“ Love is friendship set on fire .” - Sarina Bowen , US.
It was hard for Jason to think of something that sucked more than being checked into the boards by his dad. They had only played together for one season before he retired. Even though they were on the same team, Bruce still managed to catch him off guard once every couple of practices- just to remind him that he still could. Not like Jason could ever forget that. When he was a kid, Bruce Wayne was one of the most recognised faces in the NHL. It was a shadow that Jason was more than proud to still be under; so the thought of needing to be reminded was a little redundant. And he was pretty sure he still had bruises from some of his worse slide-ins four years later. But it was all in good fun. After a while, Jason learned how to take the ribbing from the rest of the guys about being pushed around by his old man. And he was glad, in the end, that his dad had done it to show him how stupid he could look. It prepared him for his worst slip ups. So it was difficult for Jason to think of anything much worse.
That was until Clark, the mammoth of a man who had been dating his father for the last seven years, stood to the side of him in the face off. He stared Jason in the eye with a grin so wide that he swore his helmet would pop off. Jason glared back waiting for the puck to drop. “Hey Jaybird,” Clark cooed at him as the rest of his team snickered at the nickname.
Jason refused to break his concentration. “Yeah, Pops?” he asked watching the ref.
Clark grinned wider and his eyes flicked to the tunnel. “Your dad looks nice today,” he told him. “He finally get a haircut?” Jason looked impatiently up but the ref was still conferring with the others. “I only had to tell him it was shaggy once,” Clark continued, not looking away from him. “He’s an amazing listener,” he emphasized and grinned at Dick who was on the dot in front of him.
Jason was clenching his jaw and glared at Kara who was smirking at his obvious discomfort. He hated playing Clark. It was like being put up against his dad but worse- Clark babied him after he kicked his ass - and his shit talk was so polite that it threw him off. “Dick, you better get me that puck,” he grumbled at his captain.
The ref moved into place and Dick chuckled darkly. “You got it boss.”
He shut his brain off when the puck dropped and flew straight to him, Dick always delivered. Jason slipped back, enough for Kara to stumble on her charge forward. He swept the puck behind him before he knocked it over to Harley. She swung it around the net and she kicked it to Dick. Their captain faked a slap shot. The goalie moved to block, but Dick had already sent it over to Jason so he could tuck into the net. But, as Jason swung, Clark slammed into him. He missed. The whistle blew as his shot ricocheted into the net. Clark peeled him off the ice, dusting him down with a too hard pat while the crowd shouted around them. “You okay, kid?” he asked with his annoying, overly concerned, kind-of dad voice. Jason rolled his eyes and tried not to wince when he tapped him on the helmet. “Of course you are.” He grinned and winked over at the tunnel where he could see Jason’s dad who was leaning as far into the bench as he could to get a look at them. “You have good genes.”
He could hardly breathe with his head pressed hard into the pillow. A hand fisted in his hair to keep him still as the sheer pressure of Biz knocked the air clean out of him. Biz had a hand like a hockey glove, his palm almost wrapping entirely around him as he pumped Jason up and down. Jason felt like he was on fire, his entire body tingling as Biz shoved him closer and closer to the edge. He came with a shout as Biz bit down hard on Jason’s shoulder and shot out all over his back.
Jason fell flat onto the mattress trying to get his breath back as Biz pushed up off of him to find a towel. He only waited long enough for Biz to clean him off before he rolled off the bed and gathered his clothes.
Biz watched him from the space he had just evacuated with an easy smile, eyes heating him again as they fell up the length of his still exposed parts. Jason had to remind himself that this wasn’t a pleasure visit. Regardless of the actions, it was all business. “Next time,” he told him still breathless, “when Gotham wins, you’ll be the one on your knees,” he promised.
Biz stood up, walking so close up to him that Jason had to fight the urge to take a step back. He looked down his nose at Jason with an ease in his smile that boiled the man's already jealous stomach. “Small man make big promises,” he grumbled low in his heavy accent as he pulled Jason’s face up to his, enveloping him in a deep, slow kiss that left Jason a little light headed.
“But it is a promise,” he told him peeling his eyes open to glare pointedly at Biz. He shoved off of his chest and grabbed his jacket. He grabbed at the handle but Biz had met him at the door, his strong hand pushing it shut again. Jason turned back to him trying not to roll his eyes.
“Could stay,” Biz told him quietly, that stupid hopeful smile on his face. His english was deliciously imperfect, and him being a man of few words had always been one of the biggest reasons that Jason had been attracted to him in the first place. But Biz was a nice guy. Jason didn’t want a nice guy. Nice guys gave you feelings and Jason had been avoiding those for a little over a year now.
Jason tugged the door open, but pulled Biz down by the nape of his neck for one last kiss before he shut himself off again. “See you next game,” Jason called as he slipped into the hall and dialed Dick.
