Once Joey was safely inside, he let his expression twist as he headed upstairs. Oh god, what the hell had he been thinking?
He forced himself to concentrate on navigating the Manor for now, and counted floors and doors until he got to his room. He shut it behind himself a little harder than usual and dropped his face into his hands. This was going to suck.
He breathed for a second, collecting himself, then began stripping off the suit. He left it on the bed while he went for his suitcase, but someone had already unpacked it into the tallboy in the corner. Joey huffed at the sight of his few shirts and pants barely filling in one drawer, then pulled out a t-shirt and workout shorts.
Slade had told him that basically everyone in the family except Alfred was a vigilante. Even Damian probably could fight better than he could. Jason was the second Batman. Joey had been a Teen Titan, sure--about eighty million years ago. Now he was barely a hero, and mostly just provided air support when he did anything at all. He was a tech exec, for fuck's sake. He was absolutely going to have his ass handed to him. He put his clothes on numbly and tried not to picture it.
Defeated. Pinned, tapping out. In front of everyone.
In front of Slade.
Pop had watched him fight before. Pop had always had strong opinions about his performance, he thought with a wince. The memories weren't particularly good. Some of those opinions came with bruises.
But. No, he signed emphatically to the room, trying to make himself believe it. Slade was a different man from Pop, had shown himself different in almost every possible way. Slade would probably be horrified if he had any idea that Joey was thinking of Slade responding to something Joey did the same way as Pop would. Even with Pop's face, it was growing increasingly hard to imagine Slade doing anything the way that Pop would.
But old habits died hard. Joey sank onto the bed and forced himself to breathe in the pattern that the therapist at rehab had taught him. The old anxieties were welling up, and he struggled to stay calm.
It was just a casual spar, he told himself. This was supposed to be just for fun, give people a chance to show off. Jason was a nice guy, from everything Slade had said and everything Joey had seen. He was a hero; he was Batman. He wouldn't deliberately try to make Joey look stupid or embarrass him, he wouldn't try to hurt him to earn points from their father. He reminded himself of how Jason had been earlier this morning when he showed him around--obviously feeling awkward and unsure but still trying to reassure him, friendly and sincere about wanting him to feel welcome even though Joey had invaded his life and his house and his relationship with Slade. That wasn't a guy who'd wipe the floor with him just to show he could.
It was going to be fine. He was sure. He was almost sure.
He stood up and headed for the door.
Guess he'd find out.