty sure you might be able to break up five different problems if you take the place down.”

“That good huh?” Dick muttered.

“And possibly better,” Tim said. “Do you want back up?”

“I think I can handle it,” Dick said. “I’ll go to check it out before I commit either way. But I’ll be way off my game if I can’t take down one drug ring by myself.” For a moment Tim was silent. “I think I’m offended,” Dick muttered. “I’m not off my game, am I?”

“I’ve just been worried,” Tim said. “Ever since Jason—”

Dick felt his stomach turn over. “Don’t worry, R, things are fine.”

“Which is also why you’ve been avoiding Gotham,” Tim said and Dick cringed.

“That has more to do with B than anything else,” Dick said.

“Hey, how about you never disappear again?” Tim said. “Because that? That was not fun. I still can’t believe you didn’t tell anyone what you were doing.”

“Would have just tried to stop me,” Dick said, shrugging though he was fairly certain Tim hadn’t hacked any cameras near him.

“I wonder why,” Tim said dryly. “Oh, could it have been that you were crazy?”

“And yet it worked out,” Dick said.

“Dick,” Tim said and Dick’s spine straightened at the tone in Tim’s voice. “We’ve lost enough, don’t you think? Try not to get yourself killed too.”

“I am trying,” Dick said. “No matter what it sounds like.” He checked the time and police scanner. “It’s sounding quiet out here. Do you think that club is still open?”

Tim chuckled. “Like you’re even really asking.”

“Might be worth swinging in there tonight since it seems quiet out here,” Dick said, already reading the grapple to head back to his apartment.

“If you need help hitting it tomorrow night, I can come by,” Tim said, voice casual.

“Is everything okay, Tim?” Dick asked, not buying it for a second.

Tim’s momentary silence told him more than anything Tim had said. “Oh you know,” he said, still trying to sound breezy. “Things have just been… hard, sometimes.”

“How about if another crisis doesn’t show up we go train running again sometime?” Dick offered and Tim groaned.

“Never again,” Tim said.

“You loved it,” Dick laughed. “It was fun!”

“You’re a madman,” Tim said. “I would much rather take down a drug and prostitution ring than do that again.”

“Well, I’ll see if I can find something a little more to your liking then,” Dick said, landing on his roof and checking the area before swinging down to his window.

He heard a tiny laugh through the com and smiled. “Sure, sure,” Tim said. “Why do I feel like no matter what you come up with it’s going to be terrible?”

“Hey now, I did take you to the circus and nothing terrible happened,” Dick said.

“Except it was training me in people watching,” Tim said.

“Are you saying you want to just go out?” Dick asked and that got more than a quiet laugh.

“Like we could manage that in a thousand years,” Tim said and paused. “B’s calling. Be careful out there, will you?”

“Always am,” Dick promised and Tim grunted, obviously not believing him before disconnecting the call. Dick smiled faintly, starting to undo his uniform. For a second he hesitated on the latch of the gloves, Jason’s dark eyes flashing through his mind before he yanked it off.

-0-

Dick ignored the whistles he got, dropping money in the bouncer’s hand and grinning. “Seems busy.”

“Always is,” the bouncer said, and patted Dick’s ass as he walked past. Dick tensed, almost turning around, but kept his smile painted on instead. It may have been four in the morning but the place was still crowded, bodies moving on the dance floor and disappearing to the conveniently placed back rooms, others leaning against the bar and sipping neon colored drinks. Every once and a while a scream could be heard but everyone seemed to know how to ignore that.

Dick could feel the usual anger in his stomach as he swanned onto the dance floor, taking the time to get a better look around the place as he wove in and out between bodies. Plenty of hands reached for him, but he twisted carefully away, paying more attention to the men placed at regular intervals next to the doors, occasionally letting people through with a nod.

Other people were swallowing little pink pills, and Dick was trying to track who was giving them out when someone wrapped their hands around his waist. He leaned back for half a second, eyes on a particular guard as he leaned down to talk to a petite girl who was asking for something. He was just about to lean forward and break out of their hold when the man behind him laughed, a finger tracing the line between his pants and tank. “Lot of scars you have there,” was rumbled into his ear and Dick froze, losing track of who he had been watching. “No longer you wore long pants. The panties didn’t do much for protecting there, did they?”

“Jason,” he said, flicking his eyes back to confirm.

“Was wondering if anyone was going to figure this one out,” Jason said, swaying behind him, and his hands were still on Dick’s hips.

“I’ve been tracking them for a few days,” Dick said, turning his head so he could be heard, and that put his mouth next to Jason’s neck. “Didn’t realize you were.”

“Fuckers sell to kids,” Jason said and he didn’t just turn his head, he nosed against Dick’s ear, biting it lightly and Dick’s eyes widened. “That’s not okay.”

Dick nodded slightly in agreement, and people were starting to notice them. “People are staring,” he said, one hand resting on Jason’s on his hips.

“Well, yeah,” Jason said, and one of his hands started pushing Dick’s shirt up. Dick swatted at it, because Jason’s comment about scars was true, and there were even more on his stomach, ones concealer did nothing to cover. “I mean, look at you.”

“Generally I don’t look at myself,” Dick said, turning his head again.

“Too bad for you, really,” Jason said, one hand coming up to tip Dick’s chin back and kiss him. Dick tensed, falling out of the rhythm for a second, but Jason’s other hand was still on his hip, guiding him in time to the beat of the music.

“So what have you learned?” Dick asked, when Jason pulled back.

“Don’t know their supply, but I’m sure I can figure it out,” Jason said, their mouths still hovering close by, Dick’s neck strained to stay turned around. “Know which room they’re dealing out of. Saw the ring leaders last night, think I know where they go.”

“Great,” Dick said, turning back around, and Jason’s other arm came around his chest, slowly dragging back down to his waist, his fingers catching for a second on a scar through the thin material of the shirt. Dick shuddered, eyes unfocused for a second. “Tomorrow—”

“You showing up was great,” Jason said, burying his face in Dick’s neck. He rolled his hips and Dick hooked a hand behind Jason’s neck to keep himself from falling. “But I’m taking them tonight.”

Just as suddenly he was gone, and Dick whipped around, sliding himself in front of Jason and wrapping his arms around his neck, slamming their chests together. “Jason.”

“Dick,” Jason snarled. “What exactly do you think you’re doing?”

Dick realized that this position was far worse, Jason looking down at him with no masks between them, their chests pressed together and his arms around Jason’s shoulders. Sometimes he still thought Jason was going to be smaller than him, even though that hadn’t been the case in quite some time.

“Don’t do this,” Dick said quietly. “Not in my town,” and he dug his fingers into Jason’s shoulders.

“You have no idea what I was about to do, Dick,” Jason said, yanking him closer and Dick’s breath caught. “And this isn’t your town. You can’t run New York like B runs Gotham.”

“Don’t I know?” Dick asked, tilting his head, and trying to ignore how close they were.

“No,” Jason hissed, leaning down and dragging his teeth along the side of Dick’s neck. “Fucker, you don’t know.”

Swallowing, Dick tipped his head back, glancing at the guards around the room again. “Let me help.”

“Thought you didn’t approve of my methods,” Jason said. “Or wanted it to it tonight.”

“I wasn’t really prepared to,” Dick said. “I just meant to do reconnaissance tonight.”

“If you’re willing to help me tonight,” Jason said. “I have a spare mask you can use. I’ll even play by your rules. Because you can’t convince me you came out totally without gear tonight.”

“Where exactly am I hiding it?” Dick asked, already thinking of the lecture he was likely to get from Bruce, going up against a cartel in a tank top and jeans and a domino mask.

“In your boots,” Jason said, grinning and Dick couldn’t stop the bubbling feel in his chest, like he was really going to go through with this.

“You’re crazy,” Dick said.

“Think of it, Dick,” Jason said. “If you stick around, I won’t kill anyone, and if you wait until tomorrow, who knows how many more kids are going to be screwed because of these fucks?”

Dick blinked at him, his normal instincts fighting with his agreement with everything Jason just said. “I suppose it would be too much for me to get home and suited up.”

“I don’t know,” Jason said and leaned down. “I’ll let you borrow my jacket.”

Dick pressed up, kissing him, his arms still around Jason’s neck and for a second that was enough to turn his brain off. It was enough to just feel Jason against him, warmth and muscles and his mouth firm against Dick’s. It was enough that Jason kissed him back like he was drowning and he either wanted Dick to be the last thing he remembered or that Dick was the lifeline.

Either way it went far too much to Dick’s head and that’s how he found himself agreeing.

Chapter Text

Despite the presence of guards everywhere in the club, the ringleaders were suspiciously easy to knock over, especially when most of the guards turned tail and ran as soon as Dick and Jason showed up.

Dick finished ziptying the last of the ringleaders before he glanced up at where Jason was tearing the office apart. “So do you think they really were just this easy or was that your reputation at play?”

Jason snorted, having already packed up the laptop to take with him and now hunting for the last of the little pink pills. “For some reason my reputation means shit. So I’m thinking it was more the later.”

“I expected this to be harder,” Dick said, considering the pile of criminals in the middle of the floor before starting to go over the office with Jason.

“So did I,” Jason said. “I was casing this place for two nights before,” he stopped flipping through a book and sighed. “And it’s because this is simply one of many distribution centers for this drug.”

“How many are there?” Dick asked, opening drawers.

“Over a dozen,” Jason said, turning the page back and forth before tossing the book on top of the laptop.

“Well, shit,” Dick said, shaking his head. “If they realize we’re knocking down their distribution centers, security is only going to get worse from here out. It would be better to hit them all at once.”

“Right, with that army of vigilantes we have,” Jason said and Dick opened his mouth before closing it, deciding to leave the debate for later.

Dick adjusted the bottom of the mask Jason had tossed him earlier that didn’t quite fit his face. “Do we have everything.”

“Think so,” Jason said, dropping a large plastic bag of pills on top of the files and laptop.

“Police are on their way,” Dick said as he opened the window and Jason shook his head slightly before dropping everything in the backpack that had held his gear earlier and being the first out the window. Dick followed, crouching behind the roof’s edge and watching for the cops. “You know, it would be better to hit them all at once.”

“I’d rather not bring in the rest of the family, thanks,” Jason said.

“I don’t mean them,” Dick said. “This is New York after all. There’s plenty of vigilantes here, and if we both showed up here tonight I bet a few have a finger on this already. The JSA—”

“Oh yeah, I really want to get the mentor club involved in this.”

“Say that to Grant’s face, I dare you,” Dick muttered.

“Here,” Jason said, tossing something at him and Dick caught it, finding a small baggie of the pink pills. “Figure B would want to run a thousand tests on that shit. Should be enough.”

“What are you doing with the rest?” Dick asked, pocketing the bag in his pants pocket, after he almost stuck them in the jacket’s pocket.

“What a question to ask,” Jason snarled and Dick tensed.

“I didn’t mean it that way,” he said, rising and moving over to where Jason was organizing the backpack. “I was asking how you were going to dispose of them.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll find a way,” Jason said, rising and Dick froze, too aware of Jason standing right in front of him. For a second they stayed there, before Jason grinned, stepping closer. “So then,” he said, swiping his thumb across Dick’s cheek.

“So then what?” Dick asked, defensive but he hadn’t moved either.

Jason just kept grinning, leaning down to kiss him and after disappearing without a word for two weeks, Dick really wanted to protest that. Instead he wrapped his arms around Jason’s waist and pressed up, barely rocking up on his toes and Jason’s hands slid under his jacket, too big for Dick’s frame.

“I should never have let you wear this,” Jason murmured.

“You were the one who offered,” Dick said, their mouths still hovering close to each other.

“Yeah, because I actually expected a bit of a fight and I don’t care how acrobatic you are, you should have something with some protection built in.”

“Thought it felt a little heavier than it should,” Dick said and he let himself kiss Jason again, brief and soft before pulling back. “We shouldn’t do this.”

Jason tilted his head. “I thought we had this conversation already.”

“We had a conversation,” Dick said. “And then you disappeared for two weeks. I’m just not interested in—”

“You were hard back in the club,” Jason said, leaning back and crossing his arms. “Don’t pretend you weren’t.”

“So were you and that’s not what I was going to say,” Dick snapped. “I’m not interested in casual sex. I never have been. This—this fling isn’t—”

“Seriously?” Jason asked.

“Why is that so hard to believe?” Dick asked.

“Okay, so if you’ve never been into casual sex what exactly was up with Cheyenne?” Jason asked. “That looked an awful lot like a one night stand with no strings attached.”

Dick opened his mouth and closed it after a second, trying not to think about the mindset that had propelled him into her bed the first night he had set up in New York. “That was,” he started, and had no good answer that didn’t involve a rooftop in Blüdhaven, Barbara and a horribly timed ring, and spending a year convincing himself he was still alive in the company of Bruce Wayne rebuilding himself at the same time, and one particularly devastated Tim Drake.

He had wanted to feel wanted and alive, with no power or control or past mistakes, and when she had flirted with him he had fallen, so much like he had with Jason only a few weeks before.

“That was an exception,” he settled for, because at that time he had still been waking up from nightmares about Tarantula and Blockbuster.

“Right, sure,” Jason said.

“Jason,” Dick said, even though they were still wearing masks and standing on the rooftop out in the relative open. “That… is honestly a terrible example if you want me to actually consider—”

“Dick,” Jason said, closer again and he breathed the name practically into Dick’s mouth, making his breath catch. “I’m not going to pressure you, but stop acting like you don’t want this.”

“I do,” Dick said, soft and he wished the masks didn’t have white out lenses. “I do. But, this idea that it’s just about—”

“Come on, Dick, don’t go acting like you have feelings about me now,” Jason said, almost laughing and Dick felt like he had been hit.

“Would that be so hard to believe?” he said, raising a hand to shove Jason back.

But he stopped because Jason was staring at him, somehow still vulnerable with the domino mask blocking half his expression. “I honestly don’t know,” he said finally. “But,” and his expression flattened out. “You’re assuming I have those feelings too, aren’t you?”

“You’re the one who started this,” Dick said, wanting to draw back, feeling sore despite barely fighting all night.

“Sure,” Jason said, and there was something forced and breezy in his tone. “Because god knows how much I’ve wanted you. You were paying attention last time, weren’t you?”

Dick thought there might be color rising on his cheeks. “Yes.”

“Because that’s only the start, really,” Jason said, getting closer again. “Me in your bed, thinking about you. I have lots of other things I’ve thought about.”

“Is that what this is about?” Dick asked. “Working through a list of things you want to do to me?”

Jason paused, before he brought his thumb up, catching it on Dick’s bottom lip. “I don’t know. Think we’d make it long enough to get through all of them?”

Dick swallowed, wetting his mouth when Jason dropped his hand. “That many?”

“I’ve come up with a few more since the other night,” Jason said.

Dick drew back, taking several steps back. “And the rest of the time?” he asked. “You tend to show up with your guns out, fight with B, and everything else—and you just want to put that all under the carpet and have sex?”

“Sure,” Jason said.

“Why do I feel like I’m waiting for a catch?” Dick asked, crossing his arms and realizing that he was still wearing Jason’s jacket, his ill-fitting mask.

“You don’t—”

“I saved your life and you punched me in the face,” Dick said.

“Did a little more than save my life,” Jason said. “Okay? I get it, you care more than I realized. Maybe that’s why I’m willing to trust you enough for this, but you don’t have to make it more than it is, because this isn’t about that.”

“About what? Emotions? Actual affection?”

“For fuck’s sake, Dick,” Jason said, stepping forward and cupping Dick’s face to kiss him again, angry and hard and Dick’s fingers curled into the shirt he wore over his armor. “I just want you, like this.”

Dick closed his eyes, resting his head against Jason’s shoulder for a second. He was increasingly certain Jason was lying to him, and that if he allowed this continue on Jason’s terms he would only regret it.

And yet when he raised his head he found himself say, “Alright,” and he dragged Jason down into another kiss.

-0-

Dick didn’t get home until the middle of the afternoon, because they had ended up at Jason’s safehouse, and he had fallen asleep there.

Jason had let him sleep and Dick felt his stomach squirm every time he thought about that. That Jason had let him, and that he had fallen asleep with Jason’s arms slung heavy and warm across his waist.

“Oh I don’t feel anything at all,” Dick muttered, in mockery of Jason, even though Jason wasn’t there to hear it. “It’s just sex, Dick, get with the program,” and he tore the shirt he had worn the night before over his head, planning on sleeping even more before going out that night.

But before he could reach his bedroom the phone started ringing and he dug it out of his back pants pocket. “Grayson,” he said, a bit more clipped than usual.

“So you didn’t come home last night,” Barbara said on the other end and Dick tensed, glancing over his apartment.

“Missed a camera, did I?”

“One of Bruce’s too,” Barbara said and Dick paled, wondering how often Bruce actually checked it.

“Where is it?” he ground out. “I’ll deal with Bruce’s later, but where is it, Babs?”

“You can’t blame us for worrying.”

“For worrying? No. For spying? Yes,” Dick said, turning in a circle. “Where did you put it?”

“Listen, Dick, normally I wouldn’t get involved with who you sleep with,” and there was a stiffness in her voice. “But I’m worried.”

“That’s still not your concern,” Dick said, free hand curling into a fist.

“It’s Jason,” Barbara said. “He’s been doing okay, lately, and—”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence that I’m not going to make it worse,” Dick said. “I know how he’s been doing—”

“You know you’re not thinking clearly when it comes to him either,” Barbara said. “You know you don’t. Have you forgotten what you—”

“I have not forgotten what I did,” Dick ground out.

“And then you walk into hell to bring him back?” Barbara asked. “Dick, you forget how well I know you. I don’t want you hurt as much as I don’t want to deal with the Red Hood on another killing spree.” She sighed on the other end of the line. “And I know how much you don’t appreciate this right now.”

Dick sighed too, hiding his face with his free hand. “I appreciate the concern.”

“Be careful, Dick,” she said, softer. “That’s all I meant to say.”

“I’ll come by Gotham later this week,” he said after a moment. “I need to check some stuff with B and Alfred has been making noise about family dinner. It would be nice,” and he had to swallow. “It would be nice to see you too.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” she said, quiet, because things had never quite settled back between them to where they had been before everything went so wrong. Even though a couple of years had passed, Dick still felt like he was trying to fit pieces back into a puzzle whose shape had totally changed.

“It would be nice to see you,” Dick said. “Now, where is that last camera?”

“Up over the kitchen cupboards,” she said. “Facing the window. Let me know about the drug ring when you go out tonight,” and the call clicked off.

Dick sighed, rubbing his hands over his face before climbing up on the counter to pull out the bug. He did a sweep of his entire apartment again, not finding Bruce’s last camera anywhere, and then collapsed into bed, kicking his boots off and not bothering with taking the pants off.

He stared at his phone for a long time, thumb hovering over the unlock before he tossed it away and rolled over, curling himself around his pillow and not thinking about the way Jason’s mouth felt against his skin, or the careful way he touched him, no matter how crass what he said was.

When he fell asleep he dreamed about the Joker, grin bloody and saying “His name was Jason, right?"

Chapter Text

Dick had meant to put off going to Gotham longer, but the next evening found him in the Batcave, dangling the small baggie of pink pills in front of Bruce. “Thought you might want to test these. They’re pretty vicious.”

Bruce hummed, taking them. “I heard some rumors about this. Sounded like it can cause a complete psychotic break in some users.”

“Yeah,” Dick said, leaning on the back of Bruce’s chair.

“Have you figured out who’s behind these?” Bruce asked, already entering data.

“Not yet. We found a lot more distribution centers, making plans to hit them all at once.”

“Do you need—” Bruce started.

“No,” Dick said. “Us New Yorkers got it.”

Bruce hummed something, like he wanted to comment on the city Dick had finally settled on after Blüdhaven. “I’ve heard reports that Red Hood is in New York,” he said instead and still leaning against the chair, Dick tensed.

“Have you,” he said, not really a question. “I’d like the location of that camera I keep missing.”

Bruce didn’t turn around. “You think there still is one?”

“Babs was kind enough to confirm it for me,” Dick said, wanting to grind his teeth together. “Where is it?”

“Having it there didn’t concern you until you started having ill-advised sex,” Bruce said, finally turning around and Dick couldn’t decide if he was happy that the cowl was down or not.

“Maybe it’s sweet in a creepy stalker way,” Dick said. “But I want it out.”

“You disappeared,” Bruce snapped. “For two days.”

“You don’t need a camera in my apartment to figure out I’m missing,” Dick said. “I’ve been gone from there for more than two days, and I check in with someone more frequently than that.”

The line of Bruce’s mouth thinned. “And how often do you let us know if you’re injured or in trouble?”

“Usually just about every time,” Dick said, and ground his teeth.

“You didn’t reach out to anyone about Blockbuster,” Bruce said, damning, and Dick finally pushed off from the back of his chair, taking a few steps back.

“I don’t think having a camera in an exploding building would have helped that,” Dick said. “Besides we—we’re at a better place with each other now. Mostly. That’s not going to happen again.”

Bruce didn’t particularly look convinced, but he nodded. “That does not change that I want to make sure you are alright.”

“Bruce, I want that camera out of my apartment,” Dick said. “If you care so much you can come over sometimes and check up on things.”

“It’s not,” Bruce started and seemed to shrink back into the chair slightly. “I don’t check it that often.”

“Oh really,” Dick said, because he might have not addressed the comment about ill-advised sex but it hadn’t gone past him either. Which meant Bruce had checked that night of all other possible nights.

“On nights when I’m exhausted and worn down is when I check it,” Bruce said and even that was a wealth of emotional insight that made Dick hesitate. He could picture it clearly, Bruce with exhaustion lines on his face going through cameras he had set up all across the world, checking to make sure his allies and loved ones were safe and tucked in, and that the fight had some meaning to him. “That’s all.”

Dick sighed. “You do realize what a massive invasion of privacy it is?”

“Yes,” Bruce said, but didn’t sound ashamed.

Dick rubbed his eyes. “I swear to god, Bruce,” he muttered.

“I can remove it if it means so much to you,” Bruce said stiffly, like he wanted to offer Dick something he wanted at great pains to himself.

Tipping his head back, Dick stared at the ceiling for a long moment. “Fuck,” he decided finally. “Just tell me where it is so I can move it to the kitchen, or something.”

“You’re almost never in your kitchen,” Bruce said.

“This is called a compromise, Bruce,” Dick said, crossing his arms over his chest. “Take it for what it is.”

Bruce’s shoulders tightened before he finally nodded. “Alright,” he said and Dick started to turn away, meaning to go and find Tim. “Dick,” Bruce called and Dick stopped, turning. “I meant what I said about ill-advised. I do not know what goes through your head, but be careful of Jason.”

“Careful of him, or careful with him?” Dick asked. “Are warning me about him, or not to hurt him?”

Bruce’s mouth twisted, almost a full grimace from him. “You have always loved him,” he said and Dick tensed, rocking back on his heels. “It makes him dangerous for you. He still—cannot be trusted.”

“It’s not like that,” Dick said, shaking his head. “It’s not about love.”

Bruce looked at him, unimpressed. “I never understood how you reacted to him. When he was gone,” and they both paused, pain stretching between them, fights both about Jason becoming Robin, and harsher ones after he died before Tim dared to bridge the gap. “Your affection for him never went away. I used that against you several times.”

Somehow Dick didn’t even have to ask which fight he meant. “I always wondered if you dodged behind the case just to distract me.”

Bruce’s mouth thinned again. “Yes.”

“You son of a bitch,” Dick said, much of the heat gone from his anger. “I was so set on not letting you leave that I was barely paying attention until I smashed through the memorial case. And then you used that to just leave.”

Bruce dipped his chin. “I did.”

Dick breathed harshly through his nose before slowly letting it back out. “Because you knew it would affect me.”