“You could get a Taxi like a normal person,” Dick told him when he pulled up to the curb in Jason's Dad’s car. Bruce had driven it down but decided he was going to fly back with Clark, so he left it with the boys. Usually Dick would have been jumping at the chance to drive Bruce's Aston Martin, but Jason could tell by the deadness in Dick’s eyes that his heart wasn’t in it. It was the loss. Dick always took it the hardest, which Jason guessed was fair since he was the captain.
He walked around to the driver side of the car and shoved on Dick’s shoulder until he relented to climb over the center console and let Jason make the long drive back to Gotham. He always called Dick after fulfilling the terms of the bet. They hadn’t won in Metropolis since before he had even been drafted and Dick was a man of routine. He drank at the same bar down the street from Biz’s apartment after every loss and then he'd swing by in an uber and gather Jason.
“I thought you might need a Taxi,” Jason told him and pulled out into the busy road. He glanced at Dick who was staring straight forward, his eyes looking glassy and tired. “If you don’t stop pouting then I’m going to give you all the gory details about my bet sex,” he threatened.
Dick groaned, “Please don’t-” but Jason did since he still looked like he might cry and laughed when Dick plugged his ears and started singing as loud as he could.
Dick was passed out, fully clothed next to him, when he woke up the next morning. Jason peeled his sweaty mess of an arm off of him so that he could get up. He groaned miserably at the clock. It was only nine and Dick had kept him up, forcing alcohol into him until three in the morning. He rolled until his feet hit the floor. He glared at his best friend while he pulled one of his Dad’s old jerseys on over his boxers. His stomach was churning. He needed food.
Clark had beat him to the kitchen. It was already filled with the sweet aromas of small town cooking. That was one of the many reasons Clark was the best--when he wasn’t playing hockey. “Are you a god?” Jason croaked, his throat dry as he watched him in the doorway. Clark laughed a booming laugh that reverberated through the entire kitchen. Jason winced as it rounded through one ear to the other and stabbed at the growing hangover.
“Coffee is on the counter,” Clark told him. Jason let it pull him in, happily accepting the aspirin that Clark pushed to him discreetly as his father walked in with a few files.
“Morning kiddo,” he said distracted, planting a kiss on the side of his head as he grabbed the mug of coffee Jason had just poured. Jason poured another, muttering to himself as he jumped onto the counter. He watched his feet dangle like he used to when he was a kid and his dad had just come home from a long string of away games. “We didn’t see you after the game last night,” his father told him, looking over the top of his mug at him. “You didn’t get into trouble did you?”
“You didn’t see me because you saw too much of him,” he said rolling his eyes and hooking his thumb towards Clark who grinned.
“Twice,” Clark stage whispered at Jason who groaned in disgust but also offered his hand for a high-five because he had to.
He continued like Clark hadn’t interrupted. “And besides, I’m not the one who is trouble,” he reminded him. Dick stumbled into the kitchen as if he had been cued. He leaned against the counter, mumbling good morning to Bruce and Clark before he stole Jason’s second cup of coffee. Bruce gave him a look and Jason shrugged, “We had a rough night.”
Tim took a deep breath as he got out of the cab. Edith had offered to drive him, she had been driving him to his games since he was six. He had told her he could catch a cab and ride back with one of his teammates, but it felt strange breaking the tradition. He fumbled for his security pass when the guard raised a hand at him. The man looked at the pass, then looked at him. He looked doubtful. Tim liked to think he was used to being doubted. His coaches had doubted him when he was younger and had told them that he was going to play professional hockey. They had doubted him when he chose defense. They had doubted him when his first draft came up and he didn't get picked. They had doubted him even when he was only the second defenseman chosen in his second draft. But now Tim was standing in the hallway of the Gotham Knights practice facility with a security guard begrudgingly waving him past.
He had been there before, during development camp but it felt different knowing that he was going to play in his first game.
“Timbits!” He braced himself as Stephanie leapt on his back. She ruffled his hair and slid down to her feet after nearly squeezing the life out of him. “Congratulations!” He shifted his bag as he thanked her. “We're going to kick some serious ass.” She hip checked him and he let himself get knocked to the side.
They had bonded during development camp. The first night everyone had been talking shit and then someone brought up the player they had wanted to be like when they were younger. He’d hesitated over his, the last time he'd told anyone they had given him shit- but he'd spoken up and said, “Diana Prince.”
