There's no I in Team
He always got everything first. No matter how hard I tried, no matter what I said, in the end he always was number one. In the beginning I could deal with it. Older child syndrome, first child syndrome, first Robin syndrome, no need to explain it, I got it. I was fine with being the second child. But being traded to the third then to fourth? That was the last straw. I became so insignificant, so useless, so forgotten. I was never in the running. I never had the chance. Dick was the superstar. He would always come out on top. Tim was the golden child always the little pet. And Damien? Well Damien was the real child enough said. I was the middle child, the forgotten Robin swept under the rug. Hidden in the closet, a dirty little secret that nobody wanted to remember.
I remember the first time I ever felt jealous. I had been brought under Batman's wings, had been trained, prepped, ready to take on whatever Gotham threw our way. But I was bored. I needed more. I've always been a fast learner; always have known to be two steps ahead of the game.
It was the middle of the night and I had been staring at the ceiling for the past hour. Bruce was away and the house was empty except for Alfred and me. I could hear the doorbell ringing and I wondered briefly on which crazy socialite was coming at the middle of the night to coyly ask for Mr. Wayne. I let it ring twice before bounding in front of Alfred to answer the door. Long orange legs and glittering green eyes greeted me in a rush of sensations that were normal for a young teenage boy.
Back then Grayson was part of the Teen Titans. The greatest superhero team after the Justice League, but that's not what made me jealous. I didn't want to be part of a team with other immature and not as talented superheroes. Suffice to say though Starfire was as gorgeous back then as she is now and I remember thinking that she smelt of sex and confidence. I wasn't jealous that he had the girl either though. No, what bothered me was that he had people that cared about him. She had been searching for him all night, no one at the tower knew where he was and they all were worried sick. It was then that I felt my heart make its first twist, it was then that I finally figured out what I had known all a long, that Dick Grayson always had it all.
So two years later when Kori comes walking down that long red carpet and in to my extended arm I can't help but gloat about my small victory. Dick may have had her first but I have her now. Small victories. Bigger picture.
She's a vision in green and black lace. Her glorious long red hair spilling like flickering flames down her back and past her lean muscled thighs. Her pout is perfected by oh so red lipstick that makes me just want to push her up against a wall and take her then and there. She seems to float as we walk down the carpet and into the grand ballroom her hips swaying in a confidence no godly creature should possess.
She smiles when I wrap my arm around her waist and whispers in a soft voice, "Showing me off Jason?"
I grin easily to her, "I don't show off anything Kori. Don't have to."
I know everyone is watching us and I soak it all in for what its worth. I couldn't resist. Showing up to Dick's twenty-second birthday with his ex-girlfriend is something every scorned brother would pounce on.
Dick is the first to break the tension that has seemed to slowly consume the room and he walks towards us with a self-assured steady swagger. He greets her with his signature smirk and pulls her in close making sure his hands linger a little too long on her back. He kisses her swiftly on the cheek.
"Kori." His voice is smooth and easy. Oh my dear brother always the master of foreplay.
"Dick." She's curt and polite and oh so obviously disinterested.
"I didn't know you were bringing someone." He looks at me pointedly. Like the plague he thinks I am. Like the curse the beloved bat family feels creeping on their shoulders.
"The invite said plus one. So that's what I did. Meet my plus one." Her retort is quick and blunt and I grin to be a witness of Dick Grayson's infamous charm failing him.
He turns to me and I smile ready to tackle any chance of confrontation. What can I say I'm a hands on type of guy.
"Jason." He nods after my name.
"Dick." I grin easily, "I see you've met Kori."
I savor his facial expression.
"Well we did date for three years." He grits his teeth. Score one for Jason zero for Richard.
"Oh yeah? She's never mentioned you." I bring my arm around her waist and pull her in close. She leans her head on my shoulder for effect. "Not that she can think about much when I'm through with her."
She smiles cat like and seductive. "Jason. Don't ruin Dick's night with our dirty laundry. He probably has guests to attend to."
I smile, "That's just like you Dicky it's your birthday and you're still all work and no play."
