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Jason stared, heart in his throat. He couldn’t tear his eyes away. The heavy tang of blood was thick in the air and his feet felt like lead. He couldn’t move. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to. Whatever he’d expected to find, it wasn’t this.

In the center of the warehouse, Deathstroke stood over his carefully bound prisoner. Jason didn’t know what the alpha wanted, didn’t know why he’d been invited to this meeting, but he found that he had a sudden interest in hearing him out.

It had been awhile since he’d seen Slade. Even longer without his helmet in place. Nothing… nothing had passed between them that should have prompted this.

Forcing himself to move, he slipped from the shadows and approached slowly.

The mercenary’s lips twisted in a slow smirk. “I hoped you would show.”

“How could I resist?” Jason drawled, grateful his helmet hid his voice and for the scent blocking patches on his neck. “It was such an artfully worded invitation.”

“I try.” Those two words were full of dry humor.

Unwillingly, Jason found his lips quirking under his helmet. He opened his mouth to ask what the mercenary wanted, but snapped it shut when a shadow appeared at his elbow.

Goddammit.

Deathstroke.” Batman’s voice rumbled next to him, laced with alpha threat as he joined them.

Jason suppressed a flinch. The air suddenly charged with a tension that hadn’t been present before.

“My invitation was only for the Hood.” The mercenary tilted his head, sneering at the vigilante. “I guess it was too much to think that you would respect that.”

“What do you want, Wilson?” Bruce snapped.

“Nothing with you, Bats.” An orange gauntlet tightened in green hair, drawing Jason’s attention back to the bound figure kneeling at Slade’s feet. “I have a gift.”

“What do you want for him?” Bruce’s voice was tight.

Lips quirked, “The gift isn’t for you. This doesn’t involve you. The gift is for him.” The alpha nodded in Jason’s direction.

Jason tore his eyes from the figure at the mercenary’s feet to Deathstroke’s maskless face. A thrum of surprise lanced through his body. What? What was he playing at?

Batman growled, “What do you want with—”

“Why?” Jason asked, cutting the alpha off. He took a couple of steps forward, ignoring the bark of warning from Bruce. Heart thudding in his ears, he asked, “What do you want?”

Slade’s single blue eye swept over him, swept over Bruce, darted up to the shadows of the rafters where Jason knew Robin must be hiding. He could tell the alpha was weighing the situation, deciding how much to say — what to reveal. Jason couldn’t blame him for being cautious. Deathstroke had never exactly been welcome in Gotham.

Still, anticipation — or maybe it was anxiety — turned in his stomach as he waited.

Finally, the alpha opened his mouth.

The last thing Jason expected was the roll of League syllables that fell off his tongue, as easily as if he’d been born to them.

His breath caught in his throat. There was no way he heard that right. That… did Slade know what he just said? He couldn’t… he couldn’t possibly

What?

It was barely more than a crackle of surprised static out of the vocoder of his helmet and into the air of the warehouse. As the word burst out of his mouth, the thump of boots on concrete heralded Robin’s arrival next to him, dropped down from the iron baulk above. The immature growl of a protective pup stirred the air around them.

“Stop that.” Red Hood croaked, pulling the boy behind him in case the deadly freaking mercenary decided to take offence.

In case he decided to take the words back.

“Did you hear what he said?!” Robin hissed.

“No, I missed it.” Jason snarked, the sneer on his lips hidden by red Bat-grade fiberglass.

“How dare he? Without Grandfather’s permission!”

“Who said I don’t have Ra’s’ permission?”

Both sets of eyes snapped back to Deathstroke. A shimmering gold medallion hung from a thick green leather cord, dangling from his hand. It glinted in the low light of the warehouse. The crest of the Al Ghul pack stamped clearly on its side. The other side… Jason sucked in a breath. Slade had gone to Ra’s.

You?! He let you?!” Damian scoffed.

“Robin!” Jason snapped, heart thumping in his chest. Could they hear it? Was it as loud to them as it was to him? “That is not your decision!”

Hood. Robin.”

The two stiffened at Batman’s growl from behind them. Fuck. Somehow, they’d completely forgotten about him.

Jason turned slightly, just enough to keep both alphas in his view. “Batman.”

