There were several things Jason avoided at all costs when he was out on patrol. At the very top of that list was Batman, but right below him was Nightwing, the most annoying big brother in the world. So, when a flash of black and blue appeared on the rooftop across from him, Jason didn’t even pause before he turned tail and bolted.
“Hood! Wait!” Dick cried before shouting something else. Jason was too busy booking it across the rooftops as fast as he could. He didn’t think he’d done anything lately to warrant a Bat-lecture but they were fully capable of finding reasons no matter what Jason had been up to. Dick’s Bat-lectures were particularly horrible too. With Bruce, there was a lot of yelling on both sides. Plenty of anger, sometimes punches thrown. Jason always came away from the confrontations furious, but never feeling the slightest bit guilty for his actions. Dick was way worse. Where Bruce was poorly restrained anger, Dick looked like someone killed his puppy.
“Little Wing, I thought you were doing better.”
“Little Wing, how could you do that?”
“Little Wing, we’re a family.”
Jason inevitably ended up just as angry as he did when dealing with Bruce, but with that anger, there was also the slightest bit of guilt, which ended up making him angrier. Dick didn’t get to make Jason feel guilty for his actions. Dick wasn’t the one who’d been buried and forgotten about. What did he know about anything?
So Jason ran as soon as he saw him. Of course, no one else in the family could fly quite as fast as Dick, when he wasn’t being a flashy show-off about it, at least. So it wasn’t long before Dick was leaping at Jason in a flying tackle.
They hit the roof of a high-rise hard, rolling in the gravel.
“What the hell, Dick!” Jason snapped, moving quickly to get the upper hand on his older brother.
“I’m not here to fight,” Dick said and punctuated the words by letting Jason pin him with a gun to his neck.
“Then why did you jump me, jackass?” Jason demanded.
That was enough to make Jason pause. People didn’t typically come to him when looking for other members of their messed up family, particularly if that member was Tim Drake. “The Replacement? What about him?” Jason asked, shoving off of Dick.
“Have you seen him anywhere?” Dick asked desperately as he sat up.
Jason rolled his eyes under his helmet. “No, why would I have seen the Replacement?”
“I know you guys trade info sometimes,” Dick pushed.
“So?” Jason demanded defensively. Yeah, he and Tim traded info from time to time, but that was because Tim was the only member of their family who wasn’t a total jackass. Well, he was a jackass, but he wasn’t as prejudiced as the rest of them and he was practical enough to deal with Jason in order to get what he needed. Jason also suspected Tim preferred to keep his business off the radar of the rest of the family. Jason wasn’t really sure what was going on there, but he did know he didn’t want to be involved. He had enough of his own family drama. No way was he going to get involved with Dick and Tim’s.
“There was a really bad Titans mission last week and he hasn’t been back to the Manor or the Cave since,” Dick explained.
“So? The Replacement’s a big boy. He can take care of himself,” Jason replied as he stood and brushed the dust and bits of gravel off his favorite leather jacket. “I’m sure he’s fine.”
Dick stood and flapped his arms about impatiently. “But he doesn’t take care of himself! Not all the time anyway. And especially not when he’s like this. He probably hasn’t slept in a few days and he’ll end up taking on something he can’t handle right now, if he hasn’t already. No one’s heard from him, he’s not carrying any of his trackers, and he’s not answering his phone. Not even Babs knows where he is!”
“And this is my problem why?” Jason asked, bored.
Dick gave him a dirty look, “Because he’s your brother.” And now he looked ready to gear up for one of his guilt inducing Bat-lectures. Jason was so not in the mood.
He huffed, “Okay, okay. I’ve got work to do, but if I see the Replacement, I’ll call you, okay?”
“Promise?” Dick demanded.
“What are you, five?”
Dick scowled, “Just do it.”
“Fucking—fine! I promise, okay? Now go away. I’m busy,” Jason snapped, turning on his heel and leaving. “Stay out of my business, asshole.”
Dick let him go without a fight.
An hour and a half later found Jason in a bar staring at the Replacement. Like Jason, he was now in civilian gear and blending in as he chatted with a mobster’s son at the bar. The mobster’s son that just so happened to be Jason’s target.
“You have got to be kidding me,” Jason grumbled, pulling his phone out of his pocket. Dick answered at the first ring. “Hey, Big Bird. I found something that belongs to you.”
“Tim! Where are you? Where is he? What’s he doing?” Dick said, sounding panicked.
“Working my turf,” Jason grouched. Then, sensing Dick’s impatience, added, “Laney’s Bar on Sixth.”
“I’m on my way. Don’t let him leave,” Dick demanded.
Jason sighed, but agreed, “Yeah, yeah.” He slipped his phone back in his pocket and turned his attention back to Tim. He was working Franky Sabatino, the witless third son of Johnny Sabatino and an easy mark for intel gathering. He and Tim were arguing at a basketball game on the TV and slapping bills down on the bar. Jason could tell Sabatino was winning because he was grinning and throwing back drinks, all loose, talky and happy. Clearly Tim was playing him, keeping the man drunk and happy, and most importantly, talkative. It was a solid plan on the Replacement’s part and Jason almost felt bad he was going to ruin it.
