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The poisoned apple (far from the tree)

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Tim calls Jason on a Tuesday. It’s creeping from early morning into just plain morning, and he’s sweaty and tired and he only shot one guy tonight, so it’s feeling like kind of a wash. His Kevlar is sticking to his chest as he pulls it off and he’s debating whether he even wants to shower or just collapse when his phone rings.

He squints at it. Red Robin. If it were an emergency, Tim probably would’ve hacked straight into his comms. The phone call is...weird. Tim doesn’t call him.

“Replacement?” He grunts.

“Ah, Hood,” Tim answers, like he’s surprised Jason picked up. It’s five in the fucking morning, which is basically Bat bedtime, but if he didn’t actually think Jason would answer why would he even call? The phone is silent and he can practically hear Tim’s hesitation.

“You call to get a bedtime story or what?” Jason asks. “Cause I gotta tell you, kid, mine are usually X-rated and you’re cute and all but I’m dead tired so it’s gonna be quick.”

He hears Tim choke. “What? NO. Jason, what?” Tim sounds flustered which, honestly, is also pretty fucking weird. Tim normally takes pride in how unflappable he is, and Jason’s basically a dick all the time. A little harmless flirting wouldn’t normally throw him.

He doesn’t answer. “Tim, unless you really did call for a bedtime story, in which case fuck off, I’m way too tired, you’ve got about twenty seconds to get to the point.”

“Right,” Tim says. “Right. Uh, so. I don’t actually know any tactful way to say this because frankly. Well. And I haven’t slept in maybe 40 hours so just.” he stumbles on. “Fuck it. Your mom wasn’t your mom.”

Jason tenses because -

“What the fuck are you talking about,” he says, his voice strained, because he and Tim may not be the best of friends, and sure, he tried to kill him that time, but they’ve been getting along ok on patrol the last few months and Tim bringing up the time Jason died tragically is really fucking out of left field.

“I mean,” Tim spills out awkwardly, “the woman you went to find in Ethiopia. She wasn’t actually your mother. The certificate was a fake. But your other mother. I mean, your first mother wasn’t...fuck, how do I say this?” He pauses to breathe. “You’ve never met your mother, Jason. Her name was Ophelia Frump.”

Jason is frozen, half dressed and sweaty and disgusting in his room and he can’t process anything. But -

“Was?” He croaks. He’s over this. He’s BEEN over this for years. He literally died for this, trying to find a family who he was sure would’ve wanted him if he could just convince them.

“She died in childbirth, Jason,” Tim says, quietly. And then, quieter still, like he’s not sure he should say it, “she didn’t abandon you.”

Jason sits heavily on his couch, not even tracking enough to realize he’s sitting right on the broken spring.

“I was digging around in old hospital records,” Tim says. “And I found your actual certificate. I’m — I’m sorry.”

“Right,” Jason says. He can’t seem to actually respond.

“But uh,” Tim continues. “The thing is. Well, the thing is your mother had a family? I mean, not like a husband and kids but. And I figured I could maybe find them and. And well, I did? Find them. She had a sister.” He says. “You’ve got an aunt, and a bunch of cousins. Jason, they didn’t know about you. I reached out —“

“You what?” Jason croaks. “They what?” Jason thinks he should be mad that Tim was so presumptuous but he’s stuck on — holy shit, he has a family?

“Yeah, sorry, overreaching, I know, boundaries, but Jason — they want to meet you. Apparently your mom used to run off for months at a time and they wouldn’t hear from her, and she just never told them when she got pregnant. She was probably going to bring you home — they said they’d gotten a postcard from her a few weeks before you were born saying she had a surprise and she’d be visiting soon. She didn’t get the chance, so they didn’t know, or they would have taken you in.”

“I,” Jason stumbles out. He’s too tired for this but there’s a family out there. There was a family that would have wanted him this whole time only they didn’t know and Jason thinks he might be having a panic attack. He can’t get any words out.

“Jason?” Tim says, and he hears him fumbling in the background, like he’s scrambling up. “Are you ok?”

“I,” Jason starts again. “They want to meet me?”

Tim sighs, relieved. “Yeah. Yeah, Jason, they want to meet you.”

“I...I have a family.”

“Another one, yeah,” Tim says, like he’s trying to make a point, but frankly, Jason’s too bowled over to figure it out right now.

“They want to meet me,” Jason repeats.

“Yeah,” Tim says. “They do. And uh, I think you should do it. But maybe not alone?”

