Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, or the fandom.
A/N: Well, this is long-overdue. This is a birthday fic for The BlueFoxtrot A Samba, and should rightfully have been delivered back in February! Sssssso sorry for the wait, m'dear…
Anyway, Ms. Blue requested "anything with Jason Todd." And so, Blue, I give you an entire multi-verse of him. Happy Birthday.
The finding of a note taped cheekily to the front panel of the inter-dimensional portal in the corner of the Batcave that was clearly designated "strictly off-limits to all Robins, past and present", sent a brief flutter of shock through the 'Cave's occupants.
The note, which was written in Jason's irritatingly precise print, read simply, "Leaving. Don't come after me." A quick scan from Tim's machines soon proved that Jason Todd was indeed no longer in this dimension.
Immediately, Dick, Tim, and Damian began talking, trying to figure out what had happened in the way they always did –by arguing.
Stifling a wry smile with an exasperated sigh, Bruce turned back to studying the note. Sharp blue eyes flicked back and forth over the scrap of paper, reading between the lines –no small feat in a note consisting of a mere five words.
"Hey," he said to his remaining three sons. They ignored him (as usual) and continued to squabble.
Rolling his eyes, Bruce put on the Batman voice. "HEY!" Three pairs of blue eyes met his own as they all snapped to attention. He allowed himself a small smile at the sight before saying patiently, "Look, Jason didn't just decide to go dimension-hopping on a whim. He had a reason." Bruce paused.
They waited expectantly, relaxing a little. If Bruce was teasing, Jason must not be in much danger. Well. Not too much danger, anyway.
"Well? What's the reason?" Tim asked finally, no longer able to stand the waiting. Bruce smirked.
For a moment, they just stared at him. Damian broke the silence with an incredulous question.
"Attention? You think Todd pulled this to get attention?"
Dick was nodding, slowly. "Actually, yeah, that makes sense."
Tim chimed in with a groan that sounded half-fond, half-exasperated. "You're right, Bruce. Joss, of course you're right. This is just like Jason. Idiot. Can't do anything low-key."
Bruce shook his head. "Well, he's given up being a criminal. He probably thinks we're going to just leave him alone now that he isn't a threat."
Dick feigned a hurt look, voice giving way to a relief-filled chuckle. "It's like he doesn't know us at all."
"Tt. As if you were even capable of leaving him alone, Grayson."
Bruce grinned as Dick cooed and received an elbow to the gut for attempting to ruffle Damian's hair. "Alright," he said, intervening before Damian pulled a weapon. "We know why he left. Now, what do we do about it?"
They sobered. After a moment, Tim said slowly, "Well, it's obvious isn't it?"
Dick nodded. "His note did say not to come after him."
Bruce blinked, a bit surprised. Surely, surely Dick Grayson had not just suggested leaving one of his precious baby brothers in an unknown dimension somewhere. Bruce had only made it a question in the first place to tease them. He hadn't thought…
Damian was nodding along with Dick, seriously. "Of course," he said, solemnly, "it's perfectly clear what we must do."
Confused, Bruce opened his mouth to demand answers, only to be cut off by Damian's smooth continuation.
"Naturally, we're going after him."
"Wha –" Bruce stopped. He wasn't the Batman for nothing, after all. His boys were looking at each other, communicating on that level Bruce had never quite reached with them –the language of Robins, perhaps– and they clearly had their own ideas about what constituted logic. Jason said don't follow, so of course, they decided to do exactly that.
Troll, thy name is Robin.
Bruce smirked. "I'll let Alfred know we won't be home for dinner."
As it turned out, they were home for dinner, because, apparently, inter-dimensional road trips take time to plan. And so they were able to spend a lovely evening under the disapproving eye of Alfred, who alternated opinions between wishing for them to find Master Jason and worry that none of them would come back.
When they finally did get going, bright and early the next morning (and hadn't that sparked an argument, when Tim suggested that Damian had school and should stay behind –Dick had allowed Damian to get in one good kick before catching his flying fist and scolding Tim lightly for teasing), they were all dressed in civvies and packing masks and batarangs in every available pocket. They were linked together by special wrist cuffs designed for just this purpose. Taking a deep breath, Tim glanced at Bruce for permission and then activated the portal.
