Disclaimers: Not mine.
Spoilers: Batman continuity. Somewhere before #424.
Summary: Jason's trying to get a handle on things.
Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17. Contains content some
readers may find disturbing.
Author's Note: Jason Todd is Gotham's Most Unquiet
Ghost. He wouldn't leave me alone. He wouldn't let me
*sleep*. So... yeah. This. And I'm pretty sure it's Jack's
Acknowledgments: Much love to Livia and the Jack for
audiencing, and to the Spike for listening to me witter
incoherently about the poor boy.
Feedback: Yes, please. email@example.com
Jason's in the shower. It's the Cave shower, so it's just
ridiculously huge as opposed to huge and luxurious.
He's sitting down, and he's trying really hard to think.
It doesn't help that he's naked. Like he was last night.
He'd been wondering if the suit made a difference.
Right now, he's wondering how he feels about the fact
that it didn't, really. Going to Bruce naked. Looking him
in the eye. Same result. He feels like he's drowning,
and sometimes he wonders if he'd be able to tell the
difference if he just looked up and... opened his
A week ago, Batman had talked a jumper down. It
happens a lot. Some of them need a hug, some of
them need to be reasoned with. Some of them just
need a good, old-fashioned dose of Bat-style whup-
ass. Jason's not good at this stuff, really. Beyond the
fighting -- he can do that -- but he's getting better
at figuring the jumpers out. Which ones really just
needed someone -- anyone -- to talk to, and which
ones needed to be reminded that suicide was for
weaklings and quitters.
Pep talk of the damned.
Sometimes he wonders when he's going to get one
It's not like he plans on offing himself, or even really
*quitting*. Bruce has given him a sweeter life than
anything he'd ever thought he *could* have after his
mother had died. And the suit... the Robin suit.
Somewhere out there, Alfred is washing and pressing
and mending and all those other little things he does
to keep the suits looking like they don't, actually, get
ripped to shreds every night. In the old days -- and
it's only been a year, but it *feels* like the old
days -- he'd tried to help.
And Alfred *had* let him, and everything. Taught him
all kinds of things that actually seem pretty useful. He
has a sewing kit of his own, now, which is pretty
stupid and girly, but... these things come in handy.
He's watched Alfred sew Bruce up so many times that
he thinks he could maybe do it himself, now. And
there's no harm in knowing stuff like that,
It's just that Alfred and Bruce have very different ideas
of what his 'training' ought to be. And Bruce never
really *says* anything about it, but then, he doesn't
have to. When you're a street kid, you learn to
*watch* people, if only to figure out which little old
lady will let you grab her groceries and which little old
lady will pull a tazer if you get too close.
And Bruce is something like that. Hunched over the
computer console, harmless as anything, until he
figures it's time for Jason to read up on more
criminology or hit the weights or the mats or the
And then... his posture doesn't change, but *he* does.
A weird kind of stillness that has more to do with the
Bat than with Bruce, he thinks. That sense that at any
moment, any *given* moment, he could just leap up
He never does. Not like that.
He doesn't have to. Jason makes his excuses and
changes into his workout gear, and the tension in
Bruce's body goes back to all of the right places.
"You're turning Master Jason into quite the fighter,"
Alfred had said once.
"He has to be," said Bruce.
And that was all they'd said to each other for the whole
rest of the *day* until he and Bruce had left for patrol.
Like there was maybe more in those two sentences
than he was supposed to hear. Or...
It's hard, sometimes. Alfred's great, but he doesn't
approve of this. Any of it, not even the Robin thing.
For a while he'd thought the guy hated him or
something, maybe resented him for being here when
the old Robin just wasn't, but...
He's met the old Robin, and he doesn't think it's that
at all. He isn't sure what it is, and he doesn't want to
ask *any* of them, because...
Well, and he knows it's stupid, but it's hard to put on
his warm, new pajamas and lie in his soft, new bed
with a full belly and a house with people, people who
know his name and apparently care what he gets up
to. It's hard to do all that and not just wait for the
other shoe to drop.
And Bruce has never said anything like that, or even
hinted, and neither has Alfred. And even when he
screws up, Batman pretty much just talks to him and
explains the right way of doing things.
Sometimes it's hard to understand why Nightwing --
Dick -- left.
Because he has everything here, doesn't he? Dick
must've had even more.
He stares down at his toes. The fourth and fifth ones
on the right are bruised-looking and sore, which
means they're probably broken. He'll tape them later,
after he gets dried off.
After he gets... a little more clean.
He's not really dirty, or anything. It was an easy
enough night, and chilly besides. He'd barely worked
up a sweat. But the hot water feels... really good.
On the top of his head, on the back of his neck
when he bends. It's possible he's freaking out a little,
which is even stupider. It wasn't the first time, and
even before Bruce had taken him out of that
abandoned building... well.
Lots of things a kid has to do.
The doctors Bruce had taken him to see back in the
beginning had been really thorough and gentle and
so honestly sympathetic that he hadn't even wanted
to punch them. Much.
And this is different, anyway.
Jason stands up and soaps himself all over, one
This is different. No blood, no soreness or bruising.
None he hadn't gotten from being Robin, anyway.
Bruce is the most careful man he's ever met. Which
makes sense, considering.
Recklessness gets people killed. It's a lesson Jason's
trying really hard to learn, because he *knows* how
important it is to Bruce. People can get hurt out
there, no matter how well-trained they are.
Every stitched-up cut on Bruce's body is supposed to
be a lesson and a warning. Which is maybe why he
shows them all to Jason. Why he points them out,
even when Jason is just trying to hold on, or trying
to let go. Sometimes its hard to tell which when Bruce
is touching him.
