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Jason had died and came back to life to terrorize Gotham. To fuck with Bruce so he'd kill the Joker to exact his revenge. Give him that satisfaction that he didn't get when he was resurrected and found out he'd been replaced. Never got the justice he deserved. But nothing came of it because the Bat wouldn't kill. Even though the maniac clown had taken his Robin. He did nothing but put him back in jail. Only to give the killer another chance to commit more heinous crimes. It didn't satisfy his rage.

Pissed, Jason left Gotham again. To get away from Bruce and away from every Bat affiliated hero. He needed something else to do. Something to clear his mind.

It helped in a sense. Lessened his anger. He still did things his way though. Still killed those he thought deserved death. It helped because these criminals would never come back to hurt others again.

When he returned to Gotham, he operated in their underground city. Until one day Bruce contacted him. As strange as it was, he wanted his help.

Jason was skeptical because he hadn't talked to Bruce in forever and they last parted on bad terms so why would the man even bother to ask him for anything?

Because apparently he really did need Jason's assistance which Jason took with caution. He was still mad but thought he'd attempt to possibly mend their broken relationship. But Bruce had his conditions of course.

His number one rule. And that was really it. Which Jason didn't want to abide by but he'd give it a go. He was still going to do things his way but just without the killing.

And surprisingly, it worked out fine. Even received a strange pat on the shoulder from Bruce.

Awkward.

But it felt nice to get a compliment from Bruce. A very vague one. Not that Jason would admit to it. Never will admit to it.

After some time, he strangely became part of the family again. Well not quite back with them but enough that he could trade Intel with them. Not that he really enjoyed it much because he still didn't get along with any of them. Especially the Replacement. Even less with the demon spawn. Besides he's been out of touch with them.

And with Dick. Well. That's a whole different matter. The original boy wonder didn't even talk to him. Wouldn't talk to him. He ran into Dick a couple of times during patrol and he didn't say a word to him. Just stared at Jason and then hopped away. Odd really because Dick being the chatterbox and mister I'm friendly, didn't even say hi to him.

He always made the effort to say hi to someone. Even if they hadn't gotten along in a while. Dick would still take that extra step to reach out. But he didn't with Jason.

It kind of pissed him off because out of all the members, he liked Dick the best. Okay like was an understatement. He had a crush on Dick. Liked in a romantic way. Well he still does.

So being ignored by the boy wonder? Kind of hurt his feelings. Also infuriated him because did Dick hate him that much?

Sure he's done a lot of wrong and probably deserved to be ignored but not to this extent. Though he kind of really did in a sense. Despite all he's done, the one person who would even consider forgiving him would be Dick. Or at least make the effort to understand.

But no. None of that.

So fine. If Dick wanted to play that game then Jason will too.

It wasn't until later when Jason found out the reason why Dick didn't talk to him.

------

It was a rather strange predicament that he found himself in. He didn't expect his night to end up like this.

Honestly, all he wanted to do was catch the drug dealers he'd been following.

But instead he ended up getting knocked out, foolishly falling for a trap and locked in a room. Together with the boy wonder.

When Jason came to, blinking rapidly as he tried to focus his vision. He felt someone hovering near him. Feeling threatened, he roughly grabbed at the hand that was resting on his neck and shoved the stranger back. Only to be shoved back himself.

“What the fuck?” Jason yelled and was about to say more until he caught sight of who it was before him. “Nightwing?”

Well shit. It was Dick.

Dick was seated on the ground, glaring at him furiously like he'd been offended. But Jason couldn't tell that well since the room was very dimly lit and besides, his eyes were hidden by the domino mask. Though he was frowning immensely, brows knit together.

“I thought you were someone else. What are you even doing here?” Jason pushed himself up so he was sitting upright, back against the wall.

Dick didn't say anything and shrugged his shoulders.

The cold shoulder eh? Fine. Guess he won't bother either. So the two of them sat there in relative silence. Dick sitting across from Jason, legs drawn up to his chest as he rest his chin on his knees.

There was a weird sort of feeling radiating off of him but Jason couldn't quite put his thumb to it. There was a sense of vulnerability coming from Dick but he wasn't sure. So Jason ignored it and instead tried to search for an opening, where they could escape.

He got up from his position and saw Dick twitch from the corner of his eye, taking a peek at him before he hid his face in his knees again. Hands tightly clutched onto his legs, soft ebony hair dusting his knees.

Jason didn't know what was up with Dick but it was irritating him a little bit with how uncooperative he was being.

He didn't need his help anyways and besides, if he found a way to escape it'd get both of them out. So really Dick is just riding the wave.

The space they were locked in was about the size of a closet, maybe a little bigger. Obviously there was only one door that wouldn't budge no matter how much he shoved at it. There was no handle on the inside so he couldn't pick the lock. No windows or anything. Just a tiny dim light hanging above them. So yeah, no way out.

Maybe he could shoot the door open and risk getting shot if the bullets ricochet. Probably a bad idea. The space was too small.

