“Straying a bit far from the nest, Dickiebird,” Jason says. He’s got one hand shoving his mask back up into his hood, revealing just his mouth and the sharp line of his jaw, while the other digs in the pocket of his leather jacket, fishing for cigarettes. A beaten-up carton gets waved in Dick’s general direction, offering a cigarette Dick never accepts. Not like this. Not in the Nightwing suit, at least.
They’re currently overlooking Crime Alley, seated on the edge of the roof, legs dangling over the side. Jason hadn’t seemed surprised when Dick had dropped down next to him on the ledge. But Red Hood wouldn’t be Red Hood if Jason didn’t know the coming and goings of the various vigilantes creeping on Gotham's rooftops at night.
“Ran out of bad guys my side of the pond,” Dick says in the easy way he says lots of things. The patented Grayson charm. “What can I say—I’m just that good.”
That actually pulls a laugh out of Jason. A genuine one. One that has his mouth stretched apart in a smile that makes Dick think beautiful.
“No criminals in Blüdhaven. I knew moonlighting as a police officer would be bad for you. Six months on the job and they’ve already got you on their payroll.”
“Thought you’d be proud of me for lasting as long as I did.”
“Sure thing, Princess.” There’s a fancy Zippo in his hand now, one Dick has never seen before, lighting the first cigarette of plenty to come. Dick wonders if Jason lifted it off some crook he left for dead. “You probably broke some departmental records. Most Blüdhaven cops are on the take before they’ve even stepped off Academy grounds.”
Dick chuckles the way you chuckle when watching your own house burn down to ashes, all your mortal possessions still inside. Blüdhaven is a corrupt cesspool with no fast and easy fix. Maybe not even a slow and difficult one—and she’s all Dick's. He stuffs the thought somewhere deep and hidden and eagerly shifts his eyes to Jason so he can forget. Just for a while.
It’s hard to read Jason’s face, hidden in the shadows of his hood, but the body language is clear; no apparent stiffness or major sore spots. Jason looks relaxed, if not a little tired, fingers nimble when they lift the cigarette to his lips. So the bloodstains aren’t his own.
Jason shrugs. “Petty criminals, mostly.” His lips tighten into a harsh line. “Some creep who thought he could set up shop and play pimp. Fuck that. My girls work for themselves.”
His girls. And that, Dick thinks, is the difference between Bruce and Jason. Bruce has his villains, his meta humans, and when that well runs dry there’s the League. A galaxy full of nemeses for him to fight. Big players and even bigger stakes. Abstract concepts of freedom and peace, and the liberty of dealing in absolutes. Jason has his people. The concrete reality of kids not being cornered by predators and sex workers keeping money in their own pockets. And his people love him. Prefer the Red Hood taking an iron pipe to the face of their abusive ex-husband, their kid’s drug dealer, or the rapist next-door, to the untouchable Bat Symbol high up in the sky.
Maybe Dick’s been staring too hard or maybe Jason can tell he’s thinking of Bruce because the next time he speaks, he’s extra crass: “I need a cock so far up my ass I’ll be seeing stars, a good meal, and a shower with better water pressure than the usual geriatric-taking-their-midnight-piss nonsense that’s rife this side of the city.” He sucks long and hard on the cigarette, posture thoughtful, before releasing the smoke in a slow exhale. “Not necessarily in that order.”
Dick snorts. Maybe there’s more than just the one big difference. “That really something you wanna yell off the rooftops? Thought you were some big bad crime lord.”
“The fuck's that s'posed to mean, Big Bird?” Some might assume that toting around eight severed heads in a duffle bag once would make it hard to take the moral high ground on anything. Dick knows for a fact that Jason doesn’t really give a shit about either morals or the high ground but it doesn’t stop him from taking both and making them his bitch. “Think I’m weak for taking it up the ass? How ‘bout you dial back on the homophobia, you bigoted prick.”
It might be more impressive if Dick was a little less familiar with Jason and his rage. Jason doesn’t settle his actual grievances with his words. This is foreplay.
“Wouldn’t dream of it, Little Wing. Got the best thighs this side of the equator. Ain’t nobody calling you weak, babe.”
“Don’t you forget it, asshole.”
Dick hums, lowering himself onto his back, arms stretched high above his head. There’s a weird serenity to being verbally abused by Jason as the Eastern sky is starting to brighten. The sound from the street feels distant and Jason feels so close, their thighs mere inches apart. When Dick lets his head rest on his arm, Jason’s broad shoulders fill up half his vision and he knows if he buries his nose between his shoulder blades it’ll smell of leather and smoke and sweat.
Jason twists his torso towards him. “Were you even listening, Fingerstripes? Just told you I want a cock up my ass before the night is through. Need me to grab a pen and a piece of paper and spell it out for you?” Jason gives a depreciating grunt. “And Daddy dares to say that you’re the smart one.”
“Jesus, Hood,” Dick teases. “Can’t tell if you’re trying to go for seductive or insulting.”
“Shows how shit your instincts are. I’m doing both. You turned on yet?”
Dick shrugs good-naturedly, arches his back and gives Jason the Grayson smile, blinding, crooked, winning. “Little bit.”
There’s another laugh, another smile. Another beautiful in Dick’s head. Fuck, he’s so—God. Then Jason’s lying down beside him, shoulders brushing, and voice bleeding a warm: “thought you would be, you big slut.”
When Jason finishes his cigarette he kills what’s left of it on the concrete. Wordlessly lights another. The new Zippo burns big and bright.
Dick lowers one arm, carefully drags his fingers across the busted knuckles of the hand holding the lighter. Sometimes, those hands will leave red streaks on Dick’s skin and Dick won’t know if the person it came from is still a person at all. And he thinks Jason painting him with blood should probably bother him more than it does. But it’s hard sometimes, between the night job and the day job and the things he sees during both. Between Bruce, who puts principles before people, and Jason, who puts people before Bruce, is Dick, who doesn’t want to choose between either, who wants to have both—but let’s Jason mark him up with the blood from Gotham’s criminals, anyway. So, maybe he’s made his choice.
"Make me a coffee tomorrow morning," Dick says, Jason's hand warm beneath his own. "With those fancy beans. From that speciality shop where they roast and grind the beans on the spot and you watch them like a hawk 'cause you're both anal and a snob."
"Just the coffee?"
"Just the coffee."
"You're one cheap fucking lay, Boy Blunder."
“Only for you,” Dick says. "The Bat family discount.” Dick wonders if there’s a little something special in those cigarettes when that doesn’t get him punted off the roof immediately. The vicious elbow stab to the gut seems rather mellow.
“Asshole,” Jason murmurs under his breath. The vitriol dripping off that single word makes Dick honest-to-God giggle, chest feeling light like flying.
He thinks they’ll stay here a little longer. Maybe one or two more cigarettes—all Jason. Dick will smoke after. After the sex, and the shower and the sleeping and the coffee. Long after the morning is gone. When Dick has been stripped of his suit for hours and Jason the same for his mask and guns. Then Dick will sit naked in the afternoon sun on Jason’s windowsill, grab that Zippo and smoke.
One cigarette. Just then.