So Heavenonfire wrote this awesome Thexan/Arcann fic and I was bribing her into writing me some more, I told her I'd write her anything she wanted, and she said she wanted Jason/Dickie, and that she wanted Jason to give one of his weird-ass love confessions, and a happy end. I tried to add that =) (so she is the only reason it's a happy end, cause yeah I would not have ended this like that otherwise).
In this story Batman arrested Jason as he defeated him as the Arkham Knight. He never told anyone who the Arkham Knight was. And also Knightfall never happened.
Betaed by Asylumfarm.
I see only what i wanna see
I'll be only what i wanna be
My blanket covers me, yes
Dick stood outside the thick wall padded door, he waited for the orderly to open the door. Even after the door was wide open to the semi dark room he hesitated before he walked over the threshold, a part of him couldn't believe that Jason was alive, and yet another part of him couldn't believe that Bruce would do this.
"Jason?" He asked softly as he stepped into the room. He got no answer but his eyes widened as he saw a figure huddled in the corner, he would recognize those cheekbones anywhere. "Jason!" He crossed the room with two long strides and slammed his knees so hard into the linoleum floor that it echoed off the bare walls. With frantic hands he raised Jason's face to look directly at him. "What have they done to you?" He mumbled. Jason just blinked but didn't really seem to register he had a visitor. Dick ran a trembling finger down the scarred J on Jason's cheek, "Why would he do this? How?" Dick stared up at the orderly and frowned, before turning back to Jason whose head lolled back and forward as he attempted to focus on Dick. "No more." Jason whispered in a barely audible broken voice.
"Oh Jay." Dick rested his forehead against Jason's. "I got you." – He turned to the orderly again, "Hey could you help me move him to the bed?"
"Sure, Mr. Grayson." The orderly came into the cell and helped Dick lift Jason to the bed. Dick's hands moved to the clamps and belts on Jason's straitjacket, but the orderly placed a hand on his and when Dick looked up, the orderly shook his head. "No can do, Mr. Wayne specifically said that it has to stay on."
"Oh? Did Mr. Wayne also tell you to sedate him this much?"
"Yes and no." The orderly said retracting his hand from the buckles, "But he did attack several staff so we sedated him, and kept him like that."
Dick nodded, tears welling up in his eyes as Jason pissed himself and the mattress without as much as blinking. Too far gone to even notice.
"Goddammit." The orderly swore, but stopped the string of curses when he noticed the way Dick was staring at him. "I mean we could get some rubber sheets." He smiled.
"You are going to clean both him and his bed." Dick said, anger seething right under the surface. "This man is very dear to me, and unless you want your boss to get a phone call from a very angry Bruce Wayne, you are going to clean him and cut back on the sedatives." Dick controlled himself not to scream at the poor orderly, he knew that it was empty threats, but the orderly didn't.
"Yes Mr. Grayson." The orderly hurriedly answered.
Dick turned to Jason on the bed, he just laid there as if he were dead, funny how that disturbed Dick so much, after all he had mourned Jason's disappearance and presumed death for many years. When last he had seen Jason he was only sixteen, and what laid here was a man, Dick did a quick count and decided that Jason would be around twenty-one.
Five fucking years.
Dick leaned down and kissed Jason's temple gently, he wasn't sure if Jason would appreciate it, but right now Dick needed it for himself.
He returned to the Wayne manor, he had to speak to Bruce. The manor was silent, Tim was nowhere in sight, and since he couldn't see or hear Alfred either, he suspected he would find them in the batcave.
The batcave never stopped amazing him, it was like an underground chapel to some machine god. It was huge, mysterious and a little magical. "Master Richard." Alfred said with a smile, "What brings you back to Gotham?"
"Dead men." Dick said cryptically. "Bruce." She stepped around Alfred and came to stand behind Bruce who was focused on a map on his computer. "We need to talk."
"Just a second." Bruce mumbled.
"Is there anything I can get you?" Alfred asked Dick, trying to fill the awkward silence in the wake of the rejection.
"No." Dick shook his head, "Bruce I am serious, that map can wait."
Bruce sighed and turned around in his chair with an impatient expression on his face, "What."
"Jason." Dick said, the name was like a bomb, he could see Bruce's lips form a fine line of annoyance, and his eyes flickered for a millisecond, trying to come up with an answer. "I know, don't bother fabricating me some comfortable lie."
"Alright, well." Bruce shrugged, "Topic done."
"What? No!" Dick argued, "What the fuck Bruce? Do you mind telling me exactly how a dead man shows up in a mental asylum?" He crossed his arms over his chest, "Did you know about this Alfred?" Dick turned to stare at Alfred, "Do you know they keep Jason in a straitjacket, so doped he doesn't even realize he pisses himself."
"Yes." Alfred answered, but had the decency to look away from Dicks accusing glare.
"Did you steal my files?" Bruce asked angrily.
"I did." Dick said, "Not at first, but something happened that made me curious, and I hoped that I was wrong – turned out I wasn't, it was even worse." Dick flexed his jaw. "I went to Arkham City because an inmate there had information on a case I was trying to solve back in Blüdhaven. As I stood in the nurse's office waiting for her to find the paperwork for me, I noticed a folder saying 'J. Todd - classified' on it, are you fucking kidding me? so I stole it." Dick glared at Bruce, "I wanted to be wrong, I wanted it to be my eyes playing tricks on me, I wanted it to make sense… most of all I wanted to believe that you would not keep something like this a secret from me."
Bruce sighed, "He is broken, and leave it be, Richard."
"Richard is it? Wow." Dick laughed a little mirthlessly, "I mourned him, I fucking buried him, Bruce – Imagine my surprise when I learned that you have kept the fact that he is alive a secret."
"Forget you ever saw those files, and I will forget this conversation ever happened." Bruce said sternly as he turned around towards his map again.
"Oh no Bruce." Dick grabbed the back of the chair and turned Bruce forcefully around to face him again. "You are gonna explain yourself, and you better hope that you convince me that I believe that you acted in best faith".
"I am asking you to leave it be, Dick." Bruce implored, but none the less finally stood from his chair, "You weren't supposed to know, no one was. And with good reason."
"He is dangerous." Bruce whispered, "I don't know what to do with him besides keeping him locked up where he can't hurt anyone."
"How long has he been there? How long have you known he was alive?"
"About six months." Bruce answered flatly. "I know you Dick, you are so quick to defend people, too trusting." Bruce smiled softly, "Does it change if I tell you that Jason was the Arkham Knight? Do you still feel the need to rush to his defense?"
"The Arkham Knight? Are you sure?"
Dick sighed, "How?"
"Leave it be Dick, I am begging you." Bruce said, his tone oddly fragile. "We buried Jason, and leave it at that."
"How can you say that? He is alive and breathing. So what if he was the Arkham Knight, it's Jason we are talking about - we can help him." Dick argued frustrated, "If you won't do it, then let me try."
Bruce hung his head and shook it slowly, "You can't. He is lost, better to leave him dead."
"I can't believe my ears." Dick said, "I can't believe you'd abandon him like that, and I can't believe you'd ask me to do the same." He took a step towards Bruce, "Does Tim know about Jason?"
"No, and you are not telling him." Bruce sneered, "Promise."
Dick didn't answer, he just stared at Bruce with contempt written across his face.
"Go home Dick." Bruce sighed.
"This isn't over." Dick huffed.
"Alfred, send Richard the Arkham Knight files, let him make up his own mind."
