A/N: It's been so long since I've written these guys, and it feels so great to say hang with them again! Another Dick/Jay, 'cause they latched on before anybody else. Enjoy, everyone!
Warning(s): Moderate language. This time Jason and Dick. Ooooh.
Disclaimer: I hold no ownership over these characters. Thank God there's fanfiction.
"You'd better get going, Nightwing! Your ass is starting to drag the ground!"
"Little prick," he mutters under his breath, pushing off a grimacing gargoyle and grappling into space, gaze locked on the bright yellow cape billowing before him. A childish cackle drifts back to his ears, and he knows the boy has succumbed to the magic of Gotham's skyline.
Let's just hope he doesn't shout it to the rooftops and give our location to every criminal in the area.
On cue, the communicator lodged in his ear crackles, and a deep bass sounds from the speaker. "Dick, control him."
He laughs almost mockingly, grappling to another rooftop before bounding back into the air. "You make it sound as if he actually listens to me! If the Big Bad Bat can't get a hold of him, it's not happening."
A sigh gusts through his ear, marking one of the rare moments when Batman actually reveals his frustrations. Nightwing grins. Must be tough being the daddy to an over-active ex-delinquent.
"You've exhausted all your resources?"
For once, just once, he decides to take pity. "Well…he has been asking for a night on the town. That might work…if a certain bat is willing to turn into the cave early."
Silence on the other end, and Nightwing knows he's deliberating the pros and cons, the potential dangers of sending two young men out into the city's glitz. "You'll keep him out of trouble?"
He grins at the question, recognizing the carefully hidden concern, gaze still locked on the beacon of Robin's flapping cape. "Scout's honor."
"Don't worry, Pops, I'll keep him in line."
"Of course you will."
"Can I tell him the good news now, or are we set for a night of bird-hunting?"
"The two of you can head for home after another survey around the city. I can handle the rest myself."
"You got it." With that, their connection ends, and Nightwing refocuses his attention on the roaring laughter carrying through the air on wings.
"I don't get it. Why did he let us go early if he was gonna stay?"
"The Batman works in mysterious ways." Jason snorts at the ominous tone of his voice, pieces of his uniform gathering on the tiled floor by his feet. "Sometimes it's best to just accept what he says and does; otherwise, you run the risk of insanity."
"So I've learned. How often do you think we'll get to do this?"
"Counting tonight? Never again." Dick grabs a towel from the rack (dutifully provided by Alfred) and makes his way towards a shower stall. A few twists of the handle, and soon the area is filling with steam. Nearby, he can hear Jason quickly ridding himself of his remaining clothing before thumping into the stall next to his. With the current silence comes a moment to unwind, and Dick rests his head against the stall's wall, eyes closed in respite. The streaming water massages the soreness from his muscles and cleanses the sweat from his skin, and he remembers that this was always the moment when he would start to talk Bruce's ear off. And true to Robin fashion, Jason does the same.
"So," he begins, his voice sounding close overhead, and Dick straightens to witness Jason's leaning over the divider between their stalls, freshly washed head resting on his elbows and dark, soapy strands of hair plastered to his cheeks. "Where are we going tonight? We've gotta make the most of it, right?" Blue eyes begin to twinkle madly as an idea forms in his head. "We should totally go clubbing!"
And there goes the peace he always took away from Bruce in these moments. Sorry, Bruce. I've learned my lesson.
With a resigned sigh that rivals his mentor's, Dick leans back against the shower wall, ignoring the drips of water cascading down his forehead, into his eyes, and onto his nose. He eyes the boy with skepticism. "A club? What clubs in Gotham do you know that allow teenage admittance?" Jason opens his mouth to answer, and Dick cuts him off. "Legally."
