Bit of a Jam

Series note: This is the fifth act of the Red Bird, Blue Bird series. Each story can be read alone, but contains references to the other parts in this series. This occurs during and after Madder Than a Hatter Bat (from Jason's perspective rather than Dick's) and the next in the series is Unfortunate Ultimatum. Thank you and enjoy!

"Nightwing." Jason turned his head towards Dick when his brother took the comm page. He wished he hadn't tossed his own comm so he could at least hear both sides of the conversation. "Okay, I'm sending Red Hood to go get them." Nightwing nodded at Red Hood, determination instantly masking his previous exhaustion. "I'll distract them until you get back."

Jason wanted to argue; his brother was already running on fumes, stretched thin from extra-long nights searching for the Arkham escapees and extra-long days dealing with Wayne Enterprises, as well as running back and forth all over town just that night. But he knew that the domineered duo would only follow Nightwing right now, not Red Hood. And Dick knew all that as much as Jason did. Arguing would be pointless.

"I'll hurry as fast as I can," Red Hood sighed as he turned to run in the direction of the Batcave.

He had no time to back track and get his bike, so he used the remote to put the bike into auto pilot towards his direction. A few minutes later, while still running in the direction of the Batcave, Jason heard his bike on the streets below him, he leaped down the fire escape as his bike pulled into the alley. He jumped from the bottom of the fire escape and onto his bike. Without hesitation, Red Hood sped through the streets of Gotham as fast as he could, he knew Nightwing was running low on fumes.

He made it into the Batcave and skidded to a halt, Tim came up to him with the jamming devices in his hand. "These aren't pretty, but they'll get the job done," Tim explained without preamble. "A new variation on an old prototype I had. They're magnetized, just get one on each headband and press this button." Tim pointed to a small red button on the side of each doohickey. "It will stop the receiver from relaying instructions without causing any lasting damage. They will drop fast and hard, but should wake up with nothing more than a nasty headache and possible localized amnesia." He dropped the little devices into Jason's hand and stepped back, lacing his fingers behind his neck and blowing out a worried breath. "I made three just in case. Please don't need more than that. Good luck, Jason."

"You know . . . for a replacement you're not half bad. I gotta go." With that, Jason turned his bike around and sped out of the Batcave. He was headed in the direction of the area where he left Nightwing. Hopefully he wasn't in too bad of shape by the time he got back. It had only been about twenty minutes, since he went to go get the Jammers from Tim. He parked his bike and climbed up the fire escape as quietly and quickly as possible.

He looked around and saw that Nightwing was knocked off the building by Batman. He didn't see Damian anywhere. He started running in that direction. He landed on one rooftop and saw Robin tied down by multiple bolas and was lying flat on the rooftop. He calmly walked over to the mini assassin and put the jammer on the headband doing as he was instructed and pressed the button. The Boy Wonder instantly fell limp and Jason just hoped the device Tim made was working. Well, I hope the kid doesn't remember anything. Red sighed turning away from the youngest boy.

Red Hood turned to see if he could still see Nightwing and the Dark Knight anywhere. He stepped on the ledge where he last saw them, he looked down into the alley, Batman had Nightwing pinned down and was punching his face. Red Hood made his way down the fire escape as quickly as he could while trying to be quiet. From above he could hear Nightwing's voice very faint.

"Batman," Nightwing pleaded, trying to get through to the man beneath the mind control. Batman took Nightwing's head with both hands and bashed the back of his head against the black asphalt two times.

Nightwing lashed out trying to stop his mentor, his hands were knocked away before Nightwing could really do anything. Punches rained down on him; one breaking his nose with a crunch, Jason cringed at the noise. Another punch rained down on Nightwing with the lenses shattering from Nightwing's mask.

Dick's voice was pleading now, "B-Bruce . . . stop . . . s-st-top. . ." Jason couldn't stand the sound of Dick pleading to their mentor to stop hitting him. It just made Jason more frantic to get down the fire escape.

As if by some miracle, Bruce hesitated; stilling mid-swing, his knuckles inches from Dick's abused cheek. You could hear a pin drop with the silence that surrounded the two. His tentative relief was almost palpable. It was shattered a moment later as the fist was pulled back again, winding up for another blow. Jason saw that Dick closed his eyes in defeat, bracing for the next hit.

