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pedal to the metal, lookin' straight amazin'

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“I fucking hate the Midwest,” Jason gripes, kicking at the smoldering wreck that was their car.

“I don’t think it’s the Midwest’s fault that we got into a high speed car chase with some gangsters out of Chicago, Jason,” Tim says.

Tim’s fiddling with the GPS on his phone and making that annoyed face where his nose scrunches up that’s maybe a bit more adorable than Jason likes to admit. “Okay, downside. We’re about five miles outside of a town and we’re gonna have to walk there. Upside, those gangsters probably think we’re dead now and won’t be on the lookout for us.”

“All right, genius, what’s our cover story when we get into town?”

“We’re brothers,” Tim says. He rolls his eyes at Jason’s answering snort, and then: “So keep it in your pants, troublemaker. Our car broke down outside of town and do any of the kind, small town folks know where we might pick up a new one? With any luck, we’ll be on our way back to Gotham by the end of the day.”

Or,” Tim says archly, and Jason groans because he already knows where this is going, “I could just call Conner and we’ll be out of here in a matter of minutes.”

“Yeah, no. There might still be something we can learn out here and the Big Blue Frat Boy will only blow our cover.”

Tim rolls his eyes. “Jealousy is not a becoming trait, Jason.”

“I am not jealous, I am only looking out for the good of the mission, Timothy,” Jason says. Lie, lie, lie.

“That and you think Conner is a tool.”

“Well, he is,” Jason grumbles.

“Let’s get walking, then,” Tim says. Tim eyes the long road ahead of him and his shoulders slump a little. “This is all your fault.”

“It always is.”

+

They split up when they get into town, Jason making for a diner to pick them up some coffee and food, and Tim making for a rental car shop a few blocks away.

“Got any preferences?” Jason asks. He stuffs his hands in his jean pockets and rocks back and forth a bit on the heels of his heavy combat boots, trying to look contrite because he knows Tim is annoyed with him but he sure as fuck isn’t apologizing any time soon.

Tim waves him off. “Get whatever, I trust you.”

Jason warms a bit, shoulders easing up, and he makes as if tipping an invisible hat. “Whatever the esteemed Mister Wayne wishes.”

“Fuck off,” Tim says.

Jason walks through the diner parking lot, taking the time to run his fingers over a ‘67 Chevy Impala parked in the space furthest from the door -- it’s a hell of a car, the kind of car that Tim would probably drool over at an auto show. The kind of car that he would have jacked tires from or stolen, no problem, back in the day.

The diner is cool when Jason walks in. Cool and familiar -- laid out like just about any other diner he’s ever been to in Gotham. It’s reassuring, in a way, how you can go all over the country and still find places just like this.

All of the booths are full, so Jason hops up to the counter that’s currently only occupied by two other guys who look to be in their early thirties, and studies the menu.

The waitress, a girl a little younger than Tim, leans over the counter and smiles at him. “How are you doin’ today?”

Jason flashes her a quick smile before looking down at the menu. “Can I get, uh, two cheeseburgers with a side of fries and two coffees to go?”

“Sure can, it’ll be out in just a few shakes.”

The girl walks away to give his order to the cook and Jason settles in for a wait before he hears a low whistle from the guy sitting next to him.

“I’d like to have a piece of that,” the guy says.

“Dean!” The guy sitting next to him says sharply. “C’mon, dude, she’s gotta be like, seventeen.”

“What? No way. Look at the way she’s dressed, no way she’s seventeen. Eighteen definitely. At least.”

“Yeah, okay, maybe you’re right. But eighteen? Still way too young for you, dude. We’re old, man, time to face the facts.”

“Hey, if I’ve still got it, I’ve still got it.”

Jason rolls his eyes so hard that he thinks Babs was right all along and they really will just fall out of his head. Just his luck that he’ll be seated next to a pair of douchebags the entire time he’s waiting for their food. If he was anywhere else with anyone else, he might be tempted to pick a fight, but Tim probably wouldn’t take ‘he sounded like he needed a good kick to the nads’ as a valid explanation.

Jason slaps at the counter a few times and then picks up a salt shaker, fiddling with it idly. It’s second nature to keep his ears open, though, so he lets himself space out a bit and tune into the conversation next to him.

“So, what was it you said? There’s been some disappearances in New York? Not exactly our usual hunting grounds.” The taller, Lesser Douchebag says before taking a large and obnoxious slurp from his glass of coke.

“Yeah, all LexCorp workers too. I’m thinking vengeful office ghost? Something like that. Worth checking out.”

Hunters, Jason thinks. Well, that explains that. Hunters aren’t exactly known for being the most civilized of people. They’re also pretty fucking clueless to any explanation outside of the obvious supernatural causes. If people are going missing at LexCorp, the only one you should be pointing your finger at is Lex Luthor himself.

