"Why are you hiding from me?" Dick growled and Jason would be snickering if not for the 180 pounds of bat crushing him to the ground.
"I wasn't." he rasped.
"You called Red Robin four days ago. Why?"
"Your knee's blocking my trachea." Jason barely got that out, starting to feel lightheaded.
"You can say 'trachea', you can talk."
Whatever snappy comeback Jason could come up with left his mind as he concentrated in not turning blue. "What was the question?"
"Your call to Red Robin. Why did you do it?"
It could've been the lack of oxygen, but that question sounded goddamn stupid. Jason stared up at Dick – who was also goddamn stupid in that cowl – and went for a bemused look. He was pretty sure he got cross-eyed, because the pressure on his throat became bearable "Why do I do anything that I do?"
"He thinks you were taunting him."
Dick got up with a groan, and Jason wanted to follow suit, but then decided to just stay there on floor a second. It couldn't hurt. Any more, that is.
When he finally made it back to his body, Dick was ranting without even checking to see if Jason was keeping up.
"… how could they even think that? I mean come on! And now I have you on top of everything just dicking around! Tim told me you were clueless, but did I believe him? Nooooo… I just had to come looking for you!"
"Woah, there! Hold on. That ass said what about me?" Jason's body sat up instantly "That replacing fucker! And what does he know about the little dude? Fucking nothing I bet!" he stood, running a hand through his hair "Red Robin hasn't even been patrolling, which by the way is his fucking job, how is he even helping? Huh? Séance sessions? Fuck him! Fuck you too, while we're at it."
After his little tirade, Jason felt oddly light as he turned to stare at a suspiciously silent Dick.
Maybe it was time to bring out the big guns. Literally. His hand inched to the pistol he kept on the small of his back when Dick spoke again "You really do know something, don't you?"
"You sneaky bastard!" Dick was grinning like a maniac, which would be disturbing enough if he wasn't in the bat costume. In it? It was freaking bizarre "You've seen him! You didn't call to mock Tim because he didn't found anything, how could you even know if he did or not? You called to gloat!"
Why the hell couldn't Jason have been doing both? Mocking Tim and gloating. Seemed simple enough.
"Do I look like a guy with a plan?" Jason gestured to himself, to the holes on his jeans and his battered jacket "I called 'cause I was bored and your precious Timmy is an easy target."
"Bullshit." ok, grinning Batman was eerie, but cussing Batman was making Jason's skin crawl. Sure, being Red Hood desecrated the Bat legacy and what the fuck ever, but that abomination Dick was making of the cowl was ok. Always with the double standards. "Oh, goddamn it, you're holding him hostage, aren't you?"
Jason's eye twitched and the gun found its way to his hand and pointed itself to Dick's face before he could even think about it.
But Dick was still a dick and just seemed amused "Guess not, then." then a little more serious "You know I had to ask."
"I know that you seriously need to get out of my face before I decide giving you a mouthful of led is worth the trouble."
All the humor disappeared from Dick as he did a pretty good rendition of Bruce's pensive and brooding Bat "I need to know that he's ok, Jason."
"And how would I know that?" he asked nonchalantly, aim still trained on Dick's cheek.
But the unpredictable fucker had to go and take off the cowl, throwing Jason completely out of balance "Jason-"
"What the fuck are you doing?" Jason gave a frantic look around and hid the gun back on his waistband "Put that thing back on!"
"I need you to realize how serious this is."
"Yeah, yeah, it's serious, I'm not retarded. Put the goddamn cowl back on."
"I think you don't-"
"He's fine, asshole!" the sheer relief on Dick's eyes makes Jason shift his weight awkwardly "Now cover that ugly ass face."
"Where is he?" Dick asked, Batman back in place.
Now the Batman voice made an appearance "You just said he is fine."
"He is. I met with him, doesn't mean I know where he is right now."
"Okay, so where did you meet him?" Jason shrugged "Come on, dude, I have to talk to him. Drag his punk ass home. You told me to do that, why are you being so difficult now?"
"I just don't think it's a very good idea." Jason watched as Dick's jaw worked and imagined if the Golden Boy was chewing on his tongue to keep so still "The kid has kinda gone mute."
