There are two Jasons inside his head.
There’s the Jason from before, all bright colors and cocksure laughter. There’s the Robin with the street smarts and the curly hair and the smart mouth who could beat the crap out of a villain and then turn around and be so emotionally vulnerable and kind to the victims that it made Tim’s breath catch in his throat.
He was the myth that Tim propped up on a mantle and tried to pick apart but never, ever could.
And then there’s the Jason after, the Red Hood, the violent thug who never thinks things through, all swagger and leather and a cloud of cigarette smoke. The idiot with too much firepower who does nothing but give them all more grief than they deserve. He is crass and stubborn and the blood on his hands will never wash off, no matter how much he may claim to have changed his tune.
A cut and dry figure, world’s away from the Jason before, and Tim prefers keeping it that way. They are separate entities, a before and after that can’t be reconciled.
Except there’s the Jason who, armed to the teeth and bruised and bloody, keeps an Isabel Allende paperback in his jacket pocket for the nights when patrol is slow. There’s the Jason who Tim caught once volunteering at a local clinic near the projects, only to find that it wasn’t a one-time thing but a weekly occurrence.
There’s the Jason who will snap back and call Tim names, say “rich boy” and make it sound like the worst kind of insult, and then kiss him with a hesitance that Tim can’t piece together, with hands that shake a little as they clutch at the shoulders of Tim’s uniform.
There’s the Jason who’s making Tim care more than he wanted to when this all got started between them. Because that was the point of this whole thing to begin with, to let off some steam and not get involved, to not get tied up in caring about someone else that he’d wind up afraid of losing.
It’s all gotten mixed up somewhere between Jason’s knuckles gone white, fingers clenched tightly around the wrought iron headboard, between the low, throaty moans that Jason makes as Tim fucks into him, and the smirk at the edge of his mouth as they lay strewn amongst dirty sheets after, a smirk that doesn’t quite convince as Jason’s eyes soften into something that Tim doesn’t want to analyze too closely.
However many years later and Tim still can’t figure Jason Todd out worth a damn.
And it’s really starting to piss him off.
“Seriously, could the construction on your block get any louder,” Tim complains, throwing his arm over his face and groaning.
“Blame gentrification. Pretty soon fucking yuppies like you are gonna start movin’ in and I’m gonna have to find someplace even shittier to live,” Jason says, untangling himself from the sheets and heaving himself up from the bed to retrieve his jeans. “This neighborhood was perfectly fine when I first moved into it.”
“If by perfectly fine, you mean a complete dump with a higher crime rate, than yeah.”
“Oh fuck off,” Jason says, waving a dismissive hand in Tim’s direction as he picks up his shirt from where it was hanging off a lamp shade. “You know, Drake, it never ceases to amaze me how you can go from orgasm to snippy in .5 seconds, this has gotta be a new record. Most people, I’d say it should take at least a coupla’ minutes.”
“Most people aren’t sleeping with you,” Tim mumbles into his arm.
“And yet here you are,” Jason says dryly. “I’d stick around to pick apart what is no doubt a scintillating psychological issue but I gotta go to work.”
“Work? You have a job?”
“No, I pay for my rent with rainbows and blowjobs. Yes, I have a job.”
“Waiting tables at that diner down on 9th,” Jason says, tugging on his heavy work boots.
Tim removes his arm from over his face and gives Jason an incredulous stare. “You work in the customer service industry?”
“Fuck you, I’m delightful.”
“Huh,” Tim muses. “I know that diner, Steph loves the waffles there.”
Jason folds his arms across his chest and gives Tim an unimpressed look. “Didn’t anyone teach you not to mention ex-girlfriends when you’re naked in someone else’s bed?”
“Yeah, like you care.”
Jason rolls his eyes and throws his hands up in the air. He’s such a fucking drama queen sometimes that it blows Tim’s mind. Add it to the increasingly long list of things that he never would have guessed about Jason.
“Why do I even bother. Let yourself out and don’t touch my shit,” Jason says, grabbing his keys off the dresser and slamming the door behind him.
Tim lies there for several minutes, staring at the ceiling, torn between giving into that ever present something that’s been irritating him for weeks now or burrowing deeper into the surprisingly comfortable bed, into the sheets that smell like sex and cheap detergent and Jason’s aftershave.