“There you are, little bro,” Jason declared, moving up and tossing an arm around Tim’s shoulder, jostling him a bit. “Been looking all over for ya. I thought we were meeting up tonight.”
If looks could kill, Jason would be dead a thousand times over. He didn’t think he’d ever seen Tim so livid, but he didn’t really care. Because now that Jason was getting an up close look at Tim, Dick hadn’t exactly been wrong. Tim looked like shit. Sure, he looked put together, but in a way any trained Robin undercover could look. Underneath that he was pale, skinny even for him, and the circles under his eyes might as well have been blackholes. Dick was right; Tim didn’t need to be out in the field in these conditions. And he certainly didn’t need to be out in the field working Jason’s target.
“Family, huh? You as bad at placing bets as your brother? Cause in that case come on over and drink with us,” Sabatino said with a wide smile and a little bit of a slur.
“Oh no, I’m sure he’s busy,” Tim said pointedly, taking a sip of his water disguised as vodka.
“Too busy for you, little bro? Never,” Jason said cheerily as a plan formed in his mind. If he played this right, he could get Tiny Tim safely off into Dick’s hands and still get the info he needed from Franky Sabatino. He was the freaking Red Hood; he could definitely manage this. “Andrew, nice to meet you,” Jason grinned, holding a hand out to Sabatino, even as Tim did his absolute best to temporarily cripple Jason by jamming his heel down on Jason’s instep. Unluckily for Tim, Jason was wearing extremely sturdy combat boots.
“Franky Sabatino,” the man said proudly, slipping a little as he leaned over to shake Jason’s hand. “You like basketball, Andrew?”
“It ain’t hockey, but it’ll do,” Jason replied.
“Hockey fan?” Sabatino asked, looking delighted. “I play in a league. Rightwing.”
“No way,” Jason said, moving his leg away quickly as Tim aimed a shot at his knee. “I play center! Let me buy you a drink.”
“Yeah, man,” Sabatino said, clapping him on the shoulder. “I’m gonna hit the head first.”
Tim was on him as soon as Sabatino was gone. “What the hell are you doing!” he snapped, shoving at Jason, and he really must not have slept in a while, because it felt like being shoved by a kindergartener. “Sabatino is my target.”
“Yeah, no,” Jason replied easily, waving the bartender over. “I’ve been after dear ole Franky’s older brother Antonio for a couple of weeks, but Antonio is a much more reclusive bird than his bar hopping little brother. So no, Replacement, Franky is my target.” He turned his attention to the bartender and waved at Tim and Sabatino’s drinks before handing him a ten.
“Go away,” Tim snapped. He didn’t notice when Jason dumped the sedative in his water. Jason grinned as he took a sip, swallowed, then spluttered and coughed. He’d tasted the sedative, but too late.
“If I do that, who’s gonna get you out of here?” Jason asked with a grin.
“You asshole!” Tim snarled, grabbing Jason’s jacket drunkenly. He listed heavily against Jason but continued to snarl angrily. “I’m going to cut off your fingers and use them to gauge out your eyes!”
Jason blinked, “Wow, that’s a little disturbing, Replacement. I think you’ve been hanging out with the demon spawn too much.”
Tim growled. Or, at least Jason thought it was supposed to be a growl. But since Tim wasn’t even standing up under his own power anymore, it came out more as a disgruntled, half strangled cat noise.
“Yeah, you tell me, killer,” Jason smirked, hoisting one of Tim’s arms over his shoulders, pulling him up from his seat at the bar, just in time for Sabatino’s return.
“You guys goin’ somewhere?” Sabatino frowned.
Jason gave an easy grin and jostled the barely awake Tim a bit, “Yeah. Kid can’t seem to hold his liquor. Figured I’d get him home before he gets himself into trouble. But maybe you and I can talk hockey sometime.”
“Yeah, man,” Franky said enthusiastically. “You know, our center is having to miss our next game for a work thing. We were gonna cancel, but if you’re any good maybe you can fill in. Brother of Joe’s, a friend of mine, you know?”
Jason grinned and ruffled Tim’s drooping head. “And a friend of my dear little brother Joey is a friend of mine. I’d be happy to fill in. When’s the game?”
“Saturday afternoon. We’ve got practice tomorrow night though. Give me your number and I’ll text you the details in the morning.”
Jason grinned, gave him the number of one of his burners, and dragged Tim out the door. “Thanks for laying the groundwork for me, kid.”
Tim snored against his shoulder.
A shiny black car pulled up to the curb and Dick jumped out immediately and cried, “Tim! What’s wrong with him?”
“Relax, Goldilocks; he’s sleeping.”