She had been the first female to play in the league, and she played defense. People had looked at her and thought her weak, and she'd proven them wrong. He'd barely finished the name when Stephanie had leapt on him. Steph was one of the few there that had played actual games. She'd gotten called up for a few weeks halfway through the previous season. They had talked for the rest of the night about the ‘ Wonder Woman ’. He'd gone over every goal that he'd emulated in peewee, he'd quoted her, and Stephanie had broken down defensive plays and goal celebrations. Their bond translated to the ice and they worked well together. The coaches rotated pairings throughout the week, but by the end of camp they were stuck together. He'd wished her luck when he'd been sent down at the beginning of training camp and she'd gotten to stay. She had quoted Prince at him and told him she'd see him in a few days. It had taken 47 days, but they were here.
“Come on. You've got to meet Ivy,” She told him. Tim realized at that moment that he was actually going to be playing with people he'd grown up watching on TV. Stephanie laughed in his face and dragged him along.
She led him into the locker room and it was so much louder than he was expecting. Confident was blasting from the speaker in the corner. He tore his eyes away from Edmund “Bane” Dorrance singing along as he taped his stick. Stephanie shoved him into a stall near hers to start getting ready. He said hi to a few of the forwards he'd met in training camp. Then Pamela Isley walked in and Tim couldn’t look away. He had her signed stick hanging above his bed at his parents house. She bumped elbows with Bane and pulled her hair into a bun. Stephanie hissed at him and he jerked back into himself.
“You should say hi,” Stephanie said. He stared at her. He couldn't do that. She chuckled and tapped him with her stick. “Tell her that you met her when you were twelve and it changed your life.” She swooned and he shoved her toward the door. Ivy was talking with Harley and Bane anyway. He hoped this panicked feeling would fade before he made a fool of himself.
Stephanie grabbed him and they wrestled before he hit the door as it swung open. Stephanie let go and he dropped to the ground in a heap. Oh God . Two sets of Wayne eyes dropped to him. He prayed for the floor to just swallow him up. Instead Bruce freaking Wayne offered him a hand that he took with a shaking hand.
“Timothy Drake? Been waiting for you to get back up here,” Bruce offered kindly. Tim blinked. His brain had turned off the moment his hero had said his name. Oh God. He should say something. Say something or run away.
“Sorry boss. We're running late. You know how Bullock is.” Stephanie shoved Tim’s gloves against his chest and pushed him toward the ice.
“Thank you,” he breathed as they rounded the corner.
“It happens to us all. Give yourself a week and you'll forget all about the Cups and the goals and awards and all you will see are the terrible dad jokes.” He stepped out onto the ice first. She skated a slow loop next to him. “You have no idea. The jokes-” She gagged and laughed before skating away.
He checked in with Bullock and they ran a few simple drills as the others trickled in. When Gordon skated out with the Captain he took a deep breath and focused on what he was there to do, what he'd spent his entire life working toward.
During the last drill of practice, Gordon skated up to him while he was waiting on his turn.
“You're in tonight. I liked what I saw.” He nodded before Gordon skated off, he'd said what he needed to say. He shot Stephanie a thumbs up when she caught his eye. She whooped and skated to start the drill.
Basil just smiled when Tim asked if he could go first. He knew the goalie thought it was some superstition, and in a way maybe it was. On Tim’s first game he had waited, let his teammates pass by him on the way to the ice. He'd been so scared, too scared. As his last teammate stepped onto the ice, he'd run. Edith had taken him home when he'd shown up in the stands in his street clothes a few minutes later. The next game she had turned around to look at him in the backseat before they got out of the car. She had told him that she would look for him to be the first one out, if he wasn't then she'd come down and they wouldn't have to go back. Everything in him had rebelled at the thought of never playing hockey. It was all he wanted. So when it came time to walk out onto the ice, Tim stood at the front of the line and stepped out. Every big game since that moment, he'd been the one to lead their team out. When his nerves threatened to get the better of him he just thought of his teammates behind him and moved.
“Welcome to the ice your Gotham Knights,” called the announcer. He gripped his stick and ran onto the ice. His first pass he could barely think for all the lights and noise. The crowd was small, it was still early, but the entire rink was circled with fans in their black and silver jerseys. He skated a few circles, shot a couple pucks, before settling at the blue line to stretch.
He was watching the Speed’s goalie when he heard his name hissed. His eyes flicked over and he beamed. “Bart?! I didn't know you were playing.”
Bart just shrugged like it was no big deal, then the facade cracked and he inched closer to the line that separated their sides. “Been scratched for the last few weeks. Finally getting my chance. You'll let me score right?”
Tim chuckled at the puppy dog eyes being tossed his way. “In your dreams. Triple B after? Loser buys.”
“For sure. I feel like a real princess when you take me to dinner.” He stood and nodded behind Bart where the Speed’s Captain was shooting him looks. “See you after,” Bart called before racing off.