"Of course. Right away." Alfred walked with Dick out from the batcave.
Dick didn't return to Blüdhaven, he went to one of Bruce's mostly unused safe house, and judging from the layer of dust, no one had been here for years. He opened his sports bag and pulled out his own laptop, suddenly real glad he had decided to bring it, Bruce would know exactly what he was doing if he logged on the computer here, but Bruce didn't have access to Dicks private laptop. He opened his email and opened the Arkham Knight files, the sun was up before he stopped reading. Not much there besides a detailed description of The Arkham Knight's crimes, his organization, his connections, where he had weapons stored and who his supplier was, the normal stuff. Dick stared at the mugshots upon his arrest, wondering what on earth would possess Jason to brand a J on his cheek, was it defiance? He had to admit that the Arkham Knight didn't portray him as the most stable person, but still he had been focused and clever – he almost got Bruce.
"What happened to you Jay?" Dick whispered to the screen, and the angry young man on the mugshots. "Where did you go?"
Dick fell backwards into the bed and closed his tired eyes, only one person could tell him what had happened, and since Bruce was dead set on sweeping this under the rug - He had to speak to Jason in person, and to do so, he had to make sure that the hospital didn't pacify him on fucking horse tranquilizer.
The next day he returned to Arkham City, but as he approached the nurse at the front desk, she looked at him with a little crooked smile and said "Mister Grayson."
"Yes?" Dick said, slightly confused.
"I'm sorry but your friend has been moved, and the doctor said that he can't have any visitors." The nurse said.
"Moved? Moved where?"
"To confinement." The nurse said, "The doctors' orders."
"I'd like to speak to the doctor." Dick said.
The nurse went silent, she looked down at the computer screen at her left and frowned, "Sorry mister Grayson, he is in a session right now".
Dick sighed heavily; he didn't believe her one bit. "Can you at least tell me the doctor's name so I can schedule a meeting with him?" He smiled bright, "When he has time of course."
"Sorry, that is confidentially." The nurse smiled overbearingly at Dick, "Even if he is your friend." She empathized friend with gesturing quotation signs.
Dick leaned in closer, "So is that why you won't let me see Jason? Because you think I'm his boyfriend."
"Oh no. of course not." The nurse said hurriedly. "The doctor said that outside influences was bad for the patient, that's all."
Dick just glare at her for a while, and then took a deep breath, "Very well. You have not heard the last of me."
"I know you have influential friends sir, quite frankly the doctor said you might threaten with that – But as long as…" She stopped herself and gave Dick a stern glare. "I am instructed to tell you, that you can under no circumstances gain access to the patient, as your presence obstructs his recovery. And that is final."
"Bruce." Dick grumbled under his breath.
"You are keeping him a prisoner, and I think it's time someone looked into your practice." Dick growled before he turned around and walked out of the foyer as dignified as he could. Bruce that asshole had foreseen this, but what Richard Grayson could not, Nightwing could.
Gotham nights never changed, and Dick would always feel larger than life when he stood stepped into it in his Nightwing costume. He had spent all afternoon trying to figure out what Bruce's game could be, he didn't understand why Bruce was this adamant to sweep Jason under the rug. He knew that Bruce and Jason had not really seen eye to eye on a lot of issues, but surely that wasn't why Bruce was punishing him. Because that was exactly what it was - punishment.. Bruce had given up on Jason, he had even admitted it when they had spoken in the batcave – that Jason was broken beyond repair. Dick sighed, he would have to circumvent the hospital security and find another way to find Jason.
The night was so still up here that Dick literally flinched when his phone rang, he looked down at the display – Bruce. He pulled off his glove and answered the phone. "What do you want?"
"Go home Dick" Bruce said at the other end, he sounded tired and sad.
"I can't do that." Dick admitted, "And you owe me the truth."
"No I don't."
"For how long do you plan on keeping him in that cell?" Dick asked.
"Forever." Bruce said with a pained tone, "Or till I find somewhere else where he can live out the rest of his life in peace."
Dick sighed, "Are you punishing him or me?"
There was a long silence in the other end. "I'm not punishing him; I'm keeping us and him safe."
"Keep telling yourself that."
"I know what you are thinking Dick. But you are not getting in there." Bruce said a little more stern. "Leave it be, please."
Dick hung up the phone efficiently silencing Bruce. "Like fuck." He turned and looked in the direction of Arkham City. He felt the wave of air before he heard the soft thud of Bruce landing on the roof next to him. Dick turned around ready for a fight, his eyes widened when it was not Bruce but Tim. "Tim, what the hell are you doing here?"
"What does it look like?" Tim asked with a defiant tone to his voice. "I'm helping you."
"What? Wait... Does Bruce know?"
"No." Tim said as he relaxed a little, "Look Dick, I'm not a kid. And I know how to do detective work too. You aren't exactly good at covering your tracks."
Dick laughed a little, "Very well master detective, you don't happen to have a plan do you?"
"Besides breaking and entering?" Tim shrugged, "Then no."
Dick shook his head amused, "Sounds like my plan."
"We have to move before Bruce finds us." Tim said looking over his shoulder. "I'm pretty sure he is searching for either you or me."
"Alright." Dick nodded, and effortlessly dropped out into the night air.
Dick saw Bruce at Arkham City long before Bruce was even aware of him and Tim. "Stop." He grabbed Tim's arm and forced him to stay. "Did you know?!" He looked Tim directly into his eyes in search for the truth.
"Come on Grayson, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out he would be here." Tim dropped his gaze and nodded, "Yeah, yeah I knew."
"Fuck." Dick growled, "That's low."
"Wait, it's not like that." Tim argued in a whisper. "You go do what you gotta do, I will deal with Bruce."
Dick stared at Tim, not sure if he should trust him at all. For all he knew this could be a trap, not that he knew why Bruce would want to trick him to begin with. "Alright." He nodded.
Tim jumped down to the ground and ran towards Bruce. Dick could tell from Bruce's body language that he seemed genuinely surprised to see Tim.
Dick made sure to be extra careful when he snuck down along the side of Arkham City. According to the blueprints of this place, the confinement cells were in the west wing, and that would be where he went.
Crawling through the bathroom window on the first floor that some nurse had left open, Dick went over his story, he would have to be convincing enough so the staff would not call for the doctor or a senior nurse. And honestly his plan was going super smoothly for now. He left the bathroom and walked out into the dimly lit corridor. It was late and the whole wing would most likely operate with a skeleton crew, he had no idea where Jason was being held – he either had to go door to door, or chance it and check the nurse's station. A tiny sigh escaped him as he looked down the long narrow corridor, too many doors, it would take him hours.
He was in luck and the night shift nurses was not at their station, he couldn't hear them either. Maybe they snuck out for a cigarette or something. He stuck his hand in through the window and grabbed the check off list. He looked it over with mounting frustration, why was Jason's name not there? He had to be there!
Elmer Brown, Zhi Hsieh, Mary Murson, Dants Dojo, Regina Nedd.
Dick smiled to himself, Bruce was not as clever as he thought, Dants Dojo was an anagram of Jason Todd. Cell 20-305 – "I'm coming Jason."
It took him a while to find the right cell, luckily the lock was old and it didn't take him long to pick it, the heavy door swung open revealing the cells content. Dick halfway expected it to be empty, and Bruce to stand behind him, berating him for even trying. But what he saw was somehow worse than that, Jason sat huddled in a corner, the padded cell didn't have a bed or nothing – there was nothing in there besides Jason.