“Sleeping?” Dick asked, taking him from Jason. “Tim doesn’t sleep. How is he sleeping?”
“I may have drugged him,” Jason revealed, then added when Dick’s frown deepened, “It was necessary, okay? You said to keep him here. He’s a stubborn little shit, so I dosed his drink. At least this way he’s getting some sleep, right? And come on, wasn’t that exactly what you were going to do anyway? Make some of Alfred’s special laced tea?” Jason asked, opening the back door of the car for Dick, who now had his hands full with a very unconscious Tim.
“Okay, fine.” Dick allowed, maneuvering Tim into the backseat. “He’s probably going to kill you though.”
“Nah, he’s just going to chop off my fingers and use them to gauge out my eyes.”
Dick snorted. “Really?”
“Baby bird is pretty mad.”
“Thanks for this, Jason. I owe you one.”
“I’ll collect, Pretty Bird, don’t think I won’t,” Jason said, pointing a finger in his face. “So remember this the next time you get mad at me for shooting someone in the face.
Dick scowled a little, but Jason didn’t mind. All in all, the evening had been fairly productive.
The next afternoon, Tim was the one who answered Dick’s door. He was still a bit pale, but he looked world’s better than he had the night before.
“Afternoon, baby bird. Is your daddy home?” Jason asked, smirking wide.
“I’m going to kill you,” Tim immediately swore, even as he moved aside and let Jason into Dick’s apartment. It was enough to tell Jason that he still wasn’t feeling up to par, because in his right mind Tim would have slammed the door in Jason’s face.
“I come bearing apology pot roast,” Jason said, moving straight to the kitchen to put the dish in Dick’s oven. The thing had probably never been used before. “I’m sure the only thing Dick’s been feeding you is cereal. That shit gets old fast.”
“What are you doing here, Jason?” Tim snapped, arms crossed.
“Apology pot roast, like I said,” Jason said, rolling his eyes a little. “Although, I gotta say I’m surprised to find you here, baby bird. I thought you would have flown the nest as soon as the sedative wore off.”
Tim’s scowl turned into something a little more sullen and Jason grinned. “Big bird blackmail you or something?” Tim scowled again and Jason snorted. “He did, didn’t he? Oh, that’s great. He must have something really good on you, huh, baby bird?”
“Shut up,” Tim growled. “This is all your fault. Dick took every damn laptop and cell phone out of the apartment. And he’s got Barbara watching the place.”
Jason cackled a little. “Sucks to be you, Replacement.”
Tim glared. “What do you want?”
“I need to know the name you gave our good friend Franky Sabatino. We’re playing hockey today and I have no idea what my last name is supposed to be.”
Jason sighed shortly, “Look, he was my target first. I was busy doing intel and recon while you were off in California playing baby Justice Leaguers with your sidekick friends.”
“You have no idea what I was doing in California,” Tim snapped. The Titans mission was a touchy subject then. Jason didn’t really care.
“I know you weren’t researching the rising Sabatino drug trade. I was here first, Timmy, so back off. It’s not like Dick’s going to let you out of the nest in time to do anything anyway, with whatever deal you made with him.”
Tim was getting angrier and Jason could practically see him digging in his heels. Which was bad, because if the Bats were good at anything, it was being stubborn uncooperative assholes. The reasoning didn’t matter, Tim was absolutely capable of being petty if he felt like it. Which meant if he was pissed enough, Jason wouldn’t be getting a last name or anything else from Tim. Except possibly a broken nose.
Jason abruptly switched tactics and pulled one of his cellphones out of his pocket. He set it out on the counter between them. “I’ll make you a deal.”
Tim’s fury ebbed quickly as he considered the cellphone, an intrigued look on his face.
“Dick’s gonna make you stay and sleep at least six hours a night and eat at least three times a day, but this phone’s got data so you could at least do research, right?”
“And you’ll just give it to me,” Tim said suspiciously.
“You give up the case, tell me the background you gave Franky Sabatino, then yes. Phone is all yours and you can make use of this forced sabbatical. I won’t tell a soul.”
“Deal,” Tim said, grabbing the phone. “Last name Martin. Mother’s Italian, father’s not. Maiden name Bianchi. Family is from Florence. Dad was a bum, we got into petty crime early. I told him we’ve been boosting cars. I’ve got an informant who runs a chop shop in Robbinsville. He’s vouching for me. I’ll give him a call, let him know to vouch for an Andrew Martin too.”
“Nice, baby bird,” Jason said, impressed, despite himself. “Pleasure doing business with you. Make sure you actually eat that pot roast. It’s Alfred’s recipe.”
Tim looked at the oven with renewed interest as Jason headed to the door. “Oh, and if Dick catches you with the phone, you got it from the demon spawn.”
“Naturally,” Tim called just before Jason slipped out of the apartment.
