Disclaimer: DC owns them. I'm playing with them for fun and no-profit.

Context: New Teen Titans, set some time shortly after Donna enlisted Jason's help to rescue Dick.

Thanks to Kathy for the beta!

What Lies Below

"Thanks again for bring me out here this weekend." Jason can barely restrain his enthusiasm.

Dick grins. Away from Bruce, without the threat of Brother Blood, Jason Todd is acting like any wide-eyed fourteen-year-old at the prospect of getting a tour of the Tower. His eyes dart from left to right, trying to take in every detail.

"Are there any secret passageways here?" He asks.

"A couple," Dick deadpans.

"What kind of security systems does this place have?"

Dick remembers suddenly that Bruce found the kid living on the street. Had he ever had to work his way around a burglar alarm? The older vigilante squelches the thought immediately. He can't hold the boy's past against him. After the way he handled himself against the Church of Blood, after the way the kid saved his life… Besides, Bruce has likely been teaching him all about locks and bolts and electronic surveillance. It's basic stealth training. Jay's probably been eating, sleeping, and breathing the lessons.

He grins. "That's for me to know, and you to find out," Dick says, socking Jay playfully on the arm, "while the cameras capture you in the act, of course."

Jay makes a rude sound. "Shyeah, right. You mean if they catch me."

"They will," Dick says flatly. "Between Cyborg's designs, my enhancements, and Speedy's… um… creativity, I'm not saying Bruce couldn't break in, but he'd need to do a lot of research first." His eyes narrow. "Is that why he let you get away for the weekend?"

"NO!" His eyes are suddenly blazing. "No way! Bruce wouldn't…"

"Hey!" Dick's hands grip the youth's shoulders. "Jason, I was just kidding, okay?"

Angrily, the younger teen shakes loose. "Bruce wouldn't use me to get to you."

Wouldn't he? Dick sighs, but refrains from blurting out his suspicions about why Batman took a new Robin in the first place. As much as he resents Bruce's actions, he doesn't see any point in purposely hurting Jay. He takes a deep breath. Even outside of Gotham, Bruce's shadow looms large. Let it go. "You're right," he says finally. "I'm sorry." It's the right thing to say, even if it's only half-true.

He grins. "C'mon. Let's get back to the grand tour. Just stick close. These corridors can get a little confusing if you don't know your way around. We'll start with the helicopter pad on the roof… unless you wanted to check out the sub pens first."

Jason's eyes widen. "Subs? You mean like in submarines? Here?"

Dick nods.

"Can I steer one?"

"If you don't mind a back-seat driver," Dick says, amused. "I'll shadow you on the auxiliary controls until you get the hang of it."

"Oh man! Lead on!" The eager wide-eyed kid is back. "I'm right behind you!"

Jason's enthusiasm is contagious. He reminds Dick a bit of himself at fourteen. As the two head for the elevator, it occurs to him that Bruce could have chosen far worse when he picked his newest Robin. Dick sobers for a moment. He hopes, sincerely hopes, that Bruce isn't trying to make the kid over into 'Dick Grayson, Mark II'. The kid deserves better than to be thrust into anyone's shadow.