“What, you want to come?” Jason says. It’s supposed to come out sarcastically but he thinks it probably just sounds genuine.

“Oh, I mean,” Tim says, shocked. “Sure. Uh, sure, I’ll come. Of course.” And Jason can’t bring himself to clarify that he didn’t really mean it, so maybe he kind of meant it.

“There’s just one thing…” Tim says, hesitating.

“Yeah?” Jason says.

“Well,” Tim says. “They seem kind of weird.”

Jason raises an eyebrow. What kind of family could be weirder than a guy who dressed up like a bat every night and his mostly adopted vigilante sons?

___

 

“It’s...different?” Tim says, but considering the giant, decrepit mess of architecture past the creaking gate that’s just swung open for them on its own, Jason thinks he’s probably just being nice. Tim has parked the Porsche on the street in front of the house and they both check twice that the address is right, but then Tim says “well, I did say weird” and so here they are.

Jason glances to the side at him. Tim’s got his hand on his Armani clad hip, his chin tilted down as he looks over the top of his oversized black glasses, the kind Jason always figured only celebrities wore. He looks like a model. He’s more a celebrity than Jason ever could have been, since Jason stayed the hell away from Wayne Enterprises and Tim’s their beautiful young ingenue, bright and talented and ruthless.

Jason’s overstimulated and nervous, and now he’s thinking about how hot Tim is so it’s probably time to make some kind of move towards the house. He thinks his murder attempt had probably closed the door on getting anywhere with Tim, no matter how attractive he is. Then again, Tim’s here now, meeting Jason’s family, so who knows how his mind works. He was crazy enough to force Batman to take him on, unlike the rest of them. Jason runs his hands through his hair and huffs.

“Ready to meet my family, sweetheart?” He cracks, figuring he’s too nervous to do anything but joke. Tim turns his judging gaze to Jason’s and raises a brow.

“But darling, what if they don’t like me,” he says dryly, and then starts walking forward before Jason can do more than stand there in delighted surprise. He catches up with Tim easily, his long legs outpacing Tim’s shorter strides. Tim must know how nervous he is, and is trying to distract him, but Jason appreciates it anyway.

The door has a giant knocker on it and, to the right, an antiquated looking doorbell. Tim tilts his head at Jason, who takes one more breath before jamming down the button aggressively. The jarring tone that comes out startles both of them, but they don’t have more than a moment to react before the door swings open and the largest man Jason’s ever seen appears.

Jason is not a small guy. He’s a comfortable 6 feet. This guy, though, has got to be over seven feet tall. Jason’s eyebrows shoot up as he tilts his own head back to look up, and feels a little sympathetic for Tim, who at around 5’7” must spend a lot of his time craning his neck up at him and Bruce.

“You rang?” The guys voice groans out like some unholy combination of a rumbling engine and a growl.

“Uh, yeah,” Jason says, when a glance at Tim shows him to be frozen in a polite half-smile. “I’m Jason. I’m, uh, here to see my Aunt Morticia?”

“Jason,” Gigantor rumbles, and then steps back. “Come.”

With a last, quick glance at Tim, who has recovered and now has that look of determination he gets when he’s about to crack a tough system, Jason follows the guy into the house.

Whenever they are asked in the years that follow and sometimes even when they aren’t, Morticia and Gomez say they knew Tim was the one for Jason when the first thing he did upon entering the house was tase their bear skinned rug. Jason had gone for his gun at the roar, but Tim was faster.

At the time, however, Tim looks somewhere between mortified and horrified as, hand still on the taser gun, he stares down at the rug, which seems to be looking back at him with approval. Jason’s got one hand on his gun and the other halfway outstretched to pull Tim back to safety when they hear a boisterous laugh.

“Marvelous! Just marvelous,” the man booms. “Would you look at that, Morticia? Not a second’s hesitation. What an instinct! You’ve got the right stuff, kid,” he approaches Tim and smacks him on the shoulder hard enough to bump him into Jason, whose outstretched arm ends up halfway around Tim, after all. He turns to Jason and grins. “You picked a good one, Jason, eh? Isn’t that right, Morticia?”

The man turns back and Tim and Jason are caught looking at a stunning woman, tall and glamorously clothed in a skintight black floor-length gown. Jason thinks she’d get along fabulously with Selina. She has Jason’s eyes.

“Yes, darling Gomez, certainly,” his Aunt Morticia says with a soft smile. “We Frumps do choose our men well.”

In his defense, Jason is too shocked to immediately realize what they are insinuating and the moment passes too quickly to correct them.