Instantly, a glowing vortex began forming, growing until it was as tall as Bruce and wide enough for two broad-shouldered men to stand side by side within. The four of them shut their eyes against the bright glare of the blue light emanating from the portal and stepped resolutely forward.
Dick would never mention it, but as they tumbled into the portal, he felt the small, calloused hand cuffed to his own grasp his fingers, and he smiled down at the top of Damian's head.
And then they were falling, falling, falling and the vortex was swirling teasingly around them.
Bruce glanced around the alleyway they had landed in. Other than an old black car parked a few feet away, it was empty.
Behind him, Dick and Tim were arguing about the portal and transport handheld while Damian looked on in disgust.
"But Tim, how are we supposed to know if the Jason the device finds is our Jason?"
"Look, Dick, I didn't make the machine. I don't know why it works this way! The handheld is keyed into Jason's unique physical and mental dimensional signature. It lands us near Jason Todd –any Jason Todd– when we go through the portal, and when we find our Jason it's supposed to… beep or something."
"Beep or something?" Damian's dry voice cut in quietly. Tim shot him a dirty look.
"Hey, brat, I just said I didn't make the stupid thing!"
"Boys," Bruce said, deciding to interrupt before all three of them lost what little remained of their maturity. They all shut up and looked at him. He raised a pointed eyebrow. "I want a straight answer. Tim, when we find a Jason, will that machine tell us if he's ours?"
Tim took a deep breath. "Yeah," he answered.
Bruce nodded, satisfied. "Alright then. Then we'd better start looking."
"We should be close," Tim murmured, staring at his handheld. Dick glanced around like he thought Jason would be standing right behind him. Damian rolled his eyes.
"We could ask the urchins," he suggested casually, jerking a thumb over his shoulder towards the black car. His father and brothers turned to look, and sure enough, they caught a glimpse of movement through the tinted windows before whoever was inside ducked down.
Bruce stepped forward. "It's okay," he called out. "We aren't cops, I promise. We're looking for someone."
One of the car doors opened and they heard a muffled, "No, don't!" before a black head of shaggy hair poked out, followed by a wiry little boy who came forward warily.
"Whattaya want?" he asked.
"We're not cops," Bruce repeated carefully, eyeing the boy, who was still half-concealed by shadows. "We're just looking for someone."
"That's what the cops always say," the boy announced with the air of an expert. Bruce acknowledged this with a nod.
"You're right," he agreed. "But we really aren't cops. Do we look like cops?" He gestured at his sons.
Assessing blue eyes studied them. When they lit on Damian, the face softened, just a bit.
"Hey, Dickie, they aren't cops," he called out, and the four heroes started violently because it was now clear just who was talking to them. The sharply pointed face, the calculating eyes, the little quirk in his lips. This was Jason Todd.
Three more shadows slid from the car and into the light. "How can you be so sure?" came the uncertain question from "Dickie." Jason impatiently waved a hand at Damian, who appeared to be a year or so younger than himself.
"They have a kid with them, genius. Duh."
Warily, the other three boys crept out of the shadows. Bruce noted with amusement the protective, anxious look the oldest aimed at little Jason. Turning to the Bats, he glared at them fiercely, pushing the smallest boys (holy chipotle, that was Tim and Damian) behind him and putting a hand on Jason's shoulder.
"What do you want?" he asked, suspiciously.
Tim stepped forward, shaking off his shock. "We're looking for our brother. He looks kind of like… well, all of us, but he's got a white streak in his hair."
The boys whispered for a moment before Jason turned back to them and shrugged. "Sorry, mister, but we haven't seen him."
This was disappointing, but ultimately unsurprising. This was Jason Todd they were talking about after all. Stubborn, tactless, seriously-in-need-of-an-attitude-adjustment Jason Todd. There was no way things could be simple.
Slightly reluctant to leave, even as they all turned to go, Bruce stopped Jason's retreat back to the black car with a hand to his shoulder.
"Who takes care of you?" he asked solemnly.
Jason blinked up at him in surprise. "I do," he said. "I take care of us. Dickie looks after the little ones, and I get the food and stuff."
Nodding and smiling sadly, but knowing that they really couldn't do much to change the way things were in this reality, Bruce followed after his sons.