But - well. He’s never been alone in Jason’s apartment before and it’s an opportunity too good to pass up.
Tim hops out of bed and retrieves his clothes from all over the floor, taking a second to snort in disbelief because how the hell his chinos wound up in the bathroom is a mystery beyond him.
Jason's apartment is small without feeling cramped, a bedroom and a separate main room with the kitchen, all with red brick walls, and he should seriously consider investing in some bookcases because there are books everywhere, stacked high haphazardly in no discernible order. Most look like they've been lifted from the library and he should feel some sort of disapproval at that - Babs certainly would. But stealing from the Gotham City Library isn't exactly high on the list of Jason's chief sins.
Everything else in the apartment looks like it was picked up from a flea market. No, not a flea market because flea markets are what you fuckers do to feel like commoners, Tim mocks out loud, mimicking Jason's voice.
A garage sale, then, or a Goodwill store.
The weapons cache hidden behind a panel in the closet yields nothing particularly interesting - Batarangs and knives and kevlar and some guns, still, but they look like they haven't been used in ages.
But then square on the kitchen counter, open and turned on, Tim finds Jason's laptop.
"You fucked up my computer," Jason hisses down the phone line, and Tim tucks his cell phone between his head and his shoulder as he gets up to swing the door to his office firmly shut.
"I think you'll find that I actually improved it."
"Yeah, fine, the operating system is better but -- "
"The security, too -- "
"Shitty pop music starts blaring every time I try to access my private files, Tim," Jason says. "What the fuck is that shit, it sounds like pre-pubescent cats being strangled to death."
"Dick likes it," Tim says mildly.
"A winning recommendation if I ever heard one," Jason says, sarcasm thick enough to cut with a knife.
"The music thing really worked? I wasn't sure if it would, it was kind of an experiment."
"It works," Jason says darkly, and then, "look, I don't know what you're playing at here. Nor do I know why you've been in such a shitty mood lately," and his voice drops a register into his low, threatening Red Hood voice that makes Tim feel like his pants are going to need adjusting very soon, "but if you think I'm just gonna lie back and take it, you've got another thing coming, sweetheart."
A click and then a beeping lets Tim know that Jason hung up on him.
"This is gonna escalate quickly, isn't it," Tim says aloud to the empty office.
That night, when he goes into his own personal Batcave to get ready for patrol, Tim finds that every single one of his uniforms has disappeared, with four of Dick's monstrosity of a first Nightwing uniform hanging in their place.
"Well, shit," Tim says, and then, "seriously, what was he thinking, disco called and it wants its terrible taste back."
The next day, Tim sneaks into Jason's apartment while he's at work and tampers with the fire sprinklers so that they’re sensitive enough to go off every time Jason tries to light a cigarette inside.
He was getting pretty sick of the taste of cigarettes anyways.
Tim is just pushing the button in the elevator at Wayne Enterprises to meet Bruce on the top floor to go over the budgeting plans for the next fiscal year when someone in a service uniform pushes their way in at the last moment, and then after a few beats as the elevator starts to climb upwards, presses the emergency stop button.
“Hey, what the -- “
The man turns around and well, yeah, should have seen this coming.
Jason pushes Tim against the elevator walls, bracketing his arms on either side of Tim’s head as he leans down to whisper against the shell of Tim’s ear, “my paperbacks are going to take for-fucking-ever to dry out, Timothy.”
“What are you gonna do about it?” Tim says, a little challenging and a little breathless, meeting Jason’s gaze head on because he know this mood, knows exactly what it leads to and yeah, there could be better places but he’s not complaining.
Jason drops to his knees and undoes the buckle on Tim’s belt, the sound of the zipper loud in the quiet of the elevator where the only other sound is the harshness of Tim’s breathing and how loudly he can hear his own heartbeat.
“You know, this isn’t exactly -- ah, this isn’t exactly a punishment, this is uh, oh fuck, this is actually the opposite of a punishment, shit,” Tim says, as Jason’s hollows his cheeks and Tim about gives up on eloquent speech, gripping tight the metal railing along the inside of the elevator, and letting his head fall backwards with a thump.
