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Chapter 1 – Jay / Tim

 

            When Jason wakes there are a few things he recognizes immediately as True.

 

            First, it’s Friday – the start of a special four-day holiday weekend for your average Gothamite working at a 9 to 5, and kind of an annoyance to the local capes who now have to deal with exponentially more raucous and crowded streets at night.

            Second, it’s Friday morning – which Jason had thought would’ve been little more than a distant memory by the time he woke up after the night he’d had…

            Third, something is really fucking wrong.

 

            His muscles ache. His whole body does; his joints and muscles and the sinew that connects them, all of it aches in a way that makes his jaw clench, a way that – while not exactly surprising or inexplicable after the night he'd just had, is still… alarming.

            And there’s something wrong with his head, something off – like his brain has gone all fuzzy or some bizarre shit. But the most pressing part of the head thing is the pain, something sharp and grating – with three distinct pinpricks acting as epicenters for the radiating grind of irritation: just above each temple and the worst one right between his eyes.

            Jason groans.

            The sound is an effort.

            It bubbles up his throat with a downright prejudiced resistance and when it hits the air, the fucking thing sounds more like a god damn wheeze than anything with vitriol behind it.

 

            Fabulous.

            Gotta check his fucking lungs out for whatever tear or puncture is leaking fluid into that shit and making his vocals go all wonky.

            Funny though.

            Doesn’t feel like he’s breathing under strain.

            Honestly, his lungs feel pretty damn good, considering the hell that is the rest of him.

            So lungs are low priority. Low-ish. They probably shouldn’t be but Jason decides to just fuck it and roll.

            Continuing his self-assessment triage, Jason twitches his muscles and rolls his joints – running through the ten point check B’d drilled into him way back when.

 

            Feet. Attached, sore – possibly a blister on his fucking toe.

            How the hell he got that one is beyond him.

 

            Ankles. Knees. Functional. Responsive. Attached to calves and thighs that fucking burn to move, but probably are not bleeding and most likely would hold his weight if he forced it.

 

            Hips. Not bad.

            The left one feels like he’d banged it pretty hard, which he doesn’t remember doing, but he also doesn't remember not doing – and both are functional and responsive, so no problem.

 

            Spine. Hella fucking sore at every point a muscle touches, and it pops and crackles ominously, but nothing seems like the kind of shooting pain he should be worried about.

 

            Neck and shoulders. Fucking god the muscles in his shoulders burn. But they move when he asks them to, and there isn’t any creaking or grating inside the joints themselves. Even his neck and the points where it attaches to his skull ache, but again they respond right away.

 

            Elbows. Wrists. Fingers. All working fine. All the muscles around them screaming in protest when he moves them but they do move.

 

            Without opening his eyes, because holy fuck is the morning bright beyond his eyelids, Jason cautiously investigates his surroundings by touch.

            Fingertips brush plush carpet. Back arches against warm blankets. Cheek nuzzles into a rough pillow – couch cushion, most like, repurposed when the ‘decision’ was made regarding how the effort of getting his ass to a real bed was not fucking worth it.

 

            He had just curled up on the floor where he’d sat last night with Tim to patch up the wound on his right shoulder – because Tim has deft little fingers and Jason couldn’t reach the cut to stitch it proper.

            The cut he basically couldn’t even feel anymore…

            Well, shit. Jason should get Tim to stitch up all his scrapes if he’s gonna do such bang up job with it. Legit. This is fucking great.

 

            Speaking of Tim, Jason thought the little fucker had curled up right next to him on the floor – But the tell-tale seep of warmth is absent from his side.

            Tim’s a fucking furnace, so it’s definitely not just Jason overlooking the sensation of warmth because the sun is bearing down so strongly.

            With a regretful huff at having to face the day, Jason rolls onto his stomach and berates his arms into pushing him partly upright.

            As he manages to sit up an enticing smell appears beside his face – dark, and rich, and sharp with a sweetness that curls up warmly in the back of his throat. He practically shudders at the incredible smell – hands reaching blindly, but with perfect aim, for the mug holding the deliciousness of fresh coffee.

            He’s chugged half the mug before it occurs to him that it should be too hot to drink.

            And too bitter.

            Jason likes to play the bad boy image up, and he can force down a dark roast black if that’s his only recourse for caffeine, but that doesn’t mean he actually likes the taste of it. And in this safe house he doesn’t even keep a reasonable roast – the only kind of coffee currently stocked on these shelves is Tim's unholy blend.

            But this… this is… glorious.

 

            Jason frowns, damn near certain that there’s something obvious – something important and obvious – flitting just beyond the reach of the brain cells finally starting to wake up inside his fucking fuzzed up head.

 

            “We have a problem,” Tim says grimly from somewhere by his shoulder. His voice is rough, husky – too deep in a way that makes Jason's wariness kick in. “A big problem.”

 

            Jason hears the trepidation in his voice – fucking feels the tension like it’s thrumming through his own body.

 

            Reluctantly, he cracks an eye.

 

            And the other.

 

            Stares blearily at his own face.

 

            Blinks.

 

            Yup. That’s his own fucking face, alright.

 

            The coffee cup in Jason's hands is nudged – reminding him of its presence. He drops his gaze to it, stares at the dark swirl of liquid… downs what’s left in four big gulps that he doesn’t even think to separate with any breaths.

            He's forced to suck in air afterwards, but the combined influx of caffeine and oxygen helps him get his head on straight.

            Sorta.

 

            “Tim?”

 

            His voice sounds weird – too high and almost keening.

 

            Another cup of coffee is placed into his hands, the empty one being pulled away without him being able to render any resistance.

            “Just drink that,” Tim whispers – still with that too deep, too rough voice.

            Jason can’t protest. He curls his fingers around his mug and sips the life-giving brew.

            Frowns.

            The coffee is delicious.

            The mug is warm where it's nestled in his hands – being hugged by too-pale fingers and set in palms smaller than Jason's have been for years.

            The headache is abating, which is fucking great but equally confusing. It means the headache is probably withdrawal… but Jason's careful with his caffeine. He tops off at like 4, maybe 5, cups a day, on average – usually tea, and frequently on the lower end of the caffeine spectrum. So, it just doesn’t make sense for him to be hurting this bad on a lack of coffee after just one night – 6 hours at most.

 

            Jason pulls his knees up and crosses his legs underneath him, trying to get himself into a position that better facilitates waking up for real. With how much his muscles hurt, he's not quite willing to stand yet, but he definitely needs to wake up more.

            Taking another sip of coffee, Jason looks up – still at his own fucking face – and says cautiously, “Define ‘problem'.”

            Jason's own face shoots him an apologetic look and holds up a mirror.

            “It’s easier to show you.”

 

            Jason is reluctant to look, too sure of what he’ll see, but he takes the mirror gingerly and angles it to reflect the face around his eyes.

            Sure enough, the pasty ass face reflected in the silver circle is Tim’s – complete with the bleary-eyed morning glare Jason has never seen him lose before his third cup of coffee.

            Jason heaves a sigh – heavy, but it sounds too light inside his too small chest.

 

            “Well, fuck.”

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