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a sort of walking miracle, my skin

 

-

 

Robby's head was pounding. Every time he blinked it felt like he was being stabbed. Sensei was in the back room, training maybe, or smoking. Maybe both. 

Robby wasn't exactly in a good place to think deeply about it. He'd just gotten his head smacked so hard he'd blacked out, both his dad and his former karate dad were pissed off at him, and his karate - granddad? Was that the thing to call him? Probably not - his Sensei had kicked the shit out of both of them and gotten kicked in exchange. And also karate war had been declared in the Valley, between Robby's new Sensei and his old Sensei and his dad, who had teamed up to not hate each other in favour of fucking Robby over. Not that the karate war was like, a new thing. It was alarmingly close to a standard state of affairs. 

None of it really mattered, anyway. It was just proof of what Robby already knew, had learned many hard ways already: that nobody who said they cared about him was ever telling the truth, and that if he gave anyone even a little of his trust he'd end up worse than where he'd started. 

Robby had an ice pack pressed to his temple and was sitting outside. It was dark out and cool, but he was fresh enough out of juvenile detention that he was happy to be able to choose what he wanted. That was how they got you, he figured. You got out and you thought you had choices now, even though by putting you in there in the first place they'd fucked you so bad your only options were the park or the back room of a fucking karate dojo. 

Between your dad knocking you out or breaking your teeth, probably. Awesome. 

A low whistle came through the air. It flitted higher, then, into some kind of bird call, like the kind that had filled Robby's ears when Mr LaRusso had taken him out to the woods, before he'd kicked Robby out of his life and into fucking jail. 

Robby lifted his head. Cursed under his breath, because it fucking hurt. 

But then a figure melted out of the dark, a familiar spiky head followed by a smirk that was so distinctive Robby would have recognised it anywhere. 

"Hey, baby." The man came towards Robby, on light feet. He looked different out of the prison uniform; jeans and a t-shirt, white sneakers. He looked like anyone you’d see on the street, but nobody you’d see on the street moved like that

"What are you doing here?" Robby’s eyes widened. It hurt to widen them. Shit. 

Jason shrugged, reaching out to push Robby's hair back, away from his eyes. "I came to check on you. You're my Robin, after all." He knelt in front of Robby. He still smelled like the cheap juvie soap.

"You have two months to go,” Robby said, dumbly. He felt like he was moving underwater. Maybe it was the head trauma; maybe this was a hallucination. It didn’t feel like a hallucination, but if he was seeing things he would think that. “Possibly more, because you keep getting in shit.”

Jason shrugged. He got fluid, when he was comfortable. His body moved like water, like he was perfectly at home in his own skin. "Seemed like a drag," he said. "It got boring without you."

It took Robby a second, because of the slowness. “Shit,” he said. “You broke out?”

“What,” Jason deadpanned. “Like it’s hard?” 

 

-

 

Things all moved so goddamn fast. That was the thing about prison, and about anything else that was on the edge of illegal: it was either extremely fast or exceptionally slow. You spent all your time hurrying up to wait. 

So Robby had had all of forty-five seconds to realize what had happened, before he was in Juvenile Detention and stuck there. It took him two weeks of waiting before his dad’s pastor friend came by; another two before he snapped and started fighting, because getting kicked around was boring as shit and he was sick of getting judged for it. He'd been taught that karate was for defense only, but hey: not getting pulverized ought to count for that. 

By the time he’d settled in to prison life - kicked the shit out of a couple guys enough that everyone left him the fuck alone - he didn’t have that much time to go. But that was when the transfers arrived. 

There weren’t many of them. Just five or so; they all had the same grim expression everyone wore when they showed up at the San Jose Youth Detention Facility, just in time for lunch. Four of them melted away into general population, finding the little knots of guys who looked like them, alliances. The fifth, the only white guy, came towards Robby.

 

"Jay," the guy said. He was about Robby's height, maybe an inch taller. Diaz' height. Not that Robby was thinking about Diaz, because there was nothing he could think that could do anything to help Diaz, and frankly he’d done enough to Diaz without using the thought of him as miserable self-hating jerk-off material. 

The new guy looked like trouble. That described most of the guys in here with Robby, but by now Robby had learned to pick out the guys who were here because they'd gotten a raw deal from the guys who were here because they'd gotten a good one. If you were a white guy and you were in here, well. You'd pissed somebody off for sure. 

"Robby," Robby said. He held himself carefully, shoulders straight. He didn’t want to be a target, especially if this guy was what he looked like. 