He sighed, feeling frustrated and dumb enough to fall for an easy trap. Though Dick could be just as dumb or careless since he ended up here first. Wonder how he got caught himself.

“Hey Dick. How'd you get stuck in here?” Jason asked and turned to look at the former Robin who lifted his head to look at him, giving him a blank face devoid of any emotions and then dropped his head back down again.

What the fucking hell?

“Are you just going to be useless? Be a damsel in distress?”

Jason meant to throw those insults to get a rise out of him but he got nothing and that made him a little worried. A lethargic Nightwing wasn't good news.

“...You're not hurt are you?” He asked, worried.

Dick shook his head. Well at least he answered to that.

“Okay then. Why don't you help me break this door down?” Jason walked over or more like took a couple of steps towards the older Robin. Long fingers wrapped around his arm, squeezing and tugging to get him up and on his feet. Dick instantly fought back, jerking his arm away, creating distance between them.

Alright. So it seems to Jason that Dick doesn't like him because that was the second time he slapped his hand away. Though Jason thought that earlier, while he was passed out, there was a hand on his neck. A gentle touch.

He could be imagining it.

Jason grumbled in annoyance. “Fine. Be a dick.” Dick didn't react to that and instead leaned against the wall, facing away from Jason. He curled back into his ball and buried his face in his arms.

Jason was pissed. How dare Dick treat him like that? Ignoring him? He gets that he's the black sheep but this kind of attitude coming from Dick? It wasn't unheard of but he'd have expected better cooperation in this predicament. Especially since they were trapped and needed to get out.

Jason swiveled around to stare at the closed door and kicked it roughly in anger. He leaned his forehead at the cool surface and breathed, trying to reign in his anger. As the fury within him slowly died out, he could hear noises from behind.

Dick was making tiny, soft noises. Barely audible. Sounded like he was breathing. Well duh he's breathing but they were long deep breaths. In and out. In and out. Regulating. Like the exercises he was taught when he had to calm down. Was Dick having issues?

Well he couldn't finish that thought when he heard a voice from the other side.

“Nightwing?” It was Bruce.

Dick turned around, body lighting up at the sound of the Batman's voice and walked over beside Jason, banging on the door.

Jason gave him a look, confused. Couldn't he just shout?

“In here!” Jason yelled.

“Jason?”

“Red Hood.”

“...getting you both out now.”

Jason and Dick both waited patiently as they heard rustling on the other side and loud movements of what seemed to possibly be equipment moving around. Then the door wiggled but appeared to be locked. Then they heard a crack, assuming the knob was broken. The lock was picked and finally, the door opened.

Dick stumbled out first and breathed a sigh of relief.

Jason gave him a questioning look, brow raised as he stepped out from behind.

It was just Bruce that was there and Jason examined the mess that he made. There were tables and cabinets spread around the floor and a broken knob. Apparently they were barricaded inside. Explained the slight difficulty of escaping. Though Jason was sure he'd be able to get out without help.

“Are you okay?” Bruce asked though the question was directed more towards Dick. The boy wonder nodded in response and Bruce's shoulders slumped slightly, seeming relieved that Dick was fine.

“Report.”

Dick lifted his hands and started making signs and symbols out of them. Bruce watched carefully, nodding his head and asking follow up questions which Dick answered with more signaling. And then it dawned on Jason that it was sign language.

And now he was slowly connecting the dots.

Dick not talking to him.

Dick using sign language and body language to communicate.

Holy fuck!

Wait. Wait,” he interrupted and the both of them stopped their conversation to look at him.

“Dick can't speak?”

Dick turned his attention away from Jason, looking anywhere else but at him.

Bruce gave him the all-knowing look. That if he was around or cared enough, he would have known.

“He's mute.”

What?!” Jason's eyes widen in surprise. How…? He honestly was praying it was something else. Never expected to hear those words flow out of Bruce's mouth. Dick being mute? Just “How? It's not… permanent is it?”

If one knew Bruce long enough, you could tell when he was clearly upset. His facial expression didn't change much but you can see the clear sadness in his face. “It is.” He avoided answering the how part which fine, Jason will find that out later. But the yes to the permanent part? Holy fuck.

Dick still wasn't looking at him and he didn't understand why he was being avoided. By Dick of all people. It's not like he had been treating him poorly because he hasn't. Okay maybe a few insults here and there.

“I see. That's - that's,” he stuttered unsure of what to say. “Unfortunate.” He settled for.

Dick finally looked at Jason, face turned directly towards him and sighed inaudibly. Even though they couldn't see each other's eyes, Jason knew that he had Dick's attention and that he was looking at him. He nodded his head curtly then placed his attention back on Bruce. He signaled something and Bruce nodded his head.

“I expect a full report from you Jason.” Bruce said to Jason and then turned on his heel to leave but Dick stopped him by jerking his cape. Then said something with his hands which made the Bat scowl.

He threw a glance back at Jason and asked through gritted teeth. “Do you need a lift?”

Dick must have asked him to do that because Bruce wasn't that nice. Jason shook his head. Fuck if he got caught riding with the Batman. “I'm good.”