With a snap, the boy's mouth closes, and a scowl forms on his lips as he regroups his thoughts in wake of having his brilliant plan mercilessly shut down. With a smirk, Dick leaves him to it and runs a bar of soap over his skin, determined to take advantage of the teen's temporary silence. He manages to wash the grime from his skin and hair and step back under the spray to rinse when Jason announces his new plan with a passionate bang against his flat surface.
"I know! We can scope for house parties to crash!"
At that, Dick almost laughs aloud. With a grin on his lips, he turns the handle counterclockwise and steps out into the larger area, towel wrapped around his waist. Jason drops back down into his stall and hurriedly washes himself, voice high with excitement. "We can pig out on food without paying a dime. Hell, we can dance if that's what you're into."
Dick runs the towel through his hair, flicking the switch to rid the area of steam. "'Cause I can't imagine a better way to spend my one night off than to mingle with a bunch of drunken teenagers."
He's pulling on a pair of underwear when Jason exits his stall, thin, wiry arms holding a towel to his hips. His expression isn't filled with the angered exasperation he expects, but instead is covered by a mask of contemplation. After a moment, the boy nods.
"Good point. That would be seriously boring. After the food binge, there's never anything to do but watch people throw up and make asses of themselves." Accepting his defeat with surprising grace, Jason turns to Dick, lips pursed with a question. "You probably know all the really good places to go, huh? So you choose. You're supposed to be the responsible adult and all, anyway."
With a blink and a cautious nod, Dick accepts the offer to choose their destination, still wondering at Jason's sudden bout of maturity. As the boy dresses, he reflects on the numerous forced outings he went on with Wally, the dozens of places he was dragged to. Finally, he settles on one in particular and nods after a closer deliberation.
"Alright, I have a place for us."
In the midst of pulling on a pair of boxers, Jason's eyes widen with wonder. "That fast? You really do know all the cool hang-outs!"
He chuckles at the boy's praise. "I guess."
"So where is it?"
"That's a secret." A laugh bursts from his lips at Jason's flabbergasted expression, and he rises from his seat on the bench and makes his way into the Cave's main interior, toward the stairs leading into the manor proper. With a series of "buts," Jason follows, trailing water across the ground with his still-dripping hair. They arrive in the large hall and wave to Alfred as he passes by with an empty tray tucked under his arm. He eyes their state of undress (boxers only) with blatant disapproval, and Dick grins with a shrug.
"We forgot to replace our clothes in the cubbies."
"And so you were forced to walk around in your undergarments." The skeptical sarcasm in his voice causes the brothers to laugh aloud, and Jason bounces forward to clap a hand on the butler's shoulder.
"C'mon Al, it's not like we have anything you don't!"
A raised eyebrow. "Thank you for the assurance, Master Jason. I won't ask why you're dripping water on my previously dry carpet."
"Shit!" The boy skitters up the staircase to his room with a shouted apology trailing after him. "Sorry, Al!"
"While you're in there, treat yourself to some proper clothing!" A vague yell of an answer and Alfred shakes his head with a fond sigh. "That child…"
"No kidding." Dick turns to the faithful butler, his own apologetic grin curving his mouth. "I'm afraid his enthusiasm is my fault, Alfie. We're going out tonight."
"Ah, yes. Master Bruce updated me on your altered schedule. In lieu of such an event, I have laid out an outfit for both you and the young master. I hope you find them to your liking."
A brief, tight hug, and Dick is racing up the stairs in Jason's wake. "You're the best, Alfred!"
"Of course," the butler responds before continuing his journey to the kitchen, a smile on his wizened face.
It's going to be quite the evening.
Thirty minutes (and one incident involving Jason and the unfortunate destruction of a button-up shirt) later, the mansion is filled with the excited blathering of one teenaged hero as he tramps down the stairs in tandem with his older brother, hands tugging at the vintage brown leather jacket covering the soft cotton of his black shirt.
Dick smirks at the incessant chatter, nodding his head at the right moments as he checks his jean pockets for the necessities. Wallet? Check. Keys? Check. Annoying teenager who absolutely refuses to shut his trap? Double check.