"And then," Jason added casually, "there's Bruce!"
Bruce turned sharply to ask the boy what he meant, but the next second, the portal was whipping them away.
"I cannot believe this," Tim announced.
Damian snorted. "I can. Although," he looked thoughtful, "if one of you three idiots was going to become Catwoman's sidekick, I'd have pegged Grayson for it."
Bruce rolled his eyes at the ensuing scuffle between his sons and looked back over to Selina and this universe's Jason. The young man was dressed in a skintight black suit and equipped with grappling hooks and clawed gloves. Selina was wearing a similar suit and leaning languidly on a nearby wall.
"I'm used to seeing you with only one little bird flying behind you, darling. Are all of these yours?" she asked, amused. Bruce gave her a wry smile.
"Yes, but only one of them is my fault," he said easily. Selina laughed throatily, gliding over to him and hooking one sleeve in her cats-claw gloves.
"So, you aren't from this dimension?" Jason asked Tim, raising a skeptical eyebrow.
Tim nodded. "Yeah, we're trying to find our Jason."
The other boy looked intrigued. "Yeah, about that –why? I mean, from all accounts so far, he isn't somebody you'd want to have around."
Tim looked right into blue eyes that were lighter than he'd ever seen them. For a moment, he wished that things had been different, wished that Jason hadn't been hurt so badly and so long. But all the things that Jason had gone through had made him into the man he was, the man Tim called his older brother. And honestly, no matter how crazy Jason got, no matter how many times he lost it and tried to kill them all (the running count was sixteen, which still left him trailing behind Damian's twenty-six), Tim wouldn't trade him for this lighthearted wildcat for a second.
"He's my brother," he answered finally. The other Jason looked surprised and, unexpectedly, a bit wistful.
"Wow. You're nothing like the Red Robin here," he said. Before Tim could respond, Damian reported that there was no sign of their Jason anywhere in this dimension.
Bruce ended his conversation with Catwoman and called his sons together. Tim rescued his handheld from Damian and the portal spun into existence. With a wave to Jason and Selina, they were gone.
They dropped right into the middle of a very familiar place. The living room of Wayne Manor.
"This is so weird," Dick muttered, glancing around. "I was watching a movie in here like, two days ago."
A strangled noise came from behind them and they all turned sharply. Bruce gaped.
A very tiny boy with black hair and dark blue eyes was standing in the doorway, glaring at them.
"Tt!" he said again. Dick started chuckling.
"Well, I know who this little guy is," he said, slowly crouching down. "Hey, Dami," he called softly. Behind him, his Damian started a little. Bruce grinned.
"Dick! Dick, I can't find the baby!"
"Jason! I left the room for two seconds! And stop trying to carry Timmy. I told you, you're too little!"
Three more little boys tumbled into the room from the kitchen door, only to stop short when they saw who was standing there.
"Daddy!" squealed the smallest of the new boys, dashing forward and throwing himself into Bruce's arms. Startled, Bruce caught the boy and stared at him.
"Uh, hi, Timmy," he said, guessing. The smile he received was as bright as before, so he supposed he'd guessed correctly.
"Who are they?" the middle boy demanded, glaring at the older versions of his brothers.
"Jason, be polite!" the younger Dick scolded, only to be distracted the next moment. "Dami!" Swooping down on the toddler, who had finally stopped scowling at the much bigger version of Dick. Giving his older self a suspicious look, the little acrobat snatched up Damian and backed away.
"Uh, guys, these are… friends of mine," Bruce said carefully, praying that his alternate self was not about to come in and find them here.
"Batman friends?" Timmy asked innocently. The older Tim blinked, surprised.
"Something like that," Bruce said vaguely. "T –uh, Red, can you figure out if J –Hood is here? I need to deal with the rugrats."
"Sure," Tim replied, a bit dazedly. "No problem…" Pulling out his little handheld, he began tapping and twisting knobs and trying to get a reading.
Damian and Dick looked at each other. "I guess we just… stay here?" the older boy asked uncertainly. Damian rolled his eyes and walked away, only to be waylaid a moment later by a miniature Grayson holding himself.