He was due to meet Bruce ten minutes ago, now, and he really can’t find it in himself to care. “Oh, Jason, I’m -- Jason, I’m close -- “
Jason pulls off with an obscenely wet noise. “I know.” And then he tucks Tim back in, zips up his pants and buckles his belt. “Aren’t you late for a meeting with B?”
Tim gapes. “I fucking hate you.”
Jason just smirks and stands up to push the button to get the elevator moving again. “Don’t forget that you’re the one that started this, Tim.”
The elevator dings as they reach the top floor, doors opening to reveal an impatient-looking Bruce on the other side.
“Afternoon, B,” Jason says, tipping the brim of his service cap at Bruce.
Bruce looks between the two of them, taking in Tim’s disheveled appearance and Jason’s too-red lips, and Tim can just see the pieces falling into place.
“So, you see why I have to figure out how to get even, right?”
“Your creepy relationship is completely creepy and dysfunctional, you know that, right?” Kon says, staring at Tim with an expression that can best be described as halfway through bemused and horrified.
Tim snorts. “It’s not that creepy.”
“See how you didn’t even try to deny the dysfunctional part? That’s not normal, dude.”
“My entire life is dysfunctional, Kon. I think Jason might actually be the least dysfunctional part of it right now,” Tim says.
“You mean aside from the escalating prank war which, by the way, I would like to know how exactly this shit even started,” Kon says, gesturing wildly.
Tim shrugs. “I don’t know. It was getting -- complicated, I guess. Things with Jason weren’t what I expected and I just -- I guess I just wanted to see what he’d do.”
“You are such a Bat,” Kon says. “I don’t know any other way to put it. Like, dude. Dude. Bro, I don’t even know.”
“You’re not gonna help me figure out a way to get even, are you?”
“If I were the type to encourage this relationship, which for the record -- I am not,” Kon says, pointing a finger in Tim’s face, “I would say that since you started it, you should just call a truce. But since this whole thing is completely psychotic, I think I’m just gonna go home and eat some pie and try not to think about what a crazy person my best friend is.”
“You’re leaving me stranded? Isn’t that against the code?”
“Dude, you telling me about blowjobs was against the code, I am so outta here,” Kon says, stepping out onto the balcony of Tim’s apartment.
Kon takes off and Tim crosses his arms across his chest, frowning. Call a truce.
Kon has no idea what he’s talking about.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Tim looks up from where he was intent on making a sandwich in Jason’s kitchen. “Eating?”
Jason raises both eyebrows. “Not here to get back at me?”
“Well, I was, only I couldn’t think of anything good enough so I figured if I came over, I’d find inspiration but I skipped lunch at work today to avoid Bruce because someone made my life very uncomfortable, so -- “
“Look, uh -- “ Jason says, rubbing at the back of his neck sheepishly. “I might have gone a little too far with that one. I was, uh, pretty pissed off.”
“Seriously?” Tim asks. “You’re apologizing? That is the exact opposite of what I -- ugh, fuck you, honestly,” he says, grabbing the mustard container off the counter and aiming it at Jason, squirting a liberal amount of mustard on Jason’s t-shirt.
“You spoiled brat, are you shitting me,” Jason says, face incredulous, before reaching for the extending faucet hose at the kitchen sink and turning it on Tim, soaking him from head to toe.
Tim runs a hand through his soaking hair and eyes Jason. “I think you could use some of that water yourself to get out the mustard,” and then he leaps at Jason and before either of them know it, they're grappling for the hose like small children well trained in combat, both getting wet in the process. Tim is smaller but he's gotten better at leveraging that, and before he knows it, he's straddling Jason and aiming the water hose in his face.
"Looks like I won," Tim says, grinning triumphantly, even as he presses his hips down and all of a sudden, the water hose seems like the less interesting idea.
"You gonna tell me what all this was about?" Jason asks, tangling a hand in Tim's wet hair, thumb pressing into the nape of his neck. "I mean, you're a little shit, I knew that going in, but what the fuck, Tim."
"Just working through some things," Tim says simply.
Jason's eyes narrow and then he chuckles. "Shit, Timbo, if you wanted to go steady, all you had to do was ask."
Tim rolls his eyes, leans down and bites at the skin above Jason's collarbone, goes a little smug and punch-drunk when Jason arches into it. "Whatever, I still won."