Dick tiptoed inside, "Jay?" he whispered but got no answer, just as he expected. He gently lifted Jason's head, which just effortlessly lulled back in a strange uncomfortable angle. Dick shook his head in anger, he couldn't for the life of him understand why Bruce would do this. "I'm here." He whispered, "Let's get you out of here." He hoisted Jason over his shoulder and carried his brother out of the cell.
The escape from Arkham City had been difficult, once outside Dick had discarded Jason's straitjacket on the ground. His arms and legs protested under the extra weight, he was never going to be able to carry Jason all the way to the safe house. Dick had to make a choice, and while he normally would have moral qualms with theft, he justified stealing a car to transport Jason. Wasn't like he would rob the cars owners, and he would leave it just as he found it, he was just borrowing it for a little while.
Jason was still out cold from his meds, and Dick found it harder than he thought to both get him into the backseat without hurting him, and even worse out of the car again.
In the end, it had taken him more than four hours to transport Jason from Arkham City to the safe house, and the sun was shining in through the windows as he finally placed Jason on the bed of the safe house. He sat down with a deep sigh on the other side of the bed. This was bad, Bruce was going to be furious and they had to get out of this place soon, but not now – he had to sleep. Laying down next to Jason, Dick's mind raced; still trying to figure out how Tim fit into all this.
The sun had set again when Dick awoke. He sat up in the bed and for a moment, he had forgotten what transpired last night. Jason! He turned around to where he had laid the young man down, but he wasn't there. "Jason?" Dick called softly while he got out of bed. He scanned the apartment but didn't see Jason anywhere, but the doors was still locked from the inside, so he hadn't left. "Jason?" Dick stopped and listened – he heard a weak whimper, he turned towards the sound, with a worried frown he dropped to his hands and knees at the bed and looked under it. Jason lay curled up, shaking. "Jay?" Dick whispered, reaching out touching Jason gently.
Jason acted like Dick had hit him with five hundred volts, he flinched and gasped.
"Jay, it's me." Dick said, his voice more desperate, "It's me Dickie."
Jason opened his eyes but he seemed to focus on something behind Dick, "Dickie?" He rasped.
"Yes!" Dick smiled. "Come on out from under there." When Jason didn't answer, Dick reached for him again, "Are you hungry?"
Jason just inched deeper in under the bed.
"Alright, I'm gonna order pizza." Dick said softly, "I hope you like yours with anchovies." He hoped for a reaction but got none. When Dick's phone let out a shrill tone, Jason clasped his ears. Dick hurried to his feet; he couldn't believe he had forgotten to set it to silent to begin with. He grabbed his phone and saw the call was from Bruce, no way in hell he was going to pick up. He wasn't going to speak to Bruce before he and Jason was back in Blüdhaven, and he could hide Jason better.
He turned off his phone and tossed it on the desk, he sat down and turned on his computer, he ignored his emails and instead searched a couple of different newsfeeds, there was nothing about an escaped prisoner from Arkham City, nothing. Bruce had to be ass deep in damage control, paying off employees and keeping it under wraps. He smiled to himself, for once he had outsmarted the mighty Bruce Wayne – though somewhere inside he had wished he wouldn't have to. First he was gonna get Jason somewhere safer, and then he could go toe to toe with Bruce if he had to. Who was he kidding? He knew that Bruce wasn't' just going to let this slide.
He had betrayed Bruce, and he knew it.
Dick ordered some food and left for a shower. Jason hadn't made any move to get out from under the bed for hours, and honestly if he just waited for Dick to go elsewhere to escape, he would just have to hunt him down. After all how hard could it be? The man was still in hospital pants and no shoes or shirt.
He heard a faint knock, and turned off the water and listened intently. Was it the pizza delivery? He wrapped a towel around his waist and exited the bathroom, but as he entered the living room, he saw the knocking was not from the front door, but from the balcony doors. "Tim," he sighed, "What the fuck are you doing here?"
Tim shrugged and mouthed to Dick, for him to open the door.
Dick shook his head and opened the balcony door letting Tim inside. "You got two minutes." Dick said, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Bruce is furious." Tim shuffled his feet, "I think you have to get Jason out of Gotham."
Dick frowned, "Surely you didn't come all this way to tell me the obvious."
"No." Tim smiled a little, "Here." He held out an usb drive, "Told you I was a detective in my own right."
Taking the usb drive, Dick stared at it and then at Tim, "What is this?"
"What Bruce don't want you to know." Tim said with a proud smile.
"Interesting." Dick mumbled. "Have you seen it?"
Tim nodded, "Some of it."
A loud knock on the door ended their conversation, and Dick nodded at Tim, "Get the food would you?"
Tim didn't even answer he just went for the front door.
Dick went back to the bathroom to put on some pants, he had to play it cool, because he had no way of knowing if Tim was bluffing or if he genuinely wanted to help. Could just as well be a virus on that usb drive. Alright so a little paranoia was healthy in a way.
Dick came back to Tim opening one of the boxes of noodles, "Hey who invited you?" Dick called out.
"Oh I just assumed." Tim looked guilty, but gestured out over the handful of Chinese boxes.
"Never mind, just eat it." Dick sighed, "I suppose I owe you that much for coming all the way over here."
Dick went past Tim and grabbed a Chinese box and went to lay flat on his stomach next to the bed, box in hand. He half way expected Jason to have vanished. He was still there, laying completely still just staring at Dick. "Want some food?"
Jason licked his lips.
"No tricks, I promise." Dick held out the box of noodles, "But you gotta come out from under the bed." He waited for an answer, Jason looked like he was thinking about it. "Come on."
Dick slowly rose from the side of the bed and walked over to the armchair and sat down with the Chinese box, opening it. He ignored Jason slowly crawling out from under the bed, and shot Tim a hard stare when he opened his mouth to speak.
Slowly Jason made his way to the food, every muscle in his body was tight as a bowstring, and Dick couldn't help but to think of a pissed off cat, who still came out because it was hungry. Jason settled on the floor at the sofa table and took one of the boxes. He looked up at Dick almost as if he was asking for permission, but Dick just smiled and continued to eat.
Tim finished his box, he sat it down on the table but didn't move. His eyes followed every move Jason made, and Dick could tell he was literally bursting to speak. Jason noticed too, and without looking up at Tim, he mumbled, "what."
"I…" Tim leaned a little forward, "We just never really met."
Jason looked up at Tim with dead eyes, "I seem to remember I kicked your ass, more than once." A tight smile ghosted over his pale lips.
"That was different." Tim shrugged, "I didn't know it was you."
"How is that different?" Jason mumbled with his mouth full of noodles.
"Just is." Tim shrugged again.
"Tim, stop." Dick said with a stern tone.
"What?" Tim stood up, "You don't think this stinks? Of course you do, otherwise you wouldn't have gone behind Bruce's back."
"Now is not the time," Dick held up a hand to silence Tim, but he wouldn't let himself be shut up so easily.
"If you had seen what is on that usb drive, you'd be –"
"Shut up!" Dick sneered. Tim clammed up, and Jason looked up at Dick. "Time for you to go home Tim. I'll call you."
Tim jaw flexed, clearly not satisfied with being treated like a child, but decided to do what Dick said, and walked towards the balcony. "Call me when you saw that footage and files, and see what you have to say." He pointed at Dick, and then left out into the night.
Dick sighed. "Tim means well."
Jason didn't answer, he just finished his noodles.