Stephanie tapped his knee when she sat down next to him. He smiled at her while the starting lineup was announced. The entire arena erupted when they called out Dick’s name. Gotham loved their captain. He remembered all the grumblings about how young he was when his captaincy had first been announced, but he'd taken them to the Cup finals his first season as captain and the grumbles had stopped. He heard the whoop from the tunnel when Jason's name was called. Stephanie shot him a look. “I told you,” she whispered. Tim snorted.
They all stood when the anthem played. With each verse he settled into himself. By the last note his eyes were focused on the ice and the noise of the crowd had faded into nothing.
Tim needed a change. But every time he moved for one the play came back at them. Central City’s team was aptly named. Their players were some of the fastest on the ice. His lungs were burning as he raced to get back into position. He checked Bart into the boards, forcing a turnover. Bart shoved him off and raced after the play. He skated straight for the bench. His legs were practically jelly as he slipped through the door. Stephanie pat his back as he caught his breath. “Fucking beast,” she told him. He offered her a wan smile.
He'd barely caught his breath before he was being tapped. He dove over and the puck hit his stick. Time seemed to slow down and he let his skates slide as he drew back. One of the forwards moved into his lane, but it didn't matter. He knew where the puck needed to go. Black and silver waiting at the dot for the puck . He swung and before the goalie could react the puck was deflected into the net. He yelled and skated toward the group on the ice. His mind was screaming that he'd just gotten his first point. He skated in a daze back to the bench. Dick pat his chest with the puck and said something, but he couldn't hear it over the pounding of his heart. He sat down and watched the play resume.
“Can I have your attention? with his 4th goal of the season #28 Jason Wayne. Assists by #89 Drake and #38 Grayson.” The crowd cheered louder.
Stephanie nudged him. “Your first point. How does it feel?”
“Unreal.” She shook him and they shifted down the bench.
They won. Somehow it didn't feel as big as the puck in his hand. He posed with a huge smile as he held the puck for the team’s media team. Stephanie gave him shit for the cheesy smile. He couldn't have cared less.
He felt like he was coming out of his skin as he waited for Bart, still riding the high from the game. Bart hopped as he walked toward him, the loss not enough to dim his smile. “Duuuuude,” Bart crowed as he bounced and started punching Tim in the shoulder. He laughed and shoved him off. “I almost cheered,” Bart said and draped his arm over his shoulder. He missed the days when he was the taller one. Even if it was just an inch. “You were supposed to let me score,” Bart complained.
“Hey Short Stuff!” he turned and peaked out underneath Bart’s arm. Bart snickered. “Dickolas wanted me to find you. Apparently it's my responsibility to get you to come out with us.” Jason looked like he wanted to do anything but.
“Already got plans.” He watched Jason's eyes follow Bart’s arm, he didn't move his from where it was wrapped around Bart’s waist.
“Got it,” Jason said with a smirk. “Don't have too much fun. Practice in the morning.” With one final appraising look he left them.
“Dude. He thinks we're-” Bart sounded worried.
“It's fine. It'll be fun to fuck with him anyway. He keeps calling me short.” Bart looked a little concerned, but let himself be dragged toward the parking lot as he ordered an Uber.
“You think I can break my record tonight? I'm starving,” Bart asked and he knew the worries had faded.
Jason stepped out of the bar bathroom with Dick’s numbered shirt on and his hands spread out as if he were a sacrifice. He saw cellphones from the strangers all around- as well as their group- to snap pictures as the team whooped and catcalled. He slumped into the seat next to Dick and glared at him before he looked over his shoulder to wave at the assholes who were still taking pictures. “There. You won. Are you happy?” he asked in a biting tone.
Dick just grinned. “That C sure looks good on you,” he said wiggling his eyebrows. Jason just rolled his eyes at that. Everyone knew he was more of an honorary Alternate Captain. Kate was the real threat.
“That shirt looks good on you,” Harley cooed jumping into Jason's lap. Harley hardly ever actually sat in a chair. Instead she jumped around the group and they all took turns supporting her. She ran her fingers along the shoulders that were stretched too tight over his and wiggled her eyebrows at Dick. “How come the two of you never dated?” she asked.
Jason had to work not to let his eyes drift to Barbara who was looking very hard at her beer. Dick was pretty fluid when it came to his sexuality. He didn't discriminate and let his gypsy spirit take him wherever his dick pointed. But during his rookie year after a hard game, Jason and Barbara had gotten smashed and she spilled her guts out. Her father and Bruce had always been good friends, so they'd grown up around each other. She and Dick had been close since they started playing together and she had been in love with Dick since she was nineteen. As it was, she was the most stubborn person in the world and refused to tell him since they had to work together. So she settled for longing looks and pulling Jason out of the room whenever Dick started talking about his awesome hipster girlfriend of two years, Shawn Tsang.
Jason took over the question before Dick could jump in with a horrible pun about his name. “I like my men either too big or too small.” He smirked and winked at Bane who flushed immediately and the team started cracking up.