“It is a pleasure to finally meet you, my dear,” Morticia says warmly, approaching Jason and putting a red taloned hand on his cheek. “And look,” she gestures to his white streak, “you’ve already died and come back once! So accomplished, and at so young an age!”

Jason’s mouth drops open in shock and he can feel Tim tense under his arm, where he’s still standing with his hand limp around the taser.

“You…” Jason starts, but doesn’t quite know how to go on.

“How did you know?” Tim jumps in, his curiosity clearly pushing aside his embarrassment. The couple seems more impressed than upset with him anyway, so Jason figures it’s fine.

“Oh, the hair, of course!” Morticia says. “Whenever a Frump dies for the first time, we always get a marker. Something to commemorate the occasion! For instance, my own hair,” she gestures to the glossy black length of it, draping down to her waist. “It used to be blonde! Terrible, really. Thankfully when I woke up after my first time, it had all changed to black. Much more appropriate. And I dare say your white streak was much the same. No doubt your Tim finds it as dashing as I do.”

“My...Tim,” Jason repeats the part of this that makes the most sense to him, which is still basically none at all. Tim ignores him, too intrigued by Morticia’s words to pay him any mind at all.

“Wait, you all come back to life?” Tim asks. His sunglasses are pushed up on top of his head and his face is the picture of fierce concentration. “That’s a family thing? We thought it was a rift in spacetime.”

“Of course, dear!” Morticia says, stepping delicately over to take Tim’s arm and guide him from the entrance. Tim’s proper breeding kicks in, the kind Jason never quite internalized despite his years with Bruce, and he offers Morticia his arm automatically. “Jason is obviously from my side of the family.”

“Too right, Morticia,” Gomez bellows, before throwing an arm around Jason and pulling him along after Tim and Morticia. “The Addamses don’t get any of the physical signs. Why, I had to die four times before I finally gave up.” He grins at Jason conspiratorially. “I was hoping for fangs.”

“Didn’t work out?” Jason asks, deciding he’s just going to roll with the crazy.

“Not a single canine,” Gomez shakes his head in exaggerated disappointment.

They’ve been led into a sitting room. There’s an organ by the wall, giant and imposing, and the room is plush with velvet couches and old, frightening art. Jason kind of loves it. It’s insane but he -- well, now that he’s getting a feel for these people, he kind of loves them. His white streak, the one that refused to be dyed, that pushed him apart from other people -- suddenly it’s a physical sign of kinship. He’s feeling a little overwhelmed and full of a strange affection he’s not used to and Tim, who’s been sat next to him, leans in just the tiniest bit like he knows.

“And you, Tim?” Morticia asks. “Have you died yet?”

Tim seems to have leaned right into the crazy, too, though, because he responds with total honesty, “No, my family doesn’t come back from that. Although Jason did almost kill me once.”

“A traditional courting!” Gomez hollers. “Wonderful. And I bet you knew right then, eh? Those Frumps are irresistible when they get violent.” The heated look Gomez gives Morticia would make him blush, if Jason were the type.

“He has his charms,” Tim says, looking at Jason with a half smile and none of the disgust Jason thought he’d get from Tim, if Tim ever realized Jason really did find it hot as hell that Tim could take out a bunch of assassins with just a bo-staff and his big brain. But Tim, now that he’s over the initial shock of it, seems to be deeply enjoying himself. Jason is starting to wonder if he’d actually like to be enjoying Jason. Maybe his meeting the family joke wasn’t so far off, after all.

Gomez breaks the moment when he abruptly bellows, “Kids! Come down and meet your cousin Jason!”

Jason, who is by now deeply, unusually charmed by these people, his family , wonders what kind of children this couple could possibly have.

He doesn’t have to wait long — there’s a muffled scream, followed by the sound of clumsy thumping down the staircase. A pudgy boy in a white striped t-shirt is followed by a graceful little girl in a black, white-collared dress holding a headless doll.

“Really, father,” says the girl. “Five more minutes and we could have finished perfecting the new guillotine.”

“Oh, what fun!” Gomez replies, laughing, and looks at Jason. “A child always remembers their first guillotine.”

“I never had one,” Jason says.

“No?” Gomez looks appalled. “Well, my god, man! Wednesday, Pugsley! Take your cousin Jason up to see your new toy! I can’t imagine.”

“We started with guns,” Jason says, but he’s getting up because serious little Wednesday has grabbed his hand to pull him up with her and it’s very possible that he will not be able to refuse these children anything, ever.