“Anything with Jason did,” Bruce said. “And yet—” he hesitated. “Since he came back, as Red Hood, before a few weeks ago, you were doing your best to ignore him.”

“It was easier,” Dick said, not quite looking at Bruce.

“How so?” Bruce asked, leaning forward slightly.

“Fuck’s sake, Bruce,” Dick said. “You knew—you didn’t even tell me he was alive until after the crisis. You got me on a ship and that—that was good and necessary. But I didn’t even know until weeks after you did!”

“You weren’t quite reachable,” Bruce said, ice in his voice that never really thawed.

“Don’t,” Dick said shortly. “I know where I was. I know what happened. And then the crisis. But that still means the first time I saw him since he came back to life was when he was wearing my colors and turning the entire New York police department against me by murdering people.” He sighed, looking down. “I couldn’t believe it. It hadn’t mattered what you said about Red Hood, I hadn’t believed it. Then, after that, he showed up with a gun to my face to give me information.” Dick’s shoulders sagged. “As I said. It felt easier to just pretend he wasn’t back. That that wasn’t—”

“Yet you instantly drop everything to run to hell,” Bruce said softly. “For him.”

“So I still care,” Dick said, shrugging a shoulder. “So I never stopped. It didn’t make it any easier.”

Bruce nodded, looking down. “Are you working with him on this case?” he asked after a moment’s hesitation.

“Yeah,” Dick said softly.

“Be careful,” Bruce said.

“Don’t worry, I’ve called in quite a bit of back up,” Dick said. “Like, the entire Justice Society.”

Bruce looked like he was almost about to smile. “Say hello to Mr. Terrific for me.”

“Sure,” Dick said after a beat.

-0-

Later that night, after a patrol and stopping by the Justice Society headquarters, he landed on his windowsill and paused, because someone else had already been there. He tensed, readying himself when Jason pushed the window open. “Nice of you to come home.”

“Uh,” Dick managed, because after the last time when two weeks had passed, somehow he hadn’t expected Jason to just show up. “Hi,” he said, lamely.

“You should probably get in before people start questioning Nightwing at your window,” Jason said with a grin.

“Right,” Dick said, sliding inside and pulling the curtain closed. He looked around, honing in on the camera Bruce left before turning it off. He would hook it up somewhere else in the morning.

“Wow,” Jason said behind him. “Really?”

Dick shrugged, playing off how furious he had been about it earlier. “I admit I did not expect to find you here, tonight,” he said and Jason shrugged. Dick could spot his duffle bag with his gear tucked behind his couch and itched to know there were probably guns in it. “Do I owe this to anything?”

“We have that drug bust to plan,” Jason said.

“Right,” Dick said, stripping out of his top without thinking about it, tucking it and his mask away in his bedroom. He turned, planning on continuing the conversation with Jason still in the living room, only to find Jason inches away from him, making him startle slightly.

“And,” Jason said, grinning before leaning down to kiss him, fingers warm on his bare skin.

“Let me eat,” Dick murmured. “It’s been a long night.”

“Have you seen the state of your cupboards?” Jason asked.

“It’s been a long week,” Dick corrected under his breath.

“I’m not even sure you have fruit anywhere in this apartment anymore,” Jason said.

“I,” Dick started, paused. “I ate the last of it this morning. That’s why tomorrow is grocery shopping. You’re not the only one Alfred raised.” He opened one cupboard and stared. “Maybe I really should look into those grocery deliver services.”

Jason made a sound as he flopped down on Dick’s couch. “Or order take out.”

“Yeah,” Dick said, closing the cupboard and picking up the phone instead. “You eat tonight?” and he couldn’t stand the casual way he managed to ask that question. “I seem to recall us having a pizza thing in the past.”

“You mean that one time you showed up on a rooftop with pizza?” Jason asked.

“Well it was only one time on a rooftop,” Dick allowed. “But please, I showed up with pizza a lot more times than once.”

“Yeah, sure,” Jason said after a moment. “Just not pizza, fuck’s sake, Dick. This is New York, there’s gotta be better options.”

“New York is sorta known for its pizza,” Dick said, but ordered Thai instead. Setting the phone down he hesitated before coming back over, sitting across from Jason before realizing he hadn’t finished changing. “There’s a map under the coffee table,” he said, walking back to the bedroom to kick his boots into the closet. He glanced over his shoulder, making sure Jason hadn’t followed him again before finishing changing and wandering back out.

“Are you sure waiting two nights is a good idea?” Jason asked, looking up, the map spread out on the coffee table. “They could fortify.”

“Perhaps,” Dick said. “But as I suspected, there’s a fair number of heroes who already have a stake in this. And being able to hit them all at once is going to reveal a lot more information.”

“Like who is actually behind this?” Jason asked.

“Exactly,” Dick said, sitting down across from him again and starting to make notations on the map.

Jason watched him quietly long enough that Dick finally looked up. “What?”

“Just seems weird,” Jason said after a beat. “Are you even on any teams right now?”

“What does that matter?” Dick asked, because he had already called Roy, asked him to come in on this case and there had been a pause where there would never have been one before.

“Work with you again, Rob?” Roy said, passing it off. “Sure. Just tell me when and where,” and Dick had cringed. They had made peace with what happened, but that didn’t heal all the wounds. They had even managed to mostly work together with the old Titans with no problems, except a few times Dick had snapped at Roy only to earn a harsh glare and a shocked look from Garth, and the times Roy’s snide comments about Batman made Dick tense more than usual.

They hadn’t punched each other in a while and Dick considered that a victory.

“You just like to lead,” Jason shrugged, leaning back.

“Sometimes too much,” Dick muttered, capping the pen he had been using a little too violently. “Besides, there’s a group of Titans again.”

 Jason was considering him with his head tilted to one side. Before he could press, Dick flipped the map. “Here,” he said, launching into an explanation of where the different sites were and who was taking which ones.

That got them through until the take out arrived, and Dick refused to think about sitting sprawled out next to Jason and just eating, sore and a little rung out from the night.

Afterwards, Jason crawled on top of him, pressing him back into the couch and kissing him while outside the curtains the sun dawned.

Chapter Text

Dick woke up, squinting in the light of the curtains that hadn’t been properly closed, taking a moment to realize Jason’s arm was still heavy across his waist, Jason’s nose against his collarbone.

It may not have been the first time they’d fallen asleep like that, but it was the first time he’d woken up to find Jason still there. He hesitated a long moment before bringing the hand that had been flung around Jason’s shoulders to card through his hair, watching the way it shifted in the sunlight.

It felt a bit like being smacked in the face.

He knew better, he had known better.

He rolled over abruptly and sat up, dislodging Jason’s arm and waking him up.

“Well, that’s different,” Jason muttered to pillow as Dick tightened his grip on the edge of the bed, his knuckles going white for a moment.

“I need to shower,” he said

“Dick,” Jason started but Dick pushed himself to his feet and closed himself in the bathroom. For a while he leaned his head against the side of the shower, just breathing before he turned the water on, too hot. He lingered there too long, fully expecting Jason to be gone when he emerged.

Except when he walked out, still toweling his hair, Jason hadn’t left. He had moved enough to be standing, but hadn’t bothered to do more than pull on his pants. His eyes flickered to Dick before focusing back on the wall in front of him.

“I admit, I’m surprised,” Dick said, pulling open his dresser and finding clean pants for himself.

“By what?” Jason asked, not moving and Dick finally focused on where Jason was staring.

“You still being here,” Dick said and managed to sound remarkably not bitter.

Jason shrugged, as if that wasn’t surprising and pointed to Dick’s wall. “What is this?”

“It’s a photograph,” Dick said and Jason narrowed his eyes.

“Why is it hanging up?” he demanded, something vulnerable in the back of his expression and Dick moved to stand next to him, trying not to be aware that neither of them had put a shirt on yet.

“Because it was a good memory,” Dick said softly, trying to forget what he caused him to dig the photograph out, the guilt and the pain in equal turns feeling like they were dragging him to the ground. The Joker had gotten to him by using Jason’s name and he had lost control. Later, Wally had found him going through shoe boxes of photographs, trying to find a single one of him and Jason in the same frame.

“It’s of us,” Jason said. “And it’s on your wall.”

“I missed you,” Dick said.

“But why did you keep it up?” Jason asked. “I came back and put a gun in your face. That’s usually when people take shit down.”

“It actually went up after that,” Dick said and Jason turned to stare at him. “I mean, the second time. It’s not an original. I, well, started scanning photos which turned out to be a good thing when my Blüdhaven apartment got blown up twice. It’s a copy.”

“When you first came to New York you were living in a loft,” Jason said, eyes narrowing even more. “Which means you went out and got this framed and hung it on your damn wall after—”

“Yeah, I did,” Dick said, because if he could talk about that he didn’t have to talk about the first time he put the picture on the wall. “It didn’t mean I ever stopped missing you.”

Jason looked away abruptly.

Dick glanced at the photos he had up on the wall, a few of Roy and Lian, a framed drawing Lian had given him a few years ago, all bright colors, one of Alfred, a few of Tim both with him and alone, one of Cassandra and Stephanie, smiling with their arms around each other and out of uniforme, some of Bruce, mostly looking serious, but also one of them together when Dick was twelve where Bruce looked as radiant as the sun, and several Titan team pics, including Donna and him at her wedding. Jason was almost lost in the swarm of other pictures and yet perhaps stood out more for it.

“Jason—”

“You said you needed to go grocery shopping,” Jason said suddenly.

“Um—”

“In the interest of not having take out again, I’ve decided to supervise.”

“You,” Dick blinked. “What?”

-0-

Somehow Dick found himself pushing a cart while Jason threw thing into it. “You know I can feed myself, right?” Dick asked. “I have to, considering everything.”

“Uh huh,” Jason said.

“When I first moved to New York was an aberration,” Dick said. “I didn’t have a house, I had no place to store food.”

“You realize you sound like you’re trying to justify yourself, right?” Jason asked, grinning at him over his shoulder, and though he was still wearing the jacket he used at night as Red Hood, he was otherwise dressed in civvies and Dick found himself constantly struck by that. He also tried not to think about the fact that even just going shopping, Jason still wore his armored jacket. Dick was fairly certain he had a knife and one gun on him too.

But he hadn’t looked when Jason finished dressing.

“I apparently have to justify myself to you,” Dick said and watched a package of mushrooms land in his cart, raising his brows. “Whatever you’re planning seems labor intensive.”

“It’s mushrooms, Dick,” Jason said. “I thought you said you knew how to cook?”

“I do,” Dick said. “I just usually try to make it as easy as possible.”

Jason glanced at him over his shoulder, rolling his eyes and Dick realized his hands had gone white, holding onto the bar of the shopping cart.

“Are you planning on sticking around and making dinner tonight, then?” he asked, trying to sound casual and failing.

“Do you not want me to?” Jason asked.

“I didn’t say that,” Dick said. “It would be… nice, if you did.”

They stared at each other in the middle of the grocery store, the florescent lights hurting Dick’s eyes. “Yeah, okay then,” Jason said. “I mean, that’s what I had been planning on,” and Dick ducked his chin down. He wanted to push, to demand Jason tell him this wasn’t just a fling, but he wanted Jason to come home with him too much.

“Did the picture really surprise you so much?” Dick asked, when they had wandered into the pasta aisle.

“The fact it was still up did,” Jason said, not quite looking at him so Dick ended up reading the back of a whole box just to have something to do with his hands and eyes. For a moment he let himself wonder what it would be like, if this was his life. If he could be certain to come home at the end of a long night and find Jason waiting for him. Going grocery shopping and making cooking something they could do together instead of just a chore. If Jason never again showed up with a gun in his face because he was uncertain of his reception.

But he snapped out of it as Jason waved a box in front of his face. Because that wasn’t their lives and if Jason had his way it didn’t look like it would be. “This good?”

“I’m not really picky,” Dick said.

“Yeah, but you have preferences. Believe me I know, because Alfred had this whole list of what he would make when you came home.”

Dick cringed and Jason looked away. “That’s not—”

“You know he’d probably be really happy to make the list he has for you too, right?” Dick asked and Jason turned a glare on him.

“I’m not going—”

“Look, I don’t care if you wait to make sure Bruce is out of the house, or out of town, or hell, out of the star system. But Alfred misses you. He bakes a cake for your birthday every year and throws it away, because he can’t bear to actually eat it. This isn’t about you and Bruce, it’s about Alfred.”

“Dick,” Jason said, voice sharp.

“Fine, whatever, it’s not my business,” and he grabbed the box out of Jason’s hand, dumping it in the cart. “This is fine.”

“Dick,” Jason said, a bit more softly. “It’s not just—even if he’s not physically there at the time, you know Bruce would find out.”

“And that makes it worth hiding?” Dick demanded.

“You know how—”

“This isn’t about Bruce! This is about Alfred,” Dick said. “And the fact that that man basically raised both of us. Leave Bruce as an excuse out of this.”

“It’s not that—you know Alfred would tell him anyway!”

“So what if Bruce knows?” Dick said, and their voices were raised enough people were starting to look their way. “You’re really going to let that stop you?”

“It’s not as simple as you’re making it sound.”

“It’s Alfred!” Dick said and Jason hit the side of the cart, making Dick jump. He glanced around, spotting a few nervous looking workers staring at them. “Jason,” he said softly.

“Let it go,” Jason said, turning away and Dick did, offering a strained smile at the people who had stopped to watch before pushing the cart down several aisles. He watched Jason’s back, the stiffness of his shoulders as they walked.

“You ready for tomorrow night?” Jason asked.

“Yeah,” Dick said. “Waiting for a call from Ted, but we should be set to go.” It was the current night Dick was feeling less certain about.

They made it to the vegetable aisle without incident, mostly talking about what Jason was picking up, Dick mostly letting Jason doing the shopping except for a few staples he always got. “So tonight,” Jason said and Dick found himself automatically tensing. “I was really thinking how much I’d like to ride you,” Jason finished, voice pitched low and there was no one immediately near them.

Dick’s jaw dropped and for a second he could imagine it, Jason warm and solid above him. But almost as quickly he found himself struggling to breath, the memory rain in his mouth as someone spread their legs over his hips and held him down.

“Dick?” Jason whispered and Dick realized Jason had moved closer, his own hands white on the shopping cart again.

“I, I’m fine,” Dick said.

“Bullshit,” Jason said, one of his hands resting on Dick’s and Dick stared at it for a long moment.

“Maybe, maybe just not that,” he said, turning his head so his face was close to Jason’s ear. “But what about the other way? Come on, don’t tell me you haven’t wanted that too.”

Jason watched him for a moment, and they were indecently close for the vegetable aisle. “Yeah, yeah I have,” and he ran his hand along the back of Dick’s and along his wrist before stepping back.

“Well,” Dick said, smiling, and ignoring how shaky he felt. “I’m looking forward to dinner.”

There was currently enough food to last him a month in the cart, let alone one night’s dinner.

Jason grinned at him, but there was still something tense in his shoulders. “Sure. But it’s what comes after dinner too, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Dick said softly. “Are you done? Got everything you wanted to foist on me?”

“Oh, I’m sure I could find more to foist on you,” Jason said and Dick rolled his eyes, pushing the cart toward the front of the store.

“We could get lunch before heading back to the apartment,” he said, trying for casual. “Unless you’re really excited to get cooking.”

“Dick, it’s like four,” Jason said.

“So?” Dick asked. “It’s technically lunch time on our schedules. It’s not like we won’t be up late tonight anyway.”

“Up late?” Jason said with a grin and Dick felt his cheeks heat. “You planning on going out?”

“I don’t have to tonight,” he said, carefully.

“Staying up late for a different reason then?”

“You know,” Dick said. “If you like.”

Jason grinned at him again and Dick felt his stomach flip, the feeling from that morning coming back full force.

He’d known better, the instant he agreed to let Jason into his bed he must have known. He’d probably known when he walked into hell, chasing after the hole in him.

He wished Bruce had had the sense to knock him in the head, since apparently he had always known what Dick had been refusing to acknowledge. He wished someone had stopped him.

He wished someone had warned him that of course he was in love with Jason Todd.

Chapter Text

“You’re staring,” Jason said, leaning over to pick up Dick’s plate.

“I can’t help it,” Dick said, because Jason had shooed him out of the kitchen while he cooked earlier, and then sat across from him at his tiny table like it was perfectly normal.

“And now you’re flattering me,” Jason said, looking over his shoulder as he put the dishes in the kitchen.

“Hey, men doing domestic stuff is supposed to be attractive,” Dick said.

“And you find me cooking for you attractive?”

“Well currently you’re taking away the dirty dishes, and it’s very attractive I don’t have to deal with them,” Dick said and when he smiled it didn’t feel forced.

Jason laughed, shaking his head. “Okay, if domestic bliss is hot, do I get to see you in an apron?”

“What sort of apron?” Dick asked, arching a brow.

“Oh, you know, pink and frilly, maybe with some ruffles.”

“I hate to tell you, but that’s not likely,” Dick said, standing and moving to wrap his arms around Jason’s waist. Jason tensed as Dick rested his forehead between Jason’s shoulder blades. They had spent most of the evening into the early morning on the phone with the Justice Society and making last minute plans, before Jason had started cooking.

“Not even for me?” Jason asked and Dick sighed, nuzzling against Jason’s back.

“I suppose it depends on the right bribe. Is that really something you want to see? Me in a frilly apron? That on your list somewhere?”

“It’s a constantly growing list,” Jason said, turning around and Dick eagerly accepted his kiss. They fumbled backward, toward the bedroom, for once having only civilian clothes to strip out of.

In the doorway to the bedroom Jason got distracted, sucking a bruise into Dick’s neck. “That’s,” Dick started to say.

Jason hummed in agreement, scraping his teeth over the spot in question, high above where Dick’s collar sat. Dick bit his lip, wanting to protest as much as he didn’t. “You know where I’ve always wanted to give you hickeys?” Jason asked, when he drew back, leaving Dick feeling breathless in his wake.    

“No,” he said when Jason didn’t seem inclined to continue.

“Between your legs,” Jason said and Dick jumped, startled.

“I don’t wear a costume that would show that off anymore.”

“Not really the point I was making,” Jason said, running his hands down Dick’s bare back and Dick shivered, pressing closer against him.

“If you want to, I’m not stopping you,” Dick said and that time Jason was the one to shudder, tipping his head against Dick’s shoulder. “But I think you said something about me, riding you?”

Dick didn’t want to think about whether he would wake up with Jason again, if they could spend the afternoon in bed too, lazy until they had to go out into the night. He tried instead to focus on what was happening then, Jason’s mouth on his neck again as they tripped toward the bed.

Sitting down on the edge of the bed, Jason pulled Dick down on top of him, Dick straddling his lap though he hadn’t managed to get out of his pants yet. For a moment Jason gentled, hands going to Dick’s hair, kissing him sweetly as Dick moaned into his mouth.

“You should get out of these,” Jason said, hooking his fingers in Dick’s waistband and tugging, their mouths almost still touching.

“Uh-huh,” Dick managed, and he tried to stand up too quickly, losing his balance and accidentally elbowing Jason hard in the stomach. He froze, ready to apologize, but Jason had arched up, his mouth open.

Dick stared before he jerked back, taking a few steps away from the bed.

“Dick?”

“I,” Dick shifted, almost crossing his arms and then stopping. “Jason—”

“Dick, what the hell?” Jason asked, pushing himself up to sit.

“It,” Dick floundered before he sighed. “It startled me. But Jason, I don’t, I’m not—I won’t hurt someone else in bed.”

Jason gave him a long look. “You think that’s something I want?”

“You reacted pretty strongly to getting an elbow to the stomach,” Dick said, crossing his arms and hunching his shoulders.

Jason paused, as if considering. “And that freaks you out?”

“I’m not interested,” Dick said, and he looked away. “In that. If you want that—It’s not a judgement thing, Jason, it’s just a I can’t and won’t do it thing.”

“It’s not about pain,” Jason said after a beat.

“Really?” Dick said, with a little too much disbelief.

“Look, it’s feeling anything,” Jason said, sitting on the edge of the bed and making wide gestures with his arms. “To know that I’m not waking up in that fucking box again. My kink is feeling, okay? Sure pain can be part of that but it’s not it. It’s just a more general—” He stopped and stared at Dick, because Dick had frozen and gone pale. “Dick?”

“Wake up in a box?” Dick repeated blankly.

“Shit,” Jason snarled, pushing himself to his feet.

“You woke up in your coffin?” Dick asked, voice breaking halfway through the question.

“That’s a jump,” Jason said, but wasn’t looking at him.

“Is it a wrong one?” Dick asked, and he felt like all the desire had been leeched from his bones, leaving horror and pain behind.

“Fuck,” Jason said, starting to pace in front of Dick’s bed, while Dick stood several paces away watching him. “You didn’t know?”

“I honestly,” Dick swallowed. “Don’t know anything about how you came back to life. The first time. Bruce, well, he never brought up what he knows.”

“Damnit,” Jason said, raking a hand through his hair.

Dick watched him, not moving except his eyes going back and forth. “Jason,” he said softly. “You—you don’t have to tell me—”

“But you want to know, don’t you?” Jason said, stopping and turning abruptly to him, taking several steps forward. “Now that you have an inkling it wasn’t kind, you want to know.”

“I can live without knowing,” Dick said. He couldn’t hold Jason’s eyes. “I know it had to do with the Lazarus pit. I thought that was—well, the whole story.”

“That someone just dumped my corpse in there to bring me back?” Jason asked and Dick nodded, arms still crossed protectively over his chest. “Yeah, it wasn’t that simple.”

“Then what did happen?” Dick asked, forcing himself to look up again. “If you want me to know, tell me.”

They stared at each other a long moment.

“I dug myself out of my grave,” Jason said, voice flat and Dick swallowed the wounded sound he wanted to make. “With my belt buckle. It was all I had.”

“When?” Dick asked, barely able to breath. “When did—”

“Six months,” Jason said. “Give or take. Piecing it back together afterwards. It was only six months after I died.”

“Six,” Dick gaped at him. “But—where were you? All that time? Why didn’t you—”

Jason looked away before he turned and walked away, almost across the room from where Dick hadn’t moved. “Dick, I was alive, but that was all. I don’t know what happened, okay? I have no idea what brought me back, but all it gave me was my life, not my health or,” he let out an angry breath. “Or my mind.” Dick buried his face in his hands. “The Joker—he hit my head over and over with a pipe. My brain was basically mush. I couldn’t remember my name, I couldn’t remember,” he shook his head. “I spent a year in a coma as some John Doe. They couldn’t figure out a damn thing about me.”

“You were there all that time, and we didn’t know?” Dick managed.

“How could you have?” Jason asked, and his voice lost the hard edge for a second. “You had a body. You knew I was dead, there was no reason to look for me.”

“There should have been reports,” Dick said, finally dropping his arms and stepping forward. “Bruce would never have not have monitored your coffin—”

“Funny thing, he only wanted to make sure no one broke in, not that anyone broke out,” Jason said, laced with bitterness. “And the undertakers? Hell no were they reporting this.”

“But,” Dick started, looking away, and he could feel himself struggling to breath, struggling not to scream. “We could have—we could have found you, so long ago—”

“All I remembered,” Jason said softly. “Is that I had a home. I just couldn’t figure out how to get there. I remembered Bruce’s name, I remembered the smell of Alfred’s hands when he turned the pages of books, I remembered,” he paused and Dick carefully met his eyes. “I remembered the shape of your smile. That maybe there was somewhere with people that cared for me. But,” he shook his head. “You couldn’t have known.”

“So how did the Lazarus pit come into it?” Dick finally asked.

“Talia found me,” Jason said.

“If she could have than we should have been able to,” Dick snapped, fury clouding his mind for a second.

