A cold wind whipped through the streets with wild abandon. Tearing at lose fabrics and grabbing at the exposed flesh. Winter was slowly creeping up on the busy people of Gotham. Corporate big wigs bundled up under their scarves, and ladies bringing out their longer coats bustled from here to there. No one lingering out in the streets to chat or catch up. Steam danced up to the sky from various cups and condensation collected on storefront windows. The snow was predicted to start falling later in the week and it was the hot topic of conversation over the complaints about Christmas music being played too early. In some ways, it was rather soothing to hear, and in others, it was slowly driving him insane. For days he had been prowling the streets looking for any tidbit of useful information. Anything that could point him to where the next shipment of high-end exotic drugs would be coming in.
“Earth to Red Hood. Are you going to stay out there so you can freeze to death?”
“Been there done that whole dead thing Arsonal. I don’t think I am that far gone yet.”
“Still. It has been hours man and I can’t feel my hands. It is another bust. Let’s head back and warm up. We can let our other ears prowl around for a bit.”
“Other ears? You mean the homeless folks we gave food to?”
“Yes man! They know so much shit and with the promise of food and money, I think they could tell you when Gordan takes a shit on Sundays and how often.”
Even though he hated to admit that Arsonal was right, he did have very valid points that he had nothing to counter those statements. So all he got in response was a deep sigh that crackled the mic as he stood. Jason didn’t realize how numb he had gotten until he had to move his legs from their crouched position. With a stumbling few steps, he worked enough blood flow to his feet to walk semi normally and make it down to where he had his bike stashed. White droplets started to swirl around lazily and cling to his black gloves, the snow was beautiful. He never had anything against the snow, quite contrary. He loved the snow, he loved Christmas time. Why? Because his mother did because Alfred does. Jason still hated her but, she was still his mother. He still remembered singing to Christmas Carols on the radio as she was in her rare good moods and helped him make Santa cookies.
He remembers hearing Alfred humming to them as he made his all-out Christmas feast or singing when he thought no one was home. The light in his eyes as he decorated the manor and how he seemed to smile more when they all got together to decorate the large ornate Christmas tree. Dick loved getting them all ridiculous sweaters to wear and even insisting on making it the Christmas card. But over the years it slowly did leave a bitter taste in his mouth. Spending it alone was never fun as it just left him with his memories and an aching heart.
“Hey, spaceman. You are zoning out again.”
Startled slightly he jolted as the small collection of snow on his gloves fluttered to the ground and clearing his throat he brushed off his bike and let her roar to life. Though he could feel the smug grin gracing the other’s lips he wasn’t going to give him the time of day. Not while embarrassment raced through him.
“What had you zoned out man? You were like nine levels of gone.”
“You were not having one of your relapses? I will admit you scared me for a bit there.”
“Ah. No...it...never mind.”
“Ahh come on dude! Tell me!”
“Later you brat. Now let me focus on driving.”
“You could drive these streets in your sleep.”
“Not the point. We can chat later when we are back at the loft.”
“You know the tall dark and emotionally constipated look is not a sexy look on you right?”
“No. Just the tall and emotionally constipated. But I don’t ever hear you complain.”
“Well…. That is true. You do have a nice ass.”
Shaking his head he raced through the slick streets bypassing the onlookers and those stuck in the rush traffic. His helm blocked out most of the background noise but a few rude comments caused him to flip a few off. Usually, it took him a while to get back to his loft as he would go to his usual stops. Gathering his cigarettes, maybe some booze and some frozen dinners. But today he decided to go back without any other stops. It was not bad memories per se. He could feel himself slowly slip but, as far as he could tell he was still mostly in control. Though it was not a risk he felt like taking today.
Pulling up to the back ally way and seeing fresh tire marks in the fallen snow he knew that Arsonal had beaten him here. Usually, it would annoy him that the other was left alone in his loft but today he was grateful. Opening the garage door he rolled in and closed it down tight behind him. His footsteps echoing around the blank space as he crossed the way and over to the elevator. Opening up the lift he stepped in and pulled the lever to go up, the groan of protest was par for the course but what he wasn’t expecting was to start to smell the faint smell of chili.
Taking off his helm and unzipping his jacket he stepped into the warm open space and laid eyes on the red-headed archer with a corny ‘kiss the cook’ apron humming to Christmas carols. Hunched over a small pot of chili. For some reason, it rooted him to the spot as he felt a surge of emotions race through him and fight for control. There was no way that he saw into his mind or what had stopped him earlier. But here he was doing the one thing… the one thing he missed about being with family.
“Take a picture. It will last longer. Come on before it burns.”
“How….when did you start this?”
“I got it from the local shelter and all it needed was to be warmed up. Come on. I know you haven’t eaten much all day.”
It was kind of scary how well he knew him, even down to just how ravenous he was. A low short chuckle worked its way past his lips to a full-bellied laugh. Jason didn’t know where it came from but for some reason, it just felt right to do. The puzzled look coming across the other’s face was enough to almost sober him up from his unusual merriment. Setting down his helm and dropping off his jacket and gloves before he kicked off his boots. Letting them land with a dull thump somewhere in the general direction of the doorway.
“Earlier when you asked what I was thinking about. By my bike.”
“It was the snow that caused it. Well, the snow and all the Christmas carols playing. It brought back memories. Memoires of singing to them with my mom when she had her good days and listening to Alfred when he thought he was alone.”
“Oh. Dude, I am sorry. I kind of forgot how tough the holidays are on you.”
“Not anymore. But coming home and seeing you doing all this and humming the lyrics reminded me that I am not alone and that I do have a family to spend the holidays with.”
“Man. If I was any more of a romantic bastard and less a cold-hearted ass-kicker that would have made me cry.”
Jason did accept the embrace from the other as he nestled himself against him and rested his head on his shoulder as he just let the feelings wash over him. He was warm, safe, and happy. It wasn’t much but it was the whole world to him.
“Thanks for being you.”
“Did you get frostbite, Jason? Because this is the most sentimental I have ever heard from you. Do I need to give you a thorough look over?”
“Maybe after I get some food. Only then can you ‘look’ me over till your hearts concent that I am one piece.”
There was a low chuckle come from the other male as he started to nibble on Jason’s exposed neck before leaving a soon to be hickey. As he pulled away with a satisfied grin warming his features.
“I will hold you to it.”
Shoving him away with heat flaring up his cheeks he sat down and tried to occupy himself with the warm food. Though he got the feeling that throughout dinner he would be looked at like he was the main dish.
“Stop looking like you want to eat me and eat your food before it gets cold.”
“Why? You are very cute when you are embarrassed.”
“Oh, there is that feisty attitude I love. Eat up. You will need your strength for making me sit out in the cold and then come back and act all cute. You know what that does to me.”
“Just eat your food.”
“I will eat you later though.”
Jason felt the heat rise further onto his ears as he used his skills to flick a very well-aimed piece of his napkin to hit the other male in the face. Which caused the other to laugh more as he staved off on his jokes for the remainder of the meal. Once they were both semi-full the true event of the evening took off in the bedroom and the dishes would have to wait until tomorrow to be washed.