And here's chapter 2. I wasn't quite able to keep Alfred out of this story. Oh well, no regrets.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jason didn’t see Tim again for three weeks, and when he did Jason was in the middle of a run of bad luck. With the info he gleaned from Franky Sabatino, Jason wiped out the burgeoning Sabatino drug trade, but in the time since he crippled the Sabatinos, the Ibanescue family decided to pick up the slack. Dragos Ibanescue was more vicious than Johnny Sabatino or his sons could ever be. His crew was also more dangerous because it was unclear whether they were more afraid of Dragos or the Red Hood, which meant they came at the Red Hood with all they had. There was enough of them, and enough machine guns, to cause Jason a hell of a lot of trouble. Worst yet, Dragos Ibanescue was actually pretty damn smart.
Jason hated the smart ones.
He had his hands full for two solid weeks, over which time he was shot in the arm, stabbed in the leg, and bruised rather thoroughly over most of his body. Two weeks of dirty, high stakes fighting culminated in yet another ambush that ended in four broken ribs and a shot through the leg—not the leg he’d been stabbed in, thankfully. Regardless, Jason was having a very bad day. But he’d survived the ambush and substantially weakened Ibanescue’s business. There was only about half of Ibanescue’s operation left running. The underlings and remaining lieutenants Jason wasn’t really worried about. It was Dragos he wanted now. The man would be holed up in his office waiting for word on the ambush. Jason would go and give him the news with his favorite AK-47.
As soon as he dragged his ass outside at least. Which was proving to be more and more difficult as Jason tiredly slumped against a concrete wall. Everything hurt, but his leg in particular was killing him. The artery and bone were fine, but the bullet had gone all the way through, which meant he was losing blood at a more accelerated rate than was generally recommended for fighting mob bosses. He’d have to do a patch job if he wanted to be standing when he made it to Dragos.
“Hood!” a voice called, and Jason jerked his head up and swung his gun towards the voice.
Jason groaned when he saw Red Robin moving through the fallen henchmen. “Great, fucking great. Just what I fucking need. What do you want, Replacement?”
“You’re bleeding everywhere.” Tim pointed out, moving closer.
“That tends to happen when you get shot,” Jason snapped.
“You need to patch it.”
“No shit, Sherlock,” Jason grumbled, readjusting his weight so that not so much of it was pushing on his injured leg. “It’s on my to do list.”
“Do you have compression bandages?”
“Not on me. They tend to take up valuable ammo space.”
Jason could tell Tim was rolling his eyes, even under the domino mask he was sporting. “Solid prioritizing, Jason. Luckily, I’m prepared, so at least you won’t bleed out before you even make it back out of the building.”
There was a moment where Jason considered arguing, but he quickly decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Not to mention it would save him a trip to one of his safe houses. A compression bandage might just be enough for Jason to hit up Dragos’ office.
“Yeah, alright fine,” Jason said, letting himself slide down the wall. Tim pulled out what basically amounted to a full field kit from his belt and settled down next to Jason.
“So, you’ve been busy,” he remarked conversationally as he poured antiseptic on Jason’s leg.
“No kidding,” Jason hissed. Tim started packing the wound with gauze, none to gently at that. Jason figured it was Tim’s passive-aggressive way of getting back at Jason for the whole Dick thing a few weeks earlier. “Fuck, Replacement, your bedside manner is shit.”
“Remember that next time you decide to be a reckless moron,” Tim retorted dryly as he wrapped the compression bandage around Jason’s thigh. “There. That should hold you until you get home to stitch it up. Any other injuries?”
“Some broken ribs. Nothing else fresh though.”
“Good, then this won’t be a problem,” Tim remarked lightly. That was all the warning Jason got before he felt a needle stab through the more flexible suit material at his neck.
“Why you little—,” Jason snarled as soon as he realized what Tim had done. It was too late to do anything though. His vision was already going black around the edges and the room was listing to the side.
The last thing Jason saw was Tim’s smug smirk. “Payback’s a bitch, Jason.”
Everything went black.
When Jason finally woke up, he felt like he was waking from the dead. When he opened his eyes and realized where he was, he wished he actually was dead.
“Oh, fuck no,” he groaned, lifting a hand to sluggishly cover his eyes.
“You finally awake?” a far too cheery voice asked rather loudly.
“No,” Jason retorted immediately. He was not awake. It was a nightmare. He was having a nightmare that he was trapped in Dick Grayson’s apartment. If it wasn’t a nightmare then Jason needed to get off his ass immediately and get the hell out of there as fast as he could. Dick could be a hovering and overbearing older brother on a good day. When one of his brothers was sick or hurt, he was ten times worse.
“That’s funny, cause you sound awake to me,” Dick replied easily. “And I’m betting you’ll sound awake to Alfred too.”
That was all the warning Jason got before a phone was shoved up against his ear. “Master Jason,” a disappointed, British voice greeted on the line.
Jason grimaced and replied cautiously, “Alfie.”
“Your brothers called me over to Master Richard’s residence very early in the morning. I was most displeased to see the state of your various injuries; none of which were properly taken care of.”