“She got a lead you didn’t,” Jason said, looking at him strangely. “That’s all. Some goon recognized me. My body was trained within an inch of its life, I had muscle memory of what to do when attacked. But there was no mind, no memory behind that. So some fucking goon recognized the move as Robin and it got reported to her.”

Dick looked away, biting down his anger. “And then?”

“Well she wanted me as a pawn against Bruce,” Jason said. “Started that way anyway. Protect me for her beloved or whatever,” and Dick cringed. “I’m not really sure what it was in whole but that was part of it. Eventually she disobeyed her father and when he was taking a dip she pushed me in.”

Dick forced himself not to react. “How long ago?”

“A few years,” Jason shrugged. “Look, I suddenly felt like I was waking up. All those memories coming back at once? Fuck,” he shook his head. “And while I’m still trying to orient myself, still trying to figure out what was going on, Ra's al Ghul was screaming and Talia was shoving me off a waterfall to keep me away from her furious father. The thing she said to me? Before shoving me off the waterfall? Was that I remained unavenged.”

Dick sat down hard and abruptly. Since there was nothing for him to sit on, he just fell to the ground.

“Dick?”

“And then what happened?” Dick asked, holding a hand to his chest as if that could keep any of the pain in.

“And then I confirmed that she was right,” Jason said, hollowly. “And I found out about Tim. I was unavenged and it looked like I was unmourned.”

“God, Jason,” Dick said. “You, you weren’t, you have to know you weren’t—”

Jason paused before crouching in front of him. He hesitated before cupping Dick’s cheek with one hand. “It wasn’t your fault.”

“You dug yourself out of your own coffin!” Dick yelled. “I don’t care if that wasn’t my fault! You should never—”

“Dick,” Jason said, and he shouldn’t be the one soothing Dick, Dick thought a little wildly. He should be the one soothing Jason, but he felt like the world was too tight and he couldn’t breathe, hand still clutching his own chest.

“Jason, I’m so sorry,” he whispered, giving in and wrapping his arms around Jason. “I’m so sorry. If we had known, if we could have known—”

Jason slid his arms around Dick’s back, holding him almost as tightly as Dick was holding him. “I don’t know if it helps. But the second time—the second time you walked into hell for me. Okay? This isn’t your fault.”

“I don’t even know how you died the second time,” Dick managed, voice clogged with tears he was still trying not to shed.

“What?” Jason drew back slightly. “What do you mean?”

“I walked into the batcave,” Dick said, carefully, slowly. “I saw—I saw your body and I walked out. I got myself very, very drunk, went to demand Dr. Fate help me the next morning and then, then I was looking for you. I never took the time, I never bothered to find out.”

Jason stared at him, mouth open and brow furrowed. “Why?” he asked.

“You don’t want me to tell you I love you so I’m not going to,” Dick said faintly.

Jason stared at him. “Are you serious?”

“It doesn’t matter in what way,” Dick said. “But—”

“You know we can’t work, right?” Jason said abruptly. “You and me, and this, long term. It’s not going to last.”

“You can’t just—”

“I’m going to kill the Joker,” Jason said, meeting Dick’s eyes. “If I ever get the chance. Since no one else avenged me I’m going to have to do it myself. I kill other people too, because they deserve it. And even I’m not sure what the pit did to my head, most of the time I’m in control but not all the time. And I know you, and Bruce, and all the rest of the family. You’re never going to accept that. So not today, maybe not tomorrow, but you know this is going to fall apart.”

“I was a cop, you know,” Dick said when Jason looked away and Jason snapped his gaze back. “I personally didn’t shoot anyone in the line of duty, and it was hard. But I had to accept it was a real possibility. Not to mention, I might as well have pulled the trigger on Blockbuster myself.”

“I heard rumors about that,” Jason said after a moment. “Didn’t believe them for a second.”

“I stood there and watched him get shot because I wanted him dead,” Dick said. “I allowed it to happen, and,” he shook his head. “I don’t approve of what you do, not the way you do it. Because you’re outside the law and it is dangerous to be all judge, jury, and executioner.”

“And you think cops are so much better?” Jason asked.

“I was in Blüdhaven, what do you think?” Dick snapped.

“I’m sorry,” Jason said. “Are you honestly trying to convince me that you’re not bothered by the fact I kill people, because I strongly remember you being bothered.”

“You slit people’s throats in my uniform!”

“Dick.”

“I don’t know what I’m saying,” Dick said, and buried his face in his hands again, Jason still crouched in front of him. “Just that maybe you shouldn’t write this off yet.”

“I tried to kill Bruce.”

“You didn’t,” Dick said.

“And the Joker?” Jason asked, voice soft and one of his hands had gone back into Dick’s hair. “I’m serious, Dick, I intend with everything I am to kill him.”

“He knew your name,” Dick said, voice faint and Jason tilted his head at him in confusion. “The Joker knew your name.”

“Dick, what does that even—”

“I can’t blame you for wanting to do something I already did,” Dick said, looking to the side.

“I’m sorry,” Jason said after almost a full minute had ticked by. “I must have heard you wrong.”

“He convinced me he killed Tim,” Dick said, still not looking at him. “After, after everything else. And I was so angry. I couldn’t stand—I wanted to hurt him. And he wanted to die. So he gave me a crowbar and mocked me and he, he finally said that he beat the other Robin harder than I was beating him. His name was Jason, right?” His eyes flickered up for a second, meeting Jason’s before looking away. “And god help me sometimes I wish he had stayed dead.”

“You killed the Joker,” Jason repeated.

“It didn’t last,” Dick murmured and Jason was pulling him forward, slamming their mouths together. “No—Jason—not for that. Don’t kiss me for that.”

Jason rose, pulling Dick to his feet with him. “You killed the Joker. Because of me.”

“I’m still mad at you for killing,” Dick said, but he buried his face in Jason’s shoulder and let him hold him anyway. “That’s not an issue that will disappear.”

And he paused, because he realized Jason was shaking, his own face shoved against Dick’s shoulder. Hesitantly, Dick raised a hand, stroking Jason’s hair and trying to remember if he had ever seen Jason cry before. “I’m sorry we didn’t find you.”

Jason just clung to his waist tighter so Dick gently pushed them toward the bed, turning the light off and somehow pushing the covers back without letting go of Jason. They lay there, curled up against each other.

“Well, that’s not exactly how I planned tonight to go,” Jason said, minutes or hours later, startling a helpless laugh out of Dick.

“There is a lot we should talk about,” Dick said, a while later.

“But not tonight,” Jason said, voice thick.

“No, not tonight,” Dick murmured, shifting closer and managing to swallow what he wanted to say in the dark, as they lay together. Instead he tangled his fingers in Jason’s hair and matched his breathing.

Chapter Text

Roy watched Dick readjust his mask as they stood at the edge of the Justice Society’s meeting room, waiting for the briefing to start. Jason was on his other side, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed and glaring. He had forgone the helmet that night, wearing a domino instead, so everyone was subjected to his full glare.

“So,” Roy said, pointedly arching a brow at Dick.

“I have no idea what that’s for,” Dick said and Roy rolled his eyes at him.

“Nice to see you in one piece and not, you know, hung over or passed out on the Watchtower.”

“Thank you for your votes of confidence,” Dick said and Roy elbowed him in the side.

“Hey, I’m just saying it’s nice to see you actually vertical and not, you know, fainting in front of Batman. Have you heard the end of that one yet?”

“Heard the end? Technically. Stop feeling the over attentive effects? No.”

“The really sad thing is I can guess exactly what that means,” Roy said, shaking his head. At times like this, it was easy for Dick to forget how bad it had been between them. “I got to say, actually working with Bats is a bit of a trip.”

Dick laughed, shaking his head. “Uh-huh.”

“And hey, no one’s pulled a gun on me.”

Dick could feel Jason tense, about to protest something but Dick beat him to it. “I can’t tell if you’re referring to me or Deathstroke with that one.”

“Technically both,” Roy said and Dick laughed, because at least Roy was making a joke out of it.

“Hey, it did what it needed to,” Dick said. “Can’t say for whatever was up with you and Deathstroke.”

“I’m sorry,” Jason said on Dick’s other side. “What.”

“I had been shot how many times, Dick? When you decided to pull a gun on me in training?” But Roy was still teasing, so Dick didn’t mind chuckling.

“A lot.”

“Right, and it was this asshole’s way of showing he cared to pull a gun on me and insist I was ready to go back into the field,” Roy said. “Why are we friends again?”

“Again,” Dick said. “It worked, you went back out into the field without any major insecurities and you performed well.”

“Okay, you are getting dangerously close to sounding like you used to and you need to stop,” Roy said and Dick cringed. “No, I just mean, performance reviews? Come on, Rob.”

“You have guns?” Jason said, looking at Dick.

“It was one of his, actually,” Dick said, recovering with a grin.

“You son of a bitch,” Roy groaned.

“Besides,” Dick said, looking back over at Jason. “I was a cop, remember? That’s about the time I was carrying a sidearm fairly often.”

“And you still stole one of my own guns to point at me,” Roy said, sighing over dramatically.

Jason was frowning and Dick was about to say something else when Ted Grant banged the table once. So Dick forced his gaze to the front of the room, listening as the night’s plan to hit all remaining eleven locations was solidified. He paid about as much attention to the briefing as he did to Jason beside him, wondering if the last three nights were some strange fluke and Jason would disappear again after completing the mission.

But he caught Jason glancing at him as the briefing went on and tried to not think about it. They had a full night ahead of them first.

-0-

Dick swung through the window of what used to be a warehouse. He landed quietly on the walkway that looked down to the floor, which had been turned into a nightclub. “What will they think of next?” he asked as Jason landed a bit more heavily next to him.

“What, this concept it new to you?” Jason asked, their voices low under the pounding music. Stargirl floated in behind them and Jason gave Dick a long look.

“What?” Dick mouthed.

“Of all the members?” Jason said.

“Do you got a problem?” Stargirl asked.

“Well, you’re just sorta, bright,” Jason said, gesturing at her. “For the way we work.”

She blinked at him behind her domino, sitting on her staff. “Uh, weren’t you both Robin?”

Jason’s face tensed and Dick tugged on his arm. “Come on,” he said. “The offices are that way. Hopefully they’ll be as stupid as the others.”

They weren’t as stupid as the others.

“I told you we shouldn’t have given them time to fortify!” Jason snarled, from where he was pressed on the other side of the doorway than Dick, Stargirl next to Dick and holding the cosmic staff ready.

“They could just be smarter?” Dick shrugged, glancing back into the room, which had luckily been reinforced so bullets couldn’t get in, which meant they also couldn’t get out, aside from the doorway. “You go right, I’ll go left. Stargirl?”

“I can cover the middle,” she said and moved first, Jason swearing and diving after her.

Dick tried to remember the last time he had been to a fight, diving into a roll and coming up with his escrima sticks out, taking down the two goons with guns with a few well placed kicks and hits, looking up to find the other two had covered the rest in the room.

“We should move fast in case more guards are around,” Dick said, rising and heading to the office desk, breaking a lock open to pull out the ledgers. He looked up when he heard a scream, Jason holding a man in a suit, who had been the one sitting at the desk when they arrived at the office.

“What the fuck! What kind of hero are you anyway?” the man snarled.

“I want to know who the ring leader is,” Jason said, and he had the man’s arm at a painful angle, one that only required more pressure before it broke.

“Red Hood,” Dick said sharply, Stargirl standing behind the desk with him, a ledger in her hands.

“I don’t have a gun pointed at his head, Wing,” Jason said, not looking away. “Now, I think you had something to tell me.”

“I don’t have to,” the man started and screamed when Jason broke his arm. Dick dropped the file he had pulled out, swinging himself over the desk. “Fuck, fuck!”

“Red Hood!” Dick snapped again, command voice almost as harsh as Bruce’s. “We might not even need him to tell us.”

“But we won’t figure that out one way or another until later,” Jason said, looking over at him without releasing the man at all.

Dick refused to turn and see if Stargirl was reacting at all. “Doesn’t mean you have to do this.”

“They’re hurting kids, Wing,” Jason said, voice low and Dick paused, wishing he could see Jason’s eyes.

“He’ll be in police custody,” he said instead. “Besides, we should have a clearer picture than even he does once we pool together all the intel we’re getting tonight.”

Jason stared at him before abruptly releasing the man, letting him fall on his broken arm.

Dick didn’t wince when he cried out, going back to the ransacking the desk as quickly as possible, Jason finally throwing a backpack at him to shove things into.

“So you’re that Red Hood, huh?” the man on the floor asked and Dick flickered his eyes over to him before focusing on the desk again. “I thought you were supposed to be all scary like.”

“He did just break your arm,” Stargirl pointed out, and she was on her hands and knees checking under the desk.

“Yeah, but then he got tamed by fucking Nightwing. Kinda sad, ain’t it?”

“Who tamed anyone?” Dick asked, because Jason was tensing beside him. Dick looked the desk over one more time as Jason started opening the safe that had been hidden by a painting on the wall. He approached the man on the floor, yanking his arm back with more force than he should have to zip tie his hands before moving on to the unconscious guards, knocking one of them that was starting to stir back out.

“There could be a lot of guards left down below,” Dick said, looking at Jason.

“So?” Jason asked. “We go out the window.”

“Sure, but I’d like these men picked up by the cops,” Dick said.

“So you want us to fight all the way down and out?” Stargirl asked, taking what Jason was handing her and sticking it into the backpack.

“We could take them out the window with us,” Dick said, as innocently as he could manage and Jason turned, grinning widely at him as Dick started rigging up what they would need to dangle the guards and the man in the suit out the window.

“You are both kinda messed up,” Stargirl informed them as they sat on the roof, watching the police cars approach.

Dick glanced over at Jason, trying not to smile. “Sorry, but yeah.”

She shook her head slightly as they kept watching. “Looks like that’s cleared up. Should we head back, see if everyone else had as good of luck?”

Dick nodded, taking off across the rooftops with Jason, Stargirl flying behind them. Reaching the Justice Society building, Dick landed on the roof, seeing some of the other heroes still outside. “Any luck?” he asked, Ted Grant being the one nearest to him.

“So far,” Ted said, nodding to Stargirl as she waved and headed down the stairs with the backpack. “Everyone’s reporting success. Heard a funny story on the police radio about some thugs behind tied outside a building?”

“What?” Dick asked and Ted looked toward the sky.

“Bats,” he said. “I knew it had to be you.”

“It could have not been us,” Dick said and Roy was shaking his head, trying not to laugh from where he had walked over when they arrived.

“God, I hope that shows up on social media.”

Dick made a rude gesture at him before glancing over at Jason, who hadn’t spoken much since they left the office. “Red Hood?”

“Alls well that ends well, huh?” Jason asked.

“Tonight probably went well,” Dick said. “We got a lot of this drug off the streets. Maybe even all of it.”

“Yeah,” Jason said, still sounding tense and Dick turned, opening his mouth, uncertain what he was going to say but Jason leaned forward suddenly, covering his open mouth. Dick’s body tightened in surprise, though it was not a particularly hard or deep kiss, feeling more like an affirmation of some kind. But he was intensely aware that there were still plenty of other heroes on the roof and Jason was kissing him, his hands around Dick’s waist. “See you around, boy wonder,” Jason said, pulling back and he was gone off the edge of the roof almost as suddenly as he had kissed Dick.

For a long moment Dick just stood there, mouth still hanging open before he buried his face in his hands as Roy started to laugh, a quiet chuckle turning into full blown hysterics at Dick’s expense.

“Shut up,” Dick managed, and looked up to realize not only was Ted Grant looking at him, brows raised in obvious question, but Jay Garrick and Alan Scott had both been on the roof too.

He looked at Roy, who was still laughing. “Well, he muttered, at least it wasn’t Batman,” and Roy caught himself on his knees with one hand, using the other to try and muffle his laughter.

“Son,” Ted said. “Should we have a talk.”

“Uh,” Dick managed. “No?”

Chapter Text

“It sure was nice for Red Hood to help out,” Jay Garrick said later, after a debrief that had almost put Dick to sleep. He hadn’t realized how used he was to Batman’s brief but thorough style.

“It was,” Dick agreed, crossing his arms and watching the other man warily.

“I thought he wasn’t getting along with you guys,” Ted Grant added, grinning at him and Dick gave him a nonplused look.

“You’re fishing.”

Ted shrugged. “Well, yeah.” His face suddenly went serious. “Are you two together?”

“I’ll let you know if there’s ever a clear answer about that,” Dick said and Alan Scott shook his head.

“That’s a worrying answer.”

“Is this really any of your business?” Dick asked, crossing his arms over his chest. Most of the other heroes had left already, leaving them alone in the room.

“Come on, we’re born worriers,” Ted said.

Dick opened his mouth and shut it after a moment, because these men had watched him grow up as much as any other hero ever had. “I know what I’m doing.”

“Red Hood isn’t known for playing well,” Ted said, folding his arms and leaning forward. “And you’re not known for the flashy police drop offs in the way your mentor can be.”

“I don’t know,” Dick started.

“Dr. Fate said you were pretty insistent on getting his help to bring him back,” Alan added and Dick sighed, leaning back in the chair and rubbing his forehead with one hand.

“Look, I understand your concern. I don’t really—if I need help, I’ll ask, alright? But if you’ll excuse me, it’s getting late and—”

“You know,” Jay said when Dick stood up. “There’s always a place for you here, on this team, if you want it. Especially since you’re in New York now.”

“Excuse me?” Dick finally managed.

“You look like you think Batman put us up to this,” Ted said, shaking his head. “You’re a good leader, a good mentor, and having a place besides whatever the Bat has might not be bad for you.”

 Dick couldn’t tell if he wanted to laugh or scream, glad Roy had already left. “Thanks,” he settled for finally.

“Good luck then,” Alan said with a serious expression and Dick left before they tried to talk with him anymore about if he knew what he was doing.

He almost made it to the door when a shadow moved and he stopped.

“I never knew you were into other guys,” Obsidian said.

“Does that matter?” Dick snapped, feeling a little bruised about everyone poking him all night since Jason had kissed him.

Obsidian gave a full body cringe. “Not—not like that it doesn’t. I just felt so alone when—”

“Shit,” Dick said, covering his face for a second. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Obsidian said, and actually laughed. “I’ve been a lot more defensive than you were. It’s just, you know, good luck. With that.”

“Thanks,” Dick said, hesitating. “And—”

“Things are fine,” Obsidian said, grinning his bright smile against his shadowed face. “But it’s nice to know you’re not alone.”

“Yeah,” Dick said softly.

-0-

He checked his own apartment first, just in case, before heading across town to Jason’s safe house he had stayed at a few nights before.

He hated how much he wasn’t surprised to find the apartment stripped and empty, with no sign of Jason. Even knowing it was useless, he sat on the fire escape outside the window, watching the sun rise before heading back to his apartment.

-0-

“Do you want to talk about it?” Donna asked, when she showed up at his window the next afternoon.

“You could just knock,” Dick said, sitting on his open windowsill.

She shrugged, and at least she was standing on the fire escape outside his window instead of hovering there. “This is better. Besides, it’s a lovely day.”

“You don’t want to be inside at all today, huh?” Dick asked, running a hand through his shower damp hair. “If you let me get dressed into something presentable I can meet you downstairs.”

“Are you going to talk?” she asked, arching her brows at him, but she was still smiling.

“No promises,” he said, closing the window and digging a leather jacket out of his closet before walking down the stairs to meet her at the entrance.

“I miss New York,” she said, sliding her arm through his and Dick managed a smile.

“I can’t decide if coming back here was a good idea or not. Sometimes I think it wasn’t, but honestly,” and he shrugged.

“There’s a lot of memories here,” Donna said and looked sideways at him as they walked.

“There are,” Dick said, and at least once they had all been good. Now most of them were simply bittersweet.

“Do you think if we had known what we know now, we would have done everything the same?” Donna asked and Dick almost tripped over his own feet on the sidewalk.

“Depends on what you mean,” he settled for finally because some nights he still woke up and thought it was years ago, when Donna had died and he had done his best to push everyone else as far away as they would go. “I would have been a lot more careful.”

“I don’t mean about who lived and who died,” Donna said.

“But that’s part of our life, isn’t it?” Dick asked. “Sure, I could say I wouldn’t have changed anything with Kory, or with Bruce, or any of those silly, foolish things we did as kids. But there’s always something that I could have—”

Donna sighed, leaning against him. “Let’s get coffee,” she said. “That didn’t really go where I wanted it to.”

“Sorry,” Dick said automatically and she shook her head.

“Alright,” she said. “But I am going to have to ask about you and Jason.”

“You could not,” Dick said and she arched a brow at him and finally he gave in and laughed. “Alright, but there’s no way I was going to get away with that, was there?”

“You’re forgetting how long I’ve known you, boy wonder,” she said, grinning. “I’m just trying to figure out how Roy is the one to tell me.”

“Because I have no idea what I’m doing,” Dick said, and instead of getting coffee, he turned them toward a park so they could keep walking. “If I did, it would be a lot easier to talk about it.”

“You brought him back to life, Dick,” Donna said.

“You’re worried that either I’m taking advantage or he’s trying to pay me back?”

“Apparently the thought has crossed your mind as well,” she pointed out.

“I think it’s gotten a lot more complicated than that,” Dick said and sighed. “A lot more complicated.”

 “How complicated?” she asked.

“We went grocery shopping together,” Dick settled for and she stopped walking, yanking Dick back by her grip on his arm.

“That’s complicated,” she settled for. “Which means now you have to tell me everything.”

“I’d rather—”

“Eat your own arm,” she said. “I know. Which is why we’re going to sit down here, out in the sun, and you’re going to tell me exactly how much this has messed up your head.”

He laughed, because otherwise he would tell her again how much he had missed her while she had been gone, how broken her death had made him, how hard it was for him to still trust that he could care about someone and not be hurt by it. How hard it still was for him to lead a team the way he once had, without falling back on the bad habits he had fallen into after she left him mourning and aching.

“I guess,” he said instead, and she pressed a little closer to his side.

-0-

He stayed out late that night on patrol, not wanting to even look through the cupboards that Jason had stocked only days before. He had called in a take-out order before he even got back to his apartment, sliding in through the window.

And he froze because Jason was sprawled out on his couch, asleep with a book on his chest.

Hesitantly he approached, picking the book up and glancing around for something to use as a bookmark. But that alone woke Jason up, who blinked at him with only the light from outside the window to make out Dick in.

“You pushed yourself tonight,” he said. “Slow night, after the big bust last night.”

“Yeah,” Dick said. “It was slow.”

And they both knew it has been because he didn’t want to come back to his empty apartment, fully expecting Jason to not be there. Jason pushed himself up to a sitting position rather than saying anything about that. “Did you have dinner.”

“Called for take-out,” Dick muttered.

“Not using all the food we spent that time picking out?” Jason asked, arching a brow at him.

“Didn’t want to tonight,” Dick settled for, and Jason stood up, plucking his book out of Dick’s hands.

“Order enough for two?”

“Ordered enough for left overs,” Dick said. “Which will make it work.”

“Great,” Jason said, and gently pushed Dick toward his bedroom. “But you should probably get out of uniform before the delivery person comes.”

“Right,” Dick managed, walking to the bedroom, and pausing as he started stripping the top of the uniform off. “You know,” he said, turning. “You never ogle me when I’m changing.”

“Or I’m just really good at doing it on the downlow,” Jason said and Dick stared at him. “I ogle you when you want to be looked at. That’s not usually when you’re changing.”

Dick realized he was smiling. “That’s a lot of consideration.”

“Oh yeah, that’s me, really considerate,” Jason said, shaking his head and walking away, back into the kitchen and Dick opened his mouth before closing it again. He stripped quickly, pulling on a tee-shirt and sweat pants, stretching his shoulders as he walked back into the living room.

“Why did you strip your safehouse?” he asked, instead of why Jason was there again, after only a night away.