His face is rigid. Annoyed that Kori is being so flippant and I'm draining his ego with his very beautiful ex-girlfriend, ex-fiancé, ex-teammate, god the list went on. Yeah Dick had her first. But she was with us now. Roy, Kori, and me, the outlaws, as Roy liked to jokingly dub us. As much as I hated to admit it… It felt great.
"Goodnight Dick. " Her velvet smooth voice breaks the spell of victory, "And happy birthday," we walk off laughing. Both glad at the opportunity to show pretty boy that he wasn't our world anymore.
Once we're far enough from Grayson she releases herself from my arm and glares at me haughtily. "You owe me Jason."
I grin easily at her, "Come on Kori you know that you enjoyed that as much as I did."
Glaring she slaps my arm lightly, which still stings because most of the time she doesn't realize just how strong she is, "Fine. I may have enjoyed pissing him off but you didn't have to lay it on so thick."
"Dramatic effect babe. Roy always says that I should lighten up more. That was me having a little fun." I grab two glasses of champagne from a waitress waiting for her infamous temper to quell.
"Ugh fine." Her voice is soft again; "You spend too much time with Roy."
Grinning I hand her a glass of champagne, "I spend too much time with both of you princess. I'm seriously considering a vacation."
She downs her champagne and sets it on the table next to us, "No way. We're a team now. If you go on vacation so do we. Obviously you're paying. Now lets go find Roy." She grabs my arm in a death grip and practically flies off.
We find Roy flirting mercilessly with a couple of blonde teenagers. I grab his shoulder which startles him, "Jail bait Harper?"
He grins at me crookedly, "Seventeen is hardly jail bait Todd."
Kori is not as amused by the situation, "Roy Jason lets go. Sometimes I swear I'm more of your mother than your teammate."
Roy takes advantage of the quip, "Only if you tuck me in mommy."
She smacks him in the back of the head and I tell him he's disturbed. It's natural and easy which kind of scares me. I remember promising myself once not to get drawn in, not to get attached, not to let feelings take over. But then I find myself sounding like Batman, and well more often than not it's not a good thing. Because these people are the closest thing I've ever had to a real family.
We get ready to leave. Kori goes back to grab her bag and is stopped by Grayson. Their heads are bent in together and they look so comfortable and natural like they were born to stand together and whisper in hushed voices. But then her eyes glimmer and her fists clench and I know that they will never be what they once were. Dick is too much of a player for that and Kori is too strong to let herself be possessed. Roy is rigid next to me and I know he's thinking exactly what I'm thinking. If she needs our help we're there in a heartbeat. She comes towards us shaking her head in anger and we walk out the door and into the cold rainy night of Gotham City.
"What did he say?" Roy's eyes are stormy and he instinctively reaches towards his back as if ready to sheath an arrow.
"Nothing." She's tight lipped so I know it can't be anything good.
"Leave her alone Harper. If she doesn't want to talk about it don't make her." She smiles at me appreciatively and uncharastically I reach for her hand lacing her fingers through mine. She huddles into my arms finding shelter from whatever Grayson unhinged her with.
I never realized the point in time when we became like this. When we became so ready to have each other's backs. So in sync to whatever the other person needs. But somehow we've managed to form a bond that's more solid than any other relationship we've experienced in the past. Maybe it's because none of us have had it easy. None of us have been able to truly say that life has smiled down upon us. But we feed on that pain, we savor the sadness, and we utilize it. It makes us stronger and it brings us closer.
"Jason is taking us on a vacation." Kori's voice breaks me out of my reverie. Her body is warm in my arms and I try not to enjoy the sensation of her body pressed against mine.
"He's paying obviously." Harper is grinning at us inanely.
"Obviously." She huffs back.
In the bat family I was the unwanted rodent, the discarded bird. But with Kori and Roy I'm the rock, the thing that keeps them moving, that keeps us together. After I died and was resurrected I told myself that I'd never be tied down again, that I wouldn't have anything to do with a team or a family. And then exactly that happened. Then I met them.
"Do I get no say in this?"
"None." They chorus back to me.
And slowly I'm coming to realize that it's not such a bad thing.