“Alright.” He said and this time, walked away from him with Dick following closely behind. The boy wonder spun around to look at Jason and waved a shy hand at him quickly before he dashed forward and passed Bruce.

Jason stared in the distance, watched as they disappeared from his sight.

Never in his life did he expect that to ever happen to Dick.

He had some researching to do.

------

Curiosity got the best of Jason and he was obsessed with finding out what in the hell happened to Dick to cause him to become mute. How the hell did he not know about this? Why didn’t anyone bother to tell him this important piece of information?

Oh well, maybe because he was trying to kill them and basically ignored everyone. Though still, they could have maybe just said “by the way, Dick is mute.” Or Dick himself could have said something rather than say nothing. Okay, he can’t exactly talk but he could gesture or who knows, write it out? Between every encounter he's had with him, he could have said something. Or Jason was just blind and didn't realize it.

It wasn't something he thought was possible which is why it never occurred to him.

Jason was frustrated that he hadn’t known about this piece of information. A very important detail. When did it exactly happen? During his death or sometime after? It most definitely wasn’t before his death because he very well remembered that Dick could speak. Was a complete chatterbox and loved to tell bad puns. Also liked to lecture him and tell him stories about his Robin days with Bruce.

What in the fuck happened while he was gone? Jason badly wanted to know. But he didn’t really want to ask anyone about the details. Was too prideful to ask any of them as he didn’t really like them. He could probably ask Bruce. He most likely knew everything but he didn’t.

He could go to the source himself. Best way to do it. After all, he liked Dick. Even if Dick didn’t like him. Though he hoped Dick wouldn’t just ignore him.

So the first time he approached Dick, out during patrol. The boy wonder gave him a questionable look then ran away. Jason quickly chased after him, yelling at him to slow the fuck down and that he just wanted to talk. Dick still didn’t stop and kept running until he spotted a burglary happening and went to stop it. Jason sighed and jumped in to join the vigilante.

Once they beat up all the criminals and saved the people. Had them all zip-tied, nice and pretty for the GCPD. He turned to talk to Dick.

“Alright Nightwing. How about you stop running away and let me have a little chat with you?” Jason crossed his arms over his chest and stared at the man beneath his helmet. Dick only looked at him in silence and shook his head no. Then quickly grappled away.

“Fuck!” Jason cursed and was going to shoot his own line but couldn’t find it. Motherfucker swiped his grapple gun!

Whatever.

Jason gave up that night.

The next few times he tried, nothing happened. Honestly it was getting annoying and Jason was ticked off. All he wanted to do was talk to Dick. Learn about how he lost his voice but no, the boy wonder didn’t want to talk to him. Which fine, Jason understands that he is hard to deal with. Not very friendly and previously had altercations with the family.

But what the fuck?! He’s changed now (somewhat). He at least deserved some bit of respect. Every time Jason tried to ask Dick about his voice, the former Robin would deflect him. Such as turning his attention elsewhere. Running away. Or if they were in a group setting, he’d start a conversation with someone else.

After being around the members for a while, albeit reluctantly, Jason realized that the family knew sign language. Was able to read all that Dick was saying. Jason’s sign language wasn’t that great so he couldn’t read every single thing that Dick was signaling. Guess he needed to brush up on it.

Jason was great at reading lips though. As most of them were. Trained by Bruce because the Batman declared it was an asset. But Dick didn’t openly use his mouth to speak. Considering they were mainly silent words and noises. It was strange. Whatever noise he made was silent. It was weird to Jason, not used to hearing any sounds coming from Dick. When he sighed or coughed or cleared his throat. Or when he did something as simple as sneezing. If anything, if he tried hard, he could hear a very faint sound.

Jason didn’t - he didn’t like it. Didn’t like the fact that he couldn’t hear Dick or listen to his beautiful voice. His light laughter and his playfulness when he joked. Or when he got angry and yelled or when he used that all commanding tone when he’s leading a team. Just, nothing.

It infuriated Jason. But at least even if the sounds were absent, the older Robin was still full of life. Jason had observed, watching his every action. How he communicated through facial expressions and body language. The smile he gave to others or the look in his eyes. Excitement, sorrow, frustration, embarrassment and more. Jason was able to understand Dick the more he watched him.

Jason purposely hung around the manor more often so he could be around Dick. Maybe get something out of him or them. Maybe work over his pride to talk to Tim or Damian. Even Alfred. But he didn’t want to ask Alfred. Or Bruce.

And sure, sometimes he’d spy on Dick. Be that creepy stalker he is. The Titans would visit him in Gotham - Wally, Roy, Donna and others. They’d hang out and Jason could see that Dick was enjoying himself even though all his friends were all having animated conversations around him. He’d smile and laugh silently, throwing in a few answers here and there.

Despite his situation, he seemed to be getting along fine.

The big question for Jason then was why didn’t Dick talk to him or at least interact with him? It was always very minimal. It was often just Jason asking him for things, questions he wanted answered - like how did you become mute? But Dick would only look at him, offering a smile or a blank stare. Damian would sometimes be off to the side, glaring at him and telling him to leave.

