All it takes is one moment of vulnerability, one moment, and you're a goner. You'll be trapped and lost forever in the swirl of dark blue eyes, in a sympathetic gaze that doesn't condemn you. No, instead it tries to understand you.
Jason didn't want to be understood, he didn't want to be cared for, he just wanted to be. He could care less about anything else.
But when you've already found yourself in that vulnerable moment and right across from you is a man who has just enough experience, and just enough compassion to maybe, just maybe, be able to take a piece of your pain away, you're lost to it. The moment takes your breath away.
"Jay?" his voice will never have the rough edge that Batman's does. Dick has always been softer than Bruce, always been open and affectionate and Jason has told himself a thousand times that he hates him for it. No one should go through what they had gone through, no one should suffer and still be able to smile like he did. It wasn't fair.
Jason didn't smile anymore…
The streets of Gotham were unforgiving at the best of times and even more so at the worst. He didn't know how he'd been caught off guard, but he'd messed up and he had the bruises and the cuts to prove it.
There were all kinds of sickos in Gotham. Some were conventionally violent, wanted to beat you, make you bleed.
Some were worse than that. Some got more than just a bloodthirsty thrill.
Some of them got off on it.
Those were the types that Jason saved special demises for.
But he'd messed up this time, and now he was staring groggily up at a pair of watery eyes as he was poked and prodded at, a knife nicking his skin at various points on his body, leaving trails of sticky blood. His blood wasn't clotting like it should be, his mind felt slow and sluggish. Whatever drugs he'd been given seemed to be slowing everything down, making him feel weak and dizzy, but he could still feel the pain clearly. Each cut of the knife was a new lesson in agony, slowing grinding through skin, just deep enough to ache and bleed. And then there was a tongue, wet and vulgar, lapping at the drops, making him feel sick. He had to get away, had to get his gun, his knife, had to cut this bastard's head off and make him suffer. But he couldn't even move, could barely whine in protest.
The torture continued, and all he could do was pray for it to end, delving into dark parts of his mind for escape. He went places in his thoughts that he didn't want to, going over regrets and broken promises he'd made himself. It was all so unfair, and it all hurt so much. He missed the empty embrace of death, like a child missed their mother's arms around them. Death hadn't hurt this much.
His last thought as his captor's pants came down was 'Bruce… help me, please…'
There was noise and colour, a flash of black that made his chest ache for a moment, but then he caught the flash of blue and he realized that his saviour was not in fact the dark knight of Gotham.
It was Nightwing.
The next few minutes were lost to the delirium of a drug induced stupor. There was the scratch of a knife against body armour, the impact of a gloved hand to flesh. More impacts, a loud crash. Then warmth, an ungloved hand on his face, feeling his forehead, and cupping his cheek.
"Jesus, Jason, what did he do to you?"
Was that… concern? It almost sounded like it. It was close enough to leave a warm burn in Jason's chest, like when you hold your breath too long and desperately need to breath. Those warm hands released him from his restraints, a firm body lifting and holding him. There was something being wrapped around him, a sheet maybe? And then there was movement, the world shifting around him, and he groaned at the dizziness that consumed him. He didn't last long through the trip, blacking out somewhere between point A and point B. The darkness of oblivion was so very welcome then that he would have happily stayed there forever.
Those eyes, damn those eyes, damn his vulnerability. He'd give anything for none of this to have happened.
"What do you want, Dick?" he growled, the sound weak, more disgruntled that threatening and Dick's smile was wide and relieved.
"For a couple minutes there I was worried you weren't waking up. I had no idea what he'd drugged you with." He said, sitting down with an honestly happy look on his face. Jason didn't understand, frowning sharply. Why would Batman's golden boy be so worried about him that he would smile like that when he found out he was okay?
He sat up slowly, holding onto his pounding head with a groan. Whatever he'd been dosed with left one hell of a hangover. He was wearing a pair of pajama pants that were just a little short and tight around his thighs. He'd always been thicker built than Dick, but the fact that the former Robin had dressed him and tended to him this way made his stomach squirm with humiliation.
Dick's hand was there on his shoulder, squeezing gently and halting his movement. He glared at the unwanted touch, wincing as the expression made his headache worse.
"Whoa, Jay. Just lay down okay? I don't know how much of that stuff is still in your system..." He said, eyes on Jason's face, intent and focused and Jason would give anything to make him look away.