Jason had finally made it down the fire escape and into the alley at that moment, and rushed over to Batman. Putting the Jammer on the headband as quickly as possible and pressed the button. The cowled man fell limp onto Nightwing's chest. Nightwing's eyes snapped open and gently rolled Batman off of him. He skittered as quickly and as far away from the Dark Knight as possible. Jason gave Dick a moment to realize he was standing there in the alley with them both.

"Looks like I got here just in time. Bats had you good."

"Yeah," Dick said absently, eyes flicking back to Batman. He flashed him a faint grin. "Though, five minutes ago would have been better."

"You're the one who decided to let him use you as a punching bag." Jason crouched down beside his brother, taking in his condition. "What the hell did I miss?"

"Slipped, didn't see him coming. Fell off the roof," he explained quickly, sentences clipped. His voice was a little shaky, but it was stronger than before. "You got Robin?"

"Yes, the hell spawn is back to his usual uncontrolled self. Little brat's taking a nap thanks to the Replacement's new thingamabobs."

"And Batman?" Both boys looked over at the prone black form.

"Got him too. Red Robin says they ought to wake up in a few minutes with nothing but a mean headache," Jason assured, relaying Tim's words. "He's not sure whether they will have memory of the event or not, though."

Dick carefully placed a hand to one of his bruised and tender cheeks, trying not to wince and aggravate his broken nose. "For their sake's, let's hope they don't."

Just then they heard a muffled, "Guys?" come from above them on the roof where Damian was left.

As Dick quickly tried to pull himself together, Jason called out, "Down here." Of course Dick was gonna put on a straight face for Bat Brat and Bruce. It was typical of the eldest brother.

They could hear Damian come down the fire escape, slowly. Once he made it to the others, rubbing his temples with one hand, he complained, "I've got a massive headache."

"I bet." Jason smirked, leaning on the wall next to his seated older brother. "Do you remember anything that happened?"

"Yeah. . ." Damian trailed off, eyes jumping from Dick to the ground and back again. "Ba—Nightwing, I. . ."

The scraping noise of specialized Kevlar against asphalt caught all of their attention and the three's eyes shifted over to Batman.

Jason knew Dick was gonna keep the façade for Bruce. Dick almost tripped when he stood up too fast, Bruce stood up slowly. He glanced first at his youngest son, then his leather-clad middle child, gaze checking each over for injuries, before his eyes finally landed on his eldest. His sudden guilt was almost palpable.

"Nightwing. . ."

Dick's smile was gentle as he pushed away from the wall. Jason shook his head knowing his older brother just a little too well sometimes. But Jason knew it was never gonna change with his family. Dick was always gonna be the one to keep everyone together. He was the glue, no matter what Jason did to try and stay away from everyone, Dick was there to keep them in place as a whole.

"Hatter's base has been disabled, Tetch is incapacitated, and the girl made it back to her family. How 'bout we let the police handle the rest and we call it a night, huh?" Jason couldn't see the look exchanged between Dick and his mentor, but Batman's demeanor was changed as Dick finished speaking, "Batman, let's go home." **[where Madder ends]

A silent moment passed while Bruce just stood there. Jason had to resist the sudden urge to shift uncomfortably when suddenly Bruce tore his eyes away from his eldest and fixed them on the ground. The move was so unBatman like, that it made Jason freeze until black Kevlar and Nomex clad shoulders squared themselves and The Bat was back.

"Patrol is over for tonight. We are all going back to the Batcave." It was almost a question as his gaze fell on Jason, but Batman never asks anyone for permission. He orders and demands and expects, but he never questions like that. "Robin, you ride with Red Hood. Nightwing will ride with me."

"Bats, that isn't necess—" Dick started, but Jason interrupted swiftly.

"Yeah, that's fine. Robin can come with me. C'mon, kid, let's go. My bike is two blocks away." Red Hood placed his gloved hand on the young boy's shoulder, guiding him out of the alley towards his bike. Once out of earshot of the original Dynamic Duo, Jason asked the young Boy Wonder, "You okay, kid?"

He got only a nod in return. No snooty retort, no sarcastic quip or acidic barb, just continued silence.

Red Hood kept quiet as well, turning into another alley to retrieve the bike, he hopped on with Robin right behind him. Starting up the bike with a roar, he peeled out of the alley way towards the Batcave. "You sure you okay, kid?"

A moment's silence followed the question, before a clear and proper "I am fine, Red Hood," was heard.