“Al—” Jason began, but Alfred immediately cut him off.
“Most displeased. To make it up to me, you will either remain two weeks at the Manor then refrain from patrol for an additional month—”
“What? Alfie, that’s crazy!”
“Or,” Alfred continued, undeterred, “You will remain with Master Richard for two weeks and refrain from patrol for six weeks.”
“That’s not fair, Alfred,” Jason ground out, immensely frustrated. He was not awake enough for this. They’d ambushed him as soon as he woke up when he still had the dregs of Tim’s sedative coursing through his veins, muddling his thought process. They were taking advantage.
“It is perfectly fair as I’m sure Master Richard will let you get away with smoking and moving about far more than you should. You won’t be ready to be out on patrol within six weeks if he is in charge of your initial recovery.”
“Initial recovery? Alfred, I’m fine! This is ridiculous! I’ve got shit to do!”
“Rest and recovery,” Alfred replied shortly. “That’s all you’ll be doing for six weeks at least, Master Jason.” His tone was hard and Jason knew the butler was not messing around. “You are not indestructible. The amount of abuse your body has taken recently is concerning. If you continue on without taking the time to recover, you will get yourself killed. I won’t allow that to happen.” The ‘again’ rang clearly in Jason’s mind. “You have two options before you. You are welcome to stay here at the Manor. I know Master Bruce will be pleased to have you back home and I’ll be able to oversee your recovery myself. Or, you can stay with Master Dick, in which case I will see you twice a week to check your status until I deem you fit to return to patrol. The decision is yours.”
Jason laid back and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Alfie,” he tried again, needing the man to see reason.
“Jason Peter Todd, ” Alfred cut in firmly, making Jason flinch. “There will be no negotiation. If you want to retain my good favor, you will choose one or the other and you will honor the terms I set forth.”
Alfred was serious. More than that, he was angry. Which meant Jason really wasn’t going to get out of this and still be friends with the man. Alfred was tremendously forgiving, but once you made him really mad, he could do a cold shoulder better than anyone Jason knew, sometimes for months at a time. This was one of the few healthy, positive relationships in Jason’s life, and if he wanted to keep that, then he didn’t have a choice but to go along with what the old butler wanted. It would suck, but Alfred wasn’t wholly unreasonable. If Jason healed faster than expected, which he usually did, he’d out on the streets before the time limit was up with the butler’s approval
“Okay,” Jason gave in, dropping his hand back down to the mattress. “I’ll stay with Dick. Two weeks. Then six weeks at home.”
“Excellent, Master Jason,” Alfred said, all pleasant and approving now that he had his way. “I’ll be over in the morning to check your injuries. For now, Master Dick is in charge of cleaning and dressing them. The stab wound on your other leg reopened during your escapades and the stitching had to be redone. I expect you to stay off both legs for a few days.”
Jason heaved a sigh. “Yeah, fine.”
“I will see you in the morning and I’ll be sure to bring some meals since you can’t be on your feet to cook. I’m certain the only thing Master Dick has in his kitchen is cereal and ice cream.” Alfred said before hanging up.
Jason dropped the phone on the bed and glared at Dick, who was still smiling cheerily. “Tell the Replacement to get his ass over here, now. I need to shoot it.”
“Hard to do that without a gun, Jay,” Dick smiled. “None of yours are here. But he did say he’d drop by after you woke up so I’ll send him a text. Here’s some water and ibuprofen. I’ll give you some time to pout in solitude. Call me when you’re ready for some company or if you need anything. I picked up some cereal I think you’ll like and I’ve recorded a bunch of TV shows we can watch together. There’s this new one about a guy reconnecting with his family I thought you might like.”
Jason snarled, but Dick was already shutting the door behind him. Dick was one of the last people Jason wanted to be stuck on house arrest with. Unfortunately, his only other option was the actual last person. If not for Bruce, Jason would have chosen the Manor over Dick in a heartbeat.
Tim showed up an hour later with takeout from Jason’s favorite Thai place. Jason had no idea how Tim knew his favorite Thai place, but just the thought of Tim knowing Jason’s personal habits pissed him off even more. Tim was too much like Bruce in some ways.
“What the fuck, Replacement?!” Jason barked furiously as soon as Tim was through the door.
“Sucks, doesn’t it?” Tim replied easily, completely unaffected by Jason’s fury. Probably because Jason was laid up in bed without a weapon or the use of his legs. He wasn’t particularly threatening at the moment and that chafed at Jason even more.
Tim pulled a chair next to the bed and started removing the takeout boxes from the bag. Jason’s stomach growled as soon as he could smell his favorite red curry and he snarled at the resulting smug look on Tim’s face.
“You’re such a little shit,” Jason snapped.
“Turnabout is fair play, Jason. Dick had me trapped here for a week before he let me go. I figured he didn’t have the necessary blackmail material on you, or he’d have used it ages ago. So I suggested he call Alfred. It’s for the best, really; you’ll get yourself killed if you continue in this condition.”