“Because you had been there,” Jason said and Dick frowned. “Ah, not quite like that. More, if you were there, I’d rather Bruce not show up the next time he was feeling pissy.”

“You know, I’m at least fairly certain he doesn’t have a tracker imbedded in me,” Dick said.

“Only fairly certain?” Jason asked and Dick’s frown deepened. “I mean, I couldn’t say. Either way, he usually pays a lot more attention to where you’ve been.”

“I should be annoyed,” Dick decided finally. “But at least it’s your issue with Bruce and not with me.”

Jason half laughed, shaking his head. “Okay, but seriously. Fairly certain?”

“It is Bruce,” Dick said with a shrug, wondering if he should point out to Jason where the camera in the kitchen was. He wondered if Bruce had started checking it since Jason had come around. “It—it would be nice, to have some way to contact you that wasn’t like, smoke signals.”

“Don’t really have a regular phone,” Jason said, not quite looking at him. It was obvious he wished he had something to do with his hands.

“Come on,” Dick said. “This is us. Like we could cobble together some communicator for just us to use.”

“Promise not to lend it to Bruce?” Jason asked, after a moment too long when he stared at Dick.

Dick wanted to gape, because he hadn’t even expected that much. “Yeah,” he said instead. “Promise.” And he walked forward, pressing himself to Jason’s side and tucking his head against his shoulder. Jason tensed for a second before he brought a hand around Dick’s shoulders, and they stood that way, just breathing, until the food arrived.

Chapter Text

Hey B

Dick. What is wrong?

Nothing. Just figured you had about two weeks recorded on your creepy cams memory at one time?

Four weeks.

Riiiight. Anyway you should check out the early morning of the seventeenth.

You realize you're giving me permission to spy on you.

Technically I'm giving you a hint to spy on Jason, which is why we will never ever speak of this conversation again.

Got a message from the JSA the other day.

Ha ha.

I told you you were in too deep already.

Just watch the damn footage Bruce.

Is he... He's smiling.

...Thank you.

-0-

“And I was going to hear about this when?” Tim asked, on the other end of the line, the phone shoved between Dick's shoulder and ear.

“Uh,” Dick started. “Soon? Maybe?”

“Uh-huh. You and Jason. You remember he tried to kill me that one time?”

“I think he's gotten over that?” Dick settled for finally.

“I sorta want to kick him in the balls most days.”

“Not super effective with a jock strap,” Dick said, going through his mail, dropping a letter from the hospital to one side of the kitchen island to deal with later.

“And you like his balls now, right?”

Dick paused, eyes sliding over, even though he could hardly look at Tim or even seen the phone. “Tim?”

“Yeah, okay, sorry, that was pretty bad. I'm just surprised, is all. I didn't know this was a thing. And I would have liked to hear it from you.”

“Who did you hear it from?” Dick asked.

“Like you didn't expect the whole Justice Society to keep their mouths shut, right?”

“Not even remotely,” Dick sighed.

“Okay so why didn't I hear it from you?”

“Because people would have heard about it from me if they had given me the time to figure out what was going on,” Dick said, feeling sore. “Including Jason.”

“Uh-huh,” Tim said.

“Look, I know your weekends are usually busy, but if you want to come to New York one of them—”

“Is Jason going to be there?”

“He can probably not be,” Dick said, even as Jason pushed open the door and walked inside, wearing his jacket and civilian clothes. His heart seized and he forgot to listen to what Tim said next. “Sorry, sorry, what was that?”

“You okay over there?”

“I'm fine,” Dick said, turning his head to look back at the mail.

“I said that could be fun,” Tim said, subdued. “You know, if you actually—”

“I want you to come, little brother,” Dick said, and he had finished sorting the mail so there was nothing else for his hands to do. He tried not to stare as Jason came around the kitchen island, realizing a second too late he'd left the medical envelope out in plain sight when Jason picked it up.

“Yeah, I'll see what my schedule looks like,” Tim said. “But we're soooo not done with this conversation.”

“I look forward to finishing it in person,” Dick said, as Tim murmured his goodbyes and hung up.

“Little brother?” Jason asked.

“Yeah, little wing?” Dick replied with an arched brow.

Jason scowled at him for a second, before waving the envelope. “What's this?”

“That's personal,” Dick said, snagging it back out of his hands.

“Dick—”

“I'm not hiding a medical issue,” Dick said, folding the envelope and sticking it in his back pocket. “It's a very high chance that once again, it's nothing. It's just,” he glanced away. “A good idea to get it checked every year, make sure that experimental treatment worked the way it should.”

“What,” Jason started and then his face froze. “Blüdhaven.”

“Yeah,” Dick said, not quite looking at him.

Jason looked away too. “I—”

“Jason, we really don't have to talk about this,” Dick said.

“No, I mean,” Jason sighed. “I saw it. I watched—I watched Chemo fall on your city. I mocked Bruce about it, that there was no way you could have survived it.”

Dick tensed, because they still almost never talked about Bruce. “Look—” He cut himself off when Jason turned, dragging him against his chest and the hug somehow still surprised him.

“I'm actually really glad you didn't die,” Jason said.

Dick blinked at the ceiling over Jason's shoulder before turning his head and resting it against Jason's shoulder. “You know, remarkably, I am too.”

“So this is just a check up?” Jason asked.

“Yeah,” Dick said. “They want all the Blüdhaven survivors to get one, every year. It's better to just do it myself than have someone show up on my door step making disappointing noises about my health and how I need to take care of myself.”

Jason chuckled, a low rumbling around against Dick's chest and Dick tucked himself tighter against the taller man, breathing through the moment. 

-0-

And for a while, it went like that. Jason came to his apartment as often as he didn't, and Dick started to fool himself that this tentative truce where they never talked about the fact they had jumped into an actual relationship could last.

It wasn't that he suspected Jason was too stupid to notice either, but neither of them brought it up, they just sprawled out on the couch after long patrols on top of each other and worked on a communicator that was as untraceable as they could make it during the afternoon, and as many nights as not, Jason slept in Dick's bed.

Dick knew there were conversations they were avoiding but he enjoyed the way Jason kissed him when he came home too much to start them himself. And he was starting to hate himself a little for that.

-0-

He was having a nightmare, Blockbuster using Jason's skull as a prop while Dick tried to crawl through Chemo's sludge, ignoring the yells behind him.

And suddenly someone had him on his back, pressing down against his hips and he thought he could taste rain. Clawing his way back to consciousness, the weight didn't shift and he woke up yelling, trying to shove the weight above him off.

“No! Don't touch me.”

“Dick?” the form holding him down asked as he flailed his arms out, only to have them caught by the wrists. “Dick, what the fuck?”

“Get off me,” Dick panted, blinking his eyes and slowly adjusting to his apartment in New York, to Jason heavy and warm over his hips, holding him down.

Not—not—

“What's wrong?”

“Get off,” Dick said, yanking at Jason's grip on his wrists, trying to twist out from underneath him. Sometimes he forgot how much stronger Jason was, and how disoriented he was. Given a minute to calm down, he knew he'd find a way out of this pin but the longer he stayed there the more panic clogged his throat.

“Jesus Christ,” Jason settled for finally, letting go of Dick's wrists and climbing off the bed. Instantly, Dick pushed himself back until his back hit the wall at the head of the bed, curling himself up there. “Want to tell me what any of that was about?”

“It was a nightmare,” Dick said, the kind he didn't usually get.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Jason said, standing at the foot of the bed, and his arms crossed.

“I'm fine,” Dick said, unable to meet his eyes. He paused, frowning. “Why did you already have me pinned?”

Jason blinked once. “I was going to surprise you,” he shrugged and Dick stared blankly at him.

“You son of a bitch,” he settled for finally. “You wanted to see if pinning me like that—what, caused me to react? Couldn't you just have let it go?”

“And yet, obviously it did,” Jason said and silence fell like a wall between them. “Don't touch me?”

“Honestly, fuck you,” Dick said, getting up from the bed and stalking out into the kitchen, bracing his hands on the back of the couch that was parallel to the kitchen island.

“Dick,” Jason said, following him and Dick retreated further away. That caused Jason to stop in his tracks. “Okay, that was obviously more of a trigger than I thought.”

“It's not a trigger,” Dick snapped.

Jason crossed his arms, watching him. “Do you don't want to talk about it?”

“I told you no,” Dick said, waving a hand angrily at him. “When you asked—about being—I said no. I said no.”

Something stilled in Jason's face. “You don't have any problem about me pinning you down,” he said.

Dick frowned. “When—you mean when you're in me and I can wrap my legs around you? That—that's different.”

“So why is it so different?”

“Why do you need to know?” Dick yelled and realized his panic had never really gone away. He stopped, covering his face for a second and focusing on breathing. Jason let him, standing several feet away still and neither moving closer or further away. “It was years ago now,” Dick settled for. “I just—I don't like when someone is over me, and I can't, when they have my hips pinned down.”

“Dick, you said, as soon as you woke up, don't touch me.”

“So?” Dick asked, dropping his hand and looking up.

“So,” Jason said, drawing the word out. “What happened?”

“You think it was rape,” Dick said flatly and something strange went over Jason's face.

“Did you say no?”

“I,” Dick started, and wanting to shrink in on himself, rounding his spine. “Yeah, but—”

“Wow,” Jason said, holding a hand up. “You are not about to say what I think you are, are you?”

“Jason—”

“No, Dick. Did you say no to this person, whatever happened?”

“Yes,” Dick said faintly.

“And they had sex with you anyway?”

“Yes—”

“You know there's no but in that statement,” Jason said, and Dick was starting to recognize when he had leashed his fury. “You said no, that's rape. Please tell me I don't have to explain that to you.”

“Jason,” Dick said, still unable to look at him.

“Dick,” Jason snapped.

“I had let her shoot Blockbuster,” Dick said faintly. “I was—I was—I didn't fight back. I let her—”

“Who?” Jason asked, his voice having dropped.

“It doesn't matter,” Dick said faintly, even though sometimes he found himself checking her prison record, tracking her good behavior and making sure he knew exactly when she might go up for parole.

“Dick—”

“You're angry,” Dick said after a beat.

“Of course I'm angry!” Jason said, throwing his arms out. “Someone hurt you and you couldn't even acknowledge—”

“People thought we were in a consensual relationship,” Dick said, partly surprising himself.

“Who the fuck cares what other people thought! Did you ever want to be with her?”

Dick shook his head, but he couldn't get Barbara's hard eyed look out of his mind. He had wanted to love her so much—

And she had been so angry and fed up with him, had accused him of protecting Catalina, of caring for her when Dick had just wanted to get on his knees and bury his face in her lap and promise that hadn't been it, that had never been the case. 

His head snapped up when Jason's hand was there under his chin. “Dick, I'm sorry. You're right, I shouldn't have pushed it. I thought—fuck, I don't know. I thought it was just a thing, just a preference and I was curious if you wouldn't, you know, actually enjoy it. That was really fucking wrong of me, and I'm sorry.”

Dick blinked, his jaw working. “You're the only one to ask me if I even wanted to be with her,” he said, too quiet. “And you don't even know who she is, you weren't even there—”

“At least tell me—”

“She's in prison,” Dick said. “For—for murder.”

“You don't sound happy about that.”

“I tried to turn myself in as accessory,” Dick said.

Jason watched him, hand still curled under his chin. “I didn't believe them. When I came to Gotham, started working as the Red Hood there was that rumor going around, that Nightwing had killed a crime lord. I laughed in their faces.”

“He found out who I was,” Dick said. “He took—he blew up my building, took my job, the life I had built for myself. I got so low.”

Jason sighed, nudging his nose against Dick's temple, along his hairline. “I'm sorry.”

“For what? You weren't there,” Dick said. “It wasn't your fault.”

“Well, tonight's panic attack was,” Jason said. “Dick. Seriously though, promise me if you tell someone no, you're going to understand what that means.”

“I'll try,” Dick said, turning his head and Jason obliged him with a kiss, long, slow, and deep, letting Dick melt against him.

Jason's hands cupped his face, urging him closer and deeper, and Dick tangled his hands in the top of the sleep pants that Jason left at his apartment now. “Come back to bed,” Jason said, smoothing some of the hair out of Dick's eyes. “Promise I won't do that again.”

“I know,” Dick said and the trust almost made him choke. “I know you wouldn't.”

Jason's kiss was heartbreakingly gentle and sometimes Dick wanted to scream just to distract himself from the ache in his chest. He wanted to tell Jason he loved him again, but that would break the tentative truce they had set up, where they didn't talk about what was happening.

But he felt increasingly certain he didn't need Jason to tell him he loved him.

Not when Jason held him like he was fragile and kissed him like he was a revelation.

 

 

Chapter Text

Dick lay with his head on Jason's stomach, one of Jason's hands idly twisting in his hair and it was late afternoon, the sun coming in through the window. The night before, Jason had followed him on patrol and Dick knew they still had to talk about the Red Hood and Jason's methods but there had been a joy and freedom to running across the rooftops with Jason, tackling minor crimes and keeping the streets a bit cleaner.

He reached a hand up, watching the sunlight stream through his fingers for a moment. “You know,” he said, uncertain if he even wanted to ever open this topic again. “You're the only person who even knows that what Catalina did was rape.”

Jason's hand stilled for a second. “Yeah? How's that?”

“Barbara had broken up with me,” Dick said. “She thought I was just being—loose? I guess?”

“Loose?” Jason asked, bringing the hand that had been in Dick's hair up to twine their fingers together. “Seriously?”

“We, uh, had some struggles,” Dick said, shifting his fingers around Jason's. “I think—I think she thought I was cheating on her with Catalina.”

“Yeah, like you're someone who cheats,” Jason said and Dick turned his head, looking up Jason's chest to his face.

“What?”

“Come on, Dick,” Jason said. “You, cheating? Like, this isn't enough about whether you're a good person or not. You're just not the type.”

“I'm the type to do a lot of things,” Dick said, even though their hands were still entwined and he was still laying on Jason.

“What, you cheated on someone?”

“I—I've been called one—”

“Seriously?” Jason asked, pushing himself up on one elbow to look down at Dick, but not dislodging his head.

“Kory—I mean—” and Dick paused, frowning. “Oh.”

“Why do I have a feeling I am not going to like whatever you just thought?” Jason sighed, squeezing Dick's fingers.

“Probably because you won't,” Dick said, and pushed himself up, crossing his legs and turning to face Jason on the bed. “We had this team mate,” he said and reached for Jason's hand again, which Jason was happy to take. “She could take other people's forms.”

Jason scowled, but remained quiet.

“I should have known,” Dick said, frowning. “Kory had left—and she instantly came back again after this whole deal about leaving? It didn't make sense. I should have pushed more, asked more.”

“But she appeared like your long term girlfriend?” Jason asked.

“Yeah,” Dick said, propping his free elbow on his knee to rest his chin on. “She called me a cheater. Everyone found out and well, cheater wasn't the only thing they called me.”

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Jason let out a long breath. “I don't have to tell you now what that means, right? If you didn't even know who you were sleeping with?” He pushed himself up to sitting too, facing Dick on the bed. “So both your long term girlfriends blamed you for your rape, huh?”

“Come on, Jay,” Dick said, looking away, because even if he had already admitted that to himself, and taken the time to lay out the pieces for Jason, he still couldn't stand hearing the words. “Don't—”

“I am never,” Jason said, his hand going to Dick's chin and tilting his head up, a gesture Dick recognized from the other night. “Going to blame you for being assaulted. For being taken advantage of. For being raped.”

Dick blinked at him, his chest aching and unable to hold himself together. “Does that mean you're going to be my long term girlfriend, then?” he asked, because the other option was to press his face into Jason's chest and cry.

Jason's eyes widened slowly but he hadn't stopped touching Dick, hadn't pulled away. “Yeah? So what if I was?” he asked, voice harsher than it had been.

Blinking rapidly, Dick tilted his head, Jason's fingers sliding across his cheek. “You're the one who said you didn't want that,” he whispered, and the sunlight felt too bright for what they were saying. “You're the one who said it was just about sex, even if it hasn't been for a while now.”

“Yeah, it has been a while,” Jason said. “You didn't say anything.”

“I figured if I kept quiet you might not notice,” Dick said and Jason narrowed his eyes.

“I'm not fucking stupid, Dick,” he said, but leaned in, nuzzling against Dick's cheek. “I noticed.”

“Well you didn't say anything either,” Dick said, arching his neck back and Jason immediately dropped a kiss there, licking his pulse.

“I didn't know what you wanted.”

“I told you,” Dick said. “I don't like flings, I don't like casual. I think it's been pretty apparent with you here, working on a communicator together, sleeping in my bed as often as you're not, that I wasn't just here for a good fuck.” He paused, because Jason had drawn back to meet his gaze again. “Though that's been admittedly good.”

“You shouldn't be serious about me, Dick,” Jason said, and his voice had dropped, low and broken.

“I'm not going to loose you,” Dick said, and he reached forward, a hand on each of Jason's cheeks. “I refuse. You know I refuse. I'd walk into Hell for you, all over again, and you really think we can't make this work?”

“I think I'm still the worst mistake you could make,” Jason said.

“I'm pretty good at making mistakes,” Dick said. “I'm just not sure this is one of them.”

Jason looked away and Dick let him.

“Just think about it?” he asked, soft, and Jason shrugged even as he nodded.

“I'll think about it.”

And Dick rested their foreheads together, because he couldn't have asked for more, even if Jason had been willing to give it.

-0-

Dick made it home only a few minutes before Jason did, because patrol had been bad, and he'd flung himself between Jason and a blade, earning himself a long gash down the side of his arm for his trouble, but saving Jason from being stabbed through the chest.

He had his top and gloves off, deciding that the wound didn't need stitches and starting to wrap it in gauze when Jason slammed through his window, yanking the curtain closed hard enough Dick almost feared it would be torn off.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Jason demanded, trowing his jacket and hood behind Dick's couch, stripping the domino mask off.

“I'm fine,” Dick said, still winding the bandage around his arm. “It's not even—”

Jason grabbed his arm, making Dick hiss at him in pain, turning it to consider the depth of the wound. “Fuck, you scared the hell out of me,” Jason said.

“It's not bad,” Dick repeated. He raised his other hand, sweeping his thumb across the bleeding cut on the side of Jason's face. “It's better than what you might have been.”

“I have a whole lot more armor than you do,” Jason growled.

“Well, you're going to have to learn to live with this,” Dick said. “Me, on your back, maybe even getting hurt. It's in what we both do, and you can't—” He cut off when Jason slammed their mouths together, his hand still holding Dick's arm. “Jay—”

“Here,” Jason said, breaking away from Dick's mouth to fumble with the bandage. Dick's hand got tangled up, as they both tried to finish wrapping the long cut, Jason's hips harsh against Dick's.

“Jay—” Dick said again, because he was starting to feel trapped, and a little bit desperate, because Jason had him pinned against his kitchen island.

“Fuck,” Jason growled again, and he had somehow managed to tie off the bandage at last, bringing both hands up to cradle Dick's face, getting accidental smudges of blood on his cheek. But Dick's fingers had already smeared some off on his neck, from the cut on his cheek.

“Jason, it's okay,” Dick started but when Jason kissed him, desperate, Dick let him, because he hadn't expected the night to go so badly, to see such pain and fear in Jason's eyes.

When Jason lifted his hips and set him down on the kitchen island, he let him, twining his arms around Jason's neck.

“I'm not loosing you,” Jason said, having gone to his neck, and dragging his teeth across Dick's shoulder.

“You didn't even come close tonight,” Dick said, leaning his neck in the opposite direction, as Jason reached down to fumble with his pants.

“Doesn't change,” Jason said, and he had the Nightwing uniform open, yanking the pants down. “How much it scared me.”

“I'm going to protect you,” Dick said, meeting Jason's eyes and Jason's hands froze. “I told you that.”

“And I refuse to lose you,” Jason said, surging forward again. Dick was knocked back by the kiss, catching himself on his elbows and hissing when it jarred the long cut. But Jason was already moving on, kissing down the line of his stomach so Dick let himself collapse, accidentally knocking the fruit basket over.

“Jay,” Dick started, but Jason shushed him, still kissing his stomach and trailing his hands down Dick's sides. Dick could see when he dropped to his knees and he moaned, as Jason worked his boots off and tossed them somewhere behind the couch, his pants following seconds later.

“Shouldn't leave the uniform—” Dick began and broke off in a desperately high pitched sound when Jason's mouth covered the top of his cock. “Jason.”

“Dick,” Jason said, and Dick could feel the breath from the word, making his hips twitch up. “Let me.”

“This isn't,” Dick started and groaned because Jason had pulled his knees up to rest on his shoulders, as he leaned down and to the side to suck a bruise against Dick's thigh. Unable to reach down without straining his arm, Dick threw one of them out to grab the side of the kitchen island, the other gripping his own hair just to have something to ground himself with.

“You are so,” Jason started but he fell silent almost immediately, alternating between biting hickeys into Dick's thighs and licking his cock between each one. “I thought about this a lot,” Jason said. “Especially when I was wearing the panties.”

“They weren't,” Dick panted. “Panties. It was—”

Jason laughed, and Dick could feel the vibration against his skin.

“The point being,” Jason said, both his hands coming up to smooth along Dick's outer legs before lightly running along the bruises on his thighs. “God, I thought about it. What it would be like, to wear that uniform, and have all these bite marks obvious. You were already in the Nightwing get up, but I liked thinking about us wearing the same thing. How much concealer you would have needed on your legs, and if it could have lasted the night—”

“Might have avoided high kicks,” Dick said, eyes unfocused on the ceiling.

“Shit. Probably a good thing you don't have to worry about that anymore.”

He pressed another kiss to the side of Dick's cock, and Dick could feel the shape of his mouth as he grinned.

“Stop teasing me,” he said, hand on the side of the island having gone white knuckled. “Please.”

“Yeah?” Jason asked, and then dragged his tongue up the underside of his cock, making Dick arch his back almost off the island. “You want something more?”

“Jason,” Dick growled. “Don't—” and he cut off with a cry, as Jason swallowed him, sucking in earnest, his fingers still curled around his thighs. “God—you're mouth, Jay—” and he shifted his legs against Jason's back, trying not to dig his heels in against his shoulder blades.

Jason moaned, making Dick arch again, biting the meat of his palm to keep down his yell. Because no matter how well he sound proofed the apartment, he didn't want anyone else to hear.

He felt selfish for how much he wanted Jason, and to keep him to himself.

“I love you,” he gasped and Jason's eyes flickered up, almost alarmed. “I do, I love you so much—I'd never let anything happen to you—” And Jason shifted, pinning his hips down with both hands, humming now constantly and Dick had to cover his mouth, because no matter what he tried to hold onto he couldn't hold onto himself—

“I love,” and he couldn't look at Jason's head bobbing up and down anymore, his head falling to the side.

His eyes flickered up to his kitchen cabinets and widened because he had forgotten about the camera, but even that brief fear couldn't stop him from yelling around his hand and coming in Jason's mouth.

For a moment they both just stayed there, Dick panting and Jason with his mouth still around his cock, hands on his hips before Jason slowly pulled up, making Dick shudder.

“We prepare food here, you know,” Dick murmured.

“We'll clean it in the morning,” Jason rasped.

“There's blood,” he said, running a hand along Jason's neck.

“Yeah,” Jason said, and he wrapped his arms around Dick's back, urging him up. “Come on,” he whispered, hands going under Dick.

“Do you want to carry me?” Dick asked, burying his face in Jason's neck. “Is that what you're trying to do?”

Jason hummed and Dick shivered again. “Well, we should shower.”

Dick rolled his hips, feeling Jason still hard against him. “Shower, yeah, that sounds good.”