He paused a moment. Wondering if anything he said would be enough to get the contrary man out of the warehouse. If anything he did would be enough. Likely not. Still… The words rolled off his tongue with the same blasé snark he always adopted when talking with his former pack leader.

“This is officially none of your fucking business. Take the brat and go.”

A squawk of indignation came from the pup, but he ignored it, turning his eyes back to the alpha in the center of the room. Slade seemed more amused than anything else, which Jason just knocked as a point in his favor.

How much did the old merc know? He made no move to interfere. Whether it was because he didn’t care, thought it was none of his business, or trusted Jason to handle it, he didn’t know. Either way, it was probably for the best.

Translation. Now.” Batman growled, irritation bleeding into his words.

Before Jason could respond, Slade smirked and drawled, “I believe you were told that this is none of your business.”

“Everything that happens in Gotham is my business. Especially him.” Bruce nodded at the mercenary’s feet.

“Not this time, B.” Jason growled. “Never this.”

“Hood—”

“Leave!”

“You know he’s not going to, ukhai.” Robin muttered. “Not with that thing involved.”

Jason grimaced under the helmet. The pup was right.

Alpha command leached into Bruce’s voice as he spoke, demanding information again. Clenching his jaw, Jason was suddenly, maliciously, grateful that the man had made no move to reintegrate him into the Batpack.

All of them were trained to resist an alpha’s command, they had to be in order to be effective in the field, but it didn’t mean that it wasn’t difficult to resist the orders of your own pack alpha. Especially for an omega. Especially for a pup.

Robin snarled with the effort. Jason reached out and pulled the boy against his side, offering support.

“Bats.” An angry growl came from the center of the room, drawing all their eyes. “Beat it. If the Hood says this isn’t your business, this isn’t your business.”

“Release the Joker, Deathstroke.”

Jason couldn’t help the roll of his eyes.

“Can’t do that.” The smile that curled around the other alpha’s lips was all teeth. Sharp and deadly. Jason had always had something of a dangerous attraction to that smile. “As I said, it’s a gift.”

“People aren’t gifts, Wilson.”

Gods, this was not the bullshit Jason wanted to deal with. Not now or ever. Bruce’s moral philosophy could take a hike. This… He eyed the bound figure of his murderer, replaying the lyrical words that Slade had spoken through his mind. This was something he had never expected to get. Something he still wasn’t sure he’d actually heard right.

And Bruce was interfering.

Jason could feel the tension and frustration as it built in Damian's frame. Tension and frustration that he knew was echoed in his own. This wasn’t the way a ceremony like this was supposed to go. These presentations were meant to be near sacred in the League.

Bruce continued to argue with Deathstroke. Not even argue. Lecture.

Jason furrowed his brow as the teen slipped out of his grasp and sidled right up beside the Batman, sliding through his defenses easily.

Something only Robin could ever do.

What was the pup plotting?

Lightning fast, a gloved hand reached out and sunk a dart into Bruce's thigh, piercing right between armored plates.

Robin!” Batman growled, furious as he scrambled for the antidote, but his muscles were already refusing to obey. He fumbled at the pouch as he fell to his knees.

“You were told.” Damian stated steadily, barely a hint of the adrenaline that Jason knew was coursing through his body. “This is not Batpack business. You have no input in these proceedings, Father. This is Al Ghul pack business.”

It was almost fascinating to watch the play of emotions on Bruce’s face as he crumpled to the ground. If it was in any other scenario, he would probably find it amusing. As it was, he only felt relief.

“You know you’re going to be in some deep shit for that, kid.”

The boy moved Batman so he was on his side, keeping him from suffocating. “This is too important.”

“I’m touched.” Jason drawled, covering his very real concern for his little brother with trademark sarcasm. If Bruce so much as made one wrong move, though, Talia and Ra’s would storm the city with a vengeance. Provided Jason didn’t get there first. No one fucks with Al Ghul pups.

Damian clicked his tongue. “It is my responsibility as the only other Al Ghul present to chaperone this presentation, ukhai.”

“Oh, fuck no. You can take a walk.”

The look he got in response was too old and too superior to be on the face of a thirteen-year-old. Irritation rose in his chest and he growled.

“Now who’s being ridiculous?” The pup snarked back.

Jason just knew that fucking eyebrow was raised underneath that mask. Just like Talia’s. Why had he let them claim him into their fucking pack? What had he done to deserve such a bratty little brother?

