Brave to the last
by Te
December 17, 2005

Disclaimers: Not at all mine.

Spoilers: None, really.

Milieu: Red and the Black series. Will *not* make sense without the others.

Summary: It's not the stupidest thing he's ever done.

Ratings Note: More harmless than not. Really.

Acknowledgments: Much love to Jack for audiencing and stuff.


This isn't the stupidest thing he's ever done. It's not even in
the top ten, because Black is wearing most of those, one
way or the other.

Or just being them, still and calm and right there next to
him, just as if he's the kind of partner who'll wait for orders
before doing something insane, sickening, violent, and sexy
as opposed to the kind of partner he *is*.

Still, because it isn't the stupidest thing he's ever done, it's
also kind of okay to do it, in that fucked-up way which leads
to nearly getting them both captured about eight different
times in the process of breaking into the Cave.

(The sixth was when Black had stopped dead in the middle
of a path of motion-detecting lasers to say, "it's Christmas.
Hnn," and made Jason have a clear, distinct moment of
wanting to piss himself before he'd said "yeah, it is." and
gotten them both moving again.)

And there's a part of him which wants to jerk the hell out of
Bruce's chain for being such a paranoid sonofabitch, but,
well, that was the part which had gotten blown up in
Ethiopia, so fuck *him*, anyway.

In the end, they're there, and he's looking at (everything)
nothing he doesn't have to, because he's got Black to be his
eyes for at least as long as it takes him to go bugfuck nuts.

They're there, and Black hasn't pointed out anything but
the way they're being scanned, and that part's okay. In the
end, they'll bust out through the *Manor* if they have to,
and they...

They're there.

And it doesn't take long for Bruce to be there, too. Batman
always peels off him like --

No, it's more like melting, until it doesn't matter that he's
still suited up and ready to dish the pain. There's a big black
stain of *Bat* under his feet -- all their feet -- just ready to
be ignored as Bruce moves just close enough for Jason and
Black not to be able to flank him without taking that last
step themselves.

And he's ready. He knows this part. This is where the last
thing keeping Black from being the Timmy who's just sixteen
bloody deaths -- and possibly a few explosions -- waiting to
happen snaps like a dead tree.

This is how it'll go:

1. Black loses it.

2. Red stops him, earning a few dozen new scars.

3. Bruce...

(He'd been waiting, all night, for Black to ask him why they
were there. He was supposed to *ask*.)

This is how it does go:

"Merry Christmas, Batman," Black says, and Jason's just
about ready to go ahead and set fire to every test which
set his IQ above fifty-four when Black reaches for his
belt --

"Dammit, Red --"

-- but the only thing in his hand is a little disembodied
Santa head, complete with a terrifyingly wide smile,
broken-blood-vessel-looking paint on his cheeks, and
blinking red eyes. It's not even a bomb.

"It's not time for the presents?"

"You --"

"Some of us," Black says, smirking, "got our shopping done

Jason blinks behind the hood. "You freakish little *bitch*."

Bruce clears his throat, and completely fails to call Jason for
language. "Is that... for me?"

Jason lets go of Black's wrist and watches the gruesome
thing arc through the air and slap against Bruce's palm.


"I -- hnn -- thought so," Black says, and at least he's doing
that 'every muscle in my body is jittering even though I'm
not moving at all' thing.

It lets Jason breathe a little. And. "Yeah, uh. Merry
Christmas. I didn't get you anything."

Bruce pushes the cowl back off his face, and stares at them

Black makes a completely unclassifiable noise somewhere
between the back of his nose and the top of his throat.

Jason wonders if he has any interestingly-full evidence bags
in his pockets he can *pretend* are presents, and then
takes a moment to give up on the idea -- once and for all --
that there was ever a brain in his head. "Yeah, so --"

Bruce takes a breath, and strokes the little plastic thing
with his thumb. "Merry Christmas," he says.

Jason swallows.

"And thank you," he says, to both of them, only he's looking
at Jason now, and there's no one Jason can kill here,
nothing he can do to shut this down, no off-button of any
kind --

"Rrrrnn --"

-- except for the growling little whine in Black's throat that
makes Bruce close his fist around the head like a
goddamned trap and -- "Tim --"

When Black moves, it's for the cars -- no.

It's for the holographically-disguised exit to the Cave over
*there*, only Jason's willing to bet there's a lot more
*crap* there than even *he* knows about -- much less
Black -- and the last thing the kid needs is to wind up in
some Bat-built titanium fucking cage --

He's fast enough to catch him, help him, he's --

"*Robins*, wait --"

He's *fast* enough to actually get them out, to the
bikes --

-- because Bruce lets them out.

And he --

He gets on his bike --

He tries to get on his bike, but Black's leaping kick is good
enough to knock him right off, again. He has to roll to keep
his feet. "Black, we need to --"

"You *lost* it in there!"

And this is where... this is...

"You fucking --"

"You're the one who gave him a *present*."

"I was saving that for *you*!"

"You -- uh." The hood, among other things, means that he's
reasonably sure Black can't be one *hundred* percent sure
about the look of pure what-the-*shit* Jason knows is on
his face right now. "Why...?"

"It's a *head*. And it's *Christmas*. And --" Black scowls at
him, which, with the 'smile' on his face, means he looks like
a skinny little nightmare. "Fuck you, you *lost* it."

He's not gonna laugh. If he laughs, he's gonna sit on the
ground and *keep* laughing until he's maybe snorting spit
all over the inside of the hood and also Black takes *his*
head off with the damned Bowie, and then brings it back
to Bruce. "I think he liked it, though. I mean. Even though
it was for me."

"Red --"

"He's totally never gonna throw it away."

"Fuck --"

"No, I won't."

And fuck, that's *Bruce*, and at least his body is moving
on all cylinders, because he's got the gun --

And Black has *both* guns out.

"I won't throw it out, I mean," and Bruce is still... the cowl's
back on, but it's just because they're in the goddamned
*night*, and --

"We're leaving," Jason hears himself say, and it almost
sounds the way it should.

"I couldn't help but... you don't have to go."

"Fuck *off*, Batman, we had our Christmas, and now --"

"I want cocoa," Black says.

"You can't *drink* cocoa. You paint the fucking walls
*brown* when you drink cocoa --"

"There's cocoa," Bruce says, in a voice like a fucking iron
chain dragging over sandpaper, "inside."

"Jesus fucking -- what is *wrong* with you?" And it doesn't
even matter that Jason isn't sure which of them -- any of
them -- he's talking to, because Black says,

"It's *my* turn to lose it," about a half-second before Bruce

"It's Christmas."

"We can't. We can't do this," he says.

And this is where Bruce covers Jason's hand with his own
and pushes the gun down, and Black completely fails to
empty the clips of his guns into Bruce's cowl, and they --

They --


This is where Bruce takes a deep, audible breath, and says,
"All right, Jason."

This is where Black holsters his guns and gets on the bike.

This is where Jason gets on his own, even though there's
an invisible spreading stain of *Red* all over the damned
hidden drive, even though --

They roll.

"You lost it back there," Black says, through the mic in
Jason's hood.

He was *home*. "Yeah."

"It's okay. We all do."