Jason bit off a curse. “I want to take a closer look at that cut,” he said. “I wasn't really—”

“Thinking straight?” Dick asked and Jason laughed against his shoulder, dragging his teeth down it. “Fuck,” Dick managed.

“Yeah, something like that,” Jason said. “Come on, Dick. Shower, bed—”

“More sex?”

“Yeah,” Jason said, half drawn out. “I'm serious though. Try not to scare me.”

Dick didn't say he wasn't the one who had died twice already. “I'll try,” he said, and kissed Jason, who was still trying to pick him up. “No promises though.”

“Asshole,” Jason murmured and kissed him again.

-0-

Dick hadn't bothered to pay attention to which shirt he had picked up, noticing only it was too big when he was already in the kitchen, wiping the kitchen island down.

He'd gotten up at some point in the night, when it had almost been dawn, and stood in front of the mirror of his bathroom, running his fingers up and down the hickeys on his thighs, and finding himself smiling before he had crawled back into bed and curled himself around Jason, the new bandage Jason had done himself cleaner and more precise.

The last thing he had been expecting was for the doorbell to ring.

He checked the camera outside his door and froze, washcloth in one hand still, the shirt he was wearing sliding down one shoulder, and only in his boxers.

But he opened the door anyway, because putting it off wouldn't have helped him much at all. “Bruce,” he said, and hoped Jason was still asleep.

 

Chapter Text

For a moment Bruce just stared at him and Dick felt too aware of how rarely he left Bruce speechless.

“This is a bad time,” Bruce settled for finally.

“It is,” Dick agreed. “But I was the one who invited you to stop by.”

Bruce's mouth thinned and Dick wanted to shrug his shoulder and see if that would roll the shirt up at all. “I should have called.”

“Bruce,” Dick sighed, because he was wearing Jason's shirt and his boxers and Bruce Wayne, known billionaire was outside his door in a three piece suit. “Just—you should come in.”

“That sounds like a terrible idea,” Jason said, in the door of Dick's bedroom and Dick closed his eyes, gesturing Bruce in so he could close the door on the fight that was coming. “What the fuck are you even doing here?”

“Visiting Dick,” Bruce said, and sometimes he looked like a drowning man when he saw Jason.

“Right, because that's just a thing that happens,” Jason said, and Dick was standing between them in Jason's shirt, Jason shirtless and Bruce looking like he had just left a board meeting early.

“It can be,” Bruce said and Dick sucked in a deep breath before letting it out.

“I,” Dick said and they both turned their gazes on him. “Am just,” and he gestured helplessly toward his bedroom, even though Jason was still standing in the doorway. “Going to get another shirt.”

“Dick,” Bruce started to say but Dick was already moving, slipping past Jason into his bedroom. For a moment he just stood there, his back to whatever staring contest Bruce and Jason were having. But then he was stripping out of Jason's shirt and hopping into a pair of pants while he was by his closet.

He paused at the mirror on the closet door, staring at his hair before sighing and walking back out.

Neither Bruce nor Jason had moved much, except that Jason had put the kitchen island between Bruce and himself. Dick quietly handed Jason's shirt to him, and Jason took it without pulling it on.

“I'm sorry this was a bad time,” Bruce said and Jason snorted, Dick drifting back toward the walkway between the door and his bedroom, so he was not obviously closer to one than the other.

“It's fine,” he said. “Do—do you want breakfast?”

“Dick, that's not,” Bruce started and Jason smacked the kitchen island, making both of them jump.

“Fuck it,” he snarled, yanking his shirt over his head and storming past Dick, who only watched him quietly as he scooped up his gear from where it had been thrown behind the couch. Dick cringed, realizing his own uniform was still there. “I'm out, there's—”

“Jason,” Bruce said, and his voice sounded like it had been scraped raw with a knife, making even Dick cringe.

“No,” Jason said. “We've already said everything—”

“Jason, we've barely said anything—

“Well that's too bad for you then isn't it?” Jason said, glaring at Bruce, whose spine straightened. “I've said everything I could imagine wanting to say to you a long time ago.”

He at least spared a glance for Dick as he yanked the door open. Bruce managed not to reach for Jason as he went out but it was obvious he wished he could.

“Damn,” Dick whispered when the door shut.

For a long moment Bruce just stared at the door before he took in a breath deep enough to lift his shoulders. “I'm sorry,” he said. “I didn't mean—”

“I know,” Dick said, walking over to the counter where he kept the coffee machine. “I know, you wouldn't have come if you expected that.”

“Still,” Bruce said. “That—must not have been how you expected your morning to go.”

Dick paused, hand hovering over the coffee machine but not turning it on yet. “Why—why did you come this morning?” he asked, and only his training kept his eyes from flickering to the camera.

“Why?” Bruce asked.

“It just seems like—strange timing is all,” Dick said and Bruce had walked to the counter, in Dick's peripheral vision now.

“Because you've been hurt, or because Jason was here?” Bruce asked and Dick wished he could let out a breath, wished he could be relieved, but didn't feel it.

“Jason is here a lot now,” Dick said softly and he saw Bruce straighten more.

“Is he,” Bruce said, not really a question.

“You've already told me to be careful,” Dick said and finally went to fill the coffee pot.

“I know,” Bruce said. “I just had not realized how—how far things had gotten.”

Dick realized the pot was overflowing with water and he wanted to press his fingers against the bruises on his neck and shoulder. “I,” he turned the water off. “I don't know. I guess—I guess things have become serious.”

“Dick, I'm sorry.”

Dick finally looked over. “Another apology? Bruce, I'm starting to worry.”

Bruce's eyes tightened. “I'm serious.”

“I know,” Dick said, looking down at the full pot of water, still not turning to put it back on the coffee machine.

“I shouldn't have come,” Bruce said.

“But you're here now,” Dick said and finally went back to the coffee machine, setting the pot of water down and pulling two mugs from the cupboard, firmly setting one in front of Bruce. “So you might as well stay. I'd like it if you stayed.”

Bruce looked down before he nodded. “Alright,” he said and Dick flickered a smile at him.

“It is good to see you,” Dick said. “Despite, ah, how awkward the timing is.”

At first Bruce just stared at the mug in front of him before looking up abruptly, as Dick finally switched on the coffee machine. “Are you happy?”

“You mean with Jason?”

“I mean in general,” Bruce said. “But yes. With Jason.”

“Bruce, you were right,” Dick said. “I always did—I always have loved him too much.”

“He's still dangerous,” Bruce said before he winced at his own words. “He can be unstable. He—”

“I know,” Dick whispered. “And we haven't—we haven't talked about it, exactly, but since he's been patrolling with me more regularly, he hasn't killed anyone. He gets angry, but he's got control over it.” Dick stopped, watching the coffee drip for a long minute. “Did you ever know, about, how he came back?”

“Pieces,” Bruce said.

“Apparently his first conscious memory was being told he was not avenged,” Dick said, not capable of looking at Bruce. “I'm not saying—that vengeance is—is the way—though we'd both hypocrites if we thought that considering our own vows of vengeance against the world that took our parents—but for that to be the first thing you're aware of? That—that the people you cared about didn't come to your,” and his voice caught. “To your funeral? And the man who killed you was still causing death and tearing apart more families?”

“Dick—”

“I'm not condoning it,” Dick said. “But I understand why he was so angry.”

“Dick,” Bruce said again and Dick finally looked over, Bruce's expression stricken.

“I,” Dick closed his eyes. “I told him that I killed the Joker.”

He couldn't bring himself to open them to gauge Bruce's reaction.

“Did it help?” Bruce asked.

“I don't know,” Dick said. “Maybe?”

There was a moment when neither of them moved, before Bruce reached out, a heavy hand on Dick's shoulder, not quite an embrace. “I am sorry,” Bruce said and Dick blinked, mouth dropping open but no words coming out. “For everything I've done to all of you.”

“Bruce,” Dick whispered. “I've told you—I wouldn't have chosen anything else. Not ever. Even when it hurts.”

“And yet—”

“Come on, Bruce,” Dick said. “Have coffee. We can do something stupid and touristy if you have time later. It is New York after all.”

“Alright,” Bruce said, some warmth finally entering his expression. “There—there is time.”

“I promise I'll even keep the puns down to a reasonable level.”

“There is no reasonable level for puns,” Bruce said, but sometimes Dick could almost imagine things were like they were before, when they had been friends, and when Bruce had smiled easier.

He filled Bruce's mug and let him turn away before he cleared his throat. “Bruce?”

“Yes?” Bruce asked, turning back around.

“There's something,” Dick started, realizing his throat was dry. “I think—I think we should maybe talk about. But I'm not, I'm not really ready yet. I just—”

There was a frown between Bruce's eyes but he nodded. “Whenever you're ready, Dick. I'll be there to listen.”

Dick worked his jaw for a second before nodding. “Thanks,” he said, throat feeling clogged and they sat for a while, on Dick's couch and drank coffee.

-0-

Dick was curled up on the couch with a carton of take out against his chest, late night infomercials on the television he rarely turned on, when Jason pushed the window open and dropped down.

For a moment they just stared at each other.

“What is it with you and take out?” Jason asked.

“It was a long day,” Dick said, curling his knees a little defensively as Jason started stripping out of his armor and stowing it in a bag. “I wasn't sure if you would be back tonight.”

“Can't cook for yourself?”

“Didn't feel like it,” Dick said.

Jason turned, crossing his arms over his chest and for a long moment they stared at each other, Jason on his feet and Dick still sitting on the couch, fork disinterestedly sticking out of the food carton.

“Is something the matter?” Dick asked, when he couldn't stand it anymore.

“I'm just trying to figure you out,” Jason said and Dick narrowed his eyes. “And why the fuck you still allow Bruce into your life.”

“He raised me, Jason. He's always going to be part of my life. Just like you are.”

“I am, am I?” Jason asked and Dick carefully set the food on his coffee table before pushing himself to his feet. He hadn't bothered to do anything more than yank on sleep pants when he got back from patrol and regretted that now that Jason was still fully dressed.

“What does that mean?”

“Come on, if you had to chose between me and Bruce—”

“Which I am never going to do,” Dick said. “So don't even go there.” He paused, crossing his own arms to mirror Jason's posture. “Were you really so bothered by Bruce coming by?”

“I'm bothered by Bruce! And his hypocritical, mighty than thou moral judgments! He—”

“He loves you,” Dick said.

“I don't care about his love,” Jason said and Dick tried not to raise to his bait, staring at him instead. “Why would I care who loves me anyway?”

“Bullshit,” Dick said, shaking his head. “You want to be loved. That was the whole reason you hated Bruce, isn't it? He didn't avenge you because he didn't love you enough. But that's never really been why Bruce acts or does not act and you know it.”

“You a little delusional there?”

“Jason, come on,” Dick said. “This isn't about Bruce. You barely even saw him today—”

“With you it's always about Bruce,” Jason said.

“It's about you and me Jason—”

“Who should I expect to stop by next, Barbara?” Jason asked and Dick threw his hands up, walking to his bedroom door before turning back around.

“Do you want to tell me what's really bothering you?”

“No, because nothing is.”

“Jason,” Dick sighed. “This is about you and me and how we feel about each other—”

“Feel about each other? What, like love? You think that's what I feel for you Dick?”

Dick stopped for a second, something twisting in his stomach to be replaced by his temper. “You're the one who brought that up, not me.”

“How could I help it, after last night? As if if you say it enough times, I'll start to feel it too?” Jason asked, and they were all the way across the room from each other.

“Is this honestly all because of Bruce?” Dick said, almost a sigh.

“I don't know, Dick, is it? I mean, if you want someone to love you like you seem to think he does, maybe you should ask him to fuck you.”

“Is this honestly why you came here tonight?” Dick asked, voice flat.

“Might as well clear the air,” Jason said, and Dick could feel his hands curl into fists at his side. “I mean, you know he would right? Bet he'd look pretty impressive on his knees.”

“Get out,” Dick said before he realized it, and Jason stared at him.

“Hit a nerve?”

“Get out.”

“Yeah, yeah, don't worry, I'm going,” Jason said, slinging his bag over one shoulder and heading for the door. “I told you this was a mistake from the beginning.”

The only reason Dick didn't throw anything at the door when he slammed it shut was because there was nothing within easy reach.

 

Chapter Text

For a few minutes Dick turned over the half finished communicator in his hands before throwing it at the wall. In the last week he had asked every hero in New York if they had seen the Red Hood and could possibly tell him where he might be found. Even the criminals had no idea where he'd disappeared to and Dick suspected he left the East coast entirely, if not the country.

He convinced himself he could last another week before he really panicked, and yet that didn't stop the growing dread that Jason had taken him only too seriously.

Barbara had called him three times and he'd refused to answer the phone each time.

He'd run into Ted while tracking down another lead, and the older man had given him a look that had been too sympathetic and made Dick's skin crawl.

“This might be a bad time,” Donna said, on the fire escape outside his window and Dick had been glaring at the wall so intently he had missed her arrival.

“Donna?” he asked, turning around. “Bad—I'm not sure you could have bad timing.”

“I've heard you've been stressed,” she said, and looked at where he had just thrown the communicator.

“Stressed,” Dick repeated blandly. “Is that what they're calling it now?”

“It seems kindest,” she said, and grinned, which Dick tried to return. “Do you even remember we were supposed to go out tonight? You, me, and Kory?”

“We,” Dick blinked.

“Ah, that's what I suspected,” Donna said. “You know, this is a bad time. It can wait—”

“No, no,” Dick said quickly. “Tonight is fine. Tonight is great. Distraction sounds good. Besides, it's not all the time the city is quiet enough.”

“You know,” Donna said, watching him. “You could take more time off. This isn't like Gotham or Blüdhaven. There are others if you need a night off.”

“I know,” Dick said, and she floated through his window as he went into his bedroom, trying to find something besides a tee-shirt to wear. “But it's hard to let go of habits.”

“Or guilt.”

He pulled a face at her. “Sure, Donna, hit me while I'm down and hurting. I see how it is.”

“You'll come back from it,” Donna said and her face suddenly became serious. “You always do.”

Dick tried not to think about the hickeys that had healed or the way Jason had closed the door and never come back when Dick had only meant that he needed Jason to leave until he calmed down. “I hope so,” he said and there was something shadowed in Donna's eyes.

“Come on,” she said, twining their hands together. “Let's get you out of here for the night.”

-0-

Donna leaned against the bar, Kory on her other side. “There are presumably tables,” she said.

“You don't want to just stand at the bar the whole time?” Dick asked, mostly teasing and Donna rolled her eyes.

“I want to actually see you when I'm talking to you,” she said, pointing a finger at him. “Wait here.”

“What, like I'm going to run away?” Dick asked and Donna gave him a long look before leaving to investigate finding a table. For a second, Kory and Dick eyed each other a little warily.

“So, how have things been?” Dick asked, because since a vaguely disastrous attempt to rekindle their relationship while they were both on the Outsiders they hadn't been alone together very often.

“Things have been good,” she said and Dick almost managed a full smile. “Donna wasn't certain if telling you would be a good idea tonight.”

“Telling me what?” Dick asked.

“About her and me,” Kory said and Dick blinked for a second, mind stupidly blank before his eyes widened.

“What? Honestly?”

Kory frowned, tossing her hair over one shoulder and Dick took a deep breath, vaguely remembering all the times he had buried his face in that hair, an arm curled around her shoulder. “Are you bothered by it?” she asked, shoulders tensing.

“No,” Dick said, starting to reach out and stopping himself. “No, no, I just. I'm very happy for you.”

For a moment they both sat, their backs against the bar, watching Donna as she talked to someone, her hands expressively gesturing over her head. “She looks really happy,” Dick said and when Kory smiled at him he could forget for a second how many years he had spent with her taste in his mouth and warmth against his.

“If I'd had my way, I'd have both of you,” Kory said and Dick glanced over in alarm. “But I know why that will not be, especially between us.”

“Kory,” Dick started.

“We are not the types to give up love easily, no matter how many years there are between us, are we?” Kory asked and that startled a quiet laugh out of Dick.

“No, we're not really.”

“That's why I was happy when I heard about you and Jason.”

“What?” Dick asked, looking at her in shock. “You—were happy?”

Kory jostled his shoulder. “Dick, don't forget I was there.”

“You're not going to tell me I've always loved him too, are you?” Dick asked, because somehow he could handle Bruce lobbing those words at him, but felt like he couldn't stand them now. “He was a kid.”

“Yes,” Kory said. “He was. But he's not now, and I was the one who held you when you lost him the first time. When I heard the news you went after him the second time I wasn't surprised.”

“No one has told me they were happy we—got together,” Dick said, voice low. “Everyone's simply asked me if I was mad.”

Kory reached a hand out, laying it on his cheek. “You've always known exactly what you wanted, Dick. It may take you a while to figure it out, but once you have it, you don't let it go.”

“I've missed you,” Dick found himself saying, because after the Outsider team had broken apart they had been more or less avoiding each other. “I've missed you so much.”

When Donna came back moments later, Dick had his face pressed against Kory's shoulder, one of her arms around him. “Hey, Dick, I think I finally understand everyone asking if they should be jealous of us.”

Dick laughed, a vague watery sound without raising his head and Donna came up to his other side, leaning against it. “Come on, boy wonder, I got us a table.”

“Yeah, yeah, that would be good,” Dick said and somehow the three of them stumbled themselves to a table, ignoring any looks they got on the way.

-0-

“So, you and Kory,” Dick said and Donna rolled her eyes.

“Yes?”

“When was I exactly going to hear everything?” Dick asked, and they were standing outside, waiting for Kory to join them.

“Oh hush.”

“Nah,” Dick said, linking their arms together. “I had to tell you everything about Jason, you're not getting out of this.”

“I didn't want it to be tonight is all,” Donna said. “I know you and Jason are having problems.”

“Problems,” Dick managed, half a chuckle. “Oh sure, that's one way to describe it.”

“Dick?” Donna asked, tilting her head. “Dick, what's wrong?”

“I think he took me seriously when we got into a fight,” Dick said. “I told him to get out and he—I haven't seen him since. Donna, I don't know if there's still a Jason and me.”

Donna gave him a long look in the light spilling from the restaurant and the street lights above him. “You've not given up, have you?”

“Given up? No. I just don't... I don't know if he's coming back is all.”

Donna reached out, squeezing his hand. “He loves you as much as you adore him, and you know it.”

Dick found himself laughing bitterly, shaking his head. “To some extent I know that. Even if he won't say it. It's just—I'm not sure if it's enough.”

Kory walked out, tossing her hair over one shoulder and pausing when she saw them. “Is everything alright?”

“I don't know,” Dick said.

Kory arched a brow and Donna sighed. “Look. If you want, I'll keep an eye out for him. I know you've been asking just about everyone else.”

“I don't want him to feel pressured,” Dick said. “I just want to find him and talk.”

“You didn't mention this earlier,” Kory said.

Dick shrugged, a little helplessly. “I was trying not to think about it.”

“Is everything alright between you two?”

“I hope it will be,” Dick said.

Kory looked at Donna, a determined glint in her eyes. For a second Donna just returned the look before grinning and Dick was reminded all over again how many years they had all known each other, and he sighed. “I said I don't want him to feel pressured,” Dick said. “Please don't go after him like that.”

“We'll do what we can,” Kory said and Dick gave them both another hug, ignoring the ache in his chest that they linked arms and walked away.

He stood by himself for several moments, hands in his jacket pockets before tipping his head back and trying to see the sky through the light of the city. Sighing again, he turned, figuring the walk back to his apartment was only a few blocks.

But he had brought nothing with him, no weapons and no armor when he heard the sound of shots and yells when he was not even a block away from his apartment. For a second he considered if he could get up the stairs fast enough to grab any gear, but another gunshot made up his mind.

He caught the bottom of a fire escape, pulling himself up and reaching the roof. Jumping to the next one put him above the street where the screams had come from. There was shooting, chaos further down the street but all he could see was Jason, hunkered behind a car.

And it looked like he might have been on his way to Dick's apartment and for a second Dick couldn't breathe past the thought.

But Jason was looking the other way in a battle that was swallowing up an entire street, and the Justice Society were on the far block, fighting their way forward.

Before Dick could think about it, or remind himself why he needed to stay out of sight or find his gear, he was dropping down, using another fire escape to reach the bottom of the building he was on.

Because Jason was looking the other way, not even remotely seeing the creature behind him, something with long spikes on its hands. “Red Hood!” Dick yelled and Jason jerked, turning and rolling, before shooting whatever the creature was between its eyes.

“Was that—” Dick started.

“What are you doing?” Jason demanded, grabbing Dick and trying to pull him off the street.

“What is going on?” Dick asked, looking up to see a portal, once again open over New York's skies. He could feel his stomach clench, an old panic.

“Doesn't matter, you can't be here,” Jason said, shoving him again and Dick knew he was being foolish, actively stupid, but he dug his heels in.

“I can help—”

“Don't be—”

Only it seemed there were people still willing to take advantage of a crisis, a gangster who looked shockingly like a drug dealer they had hung outside a window once, coming down the street toward them.

Jason was wearing armor and Dick wasn't. There were several heroes within yelling distance but still too far away and Dick could only feel the panic raising in his throat as he shoved Jason to the side.

He was at least mostly certain Jason caught him when he fell.

 

Chapter Text

Dick woke up and frowned, because there was sun shining through a wide window.

For a long moment he just stared at the window in confusion.

“You're awake again,” Bruce said and when Dick rolled his head over it really was Bruce sitting at his bedside, pressed suit and pocket handkerchief.

“What?” Dick rasped.

“You've drifted in and out a few times over the past day,” Bruce said and Dick tried to raise one of his hands, getting it on the second try. He flipped his hand around to indicate the fact he was in an actual hospital room.

“Ah,” Bruce said. “I should get a nurse.”

“Bruce.”

“Dick Grayson was injured on a public street,” Bruce said, voice mild. “Of course I could afford the best for his care.”

Dick blinked and then winced, realizing that Bruce was right. For once he wasn't trying to hide his injury, relying on Alfred to patch him up and rehabilitate him. He honestly couldn't remember the last time he had been in an actual hospital.

“Bruce,” he started again.

“Rest,” Bruce said, touching his cheek and Dick realized his hand was shaking, a bare tremor that could have been missed if one wasn't paying attention. “You're going to be fine.”

“I'm—”

“You're going to be fine,” Bruce repeated and walked out of the room. For a while Dick stared at the ceiling, before starting to try and push himself up.

“I highly suggest you not do that,” Alfred said, as he stepped into the room and Dick gave him a wry smile.

“You came down too?”

Alfred shook his head slightly, like he couldn't really believe Dick had opened his mouth and let such inane words leave it. “Lay back down, Master Richard.”

“I barely even got up,” Dick said but obeyed. He could see Alfred's eyes tracking the IV hooked up to him, the machine readings and the way his hands twitched. There had been so many times when both Robin and Nightwing had been tended to by this man that Dick was surprised he hadn't slipped and started bossing around the nurses. “I'm fine,” Dick said.

Alfred huffed. “You're alive.”

“That's good, isn't it?” Dick asked and Alfred reached out, taking one of his hands and squeezing it tightly.

“Master Richard,” Alfred said after a long moment where they simply stayed like that. “Please try to keep yourself safe, would you?”

“I'll try,” Dick offered.

-0-

When he woke up later, Tim sat in the chair Bruce had been in earlier, eating a bag of vending machine chips.

“Well, you finally came to New York,” Dick said and Tim snorted.

“Oh yeah, these are ideal circumstances. Going to show me the sights and all that?”

“You might have to wait a while for that,” Dick said with a wince. “This isn't a gunshot wound, is it?”

“Well, you did get shot too,” Tim said and Dick blinked at him. “But that was mostly a graze. Being stabbed in the stomach with a sharp pokey thing though? That's what landed you here.”

Dick lifted his arm, squinting at the bandages on it. “Stabbed by a pokey thing?”

