The crowbar slammed down onto Hood’s back and he whirled on his final attacker, shooting him in the head without hesitation. Jason couldn’t even bring himself to care. His legs gave out on him and he curled into a ball, trying desperately to control his breathing, calm himself down before he got any worse. It was too late though. He was already sinking into his memories. He needed to get back to his safe house, needed to leave before someone found him, but he couldn’t move. Ice seemed to flow through his veins and that damned laugh was echoing in his head. Jason whimpered and curled up tighter, covering his ears, but the laughter wouldn’t stop and he shut down.
“Red Hood, what happened?” Jason’s body tensed even more, choking back a scream when Batman put his hand on his shoulder. “Are you okay?” Batman whispered softer and Jason uncurled a little, still tense. He couldn’t speak, had no voice to, but Bruce seemed to understand that he was nowhere near okay. “Penny-one, Hood seems to be having some sort of panic attack. I’m bringing him back to the Cave.” Bruce felt worry gnaw at his insides as Jason’s shivering seemed to increase. He quickly removed his cape and wrapped the man in it, scooping him up and taking him to the Batmobile.
For once, he was glad that he was patrolling alone. He didn’t need Damian making any remarks that could worsen the situation. Bruce put Jason in the passenger seat and buckled him in, fighting off panic when Jason’s shivering picked up again. He hurriedly climbed into the car and drove off, only barely remembering to call for GCPD to pick up the unconscious thugs and the corpse. They got back to the Cave in record time and Bruce was quick to carry Jason into the infirmary…or at least, he tried to. Tim intervened before he managed to take more than a few steps.
“This way.” Tim’s voice was serious when he addressed Bruce, no room for arguments or questions, and Bruce obeyed, following Tim upstairs into the manor. He led them to one of the guest bedrooms and found that Alfred was waiting on them already. “Jason, Bruce is going to sit you on the bed now. Were you hurt anywhere?” Tim asked gently, his voice calm and filled with a kindness that Bruce hardly ever heard him use for his brothers. Bruce sat Jason down on the bed and watched as Jason’s eyes flickered to Tim as he repeated the question patiently. It seemed to register this time around because Jason shifted so his back was facing Tim and Alfred. “We’re going to get you out of your armor and have a look at it now. Is that okay?” Jason didn’t respond and allowed Tim to remove his jacket and top armor. He whined lowly when Tim pulled the cape away, quickly going silent when Tim placed it in his hands. Bruce was shocked to find that Jason clung to it like a child would a security blanket. Alfred gingerly examined the growing bruise on Jason’s back, relieved to find that nothing was broken.
“Is there anything I can get for you, Master Jason?” Tim wrapped the cape around Jason’s shoulders again and smiled up at Alfred.
“Can you bring a change of clothes for him? Oh, and something warm to eat too?”
“Of course.” Alfred left and Tim’s eyes shot to Bruce, who had been standing awkwardly near the door.
“Come here.” Tim’s tone left no room for discussion yet again and Bruce tried not to make it obvious that he was watching Jason. Tim’s eyes softened. “Jason has these attacks sometimes. I’ve helped him through a few. He helps me too, when I hit my low points. When he’s like this, he can’t talk. If it’s really bad, like now, it’s hard for him to move.” Tim explained, gingerly moving his hands up and down Jason’s spine and arms, coaxing him to relax.
“He’s shivering again.” Bruce pointed out, though Jason had honestly never stopped.
“He gets really cold.” Tim explained, and Bruce noticed that the bed was already drowning in blankets. He realized that Tim had already prepped the room before he’d arrived, had probably done so the second he’d called Alfred about the attack. “Jason, I’m going to bathe you now. Are you ready?” Jason let Tim remove the cape and place it near the pillow. Tim gave Bruce a probing look and the man hesitantly helped him undress Jason. To Bruce’s surprise, Tim picked Jason up and carried him into the adjoined bathroom, setting him in the tub and smiling at him. “Is it hot enough?” Jason rested his cheek on the side and watched Tim with blank eyes as he ushered Bruce out. “This part I’ll handle on my own. Go get the nightlights from my room and set them up in here. Make sure that they’re spread out so that the whole room will be lit.” With that, Tim shut the door in Bruce’s face. Bruce went to do as he was told, a little shocked that Tim was handling this like an expert, like it had happened way more than a few times.
Guilt made Bruce quicken his footsteps. He knew it was his fault. He had more or less kept both of his sons at an arm’s length and forced them to seek comfort in each other. Tim was the only one Jason fully trusted with this, that much he could see. Bruce brought the lights into the room and plugged them all in. He turned the main light off and smiled when he saw that they were Nightwing blue. He turned the light back on and sat on the bed, taking a minute to really look the room over and see the preparations. The bed was covered in plenty of blankets, the nightlights were set up to fully illuminate the room, a small radio was set out on the dresser to play what Bruce assumed would be calming music, and there were no clocks. He’d purposefully chosen one of the rooms with an adjoined bathroom and a neutral color scheme. It was also far enough away from the grandfather clock that Jason wouldn’t hear it ticking. The door opened and Bruce’s eyes shot to Dick and Damian.
“Alfred told us what happened. Is he okay?” Dick nearly shouted, eyes darting to the bathroom as the door opened a crack. “Tim! Is Jason okay? Can we see him?”