And no, he *hadn't* really expected that. He'd had
his suspicions -- single rich guy living with his old
English butler? He would've had to be an idiot *not*
to have his suspicions. He figured he'd stick around
long enough to find a way to steal some food and
maybe some silver to fence, but... nothing had
Nothing like that, anyway.
Not even the first dozen times Bruce had pinned him
easily to the mats, or after in the showers. And he'd
started to think, 'well, maybe this is all exactly what
he says it is.' And it wasn't that hard to think, because
it wasn't like Bruce had handed him some line of bull
about a rich kid's normal life of lazy ignorance or
Bruce was *Batman*, and Bruce *wanted* him to be
Robin. That was enough, really. All the unofficial
homework, and the kind of work-outs that made gym
class an incredibly stupid joke.
So the *first* time... was really a surprise.
He turns off the water. It isn't even getting lukewarm,
yet. One day he's going to stay in there long enough
for it to get cold, just to see. Maybe use one of those
He dries off, scrubbing at his hair until it's just this
messy nest on top of his head and goes looking for
his clothes. Alfred's left just a robe, which is pretty
much a hint. There's still plenty of time for him to
sleep before school, and Alfred fully intends for him
to get it.
He... doesn't think Alfred knows.
That would be too weird.
Most of the time, nothing even happens here, in the
manor. There are rooftops all over Gotham that Jason
knows with the caps of his knees and the palms of
his hands. The first time...
The first time, Jason had been looking over and down
from the roof of some big apartment building with
the stairwell access blocked off. Bruce had been
staring through the binoculars for hours, but the
pimp they'd been staking out in the building across
the street had never come home.
"Looks like a bust, Batman," he'd said, and hadn't
gotten anything like a response. Which wasn't new.
It probably just meant the man was thinking. So
he'd put one foot up on the ledge and kept looking
out at the night, trying to count broken streetlights,
trying to see if he could make a pattern.
And he'd nearly jumped out of his skin when Batman
had slid a hand between his thighs and *pressed*.
"You need to learn to watch your back," he'd said.
And Jason had laughed. "*You* have my back."
Batman had made one of those 'hm' sounds, which
are the closest thing he comes to a real laugh when
he's in the Batsuit. "So I do."
But he hadn't taken his hand away.
And Jason thinks that's how it started. With the
gentle, rhythmic squeezes. Or maybe the mouth on
the back of his neck. Wet and hot.
And Batman had spun him around, and he'd been
scared, he *remembers* being scared, but he hadn't
thought 'finally' or 'I knew it,' because it wasn't and
he *hadn't* known. Not then.
He remembers staring at that cowl, into all that
*menace*. But when Batman had spoken again, it
had been in Bruce-voice.
"Is this... is this all right?"
Like he wasn't sure. Like Jason wasn't hard behind
the little shorts. And Jason had swallowed and
nodded and Batman -- *Bruce* -- had kissed him
all over, right there on the rooftop, under the sky.
Everywhere the suit showed skin, and everywhere
else, too, before dropping to his knees...
Jason had to bite his lip to stay quiet.
And then they'd finished their patrol and Jason had
gone back to his room and Bruce had gone back to
his and... everything was normal.
But yeah, he'd started to wonder. A little before
Nightwing had come to visit, a lot more after. Dick
was tall and handsome and smart and he didn't
look like he'd ever made a mistake in his life. He
had his own *team*.
Which he'd gone right back to after giving Jason
*his* old Robin suit. Like something out of a ritual.
It had felt good, but there'd been something in
Bruce's face when Jason had showed the suit to
him. Something Jason *knows* he wasn't supposed
And it made it... weirder. Darker. Like maybe there
was no part of *anything* in this life where he
wouldn't be weighed down by all that *history*.
All the tragedy and fucked-up *shit*. Even when
Bruce was touching *him*.
And it wasn't like he could *talk* about it. What it had
started to feel like when Bruce traced his fingers over
the mask, or when he pulled Jason back against him.
At first, that had just felt incredible. *Hot*.
But then all he'd been able to feel were the suits
between them. Which... he couldn't really deal with.
And so last night he'd worked up the nerve to go to
Bruce's bedroom, passing by Alfred's as silently as he
could, just to make sure the man was sleeping. And
he'd crawled into Bruce's bed and expected...
He didn't know what. Rejection, maybe.
But Bruce had only smiled at him, and beckoned him
closer, and touched him everywhere. Spread his legs
and fucked him hard and slow and *deep*, covering
his mouth to help him hold in the sounds.
So hard to breathe.
No one has ever made him feel like this, and he's not
surprised to look up and find himself outside of
Bruce's door again. They're *partners*. Not just
Batman and Robin. Bruce and Jason.
He says Jason's name, sometimes.
But he still feels... off. Wrong, or... like something hasn't
been finished, or maybe hasn't been started. He doesn't
know what it is, though. And he still feels like he's
drowning, even though it's just the crime-fighting, and
the sex, and school. His life isn't *that* complicated.
He rests his fist against the door, and doesn't quite
manage to knock. Because, before... he'd thought it
would just be about the fresh chicken the rich old
perv had found. And then he'd thought it was about
Robin, like maybe Robin had nothing to do with
anything but being... that.
Which feels stupid *and* feels like a betrayal, besides.
Robin's more than that.
No, he gets it now. It's about *him*. About... whatever
it is about him that Bruce wants, and likes, and...
And he doesn't have a mask to hide behind right now.
He doesn't have anything at all, really.
Except for Bruce.
And he's *not* going to fuck this up just because he
can't get his head on straight. He just has to... focus.
Listen. Go with the flow.
And do it right.
He knocks twice, and walks inside.