“Hey, Dick?” Tim said. “How about the next time you see a portal or something, you just peace out, and you know? Go somewhere else?”

“It,” Dick started and took another look at Tim's face. “Yeah, I'll see what I can do.”

“The newspapers just remembered you existed,” Tim added, crossing his arms. “I think it's even worse than when Bruce actually went and adopted you.”

Dick sighed. “That's fun. Was it because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time—”

“Well, swooning into the arms of a vigilante and getting photographed doing it helped,” Tim said and Dick felt his jaw tightening.

“You're joking.”

“Nope,” Tim said, too brightly.

“Great,” Dick said, dropping his head back down against the pillows. “Any idea when I might—”

“Nope.”

Dick managed a faint smile for Tim. “Does anyone know where Ja—”

“Nope,” Tim said, but more quietly, much of the humor gone from his tone, and Dick dropped his gaze.

“Yeah, I thought not.”

-0-

When Bruce came back that night, Dick had wrangled the bed so he could sit up. “You're back?”

“I have no idea why that is surprising,” Bruce said dryly, sitting back in the chair Tim had vacated earlier.

Dick arched a brow, realizing the three of them had been playing tag team with that chair all day. “What? You didn't manage to get Barbara in on babysitting duties?”

Bruce gave him a thin smile. “She's with the Birds,” he said and Dick arched a brow.

“Really?”

Bruce smiled, almost a full grin for him and held up a pen. “Should work on any bugs in the room.”

“Paranoid bastard,” Dick said. “Does that mean someone will finally tell me anything?”

“Turns out that drug you pulled off the streets had a multidimensional component,” Bruce said and Dick just stared at him.

“You're joking.”

“It's what gave it the strange high as well as the psychotic breaks.”

“But then why were the dealers so incapable?” Dick asked. “They barely had security they—”

“It's being looked in to,” Bruce said.

“But not by me,” Dick said, almost a growl and Bruce gave him a blank look back.

“You need rest.”

“I've been on this case for weeks—”

Bruce's hand squeezed the wood armrest of the chair hard enough to cause it to creak and Dick cut himself off. “I am not going to lose you,” he said, voice even only through force of will. “You disappeared. Then you ran into a battle in—” Bruce stopped talking. “I thought you had promised me to be careful, that you didn't actually want to die.”

“Bruce, Jesus,” Dick managed, choking on air. “I don't—I'm not.”

“Then be careful,” Bruce snapped.

“This isn't like Blüdhaven,” Dick said, lowly.

“Really?” Bruce asked.

“Yes,” Dick ground out. “It was just—bad timing. Jason was in danger, Bruce.”

“Don't make me lose either of you,” Bruce said, voice tight.

Dick looked away, wishing he had some way to move, somewhere to go. “Have you heard from him at all?”

“No,” Bruce said. “It's easy enough to track his movements right now, though.”

Dick closed his eyes. “Yeah, that sounds like him.”

“He'll be back,” Bruce said, though it lacked conviction.

“Yeah,” Dick said, and his voice did the same.

-0-

Donna landed on the roof, barely making any sound but it caused the other figure to turn around anyway.

“Can I fucking help you?”

“What, that's all I get?” Donna asked, crossing her arms over her chest and raising her brows.

“As opposed to what, exactly?” Jason asked, pulling his helmet off.

“We were on the Titans together for a while,” Donna said, the same ground she had trend with Jason several times since they both came back from the dead.

“You mean when you treated me like I was Dick?”

“I didn't for very long,” she said, and when she walked her silver heels clicked against the cement. “I've been keeping an eye out for you.”

“Yeah? What for?” Jason asked, and his shoulders were defensive, even if he had taken off the helmet. Donna didn't sigh.

“You should go visit him,” she said, gentling her voice but that didn't stop the way Jason tensed further, like she had hit him in his solar plexus.

“He just about died, because he's an idiot,” Jason snapped, dropping the helmet and looking like he wanted to kick it too. “Going to see him would be—It wouldn't help anything. It would be better to just—”

“Dick's always been like this,” Donna said. “I watched him jump after a nuclear bomb once,” and Jason gave a full body twitch. “Apparently, according to Roy, we both missed him at his most self destructive. Throwing himself into danger and worrying about the consequences later is who Dick is. And gods only know it hasn't made me happy. I want to shake him sometimes, or lock him away to keep him safe. But that's who he is, and either we can accept it or not. And if you can't, maybe you're right, and you shouldn't go visit him.”

Jason's face twisted for a second. “What happened to we in that last sentence.”

“Well, I've already made my choice, haven't I?” Donna asked. “He's my best friend, the person who matters to me maybe the most out of anyone I've ever met. So make up your damn mind, Jason. Can you live with who he is, or not?”

“He shouldn't be so reckless!” Jason yelled, throwing his arms out. “He almost died. I can't—I can't lose—” He took a deep breath. “I can't lose him. I think it might kill me. I haven't allowed myself to care about anyone in—in a long time.”

“He survived losing you,” Donna said. “Twice.”

“Yeah, well, he's a stronger fucking person than I am,” Jason said. “He scares the shit out of me.”

“He scares the shit out of everyone, Jason,” Donna said and hesitated before she reached out, laying a hand on his shoulder. “But now you have to decide. If you can live with him or not. And if you can't, maybe what you're doing is best. Maybe running away is the only option.” Though her heart already ached at the idea. “But if you're stronger than you think, and if you want an active hand in protecting him, maybe you should go to the hospital and see how he's doing.” She paused, weighing her next move. “He loves you, Jason.”

Jason gave her a stricken look. “You don't know that.”

She squeezed his shoulder, putting some of her strength behind it so he could feel it through the body armor. “Yes, I do.”

“I,” Jason deflated slightly and Donna tried not to judge what Dick saw in him. “I'll think about it.” He bent down, scooping the helmet back up.

“Try not to take too long,” she said, and Jason shot her a dark look before he shoved the helmet on and jumped off the edge of the roof. For a long while Donna stood there alone, feeling the breeze and listening to the sound of cars down below.

 

Chapter Text

Tim had another bag of vending machine chips in hand as he walked by reception, heading back for Dick's room. It was the fourth day of him being in the hospital, the second of him actually being awake.

He stopped when he thought he heard a voice he recognized—and turned to find Jason glowering at the receptionist. “Look, you're visiting hours are open—”

“That wing of the hospital has higher security measures, at Mr. Wayne's request,” the receptionist said, mouth a firm line and Tim wavered for a second, because the last person he wanted to do any favors for was standing in front of him—but the person he most wanted to do favors for would appreciate it. Dick had been spending a lot of time looking at the window, wistful and a little angry.

So he veered his way over. “He's good,” he said. “To let past security and all that.” He kept talking, the receptionist giving him a narrow eyed look but that was nothing to the look Jason was giving him, looking smaller than usual without the body armor, and as lost as he was angry.

But he got Jason inside, and started walking down the hallway without turning to really see if Jason was following.

“I don't like owing you,” Jason said, and Tim managed not to jump because of his training.

“Yeah, I can imagine that must be galling,” he said, flippant.

“Why'd you do it?” Jason asked, almost walking beside him now.

“Oh, don't worry, it wasn't for you,” Tim said, shaking his head slightly as he kept walking. “But you want to see Dick, right? And he wants to see you.”

“How noble of you,” Jason said, almost a sneer.

“I'm not really the noble type,” Tim said. “What I am is the not fond of mopey type. He's in there,” he said, stopping and pointing to a room. “Try and not make it worse.”

“I,” Jason started but Tim was already walking away, phone already out in an attempt to waylay Bruce for a bit.

Jason didn't say anything else after him and Tim didn't turn around to see if he actually went into the room or not.

-0-

Dick was half asleep when someone entered the room, expecting it to be Bruce when he turned his head and opened his eyes.

He froze when Jason sat down beside him, tentative and wearing a different jacket from his usual Red Hood one. Dick wondered if this one had armor stitched into it too. For a long moment they stared at each other silently, Dick unwilling to be the one to say anything first.

“You're a fucking moron,” Jason said and Dick had to look away, choking on a laugh.

“I think that goes without comment,” Dick said.

“And yet somehow it keeps surprising me,” Jason said and Dick's hand twitched, before he hesitatingly reached out.

For a long moment Jason only stared at it, before he slowly reached out, taking Dick's hand and twining their fingers together.

“I'm sorry I frightened you.”

“Frightened me?” Jason asked, incredulous. “Dick, you scared the living shit out of me.”

“I'm—”

“Dick, I have no idea what to do when you do things like that,” Jason continued and Dick bit the inside of his cheek, falling silent. “I'm not really ready to cope with that. For fuck's sake—I couldn't even handle—” He shook his head. “I'm not really used to being scared. For anyone.”

Dick looked away, even though Jason was still holding his hand. “You get used to it,” he said softly.

“You sure?” Jason snorted. “I'm not really sure. I'm pretty sure that's a goddamn lie when it comes to Bruce too.” Dick turned, opening his mouth and Jason cut him off. “No. Dick. Don't go there.”

“It's just—”

“Dick,” Jason said, and he rubbed his forehead with his free hand. “Dick, I've—I've adored you since I was a kid. You're like the North Star, even when I didn't want to even see your fucking face.”

“Jason, come on—”

“You're the one who keeps on throwing around 'I love you,' Dick.”

Dick stopped, feeling his heartbeat through his shock. “Is that what that was?”

“Dick.”

“Jason.”

Jason sighed again, dropping the hand from his forehead and leaning forward. “Donna came to yell at me.”

Dick tensed again. “Did she?”

“She said you were always going to do stupid shit,” Jason said, voice lowering. “And I could either accept that or not. I could accept that having you means losing you, or I could cut my loses and just run and pretend you never meant a damn thing to me.”

Dick pressed his tongue to the roof of his mouth, watching Jason. When Jason didn't continue, Dick squeezed his hand. “And did you decide? Which you were going to do?”

“Even the Joker doesn't scare me as much as you do.”

Jason.”

“God, Dick,” Jason said, taking the hand of Dick's he still held and leaning his forehead against it. “I want to say yes. I want to stay. But when I even think that I feel like I can't breath, and I want to run, and I just—”

“May you could ease yourself into it.”

Jason gave a bitter laugh, his other hand coming up to cup Dick's hand, kissing his fingers. “I tried that with you. Remember? It was just supposed to be sex and I'm suddenly living in your apartment, in love with you.”

Dick froze again, forgetting to breathe.

“Shit,” Jason said, looking away.

“I, I love you too,” Dick managed, weakly. “If that helps?”

“No, that's basically terrifying,” Jason said, resting his forehead on Dick's hand, which he still held with both of his. “You could have died. A fucking monster stabbed it's fucking fingers through you.”

“It's okay,” Dick said, but his voice felt mechanical and wrong to his own ears. “I'm okay.”

“God fuck,” Jason muttered. “I wish I could even ask you to be more careful but, let's face it, it's who you are. Even if I asked you to change, it's not like you would. Even asking you to try means I'd be asking you to cut a part of yourself out for my own selfish fears.”

“I could be a little... just a smidgen less crazy,” Dick offered, and Jason laughed, harsh and gravely before he pressed his mouth to Dick's fingers again. “Please stay,” Dick whispered. “Please stay.”

“I mean,” Jason said lightly. “I did buy all that food. It would be a shame for it to go to waste because you're just eating take out.”

Dick choked out a laugh. “Yeah, that would be a shame.”

His eyes darted to the door when he heard a sound. For a moment Alfred stood frozen in the doorway, Jason turning around. “Master Jason,” Alfred whispered.

At first they all just stared at each other, Dick's eyes darting between Alfred and Jason. But when Jason didn't say anything or move, Alfred cleared his throat and walked inside, double checking Dick's vitals and IV bag like he had forgotten for a second that wasn't his job.

“Master Richard, I thought Timothy was supposed to be here.”

“Um,” Dick said, as Jason dropped his hand, leaning back and staring at Alfred. “I guess he's not?”

Alfred hummed, before he went and sat in the window ledge. He remained poised on the edge, hands folded in his lap. “And how are you feeling today?”

“Better,” Dick said. “Good. Everything is—it's getting better. They take good care of me here.”

His eyes darted between Jason and Alfred again.

“I'm pleased to hear that,” Alfred said stiffly, and he wasn't looking at Jason, whose face started twisting the longer Alfred ignored him. “Have they said when you might go home?”

“Another few days,” Dick said. “And then home care should be fine.”

“Have you considered staying at the manor during your recovery?” Alfred asked, back stiff as a board, and he wasn't looking at Jason at all, even if his hands were white in his lap.

“I—I hadn't,” Dick stuttered and Jason finally pushed himself to his feet.

“Is that it?” he asked, and Alfred shuddered, before he finally looked up at Jason.

“Was that addressed to me, Master Jason?”

“Of course it was,” Jason said, crossing his arms and Dick wished he could stand, or do anything except lay between them as Alfred's hands tightened even further in his lap. “That's it? You say my name and then ignore me—”

“You seemed disinclined to acknowledge my presence so I simply returned the favor,” Alfred said and Dick reached a hand out before dropping it. Neither of them would appreciate that gesture.

“What was I supposed to say or do?” Jason snapped.

“A simple hello might have sufficed,” Alfred said, and Dick was fairly certain it was only force of will keeping Alfred from standing. “It has been a very long time since we have seen each other.”

Jason's jaw worked. “Alfred—”

“You might have said hello at any time, in fact,” Alfred continued.

“Like hell I could have,” Jason said, crossing his arms defensively.

“If you refer to the manor and Master Bruce's reaction, you might have considered a phone call,” Alfred said. “A letter that wasn't a book may also have been appreciated. Perhaps a note asking to meet at a cafe.”

Jason's mouth worked. “You make it sound so simple.”

“Was it not?” Alfred asked.

“You know exactly why it wasn't—”

“I am not exactly certain what I was supposed to do to avenge you,” Alfred said, low and Jason reared back like he had been struck. “That was the sticking point with all the others, was it not? Your quarrel with Master Bruce was simply that. With him. Not with me.”

“I,” Jason started and Alfred rose to his feet, all at once.

“Master Richard,” he said, and Dick hesitated.

“Yeah, Alfred?”

“I would kindly request you consider spending some time at the manor, though if you prefer not to, I'm certain we could arrange something to the satisfaction of all parties. But I have many things to attend to, and will return later.”

He looked at Jason again, for a moment his expression so open it made Dick's heart ache before he turned, like he just might walk out.

“Wait,” Jason said, voice a croak.

Alfred stopped by the door, turning.

“Alfred,” Jason said and had to try again. “Alfred. I—I'm sorry. I—”

Alfred's face softened fractionally. “Do not think that I would have been anything but welcoming if you had but taken the time to reach out.”

Jason darted an opened mouth look of panic to Dick before focusing on Alfred again. “I—I mean. It's just—I'll take what you said into consideration.” He swallowed. “I might, I might call?”

And Dick had finally accepted that Jason was taller than he was now, that Jason had grown up in the time they hadn't seen him, but seeing him stand several inches over Alfred, and yet look like the stricken and stammering kid he must have been when he and Alfred first met made Dick ache. Even Alfred seemed to struggle with how much larger Jason was now.

“I would like that,” he said softly, and Dick thought he caught Alfred's eyes glimmering. But he cleared his throat and squared his shoulders. “But, if you would excuse me, please.”

Jason stepped aside wordlessly and let Alfred walk out, Dick wishing more than ever he could be anywhere but a hospital bed.

Still without a word, Jason dropped back into the chair.

“I did say you should have called him, or visited,” Dick said, when the silence became too much for either of them.

Jason gave him a surprised look before he buried his face in his hands. “Okay, okay. Shut up.”

Dick chuckled, because he had to. He reached out and Jason automatically took his hand, like it was as natural to him as breathing.

“Maybe you should leave before Bruce shows up,” Dick said, because he didn't think either of them could handle that.

“Yeah, yeah,” Jason said.

“But you,” Dick started.

“I'll see you at home,” Jason said and Dick felt like he might have been shot. “If I don't have the chance to visit again, I'll see you in a couple days, when you get out.”

“Yeah,” Dick said, faintly. “Yeah, that would be good.”

Jason hesitated, before leaning down and pressing a soft kiss to Dick's forehead.

When he left, Dick felt both lighter and heavier than he had since he'd opened his apartment door to find Bruce on the other side. But Jason had said he loved him, so Dick turned his head against the pillow to hide his smile, even though he was alone.

 

Chapter Text

“You know,” Dick said, mildly. “I haven't seen a single newspaper since I got in here.”

“Haven't you?” Tim asked, not even looking up from his phone.

“Strangely no,” Dick said. “Which means they must be saying something spectacular.”

“I have no idea what you're talking about,” Tim said primly.

“Right,” Dick shook his head, picking at the hospital bed blanket. “But—I wanted to say—thank you.”

“For what?” Tim said, still not looking up because Dick was certain he already knew.

“Letting Jason in,” Dick said and Tim finally looked up, snapping his phone shut and sliding it into his pocket. “I know you did.”

“I'm still really uncomfortable with you and him,” Tim said. “He tried to kill me, Dick. And Bruce. And you. And you still want to just date him?”

“It's more complicated than that—”

“Why do people say things like that?” Tim asked. “That it's complicated? Of course it's complicated. I just don't get it, considering all he's done. But,” Tim's shoulders sagged slightly. “It's not up to me either. You obviously care about him. I just hope it works out for you.”

Dick reached out, making a gesturing motion.

“What?” Tim frowned at him.

“They still yell at me for moving around too much,” Dick said. “So get over here in hugging range.”

“You're mental,” Tim insisted, even though he stood up and moved over anyway, burrowing his way into Dick's arms as carefully as he could.

“Thank you, little brother.”

“All I said was that I thought you were an idiot.”

“And that you hope it works out for me,” Dick said, grinning and Tim made an unhappy sound in the back of his throat.

“Right, well, I only mean that because I don't want to deal with you being mopey. Quite enough people in this family are already mopey enough.”

“Right,” Dick said. “No mopey behavior. Got it.”

Tim muttered something before pushing himself back. “Good,” he said, and Dick reached out to ruffle his hair, getting his hand smacked for it.

-0-

“You are still doing, you know, your night job right?” Dick asked when Bruce appeared at his bedside again that afternoon.

Bruce subjected him to a long look. “Of course.”

“Okay, just wondering,” Dick said. “You and Tim seem to be here a lot.”

“We are,” Bruce said. “However, no one is currently grudging me skipping out on board meetings to be with my injured son.”

Dick opened his mouth and closed it again, because even a few years after the adoption papers had been drawn up and signed he didn't consider himself Bruce's son—he wasn't really sure what he considered himself. “I forget sometimes that's how people see us now.”

“It's legally our relationship.”

“Right,” Dick said, and his eyes flickered away. “I know that. I still just—I'm not used to hearing you say it.”

“I could—”

“If you start calling me son, I'm not going to call you dad,” Dick said and after a moment Bruce smiled.

“Well, that's probably a good thing, all things considered,” Bruce said, the corner of his mouth twitching.

“Come on,” Dick said. “You don't actually consider us like that.”

“I don't,” Bruce agreed. “I just wanted there to be something legal between us.”

“Something tangible,” Dick agreed, because he could still remember his confusion and hurt when Bruce had adopted Jason and then Tim, while Dick's status as his ward had dissolved when he became eighteen. “I know. Just don't call me your son too often, okay?”

“Maybe I should have had Alfred adopt you,” Bruce said and Dick gave him a confused look. “Brothers seems more accurate.”

“Except then I'd be Jason's uncle and I really don't want to think about that,” Dick said and again, Bruce's mouth twitched up. “There is really no good way to describe us, is there?”

“Partners,” Bruce said. “I like the idea of being partners.”

Dick opened his mouth and then closed it, nodding slightly because even with Tim wearing the Robin costume and all the years laying between them, that still felt the most right. “Okay then, partner, want to explain to me why I haven't seen a single newspaper the whole time I've been in here?”

“Is there a reason you want one?” Bruce asked.

“Well, I'm curious,” Dick said. “Bored out of my mind. And I'd like a go at the classified section.”

“Classifieds?” Bruce asked, arching a brow.

“Thinking a few more apartments might not be a bad idea,” Dick said, trying to sound casual. Bruce didn't buy what he was selling though, leaning back in the hospital chair and steepling his fingers.

“You've had a very small footprint in New York,” he said. “One apartment. This is because of Jason, isn't it?”

“In part,” Dick said.

“So I might not know where he is,” Bruce said, voice still level.

“Bruce, I happen to really like my apartment,” Dick said. “It's where I'm going to live. But bolt holes? Probably not a bad idea for either of us to have.”

“And you'd like to have them together,” Bruce said. “I know I already warned you, but I admit I didn't expect you two to actually form a relationship.”

“Are you going to start disapproving?” Dick asked, realizing his voice had gone tight.

Bruce gave him a long look, and sometimes Dick could honestly forget the devastation Jason's death and then rejection had caused Bruce. But he couldn't while Bruce looked at him like that. “I want you both to be happy,” he said. “No matter how much I disapprove of his methods.”

“You're sideways asking me if I approve of them either,” Dick said, sighing. “I don't.”

“You love him anyway.”

“It's not like I can really stop just because I disapprove of something he does,” Dick said. “It's not like you ever stopped either.”

Bruce nodded, accepting the blow. “I'll see if I can get you some classifieds.”

“But not the rest of the newspaper?”

Bruce shrugged and Dick sighed. “Is it that bad?”

“I don't know,” Bruce said. “Have you ever liked the newspapers taking pot shots at your personal life? Currently they're trying to decide if you've always been gay or not.”

“I got stabbed and shot and people are focusing on who caught me?” Dick asked. “Like that means we have a relationship?”

“Well,” Bruce said. “Red Hood's reaction is apparently what sold them on that.”

Dick buried his face in his hands. “Oh.”

“Besides,” Bruce continued. “I know Alfred brought you Pride and Prejudice.”

“Which I've read three times I'm so bored,” Dick said. “Do you have any idea why he brought that book in particular when I started whining about needing something to do?”

“It's Jason's favorite,” Bruce said and Dick stared at him, blinking rapidly.

“What?”

“You didn't know that?”

“I know Jason likes to read more than I do,” Dick said. “I know he likes classics but—really? Pride and Prejudice?”

“He used to talk with Alfred about books all the time,” Bruce said, a tiny and fond smile on his face. “Particularly Austen. He said he always liked Lizzie the most of the protagonists.”

“I really would have expected it to be Shakespeare,” Dick said after another moment of thought.

“His favorite of that is Twelfth Night.”

“Now you're just messing with me,” Dick protested.

“Ask him yourself,” Bruce said. “I admit I haven't talked with him recently about this, but when he was younger he loved romances.”

Dick looked down and they were silent for a long moment. “I wonder if he still does,” Dick said and he heard Bruce shift more than he looked up to see it.

“I hope so,” Bruce said softly.

-0-

“Crutches, really?” Dick asked when Alfred dropped him back at his apartment a few days later. Bruce had been asked not to come, and after only one long look he had agreed.

“You will use them, Master Richard,” Alfred said, giving Dick a level look.

“Right, right,” Dick said. “Of course I will. Under no circumstances will I not do what the doctor has ordered.”

“I will hold you to that,” Alfred said, and still seemed a little put out he wasn't the doctor in question.

“I promise you don't have to threaten to take out my other knee again,” Dick said. “Bed rest for me—Promise.”

“At least it's not your knee again,” Alfred said, shaking his head slightly and fetching Dick's bag so he could use the crutches to get to the elevator he almost never bothered to use. “Small mercies, and all that.”

“You know Jason,” Dick started.

Alfred hummed. “Yes, he informed me he has been camping out on your couch the last few days.”

“My, my couch?” Dick asked. “Seriously?”