It was so annoying that one day, Jason just snapped.

“Dick. Why won’t you talk to me?” They were in the library. Well Dick was there first and Jason found him there. Was actually trying to corner him so they’d be alone.

Dick was standing in front of one of the many bookshelves and was looking at the books until Jason interrupted him. Dick shoved the book he’d been holding back in its place and turned his attention to Jason. A brow rose as sapphire eyes gave him a skeptical look.

“Every time I ask you something. You ignore me. What the fuck is up with that?” Jason knew his anger was rising up but he couldn’t contain it anymore.

Dick let out an inaudible sigh and shrugged his shoulders. Which annoyed Jason even further.

“Dick. You’re nice to everyone but me. I get you hate me. Fine. But tell me, I just want to know what happened that made you lose your voice.”

Dick’s body twitched, his shoulders tensed, squaring in defense. Blue eyes stared off into the distance, as if he was recalling certain memories. Lips flickered into a frown, brows pressed tight, and an expression of distress.

But Jason didn’t notice any of that. Was too focused on Dick ignoring him, not answering him. The anger clouding his ability to notice his surroundings. He walked forward, getting into Dick’s space as the man reflexively backed away. But Jason wasn’t letting him get away. An arm stretched out, grabbing roughly onto Dick’s bicep. Dick’s whole body froze and Jason might have noticed that but he was too focused on his mission at hand.

“Dick!” He shouted and Dick immediately ripped his arm out of Jason’s grasp and shoved him away. Jason lost his footing and tumbled back, almost falling on his butt but he was quickly able to recover and regain his standing.

“What the fuck?” Jason yelled and glared at Dick.

Dick just looked at him with a troubled expression. Lips quivering, biting at them in worry and now Jason saw it. Saw how uncomfortable Dick looked and how strange he had acted from Jason getting a little aggressive. Usually it was nothing. It should be nothing. It’s not like Jason was going to hurt him. He was just trying to get Dick to listen to him by being a little more aggressive. He didn’t think his actions would have a bad effect on Dick.

“Dick. I’m sorry.” Jason said, realizing he was at fault.

Dick closed his eyes and sucked in a silent breath, his chest rising and then falling. He was quiet, eyes still closed as he breathed.

“Dick - “ Jason started again and Dick held out a hand towards him, as if telling him to stop.

Saddened blue eyes stared back at him and Dick shook his head. He then waved his hand at Jason, pointing at the door, telling him to leave. Then he parted his lips, mouthing a single word - please.

Jason knew when he overstepped his boundaries and this was one of them. He wasn’t going to argue and nodded his head, obliging. Jason moved to the exit, hands on the knob, turning it. He tossed a glance back at Dick, found him slumped on the ground, his body leaning against the shelf. Hair softly falling over his face, hiding his beautiful eyes. He sat there listlessly, not moving a single inch.

There was something wrong with Dick. Something happened that greatly affected him. He speculated that it had to do with the loss of his voice. And he was determined to find out what it was.

------

Jason should have thought about this in the first place. But he wasn’t being smart about it. Or well, he was too focused on the fact that Dick was ignoring him and really wanted to find out why.

Obviously, the best place for any type of information was the batcave. With a bit of help, he was able to access the database.

He searched for details relating to Dick’s case. There were quite a lot of case files so he had to sift through them. It took some time but he found it.

And it wasn’t something he expected to see.

A case file pertaining to Dick’s...torture.

Jason breathed heavily, shaky as he read through key words on the report. Restrained. Beaten. Cuffed. Suffocated. Assaulted.

And so much more.

He just couldn’t bring himself to think about it. That Dick was – was –

Jason closed his eyes and rubbed at his face, feeling distressed and angry. He could feel his fingers trembling and he’d barely gone through the file.

Catalina Flores, went by the name Tarantula, had an obsessive infatuation with Dick. She captured him. Had drugged him and forced herself upon him. Then kept him in solitary confinement for her own sick fantasy, wanting to keep Dick all to herself. But when Dick fought back after he’d regained his sense of reasoning, she didn’t like it. So she resulted to other methods and hired some… men. Men who did awful things to Dick.

Jason felt bile in the back of his throat at the thought of that, tried to turn off his emotions so he could power through the report.

The things the men did to him was so intense that Dick screamed. Screamed so much, so loud and so hard. Begged, pleaded for mercy. Abused to the point that he couldn’t handle it anymore. To the point that he damaged his vocal cords. Bruce also factored in the possibility of psychological trauma affecting Dick as well. But either way, his voice was gone.

Fingers curled into tight fists, nails digging into his skin, creating tiny crescent moons. Anger crawling within him.

Bruce didn’t rescue him until two whole weeks after he’d been held captive. Two weeks until he was brought back to safety and from the clutches of sick and twisted people.

He’d skimmed through the important details of the file, engrossed in the report but felt sick to his stomach. Bruce didn’t go into great detail about everything but he did note the important aspects of the case. He was thankful that he didn’t get a descriptive report of the torture.