"Yeah, yeah. You saved my ass, I get it. Now let me go, I don't need you hovering I just need to go home and sleep." He said, voice lacking its usual edge, because he was tired, because he was weak and because he just didn't have the strength to fight when Dick's hands pushed his chest back down on the bed. He realized then that they must be in Dick's apartment, and it only made the squirming in his stomach worse to know that he was sleeping in his would-be brother's bed, being tended to like a child.
"Jay… Look, just rest, alright? Sleep. Heal. I have to do some stuff, but I'll be back in a bit, and don't even think about running off. In your condition you'd just fall out of my window and kill yourself. Stay, alright? I won't be long."
For a moment or two, Jason thought that the idea of falling out the window didn't sound so bad. But he was so tired that even such a short walk to the window seemed like too much trouble. So he did as Dick told him, closing his eyes and falling asleep and setting aside the squirming emotions for a later time.
"Yeah, he woke up, he seems okay…" he said, sighing a bit and listening to the voice on the other end of the phone. "Bruce, I told you this so that you wouldn't worry. I hardly think a visit from overbearing Daddy Bat is going to help him out right now." Then there were muffled angry tones and Dick scowled. "You didn't see what happened, Bruce, you don't know what was about to happen! I'll be damned if you're going to barge in here and torture his already shaky psyche with your love/hate thing! He's family to me too, dammit, and you can't take care of him anymore!"
There was silence for several moments and finally Dick sighed. "I knew you would hear about it sooner or later, and that's why I told you now. But this isn't something you can fix, okay? Let me focus on Jay, you focus on your mission. You're better at that."
He hung up before Bruce could reply, tossing the phone aside and returning to his room to check on Jason. The younger man was deeply asleep and Dick sighed again with relief. It would have been bad if Jason heard him talking to Bruce. Any mention of the man already sent Jay into spirals of rage, and Dick couldn't deal with that right now.
He was shaky as he went out to sit on the couch, running a hand over his face and feeling his breathing hitch as the memories hit him again. That sick, sick, twisted man, pants around his ankles, leaning over Jason's prone and helplessly naked body with a look on his face that promised only perverse and horrifying torture.
He didn't think he'd ever hit anyone harder. He'd nearly killed him. It was only the slightest sliver of moral light shining into his mind that stopped him. Still, the man was a pulp now, and wouldn't likely be doing that to anyone again.
Jason was cut all over, streaked with dried blood and saliva and looking entirely worse for wear. Dick hadn't been prepared for the surge of protectiveness in his chest, for the sudden deep hatred for the already well bloodied man at his feet. He'd been delicate, almost tender in his handling of Jason, of getting him home and tending his injuries. There was nothing really serious but Dick was still tense with worry, pacing back and forth beside the bed until Jason had woken up. He hadn't been prepared for the quick surge of relief and joy when his eyes opened either. It was too much, too fast and he'd pushed it aside because Jason was so much more important.
As he sat there on the couch alone now, he let the emotions wash over him, the pain and the worry and the bone deep relief that left him weak. He didn't want to think about why this was all so overwhelming. For now it was enough that his brother was okay.
Jason was okay.
The second time he woke up his head hurt a lot less, and he was ravenous. His memory returned to him faster as he looked around and took in his surroundings. He knew where he was, he knew who was likely to be there, and he could prepare for that, he could brace himself. He looked beside the bed and almost wanted to smile. Almost.
Dick had left breakfast for him. Or lunch, or dinner. What the hell time was it anyway? He glanced at the clock, seeing that it was just after midnight, he'd slept a long time. So it was more like a midnight snack then. He wasn't going to complain. He bit into the sandwich voraciously, groaning happily as he ate. It went down quickly and he drained the water beside it just as fast, breathing out a satisfied sigh and feeling world's better. Nothing quite like food to make a guy feel okay for a minute.
The feeling didn't last long, of course. There was still the impending mental trauma of being tortured and molested for god knew how long, and then saved by the Batman's golden boy just before he would have gotten raped. He got up carefully, wondering now where his 'saviour' was. Jason was obviously in his bed, and with it being so late… Was Nightwing out on patrol, or sleeping?