“Perhaps he felt it was polite to not sleep in your bed while you weren't there,” Alfred said and Dick looked over.

“So,” he started. “You—you have been talking to him? After your run in at the hospital?”

“We had lunch yesterday,” Alfred said, and even though his expression had barely changed it looked he was beaming. “It was a start.”

“I'm glad,” Dick said, reaching out to take one of Alfred's hands and squeezing it. “I was about to arrange an accidental run in, except that ended up being taken out of my hands anyway.”

“Your concern is touching, Master Richard,” Alfred said dryly.

“I know you missed him,” Dick said. “And he was being an asshole.”

Alfred gave him the arch look he always reserved for when Dick or any of the others swore around him as the elevator dinged open.

For a second Dick didn't move, feeling nervousness bubbling at the back of his throat, but Alfred was already walking down the hall so Dick followed him. Before they reached the door, Jason pulled it open and all three of them stopped for a long moment, staring at each other.

“Good to see you home,” Jason settled for.

“Ready to be home,” Dick said, throat tight as Jason gathered him up and pulled him back into his own apartment.

-0-

“Sorry for not visiting you in the hospital,” Roy said, holding Lian so she wouldn't start trying to climb Dick like a tree the instant she saw him. “But you know—”

“I know,” Dick agreed, holding his hands out for Lian.

“You are healing,” Roy said, even as his daughter started flailing toward Dick.

“Let uncle Dick hold me!” she insisted.

“Uncle Dick is going to sit his ass down on the couch and then he's gonna be able to hold you,” Roy said, leveling Dick with a long look until Dick did precisely that. Dick gave him a bright smile once he was down and Roy gently set Lian on the couch next to him. “I thought you were still supposed to be on bed rest.”

“I am,” Dick said, even as he pulled Lian against his chest and buried his face in her hair. “Hey, babe.”

She poked him in the shoulder even as she curled closer. “Uncle Dick needs to be more careful.”

“I will be,” Dick said and Roy looked around.

“Dick, if you're on bed rest, why the fuck are you putting together a bookcase?”

“So you've given up on not swearing in front of Lian?” Dick asked, even though he covered her ears anyway, making her giggle and swat at his hands.

Roy shrugged. “Yeah. It's a little embarrassing but we have an agreement she won't start repeating it to babysitters or teachers.”

“Wow,” Dick said, dropping his hands and grinning at Lian. “I wasn't allowed to swear at all until I was much older.”

She laughed again, sticking her tongue out.

“Okay, but bed rest,” Roy repeated. “Whats with the bookcase?”

“I was trying to put it together for Jason,” Dick said. “I—well I didn't have one.”

Roy blinked over at him, hands on his hips. “Grayson, you're a romantic at heart, you know that?”

“Well since you're here,” Dick said. “And scolding me about my injuries, why don't you put it together for me?”

“And you're a total embarrassment too,” Roy said, and crouched down to read the directions. “Wow, you even got a decently nice one, instead of a cheap Wal-mart one. You know they sell pre-assembled book cases too right and you're rich enough they could have been delivered?”

“I liked this one,” Dick said and Roy snorted, shaking his head.

“Yeah, yeah, I'll make your bookcase but only because you're an idiot.”

“Thanks,” Dick said, shifting Lian in his lap slightly.

“Oh, before I forget, I brought you these,” Roy said, handing Dick a stack of newspapers and magazines that he'd been carrying under one arm and had set on the kitchen island.

Dick looked at them before looking back up at Roy. “Thanks,” he said dryly.

“You might as well know what everyone is saying about you,” Roy said with a grin. “You did literally swoon into Jason's arms after all.”

Dick glared at him before looking down at Lian. “Hey babe, you wanna run away together? You're dad's a jerk.”

“He is,” she agreed seriously and Roy held a hand to his heart.

“Hurt,” he said. “Hurt by both of you.”

“I was serious about running away together,” Dick said, ignoring him.

“But what would he do without us?” Lian asked, face serious and Dick sighed.

“I suppose you're right. It would be a crime to leave him to his own devices.”

“I should absolutely not make you this bookcase,” Roy said, even as he sat down with a screwdriver, instructions open on his knee.

“Thank you for coming,” Dick said after a moment, Lian content and warm against him.

“Yeah well,” Roy said. “Please don't get stabbed in public again. My heart can only take so much of shit like that.”

“I'll work on it,” Dick promised and he ended up falling asleep with Lian while Roy quietly swore at the bookcase.

 

Chapter Text

Dawn sneaked its way through Dick's windows by the time Jason came back, waking Dick up from where even after Lian and Roy had left, he'd stayed out on the couch to sleep.

Opening the door, Jason froze, squinting at Dick. “What are you doing?”

“I feel asleep,” Dick said, starting to stretch before remembering why he shouldn't and sitting up very carefully instead. Jason gave him a look before he stowed his bag in the corner under the window and pulled his mask off.

“You're supposed to be on bed rest, not couch rest,” Jason said and Dick laughed, holding his hands up.

“Want to try and carry me again?”

“Ha ha,” Jason muttered, but he approached anyway. “I can, you know.”

“Carry me?” Dick asked. “I'm sure—” and he froze when Jason bent down, sliding his arms under Dick to pick him up bridal style. Dick yelped, because he hadn't fully expected it, before he wrapped his arms around Jason's neck. “That wasn't a dare, you know.”

“Wasn't it?” Jason asked with a grin and Dick wanted to lean up and kiss him, but he remained settled down where he was.

“No, but whatever you need to make yourself feel tough and strong,” Dick said, and he grinned when Jason glanced down at him, bright and sunny like he hadn't just insulted him.

“You think you're so funny, don't you,” Jason muttered and Dick nodded, but Jason froze in the doorway to Dick's bedroom, still holding Dick. “What the hell is that?”

“I think it would have been self evident,” Dick said, and after a second Jason shook his head, walking all the way into the bedroom and resting Dick on the bed. But he almost immediately turned around and walked over to the bookcase that Dick had shoved against the wall, between a corner and the window.

“Dick, as far as I can tell, you don't own any books,” Jason said.

“I own a couple,” Dick protested, including a new copy of Pride and Prejudice, which had been propped up on the top shelf of the bookcase. The rest were at the bottom of his nightstand, but since Blüdhaven he'd rarely bothered to buy anything he didn't need.

Jason stared at the bookcase another long minute before he reached out, taking the copy of Pride and Prejudice down. “Dick—”

Dick pushed himself up toward the headboard, crossing his arms over his chest. “Apparently that one's your favorite. But there's an awful lot of room for more.”

“Dick—”

“I also have several classified sections out on the island,” Dick said, calmly meeting Jason's gaze when Jason frowned at him. “There's a nice loft halfway across town open, a few other apartments here and there. Thought getting a few more bolt holes wouldn't be a bad idea. Safehouses for both of us. You were saying you thought I should have some more, weren't you? And I won't even tell Bruce about these ones.”

There was an edge of panic entering Jason's expression but Dick kept going.

“Because before you start protesting, or whatever, I finally got my hands on the newspapers from the last week.”

Jason dropped his eyes, hands tight on the cover of the book he held. “That was—”

“You said you loved me,” Dick pointed out.

“I know I did,” Jason said, and set the book back down, as if he was scared if he kept holding onto it he might damage it. “And I meant it. I do—” But he fell silent, not finishing his sentence.

“Jason, not only did you protect me during a full on invasion,” Dick said and Jason froze again. “But every newspaper made a big deal about you refusing to let me go, even to Green Lantern to get me to the hospital.”

“Someone was trying to take you away,” Jason said, not looking at him. “I didn't even recognize who it was.”

“Red Hood yelling at Alan Scott that he wasn't taking a bleeding an unconscious civilian from his arms apparently caused a stir,” Dick said, keeping his voice mostly level.

“Dick, I'm pretty sure no one would accept my offer if I went into the afterlife for you,” Jason said and Dick opened his mouth before snapping it shut. Jason leaned over, bracing one hand next to Dick's hip. “Don't die on me, alright?”

“I'm trying not to,” Dick said, meeting his eyes and for a moment they stayed like that, mouths hovering near each other. “I won't leave you.”

Jason's free hand came up to cup his chin and pull him into a kiss, harsh and desperate and Dick wrapped his arms around his neck, pulling him down. He barely noticed Jason straddling his waist as Jason bit his lower lip.

He only focused on that fact when Jason pulled back, and nuzzled into his hair. “Fuck, Dick, can I? I really want you in me right now but I know you're hurt and I know this—” but he couldn't stop himself from rolling his hips and Dick's head fell back against the pillows. “Say no and I'll—say no—”

Dick forced his head back up to look at Jason's face, eyes flickering between his face and where Jason was holding his hips down with his legs. He forced his eyes back up to Jason. “Will you move in and be my lover?”

“Dick,” Jason said with a breathless laugh. “I think I'm already both of those things.”

“I'd really like to hear—”

“Richard fucking Grayson,” Jason said and Dick froze, feeling his breath leave him in a rush. “I, Jason Todd, love your stupid self who went and bought me a bookcase.” Dick got his fingers in his hair and yanked him down into another open mouthed kiss, pulling too hard on Jason's scalp. “I love you,” Jason whispered when Dick finally let him breathe again.

“Yes,” Dick murmured, kissing him again. “Whatever you want—yes—”

“You can say no, Dick,” Jason said, and he pressed his mouth against Dick's neck for a second, before he opened it and sucked at the skin there.

“I know,” Dick said, eyes unfocused on the ceiling. “I know, but, yes.”

Jason pushed himself back and Dick made an unhappy sound when his mouth left. When Jason got off the bed and stood, stripping his jacket off and throwing it on top of Dick's dresser, Dick started to sit up, pulling off his own sleep shirt before Jason put a hand in the middle of his chest, above the bandages he still had wrapped around him, and pushed him back down. “No, stay.”

“But,” Dick started and Jason pressed a little firmer.

“Stay still.”

Biting his lip, Dick wiggled slightly on the bed but stayed where he was as Jason methodically went through his clothes, including the under armor, and Dick had never wanted to be out of a simple pair of pants and underwear so much in his life.

“Jason,” he said and Jason smirked at him, climbing naked on the bed and leaned down to kiss Dick's navel, licking the dip of his bellybutton. “Jason!” he said, starting to arch before he hissed in pain and forced his body back flat on the bed.

“Dick, you gotta stay as still as you can,” Jason said, looking up at him, still at his bellybutton.

“I know,” Dick said. “I can. I will.”

Jason licked the skin there again and then sat back, kneeling over Dick's knees where Dick couldn't reach him at all. “That's not,” Dick started to say and Jason smirked as he slid his fingers inside him an Dick hadn't even noticed him pouring lube on them. “That's really not fair. I can't touch you.”

“That's because you're going to lay back and let me do all the work,” Jason said with another smirk before he tossed his head back and groaned.

“But I want you,” Dick insisted again. “I want to feel you—”

Jason swore, and lifted himself up on his knees so Dick could actually see his fingers moving as he stretched himself.

Dick groaned, long and low and Jason's rhythm stuttered. “Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?” Jason asked, looking down at him.

“No,” Dick said, tipping his head back before he forced it back up to keep watching Jason.

But Jason had paused, considering Dick before a slow smile, not a smirk, crossed his face. “No, you're right. That's a terrible compliment for you, isn't it? You can't control that or anything, you just are.”

“Jason—”

“No,” Jason said, and he shuffled forward, so Dick could wrap his hands around the bottom of his thighs. “No, to compliment you, I gotta tell you how fucking smart you are, how you leave me behind sometimes, how fucking great it is to watch you take control of a room, and how fearless you are takes my breath away.” When Jason stopped and grinned, Dick let out a high pitched whimper, surprising himself. “Yeah, that's the way to get to you, isn't it?”

“Apparently,” Dick said, voice strangled and Jason leaned down, kissing him, sliding his tongue into Dick's mouth with long, slow strokes. The hand with lube covering it curled around one of Dick's wrists, pressing it against the pillow next to his head.

“You're amazing,” Jason murmured. “And kind, and brave, and I adore you.”

Dick kissed him again just to shut him up, and when Jason arched his hips and started sliding down on him, he could barely even remember why he'd ever said no to this.

-0-

Dick woke up to his phone vibrating frantically on the nightstand, and he swatted at it a couple times.

“Who the fuck,” Jason mumbled, rolling over and wrapping an arm around Dick's waist and Dick forgot the phone completely to nuzzle up against Jason's neck. “Dick, your phone.”

Dick mumbled something and finally managed to swipe the phone off the nightstand and into the bed, making it easier to pick up and see the several missed calls from Barbara. He blinked before slowly hitting the call back button. “Babs?”

“I was in New York,” she said. “So I wanted to come over.”

“You,” he sat up abruptly and then hissed in pain, hand going to his stomach and holding on for a second.

“Dick?” she asked on the other end of the line. “Whatever you just did did not sound good.”

“I'm fine,” he said. “Just—forgot for a second. Are you still in... in town?”

“Yeah,” she said, softly. “I'm sorry I didn't come earlier, to the hospital I mean, but I figured the less we were seen together.”

“Yeah, it's fine,” Dick said. “Roy didn't visit there for the same reason.”

“So, can I come over?” she asked.

Dick glanced down at Jason, who had his hands behind his head and was watching him. “You're going to need to give me time to shower,” he settled for.

“I can be there in forty-five minutes, if that's enough time.”

“Yeah,” Dick said, and clicked the phone off, still watching Jason. “Barbara wants to visit. Forty-five minutes.”

Jason arched a brow at him.

“That's plenty of time if you want to leave,” Dick said, and couldn't keep holding Jason's gaze. “Or—or you could stay.”

“You'd actually want me to?” Jason asked, arching his brows.

“Yeah,” Dick said, swinging his legs out of bed and standing carefully. “I told you. I want you to—to actually live here. I understand if you want to avoid some people but I'm not going to be ashamed, or kick you out if they're coming. It's up to you and what you're comfortable with.” He turned and walked into the shower, fiddling with his bandages until Jason came up behind him, wrapping his arms around him and nuzzling against his neck.

“I didn't say I was going to leave,” Jason said.

“I know,” Dick murmured, looking at Jason's hands. “Just—when Bruce came—”

“Bruce is different,” Jason said. “Not that I'm thrilled to see Barbara Gordon or anything, but I'm not going to slink away like I'm ashamed of you. You said you wanted me to move in and be your lover, and some of that means having people see us together.”

“People?” Dick laughed. “Like my ex? You just want to be possessive again.”

“Hm,” Jason hummed and then he tilted his head up to drag his teeth along Dick's throat, high enough it would be impossible to cover the mark with his collar. Dick's eyes snapped over to the mirror, and Jason's gaze was already waiting for him there. “Yeah,” Jason said, and then sucked on the skin there. “Yeah, I do want to be possessive.”

Dick shuddered, leaning harder back against Jason. “Well, when you're done with that, you should get me pain meds and then join me in the shower.”

“Yeah, I can do that,” Jason said, kissing the side of his neck one more time before stepping back.

Dick glanced at the mirror again, the mark already showing up on his skin before he busied himself with checking his bandages.

 

Chapter Text

At first things even seemed to be going smoothly.

Barbara had obviously been startled to see Jason lounging against the kitchen island but she covered that quickly, saying something about the newspapers apparently for once being right about something. It had been awkward, certainly, but Dick genuinely felt a glimmer of hope that things were going to go well. Which, of course, is when things started going off the rails.

He had his back turned for a minute, fiddling with the coffee maker, deciding he needed to get a larger one, when Barbara rested her elbow on the table, leaned forward and considered Jason. “I admit this isn't what I expected.”

“Yeah?” Jason asked, leaning back and crossing his arms and Dick tensed, glancing over his shoulder quickly to take in both their postures. “And why not?”

“You know exactly what I didn't expect,” she said, an edge in her voice. “You, here, like this.”

“Barbara,” Dick said, hands tight on the coffee maker. “You already knew about our relationship. I don't see how this is that surprising.”

“It just seems very domestic is all,” Barbara said, but there was something else in her voice and Dick turned all the way around again.

“You're just starting to sound awful jealous,” Jason said, kicking his chair back, arms still crossed.

“Jealous? Dick and I haven't been together for a long time.”

“So?” Jason asked, almost a drawl.

“So I'm not jealous. I'd be happy that he's found someone else if you weren't so dangerous.”

“Oh that's it, is it?” Jason asked. “I'm dangerous?”

Her eyes were sharp behind her glasses. “Of course you are. Or do you need me to list out all the terrible things you’ve done—”

“My memory’s not that bad, thanks,” Jason said.

“Both of you,” Dick said, sharpness in his voice and Jason and Barbara both shot him a guilty look. “Can we please not?”

Jason looked away, mouth twisting and it was clear he wanted to say that he hadn’t started it but managed to refrain. Barbara took a breath and sipped the coffee in front of her.  

“I know it’s not usual for our group but how about just having a nice breakfast?” Dick asked, already feeling tired when his phone started ringing again. For a long moment he just stared at it, annoyed, before realizing it was one of Tim’s phone numbers and sweeping the phone up. “Nice,” he reminded both of them, as he walked into his bed room.

“Hey Tim, what’s up?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Tim said quickly and Dick sighed, closing his eyes.

“Yeah, that really makes me think that’s the case.”

“I mean nothing’s wrong with a case,” Tim said, more subdued.

Dick sat down on the edge of his bed, one hand fiddling with the edges of the sheets. “Okay, so what is wrong?”

“It’s—”

“Tim,” Dick said softly, because Tim had called him not too long ago, speaking about someone that he’d talked off a roof, and how it made Tim realize all the things he had been suppressing. “Did I not say I’d be here whenever you needed me?”

“You did but that doesn’t mean I should take all your time like this—”

“Tim,” Dick said again, and remained sitting there until Tim had run out of the words he had, because Kon was gone, along with so many others and Tim felt exhausted by carrying the weight of all he lost.   

“You know you can call me any time,” Dick said. “I meant that when I said it. I just—Is there anyone else you can talk to too?”

“Like Bruce?” Tim asked, and Dick could just imagine him wrinkling his nose.

“Well, yes, but also probably no.”

“It’s not like I could see a therapist,” Tim muttered and Dick made a mental note to discuss that with Bruce, that Tim maybe should see a therapist of some sort.

“You know you never have made it over just to visit,” Dick said and Tim chuckled.

“Yeah, yeah, same excuses apply.”

“Options still open,” Dick said and he heard a raised voice from his kitchen. He winced. “Hey, Tim—”

“Yeah I heard that through the phone,” Tim said. “Thanks for picking up.”

“Anytime, no matter what,” Dick said.

“Obviously, considering you have a situation there,” Tim said and he sounded amused, which was an improvement from where he was when Dick picked up the phone.

“Yeah, apparently play nice means nothing to certain people,” Dick said, managing to even earn a chuckle as he hung up the phone and walked back into the kitchen.

He arrived just in time to hear Jason snarl, “Well at least I never blamed him for his own rape,” and came to a dead stop, phone still held in one hand. For a horrible moment there was dead silence. “Shit,” Jason said first.

“How did you even get here?” Dick demanded, his knuckles going white around his phone.

“I was commending on his callous use of murder as a solution,” Barbara said, stiff and staring at Dick. “What is he talking about?”

“Oh I damn well hope you know which incident I’m talking about,” Jason said, anger still close to the surface and Dick had barely moved, barely breathed.

“You weren’t even there, how could you possibly,” Barbara started.

“You know what,” Dick said, breaking into what she was about to say. “You two obviously don’t need me for this conversation, so I’m just going to leave. You can then have a go at each other however you want.”

“Dick,” Barbara started but he was already moving for the door, ignoring Jason’s stricken look and the slowly dawning realization on Barbara’s face.

He made it up to the roof, ignoring all safety codes and regulations for the building. For a long time he just sat on the edge of the roof, focusing on breathing his way through his anger and the panicky cornered feeling he had gotten at Jason’s words.

When his phone started ringing he almost threw it off the roof. But he didn’t recognize the number, so unless Jason had gone out and gotten a burner phone to try and apologize, it probably wasn’t anyone who had his ire.

“This is Dick Grayson,” he said, forcing himself to sound calm.

“Uh, hi,” a hesitant voice said and Dick frowned. “It’s—Ganon. Mallory. From Blüdhaven. I saw you in the newspaper and Amy had your number.”

Dick blinked rapidly, having not expected that. “I—”

“It’s been a few years, hasn’t it?” Ganon asked and honestly Dick almost wished this call had come at any other day, memories of Blüdhaven too close to surface already. “But, I mean, it’s not often you show up in the news.”

“Weird how I became more of the focus than the end of the world,” Dick said dryly.

“People are getting jaded I guess,” Ganon said and Dick shifted, drawing his legs back up onto the roof, slinging one arm over his knees.

“Sure,” he said. “How—how are you?”

“Well, not in Blüdhaven anymore,” Ganon said. “I guess that’s something.”

“Still a cop?”

“Still a cop,” Ganon confirmed and sometimes Dick missed it, missed having a uniform that people could recognize him in, miss the comradeship with a larger group of people who were presumably working toward the same goals. “You’re not anymore, are you?”

“Night job keeps me busy,” Dick said softly and Ganon was silent for a moment.

“I’m actually in New York,” he said. “I know it’s been a long time, I would never presume—”

“You wanna come over while you’re here?” Dick asked.

“Only if that wouldn’t impose,” Ganon said and Dick found himself smiling.

By the time Jason came up and sat down beside him on the roof, he almost felt ready to talk to him again. “I notice, um,” Jason started and stopped, rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. “You didn’t kick me out.”

“It was admittedly my first instinct,” Dick said, not looking at him. “But all things considered, even furious I’d rather not repeat that.”

“Yeah,” Jason said softly and Dick let the silence stretch between them. “Yeah, so, I really fucked up.”

“Yes,” Dick agreed, voice flat.

“It wasn’t my place to say that,” Jason said. “Ever, to anyone, let alone your ex, let alone in a fight. Nothing about that was okay and I am so fucking sorry I did it.”

Dick finally looked over at him to find Jason frowning down at the streets below them. “If that conversation was ever going to happen, it should have been mine to start.”

“I know,” Jason said.

“But you couldn’t help it, could you?” Dick sighed.

“I fucking should be able to,” Jason muttered. “I just—it makes me so angry. That someone would blame, well, anyone for their own assault, let alone you, who I care about. You shouldn’t have had to go through that.”

“I couldn’t even admit what had happened to me, how could Barbara be expected to have coped with it?” Dick asked.

“Should have been able to not blame you for it,” Jason said, and some anger had leaked back into his voice, which he tried to contain again. “But it wasn’t my place.”

Dick sighed again before he reached a hand out, taking Jason’s hand closest to him. “Right, so I think it’s pretty clear I’m furious.”

“Yeah.”

“And that’s going to take a while,” Dick said.

“Yeah,” Jason said, if possible even softer.

“But your apology has been noted,” Dick said, not looking at Jason.

They sat in silence for a while, watching the traffic below. “Do you want me to, uh, leave for tonight?” Jason asked and Dick snapped his eyes over. “I mean, I still have safe houses and shit.”

“Did I tell you to leave?” Dick asked.

“No,” Jason said. “But you’re still pissed. Rightfully so in a way that I don’t think will clear up by nightfall.”

“Stay,” Dick said softly after a moment’s consideration. “You can stay. I don’t—I don’t actually want you to leave.”

Jason paused before he picked up Dick’s hand which was still in his, kissing his palm and Dick let him. “Did I mention I’m really fucking sorry?”

“Yeah,” Dick said, feeling the corner of his mouth twitch.

“You know, I had plans for today,” Jason said. “That were really, really not this,” and Dick was almost smiling.

“Well maybe next time don’t totally fuck up then.”

“Right, right, I’ll take that under consideration,” Jason said and Dick paused before scooting a little closer to him, leaning against his side and letting Jason’s heat seep into him.

