Disclaimers: The epitome of not mine.
Spoilers: Not a one.
Summary: "I'm thinking that was probably payback.
Of some sort."
Ratings Note: Entirely harmless.
Author's Note: Something of a riffing sequel to Petra's
fabulous "To Anacreon in Heaven," won't make sense without
it. I really couldn't stop myself... just as I couldn't
stop myself with Basingstoke's "The Robin's Red Glare,"
which Petra's story remixes. It's like symmetry! Or,
you know, sad, sad obsession.
Acknowledgments: To LC for audiencing and
It stops being embarrassing to feel like he's been slapped
around with a pillow full of happy gas -- cut with cyanide --
just because he's been running around with freaking
Batman (as opposed to Nightwing, which has been pretty
much as perfectly normal as you can get in this life for years)
when he finds Redbird on one of his rooftops, looking just
as shocky and fucked-up as he feels. Which, really...
"I knew. You liked this one. This roof."
Jason nods and rubs a little life back into his right shoulder.
Redbird tends to prefer the ones with steeper balustrades.
"Was that... that was weird tonight. Right?"
It's not quite more words than the guy's used at one time
before, but Jason still thinks he should feel guilty for not
really being able to appreciate the moment. Still... totally
and completely not his fault. "*That*... was fucked-up."
"So not just me."
Jason snorts. "Really not. Also --"
"Also, I'm thinking that was probably payback. Of some
Just because they'd set their partners up? Jason's totally
tempted to be all "*Dick's* not that petty," but, well, they
*had* totally set their partners up, and... and. "Yeah,
okay, probably," he says, and crouches next to the kid.
Dick seems pretty sure that Redbird isn't *that* much
younger than he is -- maybe less than two years, even --
and, most of the time, Jason can even go with that. He's
watched the guy *work*, after all.
It's just that right about now, he *looks* younger. And...
"Nightwing was messing with your head a little, hunh?"
The look on Redbird's face gets less shocky than just kinda
pinched for a moment. "I'm not... I'm reasonably sure it
wasn't. On purpose."
Jason grins and shakes his head. "Yeah, Bats didn't
*actually* jump out from behind a goddamned Dumpster
and say 'boo.'"
"And I'm sure... well, the footage all suggests that
Nightwing is... well, he's very. Physical. Affectionate."
It sounds like a question, even though it also doesn't, so
Jason nods. "And it's not like anyone with a brain doesn't
know how freaking *strong* Bats is, and that sidekicks can
be used as projectile weapons. If necessary. Like." Like if
you set it up beforehand, and also warn said sidekick, and
also don't fucking toss Jason around like he's *Redbird's*
"You get used to it," Redbird says, after another moment,
and the pinched look kind of twitches itself into something
like a smile.
"The hugging, too," Jason says, and Redbird nods kind of
"You don't think..."
"I think they're gonna do this to us every time they think
they can get *away* with it. And never mind that we were
Redbird scowls -- for once not bothering to pull himself
deeper into the shadows first.
Interesting. "Of course, that assumes we *let* them get
away with it."
Redbird raises an eyebrow behind the mask.
Jason raises both of his.
"It occurs to me that --" He waves a hand between them.
"-- *this*, this situation our partners exploited for the sake
of their --"
"Not to mention their occasionally problematically twisted
senses of humor, yes --"
Jason snorts again. "See, I think the humor thing has to be
all Bats. 'wing's more inclined to, you know, *stupid*
Redbird waves a hand again. "Still, this situation which is
currently being used against us is based, at least in part,
on... well, anonymity. Ours."
Jason blinks. "Are you trying to get in my mask?"
"Technically... technically, I already have. But that's kind of
a long story and irrelevant --"
"What? Wait, *what*?"
"Robin -- wait." Redbird looks at him, and it's probably the
most *direct* look the guy has ever given him, but --
But *still*. "You know me?"
"No. That's -- that's kind of my point."
"Then..." Jason frowns, and... well, he pretty much frowns.
"Look, just because I know you're a seventeen year old
named Jason Todd doesn't mean I *know* you."
And Jason can keep himself from moving, but beyond that...
"What the -- I *know* Nightwing didn't tell Bats. He was
too *pissed* for --"
"He didn't have to. Just like B -- just like Batman didn't have
to tell *me*. It's... it's what we do," Redbird says, and it's
small and quiet and every sense in Jason's *body* is
screaming that the *kid* is practically screaming 'don't be
mad, please and *please*,' but --
*Dammit*. "Okay -- just, fine. You don't *know* me know
me. What --"
"My name is Tim Drake. I'll be sixteen in July --"
"Batman assures me I look older without the mask."
"I -- I go to Brentwood. I just... our *partners* know
everything about each other and everything about *us*.
Why shouldn't we?"
Which is... well, it's a point. Even though he's not sure just
how much Dick knows about Redbird. Jason shakes his
head. "Maybe they were afraid we'd wind up like them."
"Or maybe they were both really *invested* in... not
And again, that sounds a lot more like Batman than
Nightwing, but... Jason can go with it. "This is what happens
when you let a smart kid place out of kindergarten?"
"Sharing is caring." Redbird -- Tim -- gives another of those
twitchy little smiles. "Certainly, I don't think *anyone*
could really argue that my partner couldn't have used a
trifle more... socialization."
"God, really not. He didn't say twenty damned words to
me the whole patrol --"
"You got him over ten?"
"Christ, how do the two of you even --"
"Nightwing kept -- he ruffled my *hair*. He messed up
my gel and he ruffled my *hair*. Twice."
"You reapplied it?"
"It's part of the *uniform*, Robin."
Of course it is. He's not going to laugh. He's not -- "You
know, it's totally reflex for Nightwing. He can't really help
himself, anymore." He's not -- he waves a little at Tim's
head. "I think you probably... I mean, your hair kind of
has to be crack-filled chocolate for --"
Jason bites his lip. "I gotta admit. Sometimes I'm tempted."
"Your restraint is appreciated, Robin --"
"Especially when you say stuff like that."
"I'm just saying."
And *he's* not laughing, but... Redbird is. Tim is. Quiet and
kind of rough and throaty... "You don't do that a lot, do
you? Laugh, I mean."
The look he gets is a little annoyingly blank, but Jason's
guessing that has more to do with the mask than with
anything else, right now.
Or... he's not sure. "I mean --"
"I don't. I mean, I do, just..."
If it was anyone else -- anyone *normal* -- there'd
probably be a shrug in there somewhere. The guy's
*blushing* enough for one, anyway.
"I don't... I don't know."
He can -- heh -- wing it. "You're just used to expressing
amusement by a complicated but efficient set of ambiguous
facial expressions which are mostly hidden by the domino,
And this smile might be aimed at the roof, but it isn't
twitchy at all. "Sometimes there are sounds, too. The
"Right," Jason says, grinning and shifting until he can get
his back to the balustrade. Redbird has a good view over
the side, he's got Redbird's back, and he's reasonably sure
he won't get tossed at anyone else tonight. Good enough.
He lets his leg muscles relax a little bit as compromise for
not closing his eyes, and listens to Redbird doing his own
shifting around. He isn't due in for another two hours,
and... hm. He's never met up with the guy this late before.
"You got a curfew?"
"Sort of," Redbird says, and pulls out his scope. "You know,
if there isn't anything that needs doing."
Jason nods and settles in.
"So... it's a plan?"
"Sidekick bonding for justice and partner-thwarting? Yeah,
it's a plan."
"Good," Redbird says.
Jason catches the twitch of Redbird's smile out of the corner
of his eye, and punches his shoulder.