“Dick wasn’t himself for a while.” A voice popped up from behind him, startling him. He was so focused that he didn’t notice that Bruce was there. “It took a lot to get him back to how he is today.”

Jason snarled and jumped up from his seat. He stormed over towards Bruce and grabbed him by the shirt. “Why didn’t you save him?!” He shouted, angry. Because what the hell? How could someone go through that and be okay? It was worse than dying. Worse than what he went through. How was Dick still walking around smiling and doing what he does?

Bruce knows. Jason could see the guilt clearly written on his face. He knows that he should have saved him before any of this could happen. Should have come a lot sooner and he would have been able to help Dick. Could have prevented it from getting worse.

Jason was upset. Extremely upset at the thought that such a thing happened to Dick. Dick, the man that he loved. Looked up to when he was Robin. Beautiful, kind-hearted Dick who was as stubborn as Bruce. Was like Bruce in many ways but very much different than him.

Dick, who he wanted to talk to him. To fix their relationship so he wasn’t always running away.

“You didn’t save him!” Jason shouted.

“I know.”

“You failed him!”

“I know.”

“You failed me!”

Bruce breathed heavily. “I know.”

“Bruce! You - You! You failed me. Fine. But you failed him. Failed him terribly. He didn’t deserve that!”

“I know,” Bruce croaked, voice strained and Jason knew he struck a nerve. Knew that Bruce most likely beat himself over Dick. How could you recover from that knowing what those fucking sick bastards had done to Dick?

God. Jason would have lost it. Would have skinned them alive. Give them the most gruesome death possible. He wondered if Bruce had lost it. Knowing him, he probably did because Dick was his favorite. But he knows even if Bruce shows his indifference, something like that would drive him over the edge. Jason knows he didn’t kill them though because from what Jason saw briefly, they were locked in Blackgate.

Jason released Bruce out of his hold and rubbed his hand over his face, frustrated, needing fresh air. He didn’t say another word and left the batcave. He needed time alone. To think. To recuperate.

He needed to see Dick. He needed to be near Dick. He wanted to make things better between them.

And god, he was going to make a damn effort to actually speak to him.

------

First things first, he started spending more time at the manor. Not that he already didn’t. He found himself staying around a lot longer and sometimes staying overnight. Not to mention he’d go on patrol with them as well, rotating out those who were on shift that night depending on how busy the city decided to be.

Dick seemed a little cautious with Jason whenever he’d try to approach him, on guard. He might have deserved it from their last encounter so Jason would try a different method. Kept his distance from Dick to make him feel comfortable but just enough so he could interact with him.

It seemed to work since Dick was more relaxed. Jason did feel a little upset that Dick was afraid of him. But again, it was his fault.

Damian, the little demon spawn, often hovered around Dick, overprotective. It was endearing how the baby bat seemed to love Dick. But he needed him gone because he was always just lurking around him and Jason wanted to be alone with Dick.

But it never quite worked out when he’d try to kick Damian away because it was Damian, the stubborn, arrogant little brat. Who only listened to Dick and Bruce. Listened more to Dick though.

So fine. He could accommodate. Jason decided to hang out with Dick even if Damian was there. Damian who always gave him a weird look, scowling and insulting him.

“I suggest you learn sign language Todd if you want to speak with Grayson. I’m not translating for you,” Damian said, arms crossed over his chest, a smirk on his face.

“Shut it brat. I’m working on it.” He was, really. He had mastered about 75% already.

Dick just chuckled a little and signed something. Jason read it. Dick was telling them to be nice to each other.

“I am being nice, Dick.” Jason said and Dick smiled at him, soft and sweet. It was the smile he wanted to see. Maybe their bonding was working. He hoped it would ease the tension in their relationship.

Dick did something else with his hands, making a few signs at the two. ‘What movie do you want to watch?’

“Great question.”

“Todd is not allowed to choose. It is my turn,” Damian said.

Jason honestly didn’t care what they watched but he poked back anyways. “Sure brat. Going to pick something kid related? Considering you are a kid. Not allowed to watch R rated movies. Not even PG-13 since well, you’re not 13.”

Damian scowled at him, almost jumping up to attack him but Dick held him back and shook his head. Damian huffed and muttered a fine.

He was fun to pick on even if he might have gotten kicked a few times for it.

Because Dick had a soft spot for Damian, he let him pick a PG-13 movie. Honestly the kid could watch whatever since he’s seen worse in his lifetime than what these movies depicted. But Bruce’s rules.

They chose a movie about pirates and treasure hunting mixed with royalty and crazy curses. Great choice honestly.

They were seated on the couch with Jason sitting on one end and Dick and Damian on the other. The couch was wide enough to seat four bodies. Dick had an elbow propped on the armrest, cheek resting in his hand with his attention on the screen. Damian on the other hand was pressed close to Dick’s side, his body leaned slightly against him. Just enough that he wasn’t exactly cuddling but they were touching. Dick was relaxed, comfortable with the situation and Jason was a little jealous. Jealous that that wasn’t him. But also found it cute.

