“You know shit’s never gonna fucking change, right?” Jason makes to grab for his Zippo. Remembering Dick will happily remove his nuts from his waxed sack for even contemplating smoking inside Dick’s apartment, he stops. His fingers twitch with irritation, nothing like a little nicotine deprivation to start the day. “Gotham’s a gothic nightmare where corruption runs thicker than blood and Blüdhaven’s worse, somehow. Like looking in a funhouse mirror. Uglier. More warped.”
“I really do enjoy our little morning pep talks,” Dick replies, closing the last two buttons on his dress shirt before tucking the fabric into the waistline of his pants. In general, Jason would say he prefers the Kevlar-enhanced, ass-hugging suit Dick prowls the night in—but there’s something to be said for a crisp, white button-down with the sleeves rolled up, forearm veins on display. He doesn’t know how the Blüdhaven criminals are faring but, personally, he wouldn’t mind letting Detective Richard Grayson slap some cuffs on him. Let Dick work him over hard in a surveilled box until Jason cracks, raw and bloody under the harsh fluorescent lights.
“These fucking places,” Jason grumbles, tired and cranky from watching Dick getting ready to leave, all that warm, gold skin about to slip right out the door. “It’s not something anyone can fix. Nothing short of dropping a bomb on the damn place and razing it to the ground.”
Dick sighs, running a hand through his hair. It’s getting longer, strands brushing the bone of his jaw. He’s no stranger to this; Jason and the trash he talks. Words pouring out of him sharp as knives, the blades full of blood. Just endlessly spewing shit.
“No point to it all, huh?” Dick leans a hip against the dresser, arms folded, eyebrow raised. There’s an ease to him that’s inherent; the way he owns his body, his space, every room he’s in. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re trying to lure me back to bed.”
Jason thinks it over. Admits, “not originally,” and lets his legs fall apart slowly. Nude body lounging against cheap, synthetic pillows, he’s got Dick’s low-rent sheets strategically draped across his crotch, all tasteful and shit. Just like the Renaissance paintings cluttering the hallways of the Wayne Manor. None of the shameless, naked peacocking Dick gets up to after sex. No, Jason’s classy. Artful. The signature Jason Todd brand. “But are you feelin’ down to fuck?” he asks.
Dick throws his head back and laughs. Really fucking laughs. Eyes scrunched up and shoulders shaking, all charisma and beauty and warmth. Laughing like that, it’s suddenly easy to see how a group of metahumans chose Dick as their leader despite his lack of superpowers or how the Blüdhaven Police Corps would accept him as their own despite him being the ward of Gotham’s favourite billionaire asshole. There’s something about Dick like there’s something about Bruce. Something captivating and inescapable that would make you launch a thousand ships for them. Burn down entire worlds for them. Jason’s not sure Dick’s aware of that. And in a way, Jason thinks he understands the Joker better than Bruce ever could.
Dick’s laughter fades too slowly, and Jason would be annoyed but there’s a tightness to Dick’s pants that wasn’t there two minutes ago, and Dick’s always laughing. Joyful and happy. Like those are easy feelings to conjure and easy feelings to have. As if getting out of bed isn’t like crawling out of a dark pit every morning and as if life isn't like taking a suckerpunch to the gut, over and over.
“Wish I could,” Dicks says, and Jason swears he sounds like he means it. “But I got big plans today. Gotta save a city.”
“‘Save a city.’ Jesus Christ. More like go get shanked in the gut.”
Dick shrugs and slips on a watch. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”
The other bats all have their day jobs. The Police Detective, the Socialite, the rising Tech Wunderkind, and Jason’s personal favourite: the Student. Jason derives no small amount of pleasure from knowing that Bruce and the Demon Spawn get to suffer through the worst of it. Like an ill-fitted suit, Jason hopes it pulls and itches every time they’ve got to slip their disguises on. It shows how removed they are from the rot and the grit and the filth of what is Gotham. The gore at the core of it all.
That’s where Jason lives, at its epicentre.
