Fandom: DC Comics/Red Hood and the Outlaws

Characters/Pairing: Roy Harper/Jason Todd

Genre: Romance/Angst + Comfort

Rating: PG-13

Summary: It doesn't matter how many times Jason awakes in the middle of the night, terrified and shaken to the core for reasons he'll never disclose. Roy will never leave him.

Word count: 1, 077

Disclaimer: I own none (and make no profit off) of the characters and the Universe/stories they're from, they belong solely to their creator/s and the publishing company.

Notes: This is for redhoodsandbloodyheartsbecause of reasons. (This was originally going to be something cute and fluffy, then something smutty, but then it turned angsty and sorta comfort-y. Obviously "consistency" is my middle name). Hope you like it/it brightens your day a bit! In spite of it being angsty?

I'm also not sure if this needs a warning or not, but if anyone thinks it does, please don't hesitate to tell me so that I can add one.

It's the sudden jolt that rouses Roy from his light sleep, a jolt so violent that it nearly shakes the bed. Roy's body tenses and prepares to leap out of bed at a moment's notice, to himself to lunge for the bow he keeps in his bag underneath the bed, ready, always ready, because you never know when someone unpleasant decides to pay you a late-night visit.

But he waits a moment. Waits until his heart calms enough that he can hear past the aggressive th-thump-th-thump-th-thump of his spontaneous adrenaline rush. Once it does, he's able to just make out an almost panicked, heavy breathing from above and beside him.

It doesn't take Roy a moment to realize what's going on.

He doesn't have to roll over and look up to know that Jason's wide awake, sitting up in bed, drenched in a cold sweat. He doesn't have to look to see Jason's body, though big and strong and capable of taking down the strongest of enemies, is shaking with every exhale, as if the very foundation of his being is struggling to keep everything together. He doesn't have to look to see wide eyes, hands gripping the sheets, or teeth digging deep into an easily-torn bottom lip.

But he does anyway.

It doesn't matter how many times this happen; Roy's still never sure how to handle it. He's no kid, and he sure as hell isn't innocent either, but it never gets any easier to see someone he respects and admires so much so shaken up and borderline inconsolable. How can it get any easier when it seems like nothing helps?

But he tries. It's happened enough that Roy's worked out a shaky routine. Sometimes it seems to help, other times it feels like he's flailing blindly in the middle of open waters. But goddamn, does he ever try, as clumsy and terrible and persistent as his attempts are.

Silently, he sits up and shuffles across the bed until he's sitting in front of Jason but not invading the space immediately around him. His heart clenches at the sight of Jason with his eyes squeezed shut and his body shuddering with each breath he takes. It doesn't matter that they're both sitting in the dark, the curtains of their bedroom window pulled tightly closed so as to keep out most of the city lights. He can make out everything. A nightstand lamp wouldn't illuminate anything for Roy that he didn't already know.

In the softest voice he can manage, he says Jason's name, gently does his best to lure Jason's attention away from himself, and when Jason finally looks up at him, Roy offers him the warmest smile he can muster and says, "Breathe, Jason. Breathe with me."

Like nearly every time before, Jason resists, shakes his head quickly, too quickly, mutters something about being fine and that Roy can just go back to bed already, but Roy just shakes his head and repeats himself.

"Breathe with me."

When it seems the safest, Roy scoots several inches closer and dares to slowly, always slowly, reach a hand over Jason's shoulder and ghost it over Jason's shoulder blades. Tenderly, he smoothes his hand over bare flesh, runs his flat palm over cold yet sweaty flesh, over tiny hills of goose-bumps in wide circles until he can physically feel Jason relax just enough that his breathing finds a reliable rhythm again. Until Jason's breathing deeply, in and out, but doesn't sound he's about to break down into something terrible again.

Roy breathes a sigh of relief.

He continues to rub Jason's back long after Jason's finally calmed down. Leaning forward, he rests his forehead against Jason's, which is wet and cool against his, a little uncomfortable, but he wouldn't even think of pulling away. With his other hand, Roy brushes back sweaty and tangled black hair before allowing that hand to slip down and around Jason's waist in a loose embrace.

I won't leave you, he wants to say, I don't care whatever it is you won't tell me, whatever still haunts you, I won't leave. But he doesn't want to start a fight, not now, not when Jason's so vulnerable and shaken.

I'll never leave you.

Roy has no idea how much time passes before Jason finally speaks.

"You don't have to do this."

Ah, this horseshit again. "And you don't have to be so ungrateful," teases Roy, "but hey, we can't always get what we want, can we?"

Jason says nothing for a long time, long enough that Roy's heart hitches and he opens his mouth to take back what he said, to reassure Jason that he's just joking like he always does, he knows Jason's far from the entitled type, but maybe it's too soon to joke around, maybe it's the last straw and Jason's finally going to wonder why the hell he's bothering with him at all.

But instead, Jason opens his mouth before he can and says, "No, we wouldn't know anything about that, would we?"

A brief pause, then Roy can breathe again. If Jason can tease again, then that meant he's back to normal. Whatever normal is for them. Roy's still not sure some days.

Allowing himself a small chuckle, Roy pulls back just enough to plant a kiss on Jason's forehead, then another, before he leans down just enough to just lightly brush his lips against Jason's.

"Nope," he replies against him, "Not at all."

Something like a smile may have graced Jason's lips, though it's gone in an instant as Jason bows his head into the crook of Roy's neck and rests his cheek against him, his arms hesitantly reaching and wrapping themselves around Roy's naked waist. Jason doesn't get the chance to pull him closer. Roy's already leaning into him, holds him close. Continues to hold him long after the time for conversation is long over and gone.

Although Jason never says it, Roy swears he can always feel the words Jason wants to say, the unspoken gratitude that flows from each touch of his fingers against his hips, his cheek against his collarbone, the slight flutter of his eyelashes against his neck. He can feel it in the way his touch intensifies each time Roy adjusts his position, anytime he makes some motion that temporarily pulls his body away.

It's unspoken, but Roy hears it loud and clear. He always does. He always will.

Thank you.