A/N: Credit incogneat-oh for Jason's initial reaction, because the headcanons and actual canon have started to blur in my head, and really, no one writes better gen batfamily than neat-oh.


"I'm not mad at the kid," Jason insisted emphatically as Dick inspected the rapid bruising along his jaw. "Proud as hell; would have hugged the kid if he held still long enough."

Benjamin was watching them in morbid fascination. "You are an idiot, Todd."

"I'm a miracle-worker," Jason contradicted cheerfully.

Dick sighed and ducked into the cold storage unit for an ice pack. "Could you please stop trying to push Tim? Him socking you in the jaw really isn't as healthy as you think it is."

Jason snorted, taking the proffered ice and clamping it over his jaw. "Standing up for yourself is the epitome of mental health, Dick. This is a good thing," Jason gestured wildly at his face with the free hand. "I was being an asshole. I refused to back down." Jason grinned: "This is what should happen to assholes that refuse to back down."

"May I quote you then the next time Troy holds me accountable for excessive force?" Benjamin interjected.

"No," Dick and Jason responded in chorus, sharing a mutual dirty look immediately afterward. Jason—always the epitome of class and maturity—stuck his tongue out at his older brother. Dick tried to ignore him.

"You can't make him talk, Jason," the acrobat repeated, sliding a chair across the floor and sinking into it wearily. "It won't fix things if you startle a swear word out of him."

"It would be a start," Jason returned. "Can't fix what we don't understand, and the kid can't expect us to understand if he won't talk to us."

Dick threw up his hands. "He doesn't want to talk!"

"Well, we don't always get what we want!"

The Cave was absolutely silent. After a long moment, Jason closed his eyes and got to his feet. "Kid, go get lost for a bit."

"Hn," is the only sound Benjamin made, but he hopped off the medical cot and headed for the stairs. If he'd been Tim, Jason would have followed to make sure the boy didn't stick around to eavesdrop. If he'd been Damian, they never would have gotten him out of the Cave.

When Benjamin is gone, Jason turned back to Dick. "You did the best you could, Dick," Jason reminded his older brother grimly, "but wallowing in whatever's going on in Timmy's head didn't get anyone anywhere but the damn bay. Keeping him safe backfired big time."

Dick made a pained noise, his face still buried in his hands.

"You think I don't get how hard it was back then? I saw the kid's room, Dick. It was trashed. Half the mirrors in this place were still missing when I moved back home. It was bad, and I know it. But the mute kid wandering the Manor now isn't the mute kid wandering the Manor back then."

Dick snorted.

"You always said the nightmares were the worst part," Jason pointed out. "The way he screamed in his sleep, but hid quietly in dark corners and refused to look at anyone for hours afterward. The kid's been back how many months now? He hasn't had a nightmare yet. Not even after Harley showed up."

Dick looked up at him, disbelief warring with realization.

"What Damian's doing is working. Right or wrong, Robin is keeping the kid on course. We've talked about this, Dick. You hold a bird too tight, and it'll stop at nothing to get free."

Dick swore quietly, uncurling. His fists clenched at his sides briefly, but the oldest bird didn't lash out at Jason or upset the medical tray next to him, so the Red Hood would count that as a win.

"You wanted to keep him safe, and there's nothing wrong with that, but bad things happen Dick. Your parents were killed, and every villain in Gotham had it out for you. Damian's mother cloned him for kicks. The Joker shot Babs, killed me, tortured Tim, and yeah, Tim decided on a midwinter swim. It happened. Let's just figure out a way to make sure it never happens again."

It was a good speech. Jason was very proud.

Dick swallowed compulsively a few times, shaking his head as the man struggled for the right words: "You're right." And then before Jason's ego could inflate too much: "You are an asshole, Jay."

Jason just smirked and gestured loosely at the good side of his face. "Go ahead, Dickie-bird. Take a swing."

Dick continued to shake his head. "I'll take a rain-check, thanks."