Cute that sometimes he found his brothers not brothers, both Tim and Damian, sneaking into Dick's bedroom at night. Apparently they liked to cuddle with him sometimes (not both at the same time though cause those two fought like cats and dogs). It helped Dick relax during nights he couldn't seem to sleep. At least that's what Tim told him when he asked.

Another thing Jason noticed that he didn’t see before was that Dick was sometimes sensitive to touches. He didn’t flinch much when someone in the family touched him, whether it be a hug or a hand to his shoulder or arm, he seemed perfectly fine. Probably because he trusted them well enough.

But if it was a stranger, say, if he was out at a shop or something, Dick would avoid it. Twisting his body to avoid bodily contact only when he deemed it dangerous or uncomfortable.

It was different in a fight though. Because criminals would claw their hands at him but overall, he seemed to handle it well for the most part. Sometimes though, it took a toll on his mentality and he would look absolutely exhausted and beaten after. Hands trembling and face tight, taking short irregular breaths.

Jason was honestly astonished with how well Dick coped with his issue. How well he handled it and how he hid his trauma or seemed to, recuperate from it.

Jason was sure the others noticed but didn’t say anything. But they would jump in whenever they knew Dick needed it. They did it in their own silent way. Carefully watching over their beloved Dick.

With Jason, Dick was cautious but not in the way that he was cautious with strangers or criminals. It was a bit different. He couldn’t quite describe it but he wasn’t afraid of him. Jason had seen that now that he understood Dick better. If he had to say, Dick seemed wary. Not in the way that Jason would hurt him but just oddly wary. But the distance between them had shortened. Jason was able to sit near him or gently touch him sometimes. Never a hug though. They haven’t hugged yet.

Slowly, he learned to read Dick but it wasn’t easy. He was still a difficult man to read despite how expressive he was in both his body and his face. Though Jason could see there was a bit of gloom looming over him. That there were still tiny fragments of that event haunting him. Sometimes, Jason could feel he was faking his smile, especially when he was put in an uncomfortable position.

Typically it's when someone would ask him very personal questions he didn’t like. Like his romantic life or about his voice. Mainly about his voice. Jason knows Dick doesn’t like to think or talk about that. It’s not something one would like to recall. Hell, Jason didn’t like thinking about his death but that always seemed to pop up in his memory every so often. He was sure it was in the back of Dick's mind, always going in and out. He noticed how sometimes he'd just stare off into space, as if he was somewhere else. Or finding Dick tossing and turning whenever Jason caught him napping.

Jason wanted to know more about Dick. How - how he was after everything had happened. How he was able to cope, heal and come back together as a whole.

Because there was no way he would just bounce back from that. No fucking way.

And according to Bruce, it took forever.

Well, there was one way to know. He was going to have to visit an old friend.

------

Barbara Gordon. Former Batgirl and now currently Oracle. Resided in the Clock Tower. Smart, wise, strong and a beautiful women.

Barbara had dated Dick before and even though they broke up, they were still very good friends. She was often one of the few who understood Dick and was someone Dick confided in. So he decided to go to Barbara for questions.

He wasn’t exactly welcomed but Barbara didn’t consider him a threat so she let him in.

“What brings you here Jason?” Barbara asked, leaning back in her wheelchair.

“Well. I won’t beat around the bush. It’s about Dick.” Jason said and smoothed out the folds of his jeans. He shifted a bit, trying to get comfortable on her sofa.

Barbara’s eyes narrowed at him and a sadness appeared in her eyes. “What do you want to know?” She asked softly.

“Details of - of what happened after. Of how Dick was. I just. I just want to know how he dealt with it.”

“Okay.” She agreed easily upon seeing how concerned Jason looked. “For one, he was a complete mess. Closed himself off. Was depressed, shocked. I don’t think he was able to grasp that he’d lost his voice either. Was probably more focused on,” she stopped, taking a deep breath. A shaky one. Obviously affected as well. “He had nightmares. Cried himself to sleep. Soundless sobs and quiet tears. I knew because I set up a camera. Just in case. I wanted to know if he’d be alright.”

“But he wasn’t.”

Barbara nodded. “No. He wasn’t.” She turned her eyes away, to look out the window, out in the distance. “It’s sad. Not being able to hear his voice again. His beautiful voice. His stupid but cheerful laugh. How he always seemed to brighten up the mood with jokes and bad puns.” She smiled fondly reminiscing on those memories. “I miss him calling my name.”

Jason smiled, could relate to that. He also missed it. Wish he had heard it just one more time. And now, they couldn’t hear him again.

“It took a while for Dick to get out of his shell. Even though so much shit had happened. Even though he was clearly traumatized, he tried to go out on patrol. Cause he’s an idiot. Bruce banned him. They got into arguments. Obviously Dick couldn’t say much so it was really just Bruce yelling. Which would end in tears sometimes. Tears on Dick’s end. Because for once, Bruce showed that he cared. Strange I know. But also because he was still guilty by everything that happened. I know Bruce beats himself over it.”