"Aw, hell," Jay said. "Really?" 

Robby tensed even further. "It's my name," he said. Guys had picked dumber fights in here, he'd seen - but not much dumber. It was just a name, even if Robby was a short, pretty, white guy with a soft mouth. 

“I bet it is,” Jay said. He shook his head. “Sorry, man, nothing to do with you. Just a guy I had some trouble with before I came in here.” 

Robby shrugged. “I won’t be trouble if you don’t make any,” he said. He let his teeth show when he said it.

 

-

 

Jay didn't go after Robby and Robby didn't go after Jay. Neither of them were like that. Robby hadn't come in looking to make friends and he had successfully avoided it. First by getting the shit kicked out of him enough to make him poison for anyone unaffiliated; then by standing up for himself, which made him someone you didn't want to fuck with. He was cool with the end result: he ate his meals in peace, did his community service in blessed silence, and minded his own business at night. 

Jay was a little different. Not a do gooder or anything, but he didn't shy away from fights like Robby had, in the beginning. He was pretty if you squinted, and unaffiliated, which ought to have made him somebody's idea of a good time. Robby missed most of the early fights. He avoided places where people gathered. Later he’d figure out that it was intentional: the flashiest fight for the biggest audience. 

 

It was an accident that Robby was in the rec room. He wasn’t checking his email anymore, even though he wasn’t getting kicked to death about it. It was too depressing to see nothing from his girlfriend - probably ex now, since he was in fucking jail - and even more depressing to have nothing to do in that precious online time. Better not to even dip his toe into it. 

It was the best place to read, though. He’d guilted his dad’s pastor friend into sending him a couple of books - Pride and Prejudice, what the hell - and you could tuck your back into a corner and have decent lighting and a nice place to sit.

“Hey, nice book,” Jay said, and then he jumped and spun and his foot snapped out into Hernandez' shoulder and all six feet one eighty pounds of Hernandez went down. 

Behind Hernandez were six or seven guys, no guards to be seen. Jay's mouth flashed in a bloody grin as two of them took him down. 

Well, shit. If Robby didn't do something he might be okay, but he equally likely might not. Like it or not people clumped him and Jay together. If they were already primed to beat on Jay it was a hop and skip to Robby. 

He took twenty-five seconds to make up his mind. In that time Hernandez dragged himself to his feet and Reyes and Garcia had gotten a couple good kicks in. 

Jay was just grinning, while they held him. That was what flipped Robby, the grimness of it. It felt fucking familiar, like he'd smiled when Trey and Cruz were kicking the shit out of him . Just smiling because what the hell else was there to do? So he stepped in. 

Mr LaRusso had taught Robby karate for defense only . His daughter had taught Robby swiftness, and the electricity that came with fighting with someone, not just against them. Robby was used to being small and fast and against all comers, and though he was growing past it he'd been trained to fight with someone in his corner. 

 

It took five guards to pull them all off each other. They put Robby and Jay in one of the computer areas to cool off. 

"Both of you," Bauer said. "Jesus, sit down, stay down." He was one of the better ones. Didn't look away so much when the older guys were messing with the younger ones. 

Robby and Jay were two white guys. This was how things went, which was to say easier . Robby wasn't going to be ungrateful about it but it still left him feeling unsettled every time. 

"So," Jay said. The left side of his face was starting to purple. "Good right hook."

"Thanks," Robby said. And then, to be polite, "when you flipped that guy? That was awesome."

Jay sketched a little bow in the air with his hand, ignoring Bauer's glare. "I do my best."

"You pissed them off, huh?" 

"I pushed," Jay said. "Little too far. Didn't know all of them would get involved." He smirked. "My brother always says I never know when to quit."

"My karate teacher used to joke, maybe one day you'll all be capes. If only he could see me now."

"His loss. Capes are fuckers anyway."

"I bit Aqualad when I was eleven," Robby said, thoughtfully. "He caught me shoplifting."

Jay laughed. "You get anything good?" 

"Nah," Robby said. "Pokemon cards, I think. Cologne."

"When you were eleven?" 

"Made a molotov out of it," Robby said. He couldn't help the grin. 

"Jesus," Jay said. "You LA babies. No trouble my ass."

"Where are you from, then?" He couldn't quite place Jay's accent. It was broad, East Coast. Philly, maybe? Fuck knew, Robby had never left California. 

Jay's eyes searched his face. "Gotham," he said. "Papers say Seattle, though."