I'm starting to feel like I'm with Wally. That can't be good.
"Are you prepared for your outing, sirs?" Alfred stands at the foot of the stairs, alerted to their presence.
"As ready as we'll ever be, Alfred." Finally, he grabs Jason's wrist and pulls the boy to his side, halting his journey to the garage. "Just chill for a second. You don't even know what car we're taking."
That gets the boy's attention. "You mean we're not taking your motorcycle?"
"Nope. Thought we'd change things up a bit." With a flourish, he presents the keys to one of the convertibles and twirls them around his finger. "What do you say?"
"What do I say? Let's go!" With that, Jason takes off in the direction of the garage, boots thudding against the newly dried carpet. Dick turns to Alfred with a self-pitying sigh. The butler steps forward to straighten the collar of his blue button-up.
"I do hope the two of you enjoy your outing. Master Bruce seldom relinquishes free time."
"I'm sure we'll have a good time. As long as Jason practices a little discretion."
Another raised eyebrow, one that expresses obvious doubt. "I wish you luck." With a soft pat to remove invisible lint, Alfred steps away. "Godspeed, Master Richard."
"Thanks, Alfie. We'll see you later tonight." As Dick disappears into the garage, Alfred retreats to the kitchen, where he begins the preparations for Bruce's late meal. He hears the loud purr of a convertible as it exits the garage and zooms down the long driveway before roaring off into the night. A smile crinkles the corners of his eyes.
Godspeed, indeed, Master Richard.
"This is fuckin' awesome!" Jason crows from the passenger seat as they speed down the roadway, gusts of wind whipping his bangs back from his forehead. Autumn leaves skitter to either side of the deserted highway, and a thin crescent moon shines through the gnarled trees.
Dick chuckles. "We've haven't even reached the main square."
"So? I've never seen one of these babies at full power before. Maybe you've gotten used to the luxury of being a Wayne, but I'm just getting started!" In emphasis, Jason reaches for the radio dial and quickly finds a station to his liking. Cranking the volume to its highest point, he unlocks his seat-belt and rises to his feet, body easily balancing on the plush leather seat. With a triumphant shout from his new vantage point, he raises his arms to the sky and howls to the stars, the blustery air snatching at his clothes. "Gotham City, bow down! Your kings have arrived!"
"Jason!" In his surprise, the car swerves on the empty highway, and Jason howls again at the impromptu roller coaster. Dick reaches towards the boy and finally grabs onto his jacket; with a hardy jerk, he slams Jason back into his seat, heart pounding. His severity is a lost cause. Jason falls back against the cushion, clutching his sides as laughter flies from his throat and tears race down his flushed cheeks. With lack of anything better, Dick sets his face to a harsh glare.
"Are you crazy? This is a car, not a frickin' surfboard!"
Jason listens to his scolding, giggles still bubbling from his throat. "Relax, Dick. You sound like Bruce. I was just playin' around."
At that remark, Dick stops and eyes him for another moment before turning back to the road. "Just keep your ass in your seat, you little monkey. I'm responsible for it, and Bruce is gonna have mine if something happens to yours." He lessens the scolding by popping the back of the boy's head, earning him a shocked glower. "And respect the car. It doesn't belong to you."
With a po-faced countenance, Jason grumpily slumps in his seat, eyes narrowed but feet lodged firmly on the floor. With a satisfied nod, Dick turns his attention back to the road, where he can finally detect the dazzling lights of Gotham's main street. Crazy-ass kid. Still, he can't help the smirk that curls his lips at the boy's enthusiasm. Jason's zeal, while something he's experienced in smaller increments, is a force to be reckoned with in larger quantities.
Not like I can say much, anyway. I was exactly the same at that point in my life, if not worse.
With a mental note of their destination, he pulls the car into a slow merge with the traffic and lowers the volume of the radio, much to Jason's chagrin.