Barbara wheeled herself to Jason’s side and looked straight at him, her eyes teary behind those fogged glasses as she tried not to cry. “He was closed off for a while. Didn’t talk to anyone. Not me. Not Bruce, Tim or Alfred. Not even any of his friends. Not that he could anyways.”

Jason nodded. It was a hard thing to discuss.

“He’s got a few...a few things he doesn’t like. Traumatic to him. Dick hates closed, tight, dark spaces. Random inappropriate touching. The smell of perfume and cologne makes him vomit.”

That implied a lot and he knew what she meant. Didn’t want her to elaborate on the details but he knows she won’t. Jason couldn’t stomach listening to it.

“How did you find out what…” Jason started and gestured at her. Hoping she knew where he was getting at.

She did.

“There was evidence. Some… videos. They're all destroyed. Every single one. Bruce questioned them, they answered,” Barbara let out a frustrated breath, clearly bothered by the thought. “Only Bruce saw bits of them. In high speed. He didn't even finish any and burned them all. He got enough of an idea of what happened.”

Jason balled his hands into tight fists. Could feel a burning in his chest, anger fueling his hate towards those sick fucks.

Barbara could see Jason's expression turn sour, clear of rage. So she swiftly changed topics.

“It took time. A long time. But we coaxed him out of his shell. Helped him and over time, he healed and got better. We took it one step at a time. He’s not at 100% but one day, I hope he will be.” Barbara's lips curved into a tiny smile, remembering something. “It’s funny but, I think Damian helped when he came along. The boy was a real brat when he just showed up. Didn’t listen to anyone and threw tantrums. He was violent and Bruce had a hard time reining him in. But he seemed interested in Dick. Damian would try to talk to him. And it was weird but, he seemed to be able to read Dick. I mean, he’s already an expressive person but at the time, he was still struggling. Damian was able to read things that neither of us noticed. And because of that, they were able to bond. It was endearing how he tried to get along with Dick. The things he did to make him feel better. Damian just seemed to genuinely like Dick.” She laughed a little. “It’s funny and we all thought it was so weird. But I guess Dick has that kind of charm. Besides Dick was more patient with him than any of us.”

“He does. Kid has good eyes. Still a brat but if he's good for Dick, then, he can stay.”

“Not like you could kick him out anyways.”

“I could if I wanted to.”

“Bruce wouldn’t let you.”

Fact.

Barbara chuckled a little. “Another thing that changed in Dick though is that he doesn’t partake in any romantic relationships. He actually doesn’t even seem interested much. He doesn’t like meeting new people. It was...awful. A traumatic experience so I get it. I don’t blame him. In fact, I’m pissed and angry I couldn’t help.” Slender fingers curled into fists, held so tight her hands were turning pale.

“What happened to them? Besides the fact they’re in jail.”

“Well Bruce beat the living hell out of them. Broke all their bones. Beat them to the brink of death. I wish he’d just accidentally kill them but of course not.”

“At least he gave them a cold hard beating. I would have killed them.”

“They deserved it. Bruce mainly did the work but Tim helped as well. He was mad and he needed an outlet for his anger. Wish I got to do it too.”

“Does anyone else know?”

Barbara sighed. “No. At least not in extreme detail. They know something bad happened but no one dared to ask. Not with how Bruce was glaring and breathing down all their necks to not mention a single word. He was acting like a mother hen. Even the Titans don’t know.”

Jason could imagine the Bat scaring off anyone for crowding his golden boy. He nodded, thinking that it was better that they didn’t know. That the less people who knew, the better. The better it was for Dick to heal so that he wouldn’t always be given the sympathy look. He knows how much Dick would hate that because there will be people who will feel bad for him. Will try to give him condolences which wouldn’t be what Dick wanted. Nor would it help him.

Jason looked at Barbara and saw that her eyes were glassy but she was smiling. “Thanks. I think I understand Dick better now.”

Barbara chuckled. “Look after the hunk wonder for me.”

“Of course.”

------

After his discussion with Barbara, Jason tried to spend more time with Dick alone. Instead of just tailing along and interrupting him, he'd ask him to do some things together.

They were simple. Like watching movies. Without Damian or Tim around.

Which Dick agreed and did.

Or reading. Just reading together in the same room. They'd have a few conversations here and there, discussions about the movie or the book they read.

Sometimes they'd have food out in town.

It was just simple things. To ease his way into Dick's life. To make this a norm and so that the boy wonder would feel comfortable around him.

It was nice. And he was surprised by how much Dick enjoyed himself. That he'd sometimes be the one to ask him to do something.

And the few smiles he gave, so sweet and gentle. Jason just really wanted to hug him. But he didn't want to overstep his boundary. Afraid he'd be rejected so he kept his distance.

Things were going well and someday he hoped they'd be okay again.

------

Jason found Dick in the kitchen manor, searching for food in the refrigerator. Jason snorted when the man noticed him and waved with a small smile, his sapphire eyes lighting up.