He’d fallen into it naturally, being a crime lord. It had been a logical first step when he’d come home, head full of green fumes and rage. He’s proud to say, he puts the organized in organized crime. Outshines even the worst of them in calculated vicious violence. The crime part of the job, Jason can admit he’s gotten more discerning about. There’s no peddling drugs to kids or bleeding junkies dry, no people traded like cattle, and he doesn’t like selling guns to the lowlifes clogging Gotham’s streets. So, he’s become a parasite instead, infiltrating the underbelly of the city and cutting fine and deep along its inner workings, feeding rumours into people’s ears and watching them spread like a sickness, dissolving the delicate bonds of trust and fear. And when the paranoia crests and hierarchy collapses, Jason cannibalizes whatever’s left. Absorbs the gains. Scraps the beast for parts and money.
It’s not something Jason talks about with this version of Dick. His shady deals, his underground moonlighting. Never with a cop like the one making his way to the bed right now, uniform tight over thick thighs and a sway in his hips that’s nothing less than sexual warfare.
“Try smoking in my bed again, Todd,” Dick warns, looming over him. He stops whatever threat he was going to utter, disrupted by Jason grousing at him to fucking let that go already. Perfectly pleasant, Dick does exactly that. Just stares at Jason with a face far too naked and utterly too fond. Something’s creeping under Jason’s skin at the sight of it—an itch he doesn’t know how to scratch, unable to decide whether he wants to kiss the prick or break his perfect face instead.
A little lower, there’s a bruise peeking out of Dick’s collar that looks like a handprint. Jason had put that there last night. Violently. Not even the fun kind of violent but the messy kind. The kind where something hunts Jason through nightmares and his body acts before his sleeping brain has had the chance to catch up—that kind of violence. Maybe a better person would wallow in the guilt and remove themselves from the situation. Not Dick and Jason. They just get better at hiding the batarangs and guns. The 200 pounds of well-trained muscle and murderous reflexes are a little harder to counteract but Dick’s no babe in the woods. Besides, Jason’s not exactly the first lethal bitch between Dick’s bedsheets.
Dick smiles. A teasing thing full of soft edges. “Mornings are hard. Aren’t they, Sugarplum?”
“Fuck you to hell.” Jason groans with feeling, hating the hard lumps of Dick’s mattress when he sinks back into them. “Just get lost already, Birdbrain. There’s no fucking point to you with your clothes on.”
“Nice to know I’m not completely useless.”
Jason wants to fight that far too favourable self-assessment. Would fight it, were he not half a pack of Lucky Strikes and three cups of coffee short of mustering the energy. Which is also the only reason he’s letting Dick press an off-centre kiss to his forehead. A shitty place for a shitty kiss from a shitty person, if you ask Jason. Very much Dick Grayson’s style.
“Try and behave, Little Wing.” Dick’s already moving away from the bed and shrugging on a jacket. “I really like this place. Got three South facing windows and none of the neighbours run a meth lab.”
“Prime Blüdhaven real estate,” Jason mutters darkly.
“Glad we’re on the same page.” Dick takes one last look at himself at the mirror, shoots Jason a tacky wink because his existence is a curse, and promises under his breath something that sounds suspiciously like I’ll be back or I’ll miss you. Another twenty seconds later and Jason hears the front door lock click back into place.
His day is wide open now.
There are things to do but there are always things to do. At any time, Jason’s got about forty things in various stages of motion. Always working on something. Someone. Bigger games than the one he’s running on Dick right now, lighting one up in his bed.
Blowing smoke up into the air, Jason decides that today he’s going to crack the safe Dick keeps behind the panel in his closet. Perfectly harmless, really. Just him fishing through some of Dick’s case files—maybe even solving a few, if he’s feeling charitable. And for tonight, there’s that Malaysian place three blocks over that does a better Rendang than anything he’s found in Gotham. Dick never shuts up about it. Like he’s never going to shut up about the cigarette smell seeping into the wallpaper.
Jason smirks. Solid options. He still has last night’s terrors painted on the back of his eyelids and the feeling of Dick’s neck under his hand but they’re slowly fading. And Dick’s got him covered, said he’d take care of the big plans, so Jason doesn’t have to. And next time, when Jason’s Dick and Dick’s Jason, he’ll have Dick covered too. Jason will tackle the big plans while Dick raids Jason’s fridge and leaves wet towels all over his apartment. Jason knows it’ll happen. It has happened. Just not today.