"So how about a shower?" Dick tried with a smile, "I'll find some actual clothes for you."
Jason nodded, and slowly unfolded his legs and got to his feet. "I can't stay here, you know that right?"
"I do." Dick said softly, "That is why I planned for us to move as soon as you felt a little more fit."
"Got the fucking tranquilizers out of my system you mean?" Jason asked, lingering in the bathroom door.
"Yes." Dick admitted.
"Dickie?" Jason asked, "Aren't you afraid?"
"Me." Jason said with a blank expression, "You used to trust Bruce's judgement, and so if he hid me away like a hideous Christmas sweater, surely there has to be a reason – right?"
Dick ran a hand through his hair, "If I trusted his judgement, we wouldn't be here."
Jason just nodded and closed the bathroom door.
The phone rang again, Dick was staring at it, Bruce's name was blinking on the screen. Every fiber itched to answer the phone but he also knew that Bruce would trace the call and be here faster than they could vacate. So he ignored it.
Jason came out from the bathroom, he looked bruised and banged up, but otherwise like any other young man. Dick still had to get onboard with Jason not being a teenager anymore. "So you got a plan?" Jason asked innocently, still drying off his hair.
"Not really." Dick said as he tossed his few belongings down into the sports bag he had brought. "I just think anywhere else than here would be best."
Jason nodded. "Was it on the news?"
"The jailbreak? No." Dick answered, grabbing a t-shirt from the depths of his bag and tossing it to Jason. "No one is looking for you, besides Bruce."
"Good." Jason dropped the towel and pulled the shirt over his head. It was a snug fit. "That means we could in theory just walk out the door."
"Yes." Dick said, "But we have to be careful, you and I both know that Bruce have eyes and ears everywhere."
"He never managed to find my safe house by the docks, we could go there." Jason said.
Dick wet his lips, "You've been hospitalized for six months, it might not exist anymore."
Jason sucked in his breath and then slung the towel over the back of a chair, "it's worth a try."
"Sure." Dick said
They had taken a taxi and walked down through the docks, it was dark and abandoned, and for the first time Dick wondered if Bruce had had a reason to hide Jason away like a rabid dog. He could hold his own against Jason, so he wasn't too worried, the whole thing just weirded him out. "Are we there yet?" He asked.
Jason pointed at a derelict warehouse, "There." He turned to Dick and looked him square in the eyes. "Why did you come get me at Arkham City? The truth Dick."
Dick took a deep breath, "Because you are my brother. And no matter what you did, you did not deserve to rot in there."
Jason's smile faltered but he nodded. "Always the boy scout, huh?"
Dick placed a friendly hand on Jason's shoulder, "We're gonna set this right."
Jason sighed deeply, "Just come on." He started walking, not looking back over his shoulder to check if Dick followed.
Dick looked up the abandoned warehouse; it looked creepy, like a haunted house. Very fitting really. Jason punched in a code on the door, and it swung up effortlessly, Dick was almost surprised it didn't screech on its hinges.
Jason grinned, "Welcome." He gestured through the door.
Dick stepped inside, everything was covered in dust and it just felt abandoned. "Looks like the maid took the decade off."
"That's a part of the allure." Jason winked and picked up Dick's sports bag, and started climbing the stairs. "Come on, it's up here."
Dick followed Jason up the metal stairs, every step seemed to echo through the empty bowels of the warehouse. Jason punched in another code once at the top of the staircase, and they entered Jason's hideout. "Mi casa es su casa." Jason dropped the bag on a table. "Give me a moment to get everything up and running."
Dick just stood there and stared at the wall of screens, it looked eerily like the batcave, he wondered if Jason had run his operations from here. That this was not just some hideout, but the actual heart of what the Arkham Knight had stood for. "What makes you think Bruce wouldn't look here?"
Jason wiped dust off a keyboard, and punched a button that made the screens blink to life. "Call it a hunch." Jason said, when Dick didn't answer back he turned around and looked at Dick in the semi dark. "When he launched a man hunt on me, he never looked here – why would he look here now? He doesn't know this place exists."
Dick nodded, "Well that is true. I for one have never heard of this place either." He paused, "But it doesn't seem like Bruce shares as much information with me as I thought."
"Bruce has always operated on a need to know basis." Jason huffed, "You know what he wants you to know."
"Sure seems like it." Dick frowned. "I just don't understand…"
Jason laughed bitterly, "What is it that you have a hard time comprehending?"
"Bruce, this, you." Dick sighed. "It makes no sense."
Jason stayed silent and kept pushing buttons on the computer until the screens all had images on them, images from security cameras around Gotham. "Go check if any of the food is still good."
"First answer me this." Dick took a defensive stance, his arms crossed over his chest. "Why did you work with Deathstroke?"
"He was a means to an end." Jason answered coldly. "Just like the others." He looked over his shoulder at Dick, "Come on now Dick, you'll have me believe that you don't know?" He laughed mirthlessly, "I'm not that stupid."
"I just don't understand it." Dick said dismissively as he walked towards the door where he could see a fridge. "In here?"
"Yeah." Jason said, looking up at the screens. "I can't believe there is still power hooked up here." He smiled in the eerie light of the screens. "I'm gonna fucking get you Bruce."
Dick tried to dismiss the penned up rage he heard in Jason's voice, and set about to roam through the cabinets. "I think we need to do a grocery run."
"You do that." Jason called back, I'll see you coming and let you in.
Dick sighed, he had promised himself he would get to the bottom of this, but right now Jason was seriously testing his patience. "Sure." Dick answered, not sure if Jason heard him.
True to his word Jason had seen him coming and the second Dick stood in front of the door, it opened as if by magic. Dick flipped the finger at the camera and started the long trek up the metal stairs.
"Tell me you bought beer." Jason called from an adjacent room.
"I bought beer." Dick called back.
Jason came out of the room with a fresh change of clothes, "It's not that I don't appreciate your fashion sense, but – yeah… you really bought beer?"
"I did." Dick said as he walked out to the kitchenette, to unload his shopping. "And a bottle of gin."
"I knew there was a reason I liked you." Jason said with amusement in his voice, he came and stood in the doorframe to the kitchenette. "Did you per chance buy any food too Grayson?"
"If canned shit counts as food, then yes." Dick said with a grin. "I can't cook, can you?"
"Yeah well, no." Jason smiled a genuine smile. "Canned shit is fine." He held out his hand, "Beer."
Dick handed him a beer and took one for himself too. "This place must have been a beehive, back when... you know"
Jason's eyes looked sad, but he nodded none the less. "It was. Weird to see it all abandoned."
"What happened to your men?"
"Fucked if I know." Jason shrugged, "Suppose Slade figured something out." They stood there for a while sipping their beer, none of them really knowing what to say. "So..." Jason said softly. "This place was never designed for comfort, there are some bunkbeds across from here, you could set up in there if you want to. Or you could just kick some shit down from the main control desk and set up there."
"Thanks." Dick said and brushed past Jason to get his bag with stuff. He gently placed the beer down, and picked up his computer and placed it at the far corner of the main control desk. Dick held up the usb drive, "I can't decide what to do with this, I'm not we can trust Tim..." Dick looked directly at Jason, "I mean... he might not know what is on this drive, it might be a virus."
"Give it here." Jason reached for the usb. "This machine can scan it for anything Bruce could conjure up." Dick handed it to him.