Jason walked towards Dick, made sure to keep a few feet between them.

“What do you want to eat?”

Dick tapped his pointer finger against his chin, lips curving up as he thought about that question. When he got his answer, he replied by signing.

“Pasta? What kind?”

Dick added on, wanting pesto. Jason nodded and started getting out some pans and ingredients to start cooking.

Dick looked over at Jason and asked if he needed help.

“Nah. It's fine.” Jason said as he got out the food processor to make the pesto.

Dick insisted that he let him help. Said he wouldn't leave and Jason sighed. He gave in and let the man help.

But of course Dick would somehow find a way to burn himself. He cried out but there was no sound and it kind of saddened Jason that Dick's voice was lost. He felt emotional about that.

He watched as Dick jumped back, shaking his hand and Jason walked over to turn off the stove.

“Dick you idiot. I gave you a simple task.”

Dick pouted and Jason just sighed. He gently took Dick's injured hand and kissed the slightly redden spot on his golden skin. Dick flinched a little but he didn't back away. Jason paused, placing his attention on the former Robin, their eyes locking. Confusion filled eyes stared back at him. Dick looked surprised but not frightened. Not like the few times Jason had held him.

Jason lifted his free hand towards Dick, watching him carefully for any signs of rejection. But there was none. Those beautiful sapphire eyes watched him with awe, and Dick's shoulders slumped, his body relaxing.

Long, calloused fingers pressed against his cheek carefully, slowly sliding across his warm skin, cupping Dick's face in his hand. The older man's gaze didn't break away nor did he flinch.

Jason stroked a thumb against his sun-kissed skin and an inaudible sigh escaped from Dick's lips. He could feel the warm breath as he grazed over his plush lips, trailing down, holding his jaw still. Dick sucked in a breath, feeling his shoulders lift a little as his chest pulled in.

Jason kept his eyes on Dick, leaning closer and closer until his lips were hovering just above the older Robin.

Green-Blue eyes searched blue ones, looking for an acknowledgement. Dick blinked, looked straight at him with unwavering eyes then closed them shut. Jason smiled softly to himself.

Jason pressed his lips against Dick's warm ones, sharing a chaste kiss.

Dick sighed into the kiss, full of content. It was short and sweet and just so right.

Jason looked down at his chest and noticed that Dick had a fistful of his shirt, clutching tightly while the other gripped onto his bicep.

“You're beautiful,” Jason breathed, resting his forehead against Dick’s.

Dick smiled softly.

“Yeah. Definitely beautiful.” Jason kissed him again and Dick reciprocated. Sharing soft, sweet kisses.

Dick opened his mouth to say something and Jason watched carefully. It was his name.

Jason frowned a little and caressed his cheek. He wished he could hear Dick's voice. Wished he could hear his name. But it wouldn't happen. Never again.

But it was okay. He could deal with that. At least Dick was still Dick.

“I still like you even if you can't speak.”

Jason swore he heard Dick sob. He watched as the older Robin closed his eyes, lips turned into a frown. He seemed like he wanted to cry.

“Dick?” Jason asked, a little worried.

Dick lifted his head and looked at Jason. “Me too.” He mouthed.

And Jason was confused. He didn't expect that to happen. Didn't think Dick cared or even liked him because of how he acted towards Jason.

“Really?”

Dick nodded his head.

Jason hummed in surprise. “I didn't expect that.”

Dick smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

“You were mean to me.”

Dick shook his head no and pointed at him. Telling him that he was mean to Dick.

“Okay. I was. But you kept ignoring me.” Dick sighed but nodded in agreement.

Jason scowled, knowing that he was right as he pulled Dick into his arms and hugged him tight. Kissed his head and whispered in his ear that he was sorry.

Dick shook his head against his chest and squeezed him tighter, arms curling around his shoulders as he held on.

Dick was right. What's done was done. He can't go back and fix it. He wasn't around to help. But he still felt sorry. Angry at the ordeal Dick had to go through. Much worse than his death and resurrection.

Jason relaxed his hold around Dick and leaned away to look at him. Dick staring back with such intensity and warmth and longing.

He kissed him again, this time a little more passionate, nibbling at his lips and exchanging saliva as their tongues twisted together. He could feel Dick shudder in his arms.

When they pulled apart, Jason let go of Dick and turned back to the stove, turning it on.

Dick stayed close to his side, a hand holding onto the hem of his shirt.

Cute.

“Aren't you still hungry?” He asked and threw a glance back at him.

Dick nodded but didn't let go of Jason's shirt. Jason just smirked. He didn't mind the gesture.

“Alright. Let me finish cooking this so we can eat. And then you can explain to me about your evasive behavior.”

Dick smiled softly and nodded his head, released his hold from Jason only to come up behind him, slyly wrapping his arms around his waist and rested his chin on his shoulder. Jason laughed, finding it strange how all it took was a kiss and a confession to get Dick to come around. He went about it in such a roundabout way but well, it worked out for the better. Probably was better he took his time.

It was a start. Jason thought. And hopefully there will be more.