Even though this Grayson was only a little bit younger than himself, Damian felt instantly like he was playing babysitter. The weirder part was that he was babysitting himself and his older brother.
Dick grinned in amusement at Damian's clumsy attempt at child-minding and turned back to mini Jason, who was staring at him with clear, curious eyes.
"Hi," Jason said, plopping down on the couch.
"Hi, yourself," Dick said back, copying him. The two stared at each other for a moment, then Jason said, "I'm the middle child."
Dick grinned. "Are you?"
Jason nodded importantly. "Yeah, and Daddy says that I'm really special 'cause we almost didn't get to have me, but he an' Dickie fought the bad guys an' now I get to stay forever!"
That didn't sound like the backstory of the Jason he knew, but Dick just couldn't stop grinning. Jason really was an adorable kid. The little moptop of shaggy black hair was a complete mess, and he was so small and sweet looking that Dick wanted to pick him up and hug him.
Not that he usually didn't want to hug Jason, but he had the feeling that this particular one wouldn't try to murder him for it, unlike the little jerk he was used to. That would be a plus.
"Not here," Tim announced, still sounding slightly unnerved by seeing himself so small. And being snuggled by Bruce.
"Okay," Bruce said, beckoning Damian over with his charges. "Here's the deal, boys. I've got to take my friends and do some… Batman stuff, okay? Where's Alfred?"
Dick frowned. "In the attic, Daddy. He said he needed to find something for Dami to play with that wasn't sharp or pointy."
Tim sniggered as their Damian scowled and Dick tried not to laugh. Bruce smiled at the tiny boys who were clearly the pride and joy of this other Bruce.
"Well then, Dickie, you're in charge until Alfred comes down from the attic, okay?"
"Okay!" Dick saluted. Bruce laughed and ruffled his hair, finally setting Timmy down next to the toddler Damian. Dick gathered the smaller boys up and ushered them into the other room, calling over his shoulder. "Come on, Jason! We're gonna watch a movie!"
The older Dick smiled down at the pint-sized Jason and said, "You'd better go, kiddo."
The little head cocked to the side and a familiar eyebrow lifted. "You sound like Dickie," the little boy accused. Dick grinned again.
"Yeah, well…" he rubbed the back of his neck. Jason snickered.
"'Sokay," he said. "I won't tell anyone." Clearly, sounding like "Dickie" was not a desired trait.
Dick considered being offended, but was a bit too late, for Jason was already turning away, aiming a playful kick at Bruce's legs and accepting the hair ruffling that he received in return with a secretive smile. Bounding towards the open door, he stopped briefly to wave at them all once more before running after his brothers.
Sighing deeply, Bruce gathered his boys together and nodded to Tim, who blinked owlishly and twisted a knob.
Worlds flashed by like channels flickering on a TV screen. Some of them seemed to be little more than half-formed expressions of imagination or scraps of reality. These they bypassed, since Jason certainly wouldn't have been able to stay in any of them for very long anyway.
They passed through a world where they were all girls, and Jason was a red-lipped, bright-eyed brunette with long legs and a bare midriff. This was horrifying for everyone. (Except for Dick, who thought it was hilarious.) Their Jason was, fortunately, not in residence.
A universe in which Jason led a team of young heroes that called themselves the Outlaws was rather interesting, if only to see Jason interacting with people other than themselves. Their Jason wasn't much of a team player, and usually only managed to work with other Bats –if he agreed to a team-up at all. This version of the wayward Hood was, at least, capable of playing nice.
They only spent twenty seconds in the next dimension, just long enough for Tim to determine that they weren't in the right place. They left as fast as they could, never leaving their hiding place behind an old door. As they dove through the portal, the eerie laughter echoed behind them. The laugh was the Jokers. The voice was Jason's.
"I don't like this one."
"Why? Because we're all civilians?"
"You know, brat, life would be a lot easier if you were as nice as this universe's Damian."
"Shut up, Drake!"
"Damian, keep your voice down. Tim, don't harass your brother."
"Yeah, Timmy. We all know that we'd miss our lovable little brat if he was gone."
"Oh my Morrison, is that Jay?"
"It is Jason!"
"Is he smiling?"
"I've actually never seen him do that before."
"Okay, guys, new plan for when we get our Jason back."