"Jason?" there was so much restraint in that one word Dick almost sounded British.
"We need to work on your definition of 'fine'." British Dick was turning to Pissed off Dick pretty quick "Going mute is not fine."
"But he is fine, he can nod and shit, it's not like he's completely incommunicado." a silent second "You wanna hit me don't you?"
"Kind of, yeah"
"But you won't. Because I'm handling this."
Jason really did try not to sound cocky, it took him a restraint he didn't know he possessed, but Dick's grimace showed him he failed.
"I don't know…"
"What don't you know? You can't find him. Sure, you can try to beat me up, it doesn't mean you'll find him." with the impending ass kicking looming over them, Jason sighed and added "We were friends before I… We were friends, weren't we? For all of five seconds, sure, but we were. Right?"
That caught Dick out of guard "I guess…"
"If you ever considered me a friend, if you ever, ever trusted me even if just a little, you will let me do this."
"You cannot play the trust card. Not with me."
"Yeah, well, I'm doing it. Look, for whatever reason the kid doesn't wanna go home, and I have no idea why, but he seems to trust me. I just can't betray that. Let me talk to him first, then you can go and ruin all the progress I made."
"Fine." Dick agreed even if he made it seem like he was doing Jason a huge favor "But I'm gonna keep looking for him, and if I find him, I'll do this my way."
"Go, find, do. See if I care."
"But you do, you stubborn ass."
And with that Dick was gone leaving Jason alone and wondering.
He went through the motions of buying food – chilly dogs. No one could blame him for being nostalgic after that little chat – and going to the kid blindly, couldn't even remember the walk there, his mind reeling with more pressing concerns.
Damian noticed Jason's odd behavior and showed it with a quirk of eyebrow and a tilt of the head, but as per usual, never said a thing.
They ate in companionable silence, Jason lost in thought and Damian stealing glances from him from time to time until Jason finished his second chilly dog. He turned to find Damian staring at him with his mouth full and chewing slowly.
"Hey little dude, you wanna sleep in a bed tonight?"
Jason really was being an ass, even he knew that, but he was provoked into it.
Being told that he cared straight to his face kinda left a bitter aftertaste in his mouth, so he obviously had to retaliate in some creative douchy way. The only thing that came up off the top of his head was to take the kid to one of his safe houses.
It had occurred to him before, but there was no way in hell Damian would agree to it skittish as the kid was, but Jason hadn't been joking about the trust thing. And if Damian had wanted to go to Dick, he would've talked to him. Or mimed to him, whichever.
But he didn't. He'd rather pick fights with petty criminals and get little to no sleep on the streets. Time to face the music, Jason was now the favorite brother, whatever that meant. Sorry, Dickhead.
Sure, Jason wouldn't keep Dickie out of the loop forever, he just wanted to screw with him a bit and let Damian know what was up. After the kid washed all that dirt and grime off of him and Jason could check his injuries properly, maybe even without getting any broken fingers in the process.
Jason watched as Damian stopped on the threshold and peered beyond the edges of his hood, taking in the safe house. For a second, Jason thought he'd have to chase after the kid, could just picture the boy bolting through the hallways and back to the street, but no. The little shit strolled in like he owned the place, marching up to the middle of the room and turning to face Jason with an arched brow, expecting something.
"Go take a shower, you ain't touching shit in here filthy like that."
The narrowed look Damian shot him, along with the crossed arms, almost made him look like his old self, Jason held his breath trying not to expect some sort of indignant outburst, and sighed when the kid simply glanced in the direction of the bathroom and back at him.
"Yeah, through that door. I'll get you some clothes."
Jason didn't think about that. Everything he owned would be huge on Damian.
He almost regretted his pigheaded nature, he should just call Dick and get this over with. Taking care of kids was so hard.
Ok. No panic, he'd find something, this safe house had some pretty old stuff, some that he never even worn, just stashed there for a moment of need. Like this.
He found some boxer shorts that could pass for actual shorts, even had that string thingy on the waist, and a t-shirt that had shrunk horribly in an attempt to wash away some – a lot of – blood. In the end, it was too tight for Jason to wear without looking like a male hooker, especially with the red stains turned into a freaky pink tie-dye.