"Snitches get stitches," Robby said, lightly. Mimed zipping his mouth, tossing with his wrist. 

"Yeah," Jay said. "You're pretty without 'em."

Usually that would make Robby's skin prickle uncomfortably. In here shit could get real bad real fast. 

But the way Jay said it - it was just an observation. Something warm and pleasant. Not a knife's edge pressed to his throat. 

"Flattery will get you everywhere," Robby said. 

"Is that what you said to Aqualad?" Jay asked, ducked out of the way of Robby's gently lobbed fist and cackled to himself. 

"Asshole," Robby said, but really that was all it took: they were friends. 

 

-

 

It wasn't weird to be sleeping together, in there. It wasn't a thing that was encouraged, especially because the cots were fucking fragile and did not like the weight of two guys crammed into one, but it wasn’t like anyone was going to stop them. If they wanted to risk falling on the floor at night who was gonna stop them? Kids did it all the time. For kid stuff - comfort, warmth, friendship - and for other stuff, too. The other stuff didn't usually require the whole night, though. 

Jay settled into the cot next to Robby’s, and then they pushed the two of them together so they could play cards at night. Jay was an inveterate cheater but Robby was, too, and they were both good natured enough to simply escalate the stakes. 

And at night when they could get away with it Jay read to him, with a little pen light he'd scrounged up from somewhere. The thrilling adventures of Elizabeth Bennett. 

Which was cool. They'd been doing it in English, right before Robby got expelled for grievous bodily harm. 

Jay was breezing through it. He did voices for all the characters, made his voice come alive with all their different desires. Robby had never been much for fiction but he didn't mind this. It was nice to listen to something instead of the sound that was in his head all the time, which was the sound of Diaz falling and cracking into the ground. 

 

Jay called him Robin . Robby liked it; he'd had a string of nicknames over the course of his life but this one was new. It didn't remind him of anyone who'd tried and failed to drag him out of whatever shit he was into. 

He had not intended to get used to being there. It was supposed to be like every other rough patch in Robby's poorly-paved life story: grit your teeth, get through it, file it away with the rest of the fucked up shit when you're done. 

But with Jay there it began to feel like existence, a slog through breakfast to lunch to community service to bed, and more like - 

Well. Better, at any rate. 

 

He had nightmares. Jay, not Robby. Robby had nightmares too, but he just cried through those, woke up with a wet face and clenched fists. When Jay was dreaming he screamed, sometimes. Once Robby woke with Jay's whole body pressed against him, covering him from some unseen assailant, while Jay remained perfectly unconscious. 

That had gotten Robby into a fistfight, that if he was soft enough to let Jay do whatever he wanted someone else might step in, too. 

Jay watched, warily; the opposite of his sleeping self, throwing his whole body in to protect Robby. Robby wasn't mad he hadn't jumped in. He didn't need help if it was only three guys. That would have been insulting. 

The Robby before juvie had loved having Sam at his back. This Robby didn't want anyone he didn't absolutely need; having someone behind you was an invitation to get stabbed in the back. He’d known that before the LaRussos; it had been an unfortunate lesson to re-learn.

 

Robby never got visitors and neither did Jay. Technically Robby did get visitors but he said fuck off to all of them; he was pretty sure they were all on the same page now, as far as nobody actually wanting to see anybody. 

Jay never got visitors. That wasn't unusual. It didn't seem to bother him much. Robby was jealous about that but tried not to let it show. Every time they told Robby he had a visitor he fought with himself, a long drawn out internal wrestle where every time the anger and betrayal almost barely won out over the desire to be someone's son

It wasn't like Robby was short on time to spend with Jay. They were together all the fucking time. 

But it was a lot easier to say fuck off to his dad, to Mr LaRusso, when there was Jay to be playing cards with instead.

 

-

 

Nobody was ever really alone in juvie. Robby figured it was probably like that in grown up jail, too, but that wasn't his problem, so he didn't think about it. It wasn't the worst thing to adjust to, but it was a little better when the person whose pockets he kept being stuck in was Jay. 

They got out for community service together. Bauer, probably thinking they'd keep each other out of trouble, or at least individually getting wrecked in a public place, made sure they were on shift together. 

 

They were scrubbing out the pots in the back of the soup kitchen, just the two of them. Robby’s hands were peeling even through the gloves. 

Jay never bitched about community service. He complained about pretty much everything else, but not this. He just dipped his dark head and went to work. 