“You still got that bet with Biz?” Ivy asked, leaning forward so that she could admire him better in the tight shirt.
Jason sighed. “Yep.”
“Why don't you just date Biz?” Harley asked twirling the curl at the front of his hair in her fingers. “He is sooooo nice. And that voice!” She made a heart with her hands and fell back, making Jason catch her and pull her back up while everyone laughed.
“I'm sorry if I don't want to be exactly like my father,” he told them and there was a collective eye roll. He knew that they were all thinking the same thing. One, he was already starting off just like his dad. And two, who wouldn't want to be Bruce fucking Wayne?
“Well I think you two are cute together.” Dick said and shrugged while trying not to smirk.
Jason punched his shoulder harder than he meant to. “Anyone looks cute next to Biz, he is a giant.”
“ Your giant.” Cass sang throwing a peanut at him.
“Can we not talk about my sex life?” he asked.
“No,” the entire team said at once and he couldn’t help but laugh with them.
Shawn was staring at him over the top of her sketchbook when he woke up on Dick’s couch the next morning. He was still in his jeans but had yanked off Dick’s shirt and shoved it under his head at some point during the night. “Morning,” she told him without stopping her quick scribbles.
Jason blinked at her, eyes still blurry from sleep and alcohol. “Are you drawing me?” he asked.
“You talk in your sleep,” she said as an answer focusing on the paper as Dick walked out of the bathroom with freshly washed hair.
He leaned over the back of her chair, resting his chin on her shoulder, “I think you gave him too many abs.” He said flatly.
“I think you are feeling bad about yours,” she answered bluntly.
“I knew I liked you,” Jason told her happily, pushing himself up off the couch and past Dick to the bathroom.
“I really think we have a chance this year,” he heard Dick say for the thousandth time to one of the pregame reporters as he was pulling his pads on. He tried not to make a face as he went on to talk about the great new additions to the team and what they had learned from their last season. Jason threw an old sock at Babs when he caught her staring too hard at Dick.
“Watch it or your nose may start bleeding,” he warned her.
She flushed crimson and grabbed one of her own socks to chuck at him, “I'll make your nose bleed if you don't shut up!” she hissed looking down as soon as Dick headed back their way.
“What are you guys talking about?” he asked.
Jason took over, “Just about how attractive people can always get away with sounding like a tool,” he offered with a shrug.
“I'm sure you’d know all about that,” Dick said with a grin and bumped him hard, sending Jason falling into the new kid.
He held his hands up in surrender and smirked. “Sorry shortstop. It's the idiot’s fault.” He pointed to Dick who flipped him off and rounded back to Barbara who had returned to her normal color.
“It's Tim,” the kid told him, looking less than amused.
Jason got out of Tim's lap and pulled his shoulder pad back into place. “How was your date last night?” he asked instead of acknowledging the correction.
“It wasn't a date,” he told him, looking anywhere but Jason.
He just shrugged and turned back towards his locker. “It should have been. He was hot.”
The game was tied in the third period and Coast City was playing hard. They had been hitting him the entire game, waiting for Jason to snap and put them on the power play. He was flustered. Jim could tell, but he wasn't pulling him off the ice. He stood in the face off trying to focus on Jessica but he could hear the horrible things that Jordan was muttering to Dick and tightened the grip he had on his stick. He was able to ignore most of it until he heard, “We aren't going to let a team owned by a fag win in our city.” He started seeing red.
Jason was ready to send himself flying at Jordan when the puck dropped, but Dick was already there. He punched him hard enough to knock off his helmet and earn him five in the penalty box. They didn't even have that much time left in the game.
Shit. He glared at Jordan as he took Dick’s place, the slice in his bottom lip giving him enough satisfaction not to follow his captain’s lead. He swept the puck back to Kate who pulled it out to center ice to get a better shot. They only had a little less than two minutes left and they had to make their connections count. She held it, but they came down on her hard until she had to launch it back down the ice to get them off the wall.
They only had ten seconds left when they set up for the last face off. “I'm shooting if forward,” he muttered to Tim as he skated by. “They'll all head for Kate. The goalie is bad about watching his left, fall up and tuck it in,” he told him. Tim acted like he hadn't heard anything but locked eyes with him when they got back into position.
“Ready to lose to a couple of faggots?” Jason sneered anger rising in his chest but the puck dropped before Jordan could respond. He was right. They all came at Kate as Jason launched it forward between Jordan’s legs where Tim caught it in a perfect connection. He swept it around the net and tucked it in before anyone had even noticed and that was it.
Jason collided with him, yanking him off the ice with the intensity of his hug. “Hey Hal!” He yelled at the defeated captain and kissed Tim hard on the cheek as he flipped him off.
That picture was all over the paper the next morning.