He could try to find something else, but the thought of Damian having to wear his hooker t-shirt was just priceless. Oh, he'd burn in hell for… well a lot of things, but this was probably like, top 10.
"Yo! Clothes!" he called by the bathroom door and was hit with a Robin outfit, managing to push it off his head in time to see a little dripping wet hand grabbing the folded clothes and disappearing back into the bathroom.
Still grinning, Jason headed back to the living room and heard a noise coming from the front door. He just stood there, staring at it for a long moment, because there was seriously someone trying to break in.
It was common knowledge that gothamites were stupid, but suicidal? That was a first.
He bit his lips considering letting the punk in before scarring him for life, but decided to just open the door with no preamble and kick his insane ass in the hallway for trying that stupid stunt in the first place.
"You wanna die, punk?" he did his best Batman impersonation and worried about breaking into a fit of laughter for a full second before he realized that there, on his knees, was Dick Grayson.
The Original Boy Wonder was trying to pick his lock.
There was only one logical reaction to that: Jason slammed the door shut on Dick's face.
"Jason, let me in!"
"How the hell did you find me?" he wasn't followed, he was sure.
"I'm Batman, man, I know stuff."
"You broke into each one of my safe houses, didn't you?"
"… No." and now he needed new ones.
"Go away!" Jason leaned back on the door, letting his head fall back with a thump "Why were you even picking the lock?"
"Richard Grayson can't be seen jumping around on rooftops or going through windows."
"I thought you were Batman." he said scornfully, and it's like... 3 in the morning, who the hell would be looking?
"Not right now, I came in peace, Little Wing."
Oh, hell no. "You can't play the Little Wing card with me."
"Yeah, well, I'm doing it."
With his words thrown back at his face, Jason tentatively opened the door. "What do you want?"
"Can't I just check on you?" Jason was about to slam the door again, but Dick saw it coming and splayed a hand on the wood "Come on, Jason!"
They both heard something that sounded a lot like a gasp and turned to see Damian running from the bathroom, his wet feet making him slide a little before coming to a full stop.
"You all right, little dude?" Jason asked, turning away from Dick completely and got cuffed upside the head for his trouble.
"You said you didn't know where he was!"
"Shut up, Dick. Damian? You good?"
Sure enough the kid was in Jason's boxer shorts and hooker t-shirt with the red hoodie on top of it all and the only thing that kept Jason from showing off his status as favorite brother was the expression on Damian's face. Kid looked like he was about to have a stroke, face contorted into something between scared shitless and fucking livid.
For a second there, Jason relived that first night in the alley with the feral child and feared for the safety of his face, but then it hit him. The kid was acting normal – well, almost – all night, the only thing that changed was-
"What did you do?" he growled at Dick, getting in his face, up close and personal.
"You fucking did something, look at him!"
When both pairs of grown up eyes turned to him again, Damian did that tiny roaring thing at the back of his throat that freaked Jason the fuck out and stalked away to the bedroom.
"Damian!" Dick called and tried to step in the safe house, Jason held him back.
"What the fuck happened?"
"You should know, you've been hiding him."
"The mute thing made things tricky. Now you can tell me what the fuck did you do, or we can wait for him to come back and handicap your ass!"
"Come on, man…"
"Did you see how pissed he looked? I bet he's looking for knives and he'll find them in there! He's gonna carve you and I won't stop him."
"Jason, I can't-"
"Better yet, I'll hold you down and let him do his thing."
They tried to stare each other down, but Dick's eyes kept drifting to where Damian disappeared into, so Jason won by default. It wasn't nearly as satisfying as it should've been.
Jason sighed "Why didn't he go to you?"
"I don't know." if Dick looked any less desperate, Jason would've decked him right then and there.
"Get the fuck out."
"You think I'm going now that I just found him?"
Again with the staring down thing. Dick looked ready to come to blows, the thing is, Jason was way beyond ready.
Dick might be faster, but Jason's stronger.
Dick might've been the perfect Robin, but Jason fought dirty.
Dick might even be right, but Jason's pissed off.
The silence carried a sort of understanding that didn't really make any sense to Jason, still Dick backed off and that was good enough.