It was a kind of familiarity that panged through Robby's chest. He had thought he was incapable of feeling that kind of sharp sympathy, that all those days on the run and then in here had blunted it. But Jay brought many things to life in Robby that he had not known existed, or had thought long dead. 

"My dad sent me to jail," Robby said. "Not my dad. My - karate teacher. I guess." It sucked to think about, reliving that moment of hot fear and betrayal and shame, underneath it all. He’d thought everything was going to be okay. 

"My dad kicked me out," Jay said. "He told me to go live with my big brother. Guess who kicked me out, too."

"I always wanted a brother," Robby said. 

"You can have mine," Jay said, immediately. "You'd have to share him with his five hundred friends, though. They all suck."

"My dad kind of got me one," Robby said. "I mean, he got a new kid to do all that dad shit with, so that's kind of like getting a brother."

Jay raised an eyebrow. "Sounds like you get along about as well as me and mine, then."

"I kicked him off a balcony," Robby said. Shit, it felt weird to say out loud. "Miguel, not my dad. It was an accident. That's why I'm in here."

"Robby-Robby-Robin," Jay said, drumming his fingers along the steel counter. He hadn't gotten up and left, so that was good, all things considered. "That's fucked up. He okay?" 

"Not really," Robby said. "Hospital for a while now. I think he had surgery, so maybe he can walk now." It sounded fucking awful when he said it. Like he didn't give a shit. 

Jay didn't look at him like he thought Robby was a monster. He looked at Robby like he was thinking about it, like it was just a normal thing to say. Like, I used to smoke . I'm vegan now . I might have paralyzed a kid because I was jealous my dad liked him more. 

"Fucked up," Jay said, at last. 

"There was a manhunt," Robby said. "You really didn't see it?" 

"Other things are going on in the world, Robin," Jay said. "You feel bad about it?" He asked it with genuine curiosity, not like he was trying to trip Robby up. Like he actually wanted to know. 

"Yeah," Robby said. "Of course."

Jay shrugged. "I shot my brother once," he said. "He's fine now. But I don't feel bad about it."

"When Diaz can walk again I'll stop feeling bad," Robby said. He wasn't going to think about the thing Jay had said. He hadn't asked for absolution or judgement and Robby was capable of neither, anyway. 

Jay pulled off one of the big plastic gloves and tapped those fingertips against the inside of Robby's forearm, skipping over the hot soapy water to press his fingerprints into Robby’s skin. "Okay," he said. 

 

-

 

The day before Robby got out, he and Jay were outside on the rec equipment. Jay was sitting underneath the pull-up bars and Robby was hanging from the bar by his knees. He was getting back into more of the gymnastics shit he’d done as a kid, the kind of aerials he’d spent forever practicing because you needed them for tricks on the half-pipe. Jay always laughed when Robby did them, and Robby liked when Jay laughed. So that was part of it, too.

Robby had always been eager to please. People didn’t get that, but it was true; he knew this about himself, because it was such an obvious and stupid thing. If you were nice to Robby he would do things for you. He’d been like that since he was a little kid, hanging around, hanging on for any attention from his mom or dad.

He liked when Jay was happy with him, though. Jay wasn’t like Sam, or Mr LaRusso; he wasn’t a bright and shining light, a force of pure goodness. He was definitely fucked up, and it was definitely more fucked up than Robby was. And Robby was pretty fucked up.

Jay liked watching Robby do flips and he also really fucking liked getting in fights. Robby liked fights a normal amount; one on one, for sure, getting to flex and push. Jay liked going five against one. He liked when he got the shit kicked out of him and turned the game around.

“Hey,” Jay said. 

“Mm,” Robby said. The blood was rushing to his face; he could feel it flushing. 

“It’s short for Jason,” he said. “Jay.” 

“Okay,” Robby said. He pulled himself back up, through his arms, and swung back down to sit beside Jay - Jason - on the dirt. “My middle name is Swayze. One for one.”

Jason stared at him for a second and then he laughed, a bright delighted little snort. It was not dignified at all but it wasn’t malicious, either. Jason, for all his faults, didn’t glory in picking at obvious sore spots. It was one of many things Robby liked about him. “How the hell’d you make it this long in here?” he asked.

Robby grinned at him. “You know.” 

“I do,” Jason agreed. He tipped his head back and the long line of his throat gleamed under the sunlight. “I’m gonna miss the shit out of you.” 