Jason stuck the usb drive into a secluded hard drive, "Let's see what you hide." He mumbled as he took a sip of his beer. All color from his face drained as the drive revealed its content on the screens. An empty room where Jason sat tied down with a bag over his head, footsteps echoed as they came closer and closer to the camera. An unsure tiny voice was heard saying 'Batman – is that you?'
"Shut it off!" Jason yelled. "SHUT IT OFF!"
Dick jolted into action, "I don't know where!" He panicked because Jason panicked. Dick felt his blood freeze from Jason's scream as the Joker on the screens rasped 'Batman is not coming to save you Jason'
Dick looked over his shoulder, Jason had his eyes shut tight and his hands over his ears, screaming to block out the sound from the video. Dick's heart almost broke from the childish, scared voice in the video 'he'll come, I know he will'. Dick started to just push random buttons on the main control, but accidently just zoomed in on Jason's face on the video. 'Why won't you just kill me' Jason in the video asked, he sounded resigned somehow. "Shit Jay, I don't know how to turn this thing off dammit!" Dick started to search for the power cord, if he couldn't turn it off, maybe he could kill the power. He could hear Joker on the video say '...Just like Bats and that new kid of his'
Dick literally cringed as he heard doubt sneak into video Jason's voice 'No, he wouldn't' Dick didn't know what he actually felt was worse that the Joker had told the truth, or that he had tortured Jason with it. Dick found a large breaker and pulled it, efficiently killing all power to the floor. Finally young Jason's video voice didn't haunt him anymore.
Dick turned around in the dark, "Jay?" He asked unsure of where he was, because he couldn't hear him anymore. He strained his hearing and heard a whimper. He steered through the darkness, almost tripping over a cord before he could see the outline of Jason in the darkness. "Oh Jay, I'm sorry, I didn't know what was on the usb drive." Per instinct he skidded across the floor and wrapped his arms tight around the whimpering form. "I'm so, so sorry."
"I'll kill him." Jason whispered broken.
"The joker is already dead." Dick said with a soothing voice, caressing Jason's back.
Jason unfolded himself slightly so he was looking Dick directly in his eyes in the dark, he reached up and held Dick's face steady with a hand on each side. "I meant Bruce." Jason whispered.
Dick just stared at Jason in the dark, letting the other man hold him in place, it felt more like a lovers touch than intimidating. The Jason shaped void in his chest ached painfully as Jason's thumb caressed his skin, it was gentle and shy, like if he was testing grounds. "You don't mean that." Dick whispered, not sure if he was referring to this situation, or killing Batman.
"I do." Jason whispered, leaning in closer.
Dick could see the wet silver like trails down Jason's cheeks, and he gingerly reached up to wipe his tears away. "None of them can hurt you again." Dick vowed, not sure why he said that, he didn't know if it was true at all.
Jason stared at Dick with large eyes, like he wasn't sure what to do with a gentle touch like that. "What about you Dickie?" Jason asked cryptically, "Are you gonna hurt me?"
Dick opened his mouth and closed it again, "No." He whispered, though that too felt like a lie. He should have expected the kiss, and in some ways, he did. Maybe he had expected it to be a soft kiss, maybe he had expected it to be fumbling and funny - He had not expected it to be full of anger and resentment.
"Liar." Jason whispered against his lips.
Dick wasn't sure what possessed him to kiss Jason back, but maybe it was to cut off the truths that would undoubtedly spill from his lips. When the kiss ended they were both panting, and the look Jason gave him when their lips separated was mostly fierce, like Dick had failed a test or something.
And lastly Dick had not expected the fist to his face.
Jason scrambled to his feet. "Leave me alone."
"Wait." Dick rubbed his jaw while he too got to his feet. "Jason."
"No!" Jason howled, "You! With bone-crushing ambition disguised behind soft words and kisses. For what? What do you want from me?!"
"What?" Dick took a step towards Jason, "I don't want anything from you, I wanted to help you." He took a deep breath, "I shouldn't have kissed you, I'm sorry for that – it was a… uhm, momentary lapse of judgement."
Jason just stared at him. "You want Bruce's money? His fucking millions you think I got tucked away somewhere." Jason took a step forward, "Joke is on you fucker."
"Intel on Harley Quinn? Or better yet, your own revenge?" Jason screamed, "What is it?"
Dick took a couple of steps towards Jason in the darkness. "The truth."
"How noble of you." Jason hissed.
Dick knew that he shouldn't really blame Jason his erratic behavior at this point. And he went against everything he believed in the moment those words left his lips. "Why did you kiss me?"
Jason stepped up to Dick and stared his right in his eyes, "Because I fucking felt like it."
"Good." Dick answered, hope flaring in his heart.
"I need some air." Jason growled and turned around, expertly knowing the layout of the room even in the dark.
Dick grabbed his wrist, "No you don't... what the fuck is going on in that nugget of yours."
"Stop touching me." Jason growled as he got free from Dick's hold and stormed up the narrow ladder to the roof.
Dick hurried after him, and found him standing on the edge of the roof, "Jason." He called, "I'm sorry, I owe you the truth." He stopped midway between the hatch down and Jason. "But I am far as perfect as you think I am. I have turned Bruce down more than once, when he is wrong he is wrong, it's that simple. And he is wrong in regards to you."
"Are you sure?"
"Look Jay. We did search for you, but no one had thought to look inside Arkham Asylum, no one had thought that the Joker had insiders on the staff –"
"Boles." Jason hissed.
"Yeah Boles. Both Bruce and I trusted Boles, and never found a flaw in his behavior. I'm so sorry. If only I had known." Dick said softly, "We both thought you had died in the blast." Dick took a step closer to Jason, "I still thought you perished in the blast until sometime ago, and the second I learned that you were actually alive, I came back to Gotham. I came back for you."
Jason said nothing.
"When I learned that not only were you alive, but Bruce had stuck you in Arkham City – I was furious. Bruce being Bruce he refuse to give me a good reason, he told me to leave it alone."
"Do you honestly think he would have done the same to you?" Jason asked softly.
"Don't know. I don't know what to think." Dick admitted. "I do know that you are family and I love you, I don't care what you did – You deserve answers and closure."
Jason laughed, "You sound like Bruce, you know that right?"
Jason slowly sat down on the roof edge, dangling his legs off into the air. "Bruce had a son, you. And when he caught me looking at you for longer than necessary." He laughed bitterly, "That was what he said; he is your brother."
"I didn't know." Dick said softly, the lie falling easier than he had expected, maintaining his poker face as he gently walked over to sit next to Jason on the edge.
"You don't have romantic feelings towards your brother." Jason said coldly, "It has a name you know."
"Well, good thing you and I aren't blood related then." Dick said as he eased down on his back, his feet still dangling over the edge. He folded his arms under his head and stared up into the sky.
"You don't mean that." Jason said in a near whisper.
"Sure I do." Dick said with a little smile, he could tell that Jason had turned in his seat and was now studying him.
"I hate you." Jason said with a sigh and turned to look at the horizon again.
"Who's the liar now?" Dick said closing his eyes. "I know you don't trust me, but what if I really wanted to open Pandora's Box together with you?"
"The conundrum which is Bruce." Jason answered bitterly.
"I need to speak to him." Dick said opening his eyes again looking up into the faint orange skies. "I can't call him, he will trace my call."
"That could work in your favor," Jason turned around to look at Dick again, "It depends on where you call him from, doesn't it?"
"True." Dick started to laugh, why hadn't he thought of that?
Jason smiled, "What's so funny?"
"Me being an idiot." Dick answered, opening his eyes to look directly at Jason. "I hadn't thought of that at all."