"What are you planning to do, Grayson, tickle him into submission?"
"If I have to."
"Boys, are you all done making plans to torture your brother? Tim, what do we have?"
"What? Oh, sorry. Yeah, he's not here."
"How long have you known that?"
"Um, pretty much ever since we got here."
"You distracted me!"
"Enough! Let's just go before somebody sees us!"
"He really did look happy, didn't he, Bruce?"
"Yeah, Dick. He did."
They agreed, without saying a word, that they wouldn't talk about the one where Jason was dead.
In some worlds, they were the bad guys and the Rogues were the heroes. Whether or not Jason was either of these was often up for debate, and Tim offered an exasperated shake of his head and a "some things just don't change" in explanation.
Sometimes Jason was a criminal, sometimes he was just their brother. Sometimes Jason hadn't been born yet, and sometimes he'd died long before. They met Jasons who were cold and Jasons who were warm. He saw them as friends, he saw them as enemies. Sometimes he hadn't met them yet. They met one Jason who was convinced he was the Dali Lama. They met another who was a ghost.
Sometimes he was so different, it took them a few minutes to recognize him. But they always did, every time, because no matter what changed, from universe to universe, nothing could hide the sheer… Jasonness of him.
(This was Dick's insight. Damian kicked him for it. Tim and Bruce rolled their eyes.)
"I could get used to this universe," Damian stated, contentedly seated cross-legged on the ground with a lapful of kittens.
"This place is weird," Tim stated, staring into smug blue eyes. "We're cats."
Bruce smirked from where he was holding a particularly snuggly specimen (that one was totally Dick –Tim was certain) and said, "Technically, we're both." Cocking his head to the side, staring down at the Dick kitten, which was now trying to climb inside his shirt, he added, "Though I won't deny they do seem to fit our… personalities quite well."
"You can say that again!" Dick laughed, shaking out his hand and carefully cradling the smallest blackest kitten of the lot in the other. "Say hello to little Dami," he said. "The little brat bit me."
"Tt!" Damian looked proud of his feline counterpart. With a delicacy Tim hadn't known Damian could possess, the ten year-old stroked the ears of the Bruce cat in his lap.
Tim stopped glaring at the cat version of himself and frowned at his handheld. "There's a Jason around here somewhere," he muttered. "And since everyone else is a cat…"
A yowl split the air and Tim jumped. A streak of black fur flew by his feet, nearly bowling the Tim cat over in its haste to get into the safety of the alley. The cat stopped short when it recognized its surroundings, sinking to its haunches with an exhausted sigh.
Instantly, the other cats moved, wriggling out of the arms holding them and swarming the other cat, who, Tim could now see, was sporting a pretty impressive set of battle scars.
"Hey," Dick nudged him. "Check out his ears."
Tim did, and sighed in something like exasperation and something like fondness. The little black cat with so many scars had white-tipped ears.
"I guess we found this world's Jason," he murmured, then did a double take at what the cats were doing.
The Dick cat was keening softly, licking at the wounds on Jason and rubbing his nose gently against the other cat's side. Tim was purring and rubbing his head against Jason's. Damian batted at the bigger cat with an irritated swipe of his paw, but then meowed anxiously and licked the other on the nose.
"He's their brother," Tim said softly. The Jason cat was tolerantly enduring the ministrations of the other kittens, much the way his human counterpart abided their own fussing over his injuries.
"Of course he is –" Dick began, only to stop short when the biggest cat shooed the kittens away with a sharp meow. They all backed off of Jason, and the Bruce cat prowled forward, nosing hard into Jason's side, eliciting a whine of pain from the smaller cat. Bruce ignored this, pawing gently at Jason's head, purring quietly.
"Is he shushing him?" Tim asked incredulously.
The Bruce cat was checking Jason for injuries. The human Bruce could relate. As much as he loved his sons, and as competent as he knew them to be, whenever one of them was injured, a lot of their poise seemed to disappear, and he was the one stuck dealing with a flock of spastic birds hovering around the patient and getting in the way. Sometimes, he wished he could shoo them away so easily.
The Bruce cat finished his examination and, finally satisfied, meowed softly. The other cats evidently took this as permission to approach, because they all surged forward, rubbing against Bruce, against Jason.