Robby sighed. He wouldn’t say I’ll wait for you, because people made promises all the time. People had made Robby more promises than days he’d actually attended high school. “Yeah,” he said. “I’ll miss you too. Nobody else calls me Robin.”

“Good,” Jason said. “Anyone does I’ll rip their throat out.”

Robby shivered, but it felt good. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” Jason’s voice was low, but it could not have been mistaken for a whisper. “You know I’m good for it.”

Robby felt himself smile. It felt hot inside him, powerful. "I do."

 

-

 

Robby should have probably been more worried about who would see them, but he wasn't. He let Jason sit next to him on the curb, and let his own head fall sideways against Jason's shoulder. Let his eyes drift shut. Jason would know if he needed to get up and fight. He wouldn't let Robby be blindsided. 

"What happened to you, baby bird?" Jason was stroking Robby's hair gently, the pads of his fingers drifting tenderly over the painful patch on his head.

"'m not a bird," Robby said, opening one eye to glare at him. 

"I know, baby," Jason said. "Someone got you good, though."

Robby closed his eyes. "My dad," he said. He should have said my fault, not his , but he didn't want to. If Jason heard it like it sounded then maybe Robby's dad shouldn't have done it in the first place. Maybe sometimes you didn't need subtlety. "We got in a fight. My head hit the lockers."

Jason cooed, that gentle motion uninterrupted. "Fuck him," he said, the vicious tone of his voice completely divorced from the tenderness of his touch. “You want me to go break his teeth? I’ll do it.” 

Robby shivered. It probably shouldn’t have been so nice to hear it - to believe it, the way he did - but it was. “I don’t want you to go back in,” he said. “I can pick my own fights.”

Robin ,” Jason said, slowing the soft scrape of his fingers. “I don’t go anywhere I don’t want to be.”

Robby sighed, floating a little. “Where’d you learn to fight?” 

“Promise you won’t tell anyone,” Jason said. 

“You wouldn’t tell me if you thought I would,” Robby said. “You wouldn’t ask.”

Jason barked that same little laugh. “Sharp,” he said. “Even with a head injury.”

Robby yawned, tilting his face into Jason’s hand, which had cruelly stilled. “ Jay.

“Okay, okay,” Jason said. “You’re a cat, not a bird.” But he started up the petting again, that same easy kind movement, so at odds with the way Robby had seen his hands move when he fought. Once he had had his hands on a guy’s throat, and his eyes had been almost black; Robby had wondered if he would turn those hands on Robby, if he stepped in.

Robby said, "Jason." He almost never said his name. It sounded strange in his mouth, maybe because he was saying it in clear air, outside air; the air that free people breathed. 

Jason took a breath and seemed to make a decision, the weight of it rattling through him and over him like a wave. "I was Robin," he said. "There was a Robin before me. And a Robin after." 

It took a moment to sink in. Then - 

It made sense when Robby thought about it. More sense than not, which was fucked up, too. Jason fought better than anyone Robby had ever seen. He wasn't afraid of anything. He had - the weirdest fucking scars. Everywhere. 

And that Gotham-ass accent. That was Gotham all over. 

"You gave me a nickname that was your name ," Robby said, indignantly. 

Jason started laughing and didn't stop. "Fuck," he said. "Robin, Robby Keene, I missed you so fucking much."

Robby reached out. Jason didn't move, let him curl his hand around the back of Jason's neck. It felt like a normal neck, not a super neck. Just skin. Not that Robby knew much about Gotham. "Did you fall in radioactive waste?" he asked. 

"Nah," Jason said. "Just a boy. Trained by a bat." He scratched the back of his neck. "A man dressed as a bat."

"Ugh," Robby said. "Boring."

Jason grinned. "So what's the move, Robin?" 

Robby blinked. "What do you mean?" 

"I mean," Jason said. "You didn't just get out without a plan. I don't know if this was part of it, but if it was, good job, that's dedication."

Robby poked at his melted ice pack. "Wasn't really a plan ," he said. 

Jason - Jay, like the boy Robby had met that first day - bumped his knee against Robby's. "Robin," he teased. 

"It's stupid," Robby said. Condensation dripped against his fingertips. 

"No such thing." Jason had such fucking clear eyes. When he looked at Robby Robby felt immediately assured. It was the kind of certainty that if Jason asked him to jump off a cliff he'd do it. 

“I want to be better than him,” Robby said, softly. "Both of them. All of them. That’s why I came here."

"Ah," Jason said. 