"No time like the present." Jason smiled wide, "Come on."
They went to a park, sat down on a bench and then Dick called Bruce. He gave Jason a quick glance, he looked calm and collected. Good. The phone was picked up and Bruce spoke in the other end, "Finally, I was beginning to think something bad happened to you."
"I'm a big boy, Bruce." Dick smiled down the phone.
"Is Jason there with you?"
"Yes." Dick looked over at Jason. "In fact we wanted to invite you for a coffee and a chat."
"Coffee and a chat." Dick repeated. "At uhm... Java The Hut coffee house in ten." Dick said and nodded over towards the café at the other side of the park, making sure Jason was in on it. Dick hung up and took a deep breath, "He is already on his way."
"Of course he is." Jason quipped.
Dick stood from the bench, he laid a hand on Jason's shoulder and looked directly at him. "You don't have to come, if you don't want to face Bruce I understand completely."
"I'm fine." Jason said but shot Dick a glare that told him that Jason was anything but okay. "I ain't gonna kill him today, if that is what you worry about."
"Good." Dick smiled, "But are you sure you want to come?"
"Yes dammit." Jason brushed Dick's hand off him and stood up. "Let's go." He started walking towards the café, and Dick followed.
"Stop for a moment." Dick grabbed Jason's wrist. "I need your head in the game Jay." He cupped Jason's face with his hands, forcing the younger man to look straight at him. "I need you to keep your cool."
"I know." Jason said softly, he smiled weakly, mirroring Dicks smile. "I promise I will keep my cool."
Dick looked Jason deep into his eyes, satisfied with what he saw he nodded. "Alright."
Bruce was already seated when they arrived at the café, Dick and Jason walked slowly over and sat down at the same table. "Richard, Jason." Bruce said politely.
"Bruce." Dick said, Jason stared at his hands on the table. "Did you order?"
"I did." Bruce said deadpan.
"So." Dick leaned in over the table and locked eyes with Bruce, the steel grey eyes always had this special air of authority over them, and Bruce had this specific glare he would give when he was most unsatisfied with the effort given. "How long have you kept it a secret that Jason was alive?"
"Not long enough." Bruce said, never taking his eyes off Dick. "I should have been more careful with my data."
Dick just stared at Bruce in disbelief. "Help me understand this – because from where I am sitting you lost the plot completely."
"It was my mistake to begin with, and therefore also my responsibility that my mistakes didn't hurt more people." Bruce said with a steady voice, not even pausing when the barista brought their coffee.
Jason's knuckles were white from clenching his fists. Dick saw this and placed a hand on Jason's thigh to calm him.
Bruce's eyes followed Dick's hand and then looked back up at Dick's face. "You should never have been involved."
"Bruce I remember that we both looked through the rubble, and when we found no body of Jason or the Joker, we searched the city – we found nothing, it was like the ground swallowed them. There is no reason to hate yourself for that." Dick said, trying to reason with Bruce's stone face. "But why did you keep the videos secret?"
"I didn't want you to feel guilty for not finding him in time."
"Bruce for fucks sake." Dick sighed. "It is not your failing that caused that, but it was your decision to keep him a secret when you found him again."
"Are you scared of me Bruce?" Jason asked softly, his voice almost drowning in the other patron's chatter.
"No." Bruce said, finally looking away from Dick. "I want to shelter Gotham from what you have become."
"I have nothing up my sleeves old man." Jason said his tone sounding more fragile than Dick was comfortable with. "No magic tricks."
"Don't lie to me, son." Bruce said flatly.
"I'm not your fucking son." Jason spat, and Dick squeezed his thigh. Jason pointed at Bruce.
Bruce looked back at Dick and smiled a little thin smile, "You have to return him to Arkham City. I know you'll do the right thing eventually Dick, I trust you."
Dick just stared at Bruce, that was pretty cheap even for Bruce, maybe especially for Bruce. "I am not leaving him in that place." Dick said sternly. "He is the victim Bruce. Isn't it you who is always talking about protecting the weak and defenseless – then why are you so black and white when it comes to your own family?"
Bruce gave Dick one of his special displeased glares and took a casual sip of his coffee. "Jason is definitely not weak and defenseless."
"Maybe not." Dick hurried to counter, before Jason got a word in. "He is still a victim."
"Once." Bruce said cryptically.
"Fuck this." Jason hissed, "Can't you see Dick, he's just gonna keep pussyfooting around the real issue."
"And what is the real issue Jason?" Bruce said calmly, flashing a little overbearing smile.
"That I don't give a fuck about what you think, I don't need your approval." Jason yelled, startling the patrons in the café. "Fuck you Bruce, I hope you choke on your righteous bullshit." Jason got up from his seat so fast his chair fell backwards unto the floor with a loud bang in the now silent café.
"Please Dick, take him back." Bruce said, ignoring Jason's outburst.
"How fucking dare you?" Jason yelled, slamming his fist down into the table so the coffee cups tipped over, Dicks cup rolled over the edge of the table and shattered with a loud clang. "Shit!" Jason walked out the café with long angry strides.
Bruce smiled at the patrons at the next table. "Not every applicant takes rejection equally gracefully." He shrugged as to say 'you know what it's like'.
"What the hell Bruce." Dick shook his head.
"You'd do well in remembering who he called brothers in arms." Bruce said, grabbing a hold of Dick's wrist when he made a move to get up. "And you'd do well in remembering that he turned on them and on me."
"Keep telling yourself that." Dick said his voice hard and uncompromising. "I'm not the one that kept him locked up." He shot Bruce an accusatory glare. "Now let me go, this conversation is over."
"Dickie." Bruce said, this time with a soft and imploring tone, his hard grey eyes softened along with it. "He is your brother, and he needs your help to get well. Remember that."
"We have already been through that, and he is not my brother." Dick said, surprising himself with those words, seeing the surprise mirrored in Bruce's eyes too. "He is a stray cat that you picked up, but never cared to domesticate."
"I can't believe he managed to twist your head so fast." Bruce said in a near whisper.
"He didn't do anything Bruce." Dick said forcefully pulling his wrist back, "What you did to him was wrong. Own it, man."
"Gotham won't be safe before he is behind locked doors again, and it's on you Richard." Bruce said, his voice cold as ice. "Remember that when this charity case of yours blows up in your face."
"Thanks for the coffee." Dick said and left the café, not looking back.
Dick searched for Jason for a while, when he didn't find him he walked back through the park and to his surprise he found him on the bench where they had started. "Jay?" He said softly, Jason looked up, his eyes filled with anger and hurt. But instead of yelling or running, Jason got to his feet and came chest to chest with Dick.
"I will never be free in Gotham," Jason whispered and smiled a little sad smile. "Bruce will haunt my steps for all eternity."
"I trust you." Dick whispered back, running a hand through Jason's hair, resting his hand on the nape of the other man's neck. "Bruce throws some mighty long shadows, Jay. Running won't solve it." His other hand found Jason's and to his surprise, Jason took it in his and squeezed it. "Come on, I need to show you something." He held on to Jason's hand as he started to walk.
"Where are we going?" Jason asked curiously.
"Somewhere special." Dick said with a little secretive smile. "You'll see."
They walked through town, Jason increasingly confused, but Dick wouldn't reveal his secret just yet. They arrived at a metal fire escape at the back of a building. And then Dick turned stopped and let go of Jason's hand. "These last couple of days something dawned on me" He smiled, "it's hard to explain, so let's just go." He swung effortlessly up and grabbed a hold of the fire escape and started to make his way up towards the roof. Jason was more confused than ever, but followed.