Red Hood stayed silent the rest of the way to the Batcave. Damian clearly wasn't going to talk to him. Coming to a stop in the cave behind Batman, Robin pulled himself off of the bike, Jason right behind him. Jason walked up on the trio by the Batcomputer, leaning against one of the monitors by Dick.

". . . to check you for injuries," Bruce said, Jason only catching the tail end of the statement. He opened his mouth as though about to speak again, but Dick, now maskless, cut him off before he could.

"You and Dami first." He kept his back to the duo. Jason watched as his brother carefully felt his broken nose, hidden from the others' view. "Timmy needs to check you both over to make sure those jamming devices didn't have any negative effects."

Jason kept a straight face, trying to not let the other two know anything that Dick was doing with his back turned.

"No, Dick you have other injuries to worry about," Bruce retorted.

"Alfred can check me over while Timmy makes sure no damage was made to you guys." Before anyone could protest, he pressed a button by one of the monitors in front of him, initiating an intercom. "Hey, Timmy? I need you to check over Dami and Bruce, make sure those scramblers didn't scramble more than they should've. Bring Alfred down too, if you can."

"Sure, Dick. You okay?" Tim's voice came over the intercom speaker.

"Yeah, fine. Just busted my nose up a bit; nothing a little British TLC can't cure," Dick replied easily. Jason almost rolled his eyes at the understatement. Removing his finger from the button, Dick turned to face Bruce head on. "There. Good?"

Silence reigned as Dick stood, square-shouldered, before Bruce, both statue-still and eyes locked. Walking into the Batcave it was like you could cut the tension in the room with a knife. Jason noticed Alfred and Tim coming down the stairs into the Batcave.

"I take it things did not go well tonight, Sirs?" Alfred asked, sensing the tense atmosphere as he approached the group.

Instead of answering, Bruce sternly stated, "Dick needs to be checked for injuries sustained tonight." His unreadable eyes never left his eldest.

With a brisk nod, Alfred stepped toward Dick. "Master Dick, shall we?"

Finally shifting his gaze away from their mentor, Dick glanced first at Alfred standing beside him, to Tim standing slightly behind Damian. "Check them over for me, Timmy?"

"Of course," Tim nodded.

Jason watched as Alfred lead Dick away, his brother not bothering to glance at Bruce again. Jason crossed his arms, remaining silent as he watched Alfred check over Dick while Tim did the same to Bruce and Damian.

After a couple minutes, Jason walked over to Alfred and Dick. "Hey, what happened in the car on the way back here? Things seemed really tense," he questioned his older brother.

"Bruce was just. . ." Dick paused, sighing quietly. "Being Bruce."

"I get that . . . but things seemed more tense than normal," Jason stated crossing his arms again with his eyes locked on Dick.

"Everyone is still . . . adjusting . . . to the way things are now. It'll take a while for things to calm down."

Alfred moved from checking the bruises on Dick's torso, to the rapidly swelling nose and shiner. Jason only just caught the wince Dick tried to hide. With a twinge of frustration, Jason accepted that he wouldn't be getting any answers tonight.

Jason nodded, "Well, Alfred, what's the damage? I just wanna know before I take off for the night."

"Very well, Master Jason," Alfred said, moving towards a cabinet of medical supplies, grabbing a small box and a tube of antiseptic cream, before turning back to Dick. "It would appear Master Dick has accumulated quite the collection of bruises, as well as a black eye and a mild concussion. Assuming his nose cooperates in my attempts to straighten it, there ought to be no lasting damage."

"Good, guess he didn't get knocked around too bad then. Thanks, Alfred. Keep a good eye on him and Bats for me, would ya? I'm headed home for the night." He said the last part with a smirk.

Alfred smiled, "Of course, Master Jason."

Jason stepped back, intent on heading straight to his crap apartment and falling into bed, but as he made to walk away, Dick called out to him.

"Hey, Jay?" He glanced back at his brother. "Thanks. . . for tonight."

"Yeah." He hesitated a moment, lips pressed together in a tight line. He felt like he should say more, demand to know what was really bugging his idiot big brother. But he didn't. Didn't know what to say even if he tried. Instead, Jason turned around and walked towards the vehicle ramp, hopping on the back of his bike. He offered a slight nod towards Bruce and the barest glance towards Tim before he started his bike and drove off.

The end.