“Out. Now.” Tim hissed, his voice startling Dick into taking Damian and complying. Bruce got up and glanced at Tim to see if he was still wanted. “Lock the door. Only let Alfred in.” Tim shut the bathroom door and Bruce complied. Moments later, a knock resounded on the door.
“May I enter, sirs?” Bruce let Alfred inside and locked the door behind him. “Master Dick seems distraught. I take it that you threw them out?”
“I see.” Alfred set the tray down on the nightstand and laid the clothes out on the bed. “I have taken the liberty to fetch a pair of pajamas and food for Master Tim as well.” The bathroom door cracked open and Tim stuck his head out again.
“Thanks Alfred. Bruce, bring me Jason’s clothes.” Bruce and Alfred shared a look and he brought Tim the pajamas. Tim gestured for him to sit back on the bed and shut the door. A few minutes later, he and Jason walked out. Bruce was relieved to find that Jason had recovered enough to move on his own, though his eyes were still distant and blank.
“Do you re quire anything else?” Tim paused to consider the question as he got Jason to settle down on the bed, wrapping him in the cape once more.
“Tell Dick and Damian that Jason’s okay. He just needs some peace for the night. I’ll let them know when they can come in and see him.”
“I’ll pass the message along.” Alfred moved from Bruce’s side to Jason’s. The older man glanced at Tim, who gave him a soft smile in return.
“Go ahead. We never feel unsafe when you’re around.” Alfred enveloped Jason in a hug. He immediately hugged Alfred back, the remaining tension in his body melting away. Alfred smiled at him as he pulled away and Jason leaned against Tim.
“I will check in on you in a few hours. For now, I will return to the Cave to assist the girls. Call if you need anything.” Bruce had forgotten about them and was glad that someone had chosen to continue patrolling. He knew, come dawn, Stephanie and Cassandra would be knocking down the bedroom door demanding to see Jason. Alfred departed and Tim turned his attention to Bruce.
“If you’re staying in for the night, go shower and change into some pajamas.”
“Is there anything I should bring back with me?” Bruce asked, watching as Tim settled himself and Jason against the headboard.
“No, but you can take his suit and stuff down into the Cave.” Bruce gathered the equipment up and headed to the Cave first, knowing Tim had asked this of him so he could satisfy his need to check on the girls and patrol. Black Bat and Batgirl were holding down the fort quite easily. It was turning out to be a quiet night for which Bruce was grateful. He quickly showered and dressed in his night clothes, checking in on Dick’s room as well. As expected, Damian was there with him, watching as Dick paced the room.
“Calm down Dick, he’s recovering.”
“How bad is it, B?” Bruce sighed.
“Physically, not very. Emotionally, I’m not sure. Tim is handling it, knows how to handle it better than any of us. I’m not sure how long it usually takes Jason to recover, but he’s making progress.” Dick reached the same conclusions Bruce had, deflating a little as his own guilt for neglecting his siblings tightened its hold on him. Damian, for his part, made Dick sit down on the bed and stared up at his father.
“If you are allowed inside then Drake and Todd are trusting that you can handle it as well, or learn to. Do not prove them wrong.”
“I won’t. Good night Damian. Good night Dick.” Both replied with their good nights and Bruce headed back to Jason’s room, knowing that Damian would make sure Dick didn’t let his guilt consume him. He hadn’t locked the door when he’d left, knowing his eldest and youngest son wouldn’t enter now that they knew they weren’t allowed to. Tim and Jason had finished eating and were laying down in the bed. Tim sat up and Jason’s eyes darted to Bruce, tightening his hold on Tim’s waist. Bruce watched as Tim mumbled something to Jason that had his gaze flickering between them before letting Tim go.
“I’m going to shower now. Stay with him Bruce.” Tim took his clothes into the bathroom, leaving the door cracked so that he would hear if Jason made any sounds of discomfort or need. The fact that they were trusting him this much made Bruce even more cautious as he laid down beside Jason. The man was tense and Bruce’s hands wandered the same paths Tim’s had earlier, caressing Jason’s back and sides until he relaxed. Bruce held Jason close to him and began whispering to him, telling him how much they loved him and how proud of him he was. Soon enough, Tim was out of the bathroom and toweling his hair dry. He turned on the radio and classical music began to play, soft and low like a lullaby. Bruce knew he wasn’t imagining things when a violin seemed to join the music, low and calming and definitely not coming from the radio, though it played along in perfect harmony. Tim smiled at that, turning the lights off and settling into the spot behind Jason, joining Bruce in whispering praise and love to Jason until they fell asleep.
Sunlight flickered in through the cracks in the curtains and Bruce woke up, not at all surprised to find that he couldn’t move well. At some point during the night, they had been joined by Dick, Stephanie, Damian, Cassandra, and Titus. Everyone seemed to be laying on or touching Jason in some way, leading to Bruce’s current predicament of having Dick sprawled over his legs and nuzzled against Jason’s thigh. Bruce smiled fondly and decided that he could sleep for a little while longer, laying back down and finding himself frozen when green eyes locked onto him. To his surprise, Jason shifted a little closer and curled his fingers in the material of Bruce’s shirt. The words he whispered were ones that warmed Bruce’s heart and he knew he would never let Jason go again. Thank you…