“You—”

A throat cleared and Jason felt himself flush under his helmet. He hadn’t forgotten Slade. It would have been impossible to forget. Even if he’d wanted to. But he had possibly been… delaying. He shifted, hoping to cover a sudden burst of nerves.

“I suppose I must handle this.” The brat sighed in disgust and strode forward.

Muttering expletives under his breath, Jason followed. A gloved hand snagged the collar of Robin’s cape before he went too far, dragging him backward again.

Stay. Here.” A finger flicked the boy’s nose and Damian sneered, insulted. “I mean it. I am the adult. If you won’t go away, at least shut your mouth. Got it?”

Ukhai—

Jason slid his hand up and gently squeezed the back of Robin’s neck in warning. “Got it?

Grumbling, the boy subsided. “Yes, ukhai.”

With a nod, he withdrew and turned to face the alpha in the middle of the room, finally giving him his full attention.

He took a moment to study the man — his calm amusement and easy stance. Confident. Yet, the twitch of a finger, barely there, told Jason that Slade wasn’t as self assured as he appeared. That was… interesting. And perhaps a little gratifying.

He still remembered the way Slade’s callused hands felt on his skin. The bite of those fangs on his throat. It hadn't meant anything. It wasn’t supposed to mean anything. When Talia sent Jason to learn from the best, Slade Wilson was at the top of that list.

It hadn’t been Jason’s name that the alpha groaned into his ear as his knot swelled within him, but a codename. He had given the man an alias; Slade knew, there was no way he couldn't have, but he’d let it go. Speaking their truth between them with mouths on skin and nails in flesh. In the scent of want and need and a dozen other emotions neither of them had bothered to mask.

When he’d been called back to Nanda Parbat, they knew it was over.

Jason had been careful, ever since, to make sure Slade never caught his scent or his face. No matter how much, in the dark of the night, when he let himself remember — when he let himself dream — he wished he could. Talia had been adamant about that; about keeping his League trainee alias separate from Jason Al Ghul. From Jason Todd. From Red Hood. Each as unconnected and distinct as he could make them from those outside the pack.

So what the fuck was he doing in Gotham with the Joker at his feet and the League’s courting words on his lips?

A single blue eye stared intently back at him, and Jason suddenly found himself at a loss for words.

What could he say?

Jason opened his mouth to speak, but Slade beat him to it. The same phrase flowing off his tongue. Only this time... This time he added a twist.

Voice pitched low, in a tone that still sent shivers down Jason’s spine, that blue eye looked at him and those lips spoke the name the mercenary had growled into heated skin and barked in annoyance. The one Slade had given him at first in frustration but had slowly turned into something like affection. Turned into something more.

Well…

Fuck.

The snap of the latch as Jason popped the seal on his helmet echoed off the concrete and rebar. He paused a moment and blinked as his eyes adjusted and his senses were overwhelmed with the scents around him.

The dust and wood and rot from the decaying pallets scattered in the warehouse. The tinge of ozone in the air from the anger and frustration clawing its way through Bruce’s scent blockers. Man, he must be pissed for it to be leeching that badly.

The — gods — the aching distress and pain and blood from the Joker.

Jason couldn’t help the way his eyes snapped to the thing at Slade’s feet. The rush of blood through his own veins at the taste of the clown’s on the air. The fear.

A growl burned at the back of his throat and curled his lips into a snarl.

A comforting rumble stirred the air, originating from Slade. Instinct or sense memory or just Slade’s presence, Jason didn’t know, but it helped and he found himself relaxing. He took a breath, inhaling the alpha’s familiar gunmetal and cedar scent.

Jason knew he did it on purpose. That man never did anything without a reason and no one could control their scent like Deathstroke could.

Still…

He took another breath, steadying himself.

“What do you want, Slade?” Hiding a grimace, his voice wasn’t as strong as he would have liked, he locked eyes with the mercenary.

“If it’s not obvious at this point then clearly that pricey Al Ghul education was wasted.”

“Oh, fuck off, old man!” Jason sniped back, “You couldn’t afford me.”

“Is that your answer?”

Fuck me.” Jason muttered to himself, with feeling.

The slow smirk that spread across Slade’s face made him flush. With a scowl, he reached up and carefully removed his scent blocking patches. This conversation needed to be open. It was too important — too precious — for misunderstandings.