Tim felt like a child outside the principal's office. He'd been pulled out of practice along with Jason before they'd even gotten started. He was told to change back into his street clothes and asked to wait while Mr. Wayne spoke with Jason. So, he sat outside the office and tried not to listen, but he couldn't help but hear the argument.
“I was just supposed to do nothing?” Jason shouted, his voice rising enough that he could hear him clearly through the door.
“You can't let them get to you,” Bruce calmly answered.
“You didn't hear the things he said. I had to stand up for you.”
“I've heard them. Believe me. And this-” there was a slap of paper hitting the desk, “just makes us look like a joke.” That was the voice of the captain he'd grown up watching, the man who'd broken a guy's nose for touching his goaltender. Jason didn't answer, or if he did it was too quiet for Tim to hear. The door swung open and Jason swept out and down the hall. He turned as Bruce stepped out and smiled at him. The smile didn't reach his eyes as he beckoned him into the office.
“I wanted to check in with you. Jillian told me that you were pretty quiet in the group session yesterday.” He nodded. He'd been on the bikes cooling down when they'd pulled him in for a talk about what he was and wasn't allowed to say to the media.
“I was tired. I'm still trying to get adjusted to everything.” Truth was he had been terrified and distracted. His parents had been very vocal about their opinions on the Gotham Knights and the rumors about their captain when he was growing up. They hadn't been happy that Tim had been drafted by the Knights. He knew he shouldn't care. They had never really been there for him, but there was a little part of him that wanted them to be proud of him and was scared to disappoint them.
When he'd woken up and seen the picture on the cover of the Gotham Gazette he'd called Edith in a panic. She'd calmed him down enough to get him out the door, but he was barely holding it together. Tim had been looking forward to practice. He'd been looking forward to sinking into the routine to hide his worries. But he hadn't gotten that.
“I wanted you to know that as a father I am personally sorry for how my son acted,” he nodded again, but didn't respond.
Bruce watched him for a few seconds, eyes sweeping over his face. Tim watched him back. After a few minutes Bruce stood and offered his hand. He took it before slipping out. He headed for the garage. There was no use getting changed, by the time he got back to practice it would be over anyway.
“Hey small fry,” he stopped and turned slowly toward the voice. Jason looked like he had been waiting on him.
“My name is Tim,” he repeated as calmly as he could.
“Yeah. Okay.” He scoffed and kept walking. “I just wanted to say congrats on your first goal.”
Tim froze. The puck was sitting next to his first point on the tv stand at his hotel room. He'd been handed it as an afterthought when they had finished everything the night before. He turned. Jason looked uneasy and uncomfortable.
“You don't have to pretend. I get it. You are used to doing what you want, no consequences. Well that's not how it works for everyone else.” He thought of the voicemail on his phone that he hadn't listened to yet. “Not everyone's dad is Bruce Fucking Wayne and I just- stay away from me.”
Staying in a hotel in his hometown felt strange. Edith had told him he was welcome to stay in his room at home, but he didn't want to go back home. Since he wasn't sure how long he'd be up, it didn't make sense to look for anywhere permanent. It had only been a week and he already had a goal, an assist, and a minor media scandal. He wasn't sure what that would mean for him. He keyed in and dropped to his bed. His phone chirped. He groaned but pulled it up.
CK : Dude. Your dad?
TD : He left a voicemail last night. I haven't checked.
CK : Listen to it. You'll just give yourself an ulcer stressing.
TD : I already have one from all your crap.
CK : Stop deflecting.
TD : Who taught you such a big word?
CK : Some asshole who needs to listen to his goddamn voicemail.
Conner was right. He did need to listen to it. He toyed with his phone, flipped back and forth on the home screen, before selecting the icon.
“ Hey son. We're not going to be back until closer to Thanksgiving. See you then. ” He dropped the phone and stared at it. He'd been worried for nothing. He should have known. His parents hadn't been there for anything before why would they care now. He ran his hand through his hair and grabbed his phone as he laid down.
TD : Their trip is lasting longer than he thought. Like usual.
He let his phone rest on his chest and closed his eyes. This was stupid. He played for the Knights. No one was going to care about a celebratory kiss.
He was wrong.
He stared at a chunk of ice below him as he pushed himself back to his feet. He wasn't even sure what the guy had said when he'd checked him. That was the third hit this period, and he hadn't even been on the ice for that long. Once his skates were under him he sucked in a breath and started back for the play. Stephanie dropped the puck back to him as he crossed the blue line and he hammered in a shot. The goalie blocked it easily. Kate swatted at it a few times before the goalie managed to cover it. He was a little relieved. The hit had shaken him more than he wanted to admit.
He sank onto the bench and rubbed his cheek. It was tender, but not the worst he'd felt. “Timmers?” Stephanie whispered as they scooted over.