“As soon as I’m out of here, I’m going to shoot you in the ass,” Jason swore.
“Well, you’re welcome to try,” Tim smirked, offering a plastic spoon and a dish of curry. “After eight weeks out of the field, I imagine you’ll be kind of rusty.”
Jason snatched the spoon and the curry away, settling himself so that it would be easier to eat in the bed. “I brought you a phone, asshole. And it was only a week. I’m trapped here for two.”
“You’ll survive,” Tim replied dryly before handing Jason his phone. It was opened up to a news page highlighting the details of Dragos Ibanescue’s recent arrest. “And I didn’t come empty handed. I brought food, and if you try not to be an asshole, I also brought a stack of books and some headphones so you can tune out Dick when he gets especially motherly.”
Jason huffed and handed Tim his phone back. “He’ll be out in two months. Three at the most.”
“Six,” Tim countered. “I’ve got something in place to keep the court tied up for at least that long. He’ll still get out, but you’ll have plenty of time to make sure he comes back to a pile of rubble. He won’t have the chance to rebuild. And if he does, his operation will never be as strong as it was.”
Jason grunted around a piece of spicy chicken. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was impressed with what the Replacement had managed to accomplish in the sixteen hours since he’d sedated Jason. He was also very slightly moved that Tim even bothered when Ibanescue hadn’t really been on anyone’s radar besides Jason’s. He was still pissed, but if Tim really could keep Dragos of the streets for six months, then maybe he was a little less pissed. But he’d shoot himself before admitting it.
“Well, you’re still an ass,” Jason retorted, shoving another bit of food in his mouth.
Tim grinned wide enough for Jason to know the younger man was aware he’d won. “Yeah, well so are you.”
Which was fair, Jason decided. “You better keep bringing me food, baby bird. Dick will kill me with his diet and Alfred can only do so much when he’s got the big needy bat and the demon spawn to look after.”
Tim smirked. “I’ll see what I can do. So,” he said, leaning forward in his seat. “Let me tell you what I set up for Dragos…”
Just one more after this. Probably on Sunday.
The two weeks trapped with Dick were even worse than Jason thought they’d be. Alfred wouldn’t let Jason use crutches for the first week, so he had to either be helped around by Dick or use a wheelchair. On top of that frustration, Dick took hovering to a whole new level. He couldn’t get away from him, and Dick took full advantage of that, practically gluing himself to Jason’s side whenever he was in the apartment. Jason swore it was less about looking after him and more about gleefully extracting revenge for all the shit Jason had given him over the years.
By the end of the third day, Jason thought he’d legitimately tear his hair out. Thankfully, Tim showed up with a game console and an Alfred errand for Dick. Shooting video game characters was nowhere near as stress relieving as shooting real life criminals, but after a few hours Jason was no longer on the precipice of offing Dick or himself.
Tim dropped by every other day after that, bringing new books or a different video game along with food from one of Jason’s favorite restaurants. At first Jason snarled in fury every time Tim showed his face, but he quickly accepted the fact that while stuck with Dick, Tim was his only link to sanity. It didn’t seem particularly wise to run off the person who was supplying him with decent food and reading material. When the initial two weeks were up, Tim showed up with a car to take Jason to one of his safe houses so he wouldn’t have to get a ride from Dick and therefore thoroughly compromise his place.
Jason didn’t know for sure why Tim was being so helpful, but he had his suspicions. He didn’t think Tim had expected just how successful his revenge would be. Tim could be petty, sure, but he wasn’t cruel. More than that though, despite having parents well into his teenage years, Jason got the impression that Tim had been looking after himself for almost as long as Jason had. A kid who was able to go out at night and stalk Batman and Robin wasn’t a kid who was being well taken care of. Jason had never really been taken care of as a kid and the transition from the streets to a home with an incredibly controlling father figure and a butler/grandfather who was damn near omniscient had been a rough one at times. It hadn’t been easy for Jason to go from looking after himself to giving someone else the permission to do it for him. From what he’d observed of the kid, Jason figured it was something Tim had never fully accepted. Tim didn’t really respond to people telling him when he should eat, sleep or patrol, and he certainly didn’t seem to like it when other members of the family moved in on cases he viewed as his. Jason would bet a lot of money that was the reason Tim often traded info with him of all people. He was probably banking on the fact that Jason didn’t care what the kid was up to and Jason’s relationship with the rest of the family was perilous enough that he was unlikely to discuss it with them.
So Jason didn’t think Tim felt guilty, so to speak. More that Tim understood how much it sucked to have the family telling him what he could and couldn’t do. And despite everything that had happened between the two of them, Tim didn’t actually hate Jason, so he had mercy. And Jason was in no position to turn away mercy when trapped alone with Dick.
Alfred did end up letting Jason back out a few weeks early. Jason recovered fast when he slowed down long enough to let himself heal. He’d had no choice this time.