"Why'd you do that?"
"Can't hear myself think. And it won't be long before we reach our spot."
Immediately, Jason's eyes widen with excitement. "Will you tell me where we're going?!"
"Still a surprise." He chuckles at the boy's obvious disappointment. "You're pouting."
"Am not! Shut up!"
Thirteen minutes later, Dick pulls into the parking lot of his chosen destination, waiting for Jason's response to the large neon green sign flickering in the late evening. As he turns the key to cut off the ignition and opens the driver's door, he gets it.
"Wait, a bar?" The boy looks confused as he stands from the vehicle, brow furrowed, hand resting on the car's hood.
"A bar that serves more than just beer and cocktails. You'll fit in fine." With a quick straightening of his jacket, Dick makes his way to Jason's side and clasps his shoulders, steering him onto the walkway and into the door, where a friendly waiter immediately takes them to a nearby booth and gives them menus. As he flips through the appetizers, he watches Jason out of the corner of his eye. The boy leaves his menu on the table in favor of eyeing the bar, gaming area and small dance floor. He turns back to Dick.
"So…is this place for adults or families?"
"Both. Fun for all, with no worry of a drunken bar fight between two guys named Eddy."
Jason releases a small laugh and examines his menu, forehead scrunching in concentration. "What do you usually get here? Anything good?"
"I recommend the potato skins, fully loaded. Alfred'll kill us if he finds out, but it's completely worth it."
Jason grins. "Sounds awesome. I'm in."
The rest of the evening passes in a wealth of bright lights and laughter. Amid the white noise of good music and good conversation, Dick loses himself as Jason takes over the dance floor, surrounding himself with five other dancers and obviously having the time of his life. When he asks a beautiful blonde to dance, she makes a spectacle of dragging him to the lit dance floor, winking at Dick all the while. The next half-hour sees Dick and the rest of the bar tapping their feet and clapping hands as strobe lights ignite the shadows with reds, blues, and yellows.
By the time Dick forces Jason out of the restaurant and into the fresh night air, the boy is stumbling on his feet with exhaustion. Dick himself is danced-out and weary, and more than ready for a dark room and a warm bed. As they once again travel under the sentinel trees leading to the manor, he glances at Jason and chuckles at the bright red outline of lipstick on the boy's cheek, courtesy of his blonde dance partner. He's half-slumped in his seat, head tucked into the collar of his jacket. Every now and then, he shuffles around and stubbornly rubs his eyes, only to have them disappear under their lids seconds later. In a moment of childishness, Dick takes a deep breath and imitates Jason's earlier episode, releasing a grand howl at the moon and another at the boy's startled awakening.
Alfred, faithful as ever, is waiting for them in the foyer, warm light surrounding his tall figure, eyes crinkling when he catches sight of Dick on the stoop, Jason a tumble of dead weight against his back. "I see Master Jason made the most of his night off."
Before Dick can answer, the boy mumbles, "I'm awake," in defiance of his closed eyes and slumped figure; with a soft push, he straightens and stumbles across the threshold, hand gripping Dick's shoulder for balance.
"Perhaps you would like assistance in the trip to your room, Master Jason?" Alfred's inquiry is met with another grumbled reply as something close to a huff escapes Jason's lips and he shuffles in the general direction of the grand staircase. He doesn't react when Alfred discreetly helps him out of his jacket and orders him to remove his shoes, though he does fumble with his boot laces enough that Dick bends down to complete the task for him.
"He's a little worse for wear, isn't he, Dick?" In his periphery, Dick can see the brown leather of Bruce's loafers, and he rises from Jason's sock-clad feet to meet the older man's amused gaze. "He didn't get his hands on anything, did he?"
Dick scoffs in offense, though a grin ruins the effect. "Of course not. He had a couple of sodas and a virgin screwdriver." His grin widens. "He's only tired from all the dancing he did." He leans forward with a clap on Jason's shoulder, voice teasing. "Those women wore you out, huh, Jay?"
