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Just Another Graduate

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The first thing Jason noticed when he walked into the apartment was that Dick was pissed. This was in part because an enraged Dick filled a space like very few things could, and in part because Jason was entirely sure he hadn’t done anything to cause it. He narrowed his eyes and said, “I took the trash out last night, and I didn’t even leave anything on the fire escape for Penny.”

Dick, who was sorting through the mail, turned and crossed his arms over his chest. “The neighborhood raccoon’s name is not Penny.”

“Says you.”

Dick’s jaw tightens. He grabs something from off the table and holds up a certificate.

Jason tilts his head and says slowly, “I’m guessing the appropriate response here is not, ‘oh, good, it came’?”

“Not if you don’t want me to punch you purely by reflex,” Dick agrees.

“Okay. Can we back up? I’m not sure why you’re pissed about the fact that I finally graduated. Like, yes, it took seven years, but in fairness, I had a bit of a night life going on, and you know I didn’t want debt or to take Bruce’s money, and you never complained while I was working toward—”

“You skipped your graduation.”

Jason blinks. “Um. Yeah. It’s just a stupid ceremony.”

“No, Jay, it’s not. Jesus. Look, aside from the fact that you’re actually the first of Bruce’s kids to finish a college degree, and, not for nothing, the first Wayne family member since Martha to manage it, it’s a day where your family gets to take pictures of you and smile stupidly proud smiles and point out that the guy in the stupid hat who looks just like everyone else in the stupid hat is ours, and—” Dick cuts himself off, looking away.

It’s too late, Jason’s already seen the sheen of tears. And sure, some of it’s probably pure frustration with Jason, but some of it—Dick is disappointed. Quietly, Jason says, “I didn’t know.”

“Yeah.” Dick rubs at his face.

“I—school wasn’t really a thing my mom worried about much one way or the other? And I wasn’t around for high school graduation, and—” Jason sighs.

“Dick, you grew up with two parents, and then you made it through high school with Bruce and Alfred. Family is a defined term that means something to you. I. That’s…it’s not that simple or clear for me. I mostly just didn’t wanna make anyone take time away from important things to sit listening to people you guys don’t even know talking about the beginning of journeys or whatever the fuck it is people talk about at graduations so you could see one second of me shaking hands with some person I don’t even actually know.”

Dick takes a step toward him, but the fight has gone out of his posture. “Even—even in you didn’t think Bruce and Tim and Cass and Kate and the rest of them would want to be there, didn’t it occur to you that I would?”

Jason shrugs, feeling uncomfortable in his own skin. “It’s just a college degree. People get them all the time.”

Dick makes a sound in the back of his throat. “Jay, I don’t care about all those other people. I care about you. And you don’t get a college degree every day.”

“I’m just trying to say—”

“You’re trying to say it’s not a big deal, because you don’t think anything you accomplish is a big deal, but it is. It is to me, to the people who care about you, your family. To us, it’s important.”

Jason scuffs his toe against the floor. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”

Dick takes the final few steps needed to wrap himself around Jason. “Sorry enough to make it up to me?”

Jason rests his forehead against Dick’s shoulder and laughs. “I’m gonna be the guest of honor at a family dinner, aren’t I?”

Dick says, “Alfred’ll make all your favorites, and you’re allowed to get drunk.”

“You really do love me.”

“I thought marrying you gave it away, but sure, we can go with ‘willing to hold your hair back while you puke’ as the barrier.”

Jason grins. “Don’t worry, love you too.”