It was a few weeks before he saw Tim again. Dragos Ibanescue was still being screwed over by Gotham’s rather slow legal system, thanks to whatever Tim had set up, and most of his intelligent lieutenants had been dealt with earlier by Jason, so his business was floundering while he waited around in jail. Jason was dealing with a moderate power vacuum in the area that had dozens of two-bit punk drug dealers thinking they finally had a chance at power and was thoroughly enjoying disillusioning the idiots of this notion. There’d been a great number of broken bones, hospitalizations, and subsequent Bat-lectures. Jason was having a grand time.
However, with no one successfully securing the Sabatino/Ibanescue drug territory, bigger names with no previous claims in Crime Alley and the Bowery were starting to get interested. Which was how Jason bumped into Tim again three weeks and four days after Jason was officially cleared for patrol by Alfred. Jason noticed a few scouts moving through his turf, and though he wasn’t positive, he had a hunch they belonged to the Ghost Dragons. That hunch was confirmed when Tim showed up on the rooftop Jason was using for recon. He knew through the grape vine that Red Robin was going toe to toe with King Snake at the moment. Nothing major had happened yet, but Jason had no doubt the two were setting up a chessboard across Gotham. He also suspected Tim would come out on top as long as no one interfered with his plans. Jason hadn’t planned on getting involved, except now he had Ghost Dragons crawling around on his turf.
“They yours?” he asked Tim casually, indicating the two gang members moving on the street.
Tim nodded. “King Snake has his eye on what’s left of Ibanescue’s business. You’ve done a good job of getting rid of any competition, so he’s gearing up to make his move.”
Jason frowned. He could handle King Snake and his dragons. That wasn’t an issue. The issue was ownership of the case. King Snake was Tim’s, but Crime Alley and the Bowery were Jason’s, and Tim wouldn’t approve of the explosive collateral damage that would occur if the Red Hood took on King Snake. But Jason didn’t have the patience to let Tim’s intricate twenty plus step plan play out if it meant residents of the area were caught in the crossfire while they waited. Which left Jason without any ideas for a solution.
“So how do we do this, Red?” Jason asked warily, but with no hostility present. “Are we going to race to sedate each other and hope we can wrap this up before the other escapes Dick’s huggy tentacles of doom?”
Tim snorted. “Great. I’m never going to get that out of my brain now.”
“You’re welcome. But seriously, what now? How is this going to work?”
Tim’s mouth twisted as he considered. Cautiously, he spoke. “I think, instead of wasting energy trying to out maneuver each other, we could pool our resources and deal with King Snake together.”
“You and me, working together. You’re going to share King Snake,” Jason shook his head doubtfully. “You really think that’s going to work? My methods are a little more…fiery than yours.”
“True, but if I rework my current plan to include your firepower, I might be able to wrap this up far more quickly than I would be able to otherwise,” Tim admitted. “If you think you can handle it, of course.”
Jason narrowed his eyes, knowing exactly what Tim was trying to pull. “Oh, I can handle it, Timbo. But can you? I tend to make messes.”
“Just work within my plan and you can still do that,” Tim replied. “I can take down King Snake, and I can even do it quickly if you let me take lead and let the plan work.”
Surprisingly, Jason didn’t doubt it. He was just as good at strategy as the rest of them, and when he needed to, he was fully capable of planning things out. However, Tim was the best when it came to planning, and he’d been studying King Snake and his methods for weeks already.
“Yeah, alright,” Jason allowed. “We’ll give it a shot. But you’ve got to let me in on this little plan of yours. I’m not going into anything blind.”
Tim smiled, “Fair enough. Let’s keep watching these guys for now and I’ll rework my plan to include you and expedite the time-table. I’ll lay it all out once I’ve got the kinks worked out.”
“Yeah, that’ll do, I guess.”
Tim’s smile turned into a smirk, “And hey, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just sedate you again and pass you off to Dick until I’m finished.”
Jason rolled his eyes. “Little shit.”
Two hours later, they’d trailed the dragons around the Bowery and back into Coventry, where they were temporarily sidetracked from their reconnaissance by the sight of Robin moving along the rooftops across from them.
“Oh shit, is that the bat brat?” Jason asked, immediately stiffening. The kid was a demon and Jason was not in the mood to put up with his attitude problem tonight.
“Yeah, but A told me he was benched this week. Something about a really bad cold,” Tim said, eyeing the Robin who still hadn’t spotted them.
Jason grinned under his helmet. “So little birdie’s flown the nest, eh? Can’t have that, can we? Not when he’s not in top condition and we could oh so easily deliver him to our loving and attentive older brother who would gladly nurse him back to health.”
“He is the one person I dislike more than you, Hood,” Tim said through a wide grin. There was no venom in the words, so Jason just grinned along.
“Exactly. And it is our brotherly duty.”
Tim nodded. “We can’t just leave him here when he could get hurt.”