"My dad's teacher is in here," Robby said. "He's teaching me."

Jason narrowed his eyes. "What if I taught you, instead?" 

Robby's head hurt . "Jay?" 

"Robin," Jason said. "Formerly. Now I'm freelance." His eyes settled on Robby's face. "I was following a lead in there. A pipeline for kids with - weird shit, powers, whatever - going into a state black ops program. Trying to get noticed."

"Shit," Robby said. He didn't know much about weird shit with powers. It had always seemed like a fucked up fantasy to him. 

"It wouldn't have touched you," Jason said firmly, surely. "You're, uh -" 

"White," Robby said, because he really had not thought it was so much of a factor, and then he had gone to jail. "And in the news."

"Yeah." Jason shrugged. "All of that, plus you had a good lawyer. I was flashy and I didn't have any family. That helped make up for it."

"Did you-" Robby's lips felt dry. He licked them. "Did you get in?" 

Jason tipped his head. Robby couldn't look away from his eyes: like a mirror, always. Even before he'd known Jason's name he'd understood him. "No," he said. "I wanted to see you. So I left."

It rippled up Robby's spine with an alien fierceness, a hot and overwhelming sensation he could not put into words. "Jay," he whispered. 

"I left my family," Jason said. "I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t stay. You always said no to them, isn’t that right? I - it felt different with you.”

They had never kissed. It had never been the right time. They’d gotten off sleeping beside each other, gotten each other off when the shyness fled - Jay reaching over, Robby surprised that he had let him, surprised even more that he liked it - but they had never kissed. Now Robby’s skin felt too small, despite the pounding in his head and the exhaustion in the rest of him; he felt like he would die if Jason did not - 

“What would be in it for you?” Robby asked. Had to. “You would teach me, and-”

Robin, ” Jason said. “You would be my Robin.” He cracked a smile that looked like Robby’s, probably. A lopsided, longing thing. “You’re not the only one with something to prove.” 

“You think I could-” Jason had been a Robin . Batman’s Robin. “Even when I was a little kid I never wanted to be a cape.”

“Me either,” Jason said. “He said that was why I was so good at it.” He held himself so carefully, fingers just barely touching Robby’s skin; the kind of careful that held back so much tension and power that Robby felt in his bones it was only Jason’s will that kept him from pulling Robby close, digging his fingers in, painting bruises on Robby’s arms that would be in the shape of Jason’s fingers. It ought to have scared him but it didn’t, because he was not doing it. His touch was as light as a butterfly’s. 

Robby closed his eyes. “I’m not wearing tights,” he said. “And I want to beat my dad, first.” 

Jason’s fingers - those strong, capable fingers attached to those beautiful destructive hands - stroked along Robby’s cheek. “Whatever you want.” 

“Don’t say that,” Robby said. He felt himself choke on it. “You can’t, Jay. I want - so much. Nobody’s ever-” 

“Open your eyes,” Jason said. “Please.” 

Robby flinched. But this was Jason, who had broken legs and hands and the law for Robby. He opened his eyes, and there was Jason, kneeling in front of him, Jason’s hand on his cheek and the other on his knee. “Jay-”

“Whatever you want,” Jason said, like a fucking promise, like a blood oath. “ Whatever , Robin.”

He felt it inside him, like everything that Jason said. Because if Jason asked - “I would walk off a cliff for you,” Robby said. Anything seemed too small a word for the feeling that was blossoming in his chest, glowing through every vein that coursed blood through him. “Did you know that? I didn’t.” 

Jason said, “Well, that makes us even, then.” 

Robby had to kiss him. There was nothing else that could be done. He leaned forward and Jason made a soft, startled sound. 

"The last person I was with dumped me to kill her father," Jason murmured. "Just so you know."

Robby blinked. "Don't worry," he said. "I don't want to kill my dad, just kick his ass."

"Okay," Jason said. He smiled and his fingers tightened - not as tight as they could go, not even a fraction of that - and Robby leaned in and pressed their mouths together. 

It had been so long since Robby had been kissed. Since Sam. 

He kissed Jason like he was drowning. Like Jason was dry land and air and that piece of wood Kate Winslet left Leo DiCaprio off to freeze. 

Jason kissed him back. 

"Okay," Jason said, the brush of his fingers that same aching tender. "Let's get out of here." He paused, imbuing his voice with a kind of gravel and passion and surety that rattled through Robby. " Robin ."

Robby shivered and let himself be pulled upwards, onwards; away.