Once at the roof Dick sat down on a vent, looking at Jason, "Do you remember this place?" He asked cryptically.
Jason looked around, "Not really, it's a rooftop?"
Dick nodded, "Alright." He smiled sadly, "I had hoped this place would jolt your memory." He followed Jason with his eyes as Jason walked back and forth on the roof. "There is a reason why I never gave up searching for you, and there is a reason why I went directly against Bruce's wishes when I finally found you." He looked down at his hands resting on his own thighs, "And there is a reason why I never stopped hoping you were alive."
"Because of this rooftop?" Jason asked with a slightly thin and stressed tone. His body language agitated and caged.
Jason shrugged, "Nope, nothing."
Dick didn't move he just looked at Jason with sad eyes. "It was the spring before your disappearance; the entire roof was covered in those weird white fluffy things from the trees at the park."
Jason shook his head.
Dick hung his head, "You don't remember."
"Nope." Jason admitted.
Dick clasped his hands in his lap, and looked out over the skyline, "We made love that day, right here on this rooftop."
Jason was silent for a while and then he frowned, "I had expected more from you. Why would you do this to me?" Jason asked, "I wanted to trust you, I wanted to believe that you freed me for all the right reasons." He shook his head, "You are worse than all of them together."
"What?" Dick stared up at Jason with wide eyes.
"Stop planting fake memories in my head, Quinn tried and..." Jason pointed at Dick, "Why are you fucking with me?"
"Jason." Dick said softly, "I'm not fucking with your head." He smiled a little timid smile, "Why did you kiss me the other day?"
"Because I felt like it." Jason said, "I told you so."
"I know you said that." Dick said flatly, after a long silent moment he sighed, "Did they really wipe me from your memory?"
"No." Jason said flatly, "I remember you just fine, the prodigal son."
Dick buried his face in his hands, "I see," he mumbled. "In that case, I am sorry for all of this."
"Stop fucking with me!" Jason screamed, "I remember you! You wouldn't have given me a second glance, the prince of fucking Gotham. Always the best, always the perfect little shit –" Jason raged and hauled Dick to his feet by force.
"I shouldn't have brought you here," Dick said, his voice was calm, but his eyes were wide with betrayal and shock, "I shouldn't have attempted to kick start your memories. It's my fault Jay, you just weren't ready."
"No!" Jason yelled in Dick's face, "Stop it!"
"I know you remember deep down." Dick countered calmly, letting Jason push him against the wall of the roof access stairs. "If you truly didn't recall at all, you would have told me to fuck off long ago."
"You are my unwilling brother, and I wanted to trust you, I needed to trust you – trust somebody, or I would lose myself." Jason hissed as he slammed Dick into the brick wall again. "Mind games Dickie, why would you do that?" When Dick didn't try to argue or defend himself, Jason hit Dick square in the jaw and let go. He stepped back from Dick who just stood there and stared at him with sorrow written across his face. "I've been waiting for the dime to drop you know." Jason whined, "That you'd somehow reveal why you helped me." He turned around and kicked a tiny loose piece of roof off the edge. "Fuck."
"I helped you because I love you." Dick said, his voice woolen from the swollen jaw.
Jason just stared at Dick helplessly.
"Bruce didn't give you the 'it's your brother' monologue because you looked at my ass in spandex." Dick said, rubbing his cheek. "He caught us. Think Jay! Remember. I was right there with you when he gave you that talk."
Jason looked thoughtful for a moment, "I don't remember that at all." He whispered uncertain.
Dick licked his lips tasting blood, looking at Jason who had started to pace back and forth again. "You have been lost to me for five years, and…"
"Just stop." Jason said, his voice hollow. He turned and glared at Dick, "Was it Bruce that set you up for this?"
Dick felt mostly like crying and laughing at the same time, but all that escaped him was a weird strangled noise.
Jason stormed across the roof and kicked Dick in the stomach, Dick folded over and Jason kneed him in the face, there was a loud crack when cartilage broke and blood flowed freely from Dick's nose. "You should have left me where I was." Jason screamed, punching and kicking Dick, "Get up you asshole!"
But Dick didn't get up.
"Fight me dammit!" Jason kicked once more, sending Dick flying over the vent he had been sitting on earlier. "Fuck!" Jason kicked the vent.
When Dick woke the first thing he saw was those steel grey eyes watching him with worry. "Bruce?" Dick tried to smile but it hurt too much.
"You're awake." Bruce said placing a warm hand on Dick's. "You've been out for two days, I was starting to worry."
Dick coughed and closed his eyes again, everything hurt and all he wanted was to sleep.
Next time he woke it was a pair of curious clear blue eyes looking down at him. "Hey there," Tim said, "Feeling better?"
"Yeah." Dick said.
"You look like shit." Tim said with a grim expression, "He did a number on you."
"I'm fine." Dick struggled momentarily to sit up.
"Bruce had asked me to tail you when you left the café, and now I'm sorta glad he did. Otherwise I wouldn't have found you." Tim said, "I... I haven't told Bruce what I heard."
Dick smiled despite the pain, "Thanks."
"Maybe he just needs time." Tim said with a little smile.
Dick closed his eyes again, not answering.
On the fifth day Dick could sit up, and to his surprise then Bruce brought him his food this morning instead of Alfred. "You look much better." Bruce said placing the tray down on the table next to the bed.
"Thanks," Dick said, "I feel better."
"Returning to Blüdhaven?"
"Yeah." Dick replied softly.
Bruce walked over to the window and opened it, letting the warm summer wind inside the room. "I warned you." He said still with his back to Dick.
"You did." Dick admitted.
"He could have killed you Dickie." Bruce turned around and looked at Dick in the bed, all bruised and his arm in a cast.
"But he didn't." Dick said calmly.
"You are smarter than that." Bruce argued, annoyance creeping into his voice. "Do you take me for an idiot Dick?" Bruce then said, "I had the best doctors do therapy, hypnosis – you name it, they tried it. And whatever he once was, it's gone. There is nothing left of the Jason that you knew."
"Are you saying they brainwashed him?" Dick asked.
"They did." Bruce said darkly, "But most of all he did this to himself, he pushed the memories he cherished away to where they couldn't corrupt them."
"So you are saying that he repressed any good memories, and in doing so lost them?" Dick asked reaching for his coffee from the tray.
"That is exactly what I'm saying." Bruce said, "He only recalls what he want to recall. There is nothing left of the Jason you knew, there is only anger and revenge."
"Bullshit." Dick sat up straighter, "He is in there, he just needs time."
"Listen to yourself Dick. This was why I warned you, I knew he would snap. That was why I kept him hidden, all the doctors gave up, nothing can help him. Jason is lost inside his own mind." Bruce walked over and sat at the foot end of the bed, "Don't you think it is better to let him live out his life in a blissful haze?"
"No." Dick said anger rising.
"What you did was to let a psychopath loose on Gotham."
"You never change Bruce." Dick growled, winching as he swung his legs out over the side of the bed. "You wanted him to attack me didn't you?" He turned his head and looked at Bruce out from the corner of his eye, "You wanted him to have forgotten, and you wanted me to walk away with a broken heart. Just to prove your point."
"I never wanted you to get hurt." Bruce argued. "I just knew that would be the outcome."
"Liar." Dick huffed, "If anyone could reach him, it would be me."