As his scent crept through the room, distinctly omegan and laced with his own tension — baring more of himself than he had to anyone in years — a startled gasp came from behind him.

Bruce.

Jason ignored it. He knew what the man’s sudden revelation was. He didn’t care. The alpha had shown no indication he really cared. Made no moves to bring him back to the pack. It was his own damn fault if he hadn't known his once-son was an omega.

His own fault if he didn't know what he had lost.

With a steadying breath, Jason looked up. His scent was loaded with his confusion and tinged with his fear — his fear of rejection, of abandonment, of this not being real — as he asked his next question.

“Why?” Blue stared into blue. “Why now, Slade? It's been years.

And that was the heart of it. It had been years. Years since he'd been sent to the alpha for training. Years since it turned into more as they both found some semblance of comfort, and maybe even some healing, in each other. Years since Jason had been called home. Slade hadn’t even looked at him as left.

“I finally found you.”

Air filled his lungs but Jason couldn't breathe. He had been looking? How long? Why?

He thought back to the morning when he left, duffle bag slung over his shoulder as he stared at the back of Slade’s silver head. The way the other man wouldn’t turn around to even say goodbye.

“I’d have to be a fool to think that you were even looking, Slade.” Jason shook his head, “Not after the way we parted.”

Slade grimaced, a flash of regret, there and gone before it could properly register, crossed the mercenary’s face. “I have. Since you left. I tried to pretend, but…”

He shrugged. If Jason had been anyone else, it would have seemed almost dismissive. But Jason wasn’t anyone else. He had worked so closely with Wilson, had practically been in his back pocket for a year and a half. The movement had been forced. An act. Slade cared.

The thought almost took his breath away.

Jason's eyes flicked down to the Joker again. Blooded and bound at the feet of the man — the alpha — that had just spoken the League of Shadow’s courting words. For him. That carried the medallion of the Al Ghul pack alpha, signifying that he had won the right to do so. He tilted his head and narrowed his eyes, examining the man across from him.

And took a deep slow breath, gathering the scents in the room.The dust, the dirt. The delicious reek of fear and blood and anxiety from the monster at Slade’s feet. The faint tinge of anger still emanating from Bruce. The scentless warmth from Damian. Slade’s rich scent. That was what he wanted. Tinged, just faintly, with the sour note of anxiety and crisp lime sincerity.

The alpha was worried.

“You—” Jason’s head spun. “You mean this.” His eyes flicked to the medallion, now hanging off the man’s belt, to the Joker, to Slade’s face. The world disappeared around them. Jason’s eyes stung and his lungs burned. “You actually…”

A muscle twitched in Slade's jaw as Jason stared at the alpha’s face. The only response he gave was to unsheathe a knife from his hip. The blade glinted in the dim light. He offered it, hilt first, to Jason. The meaning was clear.

Jason stepped forward.

“Ukhai!” Robin squawked, indignant.

Jason almost startled. He’d almost forgotten Robin was there. Just as quickly, the omega dismissed him. “You might wanna turn away, pup.”

Him?

“Yeah.” Jason’s voice was low, hoarse, as he turned and shot a look at his little brother.

“If you must, I suppose. You could do worse.”

The tone was derogatory, but coming from the kid, it was practically a blessing. Jason shook his head and turned back, his feet pulling him toward the alpha. He stopped a mere breath away from where the mercenary was holding the knife. His eyes locked with Slade’s as he grasped the handle of the blade.

The air around them was heavy, tense with the weight of the moment and the expectation. Jason could barely breathe. Finally, Slade broke the silence.

“Your enemies are my enemies.” The man said, his voice rough. “I have brought you your most hated foe to do with as you will. A gift in good will; in greatest care.”

“My greatest monster.” Jason stated, a tremble in his voice.

“Your greatest fear.”

“My greatest fear.” Jason agreed as he slowly took the blade, examining it. He tested its weight and balance. Tested the sharpness of the blade. Each part of this ceremony was important. Carried weight. Meant something. From the quality of the blade to the gift presented. Not that he ever thought Deathstroke himself would deign to own a substandard weapon. He hesitated just a moment. Only a moment. Then, he took Slade's hand back and placed the hilt of the knife back into it.