Jason's rubbing his eyes again when he meets Dick's gaze before swiveling to Bruce, whose lips twitch with a smirk at the bright red mark on his son's cheek. He waits until the boy's eyes are focused on him before speaking. "I take it you were a gentleman?"
Despite his fatigue, Jason has the courtesy to blush lightly at the question before nodding, eyes darting to the floor. Dick laughs and wraps his arm around him. "He was perfectly respectful. I didn't even have to remind him to keep his hands to himself."
"I'm not an idiot! I know how to treat a girl." Suddenly awake, Jason's mouth forms an angry line at the teasing. Bruce meets his reaction with a nod, eyes shining with rare humor.
"Good to hear. Did you have a good time?"
Though he wants to remain put-off by the ribbing, his anger dissipates at the reminder of the night's activities. "Ah, it was so cool! Dick picked the best place ever! You totally should've come!"
"Maybe next time."
Jason eyes him narrowly. "You promise?"
To his surprise, Bruce releases a deep chuckle and smoothes the boy's hair with a large hand. "I promise. But only if you get to bed."
"Deal!" The boy makes a quick race for the stairs before turning back to give Dick a wide grin. "Thanks for hanging out with me, Dick! It was awesome!"
"You bet. Anytime you need to get away from Mr. Brood, give me a call, okay? I'll be here."
As Jason disappears up the stairs with a shouted "goodnight!" behind him, Bruce turns to Dick with grateful nod. "Thank you for spending time with him, Dick."
He grins with a shake of his head. "You act like it was a favor. The kid's a lot of fun to be around once you give him the chance." He forgoes mentioning the car incident; instead, he shrugs. "He's like Wally, only more mature."
"Now if only we could get him to watch his vocabulary," Alfred mutters, bringing a grin to Dick's lips.
"He surprised Dinah, too. She had a great time with him. Loved the dance he asked her for."
"She insisted on meeting him, so I gave her your location. Nevertheless, you have my gratitude." Dick shakes his head at the man's formality, but accepts the thanks with a smile. The next moment, he's raising his arms above his head with a yawn and a crack of his neck.
"Tell you what, the kid wore me out. He actually wanted to go to a few more places. Lucky for me, he was swaying on his feet and I was able to convince him to call it a night."
"Speaking of which…" Bruce gives him a stern look, and Dick rolls his eyes with a groan.
"Really? You're sending me to bed?" When he's hit with the same look, only stronger, he sighs dejectedly. "Joy killer," he mutters as he removes his coat and shoes. As he passes, he jokingly dodges the hand aimed for his shoulder, and is almost to the staircase when that same hand bypasses his reflexes and ruffles his black hair. "Gah!" He swipes at the offending maneuver with a chuckle and escapes to the staircase.
"Goodnight, Master Richard. Pleasant dreams."
He makes that farewell to be his last, until he reaches the height of the staircase and turns back around. "Night, Dictator."
He catches the humored smirk on Bruce's face. "Goodnight, chum."
He treads down the hallway to his old room, anticipating the warmth of his bed, when he hears the tiny creak of a door. Looking down the shadowed hallway, he can just make out the dark head poking out of the door.
He chuckles. "Goodnight, Jay. Sweet dreams."
"You, too!" And just like that, he disappears back inside.
Crazy kid, he thinks for the second time that night as he changes out of his clothes and into a pair of sleep pants. As he settles under the blankets, he can distinctly hear muffled thumps echoing down the hall, and he smiles at the sound of Jason cursing loudly. Over the years, he's become so used to the boy's unique sounds and movements, he can hardly imagine the manor without them.
Bruce's booming voice drifts up the stairs. "Jason, go to bed!" Distantly, he hears Alfred clear his throat to cover his amusement.
Somehow, he thinks Bruce and Alfred may just feel the same.