"If you hadn't let him out, I wouldn't have been forced to eventually hunt him down again." Bruce said, standing from the bed, coming around to Dick's side of the bed, crossing his arms, staring down at the young man.
When Dick left the Wayne manor, he did so with a heavy heart. Maybe Bruce was right, maybe he had been so caught up in discovering that Jason was actually alive, that he was eager to blame Bruce for his decision, never questioning why. And maybe it was right that Jason had somehow lost the part that were theirs alone, maybe it had been a silly fantasy to think he could remind Jason of who he used to be.
Dick had picked up roughly where he had left off, he had attempted to keep tabs on Jason, but he seemed to have disappeared into thin air. He knew better though, he knew it was because Jason didn't want to be found.
It disturbed him that Jason vanished, and the possibility that Bruce was right. And that he himself had been the romantic fool.
There had been no information for over a month, until he got the frantic call from Tim. Dick had been sitting at his computer shifting through the mugshots of a group of debt collectors when his phone had gone off, not his regular phone but the special communications he had been given from Bruce. Dick pushed the button, and saw Tim with wide eyes and a cut on his cheek bleeding. "Dick! You gotta come down here, NOW!" Tim yelled.
"Slow down Tim, where is here?"
"The old asylum!" Tim sprinted across a room and hid behind some crates abandoned there years ago. "He's gonna kill Bruce."
"What?" Dick was already running to his bike, "Who?" He asked, dreading the answer.
"Jason." Tim squealed as a shot rang out too close for comfort. "Hurry!"
Dick almost tumbled from the bike when he arrived, his feet barely touched the ground before he was in full sprint towards the front doors of the asylum. He heard them, the voices of Jason and Bruce echo through the empty halls. Why the hell Jason would want to go here was a mystery to him.
When he arrived, he saw Tim pinned down behind a crate, and Bruce desperately trying to find a way to get up to the balcony where Jason had his vantage point, without taking a bullet to the face. Dick climbed up on the rafters, and he was almost on top of Jason before he was spotted. "Ah the cavalry." Jason mocked as he saw Dick. "I was waiting for you." He laughed and aimed his gun at the beam that held Dick's bodyweight.
Dick swung from the broken beam, and with great expertise landed at the balcony with Jason, kicking him off it. Jason crashed through the bannister and landed on the ground. Dick followed, but Jason was on his feet again before Dick landed. "Jay. What the fuck are you doing?"
"What does it look like?"
"That you lost your fucking mind." Dick said calmly, they circled each other for a few rounds.
"Bruce followed my breadcrumbs like a good little idiot – and I am ready." Jason said coldly. Jason swayed out of the way as a black object swooshed between them, "What have I told you Bruce, don't bring a Batarang to a fucking gun fight."
Dick watched as Jason fired four quick shots in succession, and to Dick's horror Bruce missed the mark and slammed into the wall instead of landing on the rafter. He heard Tim move behind him. "Why did you come here?" Dick asked.
"To reconnect." Jason said side stepping to see Tim.
Dick held up his nightstick and stepped in front of Jason's line of firing, "Don't hurt him."
Jason aimed at Dick, instead. "What are you doing here?"
"Tim called me." Dick answered honestly. "I am here to save you from... from yourself."
"That's rich." Jason chuckled.
"It's the truth." Dick said calmly as he dropped his nightstick on the floor. "I can live with you not remembering us, but you gotta remember you."
"Don't start with the mind games Grayson." Jason warned and cocked his gun.
Dick saw Bruce get to his feet, he held out a hand to stop him. "Stay." He called at Bruce without ever taking his eyes of Jason.
Jason tossed something at Dick which he caught by reflex, it wasn't till it was in his hands he realized it was a gun. Jason stepped closer to Dick, his eyes wild and cold. "Shoot Bruce and I will surrender. Or refuse and I shoot you instead." He smiled at Dick. "Make your choice."
"What? No!" Dick gasped, staring from the gun to Jason and back at the gun again.
"It's a simple loyalty test." Jason shrugged.
Dick looked at the gun, he weighed it in his hand, he knew what Bruce would want him to do. But he just couldn't. He looked up at Jason and tossed the gun to the side. "Shoot me then."
Jason looked like he had been slapped, "Dickie…" He said softly as he pressed his gun up under Dick's chin, pressing Dick's head back. "I thought we were in this together."
Dick closed his eyes and swallowed hard. "We are."
Jason screamed out his anger and frustration. "It was supposed to be Bruce at the other end of this gun. This was supposed to be my moment of vindication. And you've gone fucked it up."
"Please Jay, we can fix this. I won't let Bruce take you." Dick managed to mumble, with the gun's nozzle pressed hard against him.
When a loud bang echoed in the empty operating theater, Dick thought it was him and for a split second wondered if the loss of feeling the gun's nozzle was because he had no chin. He heard Bruce yell "No!" and then a soft thud. Dick blinked and per instinct touched his chin which was perfectly whole.
It took a second more to realize that he heard Tim yell 'oh my God!' and then he finally looked down, Jason was laying at his feet bleeding profusely from his side. "Jason!" Dick fell on his hands and knees, shaking Jason's shoulders lightly, as he tried to see how grave the injury was. It looked bad, there was so much blood. "Call a fucking ambulance!" Dick cried trying to stop the blood with his hands.
"Jay! Look at me!" Dick called desperately, brushing hair from his face with a bloody hand. Jason opened his eyes and looked up at Dick a smile ghosting over his lips. "I remember now." He whispered. "I remember you like this when we made love, you said you loved me, and I wanted to say it back, but you felt so good that I couldn't get it past my lips." He lifted a hand to Dick's bicep, "I remember the white fluffy stuff from the trees that stuck everywhere."
Dick felt tears escape his eyes, he kissed Jason's chapped lips gently, "Hang on, the ambulance is almost here."
"I love you." Jason whispered and closed his eyes. "I remember now…"
"Don't you fucking dare do this to me!" Dick cried, shaking Jason's shoulder. The primal scream from Dick, made even Bruce step back.
Jason sat cross-legged in front of the television on his bed, aimlessly sticking his fork in something he figured was supposed to be bread pudding.
"Hey there handsome." A voice sang.
"Dickie!" Jason looked up and smiled, "You're late."
"I know I'm sorry." He pulled off his jacket and sat down the two large lattes on the side table, before he settled at the foot end of Jason's bed. "I brought you this." He held out a comic magazine.
"Dude it's the special edition of the Interstellar Wars." He smiled up at Dick, exited like a boy. "Where the hell did you get that?"
"I've got my connections." Dick winked.
Jason wrapped his arms around Dick's neck and pulled him down for a sweet kiss, "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Dick kissed Jason quick before he got up to get the two cups of coffee. "How was your therapy session today?"
"Bullshit, like always." Jason took the cup from Dick, "I swear if he asks me about my mother one more time, I'll make him wear her."
Dick laughed. "Come on man, work with me - do some healing, so you can come home."
"Tim was here this morning." Jason said, his voice soft and if Dick didn't know better he would think that Jason looked almost ashamed. "He had a care package from Alfred." He shrugged, "It's all just a little weird still."
"You are family."
"Just don't expect a Christmas card." Jason said with a little smile.
"Come on, scoot over, what are we watching?" Dick pushed Jason till they both sat in front of the television.
"Alright so the spider woman is out to kill that guy in the trench coat." Jason said, "That's all I got out of it so far."
Dick laughed again. "Good enough for me."