Staring into Slade’s eye, he voice low with intent he asked him, “Destroy it for me?”

The world stood still as the words sunk in, narrowing on the two of them. This was a part of the offering that was little used. A part not often seen. The implications of the request were staggering.

A shark-like grin spread over the alpha’s face as his finger’s wrapped around the hilt.

“With pleasure.”

His hand tightened in greasy green curls and he jerked the head back, exposing a pale white neck underneath. The creature began to struggle, screaming through the gag. Pleading for its miserable life. Neither party paid it any mind.

Behind him, Jason heard something clatter. The muffled slide of armorweave on concrete, but it ceased as soon as it began. He didn’t turn. His eyes stayed on the blade as it moved. One graceful motion after the other. Red rushed across the floor, spilling into the cracks of the cement. The scent of the Joker’s rancid blood flooded the room.

Still the blade danced, pulling muffled cries of agony with each twist. The sounds of death and violence. Of freedom from fear and the leash it held over him; the twisted form of slavery that kept him bound to the Joker.

That kept him bound to Gotham.

Jason could almost feel the life drain from the beast at his feet, with each glint of the now-crimson blade in the low lights of the room. With each slide through skin and click against bone and pathetic scream muffled by the filthy gag in its throat.

The noose loosened from his own neck.

The fear bled out with the pool of red.

The last beat of a heart, dark and black, seemed to echo before it stilled.

And Jason sighed.

Slade grinned at him, sharp and feral. His delight stretched across his face. Once more, he held out the knife, now tempered with the blood of Jason’s worst nightmare, his worst enemy, his greatest fear.

With a snarl, Jason grabbed his alpha by the collar and pulled him down. The kiss was rough, intense; full of years of unspoken emotions. Years of muted yearning and missed memories. Years of hiding and pretending and searching.

A disgusted sniff came from behind him, but Jason ignored it. Damian would deal. He would have to.

Heat blazed, expanding from the middle of his chest to the tips of his fingers, to his very toes. The warmth of Slade. Of alpha. Of mate. Dexterous hands slid the still-bloody knife into his belt before settling on his hips, pulling him closer.

Gods, he’d missed this.

Lips trailed down his chin. A fang scraped his throat. Together they growled, low and hungry.

But this wasn’t the place.

Jason placed his hands on Slade’s chest and pushed. The mercenary didn’t go willingly, but let himself be moved, putting necessary space between them. Giving the omega a moment to breathe.

He opened his mouth, but was interrupted before he could speak.

“You have five minutes before the paralytic fully wears off, ukhai.”

Jason whipped around, locking eyes with Damian. The boy’s eyes were tight at the corners of his mask. His voice tense, hiding the worry that the omega could read in his frame. His eyes flicked from Robin to the twitching form of Batman at Robin’s feet, struggling against the drug.

“You gonna be good, kid?” He asked, cautiously. He didn’t want the pup to face Bruce’s temper. Especially not alone.

A nod came in response. Once. Firm. Sure.

Alright.

Slade tugged, as gently as his nature allowed, on Jason’s arm and rumbled a word in his ear. A flush flooded his face, quickly spreading. It was definitely time to go.

Nodding a quick goodbye to Robin, the two stepped over the cooling body of the Joker and slipped into the shadows. What came next needed no audience. No ceremonial words.

--------------------------------------------------

He was pressed against the wall; wainscot molding digging into the small of his back. But it was fine. The searing heat of the mouth on his, of the hands moving over his chest, his ribs, his sides, searching for the closures of his suit, were perfect distractions.

He couldn’t help the groan that escaped him as teeth nipped at his lower lip and the scent of their arousal filled the air.

Jason wasn’t sure he could even think, right now. Gods knew he hadn’t been able to pay attention to the route on the way here. Yet, he hadn’t needed to pay attention to recognize where they were.

Gotham was his city. It needed no introduction and no maps. It was bred into his blood. Into his very bones. He had been buried beneath its soil and his own lifeblood had been spilled in its streets over and over again.

It was a part of him, so deep it couldn’t be dug out. A scent in the air would be enough to tell Jason where he stood. The feel of the gravel, of the dirt, of the pavement beneath his feet.

He wondered, briefly, if he would be giving any of that up.

He wondered if he cared.

If he had to make a choice, he knew what he’d chose and it sure has fuck wasn’t the dark streets and alleys of this hell hole.