"Keep me posted." Dick told him in a no nonsense voice that had Jason rolling his eyes so hard it hurt.
"Fuck off." he closed the door.
"I mean it!" Dick shouted anyway.
"Go away, Dick!"
"I'll be here tomorrow!" the second shout sounded further, but nowhere distant enough for Jason's liking.
What a fucking mess.
Jason crumbled on the couch, leaning his elbows on his knees and shoving the heels of his hands in his eyes. The sound of bare feet padding the floor was barely there.
"If you're gonna sneak out, I want those clothes back. Washed." he said just for the sake of saying something, he couldn't care less about the clothes.
Lifting his face, it took him a second to blink away the black spots from his eyes and focus on Damian, who was making a pretty good attempt to disappear inside the hoodie, hands on his pockets, hood pulled up.
"Were you? Sneaking out?"
Damian shook his head and Jason nodded back slightly, leaning back and taking a deep breath.
"Is Dick the reason you're on the run? Did he do something to you?" again, another denial "Ok, good. Let's get you settled in."
He got up and to get some blankets in the bedroom "So, when I mention 'bed' earlier, I used the term very loosely."
Back to the living room, Jason threw the blankets on the couch and grinned at Damian "I really meant that." The kid scowled deeply at the couch "Oh, I'm so sorry Your Royal Majesty Bat Heir. Keep giving me that face and I'll throw you on your ass!"
And then Damian smiled.
Here's the thing about Damian's smiles, they weren't the regular curl of lips with a flash of teeth. No, that would be way too ordinary, with this midget disguised as a child smiles were wide eyes, a quirked brow and slightly parted lips. They were the lack of a frown. More of a possibility of a smile than the actual thing.
And damn if it didn't make Jason smirk right back.
"If you need me, I'll be in there" he pointed to the bedroom over his shoulder, Damian nodded distractedly, busy arranging his blankets, so before he could regret it, Jason added "You can talk, you know? To me. You don't need to, but you know. You can."
God, he was such a girl.
In an attempt to salvage whatever was left of his dignity he just slipped into the bedroom and pretended that never happened.
Only then he realized that he just kicked out his way out this mess. Not his most clever moment.
It was just that... This fucking kid crept up on him so hard, Jason was a step away from jumping out the freaking window yelling 'It's all for you, Damian! It's all for you!', and isn't that sad?
When he finally managed to lie down, his eyes closed on their own volition, only to snap open in what felt like a second later. But the sun was up – and it blinded him for a second – so he knew it wasn't a literal second. He still felt like crap though.
The insistent knock on the door that woke him in the first place is still going and it's getting insanely annoying. Jason drags himself to the living room and shares a moment of pure hatred for mankind with Damian, his bed hair and puffy eyes.
He throws the door open and for the second time in what surely must've been like half an hour, he finds Dick standing on the other side. Blinking at Grayson's smile – almost as blinding as the sun and three times more of a pain in the ass – Jason didn't know how to react, so he just slammed the door shut and relished in the déjà vu.
"Come on, Jason!" Dick whined "I told you I'd come back today."
"Yeah, but I thought you'd come at night, after patrol, like a normal person."
"But I brought doughnuts."
Jason looked over his shoulder to Damian and arched his eyebrows in consideration, because they could use some food, but the kid was busy drowning in disbelief and Jason couldn't blame him, Dick really was unbelievable.
"And coffee." Dick added when the silence became unbearable.
Well, that sealed the deal for Jason, still he kept waiting for Damian to stop staring at the door like it had disrupted his concept of reality.
"Little dude?" Jason called in what he hoped was a soothing tone and Damian's eyes snapped to him "You ready to see Dickhead?"
"I heard that!" Dick bitched.
"Shut up!" he shouted back barely turning "So, sweetie" the endearment got Damian glaring with such heat Jason could almost feel the skin of his face melting, which of course was the wanted reaction, so he grinned back "What do you say?"
A/N.: This is ridiculously long, but I just didn't know where to end it.
You guys have been so freaking suportive and gave me the most awesome ideas, it's a total pleasure to write this thanks to you!
And Jason just decided he would run things this chapter and I didn't have it in me to stop him, I hope you guys like it!