“Did Barbara leave?”

“Yeah,” Jason said. “We sorta, well, after you left there wasn’t much more to talk about.”

“Which means this isn’t going to be the end of the conversation,” Dick said, exhausted.

“Sorry,” Jason said, and Dick felt his cringe even not looking at his face.

Dick turned his head closer to Jason before he tensed at a sudden thought. “What if she tells Bruce.”

“Um, would she?” Jason asked and once again Dick found himself fumbling for his phone. Except Bruce didn’t answer and Dick tried to convince himself that didn’t mean anything except that Bruce was probably in a meeting or otherwise doing something that kept him away from the phone.

Chapter Text

Bruce didn’t even bother knocking on the door, he simply used a key Dick didn’t remember giving him and walked in.

Jason’s head snapped up from where he was reading and shot a panicked look at Dick, who stood frozen in the doorway to his bedroom, having been checking his stiches. But for once Bruce wasn’t even looking at Jason, all his attention focused on Dick. “You didn’t tell me,” he said and Dick curled his hands into fists, feeling anger burn through him even as he tried not to get a head rush at all of Bruce’s attention on him.

“I—” Jason started, scrambling to his feet. “Am going grocery shopping,” and Bruce barely looked at him breaking for the door.

“That wasn’t hers to tell you,” Dick said as the door clicked shut. “That wasn’t even Jason’s to tell her. It was mine to tell or not.”

“It’s been years and you never said,” Bruce said and they were across the apartment from each other, stiff and angry and hurt in different ways, staring at each other.

“It’s not,” Dick started, looking away and then back. “Look, you can spend as many years as you want counseling others and protecting them and refuse to acknowledge the same thing happened to you. I just admitted to myself that if it was non-consensual then it must have been a rape, how could I possibly have explained it to anyone else?”

“But Dick,” Bruce said and there was anguish in his voice. “I let her in. I accepted her as part of the family because I thought you trusted her, cared for her. But I would never have done that if I knew how she had hurt you, or that by accepting her help in a moment of need I was hurting you further. I had the responsibility of accepting her in Gotham or not, and I failed you by letting her be part of the team, of our family, no matter for how long.”

Dick felt his jaw worked, blind sighted by what he hadn’t expected. “Bruce, come on—”

“You were hurting, I knew that much,” Bruce said. “I thought accepting her would make you feel better, not worse, and that is my responsibility.”

“Bruce,” Dick managed. “The city was on fire, I didn’t blame you for needing the help.”

“No,” Bruce said, finally moving forward and Dick swallowed hard. “Knowingly or not, accidentally or not, desperate or not, I allowed more harm to come to you.”

Dick choked on something that might have been a laugh or might have been a sob. “Bruce, it wasn’t that long after you insisted none of us were your family because Bruce Wayne didn’t exist and let us think you had murdered your lover. I mean, Bruce, what do you want me to say?” And his voice felt like it was full of shards of glass, still caught on the edge of a hysteric laugh. “It’s not like allowing Catalina into Gotham was the most hurtful thing you’ve ever done to me.”

“I still should have known,” Bruce said. “I still should have done better.”

Dick couldn’t quite look at him. “Well, you’re doing better now,” he said. “Isn’t that enough? We can’t, we can’t change what happened. I couldn’t have told you what I refused to admit to myself, and Gotham was being torn apart. It’s—it’s what it was and now we’re somewhere else, that’s all.”

There was a pause and Bruce’s hands were on Dick’s face, tilting his head back to meet Bruce’s eyes, even though Dick almost slunk back and out of the hold. “I am still sorry,” Bruce said. “For accepting her as I did.”

Dick gave a tiny jerky nod, not breaking Bruce’s hold. “I—Alright.”

“I won’t tell anyone else,” Bruce added, stepping back and Dick felt like he could breath again. “You’re right, it’s no one else’s to tell.”

“Thank you,” Dick said, looking away again. “I mean,” and that hysteric laugh finally escaped. “It’s not even like she was the first or anything,” and he made the mistake of glancing at Bruce then, to see furious shock on his face. “—Actually it might be a good idea to sit down. I’ll make some coffee. Maybe we should talk.”

“Alright,” Bruce said, voice tight as he walked over to the kitchen island and sat down hard on one of the stools, his back stiff. Dick sighed, closing his eyes for a moment and breathing before moving over to the coffee pot.

-0-

“I admit,” Bruce said, a while later, when Jason still hadn’t come back from his supposed grocery run. “I was concerned for you when you started this thing with Jason.”

“Yeah, apparently everyone was,” Dick said, turning his empty cup around in front of himself a few times.

“But it’s good for you, isn’t it?” Bruce asked, softly. “You and him.”

“I hope so,” Dick said, not looking at him. “We—we’ve both had a lot to unpack I guess. He helped me see some things I hadn’t been willing to admit, and I hope perhaps I’m helping him out too. There’s been some—some harsh things that have come out.”

“I’ve been concerned for him for a long time,” Bruce said. “That much is obvious. For you as well, since Blüdhaven, but—”

“It’s a little bit different,” Dick said.

“Yes,” Bruce sighed, and sometimes it still surprised Dick, to see Bruce in civilian clothes and fitting in his space. “He’s been so angry for so long. And when he got killed a second time, protecting me, I—”

Dick froze, staring at Bruce, holding the handle he’d broken off his mug in one hand. “He what?”

-0-

When Jason finally came home it was dark, and Dick was leaning against the kitchen island with his arms crossed.

“Is Bruce still here?” Jason asked, cautiously, looking around and putting his grocery bags down on the counter, which means at some point he had actually gone shopping.

“No,” Dick said. “But you have to talk to him.”

Jason’s mouth twisted. “So you’ve said but look I’ve barely started having lunch with Alfred, maybe we can take baby steps—”

“You died for him,” Dick snapped. “You put yourself between him and a bullet and you think that you can just pretend the status quo still exists? That you still can’t stand him or want him dead?”

Jason froze. “Well just because I don’t want someone else killing him doesn’t mean I still don’t want to—”

“The hell it doesn’t,” Dick said. “We both know that’s not the fucking case anymore, but you can’t just take the next logical steps and admit how much you still care.”

“Look, just because I might not want him dead doesn’t mean I want him back in my fucking life,” Jason started and Dick scowled at him until he snapped his mouth shut.

“You died for him, Jason, you died again, knowing what it was going to be like, because you wanted to protect him. Why can’t you just follow through with that? Why can’t you admit you still love him, like he’s so willing to do for you?”

“What if I can’t deal with it, Dick?” Jason asked. “Bruce is—he’s like a stone fucking wall, okay and sometimes I don’t have the strength to climb up it. Besides, why are you acting like you just found this out anyway?”

“Because I just did!” Dick snapped and Jason stared at him.

“You—what?”

“I didn’t wait to find out, alright?” Dick said. “I didn’t care, I didn’t bother to know, because all that mattered to me was that I wasn’t going to let it stand. I couldn’t. So what was the point of stopping to learn how or why? And after you were back it didn’t seem relevant to find out, because it was already over.”

Jason just stared at him. “You are,” he started and came to a stop again. “Seriously? You didn’t wait long enough to even hear how I died, you just checked into the underworld?”

“Jason,” Dick said, voice hard. “Talk to Bruce, or so help me god.”

“You’ll do what, exactly?”

“Do you really want to know?” Dick asked and Jason stilled for a moment.

“Man, was that actually a threat from you?” he asked and Dick just inched his brow up. “Look, okay, fine, so there’s some unfinished stuff between me and Bruce, but I’m not ready to deal with it yet, okay?”

“Or I could just do something like you did to me today,” Dick said, voice flat. “Force you to deal with the issue before you’re ready.”

Jason bit his lip hard. “Okay, I deserved that. I would deserve you even doing it except—”

“Except it wouldn’t actually help the issue, would it?” Dick asked softly and Jason looked away, Dick sighing after a moment. “I will do it, though, if you don’t get this figured out.”

“Duly noted,” Jason said and Dick gave him a jerky nod.

“Good.”

They stared at each other another moment before Dick reached forward, dragging one of the bags toward him. “Well. Want any help putting this away?”

“Sure, yeah, we should probably get stuff into the fridge,” Jason said and later, when he bumped into Dick as Dick put something up in a cupboard Dick turned, pulling him into a kiss that went on longer than Dick planned as they clung to each other.

-0-

It wasn’t often that Jason Blood found himself in New York anymore, usually too preoccupied with whatever occult issue was in front of him to travel. But he wanted to check on the portal that had opened to another world in New York’s streets, to see if there was any lingering traces of it or where it had opened to.

The Justice League and others were already on the case but probably missing his… more unique perspective.

What he hadn’t been expecting was running into Jason Todd on the subway, the white streak in his black hair standing out perhaps even more than Jason Blood’s own did. “Mr. Todd,” he greeted, and Todd tensed, looking at him abruptly. “It’s nice to see you among the land of the living again.”

“Thanks?” the other man said, posture and tone wary.

“Jason Blood,” Jason said, introducing himself again. “We met briefly, about two lifetimes ago for you.”

“Right,” Todd said, still looking at him and they stood on an underground platform.

“I was actually here looking into that portal that opened not so long ago,” Jason said. “All reports point to you being there.”

Todd snorted, hands in his pockets. “Sure, yeah, reports point to it.”

Jason smiled thinly, and Todd agreed to at least take him to where the portal had opened, showing him around the street.

“And did you feel anything strange, funny, weird?”

“Beside panic? No,” Todd said, hands still in his pockets as he looked up and down the street.

Jason hummed, touching the ground and considering what sort of spells he could get away with in the street in the middle of the day. “Thank you for taking the time,” he said.

“Well, I didn’t have much to do today except not be in the apartment,” Todd said, still not looking at him.

Jason straightened, having found nothing of note. “I am glad Grayson is going to be alright,” he said, and Todd’s head whipped around to stare at him. “The newspapers kept up with him during his recovery. I learned to respect him quite a bit while we were in the Justice League together. He was an excellent leader during a very difficult time for us all, let alone himself.”

“You were in the League together?” Todd asked in confusion.

“The regular League had disappeared,” Jason said. “We were the backup, a contingency plan that Batman put together, and significantly more effective than some of his other ones.” Todd snorted and Jason continued. “As I said, during that time Grayson stepped up and proved himself not just an effective leader of his own usual team, but of any team. And then he even managed to impress Etrigan when he was in Hell not too long ago.”

“Really?” Jason asked. “He managed to impress a demon even when standing in Hell?”

“Well, it was a pocket dimension of Hell,” Jason said. “It’s a complicated one. But at any rate, it is one Etrigan likes to spend time in, and yes, that is where Grayson managed to impress him.”

“Yeah? How exactly did he do that?” Todd asked, but his dark eyes were blazing as he watched Jason who adjusted his cuffs before meeting Todd’s gaze.

“Well, because he offered his own soul to Etrigan if he turned around on the walk out. Two for the price of one if he failed like everyone else before him had. But not only was he willing to make the deal, but he didn’t fail. That’s a truly impressive amount of willpower,” he said, but it looked like Jason had stopped listening halfway through.

“He offered what?” he yelled on the street, drawing far more attention to them than Jason was particularly comfortable with.

“Well his own soul if he failed to rescue yours,” Jason said, warily and realized that somehow that detail had never been conveyed to one Jason Todd.

Chapter Text

Dick stood in the kitchen, realizing once again he would have to get a bigger coffee pot at some point, Gannon Mallory in the living room, when Jason came tearing back inside the apartment.

It had even been a nice afternoon so far, once they had gotten past the awkwardness of small talk after too long. Having Gannon in his apartment was a nice change from Barbara or Bruce after everything that had happened, even if it made his recently reopened wounds feel a bit raw.

But he had forgotten how well they had gotten along, and all the things that had made them good partners when they were.

When Jason blazed inside, he didn’t seem to notice anyone else in the apartment at all, going straight for Dick. Grabbing him by the hips he shoved Dick back against the counter, Dick’s mouth only opening to greet him. “What the fuck were you thinking?” Jason roared.

For a moment Dick could only stare at him, too surprised to do anything else. Jason’s eyes, oddly, looked different. “What?” he managed.

“What the fuck is wrong with you, what were—”

Jason broke off abruptly at the sound of a click, Gannon standing in the living room and his hand obviously on a holster, ready to draw the gun that of course he had with him, of course he had a concealed permit and Dick was still disoriented enough he couldn’t quite figure out how to react.

“Let him go,” Gannon said, all protective stance and police training.

“And who the hell,” Jason started, tense because someone had their hand on a gun.

“Both of you,” Dick finally managed, because Jason still had him pinned against the counter and his body still hurt, stitches still in. “Both of you just—Gannon please move your hand. And Jason—”

Jason abruptly stepped back, still keeping his eyes on Gannon who slowly moved his hand off his gun.

“Okay,” Dick said, holding a hand up. “Gannon, this is Jason. Jason, this is Gannon, who was my partner on the force in Blüdhaven.” When Jason looked back at him, his eyes had gone back to their usual blue and that was something they were definitely going to talk about. “Now, what the fuck?”

Jason’s eyes flickered between them. “I ran into Jason Blood,” he said, Gannon still standing.

“You,” Dick blinked. “I haven’t seen Blood in months so it couldn’t have been—” He paled as he realized who he had made a deal with in hell. “Ah.”

Jason’s shoulders were still stiff and furious when he looked at Dick.

“I was making coffee,” Dick said, looked between them as no one had relaxed at all. “Why don’t you sit down? Gannon—you should also sit down. And we—” Dick trailed off, having no idea what exactly they should do.

Maybe when Tim came to visit, finally, there would be no jarring revelations.

Jason slowly sat down across from Gannon, picking the armchair for himself. Dick followed him, sitting carefully. “Aren’t you still healing?” Gannon asked, Jason’s face going blank.

“It’s fine,” Dick said.

“And do things like that usually happen?” Gannon asked, gaze sharp.

“Like,” Dick started.

“If you’re asking if I usually shove my boyfriend into counters and yell at him, the answer is no,” Jason snapped from his corner. “But then again he’s not usually such a fucking moron.”

Dick stared at him. “You’re not really helping your case here,” he said and then looked back at Gannon whose face had gone slack in surprise.

“And what case is that?” Jason muttered.

“The one where you’re not an abusive boyfriend,” Dick said and felt a strange flip in his stomach, to casually refer to Jason that way.

Jason shot him a dark look.

“You have a boyfriend now?” Gannon asked finally. “I always thought you were just saying that stuff, not that you would ever mean it.”

“What stuff?” Jason immediately asked, hackles going up again.

“Oh, like when those homophobic cops were going after you?” Dick asked.

“Yeah,” Gannon said. “I just thought it was about you being a white knight and all that, not that you actually were, you know—”

“Well, it, uh,” Dick floundered. “I didn’t really talk about it? It’s not like I’ve dated that many men—”

“Or any as far as I can tell,” Jason said.

“Because of course you were paying attention,” Dick said.

“Uh, yeah?” Jason said. “Of course I was paying attention. Where were you when I was explaining this massive crush I had on you when I was a kid?”

“Well, you missed some years in the middle there,” Dick said, and glanced over to find Gannon giving him a sideways look. “He’s only a few years younger than me,” Dick added.    

“Yeah, but considering the circles you go in someone would have mentioned if you were long term dating someone,” Jason said. “Like Donna or the dear busybodies down the street. So, it must have been teenage fumbling. You aren’t the only detective in the family.”

Dick stared at him for a long moment. “You researched my dating history after you kissed me, didn’t you?”

“Well what else was I going to do when I was freaking out about it?” Jason asked, and his shoulders had almost relaxed but not quite.

“You mean besides avoid me for three weeks?”

“So, um,” Gannon started and stopped before starting what seemed like a different question. “How long have you known each other, then?”

Dick looked at Jason, letting him answer the question. Jason for his part shrugged, leaning further back into the chair. “On and off for years. We’ve certainly had our… differences over those years.” Dick snorted and looked away. “But you know, whatever, it’s all worked—” Jason paused, some of that anger coming back. “It’s mostly worked out.”

Gannon shifted, looking at Dick awkwardly. “I should probably leave you two to figure whatever that was out then.”

“You, you know, if you’re going to be in New York for a while maybe we should try this again,” Dick said, standing when he did.

“The rest of the week, probably,” Gannon said and glanced at Jason. “Are you going to be alright?” he asked, eyes sharp.

Dick looked over at Jason, who was glaring at Gannon despite the very real reasons why Gannon had every right to ask. “Yeah,” Dick said. “I’ll be alright. Besides, I can take him in a fight.”

“I’m concerned that you know that,” Gannon admitted as Dick walked him to the door. “Is he—in the same business you are?”

Dick almost tripped because somehow he forgot in the haze of everything that had gone wrong in his life that Gannon, like Amy, knew. “Erm. Yes.”

“You know that’s no excuse to be abusive, right?” Gannon asked, that sharp look back in his eyes and Dick coughed, because between training and actual fights that seemed to always turn physical at some point, he wasn’t sure which of his fellow capes he hadn’t gotten rough with at some point. Let alone Jason at his most violent.

“I know,” Dick said softly. “And he isn’t, truly. That was—different.”

“Well, you know where to get help if that ever turns out not to be the case,” Gannon said and after another few murmured goodbyes he was out the door, Dick closing it and turning to stare at Jason.

“Your eyes were green,” he said.

“Well, you made a deal with a fucking demon to take your fucking soul,” Jason said, anger back in force but his eyes were still completely blue.

“Only if I failed,” Dick said. “Which, I might point out, I didn’t, and everything is fine.”

“You were willing to condemn yourself to some random hell dimension to save my life,” Jason said. “What the everliving fuck is wrong with you Dick?”

“It worked,” Dick said. “I point out again. It worked and you’re here and everything is fine, alright?”

“Do you not understand how,” Jason started and shook his head, burying his face in his hands. “You infuriate me.”

“For saving your life,” Dick said blandly.

“Yeah, sure,” Jason said. “Because I care about you so much and you seem incapable of giving yourself that same consideration.”

Dick blinked at him, still leaning against the door. “You know that—that’s not going to change right? It’s not that I don’t care for myself or hate myself, it’s just—”

“Sacrifice and duty and all that other bullshit and it would be impossible to love you if you weren’t like that,” Jason said. “But fuck it still makes me mad.”

“I noticed,” Dick said blandly and Jason’s shoulders hunched over themselves.

“That—hasn’t happened in a while,” he murmured.

“Do your eyes usually turn green when you’re mad?” Dick asked, voice as even as he could make it.

“They haven’t in a while,” Jason said, not looking at him.

“It’s something to do with the Lazarus pit, doesn’t it?” Dick asked.

“Yeah,” Jason said. “I think so? Sometimes, when I get mad it’s like something else is in my head and I mean it’s not like I have a mirror at those times or anything—”

“It’s not like it truly changes anything either, does it?” Dick asked. “You would have still tried to kill Bruce, you would still believe what you believe about being a vigilante. The pit’s effects just mean we have to be more aware of how’re dramatically you’re reacting at a given time.”

Jason raised his eyes, giving Dick a considering look.  “Really? That’s it? I just—Dick I lost my head. I could have really hurt you.”

“But you didn’t,” Dick pointed out. “Even when you were that mad.”

“That doesn’t mean I won’t,” Jason protested. “I could—”

“I’ve taken you in a fight,” Dick pointed out, bland and Jason just shook his head, obviously annoyed. “Besides, you care too much. Don’t think I’ve forgotten how you handle it when I’m actually injured.”

“You’re so,” Jason said, cutting himself off and standing, coming over to Dick and burying his face in his hair.

“So what?” Dick asked. “Right? Annoying? Amazing?”

“Hm,” Jason hummed. “Wonderful, insane, stupid, and so fucking beautiful and strong it drives me crazy.”

Dick let out a careful breath, nuzzling his nose against Jason’s collarbone. “See? You don’t have to agree but that deal with the demon was totally worth it.”

“Fucking crazy,” Jason muttered and they stood there, holding each other.

“You know this doesn’t get you out of talking with Bruce right?” Dick said, a while later, and Jason snorted.

“Dick, you’re the worst.”

And Dick found himself laughing as he leaned against Jason.

-0-

A while later Jason found him back up on the roof, watching the sun set.

“Are you really so certain this is going to work out?” he asked, hoisting himself down to sit next to Dick.

“What this?” Dick asked, not looking over but leaning against his shoulder.

“You, me,” Jason said.

“Haven’t we covered this part of the conversation?” Dick asked.

“Some of it,” Jason said. “Most of it, maybe. I just can’t believe—I do mean what I say. About criminals, about the brokenness of our system, about these murderers going back on the street time after time—”

“I know you believe what you say about it,” Dick said. “But you—since this started you haven’t been killing people. In fact, even before this, you hadn’t been, nearly as much. Nothing like when you first came to Gotham—or New York.”

“And when I do?” Jason asked. “Come on, I haven’t like taken a chastity vow or something—”

“If you do,” Dick said. “I don’t know. We’ll deal with it then.”

“And when Bruce inevitably loses his patience?” Jason asked. “With me, with us?”

“Well, then Bruce can go right to hell,” Dick said and Jason stared at him. “What?”

“Come on, Dick, you’d follow him into hell, sure, but it’s not like you disagree with him.”

Dick blinked at him. “You know I don’t—actually—get along with Bruce all the time, right? I mean, you missed the worst fights we had—”

“You two, fighting,” Jason scoffed.

“And we’ve always worked together really well in the field, no matter how we felt about each other personally at the time,” Dick said. “But you’re either willfully blind or just really stupid if you think I’d dump you for Bruce. Or that I get along with him all the time.”

“Yeah, sure,” Jason said.

“You know I’ve punched him in the face, right?” Dick asked and Jason’s jaw dropped. “And that’s not even counting the fights we had that sent me to Blüdhaven the first time, the fights we had when you were gone, the fights we had over Tim, the Titans. The time I punched out my own cop radio because I was so furious with him.” Dick shook his head, almost laughing. “Plus that’s ignoring the fact he fired me and that’s how you became Robin.”

“Yeah but,” Jason said. “That was because of how much he cared about you, anyway. He didn’t want you to get hurt for him or because of him.”

“You know he felt the same way about you, right?” Dick said after a moment and Jason looked away. “Look, I can’t promise this is going to work. I can’t promise we won’t fight because—well—obviously. But I’m not going to leave you because of anything anyone else will ever say,” Dick said. “We can at least avoid that fight.”

For a while they sat together as the sun started to sink below the rooftops. “I still—I shouldn’t have come home like that.”

“No,” Dick agreed and looked over. “But you called this home, and I’d rather focus on that.”

For a long moment Jason remained looking over the city before he finally turned his head. “You—you honestly think this is going to work, don’t you?”

Dick curled his legs up and leaned harder against Jason. “Would I be here otherwise?”

“You know,” Jason said, swallowing hard and wrapping an arm around Dick’s shoulders. “I—I was in love with you before I kissed you. Or at least I thought I was, though I’ve come to see there was a lot more about you to fall in love with.”

“I knew that casual sex thing was a line,” Dick said with a laugh as the shadows stretched out around them.

“I thought it was the only thing I could get,” Jason said, defensive. “Okay? I didn’t think you’d take me up on any of it. I thought I could keep myself safe, and get a fraction of what I wanted and that it would be enough.” He paused, rubbing his thumb up and down Dick’s arm. “I’m still not sure I can really handle all of this.”

“We’re going to make it work,” Dick said, the laugh still at the edges of his voice. “Come on, we’re both way too stubborn for anything else.”

And with a chuckle of his own, Jason leaned down to kiss him in the twilight of the frozen moment where the sun had disappeared but the sky was still light. “Yeah, alright, I’ll give you that you’re stubborn,” and Dick kissed him again, the laugh trapped between them.