The desert had become a second home, buried deep in the mountains. Halls filled with the smell of spiced chai. Of sandalwood. A new pack that had wanted him, had educated him, had accepted him.

A home.

And wasn’t that a fucking trip when he stoped to think about it.

Now, a third. A new home with his new mate.

Mine.” The alpha rumbled in his ear. Possessiveness and satisfaction leaching into his tone. Into his scent.

Fuck, he’d missed him. Missed this. And now it was his forever.

Slade.” Jason groaned, slipping his own hands underneath orange and black. Finding the clasps and zippers that he knew were there. Armor falling to the floor, discarded in search of more. Muscle memory still ingrained even after years away.

Years missed.

“Still impatient.” A huff of a laugh in his ears as lips trailed down his neck.

“Fuck you, old man.” Jason breathed, feeling the dampness begin to grow. The heat between his legs. “Like you don’t want it just as much as I do.”

“I think—” The alpha smirked as he began to peel the armor off his new mate, “— it’s fuck you.”

“Now who’s impatient.”

A tug and Jason was off the wall. The world twisted around him and he struggled to catch a look at the room around him. Cool air pricked heated skin as layers were removed.

Slade—” A weak protest as warm hands splayed over bare skin.

Fuck.

A hungry mouth was on his and the world blurred into a mess of sensation. Of hands and warmth and wet and home. The sounds of Gotham faded, from the sound proofing or his own distraction, he didn’t know, and he fell against something soft. Calloused fingers skillfully slid through slick folds and Jason groaned.

“That’s it, sweetheart.” Slade growled low in his ear, “Fuck, you’re so slick for me.”

His mate’s scent filled the air and Jason drowned in it, spreading his thighs and arching into the touch.

Slade cursed and Jason felt a touch of triumph flutter in his chest, but it didn’t last long. One long finger dipped inside him and his brain shorted out. It had been far too long since anyone had touched him, since anyone had been inside him. Nails dug into the skin of his alpha’s back and sounds he didn’t know he could make anymore tumbled from his throat.

Gruff laughter rasped around him. Familiar laughter. He whined.

Jay—

Alpha.” He begged, pulling Slade closer, “Please, Alpha!”

It was gonna be quick. It should be quick; it had already been too long. They had the rest of their lives for slow and sweet and fast and hard and everything in between. For making up time. Right now, Jason just needed his mate.

The world swirled around him as he was turned. Jason rose to his knees, arching his back and presenting. Fuck, he never would have thought he’d do that — never thought he’d find an alpha that made him want to — but damned if it didn’t feel like the most natural thing in the world.

Strong hands gripped his hips and the hot head of his alpha’s cock pressed against him — into him. Jason’s fingers clenched in the sheets underneath him and he moaned, thrusting back. The burn and stretch of his mate within him felt like coming home; it filled him. More and more and more until Jason trembled with it.

Lips pressed against the nape of his neck and together they just breathed.

Then, Slade rolled his hips and Jason saw stars.

The alpha did it again; pulling out, sliding along the omega’s tight inner walls before slamming back in. Jason cried out — pushing back, groaning, begging. Harder, faster, moremoremore.

A growl, all the filthy things he wanted to do with him, poured out of Slade’s mouth, pressed against Jason’s ears. All the things he’d missed doing. The slick sounds of their mating obscene in the otherwise silent room. Filled only with the sounds of skin on skin and their hoarse voices — of Jason’s begging.

Slade’s knot began to grow and Jason whined as he pressed deeper, harder. One more thrust, the hands on his hips almost painful as they held him tight. Jason clenched as his mate grew, swelling within him and locking them together, sending them both over the edge with a shout.

Teeth kissed his throat, where neck met shoulder, and bit down hard on the mating gland, marking him. Claiming him. The scent of blood filled the air and the rush of hormones sung in his veins. A wave of pleasure rippled through Jason again, dulling the pain of the bite.

Instinct, buried deep within him, purred. Mate. Mine. Satisfied.

Jason huffed a breathless laugh as his alpha curled around him and contented drowsiness pulled at the edges of his consciousness. There were things to talk about. Decisions to make — together. A warm hand gently slid down his side and his lips curled. Tonight… he’d take his little sliver of perfection the way it’d come — no questions asked.