“‘m good,” he mumbled and leaned forward to watch the other team's defenders.
It felt like he'd barely blinked and he was back over the boards. Steph fell back as the other forwards closed in on them. He saw the shot coming and moved by reflex. The puck hit his thigh and Cass swooped in and got it out of their zone. He took a few careful steps before the puck was dumped back in as the other team went for a change. He snapped the puck over to Barbara who was waiting in the wings. She sped forward. Kate knocked it back to him. He slid it to Barbara, as soon as the puck had left his stick he felt his arm vibrate as his stick snapped. He stared at the guy who glared at him as he skated after the puck. He dropped the remnants of his stick and turned for a replacement. He'd just grabbed the offered stick when he heard a whistle. He turned to see a storm of blonde hair flying around as Stephanie's fist jackhammered into the guy's face. It was the same guy that had broken his stick. He gathered her gloves and helmet and skated to the penalty box when they pulled her away.
“That was hot,” he deadpanned as she took her things. She laughed.
“My lucky hair-band broke. He's lucky I didn't murder him.” She twirled her hair and tucked it in her helmet as she slid it back on.
“I'll avenge it for you,”
He skated back to the bench. Ivy leaned over Bane as he sat down. “You okay, Buttercup?”
“Fine?” he offered. He wasn't sure why she looked so concerned. Bane turned and looked at him.
The coach tapped him and he went over with Ivy. There was only a minute left in the period. Tim caught the puck against the boards. He moved to slap it deeper, but got pressed into the boards and the puck was jammed against his stick. He fought control, hacking and slapping at the chunk of rubber.
“Need a girl to fight your battles?” he fought the urge to headbutt the guy. He could feel his breath against the back of his neck. He slid his stick and knocked it lose before dropping his shoulder and sliding out as the idiot rammed his own head into the glass.
He called for the puck and Ivy's eyes flicked to his as the puck came to her. She faked the shot and sent him the pass, the goalie scrambled to correct. He fired it home and saw the net move as the buzzer sounded. Ivy slammed into him, whooping loudly in his ear. He laughed as Cass facewashed him. There were a few seconds as the refs checked that the time hadn't run out, but it was announced a good goal. Stephanie hooked her arm in his as they walked back to the locker room.
“My avenger!” she crowed.
The next period came with more hits. Tim shrugged them off and focused on his game. Bane dropped gloves halfway through the period. He couldn't remember the last time he'd seen Bane fight. Despite his looks, he'd always been an easy going guy. He'd seen more than once someone try to goad him into a fight, but the man had never fallen for it. He leaned forward as he watched the fight and tapped his stick against the boards as Bane skated for the penalty box.
He got tapped and went over. Ivy nodded at him as they settled at the face off. He got the puck and passed it to Dick. Dick circled and slapped it across to Jason. Jason passed it to him. He moved to shoot when he felt a stick hit his back. His stick slid under him as he fell and his face slammed into the ground. He spit blood as he came up. Ivy was suddenly there, telling him to stay down. He coughed and more blood dripped from his mouth. The trainer kneeled and pressed gauze to his mouth. He didn't know what was bleeding, his entire face ached. They helped him to his feet and he skated through the circle of his teammates holding a pad of gauze to his mouth.
He watched the rest of the period from the trainer's room. Dick got a little free with his elbows and Bane and Ivy laid heavy hits. Stephanie looked like a woman on fire. He smiled through his bust open lip, meds dulling the pain. At the beginning of the third period Jason and one of the guys who had hit him were shoving at each other in the face off. He saw the guy's mouth move and Jason's eyes narrow. As soon as the puck dropped Jason swung.
Jason could feel his dad glaring daggers into the back of his head as he argued with the ref about the idiot who was glaring at him with a nose full of blood. They weren't playing fair. The refs knew it and they were still letting them get away with stupid hits that were pushing all of the right buttons. He could see it on all of the Knights’ faces when he looked back at the bench. The refs made their call and Jason shouted something horrible at him as he skated off and Jason made his way to the penalty box. They had just opened the door to let him in when they player he’d hit skated by and spit a mouthful of blood and the two teeth Jason had managed to knock loose on his face. “I hope your boyfriend was worth it,” he sneered at him.
He had never heard silence like that hit the arena before. The entire crowd leaned forward waiting for him to retaliate or for the refs to call something- but they didn't. Jason didn't. He ran his glove over his face, wiping the copper out of his eyes before he looked back at his dad back in the tunnel. He looked like he was about to jump onto the ice himself- yelling at the ref next to him. He took a deep breath and forced himself to step into the box. The crowd cheered and pounded on the boards around him as he sank down and watched the clock.