A short, unsteady walk out to the living room answered that question pretty fast. Dick was sleeping on the couch, wrapped up in a thin sheet and hugging a pillow like it he was trying to smother it. Jason frowned, thinking. He could try to leave now, could probably slip away while Dick was sleeping and leave this whole mess behind him. But something stilled him, made him hesitate.
Batman's training was good for a few things. One of them being that you never really slept deeply, and you could almost always tell when you were being watched. Dick opened his eyes and sat up quickly, looking directly at Jason with his body tensed defensively. He relaxed a little when he processed who it was, looking Jason up and down to examine his condition. He was bandaged thoroughly but his movements didn't seem hindered and his eyes weren't glazed like they had been.
Dick let a smile stretch over his face, running a hand through his hair. "Hey, you're up." He said, pointing out the obvious with a grin and running a hand through his hair. "Did you eat?"
Jason felt a little stunned, not sure what to do now under the scrutiny of those ocean blue eyes. "Yeah, I did." He answered simply, drawing his eyes away, staring fixedly at the wall.
Dick's smile remained intact, getting up and stretching. "We should change those bandages since you're up." He said, stepping towards Jason, frowning when the younger man took a step back, as if alarmed.
"I'm fine. Stop fussing over me!" he said. There was a hint of panic to his tone, a note of desperation. He didn't understand this concern, this warmth emanating from someone he told himself he should hate. Bruce had always loved Dick more than him, after all. If Dick had been the one Bruce had lost to the Joker than there was no doubt in Jason's mind that Joker would be dead.
Jason thought to himself in weak moments that if Bruce had loved him half as much maybe he wouldn't hate everything so deeply… Maybe he would be able to smile like Dick does…
Dick looked at him with those damn open, caring eyes. Why did he care so much? Why did Jason matter to him? Why did he have to stand there that way, looking so damn sad and making Jason feel things like this.
He didn't want to feel.
"Jay, I'm not going to hurt you or anything, okay? I just want to change your bandages and then you can go. I promise to leave you alone after if that's all you want…" Why did he have to sound so wistful when he said that?
"Fine." Jason said, voice sharp, closing his eyes and relaxing his guard enough to let Dick approach him.
So warm, the hands that moved over him, tugging at bandages with such gentleness, like he expected Jason to shatter under them like glass. He should feel insulted by the implication. He wasn't delicate, he wasn't going to break. But…
The last memory he had of someone touching him was of a rapist's mouth molesting his skin, of the cold metal of a knife. Dick wasn't cold. Dick was the very essence of warmth, rough hands skimming healing skin, rewrapping with fresh bandages over the parts that needed it. The cuts being shallow, most of them were sealed and didn't need the bandaging, but some remained that required attention.
Dick's expression was tense as he tended to Jason, like his injuries made him angry. It only confused the younger more that Dick could feel that way about something that had happened to him. This all felt surreal. Dick's hands soothed hurts that Jason hadn't realized were there, his healer's hands seeming to stroke into Jason's soul. He hadn't realized how much he missed being touched, just touched. Instead of being hit, being attacked, being hurt. To just feel this, it was like Dick was saving him again, but he didn't know what he was being saved from.
Dick's fingers lingered, just a few moments longer then they should. The silence stretched on, a moment that neither of them dared to break. Jason, for a sudden, desperate moment, dreaded when Dick would move away from him, when he would lose that warmth, that touch.
Then a soft mouth pressed ever-so gently to a scar on Jason's shoulder, pulling away as quickly as it had been there, soft as the touch of butterfly wings.
Jason's eyes stung and he had to pull away, had to get away. He wasn't supposed to feel this way.
"Jay…" Dick's eyes were so very sad when Jason walked away from him, gathering his clothes, getting ready to leave. "Jay, you don't have to go. You can stay." He said, standing in the doorway of his bedroom and looking over at the younger man's silhouette in the window.
"No. I can't." He said, voice strained with emotions, so many emotions, so much feeling.
"Thank you… Dick." He spoke the name in a tone that was nearly reverent, and then he was gone, a breath of air through the window and Dick was left to stand alone, wondering at the empty feeling that was left in his chest.
A/N: I'm dipping my toe back in, might take the full plunge and turn this into a series. Something about the two eldest Robins really gets to me. Probably because I myself am a lot like both of them. Anyways, I'm obsessed with these two, let me know what you think of how I've portrayed them and whether you'd like to see more of this in a series.