Through it all, the black cat with the white-tipped ears sat quietly, eying his family with an air of fond forbearance.
"That's adorable," Dick announced, staring at the cats. Bruce chuckled quietly, agreeing, but looking at Damian who was coaxing the Jason cat away from the group.
"Guys," Tim said slowly.
"I'm beginning to wonder if maybe we can take them home with us," Dick murmured to Bruce.
"Guys," Tim insisted.
"Can we, Father?" Damian's eyes lit up.
They all looked a Tim, who gestured to his handheld, effectively silencing any complaints they had with his tone.
It was beeping.
"He's here!" Tim said excitedly, thrusting the device at Bruce. "Somewhere, Jason is here!"
Damian raised a dry eyebrow. "Eloquent as ever," he sneered. Tim rolled his eyes, aiming a pleading look towards Dick. Control your brother, the look said. Dick shot a look of his own back. He's your brother too.
Bruce cleared his throat. "Boys." They all stopped glaring at each other and turned to their father, who was holding Tim's handheld at arm's length like it had bitten him.
"This… thing says that Jason is in this building," he said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder.
"Uh, actually, Bruce," Tim piped up, "it says that he's coming out of the building. We can catch him as he comes by!"
Bruce later thought that his life was weird, was really weird, and the weirdest part was that he hadn't realized how weird it was until he was standing in an alleyway in an alternate universe where everyone was a cat with his three sons, waiting to catch the fourth one and bring him home.
Jason stalked around the corner, looking supremely miserable and trying not to.
As one, the Robins pounced, and Jason went down with a surprised yelp.
"Ah! What are you? Are… Tim? Dick? Damian? What the heck are you all doing here?"
"Don't let him up!" Tim yelled hysterically. "He might escape!"
"Escape? What are you… you aren't supposed to be here!" Jason howled.
"Neither are you!" Dick screeched back.
"ENOUGH!" the Batman voice rang out in the alley and all four Robins froze, heads turning (and ducking under arms and through strangleholds) to look at him.
His hands on his hips, struggling not to laugh, he surveyed his boys. "Let Jason up," he said sternly.
"But –" Tim began.
"He –" Dick started.
"Tt," said Damian, "fine by me." Using Tim's head as a support, he pushed himself to his feet and stepped away from the tangle of Robins. Dick, reluctantly, removed his arms from Jason's chest and waist, and Tim slowly released his chokehold on Jason's neck.
Grumbling, Jason allowed Dick to help him to his feet. Standing straight, he watched warily as Bruce turned a knowing eye upon him.
"What?" he snapped defensively. Bruce raised an eyebrow at him.
"Just what exactly did you think you were doing?" he demanded. Jason scowled.
"I could ask you all the same question! I specifically left a note saying not to come after me!"
Bruce's eyebrow climbed higher on his face. "And you thought that would actually work, did you?"
"Well!" Jason faltered, just a bit. "Well, yes, actually."
Dick snorted. "Honestly, Jay-bird, have you learned nothing in all your years of knowing us? We don't do what we're told."
"Especially," Damian put in, "when what we're told is completely idiotic."
Jason rolled his eyes. "Well, thanks, bratling, that makes me feel so much better."
"Jay," Tim said hesitantly, stepping forward and laying a daring hand on Jason's arm. Jason scowled but did not try to remove the hand (either from his arm, or Tim's), so Tim counted it as a win and moved on. "Jay, you… of course we came after you."
"Why?" Jason challenged, eyes lit with a sudden, desperate fire, searching for one answer but hardly hoping that it could ever be given.
Tim, to his credit, looked confused. "Why wouldn't we?"
"Why would you?" Jason countered instantly.
"We didn't want you gone, stuck in some alternate universe somewhere!" Dick exclaimed.
"But why not?" Jason practically screamed.
"Because you're our brother!" Damian snapped, fed up completely with arguing and idiotic brothers and parallel worlds where things were so wrong, wrong, wrong. "You're our brother, whether you like it or not, and you don't get to just skive off to another dimension without so much as warning us! That isn't how it works! You don't get to just decide that you want to leave and then disappear. Joss, Todd, if you wanted our attention you could just ask for it! God knows Grayson would give you some. Heck, you don't even need to ask for Grayson's attention. So get a grip, stop throwing inter-dimensional temper tantrums, and come home before I drag you there myself!"