Which isn’t to say that Jason hasn’t run into some damn good hunters over the years. He was working a drug cartel case out of San Diego once and ran into a mother-daughter duo that impressed the hell out of him.

“Could be demons, though. We should see if Meg knows anything. Since she’s been playing ball lately and all.”

“Please, I don’t trust a word that comes outta that bitch’s mouth,” Greater Douchebag says.

Jason clenches his jaw a bit and counts backwards from ten.

“Let’s poke around here and see if we really do still have a case here or not, and if not, we’ll head onto New York. We should talk to the guy who runs the drug store a few stores down first. We’ll leave the Impala where it’s parked.”

“Aw, man, come on, do we have to?” Greater Douchebag says, his right hand coming up to touch his jacket pocket in an absent-minded gesture. Bingo.

“Dude, it’s literally a five minute walk. Nothing’s gonna happen to your precious car.”

Jason smirks a bit. It’s been awhile since he’s done a good, old fashioned pickpocket job. ‘Course, he could always just hotwire the car but this might just be a little more fun.

“Here’s your food and coffee,” the waitress says, placing the food and drinks in a cupholder tray in front of him.

Jason smiles at her and pays. He reaches over to pull one of the coffees out of the cupholder tray and makes as if he’s adding creamer to it. He jostles the cup a bit and it spills over onto Greater Douchebag’s arm.

“Hey, watch yourself! That’s hot coffee, all right? Ow, fuck.”

“Dude, I’m so sorry,” Jason says, reaching over to pat at the wet spot absently with a napkin, his other hand reaching surreptitiously over into the guy’s pocket, fingers closing over the keys. “I’m such a clumsy doofus, seriously, ask anyone. Can I get you anything?”

“New skin?” Greater Douchebag asks, sarcastically.

Jason’s places the keys in his own jacket pocket and smiles brightly. “Seriously, I’m so sorry, man.”

“Dean, let’s just go.”

The hunter shrugs, tossing Jason an angry look, before leaving. Jason watches them as he fixes the coffees and gathers the food together, gaze following them as they walk out of the diner and down the street and into the drug store down the street.

Jason nods to the waitress one last time before heading out into the parking lot.

He makes his way to the Impala as casually as possible, placing the coffees on the roof of the car and digging the keys out of his pocket. Jason unlocks it, placing the coffee and food in the backseat, before sliding into the driver’s seat.

Jason cracks his knuckles. “Well, that was fun.”

He turns on the engine and pulls out of the parking lot, dialing his phone as he goes. “I’ve solved our transportation problem, Timbo.”

“When you were getting us food?” Tim says.

“I liberated an automobile from a pair of charming gentlemen who could use a life lesson or two,” Jason says. “Hunters, even. You know how hunters are.”

"You can't just steal a car from someone because you think they're a douchebag," Tim hisses down the phone.

Jason balances the phone between his ear and his shoulder as he drives, taking a second to appreciate the way the engine revs as he speeds up. "You say that now, wait until you see the car."

Jason tells Tim where to meet him and then pulls up at the corner closest to the edge of town, far enough away from the diner he drove away from to feel safe stopping.

After a few minutes, he hears the slapping of shoes against pavement, the tell-tale sounds of Tim running to catch up with him. Jason rolls down the window and sticks his head outside of it. At the curb, Tim is gaping at him. "That's a '67 Chevy Impala, Jason."

Jason cuts the engine and dangles the keys out the window. "Want to take me for a ride?"

Tim stays silent, eyes gone a little cross-eyed.

"Tim? Tim?!"

"Huh, what?" Tim says, snapping out of it.

"You were daydreaming about fucking me over the hood, weren't you."

"Well, how else will you learn that stealing is wrong?"

Jason pats himself on the back mentally. Tim and cars, so predictable.

“I overheard them talking about disappearances at LexCorp. They thought it was an office ghost.”

“So really, you’ve saved them from themselves,” Tim says.

“Exactly.”

“Get out, I’m driving.”

“Bossy, bossy,” Jason says, but he gets out anyways.

Tim lets out a reverent moan as he settles himself into the driver’s seat and starts up the car. “I love you.”

“You talkin’ to me or the car?”

“The car.”

“Rude, Timbo.”

Tim slants him a look that promises great things that Jason is definitely, definitely gonna enjoy and takes off.

+

They get over a hundred miles out before Tim pulls over the car down into a forested backroad and cuts the engine.

“Get out of the car, Jason.”

“You really are that hot and bothered, aren’t you? Gotta tell ya, Timothy, I thought you’d put up more of a fuss over grand theft auto, you know -- “

“Shut up, Jason,” Tim says, but that’s not his angry voice, not by a long shot.

“Sir, yes sir.”

They hop out of the car, making their way around to the front, and then Tim is yanking Jason into a kiss that’s all teeth and pushing him back onto the hood and -- yeah. This is gonna be fun.

+

A hundred miles away, in a small Illinois town, Dean Winchester starts to cry.