The lie I was born to
February 2, 2004
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 fault.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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 mouth.
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 whupass. 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 of those.
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, considering.
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 uneven bars.
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 and... something.
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 more time.
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 happened.
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 whatever.
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 waterproof watches.
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 to see.
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... touches.
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.
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