There was stunned silence for a moment. Tim and Dick's faces were mirror images in frozen little O's, and Jason looked like he didn't know whether to be happy or offended at Damian's outburst. Bruce was trying not to laugh.
"Also," Damian added, pleasantly, "Pennyworth would be very upset if you didn't come back."
This lifted the shock somewhat, and everyone looked, a bit cautiously, at Jason, whose lips were twitching.
"Well," he said finally. "When you put it that way."
"Alfred," Bruce said helpfully. Jason nodded dutifully.
"Yes, of course. Alfred. Mustn't upset Alfred."
"Naturally," Dick piped up, recovering from the shock of Damian having emotions and bounding forward to wrap his arms around Jason and hug him tightly. "I'm so glad to see you, Jay-bird!" he whispered enthusiastically in Jason's ear.
Sighing, Jason gave in and hugged him back. "You're insane," he informed Dick, even as he buried his head in the older man's shoulder.
"My turn!" Tim chirped, shoving in between Dick and Jason in an uncharacteristic display of aggressive hug-mongering. Grasping Jason's jacket in both hands, he squeezed his older brother's chest and said, "Don't you ever do something like this again, you big jerk."
Chuckling, Jason draped an arm around Tim's shoulders and said, "You mean without you?" he teased.
Tim's eyes were suspiciously watery. "Yeah," he managed.
Jason shook his head and glanced at Damian, who was watching the entire sentimental display with something akin to horrified revulsion in his face. "You want a hug, Demon Spawn?" Jason asked with a smirk.
The half-disdainful, half-disgusted look he got in reply actually made him laugh, even as Bruce was stepping forward to lay a hand on his shoulder.
Dark blue eyes assessed him, raking over him gently, yet feeling like needles all over his skin. "Are you alright?" came Bruce's reassuring rumble, and in spite of himself, Jason relaxed.
"Yeah," he said, a bit unsteadily. "I'm good."
Satisfied, Bruce squeezed his shoulder and then let go, stepping back and ushering his other sons in. "Let's go home then," he said. "No, Damian, you cannot take any of the cats. Everyone together? Good. Tim?"
They hooked their dimensional-traveling cuffs together (Dick pulled an extra set for Jason out of his utility belt –which he was wearing under his jacket) and then Tim pushed a button and twisted a knob and the portal sent them hurtling through space.
Alfred was waiting for them.
"Sirs," he said, implacable as ever in the face of torn clothes, dirty faces, and exhausted masters, "I have prepared a light luncheon. If you will all make yourselves somewhat presentable, I shall serve it in the kitchen."
Jason glanced around the Cave surreptitiously as his family dispersed to their own rooms. He didn't really know where he was supposed to go right now, seeing as his room was probably being used or something else right now.
"Master Jason," Alfred's solid, dependable voice said in his ear. "If you'll go on upstairs, I think you'll find that your old room is exactly where you left it."
Jason started and turned to look at Alfred, but the butler was already halfway across the Cave. "Uh, don't you mean, 'how' I left it?" he called.
Alfred paused momentarily and smiled over his shoulder. "Yes," he said, "that too." And then he was in the elevator, heading for the kitchen.
Jason took a moment to process this before he began to smile as well. Looking around the Batcave, he noted all of the familiar things, all of the new equipment, and a shiny row of metal lockers against one wall. He wandered over to look at them, reading the initials across the tops.
B. T. Big D and Little D. For some reason, an S. And then…
Jason Todd grinned, then turned around and went upstairs.
A/N: I sort of imagine this taking place in a universe outside of continuity. These particular incarnations of the Batfam (the first universe) are aware of continuity, but not really bothered by it. Basically, they're themselves, but the fourth wall is rather thin. Everything that happens to these guys happens in a straight line, so age is flexible, costumes are subject to change, and continuity is shot to pieces. They're "in between." In between ages, in between story arcs, in between costumes.
Also, if Jason's eyes are actually green… my apologies. I've seen and read both.
Well, there you go, Blue. I hope you enjoyed it. Sorry if it's more Batfam than just Jason-centric. I tried.