His blood was pumping so hard that Jason couldn’t hear anything, his eyes were trained only on the numbers on the board. They were only a point behind with ten minutes left. He wasn't going to let these fucks push the Knights around. Not in his city. He glanced back at Jim as his time ticked down. He motioned him to the bench but Jason shook his head. Jim looked like he wasn't going to take that but after a moment he tapped Dick to send him back over the wall as the doors opened.
Jason fell in line, slipping behind Dick as he drove the puck around the goal and launched it back out the Jason. He faked a pass to Harley and left the puck for Ivy to pick up. Bane took it from there. He slammed in a hard shot at the goal but it bounced off the edge and out, ending with Jason flying down the ice on top of the guy who spat at him.
He had barely touched the puck when Jason was slammed into the boards and the ref called for them to recenter for the next face off. Jim pulled their line and he skated slowly to the bench, tapping gloves with Babs on the way out. Jim gave him a hard look and he fell onto the bench next to Tim who handed him a towel and a bottle of water, glancing at him between watching the set up. “Would now be a bad time to say I'm sorry for being a hothead and fucking up your first goal,” Jason asked.
“Probably,” Tim grunted as Barbara leaned down with a good glare. “That was both the grossest and coolest thing I have ever seen,” he said after a minute and another set up.
Jason let out an involuntary laugh and wet the towel with his water bottle before he wiped at the dried blood. Babs took a bad hit and he was on his feet again. Jim sent him out to take her line back in.
There were five minutes left of the game. Dick looked like he was about ready to murder the captain for taking down Babs, and Jason would have wondered what that meant if he wasn't so focused on the goal. He glared at his face off partner and then watched as Dick lost the puck. Jason sidestepped the hit coming at him and flew at the winger who it went to, knocking them back hard- but legally. He kicked the puck back at Dick who beat the rush of players coming back at them. Dick shot it to Harley who tucked it back to Jason between her legs and he took a hard shot that flew past the goaltender’s glove and straight into the net.
The horn blew and Harley jumped him, throwing her legs around his waist. Jim called them back in as they called the goal and he heard his dad shout in the tunnel. Harley was still wiping at the blood on his forehead when Cass slipped in the last goal winning it for them.
The interviews went on forever and he felt disgusting by the time he actually got to hit the showers. He was one of the last ones in the locker room when he stepped out, finally blood free, and locked eyes with Tim who was zipping his bag.
They didn't say anything, but they didn't really have to. Jason wasn't sure if he could say they would ever be friends after what he did, but at least now he had hope that they could work together without it being weird.
His dad was in the kitchen when he woke up the next morning and had already set him out a cup of coffee that looked more like milk than anything else. Jason knew that it was a peace offering. The past few days after the kissing scandal had been rough, both of them either on toes around each other or exploding. Jason clenched the bag he was holding and sank into the chair next to him. He sipped at the coffee as he fell into the usual comfortable silence as he scrolled through the news on his phone. He shot a quick text to Clark.
JW : I don't know if I can do this.
CK : You are overthinking it. Just say you are sorry. I’ll be waiting right outside the door.
Jason had just worked himself up enough to say something when Bruce cut in, not looking up from his paper. “That was very impressive at the game yesterday,” he said and turned the page.
He blinked at him and shrugged. “The team took some hits, but I knew they would rally. And Cass got that-”
“Not the team,” his father told him and put the paper down. “The way you walked away from that guy after he…” he clenched his jaw and an embarrassing amount of pride gazed over at him. “I have never been more proud that you are my son.”
Jason cleared his throat and felt his face starting to turn red. “Well I figured I needed to make up for acting like an idiot,” he told him and couldn't help the smirk creeping up his face. “And I had a really solid apology that you just ruined,” he told him like he was mad.
“I'm sorry?” Bruce said amused.
“I forgive you,” Jason told him. “But I might have drunk-bought you something last night.”
Bruce groaned. “What is it?” he looked like he was already regretting everything he’d just said. The last time Jason had drunk-bought him something, he had come home to all of their perfectly sensible mugs being replaced with rainbow colored ones.
Jason took a breath and dug into the bag pulling out a black shirt and showing it to him. Bruce unfolded it and read the small white lettering that said, “My son loves this gay,” and after a beat he grinned at Jason like he was a little kid again. “This is the best thing you have ever given me,” he told him and sounded like he really meant it.
“I'm glad you like it.” Jason could feel himself going red now and he cleared his throat loudly, cuing Clark who walked in already wearing the same shirt. “Cause I got one for Clark too.” Only his said step-son.
Jason watched through the camera of his phone as Clark dropped onto his knee in front of his father and poured his heart out. He watched the way his father fell apart and Clark built him up all at once and he knew that this- more than some stupid picture of him kissing a teammate- was what would prove that asshole wrong. This love. This real and beautiful love that harsh words and fists would never break.