“Guns have no style,” Gomez counters. “But I suppose they’d do in a pinch. No replacement for the guillotine!”

“They have flair when I use them,” Jason counters, but he’s still moving.

Tim is barely holding back a manic grin at the sight of Jason made so malleable by this severe little girl.

“It’s true,” Tim says. “They do.”

“Come, Cousin,” Wednesday says. “We will leave your paramour to my parents.”

Jason laughs and waggles his eyes at Tim. “My paramour, huh? What do you say, Tim, darling , you good staying here?”

Tim has the faintest blush, like he’s actually affected by Jason’s joking which, well —even if his family wasn’t turning out to be a bunch of amazing, accepting wackos, this trip might be worth it anyway just to figure out the Replacement really does maybe want in Jason’s pants.

Jason spends a half hour helping Wednesday lop the heads off dolls and only barely just avoiding lopping Pugsley’s hand off (“It’s fine, Cousin, we could put it back on after!”).

He’s wandering back down to either save or bother Tim, depending on how it’s going with his family , when he’s waylaid by the sight of a dismembered hand dusting a window. He’s just standing there, staring and nearly certain that none of this could really be happening, when he hears Tim’s voice speaking clearly but somehow still confessionally.

“Since I was ten,” Tim is saying. Jason pauses by the doorway. “I used to follow him around, but he didn’t know.”

“Stalking, darling?” Morticia asks. “How romantic! Gomez used to leave me the hearts of animals during our courting phase.”

“That’s...lovely,” Tim says, after a moment, like he isn’t actually sure anymore if he’s humoring them or really means it. Jason kind of gets it — these people are insane but they’re also so obviously well-matched that he can’t help be a little jealous. “I didn’t leave any dead things for him, I just took pictures of his fights. When I could.”

“A supportive partner is crucial!” Gomez shouts. “Morticia always came to my knife throwing events. She cheered even when I didn’t kill anything.”

“Right,” Tim says. “And then, well. Then he died. And we — I mean, I didn’t know he could come back from that. And he didn’t know who I was, back then. And when he finally did come back, it had been years. That’s when he tried to kill me. Batman found me before he did but…”

“Batman!” Gomez says enthusiastically. “Now there’s a fellow. A giant bat creature…”

“Strikes fear into the hearts of criminals,” Morticia adds. “Wonderful. Such a lovely place, Gotham.”

“Just fantastic,” Gomez says. “I wonder how much of him is a bat! Auntie Louise used to go half-Komodo dragon, but that was only on full moons.”

“Oh,” Tim says. “I, uh. I’m not sure.”

“Anyway, darling, you were saying about Jason…” Morticia slides back in.

“Right. Well, and I guess it never felt like there was a right time to tell him. How I felt,” he can practically hear Tim shrug.

“Darling, there’s never a wrong time for love,” Morticia says.

“Too right!” Gomez follows. “I would rot in my grave without Morticia.”

“He tried once,” Morticia says.

“The gardener found me,” Gomez says, shaking his head.

“I was only gone for two days — the Salem Witches Reunion,” Morticia shakes her head. “Barely any decomposition at all.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” Tim says. Jason is sure this is a fever dream. “I just don’t know,” he sighs. “Whether he’d be interested at all, you know?”

“Who wouldn’t be, dear?” Morticia says. “And you seem so well-suited.”

Jason figures he’s stood here long enough, and if this is a fever dream, he’s not going to waste it.

“You know, Timmy,” he says, with more confidence than he’s really feeling, as he steps into the room, “if you wanted to torture criminals with me, you could have just said so.”

Tim flushes, his whole face going red as a tomato. It’s amazing.

“Jason!” He yelps. “I…”

“I guess if that’s moving too fast, we could do dinner first,” Jason follows, a little more serious. “If you want.”

Tim flaps his mouth open and shut for a moment. “Wait, are you. Are you being serious?”

He looks at Tim, sitting with his freaky new family, who Tim found for him, and he’s suddenly absolutely sure that he is.

“Yeah, Tim. I’m serious,” he scratches the back of his neck, suddenly, stupidly nervous. “What do you say?”

Tim smiles, like he’s still not sure but he wants to be.

“Yeah, Jason,” he says, voice low. “That sounds great.”

 

Gomez and Morticia don’t let them leave without promising to visit again. Wednesday and Pugsley insist Jason bring them to Arkham Asylum one day soon for a tour, and Morticia makes Tim promise he’ll send her some fear gas for the next Addams reunion and of course, you’re invited, darling, you’re family .

They say yes to all of it.