“Yep. So, what do you say? I go in, piss the brat off so badly he can barely think straight and you sneak up from behind with a needle?” If there was one thing Jason was really good at, it was pissing people off. It was a gift, really.
“I like it,” Tim nodded firmly.
“Good. Flank left. You’ll be covered by the rooftop entrance over there.”
Tim rolled his eyes beneath the domino. “Oh really, I never would have thought of that.”
“Just go before he notices us,” Jason said, giving Tim a few moments to get out of sight before he readied his grapple and drew Damian’s attention. Damian twitched as Jason landed on the roof across from him.
“Heya, Bat Brat. Fancy meeting you here,” Jason greeted cheerfully, knowing the casual, friendly greeting would instantly infuriate Damian.
“Todd,” Damian spat immediately. “What are you doing here? I’m not used to seeing you outside of the slums.”
“Well, someone in this family has to do the real work,” Jason replied easily, enjoying himself as the kid bristled. “Thought I’d venture out into the easy neck of the woods tonight though—see how the lazier members of the family live.”
“We are not family,” Damian snarled immediately, but he was broken off from whatever else he was going to say by a sneeze.
“Shut up!” Damian snapped, but now he sounded all stuffed up, and though Jason was willing to bet he had tissues somewhere on him, Damian’s pride wouldn’t allow him to use them in front of Jason.
“You sick, brat? Who let you out of the house like this?”
Damian scoffed and declared loftily, “I’m perfectly capable of running a patrol while marginally under the weather, unlike other members of this family.”
“Sure, brat. You look just like Rudolph out here. Thugs will be able to spot you just from your shiny red nose.”
Damian twitched, not noticing as Tim moved stealthily behind him. The kid really was in a bad way. Tim didn’t even have to try hard. He sneezed again.
“You’re an imbecile,” Damian spat, which was pretty weak as far as Damian Wayne insults went.
Jason took his helmet off to keep Damian’s attention on him and so that Damian could see his mocking grin. “Hell, if they don’t see the nose they’ll be able to hear you coming from a mile away with your trail of sneezes.”
“Does Dickiebird know you’re out here, Rudolph? Think I should give him a call?”
Damian’s cheeks flushed red in fury and he clenched his fists tightly. “Don’t you dare, Todd or I’ll—”
“What, brat? Sneeze on me?” Jason grinned.
Damian snarled, pulling his sword from his back and sneezing again in the process. He was about to charge when Tim lunged forward and effortlessly jabbed Damian in the neck with a needle. Damian whirled wildly, but Tim smoothly moved out of the sword’s reach.
“Drake!” Damian snapped as soon as he saw him, a note of betrayal in his voice.
Jason moved forward, catching the kid easily as his legs gave out.
“Will… kill you,” Damian slurred, fighting to keep his eyes open.
“There there, brat,” Jason grinned. “Just go to sleep. Big brother Dickie will take good care of you when you wake up.”
There was a surge of adrenaline through the kid and his eyes widened briefly as he fought off the drug. “Don’t you dare!”
“Don’t worry; he’ll be happy to help,” Tim grinned. “He’s a very attentive nursemaid.”
Damian tried to speak again, but his eyes fluttered shut and he lost the battle against the sedative.
Jason snickered as he sheathed the kid’s sword and tossed him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. “This is going to be good.”
Tim hadn’t stopped grinning, “You call Dick. I’ll call Alfred. I can work this so Damian will be stuck with Dick until he’s better. Damian is a hellion of a patient and Alfred will be glad to be rid of him.”
“This is so much better when it’s not being done to me,” Jason answered gleefully, grabbing his cell phone. The call to Dick was quick. Nightwing was out on patrol, but ditched quickly when he heard Damian needed someone to look out for him. Tim was still talking to Alfred when he hung up the phone.
“Dick’s happy to look after him. It’ll be a good lesson to Damian to stay put the next time he’s sick. I don’t think he’ll complain about you taking care of him after he’s had to deal with Dickiebird for a few days.”
Tim paused as Alfred spoke, but the wide grin that spread across his face told Jason they’d won. Jason grinned savagely at Tim.
“So you’ll handle B? Great. We’ll get Dick to call you once we drop him off. Thanks, Alfred.” Tim hung up.
“Dick’s stopping by the drug store, but he’ll still probably beat us to his apartment.”
“Excellent,” Tim said, a vicious edge to his smile. “Well? Shall we?”
Jason slipped his helmet back on, one handed then gestured to roof’s edge grandly. “After you, Timbo.”’
“You know, Red, I think this team up might just work.”
“Red, you might just be right,” Jason said, hoisting Damian higher up on his shoulder. He readied his grapple and followed Tim all the way to Dick’s apartment.
So that wraps up this little story. Hope you all enjoyed it. For those of you waiting on the next chapter of Not-So-Outlaw, it's coming, I swear. I just need you guys to be patient with me for a little while longer.